« IndietroContinua »
heathenishly, in taverning, tippling, gaming, playing and beholding of Bear-baiting and Stage plays, to the utter dishonour of God, impeachment of all godliness, and unnecessary consuming of men's substances, which ought to be better employed.
The want of orderly Discipline and Catechizing hath either sent great numbers, both old and young, back again into Papistry, or let them run loose into godless Atheism.
And would God that we which call others to obedience, shewing them the way, and rebuking their vices, might not be justly charged to be as Trumpets, which with their sound encourage other men to the battle, but fight not themselves! Nay, would God, that in all degrees some such as ought to be Lanterns of Light, and Ring-leaders to Virtue, were not
infectors of others by their evil example ! [i. C.)
I fear me, that if the Prophet Esay were here alive, he would tell us, as he sometime told the Jews, that from the crown of our head to the sole of our foot there is no whole or sound part in our body, but that all is full of sores, blains, and blotches. Think we then that such doing shall scape unpunished, or such buildings stand unshaken? Well may we deceive ourselves in so hoping: but God deceiveth not, neither is
deceived. Matt. xv. It is written, that every plant which our heavenly Father hath not ni. 10.)
planted, shall be plucked up by the roots; and that every tree which beareth not good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire.
The Axe is laid to the root of the tree: and the longer that God's
vengeance is in coming, the sorer it smiteth when it is come. (Prov.i. 24 Terrible and most true is this saying of his by the mouth of Salomon: 31. )
Forasmuch as I have called, and you have refused ; and I have stretched out my hands, and you have not regarded it; but have despised all my counsel, and set my correction at nought : therefore will I also laugh at your destruction, and mock ye when the thing that ye fear cometh upon you ; even when the thing that ye be afraid of breaketh in upon you like a storm, and your misery like a tempest. When trouble and heavines: come upon you on all sides : then shall ye call upon me, but I will not answer you, ye shall seek me early, but ye shall not find me : even because ye hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord. Ye would none of my counsel, but hated my correction : and therefore shall ye eat the fruit of your own ways, and be filled with your own inventions.
Soothly it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the Lord. For as he is merciful, so is he also just, and in all his determinations he is utterly unchangeable. And (as the Prophet Jeremy sayeth) When sentence is once gone forth of his presence, it shall not return without performance.
Wherefore let us not be as horses and mules which have no understanding: neither let us tarry till Judgment be sent forth unto victory. But let us consider the time of our visitation, and while we have time, let us use it to our benefit.
So long as God calleth unto us, so long as he entreateth us, so long as he teacheth, allureth, exhorteth, or warneth us, yea, so long
as he doeth as yet but threaten us; so long the gate is still open for us, so as he will hear us if we call, and be found of us if we seek him. But if he once hold his peace, and begin to smite, then it is too late to call back his hand, our crying will not boot us.
Therefore, while we have respite, and while it is called to-day, let us not harden our hearts as in the provocation, and as in the day of Temptation in the wilderness ; but let us hearken to his voice, and, forsaking the lusts and the wicked imaginations and devices of our own hearts, let us turn to the Lord our God with hearty repentance and unfeigned amendment of life, lest (beside other meaner plagues both of body and mind) our Candlestick be removed, our light quenched, Christ's Gospel taken from us, and we for our unthankfulness be cast out with our children into utter darkness, and in the terrible day of Judgment hear this dreadful sentence of the just Judge pronounced against us: Depart from me, ye workers of wickedness, which hardened your hearts against me, and made your faces as hard as brass, at such time as my long sufferance waited for you, pro
voking you by mildness and patience to amend
A Prayer for the estate of Christ's Church : to be used
01 Gracious God and most merciful Father, thou that art the God of all comfort and consolation : we poor and wretched sinners acknowledge against ourselves, that we are unworthy to lift up our eyes to heaven: so horrible and great are the sins that we have committed against thee, both in thought, word, and deed. But thou art that God whose property is always to have mercy, and thou hast extended thy mercy unto us in thy beloved Son our Saviour Christ Jesus, in whom thou hast loved us before the foundation of the world was laid : and to the end thou mightest advance thine own mercy, in a good and happy time hast called us, by the preaching of thy blessed and holy Gospel, to repentance, preferring us before many and great nations to be a people consecrate unto thee, to hold forth thy righteousness, and to walk in obedience before thee all the days of our lives. In this persuasion of faith, and by him, good Father, we present ourselves before thee, renouncing all our sins and corruptions, and trusting only in him and his righteousness, "beseeching thee for his sake to hear us, and to have mercy upon us.
Thou hast made an holy promise unto us, that shall be performed, that at what time soever a sinner doth repent him of his sin from the bottom of his heart, thou wilt hear him: And that whosoever calleth upon thee in his Name, thou wilt grant all his requests. Our sins therefore do grieve us at the very heart, and we are displeased with ourselves for them; yea, we loathe ourselves for the frailties and transgressions that cleave so fast unto us. Wherefore, good Father, hear us, and accept the sacrifice of thy Son, as a most sufficient satisfaction for them, and behold us in his righteousness. Go forward with that excellent work that thou hast begun in us, and never leave us, till thou have made it perfect, till the day of Jesus Christ. Increase our knowledge, and give us a lively sense to discern sweet from sour, and sour from sweet, good from evil, and evil from ['This prayer may be compared with the one commencing on p. 483.]
good; that sin and superstition deceive us not under the cloke of religion and virtue. O Lord, this must be thy work : for we confess that our reason is blind, our will is froward, our wits crafty to deceive our selves, our understanding and all our natural powers quite alienated and estranged from thee. It must be the seed of thy word, by the quickening of thy Spirit, that must lead us to newness of life, that must work in us the excellent hope of immortality, and make us to live to righteousness: and therefore put to thy helping hand: Let thy gracious goodness never fail us, to the increase of all heavenly virtues, and continual growth and gain to godliness. And because the Ministry of thy word is the ordinary mean for the attaining of this unspeakable blessing: we beseech thee, Let us never lack that excellent help: Let our bodies rather famish than our souls, yea, let us rather lack all worldly things, than that most precious Jewel of thy holy word and comfortable Gospel preached to our salvation. And therefore, thou that art the Lord of the harvest, send forth labourers into thy harvest, and double thy Spirit upon thy servants, making them as brasen walls against thine enemies, giving them courage and boldness to do thy message, yea, and that to Kings and Princes, that they being called and sent of thee, in the assured persuasion of their offices, may not fear the faces of any mortal creatures, nor be dismayed with any transitory majestyGood Lord, make thy word sharp in their mouths to an effectual operation, that sin may be cut down, and thy righteousness may flourish : Grant to them the fear of thy Name: Let their lips, O Lord, preserve knowledge, and their lives shine in holiness to the stopping of the mouths of their adversaries, and drawing many by their example to thy blessed and holy religion. Bow the hearts of all Kings and Princes of the earth to the obedience of thy dearly beloved Son Christ Jesus : If otherwise they shew by plain effects, that they belong not to thy fold, good Lord, let them feel thy hand, and find against whom they set themselves : let the blood of thy Saints, which they shed
[ •As they did now, when the Terrour of God tooke hold upon them, pray for the Restitution of Discipline (see also p. 574], so in a time of great Judgements in King James the first's Reigne, they tooke certain petitions out of this Prayer for the Church, made and useil during this Earthquake.' Dr Williams's MS.]
37 (LITURG. QU. ELIZ.]
without mercy, make them drunken to perdition. In mean time assist those that thou callest to this trial, that they may feel thy help and comfort amidst all their sufferings, whilst they shall be assured to be blessed when they suffer for righteousness' sake, and to reign with thy Son, when they fulfil his sufferings in their flesh, and carry in their bodies the scars and marks of his wounds. O Lord, sanctify their blood, that it may water thy Church, and bring a mighty increase and gain to thyself, and a decrease and loss to the kingdom of Antichrist, and to the Princes of the earth, who are become his slaves and butchers. And herein (good Lord) by special name we beseech thee for the Churches of France, Flanders, and of such other places : help them after their long troubles", as thou shalt see to be best for them, in the advancing of thine own glory. And now (Lord) particularly we pray unto thee for this Church of England, that thou wilt continue thy gracious favour still towards it, to maintain thy Gospel still amongst us, and to give it a free passage. And to that end save thy servant Elizabeth our Queen; grant her, wisdom to rule this mighty people, long life and quietness round about her; detect all the traitorous practices of her enemies, devised against her and thy truth. O Lord, thou seest the pride of thine enemies : and though by our sins we have justly deserved to fall into their hands, yet have mercy upon us, and save thy little flock. Strengthen her hand, to strike the stroke of the ruin of all their superstition, to double into the bosom of that rose-coloured whore that which she hath poured out against thy Saints, that she may give that deadly wound not to one head, but to all the heads of that cruel beast; that the life that quivereth in his dismembered members yet amongst us may utterly decay, and we, through that wholesome discipline, easy yoke, and comfortable sceptre of Jesus Christ, may enjoy his great righteousness, that thy Church may flourish, sin may abate, wicked men may hang their heads, and all thy children be comforted. Strengthen her hand, and give her a swift foot to hunt out
[. These troubles were now of more than twenty years' continuance. But, from 1560, the Hugonots had been arrayed, as a great party, in open hostility against the catholic authorities; the inhabitants of the Low Countries, on the contrary, not so long. Davila (Aylesbury's translation), p. 43. Camden, pp. 416, 443. Zurich Letters, pp. 412, 431.]