327. THE MARTYR'S PRAYER
A prayer to be said at the stake, of all them that God shall account worthy to suffer for his sake.
"Merciful God and Father, to whom our Saviour Christ approached in his fear and need by reason of death, and found comfort; gracious God and most bounteous Christ, on whom Stephen called in his extreme need, and received strength; most benign Holy Spirit! which in the midst of all crosses and death didst comfort the apostle St. Paul with more consolations in Christ, than he felt sorrows and terrors, have mercy upon me miserable, vile, and wretched sinner, which now draw near the gates of death, deserved both in soul and body eternally, by reason of manifold, horrible, old and new transgressions, which to thine eyes, O Lord, are open and known. O be merciful unto me, for the bitter death and blood-shedding of thine own only Son Jesus Christ. And though thy justice doth require (in respect of my sins) that now thou shouldst not hear me,-- measuring me in the same measure with which I have measured thy Majesty, contemning thy daily calls,-- yet let thy mercy, which is above all thy works, and wherewith the earth is filled, let thy mercy (I say) prevail towards me, through and for the mediation of Christ our Saviour. And for whose sake, in that it hath pleased thee to bring me forth now as one of his witnesses, and a record-bearer of thy verity and truth taught by him, to give my life there-for (to which dignity I do acknowledge, dear God, that there was never any so unworthy and so unmeet, no, not the thief that hanged with him on the cross): I most humbly therefore pray thee that thou wouldst accordingly aid, help, and assist me with thy strength and heavenly grace, that with Christ thy Son I may find comfort, with Stephen I may see thy presence and gracious power, with Paul, and all others, which for thy name's sake have suffered affliction and death, I may find so present with me thy gracious consolations, that I may by my death glorify thy holy name, propagate and ratify thy verity, comfort the hearts of the heavy, confirm thy church in thy verity, convert some that are to be converted; and so depart forth of this miserable world, where I do nothing but daily heap sin upon sin, and so enter into the fruition of thy blessed mercy; whereof now give and increase in me a lively trust, sense, and feeling, where-through the terrors of death, the torments of fire, the pangs of sin, the darts of Satan, and the dolours of hell, may never depress me, but may be driven away through the working of that most gracious Spirit; which now plenteously endue me withal, that through the same Spirit I may offer (as I now desire to do in Christ by him) myself wholly, soul and body, to be a lively sacrifice, holy and acceptable in thy sight, dear Father! whose I am, and always have been, even from my mother's womb, yea, even before the world was made; to whom I commend myself, soul and body, family and friends, country and all the whole church, yea, even my very enemies, according to thy good pleasure; beseeching thee entirely to give once more to this realm of England the blessing of thy word again, with godly peace, to the teaching and setting forth of the same. O dear Father! now give me grace to come unto thee. Purge and so purify me by this fire in Christ's death and passion through thy Spirit, that I may be a burnt-offering of a sweet smell in thy sight, which livest and reignest with the Son and the Holy Ghost, now and for evermore, world without end, Amen."