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macy, whereof he thought so much good that he did excel other? Is not this Paul's saying unto Timothy, his own scholar, and doth it not pertain to whosoever will be Christ's true soldiers?“ Bear thou, (saith he) the afflictions like 2 Tim. ii. a good soldier of Jesus Christ. This is true: if we die with him, (he meaneth Christ,) we shall live with him; if we suffer with him, we shall reign with him; if we deny him, he shall deny us; if we be faithless, he remaineth faithful, he cannot deny himself.” This Paul would have known to every body; for there is none other way to heaven, but Christ and his way, and “all that will live godly in Christ, shall 2 Tim. iii. (saith St Paul) suffer persecution.” By this way went to heaven the patriarchs, the prophets, Christ our master, his Apostles, his martyrs, and all the godly since the beginning.
And as it hath been of old, “that he which was born Gal. iv. after the flesh persecuted him which was born after the spirit,” for so it was in Isaac's time; so, said St Paul, it was in his time also. And whether it be so or no now, let the spiritual man, the self-same man (I mean) that is endued with the Spirit of Almighty God, let him be judge. Of the cross of the patriarchs, as ye may read in their stories if ye read the book of Genesis, ye shall perceive. Of other, St Paul in few words comprehendeth much matter, speaking in a generality of the wonderful afflictions, deaths, and torments, which the men of God in God's cause and for the truth's sake willingly and gladly did suffer. After much particular rehearsal of many, he saith, “ Others were Heb. xi. racked, and despised, and would not be delivered, that they might obtain a better resurrection; other again were tried with mockings and scourgings, and moreover with bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned, hewn asunder, tempted, fell and were slain upon the edge of the sword, some wandered to and fro in sheeps' pilches“, in goats' pilches, forsaken, skins, Lat. oppressed, afflicted, (such godly men as the world was unworthy of,) wandering in wildernesses, in mountains, in caves and in dens; and all these were commended for their faith.” And yet they abide for us the servants of God, and for those their brethren which are to be slain as they were for the word of God's sake, that none be shut out, but that we may all go together to meet our master Christ in the
air at his coming, and so to be in bliss with him in body and in soul for evermore.
Therefore, seeing we have so much occasion to suffer and to take afflictions for Christ's name's sake patiently, so many commodities thereby, so weighty causes, so many good examples, so great necessity, so sure promises of eternal life and heavenly joys of him that cannot lie, let us throw away whatsoever might leth us, all burden of sin, and all kind of carnality, and patiently and constantly let “us run for the best game in this race that is set before us; ever having our eyes upon Jesus Christ, the ringleader, captain, and
prefecter of our faith ; which, for the joy that was set before - regarding. him, endured the cross, not passing upon the ignominy and
shame thereof, and is set now at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider this, that he suffered such strife of sinners against himself, that ye should not give over nor faint in your minds. As yet, brethren, we have not withstood unto death, fighting against sin.”
“Let us never forget, dear brethren, for Christ's sake, that fatherly exhortation of the wise that speaketh unto us, as unto his children; the godly wisdom of God, saying thus, My son, despise not the correction of the Lord, nor fall not from him when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth, him doth he correct, and scourgeth every child whom he receiveth. What child is he whom the father doth not chasten? If ye be free from chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and no children. Seeing then, whereas we have had carnal parents which chastened us, we reverenced them, shall not we much more be subject unto our spiritual father, that we might live? And they for a little time taught us after their own mind; but this father teacheth us to our commodity, to give unto us his holiness. All chastisement for the present time appeareth not pleasant, but painful; but afterward it rendereth the fruit of righteousness on them which are exercised in it. Wherefore let us be of good cheer, good brethren, and let us pluck up our feeble members that were fallen, or began to faint, heart, hands, knees, and all the rest, and let us walk upright and straight, that no limping or halting bring us out of the way.” Let us look, not upon the things that be present, but with the eyes of our faith let us steadfastly behold the things that be everlasting in heaven, and so choose rather, in respect of that which is to come, with the chosen members of Christ to bear Christ's cross, than for this short lifetime to enjoy all the riches, honours, and pleasures of the broad world.
Why should we Christians fear death? Can death deprive us of Christ, which is all our comfort, our joy, and our life? Nay, forsooth. But contrary, death shall deliver us from this mortal body, which loadeth and beareth down the spirit, that it cannot so well perceive heavenly things; in the 2 Cor. v. which so long as we dwell, we are absent from God.
Wherefore, understanding our state in that we be Christians, “ that if our mortal body, which is our earthly house, 2 Cor. v. were destroyed, we have a building, a house not made with hands, but everlasting in heaven, &c., therefore we are of good cheer, and know that when we are in the body, we are absent from God; for we walk by faith, and not by clear sight. Nevertheless we are bold, and had rather be absent from the body, and present with God. Wherefore we strive, whether we be present at home or absent abroad, that we may always please him."
And who that hath true faith in our Saviour Christ, whereby he knoweth somewhat truly what Christ our Saviour is, that he is the eternal Son of God, life, light, the wisdom of the Father, all goodness, all righteousness, and whatsoever is good that heart can desire, yea, infinite plenty of all these, above that that man's heart can either conceive or think, (for in him dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead corporally,) and also that he is given us of the Father, “and 1 Cor. i. made of God to be our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, and our redemption ; "--who (I say) is he, that believeth this indeed, that would not gladly be with his master Christ? Paul for this knowledge coveted to have been loosed from the body, and to have been with Christ, for that he counted Phil. i. it much better for himself, and had rather to be loosed than to live. Therefore these words of Christ to the thief on the cross, that asked of him mercy, were full of comfort and solace: “This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.” To Luke xxiii. die in the defence of Christ's Gospel, it is our bounden duty to Christ, and also to our neighbour. To Christ, “for he Rom. ix.
2 Pet. i. 2 Cor. y.
died for us, and rose again, that he might be Lord over all.” 1 John iii. And seeing he died for us, “we also (saith St John) should
jeopard, yea give, our life for our brethren." And this kind of giving and losing is getting and winning indeed; for
he that giveth or loseth his life thus, getteth and winneth Apoc. xiv. it for evermore. “Blessed are they therefore, that die in the
Lord;” and if they die in the Lord's cause, they are most happy of all.
Let us not then fear death, which can do us no harm, otherwise than for a moment to make the flesh to smart; for that our faith, which is surely fastened and fixed unto the word of God, telleth us that we shall be anon after death in peace, in the hands of God, in joy, in solace, and that from death we shall go straight unto life. For St John saith, “He that liveth and believeth in me, shall never die." And in another, place “He shall depart from death unto life.” And therefore this death of the Christian is not to be called death, but rather a gate or entrance into everlasting life. Therefore Paul calleth it but a dissolution and resolution ; and both Peter and Paul, a putting off of this tabernacle or dwell-house, meaning thereby the mortal body, as where in the soul or spirit doth dwell here in this world for a small time. Yea, this death may be called, to the Christian, an end of all miseries. For so long as we live here, “we must pass through many tribulations, before we can enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And now, after that death hath shot his bolt, all the Christian man's enemies have done what they can, and after that they have no more to do. What could hurt or harm poor “Lazarus, that lay at the rich man's gate "? his former penury and poverty, his miserable beggary, and horrible sores and sickness! For so soon as death had stricken him with his dart, so soon came the angels, and carried him straight up into Abraham's bosom. What lost he by death, who, from misery and pain, is set by the ministry of angels in a place both of joy and solace ?
Farewell, dear brethren, farewell! and let us comfort our hearts in all troubles, and in death, with the word of God: for heaven and earth shall perish, but the word of the Lord endureth for ever.
Farewell, Christ's dearly beloved spouse here wandering in this world, as in a strange land, far from thine own country, and compassed about on every hand with deadly enemies, which cease not to assault thee, ever seeking thy destruction !
Farewell, farewell, O ye the whole and universal congregation of the chosen of God, here living upon earth, the true church militant of Christ, the true mystical body of Christ, the very household and family of God, and the sacred temple of the Holy Ghost ! Farewell.
Farewell, O thou little flock of the high heavenly pastor Luke xii. Christ! for to thee it hath pleased the heavenly Father to give an everlasting and eternal kingdom. Farewell.
Farewell, thou spiritual house of God, thou holy and royal priesthood, thou chosen generation, thou holy nation, thou won' spouse! Farewell, farewell!
d purchased. N. R.
LETTER XXXIV. (Coverdale.)
To the Queen's Majesty'. It may please your majesty, for Christ our Saviour's sake, in a matter of conscience, (and now not for myself, but for other poor men,) to vouchsafe to hear and understand this mine humble supplication. It is so, honourable princess, that in the time while I was in the ministry of the see of London, divers poor men, tenants thereof, have taken new leases of their tenantries and holdings, and some have renewed and changed their hold, and therefore have paid fines and sums of money, both to me, and also to the chapter of Paul's, for the confirmation of the same. Now I hear say, bruel and
Behold the that the bishop which occupieth the same room now will unjust deal not allow the aforesaid leases, which must redound to many cannot deal poor men's utter ruin and decay. Wherefore, this is mine justly and
men, which [~ On the day previous to his martyrdom, after he had been degraded God and a by bishop Brookes, Ridley read this letter to the bishop, and requested
truth. M.C. him to forward the petition contained in it. This was refused, and Ridley then delivered it to his brother to be presented to the Queen: it was dated for the day following. Ed.]
is untrue to
hater of all