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Those men might he inforccd, by this kind of argument, to forsake the vse of fire, bicause fire burnetii their neighbours house; or to ab•teine from meate and drinke, bicause they see manic surfet. O blind hate! They slander God for mans offence, and excuse the man whome they see offend, and blame the scripture, which they can not improue; yea, I haue heard of some, that haue very well vnderstood the Latin tongue, that when they haue heard learned men persuade to thecredite and beleefe of certaine vnwritten verities, as they call them, which be not in scripture expressed, and yet taught as doctrine apostolike, and jiecossarie to be beleeued; they haue becne of this opinion, that the learned men haue mo epistles written by the apostles of Christ, than we haue abroad in the canon of the Old and New Testament, or knowne of snie, but onlie to them of the clergie. Which beleefe I did not a little lament in my hart to heare, thatanic creature should haue such a blind ignorant opinion.
Some kind of sirrtplicitie is to be praised; but this simplicitie, without the veritie, I can neither praise nor allow. And thus it may be seene, how we, that be vnlettered, remaine confused, without God, of his grace, lighten our harts and minds with a heauenlie light and knowledge of his will; for we be giuen, of our selues, to beleeue men better than God. I praie God, send all learned men the spirit of God abundantlie, that their doctrine may bring forth the fruits thereof. I suppose there was neuer more neede of good doctrine to be set foorth in the world, than now in this age; for the carnall children of Adam be so wise in their generation, that, if it were possible, they would deceiue the children of light. The world loueth his owne, and, therefore, their facts and doings be highlie esteemed of the world: but the children of God are hated, bicause they be not of the world: for their habitation is in heauen, and they do despise the world as a most vile slaue.
The fleshlie children of Adam be so politike, subtile, craftie, and wise in their kind, that the elect should be illuded, if it were possible; for they are cloathed with Christs garment, in vtter appearance, with a fairc shewe of all godlines and holines in their words; but they haue soshorne, nopped, and turned Christs garment, and haue so disguised themselues, that the children of light, beholding them with a spiritual! eie, do accompt and take them for men which haue sold their maisters garment, and haue stolen a peece of euerie mans garment; yet, by their subtile art, and craftie wits, they haue so set those patches and peeces togithcr, that they do make the blind world and carnall men to beleeue it is Christs veric mantel].
THE ELEUENTH CHAPTER.
Of the verluous properties of God's children, of whome euerie one attendeth
BUT the children of light knowe the contrarie; for they are led, by the spirit of God, to the knowledge of the truth, and, therefore, they discerne and iudgc all things right, and knowe from whence they come,
euen from the Bishop of Rome and his members, the headspring of all pride, vainei;lorie, ambition, hypocrisie, and feigned holines.
The children of God be not abashed, although the world hate them; they beleeuc they are in the grace and fauour of God, and that he, as a best father, doth gouerne them in all things, puttingawaie from them all vaine confidence and trust in their owne doings; for they know they can do nothing but sin of themselues. They be not so foolish and childish, not to giue God thanks for their election, which was before the beginning of the world: for they beleeuc? most surelie, tbey be of the chosen; for the Holie Ghost doth witnes to their spirit, that they be the children of God, and, therefore, they beleeuc God better than man. They saie, with St. Paule, 'Who shall separate vs from the lone of God? Shall tribulation, anguish, persecution, hunger, nakednesse, perill, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake are we killed all daie long, and are accounted as sheepe appointed to be slaine; ncucrtbelesse, in all these things we ouercome, through him that loucth vs. For I am sure, that neither death, nor life, neither angels, nor rule, neither power, neither things present, neither things to come, neither quantitie or qualitie, neither anie creature, shall be able to depart vs from the loue of God, which is in Christ Iesu our Lord.' They are not, by this godlie faith, presumptuouslie inflamed; nor, by the same, become they loose, idle, or slowe in dooing of godlie works, as carnall men dreme of them; so much the more feruent they be in dooing most holie and pure works, which God hath commanded them to walke in. They wander not in mens traditions and inuentions, leaning the most holie and pure precepts of God vndone. which they knowe they be bound to obserue and keepe. Also, they worke not like hirelings, for neede, wages, or reward; but, as louing children, without respect of lucre, gaine, or hire; they be in such libertie of spirit, and ioie so much in God, that their inward consolation can not be expressed with tongue. All feare of damnation is gone from them, for they hauc put their whole hope of saluation in his hands, which will and can performe it; neither haue they anie post or piller to leane to, but God, and his smooth vnwrinklcd church; for he is to them all in all thing*, and to him they leane, as a most sure square piller, in prosperitie and aduersitie; nothing doubting of his promises and couenHiits, for they beleeuc most surelie they shall be fulfilled.
Also, the children of God be not curious in searching the high mysteries of God, which be not meet for them to knowe; neither do go about, with humane and carnall reasons, to interpret scripture, persuading men, by their subtile wits, and carnall doctrine, that much knowledge of scripture maketh men heretikes, without they temper it with humane doctrine, sophistrie, philosophie, and logicke, wherewith to be seduced, according to the traditions of men, after the ordinances of the world, and not after Christ. St. Paule doth most diligcntlic admonish vs, which arts are not conuenient and meet to be made checkmate with scripture; for the scriptures be so pure and holie, that no perfection can be added vnto them; for, euen as fine gold doth excell all other mettals, so doth the word of God all mens doctrines. I beseech the Lord to send the learned and vnlearncd such abundance of his holic spirit, that they may obcie and obscrue the most tincere and holie word of God, and shew the fruits thereof, which consistcth, chicflie, in charitie and godlie vnitie: that, as we haue professed one God, one faith, and one baptisme, so we may be all of one mind, and one accord, putting awaie all biting and gnawing; for, in backbiting, slandering, and mis-reporting our Christian brethren, we shew not our sclucs the disciples of Christ, whom we professe. In him was most high charitie, humilitie, and patience, suffering, most paticntlic, all ignomine, rebukes, and slanders, praieng to his eternall father for his enemies with most perfect charitie; and, in all things, did remit his will to his fathers, as the scripture doth witnesse, when he praied in the mount. A godlie example and lesson for vs to followe at all times and seasons, as well in prosperitie, as in aduersitie; to haue no will but Gods will, committing, and leauing to him, all our cares and greefes, and to abandon all our policies and inucntions; for they be most vaine and foolish, and, indeed, uerie shadov.es and dreames.
But we be yet so carnall and fleshlie, that we run headlong, like vnbrideled colts without snaffle or bridle. If we had the loue of God printed in our harts, it would keepc us backc from running astraie. And, vntill such time as it please God to send vs this bit to hold vs in, we shall neuer run the right waie, although we speakc and talkc neuer so much of God and his word. The true followers of Christes doctrine haue alwaies a respect and an cie to their vocation. If they be called to the ministerie of Gods word, they preach and teach it sin— cerclie, to the edifieng of others, and shew themselucs, in their liuing, followers of the same. If they be married men, hauing children and familie, they nourish and bring them vp, without all bitternessc and fiercenesse, in the doctrine of the Lord, in all godlinesse and vertue; committing the instruction of others, which apperteine not to their charge, to the reformation of God, and his ministers, which chieflie be kings and princes, bearing the sword euen for that purpose, to punish euill doocrs. If they be children, they honour their father and mother, knowing it to be Gods commandment, and that he hath, thereto, annexed a promise of long life. If they be seruants, they obeic and 6cruc their maisters with all fcare and reucrence, euen for the Lords sake, neither with murmuring nor grudging, but with a free hart and mind.
If they be husbands, they loue their wiues as their owne bodies, after the example as Christ loued the congregation, and gaue himselfe for it, to make it to him a spouse without spot or wrinkle. If they be women maried, they learne of St. Paule to be obedient to their husbands, and to keepe silence in the congregation, and to learne of their husbands at home: Also, they wcare such apparcll, as becommeth holinesse, and cotnlic vsage, with sobernesse; not being accusers, or detractors; not giuen to much eating of delicate meats, and drinking of wine; but they teach honest things, to make the yong women soberminded, to loue their husbands, to loue their children; to be discreet, chaste, houscwifelic, good, and obedient vnto their husbands, that the word of God be not euill spoken of. Vcrelie, if all sorts of people would looke to their owne vocation, and ordcinc the same, according to Chrisls doctrine, we should not haue so many eies and cares to other mens faults, as we haue; for we be so busie and glad, to find and espie out other mens dooings, that we forget, and can haue no time, to weigh and ponder our ownc; which, after the word of God, we ought first to reforme, and then we shall the better helpe an other with the straw out of his eies.
But, alas! we be so much giuen to loue and to flatter our selues, and so blinded with carnall affections, that we can see and perceiue no fault in our selues; and, therefore, it is a thing verie requisite and necessarie for vs, to praie all with one hart and mind to God, to giue vs an heauenlie light and knowledge of our owne miseries and calamities; that we may sec them,, and acknowledge them trulic before him.
THE TWELFE CHAPTER. The Conclusion, with a Christian Exhortation to the Amendcment of
IF anic man shall be offended at this my lamenting the faults of men, which be in the world, fantasing with thcmselucs, that I do it either of hatred or of malice to anie sort or kind of people, verilie, in so dooing, they shall do me great wrong; for, 1 thanke God, by his grace, I hate no creature; yea, I would saie more, to giue witnesse of my conscience, that neither life, honour, riches, neither whatsoeuer I possesse here, which appertainelh to mine owne priuate commoditie, be it neuer so deerlie beloued of me, but most willinglie, and gladlic, I would leaue it, to win anie man to Christ, of what degree, or sort, soeuer he were. And yet is this nothing, in comparison to the charitie that God hath shewed me, in sending Christ to die for me. No, if I had all the charitie. of angels, and apostles, it should be but like asparke of fire, compared to a greate heape of burning coales.
God knoweth, of what intent and mind I haue lamented mine owne. sinncs and faults to the world. I trust no bodie will iudge, that I haue done it for praise or thanke of anie creature; since, rather, I might be ashamed, than reioice in rehearsall thereof. For, if they knewe how lit tic I esteeme and weigh the praise of the world, that opinion were soone remooued and taken awaie; for, I thanke God, by his grace, I knowe the. world to be a blind iudge, and the praises thereof vaine, and of little moment; and, therefore, I secke not the praises of the same, neither to satisfie it, none otherwise than I am taught by Christ to do, according to Christian charitie. I would to God we would all, when occasion doth serue, confesse our faults to the world, all respects of our owne commoditie laid apart. But, alas! Selfe-loue doth so much reigne among vs, that, as I haue said before, we can not espie our owne faults. And although, sorutime, we find our owne guilt, either we be fauourable to interpret it no sin, or else wc be. ashamed to confesse ourselues thereof; yea, a^pj we be sore offended, and grceued, to heare our faults charitablic and godlie told vs of other, putting no difference betweene charitable warning, and malicious accusing.
Trulie, if we sought Gods glorie, as we should do in all things, we should not be ashamed to confesse our selues to digresse from Gods precepts and ordinances, when it is manifest we haue done, and dailie do. I praie God, our ownc faults and deeds condemnc vs not at the last daie, when euerie man shall be rewarded according to his dooings. Trulie, if we do not redresse and amend our liuing, according to the doctrine of the gospell, we shall receiue a terrible sentence of Christ the Sonne of God, when he shall come to iudge and condemne all transgressours, and breakers of his precepts and commandements, and to reward all his obedient and louing children. We shall haue no man of lawe to make our plea for vs, neither can we haue the daie deferred; neither will the iudge be corrupted with affection, bribes, or reward; neither will he heare anie excuse or delaie; neither shall this saint, or that martyr, helpe vs, be they neuer so holie; neither shall our ignorance saue vs from damnation; but yet wilfull blindnesse, and obstinate ignorance, shall receiue greater punishment, and not without iust cause. Then shall it be knowne who hath walked in the darke; for all things •hall appecrc manifest before him; no mans deeds shall be hidden, no, neither wordes nor thoughts. The poore and simple obseruers of Gods commandements shall be rewarded with euerlasting life, as obedient children to the heauenlie Father; and the transgressors, adders, and diminishers of the lawe of God, shall receiue eternall damnation, for their iust reward. I beseech God we may escape this fearefull sentence, and be found such faithfull srruants, and louing children, that we may heare the happie, comfortable, and most ioifull sentence, ordeined for the Children of God, which is:
'Come hither, ye blessed of my Father, and receiue the Kingdome of Heauen, prepared for you before the beginning of the World.'
Vnlo the Father, the Sonne, and the Holie Ghost, be all honour and glorie, World without Eiid. Amen.
LORD BISHOP OF ROCHESTER'S LETTER
RIGHT HONOURABLE THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS
MY LORDS, •
'" I MOST humbly intreat your lordships favourable interpretation of what I now write; that since your lordships are resolved to proceed against those who have not complied with the King's command in reading