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sin, shewing us evident tokens of his just displeasure near at hand, both abroad and at home!
I will not speak of the great civil Wars, nor of the horrible and unnatural massacres of good men, betrayed under the holiest pretences“, which have been of late years in the Countries bordering upon us : because such dealings, being pleasant to such as seek blood, are taken for no wonders. Neither will I stand upon the rehearsal of the strange things that befel in the Realm of Naples in the year 1566: nor of the Earthquake, whereby a great part of the City Ferrara in Italy was destroyed in the year 1570: or of the miraculous sights that were seen in France about Mountpellier the year 1573: or of the like terrible sight that appeared little more than a year ago at Prague, the chief City of Bohemia : nor of divers other things, which have happened in foreign Countries within the compass of these few years : because it will perchance be thought, that those tokens concern the Countries where they befel, and not us.
Well, I will not say, That whatsoever things have been written aforetimes, were written for our learning, that we might learn to beware by other men's harms.
We have signs and tokens ynow at home, if we can use them to our benefit.
What shall we say to the sore Famine which happened in the time of our late sovereign Lady queen Mary', which was so great, that men were fain to make bread of Acorns, and food of Fern roots ? or to the particular Earthquake, in the time of our most gracious sovereign Lady that now is, which transposed the bounds of men's grounds, and turned a Church to the clean contrary situation?? or to the monstrous births both of Children and Cattle ? or to the unseasonableness of the seasons of some years, altering (after a sort) Summer into Winter, and Winter into Summer? or to the wonderful new Star so long time fixed in Heaven?
[* The flattering attentions and false hopes, whereby the choicest of the Hugonots were allured to Paris in 1572, are well known.]
[See Strype's Annals, Vol. 11. p. 510: Zurich Letters, second edition, p. 396. The Physica Curiosa of P. Gaspar Schottus, 1662, records a great variety of natural prodigies.]
[® The year 1557 was remarkable, both for the great scarcity of corn in England before harvest, and for the extraordinary abundance of it afterwards. Stow, p. 1068. Pilkington, p. 611.]
[’ Camden (Kennet's Collection), p. 433, tells us of ‘a hill with a rock of stones at the foot of it,' which rose from the earth at Kinnaston in Herefordshire, on the 17th of February, 1571, and 'walked from Saturday evening till Monday noon.' He gives a particular description of its devastations, among which was the throwing down of a chapel which stood in its way: he only says, however, that a yew-tree, standing in the churchyard, was removed from the west to the east.]
[See Zurich Letters, p. 156.]
or to the strange appearings of Comets, the often Eclipses of Sun and Moon, the great and strange fashioned lights seen in the firmament in the night times? the sudden falling and unwonted abiding of unmessurable abundance of Snow, the excessive and untimely rains and overflowing of waters?, the greatness and sharp continuance of sore frosts, and many other such wonderful things, one following in another's neck? Shall we say that none of these also do concern us? or rather more truly, that because they be gone and past (Oh over great security and blindness of heart) we have clean forgotten them, or at leastwise make no great account of them, according (to ]our common Proverb, that a wonder lasteth with us but nine days ?
Therefore, lest we should want either proof of the certainty of God's irrevocable judgments, or argument of his continual merciful dealing towards us, or matter wherewith to convict us of our excessive unthankful. ness : behold, he sendeth us now lastly this Earthquake that befel the sixt day of this Month, not so hurtful in present operation, as terrible in signification of things to come. For the tried experience of all ages teacheth us, and the writings of the wise and learned (specially of holy Scripture) do assuredly witness unto us, that such tokens are infallible forewarnings of God's sore displeasure for sin, and of his just plagues for the same, where amendment of life ensueth not.
And although there be peradventure some, which (to keep themselves and others from the due looking back into the time erst misspent, and to foade* them still in the vanities of this world, lest they should see their own wretchedness, and seek to shun God's vengeance at hand) will not stick to deface the apparent working of God, by ascribing this miracle to some ordinary causes in Nature: Yet notwithstanding, to the godly and well disposed, which look advisedly into the matter, pondering the manner of this Earthquake throughly, and considering the manner of our dealings from the late restitution of the Gospel unto this day, and conferring the same with the manner of God's favourable dealing with us, and with his ordinary dealing in cases where his truth hath been planted, and groweth to be contemned; it must needs appear to be the very finger of God, and as a messenger of the miseries due to such deserts.
For, first of all, whereas naturally Earthquakes are said to be engendered by wind gotten into the bowels of the earth, or by vapours bred and inclosed within the hollow caves of the earth, where, by their
peared in Cassiopea's chair. It continued there full sixteen months, but at the end of eight months began gradually to grow less. Camden, p. 446. Strype's Annals, Vol. 11. p. 173.]
[ Stow, the great chronicler of prodigies, (p. 1149), seems to describe the lights here meant, as visible on the 14th and 15th of Norenber, 1574. Ibid. p. 1164.]
[* In February and April, 1579. Holinshed, pp. 1271, 1272.]
striving and struggling of themselves to get out, or being haled outward by the heat and operation of the Sun, they shake the earth for want of sufficient vent to issue out at: If this Earthquake had risen of such causes, it could not have been so universal, because there are many places in this Realm, which by reason of their substantial soundness and massy firmness are not to be pierced by any winds from without, nor have any hollowness wherein to conceive and breed any such abundance of Vapours, specially in places far distant from the Sea, or from Rivers, moors, marishes, fens, or light and open soils.
Neither could it have been in so many places universally at one instant both by sea and land. For the striving thereof within the ground, taking his beginning at some certain place, and proceeding forward to get a vent, would have required some space of time to have attained to so many places so far off, or else have broken out with great fury in some place that had been weakest.
Again, whereas in Earthquakes that proceed of natural causes, certain signs and tokens are reported to go before them, as, a tempestuous working and raging of the sea, the weather being fair, temperate and unwindy, calmness of the air matched with great cold ; dimness of the Sun for certain days before ; long and thin streaks of Clouds appearing after the setting of the Sun, and the weather being otherwise clear; the troubledness of water even in the deepest wells, yielding moreover an infected and stinking savour; and lastly, great and terrible sounds in the earth, like the noise of groanings or thunderings, as well afore as after the quaking : We find not that any such foretoken happened against the coming of this Earthquake. And therefore we may well conclude (though there were none other reason to move us), that this miracle proceeded not of the course of any natural causes, but of God's only determinate purpose, who maketh even the very foundations and pillars of the earth to shake, the mountains to melt like wax, and the seas to dry up, and to become as a dry field, when he listeth to shew the greatness of his glorious power in uttering his heavy displeasure against sin.
But put the case, that some natural causes or secret influences had their ordinary operations in this Earthquake, whereof notwithstanding there is not any sufficient likelihood : shall we so gaze upon the mean causes, that we shall forget or let slip the chief and principal causes ? Know we not (after so long hearing and professing of the Gospel) that a Sparrow lighteth not on the ground without God's providence? That the neglecting of his loving kindness, and the continuing in sin without amendment, provoke his vengeance? And yet that he, of his own fatherly free goodness, doth ever give warning before he striketh? Surely we can not but know it, yea, and see it too, unless the god of this world hath 80 blinded our eyes, that we will not see it. For it is daily and almost hourly told us by the Ministers of his word, and the Bible lieth always open for us to read it ourselves, that as the only original cause and well-spring of all plagues and punishments is Sin; so the plagues and punishments themselves, and the orderly disposing, directing, and guid
ing of all causes to their due ends and effects, is the only work of God, who, to make all offenders unexcusable (as I said before) doth often cause even the very Elements and senseless creatures to foreshew in most terrible manner, even by their natural operations, the approaching of his just vengeance. And truly, as it is said in the Psalm, their speaking and talking unto us is not softly and whisperingly, as that the voices of them cannot be heard ; but contrariwise, they be so loud in our ears, so manifest to our eyes, and so sensible to our feeling, that (unless we be stony and steely hearted, or given over to a lewd mind,) they cannot but be grievous to our hearts, and terrible to our consciences.
Now then, shall we think this rare and unaccustomed miracle, such as no man living nor none of our forefathers have ever seen or heard of, to be a thing of no importance, as happening by chance, or grounded upon some natural cause, and not rather as a messenger and summoner of us to the dreadful Judgment-seat of the almighty and ever living God ?
Let us enter into ourselves, and examine our time past. Since the sharp trial which God made of us in the reign of Queen Mary, (at which time we vowed all obedience to God, if he would vouchsafe to deliver us again from the bondage of the Romish Antichrist into the liberty of the Gospel of his Son Jesus Christ,) he, hearkening effectually to our request, hath given us a long resting and refreshing time, blessed with innumerable benefits both of body and soul: For peace, health, and plenty of all things necessary for the life of man, we have had a golden world above all the residue of our neighbours bordering round about us
The word of truth hath been preached unto us early and late without let or disturbance. And because our prosperity hath made us to play the wanton children against God, he hath chastised us in the mean season with many fatherly corrections.
We have been taught, instructed, exhorted, encouraged, allured, entreated, reproved, rebuked, upbraided, warned, threatened, nurtured, and chastised. To be short, there is not that mean whereby we might be won to the obeying and loving of our God, whether it were by favourable mildness or moderate rigour, but he hath ministered the same most mercifully and seasonably unto us. And what are we the better for all this?
Have we so profited in this School, that of covetous we be become liberal ? of Proud and Envious, Meek and Lowly? of Lecherous, Chaste? of Gluttons, Measurable feeders? of Drunkards, Sober? of Wrathful and testy, Mild and patient ? of Cruel and hard-hearted, Pitiful and gentle? of Oppressors, Relievers ? and of Irreligious, Serviceable to God?
Have we so put off the old man, and so clothed ourselves with the new, in living sincerely according to the doctrine we profess, that neither the enemies of Christ's Church nor our own consciences can reprove us? Then need we not to be afraid of any signs from the Heaven above, nor of any tokens from the earth beneath: for we have builded our houses wisely upon the rock, which neither wind, water, nor Earthguake, no, nor Sathan himself, with all his Fiends, can shake down or impair.
But, alas! it is far otherwise with us: we have grown in godliness as the Moon doth in light, when she is past the full. For who seeth not the emulation that remaineth still among us for excess of apparel, fare, and building? Who perceiveth not the disdain of superiors to their inferiors, the grudge and heart-burning of inferiors towards their superiors, and the want of love in all states one towards another?
Who complaineth not of corruption in Officers, yea, even in Officers of Justice?, and Ministers of the law? Is it not a common byword, (but I hope not true, though common) that as a man is friended, so the law is ended ?
In Youth there was never like looseness and untimely liberty, nor in Age like unstaidness and want of discretion, nor the like carelessness of duty in either towards other.
The Boy mateth the man of aged gravity, and is commended for that which he deserveth to be beaten for.
Servants are become Master-like, and fellows with Masters : and Masters, unable to master their own affections, are become servants to other folks' servants, yea, and to their own servants too.
Men have taken up the garish attire, and nice behaviour of Women: and Women, transformed from their own kind, have gotten up the apparel and stomachs? of men: and as for honest and modest Shamefacedness, the preferrer of all Virtues, it is so highly misliked, that it is thought of some folks scarce tolerable in children.
Hatred, Malice, Disdain, and desire of Revenge for the weight of a feather, are the virtues of our young Gentlemen in commendation of their manhood and valiantness.
Deep Dissimulation and Flattery are counted Courtly behaviour: Might overcometh Right: and Truth is troded under foot.
Idleness and Pride bring daily infinite numbers to that point, that they had rather rob and be shamefully hanged, than labour and live with honesty.
Usury, the consumer of private states, and the confounder of Common weals, is become a common (and in some men's opinions commendable) trade to live by.
Faithfulness is fled into exile, and Falsehood vaunteth himself in his place, till he have gotten great sums of money into his hand, that he may play the Bankeroute, to the undoing of such as trust him.
The Sabboth days and holy days ordained for the hearing of God's word to the reformation of our lives, for the administration and receiving of the Sacraments to our comfort, for the seeking of all things behooveful for body or soul at God's hand by Prayer, for the minding of his benefits, and to yield praise and thanks unto him for the same, and finally, for the special occupying of ourselves in all spiritual exercises, is spent full
["See p. 505: also Remains of Latimer, Vol. 1. pp. 127, 145, 157.] [ Stomachs: minds, dispositions.]