Are you a Christian?
PREVIOUS CHAPTER - NEXT CHAPTER - HELP - FACEBOOK - GR FORUMS - GODRULES ON YOUTUBE
AND PRAYERS BY JOHN BRADFORD, FROM MSS. IN EMMANUEL COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, AND OTHER SOURCES.
ON THE LORD’S SUPPER. FB1 JESUS IMMANUEL.
THIS heavenly banquet (wherewithin thou dost witness thyself, O sweet Savior, to be “the bread of life” wherewith our souls are fed unto true and eternal life and immortality) grant me grace so now to receive, as may be to my singular joy and comfort.
The signs and symbols be bread and wine, which are sanctified in thy body and blood, to represent the invisible communion and fellowship of the same. For, as in baptism thou, O God, dost regenerate us, and as it were engraft us into the fellowship of thy church, and by adoption make us thy children; so, as a good householder and Father, thou dost afterwards minister meat to nourish and continue us in that life whereunto thou “by thy word hast begotten us.” And truly, O Christ, thou art the food of the soul: and therefore our heavenly Father giveth thee unto us, that we being refreshed in communicating of thee might be received into immortality.
Now, because this mystery is of itself incomprehensible, thou dost exhibit and give unto us a figure and image hereof in visible signs: yea, as though thou paidest down present earnest, thou makest us so certain hereof, as if with our eyes we saw it. And this is the end wherefore thou didst institute this thy supper and banquet, namely, that it might confirm us, as of thy body once so offered for us that we may feed on it, and in feeding feel in us the efficacy and strength of thy one alone sacrifice; so of thy blood once so shed for us that it is unto us a continual potion and drink, according to the words of thy promise added there, “Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you.” So that the body which was once offered for our salvation we are commanded to “take and eat,” that, whiles we are partakers thereof, we might be most assured the virtue of thy lively death is of force in us: whereof it cometh that thou callest the cup “the testament (or covenant) in thy blood;” for the covenant which thou once hast stricken with us in thy blood, thou dost as it were renew the same as concerning the confirmation of our faith, so often as thou reach unto us this holy cup to drink of.
O wonderful consolation which cometh to the godly hearts by reason of this sacrament! For here we have assured witness that thou Christ art so coupled unto us, and we so engrafted in thee, that we are “one body” with thee; and whatsoever thou hast we may call it our own. Boldly therefore we may boast that “everlasting life,” thine inheritance, is ours; that “the kingdom of heaven,” whereinto thou art entered, can no more be taken away from us or we from it, than from thee or thou from it. Again, our sins can no more condemn us than thee; for thou would they should be laid to thy charge as though they were thine.
This is a wonderful change which thou makest with us of thy unspeakable mercy. Thou wast made “the Son of man” with us, that we with thee might be made “the sons of God:” thou camest down from heaven unto earth, to bring us from the earth into heaven: thou tookest upon thee our mortality, that thou mightest give us thy immortality: thou tookest upon thee our weakness, that thou mightest make us strong with thy strength: thou tookest on thee our poverty, to pour upon us thy plenty: thou tookest upon thee our unrighteousness, that thou mightest cloak us with thy righteousness.
O comfort of comforts! Of all these things we have so assured witness in this sacrament, that we ought without all wavering to be so sure that they are exhibit and given unto us, as if with our corporal eyes we did see thee, O sweet Christ, present in visible form, and with our very hands touched and handled thee; for this word cannot lure or beguile us, “Take, eat, drink: this is my body which is given for you: this is my blood which is shed for the forgiveness of your sins.”
In that thou biddest us “take,” thou wouldest signify unto us that it is ours.
In that thou biddest us “eat,” thou wouldest we should know that it is made “one flesh” with us. In that thou sayest it is “thy body given for us,” “thy blood shed for us,” thou wouldest that we should learn both to be not only thine now, but also ours; for thou tookest and gavest both not for thy commodity but for ours.
Grant therefore, good Lord, that we may, as be thankful to thee forever, so diligently always to mark that the chiefest and almost the whole pith of the sacrament consisteth in these words, “which is given for you,” “which is shed for you:” for else it would little help us to have thy body and blood distributed now, except they had been given for our redemption and salvation. By the bread and wine therefore they are represented, that we might learn that they are not only ours, but also that they are destinate and appointed unto us for the seal of spiritual life.
Thus, good Lord, grant us thy grace to consider this sacrament, that we stick not in the corporal things, and things which are object to our eyes, hands, taste and feeling, as the papists teach the people; (whose eyes open, and turn their hearts according to thy good will!) but that we may arise to the consideration of spiritual things hereby accordingly. That is, grant that we may deeply consider, as bread nourisheth, sustaineth, and conserveth the life of this our body, so thy body, O Christ, is the only and alone food to quicken and make strong the soul; as wine nourisheth, refresheth, confirmeth, and cheereth the heart, so doth thy blood shed for us on the cross to the souls of all faithful receivers and users of this most holy sacrament.
Grant, good Lord, therefore that I may truly consider and know the principal parts of the sacrament not to exhibit and give the body simply and without further consideration, but rather to obsign and confirm that promise, wherein, as thou dost witness thy flesh to be food indeed, and thy blood to be drink indeed, by which we are fed unto everlasting life, so thou affirmest thyself to be “the bread of life, whereof whoso eateth shall live for ever.”
And that this thing might be brought to pass, thy sacrament doth send us to thy cross, O Christ, where this promise indeed was performed, and most fully on all sides accomplished: for we cannot to salvation feed on thee or eat thee, O Christ, except thou hadst been crucified; and this we do when with lively sense we apprehend and catch hold on the efficacy of thy death.
For, though thou call thyself the “bread of life,” yet dost thou it not by reason of the sacrament, but because there was such a one given to us from the Father, and because thou didst give thyself such a one, by taking part with us in our mortal nature, to make us partakers of thy divine immortality; by offering thyself “a sacrifice for us,” to take to thyself our malediction; and pitifully to pour on us thy blessing, by swallowing up death by thy death, and by raising up to glory and incorruption this our corruptible flesh which thou tookest on thee, through thy resurrection.
So then it remaineth that we should apply all this unto us: and this we do, as by thy gospel, so no less but rather more clearly by thy holy Supper, where, as thou offerest thyself unto us with all thy benefits, so we by faith receive the same.
Grant me therefore to mark well that this sacrament is not the thing that maketh thee to begin to be “the bread of life;” but that this maketh thee so to us, by making us to call to mind that thou wast made “the bread of life,” for us continually to feed on; and by giving to us a taste and savor of that bread, that we might feel the virtue of the same bread.
A BRIEF ADMONITION WRITTEN BY MASTER BRADFORD IN A NEW TESTAMENT OF A FRIEND OF HIS.
THIS book is called Sermo crucis, ‘the word of the cross,’ because the cross doth always accompany it: so that, if you will be a student hereof, you must needs prepare yourself to the cross, which you began to learn before you learned your alphabet: and Christ requireth it of every one that will be his disciple, therein not swerving from the common trade of callings or vocations, for no profession or kind of life wanteth his cross. So that they are far overseen which think that the profession of the gospel, which the devil most envieth, the world most hateth, and the flesh most repineth at, can be without a cross. Let us therefore pray that God would enable us to “take up our cross” by “denying ourselves.” E carcere [From prison], 18 Februarii , 1555. JOHN BRADFORD.
OH, happy is he that may have but a sight of the immortal and incorruptible inheritance which these thy people shall enjoy forever! O that it please thee, O Father, as of thy mercy thou hast called me into thy company and communion [of ] thy saints, so of the same thy goodness thou wouldest give me to become like[wise affected, that in my heart I might cry as they do, and desire to be with thee, not simply because of this prison and exile that I am in presently, but rather only because of thee, and of love to thee: which love I humbly pray thee, that art love itself, that thou wouldest write in my heart, and graciously open thine ears to the words of my mouth at this present, which I have borrowed out of thy mouth by thy servants, saying, “Remember [me], O Lord, according to the favor that thou bearest unto thy people; O visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the felicity of thy chosen, and rejoice in the gladness of thy people, and give thanks with thine inheritance.” O give me “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation by the knowledge of thyself.” O “lighten the eyes of my mind, that I may know what the hope is whereunto thou hast called me, and how rich the glory is of thine inheritance upon thy saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of thy power to thy people-ward which believe.” O make me “able to comprehend with thy saints what is the breadth, and length, depth and height,” of thy sweet mercy; that is, that I may know the excellent love of the knowledge of Christ, that I may be fulfilled with all fullness that cometh of thee. O “lighten mine eyes that I sleep not into death;” but “send thy light to me, to lead and bring me into thy tabernacle,” that I may “believe to see the goodness of thee in the land of the living.” O give me “the spirit, not of the world, but which is of thee, that I may know the things that are given to us of God,” which are such as “the eye hath not seen, nor the ear hath heard, nor the heart is able to conceive;” for “the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, even as the light of seven days, in thy blessed kingdom where and when thou wilt bind up the wounds of thy people and heal their plagues.” O that I might have some lively sight hereof!
When shall I rejoice of an [exchange] for the immortal, the undefiled and the immarcescible inheritance, whereto thou hast called me, and dost keep for me in heaven? When shall I hear the sweet songs of thy saved people, crying, “Salvation be to him that sitteth in the throne of our God and to the Lamb?” When shall I with the elders and the angels sing and say, “Lauds, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be to thee our God for ever and ever?” When shall I be “covered with a white stole, and have a palm in my hand, to stand before the throne, night and day, to serve thee in the temple, and to have thee to dwell in me?” When shall I hear thy “great voice saying from heaven, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them their God?”
O happy were they that now might have a little show of thine “holy city, new Jerusalem, descending from heaven, prepared” of the gracious God, “as a bride decked for her husband,” which thou showedst thy servant St.
John. This should I see if I were with him “in the Spirit;” but this cannot be so long as I am “in the flesh.” O that the time were come that I might then “put off this tabernacle” in thy mercy, that I might see this great sight which is felicity itself! But herein I must do, and will tarry, thy good pleasure. As I came not hither into this world when I would, but when thou wouldest; even so, not when I will, but when thou wilt, take me hence in thy mercy.
In the mean season as thy child conserve and keep me; and further grant to me, that being in this body yet I may live “not in the flesh but in the Spirit,” now and then to have some little true taste of the pleasant dainties of thy house and sanctuary, that all worldly pleasures may be unpleasant and unsavory, to my eternal comfort, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
A SWEET CONTEMPLATION OF HEAVEN AND HEAVENLY THINGS.
O MY soul, lift up thyself above thyself; fly away in the contemplation of heaven and heavenly things; make not thy further abode in this inferior region, where is nothing but travail and trials, and sorrow, and woe, and wretchedness, and sin, and trouble, and fear, and all deceiving and destroying vanities. Bend all thine affections upward unto the superior places where thy Redeemer liveth and reigneth, and where thy joys are laid up in the treasury of his merits which shall be made thy merits, his perfection thy perfection, and his death thy life eternal, and his resurrection thy salvation. Esteem not the trifling pleasures of this life to be the way to this wealth, nor thy ignominious estate here to be any bar to prevent thee from the full use and joyful fruition of the glory there prepared for thee.
I am assured that though I want here, I have riches there; though I hunger here, I shall have fullness there; though I faint here, I shall be refreshed there; and though I be accounted here as a dead man, I shall there live in perpetual glory.
That is the city promised to the captives whom Christ shall make free; that is the kingdom assured to them whom Christ shall crown; there are the joys prepared for them that mourn; there is the light that never shall go out; there is the health that shall never be impaired; there is the glory that shall never be defaced; there is the life that shall taste no death; and there is the portion that passeth all the world’s preferment. There is the world that never shall wax worse; there is every want supplied freely without money; there is no danger, but happiness, and honor, and singing, and praise, and thanksgiving unto the heavenly Jehovah, “to him that sitteth on the throne,” “to the Lamb” that here was led to the slaughter, that now “reigneth;” with whom I “shall reign” after I have run this comfortless race through this miserable earthly vale.
The honor in this earth is baseness; the riches of this world is poverty; the fullness of this life is want; the joys of this world’s kingdom are sorrow, and woe, and misery, and sadness, and grief. And yet “the fool saith in his heart,” ‘There is no other heaven but this harmful deceiving world’s happiness, no other hell but this world’s bitterness, no better comfort than this world’s cares, no further help than this world’s wealth.’
Thus is man’s wisdom made foolishness, and man’s glory turned into shame, and man’s power made of no force: and the faithful poor that are here despised, they are advanced, the sorrowful are comforted, and the castaways in this world are recei[ved] to this blessed being, that cannot be expressed with the tongue of man, nor conceived with the heart of man. “O that I had wings,” saith heavenly-hearted David, that I might fly away from this world’s vanities, and possess heaven’s happiness! “O that I were dissolved,” saith blessed Paul, “that I might be with Christ!” O that I were in this place of such wished happiness, where I might rest from those worldly labors, and earthly miseries, and transitory vanities!
But be not heavy, O my soul, though thou must yet wade under the burden of these earthly troubles; for these heavenly mysteries are not seen of carnal eyes, nor can be obtained by carnal means; but through troubles, and afflictions, and dangers, and persecutions, they must be achieved: and none that are God’s elected shall be free from this world’s hatred. For such difference is there between earth and heaven, and between earthly and heavenly things, that whoso delighteth in the first shall be deprived of the latter; for we cannot have this world’s heaven and “the heaven of heavens,” the heaven of saints and angels, and cherubim and seraphim, where are all unspotted and all glorious, and all “in white robes” of sanctity, and where Christ the sacrificed Lamb is unto them “All in all.”
Oh, blessed are all they that are thus assured; blessed are the poor that shall have this heaven’s riches; blessed are the base that shall be thus advanced; blessed are the low that shall be thus raised; and blessed are the world’s despised that shall have this heaven’s happiness; yea, happy is this wretched world’s unhappy man, for he shall be happy.
I will daily meditate of [the] greatness and majesty of this high heaven’s blessed estate, where I shall one day bless my God with the company of his saints; and where I shall one day sit secure and free from the dangers and perils, and crosses, and afflictions, that now do assail me on the right hand and on the left, within me and without me; and am never free from one calamity or another.
But it is good for me to be here humbled, that I may be there advanced where I wish speedily to come: it is good that I were in want here, that I might seek heavenly necessaries: it is good that the world did discourage me, that I might fly to God that comforteth me: it is good that I am daily killed here, that I might live continually.
Now therefore, O my soul, stand up, fear not, faint not at this world’s crosses; but give glory to this great God, praise this high and helping God, seek him “while it is day;” drive not off to pray to this God, notwithstanding any hope thou hast in mortal men, but reject not his gracious means, who, in favor infinite and mercy endless, moveth the hearts of men in this life to do good unto such as he seeth distressed. He can find out and afford infinite means to succor them that are his, and will not leave them forsaken in danger; for he even here giveth me his blessings as pledges of his never-failing love, that, being visited in his mercy with timely comforts here, I may assure me of greater blessings in heaven, where they are prepared beyond all that I can ask or think. “O Lord God of hosts, who is like unto thee,” who hast “established thy kingdom with truth and equity, with mercy and judgment?” “Thou hast a mighty arm, strong is thine hand, and high is thy right hand:” whoso is under thy protection, he is safe; and “he that trusteth in thee, mercy embraceth him on every side.”
He is thy Father, he is thy helper: walk therefore “in the light of his countenance,” and be patient; wait in hope till these storms be past: and then shalt thou have that quiet rest that he hath prepared in heaven. “Lord, increase my faith.” “Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, even the Lord Jesus.” “If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.” “Set your affections on things which are above, and not on things which are on the earth.”
A MEDITATION OF THE LIFE EVERLASTING, THE PLACE WHERE IT IS, AND THE INCOMPARABLE JOYS THEREOF.
THAT there is an everlasting life, none will deny but such as will deny God; for, if he be true and just (which he must needs be, or else he is not God), then can there not be but an eternal life. That he hath both spoken it and promised it, in Matthew 25, 1 Corinthians 15, Hebrews 9,11,12, 1 Peter 1, it plainly appeareth, and elsewhere in very many places. So that to deny an everlasting life is to deny God, to deny Christ, and all that ever he did; also to deny all piety and religion; to condemn of foolishness all good men, martyrs, confessors, evangelists, prophets, patriarchs. Finally the denial of eternal life is nothing else but a denial of the immortality of the soul, and so a plain making of man nothing better than beasts. If it be so, “let us then eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die.” Lord, preserve us from this Sadduceal and epicureal impiety; and grant us for thy mercy’s sake, dear God, that we may be assuredly persuaded that there is indeed an eternal life and bliss with thee for them that put their trust in thee; amongst whom account me for thy mercy’s sake.
Again, this eternal life, and the place appointed for them that be thy servants, all men do grant to be with thee: albeit they do not think that, because thou art everywhere, therefore eternal life is everywhere; for they by thy word do know that, inasmuch as “no man can see thee and live,” this eternal life and thy blessed presence is most pleasant and had in fruition after in another world, whereunto by corporal death they do depart, and are translated to a place above them, where thou “dwellest in a light whereunto no man can approach.” “Abraham’s bosom,” they read, was above, as the place for the wicked was alow and beneath. Elias was caught up “into heaven:” and thy Son our dear Savior prayed, “that where he is, those also might be which thou hadst given him, and might see his glory.”
Now he, dear Father, we learn by thy Spirit, was ascended and taken up in his very body “into heaven,” whither Stephen looked up, and saw thy Christ “standing on thy right hand;” to whom he prayed, “O Lord Jesu, receive my spirit.”
Grant, I beseech thee, gracious God and Father, that I may have “a clean heart” more and more to see thee, and so in spirit to see and look often upon this place; whither bring me at the length in body also, I humbly pray thee.
Now, what a thing this everlasting life is, no man is able to conceive, much less able to utter; for “the peace of God,” which is eternal life, “passeth all understanding.” “The eye hath not seen, the ear hath not heard, neither can man’s heart conceive those things, which thou,” dear God, “hast prepared for them that love thee.” Whatsoever therefore can be spoken or imagined of thy kingdom, of the clearness, joy, and felicity of the same, is nothing in comparison; as we may see by thy prophets, which (because they could not otherwise) under corporal things have shadowed the same: so that the confidence of eternal life, what a thing it is, can in no wise be told.
Howbeit, somewhat we may be brought into some sight of it by earthly things to think on this sort. If God hath given here so many things in a strange place, how many are the great good things that be at home! If in a prison are so many mercies, how many are they in the palace! If the wicked have so many benefits, what is the store prepared for thy servants, O Lord!
If thy children find such comforts in the day of tears and mourning, what shall they find in “the day of the marriage!” If with beasts men being have the use of so innumerable blessings, O how many are the blessings which they shall enjoy with thy angels and with thyself, O dear God, when they shall “see thee,” and have the fruition of thee, in whom is fullness without loathing of all good and fair things, so that nothing can be more desired, and that forevermore!
This thy children do not so see as they now believe it. I say that even in their bodies they shall see it forever, as Job said. They believe that they “shall see thee, and their own eyes behold thee,” when these our corporal eyes, our bodies being raised, shall do their duties. Such a knowledge of thee they believe to have, as shall not be only intellectual and by faith, as now it is; but even a full sight and fruition, yea, a conjunction and fellowship with thee. Now they “see but as in a glass, even in a dark speaking; but then they shall see thee face to face.” For faith, though it be “the substance of things hoped for,” and a certain dark sight of thee, yet it may not be compared to the reward of faith, and glorious sight which we shall see in the life to come, when faith and hope shall cease.
Now thy children “know that they be thy sons, though it yet appear not what they shall be.” “We know,” say they, “that when our Christ,” God and man, “shall appear, then shall we be like unto him, for we shall see him even as he is.” O great prerogative, to see Christ as he is! which is not to be considered so much for the manhood, as for the God-head itself; as Paul doth also write, that “when all things are subject unto the Son, then shall he be subject unto thee,” dear Father, also, “that God may be All in all.” And therefore Christ our Savior prayed for us, “that we might know thee the only true God:” not that our Christ thy Son is not with thee the true, coequal, and substantial God, but that we might now know how that, after the judgment, such a mystery of his mediatorship shall not be in heaven as is now on earth.
Then thou, blessed Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, shalt “be All in all.” Thou shalt be the end of our desires; thou shalt be looked upon without end; thou shalt be loved without loathing; thou shalt be praised without weariness. Although loathsomeness be wont to follow fullness, yet our fullness in the contemplation of thy pleasures shall bring with it no kind at all of loathsomeness. Society of joys shall be in the beholding of thee. “Pleasures are on thy right hand forever.” “We shall be satisfied when we arise after thine image;” I mean in the resurrection.
Happy then, and happy again were we, if that day were come, that we might sing with thy angels, elders, and innumerable thousands, a new song, and say, “Thou Christ Jesu, which wast slain, art worthy to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.”
O that we might see now a little with St. John that “holy city, new Jerusalem, descending from heaven, prepared of God as a bride trimmed for her husband!” O that we might now something hear the great voice speaking out of the throne, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and he shall be unto them their God: he will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and death shall be no more, nor weeping, nor crying, nor sorrow; for the former things are gone.”
MEDITATION OF THE BLESSED STATE AND FELICITY OF THE LIFE TO COME.
THIS body is but a prison, wherein the soul is kept; and that verily not beautiful nor bright, but most foul and dark, disquiet, frail, and filled up with much vermin and venomous vipers (I mean it concerning our affections), standing in an air most unwholesome, and prospect most loathsome, if a man consider the excrements of it by the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hands, feet, and all the other parts: so that no Bocardo, no littleease, no dungeon, no bishop’s prison, no gatehouse, no sink, no pit, may be compared in any point to be so evil a prison for the body, as the body is for and of the soul; wherethrough the children of God have been occasioned to cry and lament their long being in it. ‘O,’ saith David, ‘how long shall I lie in this prison?’ “O wretch that I am!” saith Paul, “who shall deliver me out of this body of sin?” which is “an heavy burden to the soul,” as the wise man saith. And therefore the godly cry, ‘ “Now let thy servant depart in peace.” O that I were dissolved, and had put off this earthly and frail tabernacle! Take me unto thee, and “bring my soul out of this prison, that it may give thanks unto thee,” O Lord.’ For so long as we be in this body, we cannot see the Lord: yea, it is as an heavy habitation, and depresseth down sore the spirit from the familiarity which it else should have with God.
This world and life is an exile, a vale of misery, a wilderness, of itself being void of all virtues and necessaries for eternal life, full of enemies, sorrows, sighings, sobbings, groanings, miseries, etc.; in danger to hunger, cold, heat, thirst, sores, sickness, temptations, trouble, death, and innumerable calamities; being momentary, short, unstable, and nothing but vain; and therefore is compared to a warfare, a woman’s travail, a shadow, a smoke, a vapor, a word, a storm, a tempest: in the which God’s people feel great molestations, griefs and troubles, now of Satan himself, now of the world, now of their own flesh, and that so wonderfully, diversely, dangerously, and contrarily, that they are enforced to cry, ‘O Lord, “when shall we come and appear before thee?” when shall this misery end? when shall we be delivered out of this vale of misery, out of this wilderness, out of these continual afflictions and most perilous seas?’
But where thou art, Lord and dear “Father of mercy,” there is not only no prison, no dolors, no sorrow, no sighings, no tears, no sickness, no hunger, no heat, no cold, no pain, no temptations, no displeasure, no malice, no pride, no uncleanness, no contention, no torments, no horror, no sin, no filth, no stench, no dearth, no death, no weeping, no tears, no misery, no mischiefs; there is, I say, not only no such thing, or any evil, noisome, or displeasant thing, but all liberty, all light, all pleasantness, all joy, rejoicing, mirth, pleasure, health, wealth, riches, glory, power, treasure, honor, triumph, comfort, solace, love, unity, peace, concord, wisdom, virtue, melody, meekness, felicity, beatitude, and all that ever can be wished or desired, in most security, eternity, and perpetuity, that may be thought not only of man but of angels and archangels, yea, above all thoughts. The “eye hath not seen the like, the ear hath not heard, nor no heart is able to conceive” in any point any part of the blissful beatitude which is with thee, most dear Lord and Savior, most gracious God and Comforter. Where thou art, O blessed God, the archangels, angels, thrones, powers, dominations, cherubim, seraphim, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, virgins, confessors, and righteous spirits, cease not to sing night and day, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!” ‘Honor, majesty, glory, power, empire, and dominion be unto thee, O God the Creator, O Lord Jesu the Redeemer, O Holy Spirit the Comforter!’
In recordation of this, O how thy children rejoice! How contemn they the pleasures of this world; how little esteem their any corporal grief or shame; how desire they to be with thee! “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord God of hosts!” say they: “my soul hath a desire to enter into the courts of the Lord: my heart and my soul rejoiceth in the living God.” “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they that may always be praising thee;” “for one day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of ungodliness; for the Lord God is a light and defense.” And again, “Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul is athirst for God, yea, even for the living God: when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?” “My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh also longeth after thee, in a barren and dry land where no water is.”
They “lift up their heads,” looking for thy appearing, O Lord, which will make their “vile body like to thine own glorious (and immortal) body;” for, “when thou shalt appear, they shall be like unto thee.”
Thy angels will gather them together, and they shall meet thee in the clouds, and be always with thee. They shall hear this joyful voice, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning.”
Then shall they be “like to thy angels.” Then shall they be “like unto the sun in thy kingdom.” Then shall they have crowns of glory, and be “endued with white garments” of innocency and righteousness, having palms of victory in their hands. Oh, happy is he that may but see that immortal and incorruptible inheritance, which they shall enjoy forevermore! Amen. J. BRADFORD.
PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE FROM TROUBLE, BEING A GODLY PRAYER MADE BY JOHN BRADFORD. FB14 OETERNAL, almighty, and most merciful God, which hast revealed thyself unto mankind, not only by the handiwork of this world, and deliverance out of Egypt, but also (which is the greatest of all) by the sending of thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ into this vale of misery, and by the gifts of thy holy Spirit wherewith thou hast adorned thy church; we humbly beseech thee, by thy dear Son Jesus Christ, that thou wouldest meekly open thy gracious ears to our complaints, and send down thy help and aid, not so much for our sakes, as for the glory of thy holy name. For, whereas man did lie, as thou knowest, altogether so overwhelmed in sin, that not only he was destitute of that righteousness he had of thy creation, but also in nowise could by any his powers or merits rise up to recover the same righteousness, and therefore of necessity the inheritor of eternal punishment; yet thou, most merciful God, hadst mercy upon that our marvelous great misery, and therefore didst promise, and at length send unto us, thine only-begotten Son, that he might pay the ransom for our sins, and obtain by his obedience unto thee his dear Father, that so many as believed in him might be endued with his righteousness, to be reputed as just for his sake before thy tribunal-seat; that, although they want righteousness of their own, yet they might have the fruition of the righteousness of another, namely of the Lord Jesus Christ; whereby, as they might be made able to stand in thy judgment, so to be kindled in thy holy Spirit to the rendering of obedience to thee truly and from the very heart.
This is the doctrine of thy gospel, which thou at the first showedst to the fathers, which thy prophets taught, which thy Son Jesus Christ declared unto us, which thy holy Spirit by the apostles hath published throughout the whole world: which doctrine in these our days thou hast notably set forth by thy servant king Edward in the book of Homilies appointed in his reign to be read in the churches. By this doctrine thou keepest thy church, not only in afflictions of this life, but also in the torments of death itself.
Behold, we open before thy Majesty the articles of our bishops in their visitations, the statutes, laws, ordinances and injunctions of our parliaments and magistrates, and working of sophisters, wherewith the doctrine of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ concerning “the righteousness of faith” is so condemned that it is plainly accused of devilishness. Yea, Lord, so far forth do thy enemies now proceed, that, as tofore by slaughter they made havoc of thy sheep and church, even so now by all kinds of violence, cruelty, and injustice, they go about their impiety.
Therefore “arise, O Lord our God, defend thou thine own cause; “ “forget not the blasphemies wherewith the wicked blaspheme thee;” deliver thy Christ from their presumption, which they by all means, and especially this parliament, seek utterly to condemn. Keep thy church which thine enemies desire to oppress and utterly to destroy: defend thy prisoned servants which at this present are in bonds for the defense of thy verity.
Indeed we confess frankly that we are grievous sinners, and in no point have been thankful unto thee for thy wonderful great benefits, which hitherto thou hast plentifully poured out upon us. But now, good Lord, we desire to repent and something lament our miserable and sinful life: we desire to embrace and heartily to believe the gospel of thy Son, that, because we are sinners, and cannot make amends for our sins in any point by any means or merits of our own, we may obtain free remission of our sins for and through Christ thy Son. And we pray thee further, that henceforth thou wilt govern our whole life by thy holy Spirit; wherethrough the remnants of our flesh may be mortified, and we may serve and sanctify thy holy name forever.
As concerning thy adversaries, Lord, thou knowest, that although they would seem nothing less than persecutors of thy name and church, yet the thing itself declareth that they do persecute the true doctrine of the gospel of thy Son; and not only do not acknowledge their impiety, but also do defend it, and undertake so to do by all means they can. This is not their mind, that they might promote the glory of thy holy name; but that they might without blame live lord-like, after their lusts and beastly pleasures, satisfying their cruel and covetous desires and concupiscences. And wilt thou, O Lord our God, approve this their purpose? wilt thou help this their hope? No, no; thou wilt never do it: “for thou art not God that will iniquity; the wicked shall not dwell with thee; thou hatest all workers of wickedness; thou wilt destroy all that speak lies.”
We indeed are unworthy to see thy glory; but yet thou art worthy that thy glory might be showed to all the whole world. Wherefore we pray and earnestly beseech thee, in Christ’s name, that thou wouldest witness publicly in these our days, how that thy will is such as “hateth iniquity,” and “abhorreth these crafty and blood-thirsty men.” For if thou shalt now leave us, dear Father, will not the world say, ‘Where is their gospel? where is their Christ? Could Christ keep them in prison, preserve them in death?’
These blasphemies even now, dear Lord, we hear to walter out of their hearts and lips. This thou knowest, O Lord, “the trier of the heart and reins.” Let therefore, O good God, thy strength be magnified: and, as thou hast said, “Call upon me in the day of thy trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt honor me;” even so now hear us calling upon thy name through thy only begotten Son, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
PRAYER IN THE TIME OF PERSECUTION. FB17 JESUS EMMANUEL.
OALMIGHTY, everlasting, and most merciful Lord God, the dear Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and through him our most gracious good Father, whose providence is over us, whose wisdom and righteousness is seen over all, as thy mercy, even in the midst of most miser[ies ], is tasted of all; indeed we have deserved most horrible plagues by reason of our unthankfulness, contempt, and slanderous abusing thy most holy gospel, which most plentifully and purely thou didst give us with such a prince to propagate the same, as never, sithen England was christened, was known the like.
We, I say, have deserved not only the taking away of this our dear prince, and the benefit of the ministry of thy pure gospel, but also all other most terrible plagues that can be devised: for great and heinous are our offenses, and therefore “just thou art, and righteous are thy judgments” if, as thou hast begun, thou shalt continue to pour out upon us thy fearful plagues and indignation. But, gracious Lord, [remit] thine anger, because thou art accustomed to remember mercy, and full well “knowest whereof we are made,” and what we are able to bear. We beseech thee, which art “rich in mercy,” and “plentiful to all them that call upon thee,” that for thy name’s sake through Christ thou wouldst correct us according to thy sweet mercy, and not in thy sour favor and indignation. Much better it is for us, dear Father, and more tolerable, that we should yield ourselves into thy hands to be chastised of thee, than to fall into the hands of thy enemies, as David prayed; for great is thy [mercy]. “Against thee, against thee only have we sinned,” and broken thy holy commandments. But, loving Lord and almighty God and Father, well thou knowest we have not sinned against the devil, the world, the pope and his prelates, neither against the queen’s highness and politic magistrates of the realm: so that justly have they no right or power to punish us. Howbeit thou mayest justly use them as thy fierce rod against us.
Yea, rather they wish that with them horribly we would displease and sin against thee; for nothing should it grieve them if we were horrible rebels against thee, blasphemers of thy name, idolaters, worshippers of stocks and stones, false servers of thee, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, murderers, gluttons, oppressors, and altogether overwhelmed in mischief. But this is our sin and offense against them, because we preach, believe, and confess thee, God the Father, to be the true and only God, and Jesus Christ thy dear Son to be the only Lord, Savior, Bishop, Priest, and Mediator; and the Holy Spirit to be the only Comforter, vivificator, counselor, and master of all truth; and thy written word to be the “lantern to our feet,” the sufficient doctrine to our salvation. This, dear Lord, is a sin against them, because we will not serve thee after the traditions of men, but as in thy word by thy Son and apostles thou hast taught us. Therefore are they much wroth and persecute us.
If we would worship bread instead of Christ, cast off our hope and creed of the satisfactory and propitiatory sacrifice which thy Son our Lord did make in his own body “himself once for all” to the “perfect sanctifying for ever” of all that shall be saved, and come, and buy their propitiatory sacrifices in that abominable idol the mass; if we would cast off thy commandments to follow good intents, to serve thee in a tongue we know not, to pray unto saints, to buy pardons, to run a pilgrimage gate-going, to offer candles and tapers to images, to buy trentals, diriges, to say as they say, and do as they do, submitting ourselves to the faith of the antichristian, popish, and devilish church, clean contrary from the faith of thy catholic and true church, (which is grounded and built upon thy dear child Jesus Christ, who, as he is “the foundation,” so is he “the fullness of all, whereof we all receive,” and the very sinew which “coupleth and knitteth together” every one of us to grow and go forwards “into a perfect man,” “being made of thee unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctifying and redemption,” that our rejoicing might be in him, which also “is our Head,” from whom cometh our life by the working of his Spirit, which is kept always alive in us, so long as we suck of the blood and natural juice which descendeth from our Head into the members; that is to say, so long as we stick and abide by his written word and gospel, not suffering the same to putrefy and corrupt by admitting false glosses and expositions of men’s own brains and devices, not contained in thy book of the Bible:) if, I say, dear Lord, we would do thus, leaving the water in the well of life, and drink of their dirty digged pits and cisterns, then should we have peace with them; then would not the devil rage; then would the world wrestle no more against us; then would the pope and his prelates promote us; then would the queen be merciful, and the magistrates our good masters, even as thy dear child saith, “If you were of the world, the world would love his own.”
Here therefore look down, a merciful Father towards us, and a fierce Judge towards all such our enemies as are not to be converted: for they are no less thine enemies than ours; so that in persecuting us and punishing us they persecute thee and punish thee: for this word which we preach, believe, and confess, is not our word, but thy word, and not our expositions or construings, but the expositions and construings of thy holy Spirit.
This gear the devil cannot abide, but would have thy place, and be to us a god. The pope and his prelates would reign in men’s consciences; and for God’s word they would have us to believe their stinking traditions, councils, decrees, and lies. The queen and magistrates in place of thy Son Jesus Christ would place their abominable idol of bread: in place of our “Priest after the order of Melchisedec” they would place priests after the order of Baal and antichrist: instead of Christ’s sacrifice they would thrust out unto us an horrible sacrilege. PARAPHRASE OF PSALM 79. FB26 JESUS EMMANUEL.
OGOD, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which of thine own mere goodness hast vouchedsafe to make an everlasting covenant with us, namely that thou wilt be our God, and we shall be thy people and inheritance; behold, as in times past “the heathen came into thine inheritance” of Israel, and “polluted thy holy temple” at Jerusalem, and also made the goodly city of “Jerusalem itself a heap of stones,” devastating it; even so now very many heathen and limbs of antichrist, though outwardly they profess Christ, are come into thine inheritance and church which thou hast with us in this realm of England, and “have defiled thy holy temple,” that is, the souls and bodies of many which have professed thee, in whom, as in thy temple, thou shouldest dwell: they have, I say, “defiled them,” by enforcing them through tyrannical precepts and threats to resort to idololatrical and antichristian service, which thou by thy word didst never allow, but rather and utterly forbid: as is Latin service to them that understand not Latin, invocation to saints, adoration with godly honor of thy creatures of bread and wine, as though they were God, being but the sacraments of the body and blood of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ, which they utterly corrupt and horribly profane by presuming to offer up the same unto thy Majesty without any calling of them to that office by thee: in which doing, they do as much as in them is, to crucify Christ again, utterly denying his one and alone sacrifice offered up by himself to be omnisufficient, contrary to all thy holy scriptures.
That thy people should allow this kind of religion, dear Father, thou seest how these wicked heathen have prevailed, and “have defiled thy temple,” making the face of thy church (once with us, in the time of thy dear servant king Edward the sixth, no less beautiful in thy sight by reason of pure doctrine and the godly administration of thy sacraments, than was the city of Jerusalem which was a figure of thy church,) utterly defaced, devastated, and now nothing but a “heap of stones;” the congregation of the faithful, thy true church, being scattered abroad, driven into exile, and cast into prisons, temples of stones yet still remaining.
As once “the heathen gave the carcases of thy servants to be meat for the birds of the air,” and as “they gave the flesh of thy holy ones to a prey for the beasts of the earth,” when Antiochus and other tyrants oppressed the country of Jewry; even so now these limbs of antichrist with their parasites and sworn shavelings (except [thou] for thy mercy and truth’s sake do let them) are purposed and fully determined to hang up and burn the bodies, flesh, and bones, of all that will persevere to worship thee after the verity and truth. In demonstration whereof they have cast of thy dearest saints no small number into exile and prison, utterly taking from them with all injustice all kind of comfort and equity.
As in times past “the heathen poured out the blood of thy people like water round about Jerusalem, so that there was none to bury the dead;” even so these hell-hounds, limbs of antichrist, have done in times past in the slaughter of Frith, Barnes, Garret, Jerome, Lambert, Lacells, etc., and now lately have done by the cruel destroying of the good and innocent Lady Jane: as they thirstily gape to drink up more blood of thy slaughter- sheep which they have in prison, and keep for assoil and cooling of their heat which will not be slaked until they have destroyed all thy seely souls, or driven them out of England, except thou, good Lord, wilt for thy name’s sake prevent them.
As once thy people complained to thee, that they “were made a reproach and by-word unto their neighbors, a laughing-stock and scorn to such as dwelled about them;” even so now, dear Father, we thy people at this present here in England cannot but complain, that “we are become a byword to our neighbors, a mock and mowing to those that dwell about us:” for everywhere now it is tauntingly spoken, ‘Where are our protestants? where are these new gospellers? where is the new doctrine they taught?’
Therefore with thy people we are enforced to cry out, “How long, O Lord, wilt thou be angry?” The punishments we do not so much complain of, although they be painful, as do we thy displeasure which daily increaseth.
But “how long, O Lord?” “Shall thy wrath,” which we have wrought to work our woe, dear Lord, “burn for ever?” as now it beginneth even corporally to bring us into a servitude and captivity, to demonstrate the heinous captivity of soul many are caught in by idolatry and horrible abomination; whereto very many do consent against their conscience, outwardly allowing that which inwardly they detest, for fear of loss of life, lands, goods, liberty, friends, etc. “Shall,” I say, “this wrath burn” and waste all “forever?”
Alas, O Lord, who is able to bear thy wrath? O Lord, which art “a consuming fire,” wilt not thou “in thine anger remember thy mercy?” Wilt not thou remember that we are as hay, dust, stubble, and straw, and cannot but “consume in thy displeasure?”
O “pour out thy wrath” and vengeance rather upon the wicked “which have not,” nor will not “know thee, and upon the countries which call not” and will not call “upon thy name,” but upon their avowries; or trust in their own policy and power, and go about as they have done and will do, if thou let not, to “devour Jacob,” thy church and poor people; and so also have not, do not, nor will not cease to destroy thy tabernacle, temple, worship, true religion, and service, with all them that love the same. To the Lord these caterpillars and Philistines are known. If there be any of them to be converted, those do thou convert, O Father: [upon] the residue which are not to be converted “pour out thy wrath” and heavy indignation, that we might praise thy holy name, and others might tremble at thy power, and sing praises unto thee, “in the day of thy visitation.”
But methinks, we hear thee object unto us our monstrous ingratitude for thy word so plentifully preached, for thy sacraments so sincerely ministered, and forsooth for the good ministers ecclesiastical and civil, especially for our good and most holy king, and for our carnal and sinful life, “not knowing the time of our visitation.” These things, and many other our misdeeds and evil life, methinks that thou dost object against us, as though we were not entreated otherwise now than we have deserved; yea, that great mercy thou showest to us in not dealing with us as we have deserved, being, as we be yet, so far from true repentance, flattering ourselves in many evils; so that thou knowest not what to do with us or “strike us any further,” as Esay witnesseth.
O Lord God and dear Father, we do not excuse us, we do not extenuate our sins, wherethrough we have provoked thee to wrath, so that thou mayest most justly “cast us away for ever,” for we are very miserable sinners. “But if thou wilt mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who shall be able to abide it?” None certainly. Therefore “with thee is propitiation” and mercy, “that thou mayest be worshipped.”
Now to the end that we poor misers may worship and serve thee, dear Father, have mercy upon us for thy name’s sake; and through Christ Jesus thy dearly beloved Son, for his sake, grant that we may find mercy, grace, and help before thee, as thy people tofore us did when they cried as we now cry, “Remember not, O Lord, our old sins;” for “thou hast set our hid sins in th[y countenance: ”] for though we have forgotten our old transgressions, yet thou hast a counting book wherein every one are written, as we now feel; so justly art thou angry: but “in thine anger” thou art wont to “remember thy mercy.”
For thy glory’s sake therefore “remember not our old” nor new “sins:” but speedily at such time as may best please thee, let thy mercies prevent us; for we are wonderful poor and brought into great miseries, (and greater are like to be, dear Father, unless thou do help us,) but yet, O Lord, not by our deserts in respect of them who thus sharply persecute us, and purpose utterly to destroy us. Indeed in respect of thee and of our doings towards thee, dear Father, we have deserved these horrible plagues, and much more: but not our impenitence, unthankfulness, and disobedience to thee, but thee our enemies, O Lord, do persecute in us.
Thine is now then our cause, and not ours simply.
In that therefore thou art merciful, and can so not but be affected at the miseries of them whom thou hast received into thy covenant, as thou hast done us; (even as a father cannot but be affected at the miseries of his children, although they have of themselves enwrapped themselves therein;) so canst not thou but have mercy upon us in our miseries: and therefore wouldest thou that we should conceive a sure hope of thy help always. But whence cometh this hope? cometh not other good things from thee, dear Lord? Therefore in that this, ‘I hope in thy goodness,’ is good, in that this cometh from thee, and in that thou art affected towards us as a father, we beseech thee, dear Father, give us this lively hope of thy help, and hear us crying with thy people: “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name; O deliver us, and be merciful unto our sins for thy name’s sake.” Help us which feel and see now our own unableness, O thou which art not only ‘the God of salvation,’ “saving man and beast,” “the Savior of all men,” which is general; but also the “God of OUR salvation,” which is peculiar to thy people that look for help and salvation, neither from Peter nor Paul, James, Mary, nor John, nor from any other but only from thee through the name of Christ Jesus, than which “name there is none other given to men wherein they must be saved.” “Help us” therefore, I say, “O God of our salvation” and salvation itself, which hast made us, and dearly redeemed us; which hitherto hast kept us, and dost so still most graciously, and that of thine own goodness; for the which thou dost presently in these evils show much mercy upon us, not dealing with us as we deserve, but dost expect, and as it were “tarry to show mercy upon us,” holding thy hand ready lifted up to strike, that thou mightest spare us. Thee, as I said, thee, most merciful and gracious good Lord and our God, “rich in mercy” [and kindness “un] to all them that call upon thee,” do we beseech and humbly pray, that thou wouldest send thy help from above unto us which are thine by creation, redemption, conservation, profession; and that not for our merits or deserts, which are none but to damnation-wards, but “for the glory of thy name,” which cannot but be glorified, when thine enemies the wicked shall know and see that thou art careful for thy word and people; and they that “call upon thy name” and hope in thy help shall feel and perceive that thou canst no more finally forget them than “a woman should forget the child of her womb:” yea, if she should “forget her child,” yet thou hast promised that thou wilt never do so. “For the glory of thy name” therefore “help us;” and not only so, but “deliver us” out of the evils we are fallen into, and out of thine anger which our sins have deserved and provoked against us. The which do thou put away, dear Father, we beseech in the bowels and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, and for thy holy name’s sake; for the which we can but think that thou wilt do much for us, which didst so much for the old people’s sake, and hast so often promised that thou wilt do still when we shall call upon thee: for thou art not “the God of Jews only, but of the gentiles also;” so that “whosoever shall call upon thy name, the same shall be saved.” O then give us thy good Spirit of prayer, and hear us crying unto thee. We confess that our sins have deserved all kinds of misery. But what wilt thou to thy holy name? Is not the glory of it in some peril if, attending to our sins, thou wilt destroy thy poor people? Art not thou called “good and merciful and of great compassion,” which also “dost pardon sins and put away iniquities?” For this thy name, O Lord, that thou mayest be well seen and known to be the same which thou art called, “be merciful unto our sins,” old and new, and we shall praise thy name forever.
But yet eftsoons, methinks, thou answerest me, and sayest that it cannot but be to “the glory of thy name,” to punish and take vengeance on us by whom thy holy name hath been evil spoken of by our carnal gospelling and using thy gospel a cloak for covetousness and all kind of carnalities; that nothing may be spoken of our horrible ingratitude for so exceeding great mercy showered upon this realm in giving us so plentifully and purely thy gospel and religion, and so innocent and godly a sovereign to set forth the same.
O Lord God, we are “ashamed to lift up our faces,” for indeed these are most true: we “have sinned in heaven [and] against [thee, and are no more] worthy to be called [thy children.” The reason] why thou becamest our God, and madest us thy people, was thine own goodness and mercy in Christ. In that these still remain, we cannot but take some comfort that thou now wilt “in thine anger remember thy mercy:” for, if it was to the glory and praise of thy name so to adopt us, how should it be but “to the glory of thy name” now to look upon us and “help us?” The more we are now unworthy, the more it shall be “to the praise of thy grace and glory;” for unto none other we come but to thee. Help we look not for elsewhere, but only from thee, and that not of our deserts, or anything we can do, but only of thy mercy. The which in that thine enemies begin to limit, as though it would not care for us, and therefore say, “Where is their God?” dear Father, accordingly consider it. They say not, ‘Where is God?’ but, “Where is their God?” that is, the God whom we have taught and preached; as though thou, Lord, wert not the true God; as though we had swerved from thy word in teaching and profession. Indeed, O Lord, we have swerved from thee in living, but yet not in teaching, as thou knowest; even as the Israelites, which were put to a flight before Ai, departed not from thee in profession and doctrine, but only in living.
As Josue thereon said, so say we, ‘What wilt thou do, good Lord, to thy holy name?’ As when thy ark was taken of the Philistines, they did not attribute the cause why the Israelites were overcome to their sins, and the cause of their victory to thee the true God, but to their own Dagon and the Israelites’ contempt of him; even so our Philistines and enemies do not attribute this thy vengeance fallen upon us to our carnal life (because they are as evil therein, I will not say worse), for then we could and would acknowledge no less most humbly and thankfully; neither do acknowledge their victory and upper hand over us to thy working, but to their popery, false religion, mass, god of bread, etc.: for the which, as they have shed much innocent blood, as of Tyndale, Frith, Barnes, Garret, Jerome, Lacells, Lambert, etc., and more are purposed to do if thou let not; as therefore thou didst amongst the Philistines declare thy power and glory by taking vengeance on them and their false god, so, dear Lord, in thy good time do now the like. “Let the vengeance of thy servants’ blood that is already shed,” and the tyrannical handling of thy people at this present, being of these Philistines cast into prison and into miserable exile, “be openly showed upon them” which are not to be converted, whom thou only [dost know: and so many of them as are to be converted, we beseech thee to show thy mercy upon them, and to convert them, if it] be thy good will. So shalt thou be known to be the Defender of the church and such as would serve thee after thy word; which now thine enemies tread under foot, and would have us full with swillings and draff, utterly haling and persecuting all them that would return from keeping pigs to serve thee in thy house; which they detest and abhor, seeking what means possible they can it should never rise and be built again.
How many have they driven into exile! How many have they perverted by their promises and promotions; how many by terror and threats do they draw deadly to displease thee by doing outwardly against their consciences! How many have they cast into prison, and taken all they have most unjustly from them, lest by any means thy house and temple might be built, thou knowest. How miserably they handle thy bond-servants, keeping from them all worldly consolations, as company, pen, paper, ink, books, etc., the prisons of the King’s Bench, Marshalsea, Fleet, Newgate, and in many other places, at Oxford and elsewhere, doth presently to all the world cry out. O let their groans and “sorrowful sighs come up into thy sight.
According to the greatness of thy power,” (which our enemies by reason of their success puffed up do think thou wantest, as Pharaoh did, when he said, “What fellow is God?” ) “according,” I say, “to the greatness of thy power preserve thou them that are appointed to die” and become thy slaughter-sheep. Thou disappointedst Herod of Peter, the sworn conspirators of Paul, king Joss of Eliseus, Ahab and Jezebel of Heli and Micheas, Haman of Mordecai. Even so, dear Lord, break the dream of thy combined enemies with us, and save thy servants Latimer, Cranmer, Ridley, Hooper, Crome, Rogers, Saunders, Bradford, Philpot, Coverdale, Barlow, Cardmaker, Taylor, etc., “which are appointed to die,” if thou by thy mighty power deliver them not.
It is “the glory of thy name,” O Lord, which moveth us thus to make our moan; for thou knowest how thine enemies take part against thee, thy verity and truth. Thou forbiddest the making and worshipping of images: they command it as a worship. Thou forbiddest prayer in a tongue that is not to the edifying of the hearers: they straitly enjoin and command it.
Thou forbiddest us all kinds of idolatry and spiritual fornication: they utterly enforce men thereto, even “to commit fornication” with bread, wine, gold, silver, stocks and stones. Thou wouldest the remembrance of thy death by the using of thy holy supper: they take away not only all remembrance of thy death, but even the place thereof by their mass, transubstantiation, and popish pelf. Thou commandest the lay as the clergy to drink of thy cup: but they forbid it utterly. Thou wouldest have the people brought up in knowledge, not as infants: and they seek by all means that none should have any true knowledge of thee; and therefore they chase out scriptures out of all places, and may not abide thy holy Testament to be had for thy people to look upon. And therefore they persecute many a one, and whet their tongues against not men only, but also . . . making indeed thy Christ and all that confess him and . . .
And who doeth this, O Lord? Not foreigners and strangers, but such as are our neighbors and profess thee; such as thou hast given the regiment unto, as scilicet [to wit] in both the states in this poor and wretched realm of England, especially the clergy and such as would be counted pillars of thy church.
Therefore in thy time “reward them this their blasphemy wherewith they have blasphemed,” and do still blaspheme “thee, and that sevenfold into their bosom;” that is, most plentifully and abundantly recompense thy tarrying with good measure, and plentifully upheaping thy measure.
And we poor misers, which are yet “thy people and sheep of thy pasture,” having none other help nor hope but only thee, our God and Pastor; we, I say, “shall praise thy name for ever:” we shall, with thy people delivered out of the hands of Pharoah, Sennacherib, Holofernes, Haman, etc., give thanks to thy lovely name; “we will always,” day and night, “be telling out thy praises from generation to generation.”
This is the end why we crave thy help. This is the end why we desire to live, that, as we have been negligent, we might become diligent, to serve, love, laud, and magnify thy holy name in all our thoughts, words, and deeds, publicly and privately, when we shall perceive and feel how good thou our God art; when we shall see how thou art merciful and mindful of goodness towards them that put their trust in thee. O dear Father, so be it, so be it, so be it, so be it.
A VERY GODLY PRAYER OF ONE STANDING AT THE STAKE READY TO BE BURNT FOR CHRIST’S GOSPEL’S SAKE.
MERCIFUL God and Father, to whom our Savior Christ approached in his fear and need by reason of death, and found comfort; gracious God and most bounteous Christ, on whom Stephen called in his extreme need, and received strength; most benign Holy Spirit, which in the midst of all crosses and deaths didst comfort the apostle St. Paul with more “consolations in Christ” than he felt sorrows and terrors; “have mercy upon me” a miserable, most vile, and wretched sinner, which now draw nigh the gates of death, deserved both in soul and body eternally by reason of my manifold, horrible, old and new transgressions, which to thine eyes, O Lord God, are open and known.
O “be merciful unto me,” and forgive me, for the bitter death and bloodshedding of thy only Son Jesus Christ. And, though thy justice do require in respect of my sins, that now thou shouldest not hear me, measuring me with the same measure that I have measured thy majesty in contemning thy daily calls; yet let thy mercy, I say, prevail towards me (which is “above all thy works,” and “wherewith the earth is filled”) through and for the mediation of Christ our Savior. For whose sake, in that it pleaseth thee to bring me forth now as one of his witnesses and a record-bearer of thy verity and truth, taught by him to give my life therefor, (to which dignity I do acknowledge, dear God, that there was never any so unworthy and unmeet, no, not the thief that hanged with him on the cross;) I humbly therefore pray thee that thou wouldest accordingly aid, help, and assist me with thy strength and heavenly grace, that with Christ thy Son I may find comfort; with Stephen I may see thy presence and gracious power; with St.
Paul and all others, which for thy name sake have suffered afflictions and death, I may find so present with me thy gracious consolation, that I may by my death glorify thy holy name, propagate and ratify thy verity, comfort the hearts of the heavy, confirm thy church in truth, convert some that are to be converted; and so to depart out of this miserable world (where I do nothing but heap daily sin upon sin), and enter into the fruition of thy blessed mercy. Whereof now give and increase in me a lively trust, sense, and feeling, wherethrough the terrors of death, the torments of fire, the pangs of sin, the darts of Satan, and the dolors of hell may never depress me, but may be driven away through the working of that most gracious Spirit. Which now plenteously endow me withal, that through the same Spirit I may offer (as now I desire to do in Christ and by him) myself, wholly soul and body, to be “a lively sacrifice, holy and acceptable in thy sight,” dear Father, whose I am and always have been “even from my mother’s womb,” yea, “even before the world was made.” To whom I commend myself, soul and body, faith and name, family and friends, country and all thy whole church, yea, even my very enemies, according to thy good pleasure; beseeching thee entirely to give once more to this realm of England the blessing of thy word again, with godly peace to the teaching and setting forth of the same.
O dear Father, give me now to come unto thee; purge me and so purify me by this fire in Christ’s death and passion, through thy Spirit, that I may be a “burnt offering of sweet smell” in thy sight, which livest and reignest with thy Son and the Holy Ghost, now and evermore, world without end.
Amen. JOHN BRADFORD . [The five ensuing Treatises are brought together from different sources.
The ‘Comparison between the old man and the new’ is found in part among the MS. remains of Bradford in Emmanuel College, Cambridge. This Essay observes, in the first twenty-seven lines, the text of the volume of Meditations, etc. of Bradford, printed by Seres 1567 (the title of which is given on p. 296): the remainder, as marked in the notes, observes the text of the Emmanuel MS., which has been collated with the printed edition of 1567.
The side-notes, not being supplied in the MS., are taken from the edition printed in 1567 by Seres.
The entire treatise has been compared with the ‘Christian Prayers,’ etc., collected by Bull, Middleton 1570, reverse of signature Y 6 — Z 2, where it was reprinted from the Meditations, etc. of Bradford, Seres 1567. It has been collated also with Foxe, Acts, etc. 1570, , p. 1837 — 8, where too it was republished (among the letters of Bradford), and from whence it reappeared in the after editions of the ‘Acts and Monuments.’
The variations are only noted where a deviation respectively from the MS. or printed edition of 1567 is followed.
The sources from which the ‘Defense of election,’ the treatise ‘Against the fear of death,’ and that on ‘The restoration of all things,’ are derived, are stated in the prefatory notes, p. 305 — 6, 331, and 350.]