Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

1 John ii.

Matt. x.

hand of Almighty God, it is no more possible to stand by the truth in Christ in time of trouble, than it is for the wax to abide the heat of the fire. Sir, know you this, that I am (blessed be God !) persuaded that this world is but transitory, and (as St John saith) “the world passeth away and the lust thereof." I am persuaded Christ's words to be true“ Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven;" and I believe that no earthly creature shall be saved, whom the Redeemer and Saviour of the world shall before his Father deny. This the Lord grant that it may be so grafted, established, and fixed in

my heart, that neither things present nor to come, high nor low, life nor death, be able to remove me thence! It is a goodly wish that you wish me, deeply to consider things pertaining unto God's glory: but if you had wished also that neither fear of death, nor hope of worldly prosperity, should let me to maintain God's word and his truth, which is his glory and true honour, it would have liked me well. You desire me, for God's sake, to remember myself. Indeed, Sir, now it is time so to do; for so far as I can perceive, it standeth me upon no less danger than of the loss both of body and soul; and, I trow, then it is time for a man to awake, if any thing will awake him. He that will not fear him that threateneth to cast both body and soul into everlasting fire, whom will he fear? With this fear, O Lord, fasten thou together our frail flesh, that we never swerve from thy laws. You say you have made much suit for me. Sir, God grant that you have not in sueing for my worldly deliverance impaired and hindered the furtherance of God's word and his truth. You have known me long indeed, in the which time it hath chanced me (as you say) to mislike some things. It is true, I grant: for sudden changes without substantial and necessary cause, and the heady setting forth of extremities, I did never love. Confession unto the minister which is able to instruct, correct, comfort, and inform the weak, wounded, and ignorant conscience, indeed I ever thought might do much good in Christ's congregation, and so, I assure you, I think even at this day. My doctrine and my preaching, you say, you have heard often, and after your judgment have thought it godly, saving only for the sacrament; which thing although it was of me reverently handled, and a great deal better than of the rest (as you say), yet in the margin you write warily, and in this world wisely—“and yet methought all sounded not well.” Sir, but that I see so many changes in this world and so much alteration, else at this your saying I would not a little marvel. I have taken you for my friend, and a man whom I fancied for plainness and faithfulness, as much (I assure you) as for your learning: and have you kept this so close in your heart from me unto this day? Sir, I consider more things than one, and will not say all that I think. But what need you to care what I think, for any thing that I shall be able to do unto you, either good or harm? You give me good lessons, to stand in nothing against my learning', and to beware of vain-glory. Truly, Sir, I herein like your counsel very well, and by God's grace I intend to follow it unto my life's end.

* hinder.

Luke xii.

To write unto those whom you name, I cannot see what it will avail me. For this I would have you know, that I esteem nothing available for me, which also will not further the glory of God. And now, because I perceive you have an entire zeal and desire of my deliverance out of this captivity and worldly misery, if I should not bear you a good heart in God again, methink I were to blame. Sir, how nigh the day of my dissolution and departure out of this world is at hand, I cannot tell: the Lord's will be fulfilled, how soon soever it shall come. I know the Lord's words must be verified on me, that I shall appear before the incorrupt Judge, and be accountable to him of all my former life. And although the hope of his mercy is my sheet-anchor of eternal salvation, yet am I persuaded, that whosoever wittingly neglecteth and regardeth not to clear his conscience, he cannot have peace with God nor a lively faith in his mercy. Conscience therefore moveth me (considering you were one of my family and one of my household, of whom then I think I had a special cure, and of all them which were within my house ; which indeed ought to have been an example of godliness to all the rest of my cure, not only of

[ To rely in no point upon my learning, or to insist on nothing contrary to my better knowledge. Ed.]

this.

Psal. ii.

good life, but also in promoting of God's word to the uttermost of their power: but alas ! now when the trial doth separate the chaff from the corn, how small a deal it is, God

knoweth, which the wind doth not blow away! This conknowledge, science, I say, doth move me) to fear lest the lightness of the knowing

my family shall be laid to my charge, for lack of more earnest and diligent instruction which should have been done. But blessed be God, which hath given me grace to see this my default, and to lament it from the bottom of my heart, before my departing hence. This conscience doth move me also now to require both you and my friend Doctor Harvey, to remember your promises made to me in times past, of the pure setting forth and preaching of God's word and his truth. These promises, although you shall not need to fear to be charged with them of me hereafter before the world, yet look for none other (I exhort you as my friends), but to be charged with them at God's hand. This conscience and the love that I bear unto you biddeth me now say unto you both in God's name, Fear God, and love not the world; for God is able to cast both body and soul into hell fire.

" When his wrath shall suddenly be kindled, blessed are all they that put their trust in him." And the saying of St John is true: “All that is in the world, as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world; and the world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doth the will of God abideth for ever." If this gift of grace, which undoubtedly is necessarily required unto eternal salvation, were truly and unfeignedly grafted and firmly established in men's hearts; they would not be so light, so suddenly to shrink from the maintenance and confession of the truth, as is now, alas ! seen so manifestly of so many in these days. But here, peradventure, you would know of me what is the truth. Sir, God's word is the truth, as St John saith, and that even the same that was heretofore. For albeit man doth vary and change as the moon, yet God's word is stable and abideth one for evermore: and of Christ it is truly said, Christ yesterday and to-day, the same is also for ever.

When I was in office, all that were esteemed learned in God's word, agreed this to be a truth in God's word written ;

1 John ii.

John xvii.

Ecclus. xxvii. Heb. xiii.

that the common prayer of the church should be had in the common tongue. You know I have conferred with many, and I ensure you I never found man (so far as I do re-assure. member), neither old nor new, gospeller nor papist, of what judgment soever he was, in this thing to be of a contrary opinion. If then it were a truth of God's word, think you that the alteration of the world can make it an untruth? If it cannot, why then do so many men shrink from the confession and maintenance of this truth, received once of us all? For what is it, I pray you, else, to confess or deny Christ in this world, but to maintain the truth taught in God's word, or for any worldly respect to shrink from the same? This one thing have I brought for an ensample : other things be in like case, which now particularly I need not to rehearse. For he that will forsake wittingly, either for fear or gain of the world, any one open truth of God's word; if he be constrained, he will assuredly forsake God and all his truth, rather than he will endanger himself to lose or to leave that he loveth better in deed than he doth God and the truth of his word. I like very well your plain speaking, wherein you say, I must either agree or die; and I think that you mean of the bodily death, which is common both to good and bad. Sir, I know I must die, whether I agree or no. But what folly were it then to make such an agreement, by the which I could never escape this death, which is so common to all, and also incur the guilt of death and eternal damnation! Lord, grant that I may utterly abhor and detest this damnable agreement so long as I live. And because (I dare say) you wrote of friendship unto me this short earnest advertisement, and, I think, verily wishing me to live and not to die; therefore, bearing you in my heart no less love in God than you do me in the world, I say unto you in the word of the Lord (and that I say to you I say to all my friends and lovers in God), that if you do not confess and maintain, to your power and knowledge, that which is grounded upon God's word, but will, either for fear or gain of the world, shrink and play the Apostata, indeed you shall die the death : Apostata you know what I mean. And I beseech you all, my true which fled friends and lovers in God, remember what I say; for this captain to

the enemy.

He was also
so called may

be the last time peradventure that ever I shall write

that depart. unto you.

ed from the Christians to the Jews and Gentiles.

From Bocardo in Oxford, the 8th day of April, 1554.

N. R.

LETTER VII. (CoverDALE.)
To the brethren remaining in captivity of the flesh, and dis-

persed abroad in sundry prisons, but knit together in
unity of spirit and holy religion, in the bowels of the
Lord Jesus.

GRACE, peace, and mercy be multiplied among you. What worthy thanks can we render unto the Lord for you, my brethren? namely, for the great consolation which through you we have received in the Lord; who (notwithstanding the rage of Satan, that goeth about by all manner of subtle means to beguile the world, and also busily laboureth to restore and set up his kingdom again, that of late began to decay and fall to ruin), ye remain yet still unmoveable as men surely grounded upon a strong rock. And now, albeit that Satan by his soldiers and wicked ministers daily (as we hear) draw

eth numbers, unto him, so that it is said of him that he Apoc. xii. plucketh eveřf the very stars out of heaven, whilst he driveth

into some men the fear of death and loss of all their goods, and sheweth and offereth to other some the pleasant baits of the world, namely, riches, wealth and all kind of delights and pleasures, fair houses, great revenues, fat benefices, and what not? and all to the intent they should fall down and

worship (not in the Lord, but in the dragon, the old serApoc. xviii. pent, which is the devil,) that great beast and his image,

and should be enticed to commit fornication with the strumpet of Babylon, together with the kings of the earth, with the lesser beast, and with the false prophets, and so to rejoice and be pleasant with her, and to be drunken with the wine of her fornication; yet blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which hath given unto you a manly courage, and hath so strengthened you in the inward man by the power of his Spirit, that you can contemn as well all the

« PoprzedniaDalej »