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A LETTER TO CERTAIN GODLY MEN, RELIEVERS AND HELPERS OF HIM AND OTHERS IN THEIR IMPRISONMENT.
The peace of Christ, which passeth all pleasure and worldly felicity, be daily more and more felt in your hearts, my right dearly beloved in the Lord, by the inward working of the Holy Spirit, “the earnest of our inheritance,” and guider of God’s elect: with the which God our dear Father more and more endue us all unto the end, for his beloved Son’s sake, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Praised be God, “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” which is a “Father of mercy and a God of all consolation,” that hath blessed you with the knowledge and love of his truth, not only to your own comforts, but also to the great ease and comfort of many, which, without the help of God by you hitherto, had been in much more misery. By your relieving the Lord’s prisoners I am brought to see the root whereof the work doth spring, even the knowledge and love of God’s truth, wherefore we are in bonds. The which knowledge and love in that it is a blessing of all blessings the greatest, (for it is even “eternal life,”) I cannot but praise God for you on this behalf, that it hath pleased him to vouch you worthy so excellent and singular a benefit, which is more to be esteemed, desired, and cared for, than anything else.
The world, for all that ever it hath, cannot attain by any means to this blessing, which God our Father hath given you freely of his own good will through Christ, even before ye were purposed to desire it. Therefore I beseech you all to be thankful with me, and to “rejoice in the Lord:” for, if he have given us such a gift unasked, undesired, yea, unthought upon, how can it be that he will deny us any good thing now, which may be necessary for us? Will he, trow ye, “sow his seed” in the ground of your hearts, and not keep away “the fowls” from picking it up? Would he so bestow his seed in you as he hath, if that he would not hedge in your hearts, his field, from common paths, and from breaking in of beasts to destroy it? Will he be more careless than a good husbandman to weed out the weeds which are in us, lest they should overgrow the corn of his word? Will not he bestow muck and marl upon us, “that we may bring forth more fruit?” If in a good husbandman this be not lacking, alas! how should we think then but that the Lord God, a good husbandman, and nothing but good, and only good; how, I say, should it be, but that he is most careful to keep his seed already sown in your hearts by the ministry of us and other his preachers; and that to the bringing forth of just and full fruits? “He that hath begun with you,” doubt not, my dearly beloved, but that he will happily make an end with you. He hath begun to sow his seed in you, as I dare say ye feel it.
Be sure then that all this will follow: first he will have scarecrows in your hearts; I mean, such sparkles of his fear will he drop, yea, already he hath dropped into you, that “the birds of the air,” vain and evil cogitations, shall not be cherished of you, but expelled by crying to the Lord for his help.
Secondly, he will make such hedges, as shall keep you as well from bypaths of all evil customs and usages, as also preserve you from the power of evil and “dominion of sin,” which would have the upper hand on you.
Thirdly, he will doubtless pour such showers upon you to supple you, so weed you, so muck and marl you by temptation and other exercises, that the sunshine of persecution shall make more to the ripening of his seed in you, than to the withering of it away.
These things, my dearly beloved, the Lord God, which hath begun them in you and for you, will continue with you, that in the end you may be brought into his barn, there to rest with him in eternal felicity. For God’s sake therefore wait and look for no less than I have told you at his hands: a greater service can you not give him. If God keep not the order I have told you, but perchance begin to muck and marl you, to pour his showers upon you, to nip you with his weeding tongs, etc.; “rejoice and be glad” that God will do that in you and with you at once, which a long time he hath been a working in and for others.
Now undoubtedly great showers are fallen to supple our hearts, that God’s word might enter therein and take root. Now the Lord goeth a weeding, to weed out of us our carnality, security, covetousness, self-love, forgetfulness of God, love of this world. Now the Lord doth muck and marl us, loading us with heaps and burdens of crosses, that our hearts might be made “good ground,” to “bring forth fruit” to God’s glory “by patience;” as well in suffering inward temptations and griefs, whereof we must complain to the Lord for his scarecrows to drive them forth of us; as also in suffering outward assaults, for the which we must cry to our Master for his hedges and defense: which hath two parts, the one concerning us, to help and deliver us; and the other concerning our, or rather his, obstinate adversaries, to take vengeance upon them, which he will do in his time.
Therefore let us “by patience possess our souls,” knowing that they “which persevere to the end shall be saved.” “Let us not be weary of well-doing, for in our time we shall reap the fruits thereof.” But rather, “whiles we have time,” let us redeem it in “doing well to all men, but specially to the household of faith:” which thing hitherto you have done; (the Lord therefor be praised, and in the day of his coming he recompense you;) and in the rest I hope well; I mean that you have declared no less in confessing the truth planted in your hearts, by your words and works after your vocation, to the glory of God.
I hope you have godly behaved yourselves, not being as too many be nowa- days, even mongrels, giving half to God and half to the world, halting on both knees, going two ways: I mean it of the mass-gospellers, which are worse than any papists. In this point I hope well of you, my dearly beloved, that you have not contaminated yourselves; that you have both confessed the truth as often as need hath required, and also have refrained from coming to church now, where is nothing but idolatrous service. I hope you have glorified God both in soul and body. I hope you have “gathered with Christ,” and not “scattered abroad.” I hope you have drawn no “yoke with unbelievers,” nor “communicated with other men’s sins,” but have “abstained from all appearance of evil;” confessing in heart, confessing in tongue, confessing in deed and act, the true knowledge of God, which he hath of his great mercy given unto you, “not to be as a candle under a bushel, but upon the candlestick, to give light that men may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” All this I hope of you, my beloved, and also of all purity of life and godly conversation; not doubting but in this behalf also you have declared God’s verity in your heart, and for the Lord’s sake do so still in all points: that is, in your vocations be diligent and righteous, towards yourselves be sober and pure, towards your neighbors be charitable and just, towards God be faithful and thankful, loving and obedient.
Use earnest and often hearty prayer. Meditate much upon, and often hearken to, the word of God. If you be called, “give with modesty an account of the hope which is in you.” Be not ashamed of God’s true service; allow not that with your presence, which is contrary to God’s will.
Make not the members of Christ’s church, that is, yourselves, members of antichrist’s church. Be not ashamed of the gospel, or of such as be bound therefor, but rather be partakers thereof; first inwardly, by compassion, prayer, etc.; then outwardly, by giving according to that the Lord hath lent you to that end; and last of all by suffering with us, if God so will, and if it be needful for you. For, my dearly beloved, be certain that no man can touch you, or lay hands upon you, but by the will of God, which is all good towards you; even as the will of a most dear father which cannot always be angry, or otherwise use his rod than only to chastise and correct, not to destroy his children.
Again, be certain that no cross shall come unto you before you need it: for God is our “Physician;” and when he seeth our souls in peril, he preventeth the peril by purgation and ministering physic, which is the cross. As therefore for the body we follow the advice of the physicians for the health thereof, thankfully using their counsel and obeying their precepts; so, for God’s sake, let us for our souls, being sick, thankfully receive the heavenly “Physician’s” physic and diet. So shall we wax “strong men” in God and in his Christ: which thing I beseech thee, O Holy Spirit, to work in us all.
My dearly beloved, this have I briefly written unto you, not as one that “seeketh any gifts,” as Paul saith, but as one that “seeketh abundant fruits on your behalf,” and to your commodity. For “it is better to give than to receive,” saith Christ by his apostle St. Paul, who tesfifieth that “according to that we sow, so shall we reap.” “He that soweth little shall reap little; be that soweth much shall reap much.” Never should we forget how that “the Lord Jesus, being rich, for our sakes became poor, that we might be made rich by him.” Again, never should we forget that we are “dead to sin and alive to righteousness.”
Therefore should we live wholly unto God and for God, and not for ourselves. In all things therefore we must avoid the seeking of ourselves, as well in doing, as in leaving things undone. If the cross come upon us therefor, then “are we happy; for the Spirit of God and glory of God resteth upon us.” Therefore “rejoice,” saith Christ, “for your reward is great in heaven.” In this we are made like to Christ here: therefore we shall be so elsewhere, even in eternal joy and endless glory.
The highway to heaven, you know, is affliction; so that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesu must suffer persecution.” “If we were of the world, the world would love us: but we are not of the world,” but bear witness against the world, and therefore “the world doth hate us.” But let us “rejoice,” our Lord “hath overcome the world.” “He suffered out of the city,” bearing our rebuke, saith the apostle. “Let us then go out of our tents, and bear his rebuke;” that is, let us “deny ourselves, take up our cross (which is his also), and follow him.” Let us know and esteem this “more riches than all the treasures of the world,” as Moses did. Let us know that “he that saveth his life shall lose it.” Let us know that the way to salvation is a “strait way,” and a way wherein we cannot carry our bags and chests with us. Let us know that no excuse of wife, farm, house, or children, will excuse us. Let us know that in this case we must be so far from “loving father, mother, wife, and children,” that we must “hate them, and our own selves also.”
Though this be a hard saying, yet we must not leave our lodesman for a little foul way. Yea, rather we should know indeed that it is but hard to the flesh, which, if she be handled daintily, will be imperious: under must she be kept, that the spirit, which is a precious thing in God’s sight, may have her commodities. If we should follow the fancy of the flesh, we could not please God. Against it we have made a solemn profession, as also against the devil and the world, in our baptism. And shall we now look for easy things of our enemies? Shall we not look rather to be hardly entreated of them? Shall not hard gear be more seemly for them? O that we considered often and indeed what we have professed in baptism!
Then the cross and we should be well acquainted together; for we are “baptized into Christ’s death;” that is, as to be partakers of the benefit of his death, which is remission of sins, so to be made like thereunto continually, by dying to sin.
O that we considered what we be, where we be, whither we are going, who calleth us, how he calleth us, to what felicity he calleth us, whereby he calleth us! Then, my dear hearts in the Lord, we should say to all worldly persuasions and persuaders, “Follow me, Satan, thou savorest not those things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” “Shall we not drink the cup which our heavenly Father hath appointed for us?”
O Lord God, “open thou our eyes,” that we may see the hope whereunto thou hast called us. Give us eyes of seeing, ears of hearing, and hearts of understanding. “In the favor thou bearest to thy people remember us; visit us with thy saving health, that we may see the good” things thou hast prepared for thy elect children, that we may have some sight of thy “heavenly Jerusalem,” and have some taste of the sweetness of thy house.
ADDRESS ON CONSTANCY. FB175 J.B. PEACE be multiplied to you, dear brethren, in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that ye may be able through his holy Spirit, to be strong against all temptations in these present days of trouble. So be it.
The time is even at hand, my dear brethren, that our Savior Jesus Christ gave us warning of in divers places of his holy doctrine; who, tendering our infirmities, admonished us we should not fear, but with constant faith boldly follow, that his word should not be spoken to us in vain, and like valiant soldiers prepare ourselves to the battle that should be set before our eyes: so that, as I say, that time unawares do not happen, but a foreknowledge to us is premonished by our Savior Christ.
Now all ye therefore, that be in Christ Jesu, “watch and pray,” and be ye ready to “put on the armor” of Christ: for “flesh and blood” cannot attain to this conflict but through the mighty operation of God’s holy Spirit; which we must desire of God our Father for his dear Son’s sake, Jesus Christ, that we may be able to abide the storms and brunts of this present time.
My dear brethren, let not the cares of worldly things quail and quench the inheritance of our felicity. Let not princes and rulers by unlawful laws draw us from the unmoveable word of God: and let not fire, gallows, halter, imprisonment, famine, pain, wife, children, riches, father, mother, house, lands, friends, honors, nor all things worldly, separate us from the love that we have to God; but patiently to abide God’s good will, whatsoever it please him to try us withal: for assured we be that “through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of Christ:” such is the promise of holy scripture. And should not we with joyful hearts give over ourselves and follow him, who hath made our entrance by the like sufferance, to the loss of his life and shedding of his most precious blood? Let us be strong and not faint, when that we shall be tried. And yet let us not think the afflictions of this life are worthy of the joys to come (but patiently abiding the same, that declareth in us our faithfulness to God) to purchase his favor, constantly believing that we be his sons “and coheirs with Christ:” for he “hath suffered for us,” and we must suffer for his sake and our brethren; not that our suffering doth advantage his glory, but through his suffering that did advantage our glory in him: and so did he glorify us.
O my dear brethren, taste now how sweet the Lord is, according to his holy promise; for in your troubles he will so assist you, that hell and death shall not prevail against you: the sharp storms of death shall become pleasant and nothing troublesome to you: “your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” Your death is most pleasant in his sight: “when you suffer for righteousness’ sake, blessed are you.”
Now God for his dear Son’s sake, Jesus Christ, assist us in the time of temptation; and that it be not said to us, as the holy apostle Paul said to the Galatians: ‘“O ye foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you? You began in the Spirit, and end in the flesh.” Ye professed Christ Jesus, ye confessed him to be your only Savior, ye were as men that sought all his honor and glory, and none other to have it but only God. But “who hath bewitched you, ye foolish Galatians,” that ye be now [fallen] from that Spirit of grace, and now to take you to your old customs again?’
O far be it from us to hear those words laid to our charge, ‘O ye foolish Englishmen, “who hath bewitched you?” Ye professed the gospel of Jesus Christ: ye could pronounce and declare every part thereof: your books were never out of your hands, and your houses replenished with the Bible, books, and Testaments. Your kings and governors were content to hear and set forth the same, maintaining God’s prophets; and to command that universally in the kingdom to be set forth, willing all true subjects reverently to embrace the same, and to frame their lives accordingly: so that to all other realms God hath willed you to be a blazing star. But now, O thou foolish Englishman,’ (it may be said,) ‘ “who hath bewitched you?” that so suddenly hast forsaken the sweet gospel of thy Savior Jesus Christ, renouncing the effects of his death and passion, girding on the sweet and joyful promise that he made to you in his precious blood, and hast left the true saying as he commanded: whereas he would be known and worshipped to be thy Lord God and Savior only. And now, thou foolish Englishman, thou art bewitched, so that all thy doings is become abominable in the sight of God: thy rulers and governors do stand up “against the Lord’s anointed,” oppressing the prophets and messengers of God, prisoning and pining them of willful malice for Christ’s sake, destroying the holy library of God’s holy word, setting up the traditions and dreams of men, and exalting “the abomination to stand in the holy place,” honoring dead and dumb gods in the stead of the everlasting God who is a “living God,” “turning to thy vomit again.” O thou foolish Englishman, “who hath bewitched you?”’ Now, my dear brethren, be not bewitched by the persuasions of wicked men: let not their threats fear you, be not ye deceived with their vain speech, look not back with Lot’s wife to Sodom again. Better it is “to obey God than man.” Afflictions and trouble is the cognisance of God, declaring whose soldiers we be: it is the just promise of God, to “be hated of all men for his name’s sake.” Our example in the scriptures we may see from Abel from time to time, and last to Christ, who is the very mark we must look unto. We are not better than other men. If we account ourselves to be his servants, “if they called our Master Beelzebub, what will they then call us?” “If they hated me,” saith Christ, “so will they do you.”
Wherefore then should God’s elect look to live in pleasures and felicities in this world? But rather look to the celestial joys, where “neither thieves shall steal, nor moths corrupt, nor rust or canker fret;” so that “we have no abiding here.”
Wherefore the time draweth nigh, and “is even at hand,” that God will try his people: he hath taken “his fan in his hand.” And as for vain excuses before him, [they] must be laid apart. It may not be said, ‘God knoweth my heart: I am not mortified; my wife and children should perish: I have not set my business at a stay with too many worldly ceremonies;’ and so think they may please God in going to the church with a safe conscience (being there as the Lord God is blasphemed), yea, and can defend themselves with scriptures. But beware what you do: howsoever you take the scriptures for your purpose, you know this, that “no idolaters shall enter into the kingdom of God.”
What difference is there between the thief that stealeth the goods and him that receiveth? The lawyers do call such accessories to the felony. Ye know that God is robbed of his honor; and ye be content to consent to the thief, with being present at their devilish doings. Jumble not up the scriptures after such manner, but rather look that ye fall not into God’s vengeance: “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Therefore be “hot or cold, or else the Lord will spew you out of his mouth.” His word doth condemn you; and the prophet doth cry out on such double-hearted men, saying, ‘How long will ye halt on both knees?’
The scripture of God willeth all men they should “draw nigh unto God,” and not to go from him. “If ye deny me before men,” saith our Savior Christ, “I will deny you before my Father which is in heaven.”
Beware therefore, my dear brethren, dissemble not with God: he doth desire a sincere and a pure heart. He is called ‘the Searcher of the heart:’ all things is open unto him. Go through with him with a pure faith, and ye shall be rewarded accordingly.
Let us therefore walk circumspectly in the vocation that we are called unto, as it becometh saints; and as his dear children patiently abide our Father’s correction, that at his coming we may be found sons, and not bastards; living in pureness of life all the days of our times, as he hath commanded: so that we may receive the joys of heaven through Jesus Christ our Lord: to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end.
Amen. Anno Domini 1554.
LETTER ON THE MASS, TO HOPKINS AND OTHERS, AT COVENTRY. FB178 [Sept. 2, 1554.] To my dear brother in the Lord, Master Richard Hopkins and his wife dwelling in Coventry, and other his faithful brethren and sisters, professors of God’s holy gospel, there and thereabouts.
The peace which Christ left to his church and to every true member of the same, the Holy Spirit, the Guide of God’s children, so engraft in your heart, and in the heart of your good wife and of all my good brethren and sisters about you, that unfeignedly ye may in respect thereof contemn all worldly peace; which is contrary to that peace that I speak of, and driveth it utterly out of the hearts of all those which would patch them both together. For “we cannot serve two masters: no man can serve God and mammon:” Christ’s peace cannot be kept with this world’s peace. God therefore of his mercy do I beseech to give unto you his “peace which passeth all understanding,” and so “keep your hearts and minds,” that they may be pure habitacles and mansions for the Holy Spirit, yea, for the blessed Trinity, who hath promised to come and dwell in all them that love Christ and keep his sayings.
My dearly beloved, the time is now come, wherein trial is made of men that have professed to love Christ, and would have been counted keepers of his testimonies. But, welaway! the tenth person persevereth not: the more part do part stakes with the papists and protestants, so that they are become mangy mongrels, to the infecting of all that company with them, and to their no small peril; for they pretend outwardly popery, going to mass with the papists, and tarrying with them personally at their antichristian and idolatrous service; but ‘with their hearts,’ say they, ‘and with their spirits’ they serve the Lord. And so by this means, as they save their pigs, which they would not lose, ([mean their worldly pelf,) so they would please the protestants, and be counted with them for gospellers, yea, marry, would they.
But, mine own beloved in the Lord, flee from such persons as from men most perilous and pernicious, both before God and man; for they are false to both, and true to neither. To the magistrates they are false, pretending one thing and meaning clean contrary. To God they are most untrue, giving him but a piece, which should have the whole.
I would they would tell me, who made their bodies? Did not God, as well as their spirits and souls? And who keepeth both? Doth not he still? And, alas! shall not he have the service of the body, but it must be given to serve the newfound god of antichrist’s invention? Did not Christ buy both our souls and bodies? And wherewith? With any less price than with his precious blood?
Ah, wretches then that we be, if we will defile either part with the rosecolored whore of Babylon’s filthy mass-abomination! It had been better for us never to have been washed, than so to wallow ourselves in the filthy puddle of popery: it had been better never to have known the truth, than thus to betray it. Surely, surely, let such men fear, that their “latter end be not worse than the beginning.”
Their own conscience now accuseth them before God (if so be they have any conscience), that they are but dissemblers and hypocrites to God and man: for all the cloaks they make, they cannot avoid this, but that their going to church and to mass is of self-love; that is, they go thither because they would avoid the cross, they go thither because they would be out of trouble. They seek neither the queen’s highness, nor her laws, which in this point cannot bind the conscience to obey, because they are contrary to God’s laws, which bid us often to “flee idolatry” and worshipping him after men’s devices. They seek neither (I say) the laws, if there were any, neither their brethren’s commodity; for none cometh thereby, neither godliness or good example, (for there can be none found in going to mass, etc.,) but horrible “offenses and woe to them that give them:” but they seek their own selves, their own ease, their escaping the cross, etc. When they have made all the excuses they can, their own conscience will accuse them of this, that their going to church is only because they seek themselves: for, if there would no trouble ensue for tarrying away, I appeal to their conscience, would they come thither? Never, I dare say.
And hereof their own conscience, if they have any conscience, doth accuse them. Now if their conscience accuse them at this present, what will it do before the judgment-seat of Christ? Who will then excuse it, when Christ shall appear in judgment, and shall begin to be “ashamed of them then, which now here are ashamed of him?” Who then, I say, will excuse these mass-gospellers’ consciences? Will the queen’s highness? She shall then have more to do for herself than, without hearty and speedy repentance, she can ever be able to answer; though Peter, Paul, Mary, James, John, the pope, and all his prelates take her part, with all the singing sir Johns that ever were, are, and shall be. Will the lord chancellor and prelates of the realm excuse them there? Nay, nay, they are like then to smart for it so sore, as I would not be in their places for all the whole world. Will the laws of the realm, the nobility, gentlemen, justices of peace, etc. excuse our gospel-massmongers’ consciences then? Nay, God knoweth they can do little there but quake and fear for the heavy vengeance of God, like to fall upon them. Will their goods, lands, and possessions, the which they by their dissembling have saved, will these serve to excuse them? No, no, God is no merchant, as our mass-priests be. Will masses or trentals and such trash serve? No, verily, the haunters of this gear then shall be horribly ashamed. Will the catholic church excuse them? Nay, it will most of all accuse them; as will all the good fathers, patriarchs, apostles, prophets, martyrs, confessors, and saints, with all the good doctors, and good general councils.
All these already condemn the mass, and all that ever useth it as it is now, being of all idols that ever was the most abominable, and blasphemous to Christ, and his priesthood, manhood, and sacrifice; for it maketh the priest that saith mass God’s fellow and better than Christ, for the offerer is always better or equivalent to the thing offered. If therefore the priest take upon him there to offer up Christ, as they boldly affirm they do, then must he needs be better, or equal with Christ. O that they would show but one iota of the scripture of God calling them to this dignity, or of their authority to offer up Christ for the quick and dead, and to apply the benefit and virtue of his death and passion to whom they will!
Surely if this were true, as it is most false and blasphemous, prate they at their pleasure to the contrary, then it made no matter at all whether Christ were our friend or no, if so be the mass-priest were our friend: for he can apply us Christ’s merits by his mass if he will, and when he will; and therefore we need little to care for Christ’s friendship. They can make him when they will, and where they will. “Lo, here he is, there he is!” say they: but, “believe them not,” saith Christ, “believe them not,” “believe them not,” saith he. For in his human nature and body, (which was made of the substance of the virgin’s body, and not of bread,) in this body, I say, he is, and ‘sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty’ in heaven, ‘from whence’ (and not from the pyx) ‘shall he come to judge both the quick and dead.’ In the mean season “heaven,” saith St. Peter, “must receive him;” and, as Paul saith, he “prayeth for us,” and now is not seen elsewhere, or otherwise seen than by faith there, until he shall be “seen as he is,” “to the salvation of them that look for his coming:” which I trust be not far off; for, if “the day of the Lord” drew near in the apostle’s time, which is now above fifteen hundred years past, it cannot be, I trust, long hence now; I trust our Redeemer’s “coming” is at hand. Then these mass-sayers and seers shall shake, and cry to the hills, “Hide us from the fierce wrath of the Lamb,” if they repent a not in time. Then will neither gold, nor goods, friendship nor fellowship, lordship nor authority, power nor pleasure, unity nor antiquity, custom nor council, doctors, devils, nor any man’s device serve. “The word which the Lord hath spoken in that day shall judge;” “the word,” I say, of God “in that day shall judge.”
And what saith it of idolatry and idolaters? Saith it not, “Flee from it?” and further, that “they shall be damned?” O terrible sentence to all massmongers, and worshippers of things made with the hands of bakers, carpenters, etc.! This word of God knoweth no moe oblations or sacrifices for sin, but one only, which Christ himself offered, never more to be reoffered; but in remembrance thereof his supper to be eaten sacramentally and spiritually, according to Christ’s institution; which is so perverted now that there is nothing in it simply according to the judge, I mean the word of God. It were good for men to “agree with their adversary,” the word of God, now “whilst they be in the way with it;” lest, if they linger, it will deliver them to the Judge Christ, who will “commit them to the jailer, and so they shall be cast into prison, and never come out thence till they have paid the uttermost farthing,” that is, never.
My dearly beloved, therefore mark the word, hearken to the word: it alloweth no massing, no such sacrificing, nor worshipping of Christ with tapers, candles, copes, canopies, etc. It alloweth no Latin service, no images in the temples, no praying to saints dead, no praying for the dead. It alloweth no such dissimulation as a great many use now outwardly. “If any withdraw himself, my soul,” saith the Holy Ghost, “shall have no pleasure in him.” It alloweth not the love of this world, which maketh men to do many times against their consciences; for “in them that love the world the love of God abideth not.” It alloweth not gatherers elsewhere than with Christ, but saith, they “scatter abroad.” It alloweth no lukewarm gentlemen: but, “if God be God, then follow him;” “if Baal (and a piece of bread) be God, then follow it.” It alloweth not “faith in the heart,” that hath not “confession in the mouth.” It alloweth no disciples that will not “deny themselves,” that will not “take up their cross and follow Christ.” It alloweth not the “seeking of ourselves,” or of our own ease and commodity. It alloweth not the more part, but the better part. It alloweth not unity, except it be in verity. It alloweth no obedience to any, which cannot be done without disobedience to God. It alloweth no church that is not the spouse of Christ, and hearkeneth not to his voice only. It alloweth no doctor that speaketh against it. It alloweth no general council that followeth not it in all things. Summa , it alloweth no “angel,” much more then any such as would teach any other thing than Moses, the prophets, Christ Jesus, and his apostles have taught and left us to look upon in the written word of God, the holy books of the Bible; but curseth all that teach, not only contrary, but also any other doctrine. It saith they are fools, unwise, proud, that will not consent to the sound word and doctrine of Christ and his apostles; and biddeth and commandeth us to flee from such.
Therefore obey this commandment. Company not with them, specially in their church-service, but flee from them; for in what thing consent they to Christ’s doctrine? He biddeth us pray in a tongue to edify: they command contrary, He biddeth us call upon his Father in his name, when we pray: they bid us run to Mary, Peter, etc. He biddeth us use his supper in the remembrance of his death and passion, preaching it out “till he come;” whereby he doth us to wit that corporally he is not there in the form of bread: therefore saith Paul, “till he come.” He willeth us to “eat of the bread” (calling it ‘bread’ after consecration) and “drink of that cup” “all,” making no exception, so that we do it worthily; that is, take it as the sacrament of his body and blood, “broken and shed for our sins,” and not as the body itself, and blood itself, without bread, without wine; but as the sacrament of his body and blood, whereby he doth represent, and unto our faith give and obsign unto us himself wholly, with all the merits and glory of his body and blood. But they forbid utterly the use of the supper to all but to their shavelings, except it be once in the year, and then also the cup they take from us: they never preach forth the Lord’s death but in mockery and mows. They take away all the sacrament by their transubstantiation; for they take away the element, and so the sacrament. To be short, they most horribly abuse this holy ordinance of the Lord, by adoration, reservation, oblation, ostentation, etc.
In nothing they are contented with the simplicity of God’s word. They add to and take from at their pleasure: and therefore the plagues of God will fall upon them at the length, and upon all that will take their part. They seek not Christ, nor his glory; for you see they utterly have cast away his word: and therefore, as the prophet saith, “there is no wisdom in them.”
They follow the strumpet church and spouse of antichrist, which they call the catholic church, whose foundation and pillars is the devil and his daughter the mass, with his children the pope and his prelates. Their laws are craft and cruelty; their weapons are lying and murder; their end and study is their own glory, fame, wealth, rest, and possessions.
For if a man speak nor do nothing against these, though he be a sodomite, an adulterer, an usurer, etc., it forceth not, he shall be quiet enough, no man shall trouble him. But if anyone speak anything to God’s glory, which cannot stand without the overthrow of man’s glory, then shall he be disquieted, imprisoned, and troubled, except he will play mum, and put his finger upon his mouth, although the same be a most quiet and godly man.
So that easily a man may see, how that they be antichrist’s church, and sworn soldiers to the pope and his spouse, and not to Christ and his church: for then would they not cast away God’s word; then would they be no more adversaries to his glory, which chiefly consisteth in obedience to his word.
Therefore, my dear hearts in the Lord, seem not to allow this, or any part of the pelf of this Romish church and “synagogue of Satan.” Halt not on both knees, for halting will “bring you out of the way;” but, like valiant champions of the Lord, confess, confess, I say, with your mouth, as occasion serveth, and as your vocation requireth, the hope and faith you have and feel in your heart.
But you will say that so to do is perilous; you shall by that means lose your liberty, your lands, your goods, your friends, your name, your life, etc.; and so shall your children be left in miserable state, etc. To this I answer, my good brethren, that you have professed in baptism to fight under the standard of your Captain Christ: and will you now, for peril’s sake, leave your Lord? You made a solemn vow that you would forsake the world: and will you be forsworn, and run to embrace it now? You swear and promised to “leave all and follow Christ:” and will you now leave him for your “father, your mother, your children, your lands, your life,” etc.? “He that hateth not these,” saith Christ, “is not worthy of me.” “He that forsaketh not these and himself also, and withal taketh not up his cross and followeth him, the same shall be none of his disciples.”
Therefore either bid Christ adieu, be forsworn, and run to the devil quick; or else say, as a Christian should say, that wife, children, goods, life, etc. are not to be dear unto you in respect of Christ, who is your portion and inheritance. Let the worldlings, which have no hope of eternal life, fear perils of loss of lands, goods, life, etc. Here is not our home, we are here but “pilgrims and strangers;” this life is but the desert and wilderness to the land of rest. “We look for a city, whose workman is God” himself. We are now “dwellers in the tents of Kedar.” We are now in “warfare,” in “travail and labor,” whereto we were born, as the bird to fly. We sorrow and sigh, desiring the dissolution of our bodies and the putting off of corruption, that we might “put on incorruption.”
The way we walk in is “strait and narrow,” and therefore not easy to our enemy, the corrupt flesh: but yet we must walk on; for if we hearken to our enemy, we shall be served not friendly. Let them walk “the wide way,” that are ruled by their enemies: let us be ruled by our friends, and walk “the strait way,” whose end is weal, as the other is woe. The time of our suffering is but short, as the time of their ease is not long: but the time of our rejoicing shall be endless, as the time of their torments shall be ever and intolerable. Our breakfast is sharp, but our supper is sweet. “The afflictions of this life may not be compared” in any part “to the glory that shall be revealed unto us.”
This is certain, “if we suffer with Christ, we shall reign with him;” “if we confess him, he will confess us, and that before his Father in heaven,” and all his angels and saints, saying, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning.” There shall be joy, mirth, pleasure, pastime and solace, melody, and all kind of beatitude and felicity, such as “the eye hath not seen, the ear heard, nor the heart of man is able in any point to conceive it” as it is.
In respect of this, and of “the joy set before us,” should not we run our race, though it be something rough? Did not Moses so, the prophets so, Christ so, the apostles so, the martyrs so, and the confessors so? They were drunken with the sweetness of this gear: and therefore they contemned all that man and devils could do to them. Their “souls thirsted after the Lord and his tabernacles:” and therefore their lives and goods were not too dear to them. Read the eleventh to the Hebrews, and the second of the Maccabees, the seventh chapter; and let us go the same way, that is, “by many tribulations.” Let us labor to enter into the kingdom of heaven; for “all that will live godly in Christ Jesu must suffer persecution.”
Think therefore the cross, if it come for confession of Christ, no strange thing to God’s children; but rather take it as the Lord’s medicine, by the which he helpeth our infirmities, and setteth forth his glory. Our sins have deserved cross upon cross. Now if God give us his cross, to suffer for his truth and confessing him, as he doth by it bury our sins, so doth he glorify us, making us like to Christ here, that we may be like unto him elsewhere: for “if we be partakers of the affliction, we shall be partakers of the consolation;” if we be like in ignominy, we shall be like in glory. Great cause we have to give thanks to God for lending us liberty, lands, goods, wife, children, life, etc. thus long: so that we shall be guilty of ingratitude, if he now shall come and take the same away, except we be cheerful and content. “God hath given, and God hath taken away,” saith Job; as it pleaseth the Lord, so be it done. And should not we do this, especially when the Lord taketh these away of love, to try us, and “prove us,” whether we be faithful lovers or strumpets; that is, whether we love him better than his gifts, or otherwise? This is a truth of all truths to be laid up in our hearts, that that is not lost which seemeth so to be for the confession of Christ. In this life your children shall find God’s plentiful blessing upon them, when you are gone, and all your goods taken away. God is so good, that he helpeth “the young ravens” before they can fly, and “feedeth them” when their dams have most unkindly left them. And trow ye that God, which is the God “of the widows and fatherless children,” will not specially have a care for the babes of his dear saints which die or lose anything for conscience to him?
Let us now cast ourselves wholly into his hands, with our wives, children, and all that ever we have. Let us be sure “the hairs of our head are numbered,” so that “one hair shall not perish” without the good will of our dear Father; who hath commanded his angels to “pitch their tents about us,” and “in their hands to take and hold us up, that we shall not hurt as much as our foot against a stone.” Let us use earnest prayer, let us heartily repent, let us hearken diligently to God’s word; “let us keep ourselves pure from all uncleanness both of spirit and body;” let us flee from all evil and “all appearance of evil.” Let us be diligent in our vocation, and in “doing good to all men, especially to them that be of the household of faith.” Let us “live in peace with all men as much as is in us.” And “the Lord of peace give us his peace,” and that forevermore. Amen.
This second of September. JOHN BRADFORD.
THE PRISONERS FOR THE GOSPEL, THEIR DECLARATION CONCERNING KING EDWARD HIS REFORMATION. FB195 To the king and queen’s most excellent and gracious majesties, with their most honorable high court of parliament.
We, poor prisoners for Christ’s religion, require your honors, in our dear Savior Christ’s name, earnestly now to repent, for that you have consented of late to the unplacing of so many godly laws set forth touching the true religion of Christ before by two most noble kings, being father and brother to the queen’s highness, and agreed upon by all your consents, not without your great and many deliberations, free and open disputations, costs and pains-taking in that behalf; neither without great consultations and conclusions had by the greatest learned men in the realm, at Windsor, Cambridge, and Oxford; neither without the most willing consent and allowing of the same by the whole realm thoroughly: so that there was not one parish in all England that ever desired again to have the Romish, superstitious, vain service, which now by the popish, proud, covetous clergy is placed again, in contempt not only of God, all heaven, and all the Holy Ghost’s lessons in the blessed Bible, but also against the honors of the said two most famous kings; against your own country, foreagreements, and against all the godly consciences within this realm of England and elsewhere. By reason whereof God’s great plagues must need follow, and great unquietness of consciences: besides other persecutions and vexations in bodies and goods must needs ensue.
Moreover we certify your honors, that since your said unplacing of Christ’s true religion and true service, and placing in the room thereof antichrist’s Romish superstition, heresy, and idolatry, all the true preachers have been removed and punished; and that with such open robbery and cruelty, as in Turkey was never used, either to their own countrymen, or to other their mortal enemies.
This therefore our humble suit is now to your honorable estates, to desire the same, for all the mercy’s sake of our dear and only Savior Jesus Christ, and for the duty you owe to God, to your native country, and to your own souls, earnestly to consider from what light to what darkness this realm is now brought; and that in the weightiest, chief, and principal matter of salvation of all our souls and bodies everlastingly and forevermore. And even so we desire you at this your assembly to seek some effectual reformation for the fore-written most horrible deformation in this church of England.
And touching ourselves, we desire you in like manner, that we may be called before your honors; and if we be not able both to prove and approve, by the catholic and canonical rules of Christ’s true religion, the church Homilies and Service set forth in the most innocent king Edward’s days; and also to disallow and reprove, by the same authorities, the Service now set forth since his departing; then we offer our bodies, either to be immediately burned, or else to suffer any other painful and shameful death, whatsoever it shall please the king and queen’s majesties to appoint. And we think this trial and probation may be now best, either in the plain English tongue by writing, or otherwise by disputation in the same tongue.
A LETTER SENT WITH A SUPPLICATION TO QUEEN MARY, HER COUNCIL, AND THE WHOLE PARLIAMENT. FB196 IN most humble wise complaineth unto your majesty and honors a poor subject persecuted for the confession of Christ’s verity; the which verity deserveth at your hands to be maintained and defended, as the thing by the which you reign, and have your honor and authorities.
Although we that be professors, and through the grace of God the constant confessors of the same, are, as it were, the out-sweepings of the world; yet, I say, the verity itself is a thing not unworthy for your ears to hear, for your eyes to see, and for your hands to handle, help, and succor; according to that the Lord hath made you able, and placed you where you are, for the same purpose. Your highness and honors ought to know that there is no innocency in words or deeds, where it is enough and sufficeth only to accuse.
It behoveth kings, queens, and all that be in authority, to know that in the administration of their kingdoms “they are God’s ministers.” It behoveth them to know that they are no kings, but plain tyrants, which reign not to this end, that they may serve and set forth God’s glory after true knowledge. And therefore it is required of them that they would “be wise,” and suffer themselves to be taught; to submit themselves to the Lord’s discipline, and to kiss their sovereign, “lest they perish:” as all those potentates with their principalities and dominions cannot long prosper, but perish indeed, if they and their kingdoms be not ruled with the scepter of God, that is, with his word: which whoso honoreth not honoreth not God; and they that honor not the Lord, the Lord will not honor them, but bring them into contempt, and at the length take his own cause, which he hath most chiefly committed unto them to care for, into his own hands, and so overthrow them, and set up his truth gloriously; the people also perishing with the princes, where the word of prophecy is wanting, much more is suppressed, as it is now in this realm of England: over which the eyes of the Lord are set to destroy it, your highness, and all your honors, if in time you look not better to your office and duties herein, and not suffer yourselves to be slaves and hangmen to antichrist and his prelates, which have brought your highness and honors already to let Barabbas loose, and to hang up Christ: as by the grace and help of God I shall make apparent, if first it would please your excellent majesty, and all your honors, to take to heart God’s doctrine, which rather through the malice of the Pharisees (I mean the bishops and prelates), than your consciences, is oppressed; and not for our contemptible and execrable state in the sight of the world to pass the less of it.
For it (the doctrine I mean) is higher and of more honor and majesty than all the whole world. It standeth invincible above all power, being not our doctrine, but the doctrine of the everliving God, and of his Christ, whom the Father hath ordained King, to “have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the world.” And truly so doth he and will he reign, that he will shake all the whole earth with his iron and brazen power, with his golden and silvery brightness, only “by the rod of his mouth,” to shivers, in such sort as though they were pots of clay, according to that which the prophets do write of the magnificence of his kingdom. And thus much for the thing, I mean the doctrine, and your duties to hearken, to propagate, and defend the same.
But now will our adversaries mainly cry out against us, because no man may be admitted once to whist against them, that we pretend falsely the doctrine and word of God, calling us the most wicked contemners of it, and heretics, schismatics, traitors, etc. All which their sayings, how malicious and false they are, though I might make report to that which is written by those men whose works they have condemned, and all that retain any of them, publicly by proclamation; yet here will I occasion your majesty and honors, by this my writing, to see that it is far otherwise than they report of us.
God our Father, for his holy name’s sake, direct my pen to be his instrument to put into your eyes, ears, and hearts, that which most may make to his glory, to the safeguard of your souls and bodies, and preservation of the whole realm. Amen. JOHN BRADFORD.
A SUPPLICATION UNTO THE KING AND QUEEN’S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTIES, AND TO THEIR MOST HONORABLE AND HIGH COURT OF PARLIAMENT. FB198 IN most humble and lamentable wise complain unto your majesties, and to your high court of parliament, your poor desolate and obedient subjects, H[ooper], F[errar], T[aylor], B[radford], P[hilpot], R[ogers], S[aunders], etc., that whereas your said subjects, living under the laws of God and of this realm in the days of the late most noble king Edward VI. did in all things show themselves true, faithful, and diligent subjects, according to their vocation; (as well in the sincere ministering of God’s holy word, as in due obedience “to the higher powers,” and in the daily practice of such virtues and good demeanor as the laws of God at all times, and the statutes of the realm did then allow;) your said subjects nevertheless, contrary to all laws of justice, equity, and right, are in very extreme manner not only cast into prison, where they have remained now these fifteen or sixteen months; but their livings also, their houses and possessions, their goods and books taken from them, and they slandered to be most heinous heretics, their enemies themselves being both witnesses, accusers, and judges, belying, slandering, and misreporting your said subjects at their pleasure: whereas your said subjects, being straitly kept in prison, cannot yet be suffered to come forth, and make answer accordingly.
In consideration whereof, it may please your most excellent majesties, and this your high court of parliament, graciously to tender the present calamity of your said poor subjects, and to call them before your presence, granting them liberty, either by mouth or writing in the plain English tongue, to answer before you, or before indifferent arbiters to be appointed by your majesties, unto such articles of controversy in religion as their said adversaries have already condemned them of, as of heinous heresies: provided that all things may be done with such moderation and quiet behavior as becometh subjects and children of peace, and that your said subjects may have the free use of all their own books, and conference together among themselves.
Which thing being granted, your said subjects doubt not but it shall plainly appear that your said subjects are true and faithful Christians, and neither heretics, neither teachers of heresy, nor cut off from the true catholic universal church of Christ; yea, that rather their adversaries themselves be unto your majesties, as were the charmers of Egypt unto Pharoah, Zedekias and his adherents unto the king of Israel, and Bar-jesu to the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. And if your said subjects be not able by the testimony of Christ, his prophets, apostles, and godly fathers of his church, to prove that the doctrine of the church Homilies and Service, taught and set forth in the time of our late most godly prince and king, Edward VI, is the true doctrine of Christ’s catholic church, and most agreeable to the articles of the christian faith; your said subjects offer themselves then to the most heavy punishment that it shall please your majesties to appoint.
Wherefore, for the tender mercy of God in Christ, which you look for at the day of judgment, your said poor subjects in bonds most humbly beseech your excellent majesties, and this your high court of parliament, benignly and graciously to hear and grant this their petition, tending so greatly to the glory of God, to the edifying of his church, to the honor of your majesties, and to the commendation and maintenance of justice, right, and equity, both before God and man. And your said subjects, according to their bounden duty, shall not cease to pray unto Almighty God for the gracious preservation of your most excellent majesties long to endure.
REMARKS ON A MEMORABLE TRIAL. FB200 1555. THIS PREFACE WAS MADE IN ANNO DOMINI 1555.
After this book came to my hands, as I was in prison for the testimony of the Lord, I could not but read the same to see how the Lord assisted his servant that put his trust in him: which thing I thank God I did so see, that I could not but think myself bound to help what I could by my testimony, to allure all others by this book thereunto. And therefore I, being a poor man of vile state and condition concerning this world, and of learning unmeet of place in any book for my name, have presumed by a godly presumption, tending to do good to all men and hurt to no man, to write thus much in the behalf of this book, that it is worthy to be had in print, and diligently read of all men, but especially of the nobility and gentlemen of England: whose houses and names could not but continue, if that yet now they would begin to take this gentleman a sampler to ensue, and a pattern to press after. For here thou, good reader, shalt perceive a gentleman in deed, and not in name only: his trust was in the Lord, and not in man, and therefore he was not confounded: he honored God, and therefore God hath honored him accordingly. His study was in God’s word, and therefore found he comfort: by it he found more wisdom and had more knowledge than all his enemies, which were not few nor foolish to the judgment of the world. They came to him as Goliath the mighty giant, harnessed and armed a cap-a-pie: he came as a little David with his sling, and had the victory. In this weak man thou mayest see God’s power, presence, wisdom, and goodness, to occasion thee to put thy trust in the Lord, and to hang altogether upon him, who in the evil day will deliver them that fear him. What wisdom, what grace, what audacity, did God give to him in his need! What could all the learned lawyers, which better might be termed lewd losels of the realm, do against him? what could all the power of the queen’s highness prevail? Such a thing it is to trust in the Lord, to fear him, and to be a godly student of his word, as doubtless it appeareth this good man was. Who would not serve such a God, as can in despite of all his enemies triumph over them by his simple servant?
Read the book, and thou shalt see what knowledge this gentleman had in the statutes, laws, and chronicles of the realm, to teach the nobility and gentlemen, which are and would be magistrates and rulers of the realm, to spend more time to attain wisdom and knowledge to execute their offices than they now do. Read this book, and thou shalt see what false packing there is against the simple and plain truth. Read this book, and thou shalt see how unrighteousness sitteth in place of justice. Read this book, and thou shalt see how truth is defaced, and falsehood maintained. Read this book, and thou shalt see how perilous a thing it is to testify the truth.
The good men impaneled of the quest shall tell the same. A greater honor never came to the city of London than by those twelve men. What said I, to the city of London? Nay, to the whole realm of England: for, alas! if they had not had more conscience and truth than king, queen, lords, councilors, judges, sergeants, attorneys, solicitors, lawyers, etc., England had been guilty of innocent blood; as, alas, alas! it is to be feared too much thereof crieth for vengeance. Lord, spare us, and have mercy upon us.
But what reward had this good jury? Well, I pass over that: a papistical reward. What is that? Forsooth, such as Julianus Apostata gave to the faithful Christians. God our Father look better on this gear in his good time, which in respect of his enemies is at hand; “for they have scattered abroad his law.” O that amongst us, who pretend to be God’s friends, were true repentance! Then might we say: Tempus est ut miserearis, Domine: ‘It is time, O Lord, to show mercy upon us.’ God do so for his holy name’s sake! Amen.
Thus much I was so bold to scribble in this book, being lent unto me, because I would occasion some men of authority and learning to commend it, as it is most worthy. E carcere , [From prison] JOHN BRADFORD.
AN ADMONITION TO LOVERS OF THE GOSPEL. FB203 THE peace of Christ, which is the true effect of God’s gospel believed, my dearly beloved, be more and more plentifully perceived of you, through the grace of our dear Father, by the mighty working of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter. Amen.
Though I have many lets presently to hinder me from writing unto you, yet being desired I could not but something signify my ready good-will in this behalf, so much as I may, when I cannot so much as I would. You hear and see how Satan bestirreth him, raging “as a roaring lion to devour us.” You see and feel partly what storms he hath raised up to drown the poor boat of Christ, I mean his church. You see how terribly he traineth his soldiers to give a fierce onset on the vaward of God’s battle. You see how he hath received power of God to molest God’s children, and to begin at his house.
By reason whereof, consider two things; one, the cause on our behalf; the other, what will be the sequel on strangers.
For the first, if we be not blind, we cannot but well see, that our sins are the cause of all this misery: our sins, I say, which I would that every one of us would apply to ourselves after the example of Jonas and David; turning over the wallet, that other men’s offenses might lie behind, and our own before.
Not that I would excuse other men, which exteriorly have walked much more grossly than many of you have done; but that I would provoke you all, as myself, to more hearty repentance and prayer. Let us more and more increase to know and lament our doubting of God, of his presence, power, anger, mercy, etc. Let us better feel and hate our self-love, security, negligence, unthankfulness, unbelief, impatience, etc.: and then doubtless the cross shall be less careful, yea, it shall be comfortable, and Christ most dear and pleasant. Death then shall be desired as the dispatcher of us out of all misery, and entrance into eternal felicity and joy unspeakable: the which is so much the more longed for, by how much we feel indeed the serpent’s bites wherewith he woundeth our heels, that is, our outward Adam and senses.
If we had, I say, a lively and true feeling of his poison, we could not but, as rejoice over our Captain that hath “bruised his head,” so be desirous to follow his example, that is, to give our lives with him and for him; and so to “fill up his passions,” that he might conquer and overcome in us and by us, to his glory and comfort of his children.
Now the second (I mean the sequel, or that which will follow, on the strangers), my dearly beloved, let us well look upon. For if so be that God justly do thus give to Satan and his seed to vex and molest Christ and his penitent people, O what and how justly may he and will he give to Satan to entreat the retchless and impenitent sinners! “If judgment begin thus at God’s house,” what will follow on them that be without, if they repent not?
Now are they unwilling to drink of God’s cup of afflictions, which he offereth common with his Son Christ our Lord, lest they should lose their pigs with the Gergesites. They are unwilling to come into the way that bringeth to heaven, even afflictions; they in their hearts cry, “Let us cast his yoke from us;” they walk two ways, that is, they seek to “serve God and mammon,” which is impossible. They will not come nigh “the strait way that bringeth to life;” they open their eyes to behold present things only; they judge of religion after reason, and not after God’s word; they follow the more part, and not the better; they profess God with their mouths, but “in their hearts they deny him,” or else they would “sanctify him” by serving him more than men. They part stake with God which would have all, giving part to the world, to the Romish rout, and antichristian idolatry now set abroad amongst us publicly. They will have Christ, but none of his cross; which will not be: they will be counted to “live godly in Christ,” but yet they “will suffer no persecution;” they love this world, wherethrough the love of God is driven forth of them; they “savor those things that be of men, and not that be of God.” Summa , they love God in their lips, but in their hearts, yea, and in their deeds deny him, as well by not repenting their evils past, as by continuing in evil still, by doing as the world, the flesh, and the devil willeth: and yet still perchance they will pray or rather prate, “Thy will be done in earth;” which is generally, that everyone should “take up his cross and follow Christ.”
But this is a hard sermon: “who is able to abide it?” Therefore Christ must be prayed to depart, lest all their pigs be drowned. The devil shall have his dwelling again in themselves, rather than in their pigs: and therefore to the devil shall they go, and dwell with him in eternal perdition and damnation, even in hell-fire, and torment endless, and above all cogitations incomprehensible, if they repent not.
Wherefore by them, my dearly beloved, be admonished to remember your profession, how that in baptism you made a solemn vow to renounce the devil, the world, etc. You promised to fight under Christ’s standard. You learned Christ’s cross, before you began with A. B. C. Go to then, pay your vow to the Lord; fight like men and valiant men under Christ’s standard; “take up your cross” and follow your Master, as your brethren, M. Hooper, Rogers, Taylor, and Saunders have done; and as now your brethren, M. Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, Ferrar, Bradford, Hawkes, etc. be ready to do.
The ice is broken before you; therefore be not afraid, but be content to die for the Lord. You have no cause to waver or doubt of the doctrine thus declared by the blood of the pastors. Remember that Christ saith, “He that will save his life shall lose it.” And “what should it profit you to win the whole world,” much less a little quietness, your goods, etc., and “to lose your own souls?” Render to the Lord that he hath lent you, by such means as he would have you render it, and not as you would. Forget not, Christ’s disciples must “deny themselves,” as well concerning their will, as concerning their wisdom. Have in mind that, as it is no small mercy to believe in the Lord, so it is no small kindness of God towards you, to suffer anything, much more death, for the Lord. If they be “blessed that die in the Lord,” how shall they be that die for the Lord!
O what a blessing is it to have death, due for our sins, diverted into a demonstration and testification of the Lord’s truth! O that we had a little of Moses’ faith, to look upon the end of the cross, to look upon the reward, to see continually with Christ and his people “greater riches than the riches of Egypt!” O let us pray that God would open our eyes to see his “hid manna,” “heavenly Jerusalem, the congregation of the first-born,” the melody of the saints, “the tabernacle of God dwelling with men.” Then should we run and become violent men, and so “take the kingdom of heaven,” as it were, “by force.”
God our Father give us, for his Christ’s sake, to see a little what and how great joy he hath prepared for us, he hath called us unto, and most assuredly giveth us, for his own goodness and truth’s sake. Amen.
My dearly beloved, repent, “be sober, and watch in prayer;” be obedient, and after your vocations show your obedience to “the higher powers” in all things that are not against God’s word. Therein acknowledge the sovereign power of the Lord: howbeit, so that ye be no rebels or rebellers for no cause; but, because with good conscience you cannot obey, be patient sufferers, and the “glory and good Spirit of God shall dwell upon us.” I pray you remember us your afflicted brethren, being in the Lord’s bonds for the testimony of Christ, and abiding the gracious hour of our dear and most merciful Father.
The Lord for Christ’s sake give us merry hearts to drink lustily of his sweet cup; which daily we groan and sigh for, lamenting that the time is thus prolonged. The Lord Jesus give us grace to be thankful, and to abide patiently the provident hour of his most gracious good will. Amen, Amen.
From the Compter in the Poultry.
Yours in Christ, JOHN BRADFORD. [The following ‘Exhortation’ from Bradford to his ‘dearly beloved brethren and sisters throughout the realm of England’ was printed among his letters, and with his signature, in the ‘Letters of the martyrs,’ edited by Bishop Coverdale, 1564, p. 427 — 46.
It also forms a part of a very rare ‘Exhortation to the carrying of Christ’s cross,’ without any date, or name of the author or printer; of which there is a copy in the library of George Offor, Esq., Hackney.
The ‘Exhortation’ given in this volume is that portion of the treatise without date, which is attributed by Bishop Coverdale, as stated above, to the authorship of Bradford. It follows, in this reprint, the text of the ‘Letters of the martyrs,’ 1564, except where otherwise noted.
This address appears to have been written between November and June 1555, from the allusion at p. 425, to God having blessed queen Mary ‘with fruit of the womb,’ the unfounded rumor to that effect having prevailed during that period. It will be remembered that Bradford was imprisoned, August 16, 1553, and was martyred July 1, 1555.
The Farewell Letters or Addresses to London, Cambridge, Lancashire and Cheshire, and Walden, observe the text of the first edition of the ‘Acts and monuments’ of Foxe 1563, where they were originally printed. The text of 1563 has been collated with MSS. in Emmanuel College, Cambridge. It has also been compared with the ‘Letters of the martyrs’ 1564, and occasionally with the after editions of the ‘Acts and monuments’ printed during the life of Foxe, 1570, 1576, 1583. The ‘Farewell to Cambridge’ has also been compared with an early transcript in the Library of that University.
The variations are only noted where a deviation from Foxe 1563 is followed.
The ‘Farewells’ were written by Bradford from prison, February and 12, 1555, shortly after his condemnation, which had taken place on the preceding January 31.] AN