When thou seest thy comrade going to muster with a fair show outwardly, decked with brave clothes, and delighting in his plumes, think with thyself, such an outward show is nothing without the inward gifts of the mind: for if thou desirest to be a soldier of Christ, thou must be adorned with all virtues; that inwardly thou mayest be such, as outwardly thou doest appear unto the world. Thou must then learn to mortify those vices to which thou art most subject, taking account of thyself, how thou hast resisted vice, and what good thou hast done, and say then, when thou findest thou hast done nothing that is good, Lord make us every day to renounce sin, and resist vice, that our love and zeal to thee may be inflamed to well-doing, even in the greatest extremity of adversity.
When thou seest the king's majesty thy master, or his general coming to look on the battle, when all front towards the king, with due respect and reverence, think then again with thyself, and say, as for me it is good to draw near unto thee, O Lord, for thou art my King and my God, thee alone will I worship and love; make me happy in thy love, and for thy sake, I will despise all things: for thou art the strength of my head, and my portion for ever, for through hope, we attain unto thee by faith.
When thou seest thy comrades knitting all things about them handsome and fast, before they march, say thou then, knit mine heart unto thee, O Lord, that I may fear thy name, for he that loveth not thee, must quake and fear, and it is a fearful thing to fall into thy hands; for thy coming unto judgment is terrible, thy roaring is like a lion, and thy sword a consuming fire, no place can hide man from thy presence, thou seest the heart and the reins, no secret is hid from thee, and who can escape thy vengeance? None, except they repent. Lord therefore save me from that bitter death, and give me grace to repent, that I may bewaile my misery, before I depart.
When thou art entered in the troublesome way of thy march, and sufferest toil, travail, heat, cold, hunger, thirst, nakedness, peril, being called to labour, and to suffer, and not to live in pleasure and idleness, say then; my sorrow O Lord is ever before me, for in me dwelleth no good, I offend day by day; and which is worse, I cannot repent; sin increaseth, and the fountain of grace is stopped, and I find no comfort. Say then again, O Lord spur me and whip me with thy rod, before I perish, and reserve not thy punishment, lest at last I shall be made to pay the uttermost farthing. Lord therefore create a new heart within me, that I may prepare a habitation for thee to rest in, a clear conscience. O Lord for thy son Christ's sake, suffer me not to go away empty, for with thee is mercy, and great redemption, therefore I will be comforted whilst thou givest me time to amend my life.
When thou seest thy comrades for love of credit, and the favour of their officers, making no difference betwixt fair and foul way, but with patience enduring all toil, to come to the end of their march, think then with thyself, that after this manner of old, the servants of Christ, for the favour and love of God, and of his glory, did serve the Lord in hunger and thirst, in cold, in nakedness, in watching and fasting, in prayers, in meditations, in manifold persecutions and troubles, contemning all pleasurs for Christ, they sought the glory of God, more then their own fame. Lord therefore make us contemn and slight all things, for the love of Christ; altering from vice to virtue, mortifying our lusts, that we may become soldiers of Christ, loving nothing so much as God and the salvation of our soul.
When thou seest thy comrade fix in his arms, and well exercised with pike, musket and sword; then think with thyself, that thy duty is, to trust in the Lord, and to do good, that thou mayest dwell in the land, and be fed assuredly, thy delight must be in the law of the Lord, and thou must be exercised therein day and night, that thou mayest be full of hope and strength, remembering thy end, ever redeeming the time, taking heed of small sins, that by time thou maist avoid the greatest, and if thou shalt behave thyself godly in the day, thou mayst be assured to be merry at night.
When thou hearst the alarm given, going to thine arms, think then with thyself, that it is more then time to abandon the universal world, and to embrace God: and say, as for me, it is good to draw near to God, and to put my trust in him, that I may declare all his works, For whom have I in heaven but him, and on earth I desire none but him, he will guide me by his counsel, and afterwards receive me unto glory.
When thou seest thy comrade making ready, and fix against his enemies, girding his loins, that he may fight the more valiantly, then think with thyself, that it is thy duty, to put on the spiritual armour, and to gird thy loins against Satan, the world and the flesh, that thou mayst fight the spiritual combat, bridling thy riotous appetite, bringing under the flesh, despising the worlds glory, be at no time altogether idle, but ever doing somewhat for the public welfare, discharging the duties of thy calling, beseeching God for Christ thy captain's sake, to pronounce thee happy, in the day of thy appearance.
When thou seest thy comrade appointed to watch over himself and others, lest he be circumvented by his enemies, lost and utterly ruined, then think with thyself, that thy duty is, to watch over thyself diligently: lest the wrath of thine enemies seize upon thee, by God's permission, for thy punishment, crushing thee to pieces: and consider with thyself, that as it is fearful to fall into the hands of thine enemies; so it is more fearful to fall into the hands of the living Lord. Stand then in awe to offend him, that infinitely loves thee, let thy chiefst care be then to please God, and to forsake unrighteousness, that leadeth unto death, and then surely thou mayst rejoice, though in trembling, being merry in the Lord.
When thou seest thy comrades environed with enemies, and preparing themselves for battle, then think with thyself, that it is thy duty also to arm thyself against thy spiritual enemies, craving God his assistance, that he leave thee not, nor suffer thee to be tempted above thy strength; and if thou fightest valiantly unto the end, thou art happy, being promised for thy reward, the joys of Heaven: For the Spirit saith to him that overcometh, I will give to eat of the tree of life.
When thou seest thy comrades give eare to the words of command, hearkning unto their captain's instructions, obeying the tuck of drum, or sound of trumpet, then think with thyself, that it is thy duty to hearken unto God's word, receiving comfort from the mouth of his servants; for blessed are the ears that hear when the Lord whispereth, and blessed are those who prepare themselves for the knowledge of God his heavenly mysteries: Speak therefore, O Lord, for thy servant heareth; since without man's help thou canst instruct, and though man teach the letter, thy Spirit openeth the meaning, they show the way, and thou givest strength to walk: man deals outwardly, but it is thou that enlightnest the mind; Paul plants, Thou givest the increase: speak therefore O Lord again, which art the ever-living truth, to the comfort of our souls, to the amendment of our lives, and to the advancement of thine everlasting glory.
When thou seest thy comrade trusting and leaning unto his own strength, and not depending upon God that gives victory; then think with thyself, that it is thy duty, not to think with thine own wings to fly unto heaven, but with God's feathers; for it is not in the power of man, to dispose his affairs at his own pleasure; But it is God that giveth victory, and comforteth whom he will, and when he will, and what he willeth must be: for of ourselves we are full of infirmities, except the favour of God shine upon us, and then are we strong enough to overcome all our enemies, by his power that leads us, preserving us from dangers, and delivering us from infinit evils, for he is our salvation, our strength and our shield in the day of battle.
When thou seest again thy comrade like a valiant soldier going forwards in well-doing, not fearing anything to win credit; then think with thyself, that it is thy duty to strive to go forwards, notwithstanding the wickedness of thy mind, though Satan should press to hinder thee in the course of idleness; and to withdraw thee from all religious duty and exercise, and from thy godly remembrance of Christ's pains and wounds, and from thy care of salvation, and from thy Christian resolution to go forwards in well-doing, making thee abhorre prayer, and the reading and hearing of the word incorruptible, believe him not, and care not for him, but turning his snares on his own pate, say unto him, avoid Satan, thou unclean spirit, blush thou cursed wretch, avoid I say, thou wouldst carry me from my God, but thou shalt not. Jesus will assist me, and thou shalt get but a shameful foil: I had rather die, than consent unto thee; Therefore be quiet, and hold thy peace, for I will not hear, though thou shouldest trouble me never so much: The Lord is my light, and my salvation, whom should I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom should I be afraid;the Lord protecting me, and delivering me. Therefore as a good soldier strive courageously, but beware of pride and arrogancy, which hath led many unto error, and almost unto uncurable blindness. Therefore pray unto God, that their fall may make thee wise.
When thou seest thy comrades impatient, and given to pleasure and delectation, unwilling to bear their crosses; then think with thyself, that it is thy duty, as the soldier of Jesus Christ, to walk in his ways without wearying, and to bear thy cross and misery patiently. For Christ suffered, and so entered into his glory: Therefore if thou wilt be a soldier of his, thou must needs walk in this kingly high way, not quitting thy rank for fear, or for persecution, but must resolve to suffer adversity; for the more the flesh is troubled and weakned by calamity, the more the spirit is confirmed by the comfort of the mind; and he that is steadfast in the faith, needs not fear the malice of the Devil.
When thou seest thy comrade loose in behaviour, not fearing God, neglecting his duty to his commanders, careless of life, and unprepared for death; then think with thyself, that thy duty is, to prepare thyself by unfained repentance, thinking more often of death than of long life, call to mind God's judgements, and the pains of Hell, let thy behaviour be so, as if thou wert presently to die, so clearing thy conscience, thou canst not greatly fear death, being found such as thou wouldst appear; having lamented and truly repented thee of thy sins, thou shalt win the field, and mortality being swallowed up of life, thou shalt live for ever.
When thou seest thy comrade rash, heady, or obstinate in his own opinion, or yet ready to believe every man his words, and suddenly rehearsing what hath been told him, then think with thyself, that, as a soldier of Christ, it is thy duty, to be wise and settled in thy opinion, not wavering with every wind of doctrine, but constant in the true faith thou professest, that though thou frequentest, and seest men of divers religions, thou mayest ever prove constant in the truth thou professest: for the soldiers of Christ, as they are constant, so they must be fervent, and godly zealous.
When thou seest thy comrade arrogant, thinking himself better than his fellows, then think with thyself, that it is thy duty, to be humble, familiar, and sociable, rather silent than babbling, not hasty & arrogant, as he, lest God should condemn thee utterly; thou must not suffer thyself to be drawn away with vanity, stirring with indignation against any, but be meek and wise, watch and pray, and spend not thy time in idleness, but depend on God; let thy conversation be honest, living soberly and righteously in his fight, not judging others, blinded with private affection, giving partiall sentence.
When thou seest thy comrade loving the world better than God (oppressing the poor) as a citizen of Babylon, and not as a soldier of Christ, think then with thyself, that he having made the wrong choice, thy best is to have the true love and fear of God, in doing nobody wrong, but contented with thy wages, strive to be made a citizen of Jerusalem, and a soldier of Christ; endeavour to be holy, and unblameable before him, in love and charity, the virtues belonging to the Christian soldier, that as thou bearest the name, thou be not found void of the virtues belonging to those that fight Christ's battles, viz. love, courage, respect and obedience: for he that loves anything better than those virtues, is not worthy the name of a soldier. And he that loveth Christ doth not walk in darkness, but hath the light of life, caring more for a good life, then for a long, hunting after righteousness, that all other things may be cast unto him.
When thou seest thy comrade not faithful unto his master, and with love unfeigned, not advertising him of all he knows prejudicial unto him, then think with thyself, that thou, as a soldier of Christ, oughetst to be faithful with love unfeigned towards thy master, fighting to death for him, till thou overcomest vice, and conquerest thyself (of all combats the best) that thou mayest be esteemed of, as the valiant soldier of Christ, that as thou art virtuous, so thou mayest grow famous in glory, having abandoned thyself and thy own will, to do the will of God. Lord make us do this, then are we sure to be honourable in thy sight.
When thou seest thy comrade contraried in many things by his betters, and also perhaps scandalized, then think with thyself, and resolve if thou wouldst be counted as a soldier of Christ, that would reign with him, thou must also resolve to suffer with him, and not to care a rush for the reproaches of men, but thou must take all scandals in good part, for Christ thy captain was despised in this world, and at extremity, his very friends forsooke him. Think then, O soldier, that thou art in respect of him but dust; and forsake this world, if thou wouldst have rest unto thy soul, for the Kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the holy Ghost; put then confidence in God, and he will handle thy cause right well, care thou to have a good conscience in all thy doings, then thou art sure none can hurt thee, for the Lord will defend and deliver thee.
When thou seest thy comrade vaunting or bragging of his own deeds, without modesty or discretion, seeking his own praise (as many vain men do) then think with thyself, that thy duty is to contemn worldly praise as vain, coming from man: for true and eternal glory contemneth worldly praise, and as man judgeth of the deed, God regards the intent and mind; press therefore to do well, but think little of thyself, being the surest token of a modest mind; for he that praiseth himself is not allowed, but he whom the Lord praiseth. We ought not therefore to wax proud, but we ought to watch continually, for Satan sleepeth not, and the flesh is not yet dead.
When thou seest thy comrade dissolute, vain, proud, fantastic, arrogant, windy, railing, back-biting, vaunting of all sin and mischief, then think with thyself, that these are the notes proper unto the wicked, and if thou wouldst prove a soldier of Christ, thou must oppose thyself contrary to them all, being thy duty, to be lovely, strong, patient, faithful, wise, meek, prudent, circumspect, modest, just, not dainty, not light, not given to vanities; but sober, chaste, constant, quiet and temperate in all senses: even with pain living in virtue, for without pain none can love God: for if thou wouldst love God, thou must be painful in seeking of him, never leaving him, till he be found of thee, and love thee, bringing thee through his love unto perfection in Christ. For he that loves him, will endure all things for his sake, as valiant soldiers fainting at nothing may happen; yea thou must despise the inticements of Satan, and of thy fleshly enemies, and that is the valiant exploit, wherewith best thou canst please God.
When thou seest thy comrade stand in awe to commit wickedness, both for fear of punishment, and his love to his commanders, then think with thyself, that thy duty to thy heavenly Father obliges thee to love and to fear him with a filial fear, standing in awe to sin against him; for cursed is he that heareth the word of the Lord, and despiseth it. Blush thou therefore, that takest more pleasure in vanity, than in the truth, in time call thy sins to remembrance, and that with sorrow, let thy religion be in thy heart, not in thy mouth, wish for heavenly things, and contemn the world, seek to be made strong in the love of the Lord, and constant to continue: for nothing in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, is comparable to this love of God in Christ; he that hath this love, hath all in all. Say then O my God, and my love, as thou art mine make me wholy thine.
XXIIII, And last Meditation going before thine enemy.
When thou seest thy comrade for the love of honour and worldly credit not fearing to die, but ready to open his breast like a valiant soldier to receive wounds for his master's sake, then think with thyself, that it is thy duty, as the spiritual soldier of Christ, not to fear to die, but rather looking unto the glass of life, the rule of righteousness, the light of the soul, the joy of the conscience, like a valourous soldier for his love, rather let all things seem sweet unto thee for his sake, who is and should be the end of all our thoughts, of all our actions, of all our speeches, of our reading, praying and meditating; for through him we attain unto salvation, and everlasting life; for his love, we will not fear to die, nor refuse to live. Say then, O Jesu, how can I praise thee as I ought, or think of thee as I am bound, for thy infinite mercies? Thee will I praise, I will be ready to suffer for thee, being assisted by thy grace, I will magnify and glorify thee, I humbly desire thy favour, vouchsafe therefore to do good unto me, write my name in thy book, and let me never be blotted out; but let me be accounted amongst the least of thine elect, I presume nothing of myself, let all my comfort be in thy precious blood shed for me a sinner, wherein I only repose; my desire is to be with thee in the land of the living, in the Kingdom of Heaven. In the mean time, I will behold thee in this life with the eyes of faith, placing my joy in thee, in this my pilgrimage; and though I should be tossed too and fro, yet will I retain thee fast in my mind; for thou art my brother, that hast taken my flesh and bones on thee, thanks be unto thee, sweet Jesu, that hast united thy human nature unto the divine, unite me unto thee, sweet Jesu, and leave not my soul in the grave, for thou art my Saviour and Redeemer for ever.