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I AM THE LORD THY GOD, WHICH BROUGHT THEE OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, ETC.
O Good Lord and dear Father, here thou wouldest I should know that thou, which broughtest thy people of Israel out of Egypt with a mighty hand and a stretched-out power; which gavest thy law upon mount Sinai in great thundering, lightning, fire; which spakest by the prophets, and didst send thy dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, co-equal and consubstantial with thee in power, majesty, and glory, to take upon him our nature by the operation of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary; of whose substance he was made and born man, but pure without sin, that we, by birth children of wrath, by him might be made thy children, children of grace, communicating with him righteousness, holiness, and immortality by the working of the Spirit, as he communicated with us flesh and blood, but not infected with sin as is ours, by the working of the same Holy Spirit; which Spirit, after his bitter death, resurrection, and ascension into the heavens, he sent plentifully and by a visible sign unto his apostles and disciples, by whom he published the gospel throughout the whole world; and so continually hath done from age to age, doth, and will do unto the end of the world, by the ministry of preaching: thou wouldest, I say, that we should know and believe that thou, this almighty Lord and God, which on this sort hast revealed and opened thyself, art the one alone, very true and eternal almighty God, which madest and rulest heaven and earth and all things visible and invisible, together with this thy dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ, and with the Holy Spirit, consubstantial and co-eternal with thee, dear Father.
Not only this, but also thou wouldest that I should know and believe, that by the same thy dearly beloved Son thou hast brought me from the tyranny and captivity of Satan and this sinful world, whereof the captivity of Egypt under Pharaoh was a figure. And in his blood shed upon the cross thou hast made a covenant with me, which thou wilt never forget, that thou art and wilt be my Lord and my God; that is, thou wilt forgive me my sins and be wholly mine, with all thy power, wisdom, righteousness, truth, glory, and mercy.
Wherefore, although I might confirm my faith by the innumerable mercies hitherto poured upon me most abundantly; (as thy children of Israel might have done, and did confirm their faith by the manifold benefits poured upon them in the desert;) yet specially the seal of thy covenant (I mean thy holy sacrament of baptism, wherein thy holy name was not in vain called upon me, O dear Father, sweet Son and Savior Jesus Christ, and most gracious good Holy Ghost,) should most assuredly confirm, and even on all sides seal up my faith of this thy covenant, that thou art my Lord and my God; even as Abraham and thy people of Israel did by the sacrament of circumcision; which as the apostle calleth the “seal” or signacle “of righteousness, so dost thou call it; being but the sign of thy covenant indeed, yet thy very covenant; because as thy word is most true and cannot lie, as thy covenant is a covenant of peace infallible and everlasting, even so the sacrament and seal of the same is a most true testimonial and witness thereof.
In consideration therefore of this, that thou, the almighty God, of thine own goodness hast vouchedsafe not only to make me a creature after thine own image and likeness, which mightest have made me a beast; to give unto me a reasonable soul endued with memory, judgment, etc., which mightest have made me an idiot without wit or discretion, etc.; to endue me with a body beautified with right shape, limbs, health, etc., which mightest have made me a cripple, lame, blind, etc.; graciously to enrich me concerning fortune, friends, living, name, etc., which mightest have made me a slave, destitute of all friends, and helpless for this life; but also hast vouchedsafe that I, being a miser, “born in sin, conceived in iniquity,” to whom nothing is due (more than to a Turk, Jew, or Saracen,) but eternal damnation, should be called into the number of thy people, enrolled in thy book, and now in thy covenant, so that thou, with all that ever thou hast, art mine; for which cause’s sake hitherto thou hast kept me, cherished, defended, spared, and fatherly chastised me, and now graciously dost keep me and care for me, giving me to live, be, and move in thee, expecting also and “waiting how thou mightest shew mercy upon me:” in consideration, I say, of this, most justly and reasonably thou requirest that as thou art my Lord God, so I should be thy servant and one of thy people.
As thou hast given thyself wholly unto me, to be mine, with all thy power, wisdom, etc.; (for he that giveth himself giveth all he hath;) so should I be wholly thine, and give over myself unto thee to be guided with thy wisdom, defended with thy power, holpen, relieved, and comforted by thy mercy.
First therefore to begin withal, thou commandest “that I should have none other gods in thy sight.” That is to say, as I should have thee for my Lord and God to look for all good things most assuredly at thy hands, and therefore I should put all my trust in thee, be thankful unto thee, love thee, fear thee, obey thee, and call upon thy holy name in all my needs; so should I give this faith, love, fear, obedience, thankfulness, and invocation or prayer, to none other (no, not in my heart), but only to thee, or for thee, where thou commandest.
All this to do, O Lord God, and that with most joyful heart, I have great cause; for what a thing is it, that thou, Jehovah, wouldest vouchsafe to make me, as thou hast done; to give thy Son for me, and to become my God! O what am I, that thou wouldest I should put my trust in thee! This thou doest, that I might never be confounded, but might be most happy.
What am I, that thou wouldest I should fear thee! where the only cause why thou requirest this of me is, not Only because thou hast power to cast both body and soul into hell-fire, and because they that fear thee not shall perish; but also that thou mightest give me thy wisdom, that it might go well with me in the evil day, that thou mightest reveal thy Son to me, and thy mercy might be upon me from generation to generation. O what am I, that thou wouldest have me to obey thee! not only that I never perish with the disobedient, but that thou mightest give me thy holy Spirit, and rewards innumerable. O what am I, that thou wouldest I should love thee! the which thing thou doest to this end, that I might fully and wholly enjoy and possess thee, according to the nature of love; and therefore dost thou require my whole heart, that I might dwell in thee, and thou in me. What am I, that thou wouldest I should call upon thee! verily, because thou wilt give me whatsoever I shall ask of thee in the name of thy dear child Jesus Christ: and even so wouldest thou have me thankful, that thou mightest pour out upon me yet more plentifully all good things.
So that great cause have I to put my trust in thee, to love, fear, and obey thee, to call upon thee, to be thankful unto thee; not only in respect of the hurt which else will ensue, but also in respect of the commodity that hereby cometh unto me; but most of all, yea, alonely for thy own sake, for thy goodness, wisdom, beauty, strength and power, truth and great mercies.
But, alas! dear Father, what shall I say? As in times past horribly I have broken this thy law in trusting in thy creatures, calling upon them, loving, fearing, and obeying many things besides thee and rather than thee; even so at this present I am a most miserable wretch. Blinded I am through unbelief and mine own wickedness; so that I see not firmly this thy power, wisdom, goodness, etc., but waver and doubt of it. I love little or nothing; I fear less; I obey least of all; thankfulness and prayer are utterly quenched in me: by reason whereof I am worthy of eternal damnation. If after thy justice thou shalt deal with me simply, I am, O Lord, damned and lost for ever, for I am very wicked.
But yet, inasmuch as thou hast given thy Son Jesus Christ to be a slain propitiatory sacrifice “for the sins of the whole world,” so “that he which believeth in him shall not perish,” but be saved (for so thou hast promised), thy truth now requireth to save me. Howbeit, here thou mayest say unto me that I do not believe; and therefore notwithstanding thy truth and promise, in that I believe it not, thou mayest most justly, after thy justice, damn me. O Lord God, to this I cannot otherwise answer (my unbelief is so great), but because thy mercy is above all thy works, and thy goodness and love is that which all creatures most highly commend and magnify as the thing whereof thou art called God; because thou art right good, and love itself; because of this thy mercy, gracious God, if thou wilt look thereon and couple thy truth therewith, then, good Lord, I shall be saved and praise thy name for evermore.
THOU SHALT NOT MAKE TO THYSELF ANY GRAVEN, ETC.
As the first commandment teacheth me as well that thou art my God, as what God thou art; and therefore of equity I should have none other gods but thee; (that is, I should alonely hang on thee, trust in thee, love thee, serve thee, call upon thee, obey thee, be thankful to thee;) so because thou didst reveal thyself visibly that thou mightest visibly be worshipped, this commandment is concerning thy worship, that in no point I should follow in worshipping thee the device or intent of any man, saint, angel, or spirit; but should take all such as idolatry and image-service, be it never so glorious. And why? Forsooth, because thou wouldest I should worship thee as thou hast appointed by thy word; for if service be acceptable, it must needs be according to the will of him to whom it is done, and not of him which doeth it. But inasmuch as of man none knoweth the will and pleasure but his spirit, except he reveal by word or sign the same; much more of thee, O Lord, none doth know the will but thy Spirit, and they to whom thou dost reveal the same. And therefore abominable even in thy sight are all those things which with men are in most force and estimation, because they are not after thy word.
So that the meaning of this precept is, that as in the first I should have none other gods but thee, so I should have no worship of thee but such as thou appointest. Hereby therefore I see great cause of thankfulness for this commandment, in that thou wouldest have mine outward service, and that after thy appointment, lest I should busy my brain how best to serve thee.
Good Lord, thou needest not my service: perfect thou wast before I was: therefore it is for mine own commodity that thou commandest me, yea, even for mine own wealth. Thou mightest have letten me have stand all day idle; but such is thy love that thou wouldest I should go into thy vineyard, that with thy servants I might receive the hire of blessedness. And how great a benefit is it to deliver me of so great a burden, wherewith I should have been cumbered, if I should have served thee in any point after my wit and reason! But, alas! I not considering what a promotion thy service is, nor what an easy service it is and simple (for one may well know what to do and when he pleaseth thee, namely, when he serveth thee as thou hast appointed), as I am and always have been unthankful, so I am and always have been a grievous transgressor of this thy law. For as in times past, when I did not know this commandment, I was an image-worshipper of stocks, stones, etc., yea, bread and wine; so now I am a worshipper of mine affections, offering to them the service due unto thee, though not thereby to worship thee, as I thought when I kneeled to stocks and stones, bread and wine, etc., yet with no less transgression of thy law: for the which I have deserved and do deserve everlasting damnation.
Of thy goodness and great mercy, dear Father, I beseech thee forgive me for Christ’s sake, whom thou didst give to be the fulfilling of the law to all them that should believe. O Father, “I believe: help mine unbelief.” As thou hast of thy goodness hitherto spared me, transgressing this thy holy precept; so of thy goodness forgive me as well mine idolatry done in times past, as that which of late time I have committed and do commit. And as thou by this commandment hast delivered me from the one, that is, bowing myself to stocks and stones, so, dear Father, deliver me from all other bowing myself after mine own will to mine own affections; that I may have none other God in heart but thee, nor do service to any other but only to thee, and for thee, after thy word as thou commandest. O open mine eyes to see thy will in this thy gracious precept. Give me a will to love it heartily, and a heart to obey it faithfully, for thy dear Son’s sake, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD IN VAIN BY this commandment I perceive, O Lord, that as in the first thou wouldest in the exterior service of thee I should utterly abandon mine own will and reason, and all the reasons or good intents of man, and wholly give myself to serve thee after thy will and word; so here dost thou begin to tell me how thou wilt have my tongue to be exercised in thy service: and therefore thou biddest me not to take thy name in vain, as by temerarious or vain swearing, by cursing, praying without sense, (as those do that pray in a tongue they know not, praying without faith or attent consideration of the thing desired, without hearty desire and certain expectation of obtaining that which is to thy glory and mine salvation;) also by jesting or foolish abusing, or negligent reading or hearing of thy holy word, by the which thou as by thy name art known; and in like manner by denying thy truth and word, or concealing it when occasion is offered to promote thy glory and confirm thy truth. By reason whereof I may well see that thou wouldest have me to use my tongue in humble confessing thee and thy word and truth, after my vocation; in praying heartily, and calling upon thy name; in reading and hearing thy word, and speaking thereof, with all reverence, diligence, and attention; in thanksgiving, and praising thee for thy great mercy; in instructing my brother, and admonishing him when he erreth, after my calling and vocation, with all humbleness, gentleness, and love.
Thus wouldest thou have me to exercise my tongue, and not to think that the exercising of it in this sort is a vain and unprofitable thing, but a thing that pleaseth thee and profiteth myself and other.
And forasmuch as thou knowest that our tongue is a slippery member, and we very negligent over it, and of the great commodity that might thereby come to us and other by using it in thy service accordingly; thou hast added a fearful and most true commination, that though men will find no fault or punish us therefor, yet wilt not thou hold him guiltless that taketh thy name in vain; as by many examples we are taught, as in thy holy word, so by daily experience, if we would consider the same.
And therefore I have great cause to give praise and thanks to thy most holy name for many great benefits, which by this commandment I receive, and ought with thankfulness to consider. First, that it would please thee, not only to give me a tongue, where thou mightest have made me speechless; but also that thou wouldest have it sanctified to thy service. Again, that thou wouldest not only reveal thy name unto us, but also wouldest give me leave to call upon it, praise and publish it; yea, thou hast commanded me so to do, and not only commanded, but hast promised that thou wilt hear my prayer, and that my praising of thee and confessing thy word and truth shall not be in vain. Thirdly, that thou wouldest all men should use their tongue so that thereby I might be the better instructed, admonished, and occasioned to use myself well, and in the obedience of this thy holy precept. But what go I about to reckon by tale the causes of thanks for this commandment? seeing that they be innumerable, if a man should but look even upon thy very word, by the which as by thy name thou art most truly known: the which word thou commandest unto us in this commandment, etc., as thou dost preaching, private admonishing, thanksgiving, and prayer; than the which nothing is more profitable to us in this vale of misery.
But, gracious good Lord, I acknowledge myself not only to be a most unthankful wretch for this thy holy precept, and the great mercies which herethrough I perceive thou hast most graciously poured upon me, and dost yet, still offer unto me; but also that I am a miserable transgressor of this thy most holy, good, and blessed commandment, as always I have been in times past. Horribly have I abused thy name in swearing, cursing, and jesting wickedly. I have called upon other names than thine, as the names of Peter, Paul, Mary, etc., yea, of some whose salvation is to be doubted of. I have foolishly prayed in such a tongue as I knew not what I prayed and said; with many other transgressions of this precept, wherein yet I am conversant, as in seldom praying; and when I pray, I am not attent, nor very desirous of the thing I ask with my tongue. After prayer I do not earnestly look for the good things asked and prayed for; and therefore when I obtain my request, I am most unthankful: thy word I read little and most negligently, forgetting forthwith what I read: I admonish not others when I hear them abuse thy holy word: I am afraid, for fear of loss of friends, name, or life, to confess thy truth, gospel, and name which was called upon me in baptism, and not in vain if I did not thus make it in vain.
But this is a sin above other sins, that under thy name, word, and gospel, I play the hypocrite, having more care for mine own name than for thine: for if my name were evil spoken of, it would grieve me, and I would defend it; but, alas! I hear thine daily evil spoken of, and see it profaned by false doctrine and evil living, but it grieveth me not. After my vocation I seek not, nor do not go about to redress these things in myself and in others.
And why? Because, good Lord, I love myself better than thee, and not thee with my whole heart. Thy first commandment hath no place with me, as it should have: it possesseth not my heart, mind, and will, as thou requirest most to mine own commodity: by reason whereof I am worthy of eternal damnation.
O what shall I do, gracious God, which not only have been so grievous and filthy a swearer, curser, etc., so great a caller upon dead creatures, and so heinous a transgressor of this law; but also at this present do so horribly and hypocritically offend thee, in taking thy name in vain, and that so many ways; in praying and not praying; in reading and not reading; in speaking and not speaking; and not confessing simply and from my heart thy doctrine, truth, and name; but regarding mine own name far above it? Shall I fly from thee? Then undoubtedly I am more guilty, and more shall disobey this thy holy precept, adding sin to sin: whereas thou wouldest I should call upon thy holy name, dear Lord, which hast given thy dear Son Jesus Christ to be a Mediator for us; that through him we might find not only grace for the pardon of our sins past, but also for the obtaining of thy holy Spirit; as well the better to understand, as also the better and more frankly to obey, this thy holy precept for ever.
For his sake therefore, dear God, pardon my sins past and present, whereof this law doth accuse me; and grant, most gracious Father, that I may be endued with thy holy Spirit, to know and love thy holy name, word, and truth in Jesus Christ; that I may be zealous, wise, and constant; and that my tongue may be sanctified henceforth, and guided with thy holy Spirit and grace, to publish, confess, and teach after my vocation to others, as occasion is offered, thy truth and gospel; to call upon thy name in all my need, to give thanks unto thee, praise thee, magnify thee, and to sanctify thy holy name, as a vessel of thy mercy, for ever and ever.
REMEMBER THAT THOU KEEP HOLY THE SABBATH DAY, ETC After thou hast told me how in the external service of thee, gracious Lord, thou wilt have my tongue used, so dost thou now teach me how thou wilt have mine ears and all my whole body occupied, namely in sanctification and holiness; that is, in those things which thou peculiarly hast appointed to be means immediately to help to that end; as in hearing thy word preached, and using the ceremonies of thee appointed, even as thou hast commanded: for the which things to be exercised of thy people thou at the first didst appoint a certain day, namely the seventh day, which therefore thou calledst thy sabbath, that thereby they with their children and family, resting from all exterior labor which hindereth the meditation of the mind, might not only be more able to go on through with their travail and labor (for without some rest nothing can endure, in respect whereof thou wouldest the very beasts which in labor were exercised should have the privilege of this sabbath), but also and much rather that thy people might with their family and children be instructed and taught; first by the ministry of thy word in preaching and catechising; secondly by the using of thy sacraments, appointed after thy commandment and institution, they might be assured of thy promises; thirdly by praying they might be augmented in all godliness; and last of all by their meeting together, and exercising all these thy works of sanctification, they might increase in love and charity one towards another, as members of one body, and fellows of one inheritance; and thus by meeting together, praying, and using thy sacraments, they might be instructed in thy law, and of that sabbath whereinto thou thyself didst enter after thou hadst made the world, ceasing from thy works, not of conservation, but of creation: into the which as after this life, and the works of this time, they should enter, so now they begin spiritually to enter, in resting from their own works which the old man moveth them unto.
Not that, good Lord, thou wouldest these works, appointed for the sabbath day, should not be exercised at any other time, but only on the seventh day; but because thou didst as well ordain them for a policy to endure till the coming of Christ, as also according to the revelation of thee in that time didst open thyself, beginning then in figures and shadows whose verities in thy time were to be opened, therefore it pleased thee to appoint then the seventh day: which seventh day, although by reason of the policy being by thee destroyed, and by reason of Christ the verity and body of all shadows, it be abrogate from us; yet standeth this commandment in force, as well for the works of sanctification, that is, for preaching thy word, coming to hear it, for praying, using thy sacraments, and coming together to that end; as also for those days which by common order and on good ground are ordained and received; howbeit with this liberty, that necessity of our faith and sanctification and charity may dispense therewith, occasion of wilful and witting offense being avoided, etc.
So that hereby I perceive thy will and pleasure to be, that I should at all times, as much as charity and necessity will permit, give over myself, and cause all other, over whom I have charge, so to do (especially on the Sundays and other holidays being received, and to that end appointed), to the resorting to the temple and places appointed to prayer; to hear with meekness thy holy word, and use thy sacraments and ceremonies as thou hast commanded; and to exercise all things which might be to the confirmation and propagation of thy holy religion, or make to the increase of love and charity; as giving to the poor, reconciling such as be in variance, visiting the sick, and even, as it were, beginning that sabbath whereof Esay speaketh.
By reason whereof I have great cause to thank thee, most gracious Father, that thou wouldest appoint me to be in this time, wherein thou hast more plentifully revealed thyself than thou didst, not only before Christ’s coming, but also since Christ’s ascension. Never, since England was England, didst thou so manifestly reveal thy truth, as thou hast done in these days. Great cause I have to thank thee, that thou wouldest institute the ministry of thy word and sacraments, as means whereby thy holy Spirit is effectual to work in our hearts sanctification. Great cause have I to thank thee, that thou wouldest keep the books of the prophets and apostles’ until this time.
Great cause have I to praise thee, that thou wouldest give me such knowledge in them as thou hast done of thy great mercy. Great cause have I to thank thee for the good and true ministers and preachers of thy word, which thou hast sent amongst us, and given me grace to hear them. Great cause have I to thank thee, that in this religion thou hast given so long quietness and harborough to thy church. Great cause have I to thank thee, for that thou wouldest make me such a man in whom thy holy Spirit might work. Great cause I have to thank thee, which wouldest call me into thine eternal sabbath and rest, full of all joy, such as “the eye hath not seen, the ear hath not heard.” Great cause have I to thank thee, that so many days are appointed for this end, that we should meet together to hear thy word and receive thy sacraments. Great cause have I to thank thee for the institution of thy sacraments, which thou hast ordained as thy visible and palpable words, to the obsignation and confirmation of the faith of all such as use the same after thy commandments. But infinite are the causes for the which I ought to give thee thanks for this commandment.
But, alas! I am not only unthankful, but also a most miserable transgressor of it. I will not now speak of my transgressions past concerning this commandment: presently they are so many that I cannot; for thou knowest how I do not only at convenient times, on the work-days, keep myself away from common prayers in the congregation and assembly of thy people, and from hearing of thy word, but also on the sabbath-days. To ride or go about this or that worldly business I am very prest: to sit down at this tavern, and to go to that man’s table, I am ready at the first bidding: but, alas! to resort to the table of thy Son, and receive with thankfulness the sacrament of his body and blood, for confirmation of my faith; that is, to learn spiritually to taste Christ’s body broken, and his blood shed, for the remission of my sins; to do this, O how unwilling am I!
To go to mass and sacrings , with such-like idolatry, I have been a great time more ready than now I am to hear thy word, and use thy sacraments, as I should do. Thy ministers I pray not for; thy church I am not careful for; no, not now, good Lord, when wicked doctrine most prevaileth, idolatry, superstition, and abomination aboundeth, the sacrament and sacrifice of thy dear Son Jesus Christ is blasphemously corrupted; when for preaching there is nothing but massing; for catechising, censing; for reading of the scriptures, bell-ringing; for singing of psalms and godly songs to our edification, all is done in Latin, with such notes, tunes, ditties, and descants, that utterly the mind is pulled from the consideration of the thing (if men did understand it) unto the melody. All which my wickedness hath brought in, my profaning of this commandment, and my not praying.
Thy ministers are in prison, dispersed in other countries, spoiled, burnt, murdered: many fall for fear of goods, life, name, etc., from the truth they have received, unto most manifest idolatry: false preachers abound amongst thy people: thy people, dearly bought even with thy blood, are not fed with the bread of thy word, but with swillings: antichrist wholly prevaileth: and yet for all this, alas! I am too careless, nothing lamenting my sins, which be the cause of all this.
O dear Father, forgive me for Christ’s sake, and be merciful unto me; and as of thy mercy thou hast given me time to repent, so give me repentance. Grant me thy holy Spirit to open to me this thy law; so that I may know thy will in it, love it, and always obey it. Thy good Spirit sanctify me, and work in me a true taste of eternal life, and pleasure in the meditation of it. Give me, gracious, good Father, one little mouthful of the bread that thou feddest Eli withal: give me that with him I may come into mount Horeb. Help thy church, cherish it, and give it harborough here and elsewhere for Christ’s sake. Purge thy ministry from corruption and false ministers; send out preachers to feed thy people; destroy antichrist and all his kingdom; give to such as be fallen from thy truth repentance; keep others from falling, and by their falling do thou the more confirm us.
Confirm the ministers and poor people in prison and exile; strengthen them in thy truth; deliver them, if it be thy good will: give them that with conscience they may so answer their adversaries, that thy servants may rejoice, and the adversaries be confounded. Avenge thou thy own cause, O thou God of hosts; and help all thy people, and me especially, because I have most need.
HONOR THY FATHER AND MOTHER, THAT THOU MAYEST LIVE LONG, ETC.
After that thou hast told me, good Lord, thy will concerning the service which thou requirest inwardly and out. wardly to be given unto thee, now dost thou begin to tell me what thy will is that I should do and leave undone for thy sake unto man. And first thou settest before mine eyes them whom thou for order’s sake and the more commodity of man in this life hast set in degree and authority above me, comprehending them under the name of “father and mother,” that I might know that as of thee they are commanded to bear towards me a fatherly love and a motherly care, in the very names of father and mother, wherewith thou honorest them; so am I commanded of thee to do that which is most equal and just (as the very brute beasts do teach us), that with childly affection and duty I should behave myself towards them: that is, I should honor them, which comprehendeth in it love, thankfulness, reverence, and obedience; and that not so much because they be my parents, and in their offices are careful for me, (for it may be they will neglect the doing of their duties towards me,) but because thou commandest me so to do, howsoever they do.
So that by this commandment I perceive that thou wouldest I should consider them whom thou hast placed in authority and superior degree, as parents, magistrates, masters, or such-like, and accordingly behave myself toward them, honor them, that is to say, love them, be thankful unto them, reverence them, and obey them, for thy sake, so long as they pass not their bounds; that is, so long as they require not otherwise than thou hast given them commission or permission to do.
And forasmuch as thou seest their care and office is great, and our corruption to obey is very much; as well to encourage them in their vocation to be diligent, as to inflame me to humble obedience unto them, therethrough to make them more willing to sustain cares for me; thou addest a promise, that is, long life, which, so far as it is a blessing from thee, thou wilt endue us withal. Whereby we may gather, that a civil life doth much please thee, and receiveth here rewards, especially if we lead it for conscience to thy law: and, on the contrary part, a disobedient life to them that be in authority will bring the sooner thy wrath and vengeance in this life. All which worketh much to the commendation of the state of politic and civil magistrates.
By reason hereof, dear Father, I see myself much bounden to praise thee, and heartily to obey this thy commandment; for in it and by it thou declarest thy great love toward us, which even in this present life, our pilgrimage and passage to our home, wouldest have us to enjoy the benefit of peace, and most seemly quietness and order, and by this order so couple us that none should contemn or despise another, but even high and low to be and account themselves as parents and children.
Particularly, for my part, I cannot but say that I have most cause to thank thee for my parents, schoolmasters, and others, under whose tuition thou hast put me. No pen is able to write the particular benefits which I have hereby received in my infancy, childhood, youth, middle age, and always hitherto. O how good a Lord hast thou declared thyself to me! which in them and by them hast nourished, fed, instructed, corrected, defended, and most graciously kept me. I could reckon innumerable behind me, and but few before me, so much made of and cared for as I have been hitherto. No small token of thy love to me-ward is it, that thou wouldest engrave in their hearts, and command them under pain of damnation, to be careful over me, to do me good, and provide for me, as they have done, or rather thou by them.
Publicly also for the commonwealth, and such as thou hast placed in authority over me in both thy regiments, if I considered them that have been and them that be, I could not but praise thee, good Lord; for no less praiseworthy art thou for thus chastening us, and admonishing us now presently by them that be in authority of our ingratitude and unthankfulness, than by such as have been, for all kinds of good things. But infinite are the causes of thankfulness, which this commandment considered should stir up in me.
But, alas! most merciful Father, as I acknowledge myself most unthankful unto thee for all thy benefits poured upon me in this life by my parents, nurses, tutors, masters, magistrates, bishops, pastors, and good friends, even from my cradle unto this hour, so unto them have I always been and am in not loving them, as my coldness in praying for them and to my power in helping them declareth; and also my not reverencing them, my contemning them, and temerariousness in my mistrusting, or too narrowly and too straitly looking at them and their duties, sheweth; and not obeying them (as by my contumacy appeareth,) not only when anything to me unpleasant or unprofitable, but also profitable and convenient is required. And yet I speak not of the evil and muttering reports, of the offenses in transgressing the politic laws for apparel and meats, and other no small offenses which I have committed and given. O this is a sin, dear Father, that I always have been a private more than a commonweal man: always I seek for mine own commodity, contemning that which maketh to the commodity of others. As for my disobedience and wicked behavior towards my own parents and all others whom thou hast set over me, dear Father, no tongue can express it: and therefore I am worthy of damnation.
But, gracious good Lord and dear Father, I beseech thee for thy Christ’s sake to have mercy upon me and pardon me, as of thy goodness it pleased thee to pardon the patriarchs. Thou hast given this commandment as thy holy law, to open to us how corrupt we are, and how much we swerve from the pattern whereafter we were first made, and once agreed thereto before Adam’s fall; that we might loathe ourselves, and even thereby be driven to seek and set by thy sweet mercies in Jesus Christ; whom therefore thou didst send to fulfill the law in his flesh, that we might borrow of him the same by true faith: which of thy goodness work in us by thy holy Spirit, and open this law unto us, that we may more and more increase in the knowledge, love, and obedience of it, to thy glory and our salvation. Amen.
Dear Father, be merciful to our magistrates, especially the queen’s highness, whose heart with the residue of her counsellors turn into thy testimonies: give them thy wisdom and a zeal to the truth according to knowledge, that they may use the power they have received of thee to the cherishing of thy church, that with us here thy word may have free passage, and thy true worship may be maintained; and not only here, but also every where amongst those whom thou wouldest we should pray for.
Be merciful to my poor parents, gracious Lord, with my brethren, sisters, wife, children, family, servants, kinsfolks, neighbors, as thou knowest they have all need. Give unto the hearts of all parents, magistrates, and such as be in authority here or elsewhere, that they may according to that thou hast put them in trust withal be faithful, diligent, careful, and happy. Grant unto children, servants, and subjects, that every one may render love, obedience, thankfulness, and reverence to all such as thou hast put in authority over them. Bless the church, and send it peace and harborough here or elsewhere. Bless the commonweal, and send us peace. Bless the dioceses and shires, and send them good bishops and justices. Bless every household and family, that thy peace may be in the same continually.
THOU SHALT DO NO MURDER, ETC.
As in the commandment going next before thou settest before me the personages of all such as thou for the commodity, order, and peace of man in this life hast placed in authority, accordingly of us for thy sake to be esteemed; so dost thou in this commandment set before us to look on the personages of all men generally, high and low, over whom thou givest us a charge that we shall not kill or murder them: in which word thou comprehendest all kind of hatred or malice, in word, thought, or deed, as thy dearly beloved Son, expounding this commandment, doth teach. Yea, because thou wouldest all men should be dear unto us, being all of one substance, of one similitude, coming of the same parents Adam and Eve, made of one God, redeemed of one Christ in whom we should be coupled as members of one body, and live to the aid, succor, and comfort one of another; because of this, I say, easily we may see that not only thou forbiddest here to beware of all kinds of displeasures, but also thou commandest us to bear and exercise all kind of love and favor in heart, word, and deed, and that for thy commandment’s sake; for else towards our enemies our hearts would arise and be great, in that they, contemning their duties towards us, seem to deserve the like at our hands.
By reason hereof I have great cause to thank thee, dear Father: for hereby I see how that thou dost much love my soul, which art so careful over my body; so that he which hurteth it displeaseth thee, and he that doth it good pleaseth thee, if so be he do it for thy sake. By this commandment now I see that it is thou that hast kept me from doing many evils, which else I should have outrageously done, and hast stirred me up to do good to my brethren, if at any time I have done any; even as thou hast also kept and dost keep presently others from doing me hurt, and hast and dost stir up those that do me good, to do so unto me. O how great is the multitude of thy benefits, good Lord, wherewith thou hast overwhelmed me, and the which through this commandment I perceive myself to have received, presently do receive, and so long as I live am like to receive! for thou commandest all men every where to do me good, love me, defend me, and cherish me; such is thy love to me in this present life, and that for my body.
But, alas, dear Lord, how unthankful have I been, and am yet still, for these thy fatherly benefits! O mine ingratitude! Yea, Lord, horribly have I transgressed, and still do transgress this thy gracious precept, in pride, envy, disdain, malice, hardness of heart, unmercifulness, and contemning thy children, saints, and servants. Self-love altogether reigneth in me, and desire of praise, rule, and fame: I am so far from love and mercy in heart, good Lord, that no man can hear it in my tongue, nor see it in my works; but rather clean contrary, and that generally, and to them to whom I am most bound particularly. By reason whereof I have deserved everlasting damnation, and to be cast away from thy presence for ever.
O most gracious Father, forgive me for Christ’s sake, I beseech thee: for to this end didst thou give this commandment, that I, seeing my corruption and depravate nature by sin, might come to thy mercy deserved by Christ, and through faith in him might find not only pardon of that which is past, but also thy grace and holy Spirit to begin in me the obedience to this and all other thy holy precepts for evermore. So be it.
For this thy Christ’s sake, dear Father, I beseech thee therefore to take from me, and all other for whom thou wouldest that we should pray, all envy, pride, arrogancy, disdain, hatred, and all suspiciousness; and grant unto us bowels of mercy, humility, patience, meekness, long-suffering, gentleness, peace, charity, and all kind of brotherly love. Comfort the feeble, relieve the poor, help the fatherless, heal the sick, bless the afflicted: shew thy great mercy upon all poor prisoners, and deliver them in thy good time: remember thy pity toward strangers, captives, widows, and such as be oppressed.
THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY HERE, good Lord, thou goest about to command unto me, as love in the other, so pureness and chastity in this; and therefore thou sayest, I should “not commit adultery:” in the which word thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ doth comprehend all uncleanness, yea, the very concupiscence and abusing of the heart in lusting after any man’s wife, or otherwise unchastely. By the which, in that thou wouldest have us to love in ourselves and others purity and cleanness, that we might be holy as thou our God art holy, and our bodies being temples of thy holy Spirit might be kept pure and accordingly; easily we may see that, as thou forbiddest all unclean deeds, words, looks, and thoughts, so dost thou command us to love and exercise all purity, chastity, cleanness, sobriety, temperancy, etc.
By reason whereof I have great cause to be thankful unto thee, which not only for the help and commodity of man, but also for remedy of man’s infirmity, hast made womankind, and ordained the state of matrimony, which in thy sight is so holy and pure that thou accountest the state of matrimony to be an undefiled thing: and such care thou hast over the personages married and their condition, that unto damnation they sin, which not only go about to defile that bed, but within their hearts do wish or desire it; yea, which do not endeavor themselves with thought, word,- and deed, to help that purity and cleanness between married folks be kept.
Full well I see that it is thou which by this commandment not only refrainest me, but also keepest my wife from impurity, which else we might both commit. Great is thy love, O good Lord, and more than I am able to consider, which declarest thyself to be thus careful over me concerning the benefits which come unto me both for the mind, body, and goods, by sobriety and temperancy, which here thou requirest. Only this I cannot but see, that I have great cause to thank thee which art so careful over me, as by this commandment I well see.
But, alas! good Lord, what shall I say? which am and have been so far from thankfulness, that I am to be accounted amongst the most unthankful: yea, thou knowest it, good Lord. Filthily have I broken this law, and caused other so to do, of whose repentance I am uncertain; as also my tongue, alas! hath often been too shamefully exercised, mine eyes and my thoughts too wickedly abused. All this gear I have increased by mine intemperancy in eating, drinking, cherishing my body, etc. I have also hurt my bodily health, minished that which I and others should live on, and horribly hindered all good prayers and meditations: wherein, though I have time and place, yet, alas! I nothing exercise it myself as I should do. By reason whereof I have deserved everlasting damnation.
O good Lord and gracious Father, do thou for thy name’s sake, and in Christ’s blood, pardon me and forgive me, I beseech thee. And as thou hast most mercifully hitherto spared me, so of thy mercy put away my trespasses, and the transgressions of those whom I have caused to sin. Let that love which moved thee to pardon Judah, with Tamar, David, Bethsabe, and the great sinner of whom we read in St Luke, move thee to pardon and forgive me also. Thou gavest this commandment to this end, that I might know my sin and sinful nature, and so thereby be driven to thy Christ crucified, for whose sake I ask mercy; and also that thy good Spirit may be given unto me, to purify me, and work-so in me and with me, that I may truly know, heartily love, and faithfully obey this thy holy precept, inwardly and outwardly, now and for ever. Amen.
Gracious good Lord, grant to me and my wife, that we may dwell together according to knowledge, and may keep our vessels in holiness: grant, O Lord, that we may be pure and undefiled; and grant the same to all that be married: and to them which be unmarried grant that they may live a pure, chaste, and undefiled life; and, if they have not the gift of singleness of life, grant them such mates with whom they may live holily to thy praise. Dear Father, give me the gift of sobriety and temperancy, and, grant the same to all them whom thou wouldest I should pray for. As in times past I have used my tongue and other members evil, so now, good Lord, grant that I may use them well, chastely, and godly. This, I pray thee, grant through Jesus Christ: and finally, O Lord, both in soul and body sanctify me, and, as in thy temple, dwell in me now and for evermore. Amen.
THOU SHALT NOT STEAL Now that thou hast taught me the service required of thee for me to observe towards the personages of all men and women of every condition, thou beginnest to tell me what thou wouldest I should do concerning their goods: and, as in the next commandment before this thou didst command unto me sobriety and pureness, so dost thou in this justice and righteousness, forbidding me to steal; under the which word thou comprehendest all kinds of deceit. The which thing thou doest, because thou wouldest that I should give myself wholly to the study and exercise of justice; as in the precept next going before thou wouldest I should give over myself wholly to the keeping of sobriety and pureness: so that I see thy good pleasure herein is not that I should alonely abstain from all theft, but also from all fraud and craft in word or deed; yea, that I should earnestly follow and exercise all equity, truth, and justice.
By reason whereof I see myself much bound to praise thee, which art so careful over my goods and substance, that, if any man should go about to steal from me, or to defraud me in any thing, yea, whosoever goeth not about to keep and care for that I have as he would do for his own, the same displeaseth thee.
O Lord, if thou hast such care for my goods, cattle, and such pelf, how great is thy care for my soul! If this one commandment were not, I perceive, as I for my own part should have done and do much worse than I have done, so much worse had been done to me and mine than hath been.
It is thou, good Lord, I perceive, that hast both given me all that I have, and also still conservest and keepest the same; and not my own policy, wisdom, and industry; for in vain were all this, except thou didst vouchsafe to use and take it as a mean to work by. There is nothing therefore that I have, but whensoever I look upon it, by this commandment I learn thy goodness, strength, and power; for, as thou givest it of thy mercy, so it speaketh to me that presently thou still dost keep it for me: so that exceeding great cause have I to thank thee for this precept, dear God and most gracious Lord.
But, alas! I am so far from thankfulness (as always I have been for all thy care for me, and for all that ever thou hast given unto me), that, as I have used subtlety and craft, yea, sometimes theft and bribery; so now, good Lord, I still, when occasion is offered, do exercise the same. I live also voluptuously of that thou hast given and lent me, and nothing consider what equity requireth, and what or how great the necessity of the poor is, whom I do thus defraud by excess and prodigality. That which I borrow I with unwillingness do repay: I use it more negligently than I would do mine own. Lack of excommunication, of justice, the great usury, robbery, oppression, and such-like wickedness, as is exercised amongst us, I lament not, labor not after my vocation for the redress of the same; I pray not to thee thereabout, but neglect altogether. Yea, even those things wherewith I am put in trust, or am hired to do, those, I say, I do with great negligence: so that great is my sin herein, and worthy I am of damnation.
But, merciful God, I beseech thee for Christ’s sake to have mercy upon me, and to pardon me my unthankfulness, thefts, frauds, deceits, avarice, negligences, and great carelessness for the lack of justice, and for the monstrous oppression, usuries, excess, riot, the which be horribly exercised in the commonweal. For thy mercy’s sake in Christ Jesus, O Lord, whom thou hast given to fulfill the law for them that do believe, give me true faith and thy holy Spirit, to work in me the knowledge, love, and perpetual obedience of this thy holy precept and all other thy commandments for ever.
Dear Lord, give unto me, and to all whom thou wouldest I should pray for, the hatred of all craft, and love of all justice. Grant to the oppressed thy comfort; to wrongers repentance; to thieves and deceivers, that they may make restitution; to justices of peace, landlords, and. the rich of the world, that they may have thee before their eyes, love their poor tenants and brethren; to laborers and artificers, that they may be diligent in their work and labor, and that wherewith they are put in trust.
THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOR Now dost thou, most gracious Lord, instruct me in this commandment, how I should use my tongue towards my neighbor, and behave myself concerning his name, forbidding me to bear false witness; in the which thou forbiddest me all kinds of slandering, lying, hypocrisy, and untruth. And why? Because, as “members of one body,” thou wouldest we should “speak truth one to another,” and be careful every one to cover other’s infirmity, and with our tongue defend the names of others, even as we would that other should defend ours: so that in this commandment, as thou forbiddest me all kind of evil, perilous, calumnious and untrue speaking, so dost thou command to me all kind of godly, honest, and true report and talk.
By reason whereof I have great cause to praise thee, in that I see thee to be so careful over my name, that all men are by thee commanded to defend the same. O precious God, great is thy care over my soul, I now perceive.
If this commandment were not, I see, as I should have done and do much worse with my tongue to others than is happened, so should I have felt of others towards me. Besides this, no small commodity is it to me, that thou wouldest all men should use truth in all their words to me.
O how great a good thing is this unto me! If we consider the hurt that cometh by untruth, and by words where-through many are deceived, easily may we see a wonderful benefit and care of thee for us in this commandment.
But, gracious Lord, like as I acknowledge my unthank-fullness to be monstrous and great, and always hath been hitherto, even so yet continue I in wonderful hypocrisy in all my conversation; often lying, and speaking, as vainly, so offensively, fleshly, subtlely, calumniously, and giving my ears to hear such things as be slanderously spoken; not repugning or admonishing other, as the slanderer to do as he would be done by, to tell his tale where he should tell it, neither admonishing the party slandered of that which is reported of him, thereby to take better heed; but rather I augment it. By reason whereof I have deserved eternal damnation.
But thou, good Lord, be merciful unto me, I beseech thee, for Christ’s sake, whom thou hast ordained to be “the end of the law to all them that do believe,” as well for pardon of that which is past, as for not imputing the imperfection that remaineth. In his name therefore, good Lord, I beseech thee to pardon me, and give me thy holy Spirit to open to me this law and all other thy precepts, so to understand them that I may heartily love them, and faithfully give myself to the obedience of them for ever.
Grant me thy good Spirit to sanctify my tongue, that it may be kept from lying, slandering, and all such vices; and that it may be continually used in thy service, and speaking that which may be to edify to thy glory and praise, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S HOUSE, THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S WIFE, NOR HIS SERVANT, NOR HIS MAID, NOR HIS OX, NOR HIS ASS, NOR ANY THING THAT IS HIS HERE, O most gracious Lord God, thou givest me the last commandment of thy law who having taught me what outward actions I shall avoid, that I do not thereby offend or undo my neighbor, as murder, adultery, theft, and false witness, now thou teachest me a rule for my heart, to order that well, from the abundance whereof all our works and words proceed, that I shall not covet any thing that is my neighbor’s.
I know hereby that, if he have a fairer house than I, I may not wish for it; if he have a more beautiful wife than I, I may not desire her; if he have an honest and a faithful servant, and such a one as helpeth to get his living, I must not think to myself I would I had him away from his master; I may not desire to take from him his ox, nor his ass, no, not his dog, no, not the meanest thing he hath in his possession. So that, in the other commandments as thou hast forbidden all injuries and evil practice against my neighbor, so now thou chargest me to beware of thinking any evil thought against him.
By reason whereof I have great cause to praise thee, in that I see thee to be so careful over mine estate, my house, my wife, my servants, and the beasts that drudge for my service, that all men are by thee commanded not once to wish them from me. The apostle said well, when he taught us, saying, “Cast all your care upon God, for he careth for you.” It is true, I find it true: thus thou “carest for us,” and wouldest have us to “care one for another.”
But, gracious Lord, I must needs confess that I have forgotten and broken this commandment, and do so still every day. I am wishing and woulding every minute of an hour: I have gone about to take my neighbor’s house over his head: many times have I had unchaste thoughts in my heart touching his wife and children: I have gone about to inveigle and entice his servants from him: I could have been content to have wrought his beast and spared my own: I always thought he had too much, and I too little: and the dregs of these things, O Lord, are not quite out of my heart. By reason whereof I have deserved to have thy law executed upon me with all severity.
But thou, good Lord, be merciful unto me in this point also for Jesus Christ’s sake; for otherwise I am of all men most miserable. Good Lord, pardon me; consider the frailty of my flesh, the corruption of my nature, the multitude of temptations, how of myself I am able to do nothing, how if I be left to myself I shall come to nothing.
Set my heart straight in the case of religion to acknowledge thee one God, to worship none other God, to reverence thy name, and to keep thy sabbaths. Set my heart right in matters of human conversation, to honor my parents, to obey rulers, and reverence the ministry of the gospel; to have hands clean from blood, true from theft, a body free from adultery, and a tongue void of all offense. But purge the heart first, O Lord, and then the hand, the eye, the tongue, the foot, and all the whole body will be the cleaner.
Write all these thy laws in my heart, O Lord, and in the hearts of all the faithful people; that we may believe them and keep them all the days of our lives, to thy glory and praise, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.