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(1553) AND ON THE LORD’S SUPPER BY JOHN BRADFORD. [The Sermon on Repentance, with a Letter from Bradford ‘to the Christian Reader’, was originally published in 1553. Bradford, in the Preface dated July 12 of that year, says, “I...have now caused this Sermon to be printed:” F29 and he observes in the Preface to the Translation from Melancthon, which certainly was written and probably was printed in July or August 1553, “Unto a sermon of repentance, which even presently I have put forth, I have also put forth this treatise of prayer “ F30 And Sampson states, F31 that Bradford “in his life time did both preach and publish” that on Repentance.
The Two Sermons were published together in one volume in 1574, with a Preface by Sampson describing the character and life of Bradford. More than one impression of this book, closely alike in type, signatures, and catchwords, were printed in that year. That which the editor conceives to be probably the earliest of these (from a very few errata corrected in another impression of 1574) may be known by not having side-notes or references on signatures B 1 recto, B 3 recto, B 5 recto, C 1 reverse, among others. A copy is in the collection of the late George Stokes, Esq., of Cheltenham.
The Sermon on Repentance, in the present reprint, follows the text of an imperfect copy of the very rare edition of 1553, F32 in the possession of the editor, formerly the property of the late Archdeacon Pott, the last two pages being taken from an impression of 1574 also belonging to the editor, free from the errata referred to above. The text of 1553 has been closely compared with that of 1574, and occasionally with the editions of 1581, 1599, 1617, 1619, and 1652.
The present reprint follows the text (unless where otherwise noted) of a MS. in the Library of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, which supplies twelve lines now printed, at p. 90, for the first time. That MS. has been collated throughout with the edition of 1574 used for the Sermon on Repentance, and has been sometimes compared with 1581, 1599, and 1617; and the chief respects in which the MS. differs from 1574 have been noted.
There is reason to believe that the Sermon on the Lord’s Supper was revised by Bishop Ridley: see p. 82, note 1.] TO THE CHRISTIAN READER, THO. SAMPSON F34 WISHETH THE FELICITY OF SPEEDY AND FULL CONVERSION TO THE LORD.
GODLY learned men do write and publish books to profit the age in which they do live, and the posterity. This desire was in the author of this Treatise, Master John Bradford, who was the preacher and publisher of this Sermon of Repentance. And now, to the end that we which do live in earth after him, and are the posterity, may take as much or more profit by it than they did to and for whom, in his lifetime, he did both preach and publish it, the same his labor is by new imprinting published again. Nothing is added to this Sermon or altered in it; only to the Sermon of Repentance before printed is added another Sermon of the Lord’s Supper which he also made, and was never printed before. And aptly shalt thou see, good reader, these two Sermons joined together. For, in diligent perusing of the last, thou shalt see how necessarily he draweth the doctrine of repentance to them all which do with due preparation receive the holy sacrament of Christ. I do not know which of the sermons I should most praise: I wish that by reading both thou mayest make thy great profit. In both these sermons thou shalt read Bradford preaching repentance with his own pen.
They are counted the most profitable teachers, which have themselves good experience by practice in themselves of that which they do teach to others; such as may safely say, “Brethren, be ye followers of me, and look on them which walk so as ye have us for an example.” And surely such a pattern was Master Bradford in his lifetime, of this doctrine of repentance which in both these sermons he teacheth, that I which did know him familiarly must needs give to God this praise for him, that among men I have scarcely known one like unto him. I did know when and partly how F35 it pleased God, by effectual calling, to turn his heart unto the true knowledge and obedience of the most holy gospel of Christ our Savior; of which God did give him such an heavenly hold and lively feeling, that, as he did then know that many sins were forgiven him, so surely he declared by deeds that he “loved much.” For where he had both gifts and calling to have employed himself in civil and worldly affairs profitably; such was his love of Christ and zeal to the promoting of his glorious gospel, that he changed not only the course of his former life, as the woman did (Luke 7.), but even his former study, as Paul did change his former profession and study.
Touching the first, after that God touched his heart with that holy and effectual calling, he sold his chains, rings, broaches, and jewels of gold, which before he used to wear, and did bestow the price of this his former vanity in the necessary relief of Christ’s poor members, which he could hear of or find lying sick or pining in poverty. Touching the second, he so declared his great zeal and love to promote the glory of the Lord Jesus, whose goodness and saving health he had tasted, that to do the same more pithily he changed his study; and being in the Inner Temple in London at the study of the common laws, he went to Cambridge to study divinity; where he heard Doctor Martin Bucer diligently, and was right familiar and dear unto him. In this godly course he did by God’s blessing so profit, that that blessed martyr, Doctor Ridley, then Bishop of London, F36 did as it were invite him and his godly companion, Master Thomas Horton, to become Fellows of Pembroke Hall, in Cambridge: and afterwards the said Doctor Ridley called our Bradford to London, gave him a prebend in Paul’s church, lodged him in his own house there, and set him on work in preaching. And besides often preaching in London, and at Paul’s cross, and sundry places in the country, and specially in Lancashire; he preached before king Edward the sixth, in the Lent, the last year of his reign, upon the second Psalm: and there in one sermon, shewing the tokens of God’s judgment at hand for the contempt of the gospel, as that certain gentlemen upon the Sabbath-day going in a wherry to Paris Garden, F37 to the bearbaiting, were drowned; and that a dog was met at Ludgate carrying a piece of a dead child in his mouth; he with a mighty and prophetical spirit said, ‘I summon you all, even every mother’s child of you, to the judgment of God, for it is at hand:’ as it followed shortly after in the death of king Edward. In which state and labor of preaching he continued till the cruelty of the papists cut him off, so as thou mayest read in the history of his life and death compiled by that faithful servant of the Lord Jesus, Master John Fox.
F38 Indeed he had many pullbacks, but God still helped forward his chosen servant in that trade of life to which he had called him; in which he ran forward so happily that he did outrun me and other his companions. For it pleased God with great speed to make him ready and ripe to martyrdom, in which through Christ he hath now gained the crown of life. But in all stops and stays he was much helped forward by a continual meditation and practice of repentance and faith in Christ, in which he was kept by God’s grace notably exercised all the days of his life. Even in this meantime he heard a sermon which that notable preacher Master Latimer made before king Edward the sixth, in which he did earnestly speak of restitution to be made of things falsely gotten: which did so strike Bradford to the heart for one dash with a pen, which he had made without the knowledge of his master F39 (as full often I have heard him confess with plenty of tears), being clerk to the treasurer of the king’s camp beyond the seas, F40 and was to the deceiving of the king, that he could never be quiet till, by the advice of the same Master Latimer a restitution was made. Which thing to bring to pass, he did willingly forbear and forego all the private and certain patrimony which he had in earth. F41 Let all bribers and polling F42 officers, which get to themselves great revenues in earth by such slippery shifts, follow this example, lest, in taking a contrary course, they take a contrary way, and never come where Bradford now is.
But besides this, our Bradford had his daily exercises and practices of repentance. His manner was, to make to himself a catalogue of all the grossest and most enorme sins, which in his life of ignorance he had committed; and to lay the same before his eyes when he went to private prayer, that by the sight and remembrance of them he might be stirred up to offer to God the sacrifice of a contrite heart, seek assurance of salvation in Christ by faith, thank God for his calling from the ways of wickedness, and pray for increase of grace to be conducted in holy life acceptable and pleasing to God. Such a continual exercise of conscience he had in private prayer, that he did not count himself to have prayed to his contentation, unless in it he had felt inwardly some smiting of heart for sin, and some healing of that wound by faith, feeling the saving health of Christ, with some change of mind into the detestation of sin, and love of obeying the good will of God. Which things do require that inward entering into the secret parlor of our hearts of which Christ speaketh; and is that smiting of the breast which is noted in the publican; and is the same to the which the Psalmist exhorteth these men loose in sin: ( Psalm 4:4.) “Tremble ye, and sin not; speak in yourselves;” that is, enter into an account with yourselves: “when you are on your couches;” that is, when ye are solitary and alone: ‘and be quiet or silent; “that is, when ye have thus secretly and deeply considered of your case and dealing, ye shall cease to think, speak, and do wickedly. Without such an inward exercise of prayer our Bradford did not pray to his full contantation, as appeared by this: he used in the morning to go to the common prayer in the college where he was, and after that he used to make some prayer with his pupils in his chamber; but not content with this, he then repaired to his own secret prayer and exercise in prayer by himself, as one that had not yet prayed to his own mind: for he was wont to say to his familiars, ‘I have prayed with my pupils, but I have not yet prayed with myself.’
Let those secure men mark this well, which pray without touch of breast, as the Pharisee did; and so that they have said an ordinary prayer, or heard a common course of prayer, they think they have prayed well, and, as the term is, they have served God well; though they never feel sting for sin, taste of groaning, or broken heart, nor of the sweet saving health of Christ, thereby to be moved to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, nor change or renewing of mind: but as they came secure in sin and senseless, so they do depart without any change or affecting of the heart; which is even the cradle in which Satan rocketh the sins of this age asleep, who think they do serve God in these cursory prayers made only of custom, when their heart is as far from God as was the heart of the Pharisee. Let us learn by Bradford’s example to pray better, that is, with the heart and not with the lips alone; Quia Deus non vocis, sed cordis auditor est, F43 as Cyprian saith: that is, “Because God is the hearer of the heart and not of the voice:” that is to say, not of the voice alone without the heart, for that is but liplabor.
This con-science of sin and exercise in prayer had Bradford, clean contrary to that cursed custom of those graceless men, which do joy to make large and long accounts of their lewdness, and glory therein, so feeding their delights with their lives past, as a dog returneth to smell to his cast gorge, and the horse to his dung: such as the prophet Esay (3. 9) saith, “They declare their sins as Sodom, they hide them not: woe be to their souls!” It goeth with them as in the days of Jeremiah it went with those, “Thou haddest a whore’s forehead; thou wouldest not be ashamed.” God give these men better grace; else let them be assured they shall find woe, woe to their very souls.
Another of his exercises was this: he used to make unto himself an ephemeris or a journal, in which he used to write all such notable things as either he did see or hear each day that passed. But whatsoever he did hear or see, he did so pen it that a man might see in that book the signs of his smitten heart. For if he did see or hear any good in any man, by that sight he found and noted the want thereof in himself, and added a short prayer, craving mercy and grace to amend. If he did hear or see any plague or misery, he noted it as a thing procured by his own sins, and still added, Domine, miserere mei, “Lord, have mercy upon me.” He used in the same book to note such evil thoughts as did rise in him; as of envying the good of other men, thoughts of unthankfulness, of not considering God in his works, of hardness and unsensibleness of heart when he did see other moved and affected. And thus he made to himself and of himself a book of daily practices of repentance.
Besides this, they which were familiar with him might see how he, being in their company, used to fall often into a sudden and deep meditation, in which he would sit with fixed countenance and spirit moved, yet speaking nothing a good space. And sometimes in this silent sitting F44 plenty of tears should trickle down his cheeks. Sometime he would sit in it and come out of it with a smiling countenance. Oftentimes have I sitten at dinner and supper with him in the house of that godly harbor of many preachers and servants of the Lord Jesus, I mean Master Elsyng, F45 when, either by occasion of talk had, or of some view of God’s benefits present, or some inward cogitation and thought of his own, he hath fallen into these deep cogitations: and he would tell me in the end such discourses of them that I did perceive that sometimes his tears trickled out of his eyes, as well for joy as for sorrow. Neither was he only such a practiser of repentance in himself, but a continual provoker of others thereunto, not only in public preaching, but also in private conference and company. For in all companies where he did come, he would freely reprove any sin and misbehavior which appeared in any person, especially swearers, filthy talkers, and popish praters. Such never departed out of his company unreproved. And this he did with such a divine grace and christian majesty, that ever he stopped the mouths of the gainsayers. For he spake with power, and yet so sweetly, that they might see their evil to be evil and hurtful unto them, and understand that it was good indeed to the which he labored to draw them in God.
To be short: as his life was, such was his death. His life was a practice and example, a provocation to repentance: at his death (as the foresaid history witnesseth), when he was burned in Smithfield, and the flames of fire did fly about his cars, his last speech publicly noted and heard was this: REPENT,ENGLAND! F46 Thus was our Bradford a preacher and an example of that repentance which he did preach. Jonas preached to Ninive repentance; and all Ninive, the king, princes, people, old and young repented. To England Bradford did preach, and yet doth preach repentance. And surely England hath now much more cause to repent than it had when Bradford lived and preached repentance; for all states and sorts of persons in England are now more corrupt than they were then.
Let therefore now Bradford’s Sermon, his life, his death, move thee, O England, to repent, at thy peril. I wish and warn that as in Ninive, so in England all from the highest to the lowest do unfeignedly repent; they which are of the court, they which are of the church, they which are of the city, they which are of the country, princes, prelates, and people. Let all and every one repent, and depart from that evil which he bath in hand, and turn wholly to the Lord. And I do humbly beseech thy Majesty, O glorious Lord Jesus, which didst come to bless Israel, turning every one of them from their sins, to work now by thy Spirit in our hearts the same sound repentance which thy holiness did preach to men, when thou saltiest, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at band.” This work in us, O gracious God our Savior. Amen.
And now, reader, I leave thee to the reading and practising of that repentance which Bradford here teacheth.
TO THE CHRISTIAN READER, JOHN BRADFORD WISHETH THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE AND PEACE OF JESUS CHRIST, OUR ALONE AND OMNISUFFICIENT SAVIOR.
GREAT and heavy is God’s anger against us, as the most grievous plague of the death of our late king (a prince of all that ever was sithen F47 Christ’s ascension into heaven, in any region, peerless) now fallen upon us doth prognosticate. For, when God’s judgment hath begun with his child thus, our dear darling, let other men think as they can, I surely cannot be persuaded otherwise but that a grievous and bitter cup of God’s vengeance is ready to be poured out for us Englishmen to drink of. The whelp God hath beaten, to fray the bandog. “Judgment is begun at God’s house.” In God’s mercy to himwards he is taken away, that his eyes should not see the miseries we shall feel. He was too good to tarry with us, so wicked, so froward, so perverse, so obstinate, so malicious, so hypocritical, so covetous, unclean, untrue, proud, carnal, etc., a generation. I will not go about to paint us out in our colors. All the world which never saw England by hearsay seeth England. God by his plagues and vengeance, I fear me, will paint us out and point us out. We have so mocked with him and his gospel, that we shall feel it is no bourding F48 with him.
Of long time we have covered our covetousness and carnality under the cloak of his gospel, so that all men shall see us to our shame. When he shall take his gospel away, and give it to a people that will bring forth the fruits of it, then shall we appear as we be. To let his gospel tarry with us he cannot: for we despise it, contemn it, are glutted with it. We disdain his manna: It is but a vile meat, think we. We would be again in Egypt, and sit by the greasy fleshpots, to eat again our garlic, onions, and leeks. Sithen God’s gospel came amongst us, we say now, we had never plenty: therefore again let us go and “worship the queen of heaven.” “Children begin to gather sticks, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women make the cakes, to offer to the queen of heaven, and to provoke the Lord to anger.”
The earth cannot abide now the words and sermons of Amos; the cause of all rebellion is Amos and his preaching. It is Paul and his fellows that make all out of order. Summa, the gospel is now pa>ntwn peri>yhma and ka>qarma tou~ ko>smou the outcast and curse of the realm; and so are the preachers: therefore out of the doors with them. So that, I say, God cannot let his gospel tarry with us, but must needs take it away, to do us some pleasure therein. For so shall we think for a time, as the Sodomitanes thought when Lot departed from them; as the old world thought when Noe crept into his ark; as the Jerosolomitanes thought when the apostles went thence to Peltis. F49 Then were they merry, then was all pastime: when Moses was absent, then went they “to eating and drinking, and rose again to play:” then was all peace, all was well, nothing amiss. But, alas! suddenly came the flood and drowned them, the fire and burnt them up, Titus and besieged them; F50 God’s wrath waxed hot against them. Then was welaway, F51 mourning, and woe: then was crying out, wringing of hands, renting of clothes, sobbing and sighing for the miseries fallen out of the which they could not escape. But, O you mourners and criers out, ye renters of clothes, why mourn you? what is the cause of your misery? The gospel is gone, God’s word is little preached, you were F52 not disquieted with it: Noe troubleth you not, Lot is departed, the apostle are gone. What now is the cause of these your miseries? Will you at the length confess it is your sins? Nay, now it is too late. God called upon you, and you would not hear him; therefore yell and cry out now, for he will not hear you. You bowed your ears from hearing of God’s law; therefore your prayer is execrable.
But, to come again to us Englishmen. I fear me, I say, for our unthankfulness’ sake, for our impiety and wickedness, as God hath taken away our king, so will he take away his gospel. Yea, so we would have it: then should all be well, think many. Well, if he take that away, for a time perchance we shall be quiet, but at length we shall feel the want to our woe: at length he will have at us, as at Sodom, at Jerusalem, and other places. And now he beginneth to brew such a brewing, wherein one of us is like to destroy another, F53 and so make an open gap for foreign enemies to devour us and destroy us. The father is against the son, the brother against the brother: and, Lord, with what conscience! O be thou merciful unto us, and in thine anger remember thy mercy; suffer thyself to be entreated; be reconciled unto us; nay, reconcile us unto thee. O thou God of justice, judge justly. O thou Son of God, which camest to destroy the works of Satan, destroy his furors F54 now smoking, and almost set on fire in this realm. We have sinned; we have sinned: and therefore thou art angry. O be not angry for ever. Give us peace, peace, peace in the Lord.
Set us to war F55 against sin, against Satan, against our carnal desires; and give us the victory this way. This victory we obtain by faith. This faith is not without repentance, as her gentleman usher F56 before F56 her: before her, I say, in discerning true faith from false faith, lip-faith, Englishmen’s faith: for else it springs out of true faith.
This usher then, of repentance, if we truly possessed, we should be certain of true faith, and so assured of the victory over death, hell, and Satan. His works then, which he hath stirred up, would quail. God would restore us politic peace. Right should be right, and have right. God’s gospel should tarry with us: religion should be cherished, superstition suppressed; and so we yet something happy, notwithstanding the great loss of our most gracious liege sovereign lord. All these would come to pass, you see, if the gentleman usher I spake of (I mean Repentance) were at inn with us: as, if he be absent, we may be certain that lady Faith is absent. Wherefore we cannot but he vanquished of the world, the flesh, and the devil: and so will Satan’s works prosper, though not in all things to blear our eyes, yet in that thing which he most of all desireth. Therefore to repentance for ourselves privately, and for the realm and church publicly, every one should labor to stir up both ourselves and others.
This to the end that for my part I might help, I have presently put forth a Sermon on Repentance, which hath lien by me half a year at the least, for the most part of it. For the last summer, as I was abroad preaching in the country, my chance was to make a Sermon of Repentance, the which was earnestly of divers desired of me, that I should give it them written, or else put it forth in print. The which thing to grant as I could not, (for I had not written it,) so I told them that had so earnestly desired it. But when no way would serve but I must promise them to write it as I could, I consented to their request that they should have it at my leisure. This leisure I prolonged so long, that as I ween I offended them, so did I please myself as one more glad to read other men’s writings, than in such sort to publish my writings for other men to read. Not that I would others not to profit by me; but that I, knowing how short my supellex F57 and store F58 is, would be loth for the enemies to have just occasion of evil speaking and wresting that which simply is spoken. But when I considered this present time to occasion men now to look upon all things in such sort as might move them to godliness, rather than to any curious questioning, I for the satisfying of my promise, and profiting of the simple, ignorant, and rude, have now caused this Sermon to be printed F59 . The which I beseech God for his Christ’s sake to use as a mean whereby of his mercy it may please him to work in me and many others true hearty repentance for our sins, to the glory of his name.
Thus fare thou well in the Lord. The 12th of July, Anno M.D.53.