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FA66 O Lead God and dear Father, what shall I say? that feel all things to be in manner with me as in the wicked. Blind is my mind, crooked is my will, and perverse concupiscence is, in me as a spring or stinking puddle. O how faint is faith in me! how little is love to thee or thy people, how great is self-love, how hard is my heart! etc. by the reason whereof I am moved to doubt of thy goodness towards me, whether thou art my Father or no, and whether I be thy child or no. Indeed worthily might I doubt, if that the having of these were the causes, and not the fruits rather, of thy children.
The cause why thou art my Father is thy mercy, goodness, grace, and truth in Christ Jesus, the which cannot but remain for ever: in respect whereof thou hast borne me this good will, to accept me into the number of thy children, that I might be holy, faithful, obedient, innocent, etc. And therefore thou wouldest not only make me a creature after thy image, enduing me with right limbs, shape, form, memory, wisdom, etc., (where thou mightest have made me a beast, a maimed creature, lame, blind, frantic, etc. ;) but also thou wouldest that I should be born of christian parents, brought into thy church by baptism, and called divers times by the ministry of thy word into thy kingdom, besides the innumerable other benefits always hitherto poured upon me: all which thou hast done of this thy good-will that thou of thine own mercy barest to me in Christ and for Christ before the world was made: the which thing as thou requirest straitly that I should believe without doubting, so in all my needs that I should come unto thee as to a Father, and make my moan without mistrust of being heard in thy good time, as most shall make to my comfort.
Lo, therefore to thee, dear Father, I come through thy Son our Lord, Mediator, and Advocate, Jesus Christ, who sitteth “on thy right hand making intercession” for me, and pray thee of thy great goodness and mercy in Christ be merciful unto me, that I may feel indeed thy sweet mercy as thy child.
The time, O dear Father, I appoint not; but I pray thee that I may with hope still expect and look for thy help: I hope that, as for a little while thou hast left me, thou wilt come and visit me, and that in thy great mercy, whereof I have need by reason of my great misery. Thou art wont for a little season in thine anger to hide thy face from them whom thou lovest: but surely, O Redeemer, “in eternal mercies thou wilt shew thy compassions;” for, when thou leavest us, O Lord, thou dost not leave us very long, neither dost thou leave us to our loss, but to our lucre and advantage; even that thy holy Spirit with bigger portion of thy power and virtue may lighten and cheer us, that the want of feeling to our sorrow may be recompensed plentifully with the lively sense of having thee to our eternal joy: and therefore thou swarest, that “in thine everlasting mercy thou wilt have compassion on us.” Of which thing to the end we might be most assured, thine oath is to be marked; for thou sayest, “As I have sworn that I will not bring any more the waters to drown the world; so have I sworn that I will never more be angry with thee, nor reprove thee. The mountains shall remove, and the hills shall fall down; but my lovingkindness shall not move, and the bond of my peace shall not fail thee.”
Thus sayest thou the Lord our merciful Redeemer.
Dear Father, therefore I pray thee, remember even for thine own truth and mercy’s sake this promise and everlasting covenant, which in thy good time I pray thee to write in my heart, that I may “know thee to be the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent;” that I may love thee with all my heart for ever; that I may love thy people for thy sake; that I may be holy in thy sight through Christ; that I may always not only strive against sin, but also over come the same daily more and more, as thy children do; above all things desiring “the sanctification of thy name,” “the coming of thy kingdom,” “the doing of thy will here on earth, as it is in heaven,” etc., through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, Mediator, and Advocate. Amen.
A THANKSGIVING IN THE TIME OF PERSECUTION FA67 OGRACIOUS God, which seekest all means possible how to bring thy children into the feeling and sure sense of thy mercy, and therefore, when prosperity will not serve, then sendest thou adversity, graciously correcting them here whom thou wilt shall with thee elsewhere live for ever; we poor misers give humble praises and thanks unto thee, dear Father, that thou hast vouched us worthy of thy correction at this present, hereby to work that which we in prosperity and liberty did neglect: for the which neglecting and many other our grievous sins, whereof we now accuse ourselves before thee, most merciful Lord, thou mightest most justly have given us over, and destroyed us both in souls and bodies. But such is thy goodness towards us in Christ, that thou seemest to forget all our offenses: and, as though we were, far otherwise than we be indeed, thou wilt that we should suffer this cross, now laid upon us for thy truth and gospel’s sake, and so be thy witnesses with the prophets, apostles, martyrs, and confessors, yea, with thy dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ; to whom thou dost now here begin to fashion us like, that in his glory we may be like him also.
O loving Lord, forgive us our unthank-fullness and sins. O faithful Father, give us thy holy Spirit now to cry in our hearts, ‘Abba, dear Father;’ to assure, us of our eternal elections in Christ; to reveal more and more thy truth unto us; to confirm, strengthen, and stablish us so in the same, that we may live and die in it as vessels of thy mercy, to thy glory and to the commodity of thy church. Endue us with the Spirit of thy wisdom, that with good conscience we may always so answer the enemies in thy cause, as may turn to their conversion or confusion, and our unspeakable consolation in Jesus Christ: for whose sake we beseech thee henceforth to keep us, to give us patience, and to will none otherwise for deliverance or mitigation of our misery, than may stand always with thy good pleasure and merciful will towards us.
A MOST GODLY AND EARNEST PRAYER UPON THE PASSION AND PAINFUL WORK OF OUR SAVIOR CHRIST FA70 OALMIGHTY and everlasting Lord God, which hast made heaven, earth, etc.! O incomprehensible unity! O always to be worshipped, most blessed Trinity! I humbly beseech thee and pray thee, by the assumption and crucified humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou wouldest incline and bow down the great depth of thy Deity to the bottomless pit of my vility: drive from me all kind of vice, maliciousness and sin, and “make in me a new and clean heart, and renew in me a right spirit,” for thy holy name’s sake.
O Lord Jesu, I beseech thy goodness, for that exceeding great love which drew thee out of thy Father’s bosom into the womb of the holy virgin, and for the assumption of man’s nature, wherein it pleased thee to save me and to deliver me from eternal death; I beseech thee, I say, that thou wouldest draw me out of myself into thee, my Lord God: and grant this thy love may recover again to me thy grace, that may make increase and make perfect in me that which is wanting in me; may raise up in me that which is fallen, may restore to me that which I have lost, and may quicken in me that which is dead and should live; and so I to become conformable unto thee in all my life and conversation, thou dwelling in me and I in thee, my heart being suppled with thy grace, and settled in thy faith for ever. O thou, my God, loose and set at liberty my spirit from all inferior things, govern my soul, and so work that both in soul and body I may be holy and live to thy glory, world without end. Amen. I humbly pray thee for thy holy nativity’s sake, that thou wouldest sanctify my nativity, begin in me a new life and a godly, to thy praise for ever.
For thy holy circumcision’s sake take from me the foreskin of my heart, and “circumcise me with circumcision not made with hands,” that I may “put off the old man,” and be made “a new creature,” endued with thy righteousness, holiness, innocency and immortality.
For thy exile’s sake grant me to take this life as an exile, and make me a citizen and home-dweller of thy Kingdom in heaven; which grant me to aspire, and to long to come into the same, as thou art in it both soul and body.
For thy holy baptism’s sake grant me the baptism of thy Spirit, that I may be anointed with thy holy anointment in such measure as may please thee, to thy glory and my endless comfort; that henceforth I may live a God’s child, and be guided by the same Spirit for ever.
For thy fasting and temptation’s sake grant me to mortify mine affections and carnality, and grace to stand against all the assaults of the adversary; whom as thou over-camest in thine own person, so I beseech thee do in me.
For thy holy conversation’s sake grant me to follow thee as my pattern in all things effectually.
For thy holy miracles’ sake miraculously convert my soul, heal my wounds, cure my diseases, restore to me life, give me inward sight, inward hearing, inward speech; cast out all evil in me, and come and dwell in me for ever.
For thy great humility’s sake in washing thy disciples’, even thine enemy’s, feet, wash away from me all my filth of sin and all my readiness to do evil; mundify the feet of my naughty affections, and keep them always clean from henceforth, that they never be defiled. And grant me always that I may be ready to humble myself by all means to serve my brother, even mine enemies, to their comfort in thee.
For thy holy preparation of the place for thee to sup in, and for the institution of thy holy supper, which thou hast instituted for the memory of thy death and passion, and of thy coming again, to confirm our faith of pardon of our sins, and communion with thee and all thy merit and glory, make good and prepare in me a meet and worthy place for thee to sup in; and feed me with thyself, that I may dwell in thee and thou in me by thy holy Spirit, to couple me unto thee, and so to thy Father.
For thy exceeding great lowliness’ sake, which sufferedst thyself to be sold of thine own disciple, grant that I do never sell thee, my Lord God, for any worldly glory or gain, but may contemn all things, and even mine own self, for thy sake and for thy kingdom.
For thy wonderful heaviness, sorrow, dread, prayer, agony, and bloody sweat, which thou sufferedst in the garden for me, utterly forsaking thine own will, grant me to see and hate sin in myself and others, which was the cause of all this thine agony and torments. Grant me not to make a trifle of that which was so painful for thee to purchase. Grant that in all adversity I may deny myself utterly, and offer up myself wholly unto thee.
For that thy wonderful love, where through thou didst permit thyself not only to be betrayed of Judas, but also to be delivered to thine enemies, grant that I never betray thee, either in myself or in any others, neither at any time do refuse to do my duty and the good I can, even to my very enemies.
For thy charity’s sake, which made thee willing to be taken and bound of wicked and ungracious men, loose me from the bonds of all sins, and tie me in the strings of thy precepts and loving of thy holy will, that for ever hereafter I may persevere in thy service, and never have liberty or be loosed to follow the pleasure of the flesh at any time.
For thy most ardent compassion’s sake, which moved thee to suffer for my sake many slanders, taunts, mockings, and cruel entertainments of thine adversaries, have mercy upon my sinful soul, and unlade her from the great lead of sin laid upon her, wherewith, alas! I have defiled thy gracious image most shamefully, and done much wrong and contempt to thy holy name in myself continually.
For that love’s sake, which made thee not to abhor for me to be most painfully whipped, scourged, and beaten, pardon and forgive me that I have so often, alas! beaten thee with my hands, scourged thee with my tongue, and punished thee with my feet and affections; but may henceforth as gladly suffer all kind of stripes for thee, and have mine affections, words, and deeds diverted and guided by thy grace to thy glory for ever.
For those most spiteful spittings and spewings of the Jews in thy face for my sake, dear Lord, forgive me that I have bespewed so my face and conscience (wherein thou wouldest dwell and have thy face to shine) with so many vile, filthy and wicked cogitations, and unclean desires; and thereto have altogether bewrayed thy most holy body (which by faith I have received in hearing thy words and receiving thy sacraments) with most stinking gobbets of phlegm; I mean, with most naughty, idle thoughts, words and deeds, etc. John Bradford.
A PRAYER FOR THE OBTAINING OF FAITH O merciful God, and dear Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in whom as thou art well pleased, so hast thou commanded us to hear him; forasmuch as he often biddeth us e to ask of thee, and thereto promiseth that thou wilt hear us, and grant us that which in his name we shall ask of thee; lo, gracious Father, I am bold to beg of thy mercy, through thy Son Jesus Christ, one sparkle of true faith and certain persuasion of thy goodness and love towards me in Christ; wherethrough I being assured of the pardon of all my sins, by the mercies of Christ thy Son, may be thankful to thee, love thee, and serve thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life. Amen.
A PRAYER FOR REPENTANCE MOST gracious God and merciful Father of our Savior Jesus Christ, because I have sinned and done wickedly, and through thy goodness have received a desire of repentance, whereto this long-suffering doth draw my hard heart; I beseech thee, for thy great mercy’s sake in Christ, to work the same repentance in me; and by thy Spirit, power, and grace, to humble, mortify, and fear my conscience for my sins to salvation, that in thy good time thou mayest comfort and quicken me, through Jesus Christ, thy dearly beloved Son. So be it.
Conscience Because I would fain be forgiven.
Conscience The scriptures went upon Judas’ fact, which must needs be fulfilled: they never went upon mine. Again Judas bare a figure of the people of the Jews, which tribe only fell from Christ, when all other eleven tribes of the world did stick fast unto him. I am a poor sinner of the gentiles, of whom it is written, “I will be exalted in the gentiles.”
Conscience I grant: but Christ’s passion is greater.
Conscience Tell me not, Satan, what I have done, but what I will do.
Satan Why, what wilt thou do?
Satan Is that enough, thinkest thou?
Conscience What lacketh?
Conscience So God favored and “loved the world,” that he gave his own dear Son, that whosoever seeth him as the Israelites did the brasen serpent, they “shall not perish, but have life everlasting. ” A TREATISE OF ELECTION AND FREE-WILL THAT there is and always hath been with God, even before the world was made, an election in Christ of all those that shall be saved, many places in the scriptures do teach; as to the Ephesians 1.; Romans 8:9-11; <520101> Thessalonians 1; Matthew 20:22-24; Mark 13; Titus 1.; Acts 13; Philippians 2; Luke 10:18; Revelation 3:13-17-21-22; John 6:8-10-13-17; and almost every where in the new Testament. In no case therefore it may be denied of any that is godly, although he cannot attain to God’s wisdom, justice, and mercy in it; for that were to see God’s fore-parts. We must grant it therefore, because the word of God doth not only teach it, but also it standeth with the very nature of God, that to him not only men, but all things also that have been or shall be for ever in all creatures, are not only certain, but so certain that they cannot but be accordingly, and serve his providence; for else God were not God, if any thing were, hath been, or could be without his knowledge, yea, certain knowledge. Which knowledge in God may not be separated of any man from his wisdom, and so not from his will; except we would make two gods, as did the Manichees, one the author of all good, and another the author of all evil; both which, say they, were eternal and without beginning: which their opinion is devilish and against the word of God most manifestly, which affirmeth in many places that there is no more gods but one, or any other that have power to do good or evil absolutely or of themselves.
But lest some men which are too curious should hereout gather, that then all things come by fatal necessity, as the Stoics thought, or by compulsion and coaction, as others think; and therefore, say they, all God’s precepts requiring that which we cannot do are in vain; I think it good to speak something hereof.
First. The Stoics’ opinion is to be condemned as concerning fatal necessity; for that it tieth and bindeth God to the second causes, and maketh him which is a most free agent bound and tied, so that he cannot work but as the second cause moveth him For they did imagine a perpetual connexion and knitting together of causes by a perpetual order which is contained in nature: whereas we should certainly know that it is God which is the ruler and arbiter of all things, which of his wisdom hath foreseen and determined all things that he will do, and now of his power doth in his time put the same in execution, according as he hath decreed with himself.
Herein to tarry any longer I need not, for that I think there be none now which be of this opinion to attribute things to fortune, a word unseemly for Christians.
Secondly. That all things are done by coaction or compulsion is false, and out of God’s providence and predestination cannot be gathered or maintained; for there must be a difference put between necessity and constraint.
All and every thing that hath been done, is, or shall be, in consideration of God’s providence as it is with God, are of necessity, but yet not of compulsion or constraint: as for example, you shall see that necessity is one thing, and constraint is another thing. God is good of necessity: but who now will say then that he is so by coaction, or enforced thereto? The devil is naught of necessity, but not by coaction: good men do well of necessity, but not by compulsion: wicked men do evil of necessity, but not of constraint. A thing that is done willingly is not to be said to be done by constraint. God is good willingly, but not by compulsion: the devil is naught willingly, but not of enforcing: good men do good willingly, but not constrainedly: wicked men do transgress willingly, but not compelled. So that it is plain, though all things be done of necessity, yet are they not of compulsion and enforcement.
By reason whereof, a man that will be diligent in looking hereon may see matter enough to purge God from being the author of all evil or of any evil, although he be the Author of all things and of all actions; which are to be construed according to the will of the doers: and so may we see one action to be both good and evil in respect of God’s will and Satan’s will. For, inasmuch as a thing is done according to God’s will, the same is good, for his will is good; and, inasmuch as a thing is done according to Satan’s will, it is evil, because his will is evil.
But now to the third thing, that is, whether God’s precepts, requiring that which is not in our powers, be frustrate or no, although all things are done of necessity and by God’s providence.
To the understanding hereof two things are to be considered: first, that we must think of God, not as he is in himself, but as by his word he teacheth us; secondly, the state of man before his fall is to be compared with the state of man presently, as he is now brought into this world.
For the first, although it be most true that to God all things are so certain as before is spoken; yet, in that God hath opened to us by his word so much of his will as we should with diligence search and observe, we may not think otherwise but that whatsoever is done against, that word, the same is sin and evil in him whosoever he be that doth there-against; although the same transgression God doth and can use to serve his providence accordingly. Of which providence we may not otherwise judge, than his word giveth us leave: that is, we must do nothing to serve it but as his word teacheth. If Adam had been ruled hereby, then he had not eaten the apple; for, in that he obeyed not the word of God which he knew, easily we may perceive that he did not eat the apple to obey God’s providence which he knew not. So that evident it is, Adam’s fall to be sin and evil, and he himself with the serpent to be the author thereof; God not allowing or approving the evil, which is to be construed according to the will of the doer: which will in Adam was naught, although the action God turned to serve his providence, thereby setting forth his wonderful wisdom, power, and goodness: whereat we ought rather with reverence to wonder, than by wandering further than beseemeth us to call into question why God did so. Which ‘why’ no man is able to understand, and therefore we should bid our busy brain sit down, and not to covet again to be like to God, as Adam did, and therefore he fell so foul as he did.
For the second (man’s state I mean before his fall and his state now) thus let us think; namely, that God made man after his image, that is, endued man with a soul immortal, wise, righteous, and holy: for the image of God is not concerning the body which man hath common with the beasts of the earth, but it is from above and of God’s breathing. So that Adam, transgressing God’s precept, did not according as he should and might have done, but according as he should not have done, and might have avoided, if that he had not received the persuasion and counsel of the serpent: which God permitted him to do, thereby to declare that perfect justice, wisdom, and holiness is not nor cannot be in any creature which is not God also: and therefore Christ being God was made man, that in man there might be this perfection and justice which is in Christ our Lord, and in Adam we could never have had. Which wisdom of God we shall joyfully one day behold, if we will now restrain our busy brain and curiosity from searching further than we should do.
But to return again. Adam, I say, being made after God’s image, (which he received for us all, to have derived the same unto us all by natural propagation,) by transgressing the commandments lost and mangled so the same image of God in himself and in us all, that for immortality came death, for wisdom came foolishness, for righteousness came unrighteousness, for holiness came corruption, concerning God’s judgment and in God’s sight; (although there remained in him, concerning man’s judgment and the sight of the world, life, wisdom, righteousness, and holiness;) the which all we by propagation do from our mother’s womb receive: so that we may well see our state now to be far from the state we had before Adam’s fall. And therefore God’s law requireth nothing of us but that which was in our nature before the fall, which we see is impossible for us to pay accordingly; and yet God not unjust, in that he asketh of us nothing thereby but the self-same thing which he gave us in our creation.
The law then and the precepts of God were given after the fall of man, not that man should thereby get life and the thing which was lost by sin, (for the blessed Seed was promised for the recovering hereof, and to him that pertained;) but that man by it might know sin and what he had lost, thereby to desire more deeply the promised Seed, by whom as we be received, so our evils be not imputed; and that we, being renewed by his holy Spirit and new seed, should “as new-born babes” desire, and by will begin to do the law of God: which, after our deliverance forth of this corrupt body and “man of sin” by death, we shall without all let fully accomplish, and at the length receive the body to be “spiritual” (as Paul saith) and holy, ready to obey and serve the Spirit as an helper rather than an hinderer.
O happy day, when wilt thou appear?
By this which I have already spoken, I think the diligent reader may see how that there is election of God’s children, and how that God’s providence stretcheth itself to all things; so that all things in respect thereof come of necessity, but yet nothing thereby to be done by constraint and enforcement: wherethrough God is seen to be the Author of all things, and yet of no evil or sin.
The state of man before his fall and after, with the cause of God’s law and precepts given to man, I have briefly touched. Now it resteth that I should speak something of free-will, what it is, and how far we may grant that man hath free-will.
That this may be understand, as I would have the end wherefore God gave his law to be considered; (namely, not for man to get thereby eternal life, which appertained to the promised Seed, but to shew man what sin is and what by sin he lost, that he might by his inability be driven to desire of very necessity the promised Messias, and so by him to receive the Spirit; wherethrough being regenerate he might learn to love the law, to take it as a directory and rule to live by, and to hedge in his old man from controlling;) this gear, I say, as I would have it considered if we will understand man’s free-will, so would I have this marked, namely the difference betwixt the life which we lost and had in our first creation, and now have by birth before regeneration.
In our first creation we had a life not only with the creatures, but also with God: which life utterly Adam lost, as he declareth by running away to hide himself from God; and this he lost for us also as well as for himself, in respect whereof the scripture calleth us “dead.” Concerning this life therefore that is with God, we have no will at all, much less any free-will; for how can a dead man have any will? The will therefore we have is only for this life and with men: that is, it is not good and free but in respect of men and in this life. In respect of God and life with him all our will is as we are, even “dead.” Yea, and the will we, have for this present life, if a man will consider “the god of this world,” and how we are his slaves by birth and continually till we be regenerate, and how ready our affections are to serve his purpose; I think none will say otherwise but that man’s will unregenerate is none otherwise free than pleaseth his master, who must needs serve, spite of his head, our God; and therefore all to be done by God’s providence, as I said before, without any imputation of evil to our good and most holy Father. ‘Yea, but,’ saith one, ‘ what free-will hath man that is regenerate?’ This will I briefly show, when that I have spoken of justification, the which precedeth regeneration, from whom we may discern it, but not divide it, no more than heat from the fire.
Justification in scripture is taken for the forgiveness of our sins, and consisteth in the forgiveness of our sins. This is only God’s work, and we nothing else but patients and not agents. After this work, in respect of us and our sense, cometh regeneration, which altogether is God’s work also: for, as to our first birth we bring nothing, (bring, quoth I? yes, we bring to let it many things, but to further it nothing at all,) so do we bring nothing that can help to our justification; as St Austin full well saith, “He that made thee without thee, shall he not justify thee without thee?” which the papists have perverted, reading it affirmatively without interrogation, as though we brought something to our justifying: whereas it (I mean justification) is a much more excellent work than the work of our creation; and therefore too arrogant are they which will not give all to God in it, as they do in their creation.
Good men fly from that pride, and are content to give no less to God justifying and regenerating them, than they do to their parents for their first generation. Afore we be justified and regenerated of God, we are altogether (lead to God and to all goodness in his sight; and therefore we are altogether patients till God have wrought this his only work, justification and regeneration. Which work, in respect of us and our imperfection and falls, in that it is not so full and perfect but it may be more and more, therefore by the Spirit of sanctification (which we receive in regeneration as the seed of God) we are quickened to labor with the Lord, and to be more justified; that is, by faith and the fruits of faith, to ourselves and others to declare the same; and so to increase from virtue to virtue, from glory to glory, having always need to have our feet washed, although we be clean notwithstanding.
Now to the question. A man regenerate (which we ought to believe of ourselves, I mean that we are so by our baptism, the sacrament thereof requiring no less faith), a man, I say, regenerate, that is, “born of God,” hath the Spirit of God. And, as a man born of flesh and blood hath the spirit thereof, whereby as he can stir up himself to do more and more the deeds of the flesh, so the other can, by the Spirit of God in him, stir up in himself the gifts and graces of God, to glorify God accordingly. Howbeit, here let us mark that as “the old man” is a perpetual enemy to the newborn man, so accordingly to his strength the works of “the new man” are letted and made ineffectual. Therefore God hath taught us to pray and promised his help, which he most commonly in manner giveth by the cross; whereby “the old man” is weakened, and the new receiveth strength more and more, desiring a dissolution and an utter destruction of “the old man” by death, that it might go to God from whence it came, and to his home, even heaven; where in the last day it shall receive the old Adam, now so schooled that it will never more be but a most faithful friend to serve and praise the Lord for evermore.
Thus have you now what free-will the regenerate children of God have, for whose sakes the gospel and sweet free promises are given: and to the regenerate “new man” they properly do pertain; as doth the law with all comminations, and the conditional promises (I mean promises hanging upon condition on our worthiness), pertain properly to the old and unregenerate man, so that, when he kicketh, he must by them be bridled and kept down. When the inward man would be comforted, he must not have the law, nor his comminations and conditional promises, but the gospel and her most sweet free promises. So shall we walk neither on the right nor on the left hand, but keep the right way to heavenward, even Christ our Lord and Captain, as his soldiers, servants, and lively members; neither despairing nor carnally living, but fearing and rejoicing as is appertaining: which God grant for his mercy’s sake. Amen.
And thus, my dearly beloved, I have sent to you briefly my mind herein according to your desire. Because I have had little time and many other lets, I shall heartily pray you to take this in good part, and with the more indifferency and attention to read it; for my desire was to write fully and speedily. Therefore it perchance hath the more obscurity, and desireth a friendly reader, construing all to the best, and brotherly admonishing where cause may appear. JOHN BRADFORD.
A BRIEF SUM OF THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION AND PREDESTINATION God’s foresight is not the cause of sin or excusable necessity to him that sinneth: the damned therefore have not nor shall have any excuse, because God, foreseeing their condemnation through their own sin, did not draw them, as he doth his elect, unto Christ. But, as the elect have cause to thank God for ever for his great mercies in Christ, so the other have cause to lament their own wilfulness, sin, and contemning of Christ, which is the cause of their reprobation, and wherein we should look upon reprobation; as the only goodness of God in Christ is the cause of our election and salvation, wherein we should look upon God’s election.
He that will look upon God or any thing in God, simply and barely as it is in God, the same shall be stark blind. Who can see God’s goodness, as it is in God? who can see his justice, as it is in him? If therefore thou wilt look upon his goodness, not only look upon his works, but also upon his word: even so, if thou wilt look upon his justice, do the like. Then shalt thou see that election is not to be looked on but in Christ, nor reprobation but in sin.
When the second cause is sufficient, should not we think that they are too curious that will run to search the first cause, further than God doth give them leave by his word? the which first cause because they cannot comprehend, therefore do they deny it. God be merciful unto us for his name’s sake, and give us to love and live his truth, to “seek peace and pursue it.”
Because God of his goodness, for the comfort of his children and certainty of their salvation, doth open unto them something the first cause of their salvation, that is, his goodness before the beginning of the world, to be looked upon in Christ; a man may not therefore be so bold as to wade so in condemnation further than God revealeth it. And, forasmuch as he hath not revealed it but in sin, therefore let us not look on it otherwise.
To the former meditations and prayers, for your further comfort and godly exercise, you may join those most godly and comfortable meditations which are annexed to his book lately imprinted against the fear of death.