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WPON CERTEINE CHAP-
AND NOW NEW LIE PVBLISHED.
In the latter end, because the Author could not finish that treatise of Oppression which he had begonne, there is added that for a supplie, which of late was published by ROBERT SOME D. In Divinitie.
Psal. 127. 1. Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vaine that build it: except the Lord keepe the citie, the keeper watcheth in vaine.
Psal. 122. 6. Praie for the peace of Ierusalem: let them prosper that loue thee.
Psal. 80. 14. 15. Returne, we beseech thee, O God of hostes: looke dowme from heauen, and behold and visit this vine, And the vineyeard, that thy right hand hath planted, and the young vine, which thou madest strong for thy selfe.
As it is greatly to be rejoiced, and the Lord highly to be praised, for the happy enterprise of the godly work of Nehemiah, begun by the reverend and vigilant pastor of Christ his church of famous memory, M. James Pilkington, Bishop of Duresme; so again it were to be wished that, if the Lord had thought it so good, his days might have continued to the full perfiting of the same, which now is left unperfect, only containing five chapters by him expounded. For the setting out whereof, being requested hereunto, I thought to add these few lines in recommending the same to the godly reader, trusting no less than that whosoever will take pains in reading thereof, the same shall find his labour therein not altogether lost. And that for divers causes. First, for the better explaining of the chapters whereof he entreateth. Secondly, for the opening of ancient histories intermixed withal, much needful to be known. Thirdly, for the opportunity of the time well serving for the purpose present. For as Nehemiah then by God's providence was set up for the re-edifying of the material temple of Jerusalem, destroyed by the Babylonians; so in like sort the spiritual church of Christ, in this spiritual Babylonical captivity, being in long time in ruin and decay, standeth in great need of godly helpers and good workmen; as, blessed be the Lord some we have seen, and do see, right zealously occupied to the shedding of their blood in repairing Christ his temple. Yet notwithstanding, the matter being of so great importance, and the time so dangerous, it shall not be amiss in these our days to be taught by the time before us. First, that the outward temple in Hierusalem, destroyed by the Babylonians, did lie waste for many years, it cannot be denied. Which being granted, it must needs follow, that either the said material temple doth bear no representation of the spiritual church of Christ (which cannot be denied,) or else that the same church of Christ must necessarily suffer some captivity and apostasy for a time by certain spiritual Babylonians in latter times: which being so, then must it likewise follow consequently, that as that former temple of God in Hierusalem, after long captivity, at length was restored again by the mighty hand of God; so the like is to be accomplished in Christ his church, after long wrack and decay to be repaired again, as we see now come to pass. For what oppression, what tyranny, what darkness hath overwhelmed the poor church of Christ these many years by the Romish Assyrians, who is so blind that seeth not? Wherefore much deceived be these our pope-holy pretensed catholics; who, dreaming in their fantasies no other true church to be in earth but only their holy church of Rome, falsely so persuade themselves, because the outward state of their Romish church so gloriously and richly shineth in the world, and therefore the true church of Christ is at no time to be blemished with ignorance and darkness, but continually flourish without spot or wrinkle in the eyes of men, never to suffer any wrack or decay, but perpetually to be preserved from all ruin or distress. By which ruin if they mean the perpetual or final desolation of the true church of Christ, true it is that the same shall never finally be forsaken nor overthrown; but for a time the same to suffer violence and oppression by enemies, it cannot be denied. For antichrist, by the secret permission of God, must have his own course, and reign here in the church for a time ; in which time, by the assured testimony of St Paul's epistle, there must come a defection and apostasy: whereby is signified, no doubt, a spiritual and, as it were, a general departing from the right faith of the gospel for a time and space, till it shall please the Lord again to give his book to the mouth of his prophets, and to send down by his angel his measuring-reed, to measure the wasted temple of the Lord for the re-edifying again, as we read Revela. x. xi. Howsoever, antichrist in the mean space doth flourish in this world, sitting in the temple of God, boasting himself as God, and drawing the faith of the people from God to himself. Certainly with the true church of Christ it standeth much otherwise, which must be brought down by antichrist, not to final destruction, but for a time to be oppressed till it shall please God again to repair it, as we by experience have good proof to declare. Wherefore let no man marvel at the decayed state of Christ his church, which hath been so long time continued; nor think the worse of the gospel now preached, as though it were a new faith or a new religion lately erected. If this gospel now preached were not taught by Christ himself, by Paul and other apostles, let it be counted for new. If the pope's doctrine be not agreeing to the same, then let every man judge which is new and which is old. Briefly, let us take example of the ancient tabernacle or house of God, first set up by Moses, afterward more magnifically framed to the like proportion in timber and stone by Salomon, which house or tabernacle the Lord promised to stand for ever: yet notwithstanding the same temple of God (exemplifying no doubt the spiritual church of Christ here in earth) was utterly overthrown by the Babylonians for a certain space, and afterward repaired again by God's people with much difficulty and hardness of times; and after that the same again miserably despoiled and destroyed by wicked Antiochus. In like manner the spiritual church of Christ, although it have the true promise of Christ to endure for ever, as it doth and ever shall do, yet lacketh not her Babylonians, her Antiochus, her overthrowers and temporal oppressors; yet not so oppressed, but at length by labourers