Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.—Habakkuk 2.4.

[Sermons on the Song of Hezekiah by John Calvin.]
 
SERMONS
OF JOHN CAL-
VIN, VPON THE SONGE
that Ezechias made af-
ter he had bene sicke, and
afflicted by the hand of
God,
conteyned in the 38. Chapi-
ter of Esay.

¶ Translated out of Frenche
into Englishe.
1560.

Newly set fourth and allowed, accordyng to
the order appointed in the Quenes Ma-
iesties Iniunctions.

¶ Imprinted at London ouer Aldersgate,
by John Day.
And are there to be solde at his shoppe
vnder the Gate.

¶ Cum Gratia & priuilegio
Regić maiestatis.

 
Contents.

To Katharine, Duchess of Suffolk.
Sermon 1.
Sermon 2.
Sermon 3.
Sermon 4.
Meditation on Psalm 51.


 
TO THE RIGHT
HONORABLE, AND
Christian Princesse, the Lady
Katharine, Duchesse
of Suffolke.

IT often falleth out in experience (my gracious & singular good Lady) that some men being oppressed with poverty, tossed with worldly adversity, tormented with pain, soreness, & sickness of body, and other such common matters of grief, as the world counteth miseries & evils: Yet having their minds armed & furnished with prepared patience, and defence of inward understanding, all these calamities cannot so far prevail, as to make them fall, nor yet once stoop into the state of men to be accounted miserable: but they bear them with such constancy, as if such afflictions were not of such nature as other commonly do feel them, or as if those men were such upon whom those troubles could not work their natural property. On th’other side we see some that flowing in earthly wealth & sufficiency, free from {} fortune’s cruelty, healthy in body, and every way to the worlds seeming blessed: yet with mind not well instructed, or with conscience not well quieted, even upon such small chances as other can lightly bear, are vexed above measure with reasonless extremity. Whereby appeareth that the griefs of body and calamities of fortune do so far only extend, to afflict, or make a man miserable, as they approach to touch the mind, & assail the soul. Which proveth that the pains and diseases of mind & soul are not only the most grievous, & most dangerous, but also they only are painful & perilous, and those of the body & fortune are such as the mind useth, and maketh them. So as to a sick stomach of mind, all bodily matters of delight and worldly pleasures are loathsome and displeasant, as on th’other side the power of a healthy soul easily digesteth and gathereth good nourishment of the hard pains, and bitter torments of the body and fortune. He then, that cureth the sick mind, or preserveth it from disease, cureth or preserveth not only mind, but body also: and deserveth so much more praise and thanks, than the body’s Physician, as the soul excelleth the body, {} and as the curing, or preservation of them both is to be preferred before the cure of the body alone. But we see daily, when skillful men by art, or honest neighbours having gathered understanding of some special disease & the healing thereof by their own experiment, do apply their knowledge to the restoring of health of any man’s body in any corporal sickness, how thankfully it is taken, how much the relieved patient accounteth himself bound to him by mean of whose aid and ministration he findeth himself holpen or eased. What then deserveth he, that teacheth such a receipt, whereby health both of body and mind is preserved, & whereby if health be appaired [impaired], it may be restored, yea whereby sickness and common miseries continuing shall not have so much power to trouble a man as to make him sick, or miserable? This receipt God the heavenly Physician hath taught, his most excellent Apothecary master John Calvin hath compounded, & I your graces most bounden & humble have put into an English box, & do present unto you. My thanks are taken away & drowned by the great excess of duty that I owe you: Master Calvin thinketh his pains recompensed {} if your grace or any Christian take profit of it: because how much soever is spent, his store is nevertheless. And for God, recompensed he cannot be: but how he is continually to be thanked, your grace’s profession of his word, your abiding in the same, the godly conversation that I have seen in you, do prove that yourself do better understand & practice than I can admonish you.

And that you may be assured, that this kind of medicine is not hurtful: two most excellent kings, Hezekiah and David, beside an infinite number have tasted the like before you, and have found health therein, such health as hath cured them forever, and not as common or natural reasons of Philosophy do cure a sick or sore mind, which with easy and weak not well drawing or cleansing plasters, so overheal the wound that it festereth and breaketh out afresh with renewed and doubly increased danger.

Such remedy as here is contained can no Philosopher, no Infidel, no Papist minister. For what perfect help can they give to a diseased mind, that understand not, or believe {} not the only thing that must of needful necessity be put into all medicines that may serve for a tormented soul, that is to say, the determined providence of almighty God, which ordereth and disposeth all things to the best to them that trust in him?

This Physick resteth only among true believing Christians, who are persuaded that whatsoever betideth unto us, his high wisdom that sent it, and that seeth all things, sent it of his good pleasure and decreed purpose, and that for our benefit if we love and believe him, though our weak understanding knoweth not how it should be profitable, but naturally judgeth it hurtful and unpleasant. And necessary it was that he which by understanding of God’s hatred of sin and feeling of his justice, is subject to fall into the most perilous pain and torment of conflict with sin and desperation, should by conceiving of God’s mercy, and believing of his providence, have help of the most and only perfect and effectually working medicine.

But in heavy case is he, that being {} afflicted with that dangerous disease of the feeling of God’s wrath kindled against him, hath not the conserve [supply] of belief of God’s providence remaining with him, or being ministered to him either for feebleness of stomach cannot receive and brook it, or his oppressed appetite being overwhelmed with gross faithless and papistical humors cannot abide the taste of it. Woe is (I say) to them: for their disease is dangerous and hard to be cured. For when the wretched man finding all help of man not able to uphold him from perishing, being stricken with the mighty hand of God, feeleth himself unable to stand, no soundness in his body, no strength in his limbs, no help of nature to resist the violence of that disease that God’s displeasure hath laid upon him, seeth no sign of God’s grace in his soul, but the deep wounds that God’s anger hath left in his conscience, perceiveth no token to argue him th’elect of God and partaker of the death of his Saviour, hearing pronounced that the soul which sinneth shall die, knowing himself to have sinned, & feeling himself dying: alas what help remaineth in this extremity? If we think the help of papists, to beg and borrow others Virgins {} oil that have none to spare, to buy the superfluous works of those men that say they have done more than sufficeth to satisfy God’s law and to deserve their own salvation, to appease God with such extraordinary devised service as he never commanded, and such like unwholesome stuff as papistical soul-slayers have ministered to Christian patients: If (I say) we think these good & sufficient medicines: alas, we do nothing thereby, but plant untrue security, promise health, & perform death: the pangs whereof when the deceived sick man feeleth, he too late espieth the falsehood of the murderous Physician. The pore damned soul in Hell tormented with the lamentable pains that turmoil him, from whom God the only author of joy and comfort is absent, perceiveth too late how wandering the wrong way from heaven, he is fallen into Hell. That silly wretch flaming in the infernal fire feeleth, alas, too late that they which gave him man’s medicines to drink, have slain his soul: they which taught him to trust of salvation by man’s devises have set his burning heart in that place of flames, where th’everlasting Chaos suffereth no drop of God’s mercy to descend: they {} which taught him to seek health any other where than in the determined purpose of God, that hath sent his own son for our redemption, have spoiled him of all benefit of redemption. He feeleth at length all too late how by fault of ill diet and through poisonous potions which his ignorant corrupted and traitorous Physician suffered him to use, and bade him to take, he lieth dead eternally.

But on th’other side, when the believing Christian falleth (as God hath made none to stand whereby they should not need his mercy to raise them when they are fallen) he knoweth whither to reach his hand to be raised up again: being stung with the sting of the scorpion he knoweth how with oil of the same scorpion to be healed again: being wounded with the justice of God that hateth sin, he knoweth how with the mercy of the same God that pardoneth sin to have his pain assuaged and hurt amended. He knoweth that whom God hath from eternity appointed to live, shall never die, howsoever sickness threaten: no misery, no tentation, no peril shall avail to his everlasting overthrow. He knoweth that his safety is much more surely {} reposed in God’s most steadfast and unchangeable purpose, and in the most strong & almighty hand of the all-knowing and all-working God, than in the wavering will and feeble weakness of man. This healeth the Christian’s sickness, this preserveth him from death, this maketh him to live forever. This medicine is in this little book brought from the plentiful shop & storehouse of God’s holy testament, where God’s ever-abiding purpose from beyond beginning is set forth, to the everlasting salvation of some, & eternal confusion of other. Beside that, this book hath not only the medicine, but also an example of the nature of the disease, & the mean how to use & apply the medicine to them that be so diseased. For when a man languishing in corporal sickness, heareth his neighbour report unto him, or himself hath before time seen in another the same cause of sickness, the same manner of fits, passions, alterations, & in every point the same qualities of sickness, & the same disposition of body that he knoweth & feeleth in himself: it giveth him assurance, & maketh him to know that he is sick of the same disease that th’other was: whereby knowing how th’other was healed, what diet {} he kept, what Physick he took, he doth with the greater boldness, confidence of mind, and desire, call for, taste, and greedily receive that healthful & lifefull medicine whereby he saw and knew his neighbour healed, and with the greater care keepeth the same diet wherewith he saw & knew th’other preserved. So here this good souls Physician hath brought you where you may see lying before your face the good king Hezekiah, sometime chilling and chattering with cold, sometime languishing & melting away with heat, now freezing, now frying, now speechless, now crying out, with other such piteous pangs & passions wrought in his tender afflicted spirit, by guilty conscience of his own fault, by terrible consideration of God’s justice, by cruel assaults of the tyrannous enemies of man’s salvation, vexing him in much more lamentable wise [way, manner] than any bodily fever can work, or bodily flesh can suffer. On th’other side for his help, you see him sometime throw up his gastly eyen [eyes], staring with horrour, and scant discerning for pain and for want of the lively moisture to feed the brightness of their sight. You see him sometime yieldingly stretch out, sometime strugglingly {} throw his weakened legs not able to sustain his feeble body: sometime he casteth abroad, or holdeth up his white & bloodless hand toward the place whither his soul longeth: sometime with falling chaps, he breatheth out unperfect sounds, gasping rather than calling for mercy & help. These things being here laid open to sight and remaining in remembrance, (as the horrour and piteous spectacle cannot suffer it to fall out of a Christian tender mind) if we feel ourselves in like anguish, we find that the disease is the same that Hezekiah had, and so by convenience of reason must by the same mean be healed. Then behoveth us to remember or to be informed by our diligent Physician or charitable neighbour, how we saw Hezekiah healed, whom we imagine in this Book to see, both dying, revived, and walking after death recovered. There we see the heavenly Physician anoint him with the merciful Samaritans oil, purge the oppressing humors with true repentance, strengthen his stomach with the wholesome conserve of God’s eternal decree, and expel his disease, and set him on foot with assured faith of God’s mercy, and staying his yet unsteady pace & faltering legs {} with the sweet promises of God’s almighty goodness. So learn we what Physicians help we shall use: and this medicine being offered us, we are bold to take it, because we know it will heal us. And being healed, knowing and hearing it confessed, that sin was the cause and nourishment of Hezekiah’s disease, we learn a new diet, and to feed as Hezekiah his Physician and ours appointeth, abstaining from things hurtful, taking things healthful as he prescribeth. So doth the Christian attain his health, so being attained he preserveth it forever. And as it is true that second & returned sickness by surfeit or misdemeanour are most cruel and dangerous, so holdeth he yet this also for truth, that to this Physician with this medicine, no disease never so long rooted, never so oft returned, is incurable. Being then thus much beholden to this Physician we must needs confess that we owe unto him our life and health, & all that we be or have. And for his faithful minister master Calvin, I beseech your grace with me, to wish him God’s benefit of eternal happy life for his reward, even as I wish your grace continual health of life and soul for your preservation, {} not only for this new year, but also for the time that shall exceed all extent of years, beseeching you to accept both my work and prayer.

Concerning my translation of this book, it may please you to understand that I have rendered it so near as I possibly might, to the very words of his text, and that in so plain English as I could express: Such as it is, I beseech your grace to take it in good part.

Your graces humble

A. L.



The first sermon.
The writinge of Ezechia kinge of Iuda, when he had bene sicke, and was recouered of his sicknes. I said in the cuttyng shorte of my daies, I shall go downe to the gates of the graue. I haue sought the residue of my yeares, I said I shall not see the Lorde, the Lorde in the land of the liuing. I shall not behold man any more, nor those that dwell in the world. My life is withdrawen, and is chaunged like a shepeherdes lodge.
AS the name of God is immortal, and we ought to travail that they which come after us, do call upon it, and that it be honored and glorified in all times: So is it not enough, that during our life, we endeavor our selves to honor God: but as I have said before, our care should extend itself to the time to come, to the end we may have in store some continuing seed of religion, in such sort as the truth of God may never be abolished. But specially they whom God hath ordained in any estate to guide others, ought therefore so much the more to apply themselves unto it. As also we see that Peter [2 Pet. 5], declaring his end to be near, and that he should depart out of this world: addeth {2} that so much as he possibly may, he would make the doctrine which he preached, to remain always in force and memory, that men might take profit after his death. Behold now wherefore Hezekiah was not contented to make this protestation which we read here, with his mouth, but would also write it, that to the end of the world men might know how he had been vexed in his affliction, and that the same might serve for doctrine to all the world: so as at this day we may take profit thereof.

He saith expressly that this writing was made after he was recovered. For oftentimes when we are touched either with sickness or any other rod of God, we make protestations enough, but we do nothing else but shake our cares (as the proverb is) when we are escaped, & we by and by forget all those things which we made a shew as if we knew. But here it is shewed us that the king Hezekiah being recovered, forgat not the correction which he had received at the hand of God, neither the anguishes which he felt, but minded to make a memorial of the whole, that those which come after might be instructed thereby.

But it appeareth at the first shew that this writing serveth not for any instruction of them that should read it, but should rather be an offence. For we see the outrageous passions of a man as it were ravished in mind, which so abhorreth death, that he thought all to be lost when God should take him out of the world; and in this we see nothing but the sin of infidelity [unbelief]. He tormenteth and rageth with himself (as it seemeth) with a rebelling, uncomely {3} for a servant of God: to be short, it appeareth that we can gather nothing of this song, but that all the faith which Hezekiah had was only in his prosperity and quiet [peace], & also that he gave the bridle too much unto himself in his heaviness, insomuch that he complained of God, as we see that he compared him to a Lion. But when all shall be well considered, we shall see that there is no instruction better or more profitable for us than this. For when we shall have well examined all that is in us, then we shall know that the same is also proper unto ourselves.

But first let us note how the good king Hezekiah did not here set forth his own virtues to be praised of the world, for he might have kept in silence that which he hath declared of his own waywardness, & in place thereof he might have spoken of his request made to God, and the constancy of his faith: So then he saith not that he was of valiant courage, that he overcame all tentations without any stop or strife, he saith not that he had a faith so steadfast that it nothing troubled him to be corrected of the hand of God: nothing of all this. What then? We see a poor man tormented even to the extremity, and so stricken down, that he wist not what might become of him. We see a man astonished with fear of the wrath of God, looking on nothing but his own affliction. Then, seeing Hezekiah doth discover himself, and sticketh not to confess his own faults, in this we perceive that he was not led of ambition, neither of any vainglory to be praised of men, or to get reputation, but he rather was willing himself to be confounded with shame, that God might be glorified. {4} What is then his purpose? It is in one part to make us know how he had been afflicted then, when he thought that God was against him: and moreover that therein men might know so much the more how great the goodness of God was, when he receive him to mercy, and would not forsake him in necessity.

We have then to behold here, as in a looking glass, our own weakness, to the end that every man may prepare himself against the time when his faith shall be proved as the faith of Hezekiah was, and when God shall shew us some tokens of his wrath, so as if then we seem in manner destroyed, yet we cease not therefore to trust that God will give to us an end of our troubles, as he did to this good king. Next to this, that we may learn to give all praise of our safety to the mercy of God, acknowledging that so soon as he forsaketh us, we are utterly undone, and that then we become more than miserable.

And now we see how, and wherefore the good king Hezekiah was thus tormented, that is, because he saw death so near at hand. It seemeth at the first face, that such passion beseemeth not a faithful man [believer.] True it is that of nature death is dreadful to us all. For there is no man but (as they say) desireth to be, and in death we think that we perish, that we be brought to nought, and cease to be. Thus of nature we flee from & abhor death; and therefore also Paul saith in the fifth chapter of the second epistle to the Corinthians, that we do not desire to be unclothed of this body, for it is impossible for man to desire to change his {5} estate, I mean as concerning this life. And those that do kill themselves have no natural affection, but the Devil so carrieth them away that they are altogether blinded. And such are to be reckoned as unnatural monsters, in whom all the order of nature is changed. To be short it is most assured that death shall be always to us terrible, and not only because we are inclined to desire to live, but also forsomuch as God hath left a certain mark, in such sort, that the Heathen themselves & the unfaithful are constrained to feel that death is a curse of God, which was pronounced upon Adam, and all his lineage. Forasmuch then, as death is come upon the world by sin, & that it is a witness of the wrath of God, that by it we are as it were cast off from him, banished from his kingdom (which is the kingdom of life) it must needs be, although we have no light of faith neither ever had any one word of doctrine, that this be imprinted in our minds, that it is naturally unpleasant unto us. Behold then by what means we are brought to flee death, & to withdraw ourselves from it so much as we possible may. First because we are desirous to be: secondly, for that we conceive death to be a certain sign of God’s wrath: yea, although we heard thereof no certain instruction, yet God hath printed a certain natural instinction and feeling thereof within our hearts. Yet notwithstanding it is also true that the faithful do overcome those fears, and do prepare themselves to die when it pleaseth God, but not (as the place speaketh which we have alleged out of Paul) in such sort that {6} they simply & without other consideration desire to die, for that were the doing of men in desperation, but they prepare themselves, forasmuch as they know, that after they have been unclothed they shall be clothed again [2 Cor. 5.1-4], that this body which is but a ruinous lodging, is nothing but rottenness, & that they shall be restored to the kingdom of God. Forasmuch as then we behold this hope that is given us, thus we overcome the fears of death. Beside this on the other side, we know that our Lord Jesus Christ hath repaired this desolation & ruin that fell upon us by the sin of our father Adam. So because we take hold of life in the midst of death, that maketh us that we are not afraid to withdraw ourselves hence when God calleth us to him, for we know that death is but a passage to life. Moreover, we know what is our true being: It is not to dwell in this world, for this is but a thoroughfare, & we must always have in remembrance that which is spoken, that God placeth men here only to manage them, & to make them to fetch their compasses (as they say) & suddenly to turn again. Then when we are taught that our life is nothing else but a course, & the world is but a shadow, which passeth & vanisheth away: we know that our true being, & our permanent estate is in heaven, & not here below. Thus see we how we ought not to flee death: but (that more is) we have occasion to desire it, because on the one side we are frail, & being holden under the bondage of sin, we see so many corruptions in ourselves that it is woeful, & when we desire to serve God we draw up our legs, & when we lift up one foot thinking to set forward one step, we slip backward, & oft it cometh to pass that we stumble or fall. See now how just a cause we have to lament our life, not in way of despair, but because we ought to hate & abhor {7} sin. We ought also to desire God to draw us out of this so miserable captivity wherein we are, as Paul sheweth us example. He confesseth himself to be unhappy, because he dwelleth in his body as a prison. He asketh how he shall be delivered. [Rom. 7.23-25.] On the other side, we know that we ought to desire death the more that we might come near to our God. [2 Cor. 5.] For (as it is said in this place that we have alleged) while we live by faith we are as it were absent from God. Then, where is our felicity & perfect joy? but in this that we cleave to our God in perfection. Forasmuch then, as by death we come near to him, it is a thing to us happy, and which ought to make us joyful. And therefore he saith in the first chapter to the Philippians, that as touching himself, it should be more advantage to him to die than to live, & although his life was profitable to the Church, yet in having no other regard, but to his own person, he was desirous to be drawn away from this place below: mark then what ought to be the affection of the faithful. Now let us come to King Hezekiah. It seemeth that he had lost all manner [of] taste of the goodness of God, that he knew nothing of the resurrection, that he was ignorant that he should be restored by means of the redeemer, he conceived nothing but the wrath & curse of God: where is his faith? Where is his obedience? Where is this consolation of the Holy Ghost, & this joy inestimable, which we ought to receive when God certifieth us of the love which he beareth us? Indeed if he had had this persuasion deeply rooted in him, that he was once of the children of God: doth not the adoption bring the inheritance? To what end hath God chosen us for his children, but that we should be partakers of the heavenly life whereunto he guideth us: but we see none of all this in Hezekiah. {8} It seemeth then that he was altogether distraught from sense and reason, that he hath forgotten God: that all the good doctrine that ever he heard before is utterly blotted out, and that he thinketh no more of it. These things at the first shew, seem very strange. True it is that at that time he had no such revelation of the heavenly life, as we have at this day by the Gospel. But yet Hezekiah and all the other holy kings and Prophets, and all the rest of the faithful did well conceive that God had not chosen them in vain. For though this sentence of our Lord Jesus Christ [Matt. 22.31,32.] was not pronounced, yet was engraved in the hearts of all the faithful that God is not the God of the dead. All they then that are comprised in the number of his people have been assured to have an abiding life, and that shall endure forever. And on the other side it is said that God calleth himself the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob long after their death. It must needs be then that they then lived. So therefore the faithful have this assurance that God did not nourish them in this world as brute beasts, but he gave them a certain taste of his goodness, until such time as they might have full enjoying thereof after their death. Even Balaam himself [Num. 23,] which never knew anything of the law, yet he failed not to say: I wish my soul to die the death of the righteous, and my end to be such as theirs shall be. He desireth to join himself with the race of Abraham, and yet he was a wicked & refused [reprobate] man. And who maketh him to speak thus? even this, that he is there as upon the rack, & God wringeth {9} out of him this confession. Now if Balaam which was possessed of the Devil, and gave out his tongue to hire, to curse the people of God, hath been constrained to say thus, what shall we think of them that had truly profited in the law of God? But howsoever it be, true it is that the old fathers had not so clear and manifest knowledge of the heavenly life as we have at this day in the Gospel, and indeed the same was reserved until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And with good reason: for we have a good gage of our life in our saviour Jesus Christ, in that he is risen again, and that it was not for himself alone but for all his body. This is the full assurance that God hath given in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we pass through this world to come to the life that lasteth ever. The ancient fathers came not to such degree, they were not so advanced. But howsoever it were it is so that the taste which they had of the heavenly life so sufficed them, that they rendered themselves peaceably to God. And we read not that they were greatly tormented in their death, as when Abraham departed, he made not lamentations, wailing and complaints, as the King Hezekiah did: but he was filled and satisfied with life, saith the Scripture. In like manner was it of Isaac and Jacob, who rendering the last groan saith: I will put my trust in thy salvation, my God. [Gen. chapters 25, 35, 49.] Though Jesus Christ had not yet appeared unto the world, yet Jacob had in himself a steadfast and undoubted hope, and made himself as sure of his salvation, as if he held it in his hand. {10} So then we see that the holy fathers were not in doubt or such mistrust, that they did not always aspire unto the heavenly life, but that it was their chief desire to attain thereunto.

Now let us return to the king Hezekiah. We must conclude that he had some special reason in himself, why he so complained of death, which we shall better see in the person of David. David [Psalm 6; Psalm 30,] is sometimes in such anguishes that he crieth, alas my God, who is he that shall acknowledge thee in death? And when I shall be a poor rotten carrion, what profit shalt thou have? when thou shalt have brought me into ashes, what is it that thou shalt have gained? He made there his complaints, nevertheless in the end he died peaceably. [1 Kings 2; 1 Chron. 29.] For no man saw that he was so passioned in his departing, but that he rendered himself mildly into the hands of God. How came it then to pass that he wrote thus? It is because he conceived the wrath of God, whether it were in sickness, or in any other affliction, and that is asmuch as if the very hells were presently set before him. The affliction then that he conceived, was not of simple death, but that God gave him some sign that he punished him because of his sins. Now seeing that we see this same disputation in the person of David, it shall be easy for us to conclude touching the King Hezekiah that he was also grievously vexed in his death, but that was not for that he was loath to depart out of this world, neither that he was tormented as the poor Infidels which aspire not to a better life, which are also as it were droned in their delights, and bring themselves on sleep in such sort that they set nothing by the {11} heavenly life. We see that Hezekiah was not so stricken down, and yet he thought that God was against him, as we shall see yet more largely. And in deed it was not without cause that the Prophet Isaiah was sent unto him, for he was as a Herald of arms, to make him defiance, and to declare unto him: Behold, God is thine enemy: thou must sustain his extreme rigour, for thou hast offended him. When Hezekiah heard that, he had no regard to the simple death, by the which he must of necessity pass, but he hath another end of consideration, that he should be cut off from the world as an accursed creature, as one unworthy whom the earth should bear. And when God stroke him, that gave a token to him that the land should be made desolate, for he knew what should be the estate of the people: he saw that all should be destroyed after his death, if God did not remedy it by miracles. And he thought thus: My death shall not be only to send me into the throat of hell, but it shall be to bring a general overflowing over all, so that in all the land there shall be nothing but desolation. Shall the service of God then be thrown down, and shall all this be cast upon my neck because I have offended my God? Alas, and what shall this be? Let us not now think it strange if Hezekiah speak thus as we hear, but let us hold this always that it is not the simple death which did frighten him so. What then? the wrath of God, when he beheld his sins, and that God took away from him all savor of his goodness, & turned his back unto him as if he had seen him armed against him, & lifted up his arm, as if he would bring him to nought. {12}

When Hezekiah saw that, he was so confounded that his mouth was stopped, & not without cause.

Now this is right worthy to be noted, for there are many blockish persons (and the most part) which fear death, but it is not because they feel the curse of God appear to them. It is true as we have said before, that God leaveth always this point in the conscience of man, but they have not all alike consideration thereof. Wherefore is it then that death is dreadful unto them? because every one will say, I desire to be. Truly when they speak in this manner it is as much as if they said, I would be a calf, or an ass, or a dog, for the being of brute beasts is in this world, & the being of men, where is it, but in this that they are joined to their God? But now we are as it were in prison, for instead that this world should have been unto us as an earthly paradise (if we had continued in the obedience of God) now we are as in a strange country, wherein we be as locked up and banished. It is true that yet we see many times some, yea many tracks of the goodness of God, but howsoever it be, yet we do but languish here. But there are but few that know this. So much the more then ought we to note well this doctrine, which I have here before touched, that is to wit, that both in death, and in all other afflictions we are more encumbered and troubled with the wrath of God than with the evil that we can feel. If one be afflicted with poverty, so that he hath hunger and thirst, another be stricken with sickness and suffer great torments, {13} another be persecuted of men so as he hath no time of rest, and more if in the end death come before our eyes, we ought to know that there is nothing so much to be feared as the wrath and vengeance of God. But men do clean contrary. And this mark, why I have said that we must note this doctrine the better: because a man may see that the poor sick persons, and they that are afflicted, in what sort soever it be, will cry, Alas, one will cry the arms! another will cry the legs! the one here, the other there: but yet they come never to the ground of the evil. And that proceedeth of the leprosy that is in us. For we are so dull-witted that we cannot attain to know the judgment of God. So much the more ought we to learn when we shall be beaten with such rods as I have said to make us look upon the cause whence this evil proceedeth: which is, that God will have us to feel our sins, and that he summoneth us to the end that we should there come as it were before our judge, and that we should not come there with sleights and means of excuse, but with frank and free confession, and that the same be not only made with mouth, or assent by writing, but that we be wounded even to the bottom of the heart, feeling what it is to have done against the will of our God, to have stirred him up against us, & to have made war against his justice. This is it that we have to hold in mind when we see that the King Hezekiah was in such extremity of anguish, because God did punish him for his sins.

Yea and this we ought to mark well, that {14} though before he have protested that he had walked in purity and uprightness of life, and that he had studied all his life long to obey and please God, nevertheless he resteth not his mind upon his virtues, nor his own merits, he entereth not into plea with God, for he seeth well that all that could nothing profit him nor bring him any relief. Therefore he setteth not forth what his life hath been, but he acknowledgeth that rightfully he is afflicted.

So then we learn, when it shall please God to correct with his rods, not to grudge at it, as if he did us wrong, as if he had no regard to our merits, or as if he used greater sharpness with us than we had deserved. Let all such blasphemies be beaten down, and let us confess that he hath just cause to punish us, yea not only to expel us out of the world, but also to throw us down into the gulf of hell. See then how we deserve to be ordered if we look upon all our own life.

Moreover let us not think it strange that God sendeth us afflictions which seem grievous and sharp unto us, seeing we see that Hezekiah hath walked before us to shew us the way. Men when they have had any good affection and desire to serve God, do much marvel if God punish them more than the wicked, and they suppose that they have lost their labour. This tentation is too common, as we see, that even David [Psalm 73] was also tormented with it when he saith: what meaneth this? for I see the despisers of God prosper and be in jollity, and make their triumphs, and in the meantime I do nothing but sup up the {15} drinks of sorrow, from the evening to the morrow I have no rest. It seemeth then that it is time lost to serve God: Behold how at the extremity he is beaten down, if God by his wonderful virtue had not upholden him. And because the like may come unto us, let us make us a buckler of the example that is here set before us of the King Hezekiah: for we have seen here before how he had framed all his life to the law of God: he had a zeal which is not to be found in many people, to purge all his land of all superstitions and idolatries: many alarms were stirred up against him, to make him somewhat to revolt: but that nothing stayed [hindered] him but that he set up the true and pure religion, & in his private life he sought nothing but that God might be glorified in, and through all: and yet look how God cometh to assail him: yea, and that of a strange fashion, for he is as a lion that breaketh his bones: So when we see that Hezekiah, is thus handled, ought not we to learn to bear patiently the corrections that God shall send us. Lo this is it that we have to conceive of this place.

Now to the rest of the passions that Hezekiah endureth, and although he slipped here off the hinges yet still in the midst thereof he declareth the love that he had to God, and that he desired not this present life after the manner of them that are therein become brutish, and which seek for nothing but to eat and drink, and know not for what end they are created, but only to pastime here for a while. But Hezekiah sheweth well that he was guided by another spirit. He saith {16} I have said in the cutting short of my days, I shall go down to the gates of the grave, I shall not see any more the Lord: even the Lord.

He speaketh here of his life, that it shall be cut off in the midst of his course: But yet he sheweth that he desireth not here to live to be at his ease. He was a king, and might have fared well, he might of had great store of delicates, and pleasures in this world, shortly he might have made himself drunk with all sorts of things of delight. He mourneth not for want of all these: but he saith, that he shall no more see the Lord, and he is not contented to have pronounced this word once, but he repeateth it again to express a greater vehemency: The Lord, even the Lord, saith he: By this he sheweth that he desireth not so much his life, as to exercise himself here beneath to know that God was his father, and to confirm himself more and more in that faith.

Let us then mark well whereunto our life is to be directed, that is, that we should perceive that God already in part sheweth himself a Father toward us. I grant it true (as I have already said) that we are absent from him, for our salvation lieth in faith and hope,—it is hidden and we see it not with natural sense. Yet in the meanwhile God faileth not to send down certain beams hither below to light us so, as we be guided to the hope of the life everlasting and perceive that God is not so far estranged from us, but that yet he stretcheth forth his hand hither below to have care of us, and to shew us by {17} experience that he hath us in his safekeeping. For when the sun riseth in the morning, see we not what a fatherly care God hath for us? After when it goeth down at evening, see we not that God hath an eye to our weakness, that we may have rest, and be somewhat relieved? Doth not God then in so hiding the sun in the nighttime, shew himself our father? Further, when we see the earth bring forth her fruits for our nourishment: when se see the rains and all the changes, and alterations that are in nature: in all this perceive we not that God hath his hand stretched out to draw us always unto him, and how he already sheweth himself a liberal father unto us, and that we enjoy the temporal benefits which he doth for us, to the end that by this mean we may be drawn up higher, that is to say, to know that he hath adopted and made us his children, that we may come to the fullness of joy and of all felicity, when we shall be fully joined with him? Behold now whereunto we ought to apply all our life, if we will not that the same be accursed, and that as many years, months, days, hours, and minutes as we have lived here below, all the same be put together in account, forever to increase, and enflame the vengeance of God upon us. And therefore let us know that we ought here to study upon the works of God. For even therefore also are we set in this world, and therefore in the 5th chapter, when the Prophet minded to rebuke the Jews of a certain vile brutishness, They have not (saith he) beholden the works of God. He speaketh of their drunkenness, of their gluttony, and of their dissolute lives, {18} but the lump that maketh up the heap of evil is this, that they have not beholden the works of God. So now the good King Hezekiah sheweth us, that it were better for us all to have died before we had been born, and that the earth should have gaped when we came out of our mother’s womb, to swallow us, than to live here below, if it were not for this, that we do here already see our God: not that we have a perfect sight. But first he sheweth himself unto us by his word, which is the true looking glass. And next, we have above and beneath so many signs of his presence, and of the fatherly care which he hath for us, that if we be not too much dull-witted, and altogether unfurnished of understanding and reason, we must needs see him. For all the world is as a lively image, wherein God setteth forth unto us his virtue and highness.

Moreover, this that we are governed under his hand, is a more familiar witness of his justice, of his grace and of his mercy. Let us then learn to live to this end, to practice ourselves to worship God as him that hath created and fashioned us. Next, that we bear to him honor and reverence as to our father, and that in the tastings of good things (which he now dealeth among us) We may be confirmed in the faith of the Heavenly life. And further, forasmuch as he vouchsafeth to extend his providence even hither below, for this intent to govern us in this transitory and frail life, that we doubt not, when we shall come unto him, that then we shall behold face to face that, which we now see darkly and in {19} a small portion.

And so the King Hezekiah remitteth all to God, as if he should say: Alas it is true that I am here, as to behold clearly the graces of God. But now I see that all this is as it were plucked from me: For it seemeth that God is minded to spoil me of all that he hath given me before: and now there resteth no more for me but to despair, forasmuch as he hath given over and forsaken me. He hath sent his prophet with this message, that I am undone. Alas, and when I perceive no more sign of the goodness of my God, neither that he extendeth this strength to comfort me in my afflictions: no not when I am in the anguishes of death: Lo is not this a woeful thing that our Lord hath forsaken me there, and that I am cut off from him? Now of this we have to gather, that be it in life, be it in death, this grace only should always suffice us: that is to say, that God giveth us the feeling of his goodness. And when he sheweth us that he is favourable unto us, let us go on boldly, and if we languish in this life, let us leave it patiently. True it is that we may well groan & sigh that we are captives, in this prison of sin: & beside that, we may also bewail seeing these afflictions that God doth send them upon us. And yet ought we not to cease always to bless the name of God, and to rejoice in the midst of all our sorrows. When we shall feel that he will be our father, and that he will know us for his children, in death we shall behold everlasting life, which shall make us forget all lamentations, so as we shall no more say: Alas what shall I do? {20}

How shall I behave myself? Whither shall I go? We shall cut off all these things, and we shall say no more: Shall I drink no more? Shall I eat no more? For such is the manner of brute beasts. But now I see that my God draweth near unto me, I go now to throw myself down before him, I go to yield myself into his hands, and to join myself with him, as with mine own father. When (I say) we shall be thus disposed, we may say with David [Psalm 31,] Lord I commend my spirit unto thee. David said this during his life, but our Lord Jesus Christ [Luke 23,] sheweth us that we must so say when God draweth us out of this world. And last of all, when we think upon all the benefits of God, let us learn to glorify him, as these be things inseparable. According then as God maketh us partakers of his graces & that already in part he sheweth us that all our felicity is to be of the company of his children, so ought every one of us to endeavour to honor him as our father. This was the cause why Jonas [chapter 2,] being drawn out of the whales throat saith: I shall bless my God. He saith not, I shall live to eat and drink: But I shall come to the temple the sanctuary of my God, & there I will give him praise for this redemption, that is to wit, for that he hath plucked me back from the death. Behold now that it is that we have to do.

Now concerning that which Hezekiah speaketh of the cutting short of his days, he speaketh as having respect to the natural course of man’s life whereof is made mention in the song of Moses [Psalm 90,] for he began to reign at the age of 25 years. In the 13th year of his reign, Jerusalem {21} was besieged, and then he fell into this sickness, as we see. Thus was he 39 years old. Now he saith that his life is cut short, because he is not come to old age. True it is that Moses speaketh of the frailty of men, and saith: What are men? After that God hath let them walk here their days, then they are gone again. And indeed when man cometh to 60 years, he is all decayed, and if ye add 10 years more, there is nothing but loathsomeness and weariness, he is nothing but a burden unprofitable, and life itself is cumbersome unto him. He sheweth then that this life being short and frail, ought not to hold us. But howsoever it were, this King Hezekiah was as in the flower of his age, he was not yet come to the age of 40 years. And in this respect he saith that God hath cut short his days, not that we have any time determined [promised or guaranteed to us.] For do not children die sometimes before they come into this world, and so soon as they be come, doth not death already besiege them? But he was not yet come to that old age, which is according to the ordinary course of man’s life. Hezekiah then beholdeth this: and above all things hath his eyes fastened upon this message of the Prophet Isaiah, that is, that God hath punished him because of his sins. And it is as much as if he should say talking to himself, I see well that God will not leave thee in this world, for the assault is very violent. And whereof cometh that, but of thy offences and sins: as we shall see that he addeth afterward. It is true that he attributeth all unto God as unto his judge, but he took the fault upon his own person, confessing himself only to be culpable. Lo {22} how he understandeth that his days were cut short.

When he saith, that he shall come to the gates of the grave, that he shall see no more the living:

That was because he should be conversant no more among men, to exercise himself in the service of God. But now this is not without cause that in it also he conceived the wrath of God. Although he were subject to dwell as it were confusedly mingled among many rascals, as indeed there were many Hypocrites in Judah, and many wicked and dissolute persons, mockers of God, and of his law. And among the Heathen there was nothing else but ungodliness, and rebellion. Now when Hezekiah saw that, I know now (saith he) that I am unworthy to dwell upon the earth, because these tarry still in the world, and God hath cut me off, yea with a strong hand, as if he would come armed to make open war against me as my enemy.

Then when Hezekiah had such imaginations, it is not to be marveled though he made such complaints. But howsoever it were, all cometh to this end that God did persecute him. This same was to him a burden so heavy that he as it were faltered under it. So much the better ought we to note this doctrine, that if God at any time shall afflict us, more hardly than we would that he should, we should not cease for all that here to acknowledge that he loveth us, and that this persuasion which we shall have of {23} his goodness should make us to overcome all temptations which otherwise might overthrow us.

Furthermore, if he reproves us, and causes us to feel our sins: that we run unto him, and take the condemnation upon us: For we shall gain nothing by all our starting-holes: if we will plead, of necessity the case must pass with him [in his favour]. Then when we see that God is just in punishing us for our sins, let us come with head bowed down, that we may be relieved by his mercy: and let us have no other confidence, nor trust of salvation, but in this that it pleaseth him in the name of our saviour Jesus Christ, to receive us to mercy, forasmuch as in us there is nothing but cursedness.
 

     Nowe let  vs  throwe  oure  selues  downe  be-
fore the maiestie of our good God, in the acknow-
ledgynge of oure  synnes,  besechynge  hym,  that
more and more, he wyll make  vs  to  feele  them,
and that he wyll in suche sorte cleanse vs from all
oure fylthynesse, that we  beynge  perfectly  awa-
ked from oure dull drowsinesse,  maye  grone and
sobbe:  not onelye for the miseryes  that we see in
the world throughe our synnes:  but  also bycause
we cease not so muche as in vs  lyeth,  more  and
more to augement the same.

  And  yet  alwaye  lette  vs  runne  to  oure  God,
and although  it  semeth  that  he  persecuteth  vs,
and that hys hande be  verye  roughe  and  dread-
full vnto vs, yet let vs not cease to  approche  vn-
to hym, and magnifie hys goodnesse:  beynge  as-
sured that it shall very  well  surmount  farre,  and
exceade all oure faultes and offences.

Ande though we fele no rigour in him, yet neuer-
theles  let  vs  acknowledge that it is much better
for vs to draw home to his house, and vnder his
safegarde, than to runne away from hym
as wretched despering persons, & let
vs beseche him to geue, not on-
ly vnto us, this grace, but
also to all peoples.
&c.



THE SECONDE
sermon.

My lyfe is withdrawen, it is chaunged as a shepeherds lodge. I haue cut of my dayes as a weauer, he hathe oppressed me with sicknes. From mornyng vntill night thou shalt consume me. I made rekenyng to go vntill morning, but he hath brused my bones as a Lion. Thou shalt destroy me from morning to night, and shalt make an ende of me. I chattered like a Crane, and swallow, & mourned like a Doue, my eyes wer lift vp on high, and they failed me. Trouble oppresseth me, Lord refresch me. What shall I say, it is he that hath spoken it, and it is he also who hath done it.
Hezekiah continuing the matter which yesterday was entreated of, sayeth here that his life was changed as a shepherd’s lodge. By this similitude he sheweth that there is no rest in the life of man, which he had proved in himself, forasmuch as he was as it were at rest, & in one moment God took him out of this world. When we make a comparison of our bodies with our houses where we are lodged, it is likely that the body of man which is more than the house, should have some rest: For what is the house, but a place for the body, {26} to resort unto? For they are builded for the use of men. He then which dwelleth in any building, ought to be preferred to the house, as the body to the gown, and other garments. [Matth. 6.] But Hezekiah saith here, that he dwelt in this world as a shepherd: who hath his little cottage which he draweth and carrieth hither and thither. He speaketh after the custom of that country, because men there keep their folds, and a shepherd will carry his lodging as easily as a man would carry any light thing: he sheweth them in sum, that his life was none other thing than a wandering, and that God changed him by and by. He speaketh after the opinion which he had conceived: for he was as it were upon the brink of the pit. And indeed it was necessary, that he should dispose himself to die seeing God had sent him such a message as is said. To be short, he speaketh as if the thing were already come. Now afterward he cometh to the cause of his sickness, and confesseth that he is culpable. He saith that he himself had cut off his days: even as a weaver having a piece of cloth upon his Loom should cut it all off. I may not then (saith Hezekiah) accuse any person: for this evil ought to be imputed to me only: for I have provoked the wrath of God, and have deprived myself of his blessing, therefore must I now blame myself of all this.

Now though he do speak here but of one man alone, yet we have thereby a good admonition of the shortness of our own life also. Truth it is, that it is a thing well enough {27} known unto us, and yet we do very seldom think of it. For although we do confess this present life to be nothing else but a shadow: yet are we so wrapped therein that no man thinketh upon any other thing, but to make provision for a hundred years. And to be short, it seemeth that we should never depart from this world, we are so occupied on things of the world. So much the more then ought we to call that to mind which the scripture sheweth us of the frailty of our life, as Paul also saith that now we are lodged in a cabin [2 Corin. 5.]: the body of a man is not a house worthy to be called a goodly dwelling, or building: for in it is nothing but transitory, wherefore let us mourn waiting till we may be fully restored, and let us not be tied so to this world but that always we may be going forward. For the unfaithful how soever it be, they shall come to their end: but by no means come they near unto God, but rather they are settled in this world, and in the stead of going forward, they do drown themselves more deeply in it. Let us then learn to go forward, that is to say, let us learn to be so disposed to follow God when he calleth us, that death may never come to us before his time.

Touching this that Hezekiah saith, that he was cause of his own evil, let us also practice well this doctrine. So oft, and whensoever it shall please God to afflict us, we see that we are given to murmurings: and although it be so that we be found guilty of our {28} faults, yet cease we not to vex ourselves, as if God passed measure. So then, that we may confess with a true humility that God doth punish us justly in all the afflictions which he sendeth us, let us say after the manner of Hezekiah: it is I that am cause of this evil.

It is true that by and by he attributeth that to God: but they both agree very well, to wit, that man be author of all the miseries that he endureth, and that God nevertheless worketh as a Judge. For when an evil doer shall be punished, he ought not to complain of his Judge: but rather for as much as he seeth himself to have offended the laws he should condemn himself, and also he should know that God by the authority of justice brought him to that just punishment, even so must we do: that is to say, that first we acknowledge that if God do afflict us, it is not because he taketh pleasure in tormenting us: but that he must reward us as we have deserved, though yet he hath not altogether regard of our offences: For what a thing should that be? we should be an hundred thousand times overwhelmed if he would use rigour toward us: but according to that, which he knoweth to be good for us, he chasteneth us, although we have our mouth always closed, and that no murmuring escape thereout.

And now to the rest, when we shall know that we have provoked his anger, let us understand that we may not go further than our selves, to say, who is the cause of this? but let us simply accuse ourselves. Lo now in sum what we have to learn of this matter. Now it followeth,

From the morning to the night, thou shalt {29} bring me to naught.

In which words Hezekiah sheweth how horrible the displeasure of God is, for he meaneth that God need not devise this policy, or that, when he would be revenged on men: but if he speak the word, the thing shall forthwith be done. To be short he sheweth here what the power of God is, on the one side, and what the frailty of man is on the other side. And that is to pull out of us all the foolish imaginations that we conceive, in making ourselves believe that we may escape his hands. And we see how men draw back always: and although God handle them straightly, they think they may find some way how to flee from him. To be short, we thrust out time with our shoulders (as the proverb is) and promise ourselves, leisure enough, and though the cord be straight, yet we conceive still some vain hope. And what is the cause thereof? that we have not respect to our frailty: for there is no minute of time, when death threateneth us not: And if we are now standing upright, at the turning of a hand, behold we are fallen. On the other side we are ignorant of the infinite power of God: For if he do but once lay his hand upon us, he need not do it the second time, it shall suffice that he only blow on us, and lo, we shall be brought to nothing. It is not without a cause that Hezekiah saith here, that from morning till night, he shall be brought to naught.

For we hear also [Psalm 104] that we are not sustained but in this that God giveth us strength: but if he withdraw his spirit, it must needs come to pass that we being troubled, must immediately fail. {30} But if he shew himself to be against us, and that he persecuteth us, then must we be yet more stricken down.

Following then the admonition of Hezekiah, let us after consider how feeble we are, and let us acknowledge what we be of ourselves: To wit, that every minute God sustaineth us: but that death nevertheless besiegeth us, and that it need not make any great assault to overthrow us: for one blast only were enough. And lo, straightway we should be withered like grass: as we shall see in the fortieth chapter of Isaiah.

Moreover, let us acknowledge what the wrath of God is when it is armed against us. For God is not like unto creatures, so that he should need to arm himself, and to make great preparation, for so soon as he speaketh the word, we shall forthwith be destroyed by his only word. Seeing it is so then, let us learn to walk in carefulness, committing our lives into his hands, and let us know that we are nothing at all, but insomuch as we have our being in him: And so much rest as it pleased him to give us, let us attribute it wholly to his grace, and so when he prolongeth our life: for we should be as men without strength, if he would shew but one only drop of his power against us.

Note then what we have to mark upon this place, where he saith: From morning until night.

Now he addeth that he chattered as a Crane or as a swallow, and that he mourned like a Dove. {31}

Wherein he meaneth that anguish held him in locked in such sort, that he had not so much as a word free to express his passions. If a man cry and lament, and make his complaints, and declare his evil, it is then to be said that he is sore troubled: but when a man is so stricken down that he cannot declare what he aileth, when he stammereth so in himself, that he cannot draw forth one only word to declare how vehement his passion is: when he now sigheth, now bringeth forth half a word, and the rest kept in, as if one had his throat locked up: this is a great extremity. Hezekiah then saith that he was so. Now there is no doubt, but that he had his respect unto God chiefly: As if he should say, that men perceived well enough the heaviness that he was in: But when that he would frame any request unto God, he was as it were dumb, & that on the one side the sickness troubled him, and yet he could not plainly express what he ailed: so that he was in two extremities. The one, that he was in such sort locked up within, that with great pain could he fetch out any complaint. The other, that he was oppressed with so vehement passions, that he wist nowhere to begin to make his Prayer. But this may be thought very strange, that Hezekiah who before had in himself a great strength, should now be so faint-hearted, yea, as it were brought to naught: but that was because he had a spiritual conflict, feeling his sins, and knowing that God was his judge: for (as we touched yesterday) this trouble surmounteth all the other. {32}

It is very likely that Hezekiah had an extreme pain, wherewith he was throughly stricken down: And also it may be conjectured that it was some burning pestilence. Behold then that his pain was great in itself: but that was nothing in comparison of the conceiving of God’s wrath, when he beheld his sins, and knew God to be armed against him as his adversary, and that it was he that persecuted him. This was it that in such sort frightened him: And indeed, when a man is brought to that point, all his courage and jollity must of necessity fail: for what is the constancy of a man to stand against the wrath of God? It must needs be more than a frenzy and mad rage, when a man will think to do so. It is true that a man may be constant to endure afflictions when God shall send them: but how? so far forth as he shall be strengthened of God. Again if men trouble or molest one, he will consider that he hath to do with creatures: if he suffer any trouble, well, he biteth on the bridle: but when God summoneth us to appear, and maketh us to feel that we are guilty before him, and that presently we must render and account, that our sins threaten us, and that in the meantime we perceive eternal death to abide us: there (as I have said) can we not think that we have any strength to make our party good, except we were more than in a mad rage. Let us not then think strange if Hezekiah be so stricken down, for he hath not to do with resisting sorrow, neither with withstanding injuries done unto him on men’s behalf: neither bowing down his shoulders to endure any affliction, but he hath to fight against God. {33}

And how could he perform that? Then must he needs be as a water that is poured out and spilt. See now what is the cause that he could frame no manner of complaint to express his grief, and yet could he never keep silence. See also why David [Psalm 32,] said that sometimes he held his peace, and by and by after he set on crying and roaring out, & yet felt no release. We see that the passions of David were like to these of the good king Hezekiah: as indeed he also addeth that his sins troubled him, and that he was afraid of the wrath of God, he kept not then any certain rule or measure, but sometime he cast out sighs, he lift up himself, and anon after he was so cast down that he could not recover his breath, and yet still the pain continued. And in another place [Psalm 39,] he saith that he held his peace as if he had been bridled, & had concluded in himself to utter not one word more: no (saith he) I will be as a dumb creature, I will not speak, I will not bring forth one syllable: yet notwithstanding (saith he) I felt the grief increase, and kindle more and more, even as a fire that is long kept very close, if it be opened then the strength increaseth & sheweth greater force, and breaketh out in a flame, so David protesteth that in his anguish, when he had determined to keep silence and to say never a word, even then was he deceived, and shewed all that was hidden in his heart, although it were not by words well ordered and placed. And to be short, they that know indeed what the wrath of God is, will speak and cry, and yet they know not on which side to begin: and again when they hold their peace they wot [know] not why they do it: {34} but they are always in anguish. And we see a notable example of all these things in the good king Hezekiah.

It is true that God doth not examine all men alike with such extremity: for if he exercise us it shall be according to our weakness: he seeth that we shall not be able to endure such turmoils and assaults. He spareth us then: but when it shall please him to prove us in such sort as we read here in the example of king Hezekiah: We must then be armed with this doctrine. This it is then that we have to bear away. Now to the rest: let us learn what is all the constancy of men. They may well shew some token of valiantness when God doth not shew forth his force against them, but so soon as he shall call us to account, then needs must all that lustiness which we think that we have within us, droop and vanish away. This is it that we must practice for our instruction to learn true humility, for we know that men do commonly rest in their own presumption and trust in themselves. And what is the cause of that? but for that every man hath an eye to his fellow, and therefore think we ourselves to be strongly furnished. But we ought to lift up our wit to God, for there should we find, that so soon as he setteth upon us we become as nothing. Let us then learn to know what it is to plunge ourselves down to the bottom in one minute, so soon as God maketh us to feel his wrath: Let us also learn that until we be spoiled of all confidence in ourselves, we cannot be set in the array of right humility. For so long as men have any opinion of themselves, & think that they can do this or that, it is certain that they rob God of that which belongeth unto him, & so when they lift up themselves without stay to rest upon, it is to break their own necks. This it is then we have to hold in memory, {35} that all the imagination of men, when they trust in their own strengths, is nothing but a dream, because they look not upon God, & do not there stay themselves that they might be spoiled of all vain overweening of themselves. Now when we here speak of such a chattering, & that Hezekiah confesseth that he could not bring forth one word, but that he stammered, not wotting [knowing] what to say: let us know that when our Lord shall press us in such sort that we are not able to frame one request, or to have one formal prayer, the gate yet shall not be locked against us, but that we may have access unto him: Which I speak because this tentation is very dangerous. It is true that if we perceive not in ourselves a zeal to pray unto God, & also a disposition to weigh deeply the promises which he giveth us, to take boldness to approach unto him, that ought to displease us, & we ought to think that we are far from him on our behalf: but yet we must overcome this tentation. Then when a man shall feel himself in such trouble that he cannot bring forth one word to pray to God, that he shall be there thrown down & that he shall not know at what end to begin, yet must he pray how soever it be, & in what sort: at the least, let us chatter, that is to say, let us cast forth groans, & sighs, which may shew some excessive passion, as if we were even there upon the rack. And God heareth even those groanings: as also we see that Paul saith, that the Holy Ghost moveth us to unspeakable groans, such as cannot be expressed. Therefore if one would make an art of Rhetoric of the prayers of the faithful, it is a great abuse: for our Lord humbleth us to this end, that we should not imagine to obtain any thing at his hands by any fair tale: he had rather that we were so confused, that we had not only one word {36} aright in our prayers, but that now we should cast out puffings, and blowings, and anon that we should abide still with silence: alas my God, alas what shall I do? and when we shall mourn so, that we should be so wrapped in, and tangled, that there should neither be beginning nor ending. Then when we shall be brought to that point, our Lord knoweth this kind of language, although we understand it not, and although our perplexities hinder us, that we cannot bring forth one perfect sentence, so that men also understand not what we would say: yet God (as we have said before) will hear us well enough. See then what we have to learn at this time: that if troubles oppress us, so that Satan by means thereof go about to exclude us that we should not pray to God, but that we should be as it were afraid of him, yet let us not cease to present unto God these groanings, although they be confused. Now Hezekiah after saith:

That he made reckoning until evening, & that God brake all his bones, as if he were in the throat, and between the claws of a Lion.

In saying that he made reckoning until night, he meaneth that he cast his account, well then I will see what will happen between this and night: but (saith he) the evil increased: for I knew not yet sufficiently the terrible & dreadful might of God, when he setteth himself against a poor creature. Now then we have yet to learn, that by the word of God, we have been taught what is his force, and that we have also felt it by experience, although we conceive thereof but a portion only. For God shall exalt himself in such sort, as we shall perceive that all that we thought of him {37} before was but a small shadow. So then let us learn to consider what is the power of God, & thereunto to apply all our wit & studies, & to be desirously minded to walk in his fear, & to dread his majesty, knowing that he doth let us feel but a small taste of his strength. For if he would lay hard to our charge. we should find that which we before thought was as afar off, & as it were in a dream. This was it that the good King Hezekiah meant to express, that we should learn by his example not to reckon without our host, but that we should know that marvelous are the judgments of God, & the corrections which he sendeth to punish the sins of men, and that then we should think that we have not yet comprehended all, for our capacity is too slender. But that we are guided unto it afar off, that is to say, that if so be, that when God doth chastise and correct us, we be forthwith taken with fear, & though we be dull-witted, yet he maketh us to feel what and how mighty is his majesty, we may imagine that it is a hundred thousand times more than our spirits can conceive, and that thereby we may be always so much the more stirred up to fear him.

Now as to the similitude of the Lion, it seemeth that Hezekiah doth here a wrong to God, for this is not to speak of him with such reverence as he deserveth to compare him to a cruel beast, that devoureth, bruiseth, destroyeth, teareth, & breaketh all. And we know that the scripture preacheth unto us of God, clean contrary thereunto, that is to say [Psalm 103], that he is kind, pitiful, patient, full of mercy, full of equity & mildness: briefly that he beareth such love to men, that he desireth nothing but to handle them daintily as his own children. Seeing then it is so that {38} God declareth himself to be such a one, it seemeth that Hezekiah speaketh blasphemy in comparing him to a lion: But the good king meant not here to protest against God: but only he hath declared his passions, & he did it not to preach his own praises, as we have already seen, but he had rather to receive this shame, even to the end of the world, that men might know what his frailty was, & that we should have such instruction thereby as might profit us. And thus Hezekiah hath not spared himself, but hath set himself out unto us for an example that we might see how he was taken with fear & thereby learn ourselves to fear God, & also to arm us with his promises when we shall come in such troubles, to the end that we may continue to call upon him: & though we fail in all this, & become altogether confused, yet let us still hold this point to offer ourselves to God, to send forth unto him our sighs & groanings. And this is it that we have hereby to learn. Now it is not without cause that Hezekiah compareth God to a lion, for (as we have seen before) all the pains that we shall feel in our bodies, & all the griefs that we may conceive are nothing in comparison of this conceiving of the wrath of God, & this is the cause that we say that the spiritual battles are much more hard than all other tentations that we can have. We call spiritual battles, when God compelleth us to cast an eye unto our sins, & on the other side so awaketh us that he maketh us have in mind what his wrath is, & to conceive that he is our judge, & that we be summoned to appear before him, to render account. This is a battle which we call spiritual, which is much more heavy, & much more terrible than all the sorrows, anguishes, fears, torments, doubts, & perplexities that we may have as in the world. Now when we shall be come thus far, we may not marvel if God {39} be unto us as a lion, as to that we feel of him, for this word is not here spoken as touching the nature of God. And when he hath thus tormented the King Hezekiah, it is not for that he hath forgotten his goodness & mercy, which on the other side he sheweth unto him. But it was needful that Hezekiah should first know himself to be in the hands of God, as between the paws, & in the throat of a lion, & so must it be that we come to the same point as I have already said, for otherwise God cannot win us. There is such an arrogancy in us that we always think ourselves to be strong & mighty, & that we can never be beaten down but with a great thunder and lightening. And forasmuch as we cannot magnify the power of God as it ought to be, we talk of it, & we think somewhat of it, but we do not give unto it an infinite greatness so as we be ravished when we think of it, & so as it occupy all our senses in such sort as it ought. It behooveth therefore that our Lord do (as a man would say) transfigure himself, that is to say, make himself terrible more than all the lions in the world, & that he declare himself unto us with such a power that we be utterly afraid withal, even as if we espied a hundred deaths. For the wrath of God is not only to make us die: but we see the gulfs of hell open when God sheweth himself as our judge. It is therefore no marvel if we be then so astonished, as if a lion should tear us in pieces between his paws, & break our bones with his teeth, & if we conceive such horror when God is against us: from hence then proceed all these complaints that we see in the Psalms. They that are not exercised in these battles & perplexities, think that David meant to make his trouble greater than it was, or they think it likely that he was very delicate: but when we come to the proof, we feel that there is not one word too much, {40} for the storms that the faithful feel when God searcheth them earnestly and to the quick, surmount all that may be expressed with mouth. Let us not think then that this similitude that is here put forth by the king Hezekiah is superfluous, for we shall find the majesty of God a great deal more dreadful than all the words here contained can express, when it shall please him to call us to account, and make us feel that he is a judge: for if the mountains tremble before him and melt away, how may we that are nothing stand before him? So then let us note well when sometime God taketh from us the taste of his goodness, & we shall think ourselves to be cut off from his kingdom, and perceive nothing but our sins which are as great heaps of wood to kindle the fire of his wrath, and when we consider only that forasmuch as he is almighty, it must needs be that he strike us with lightening & overwhelm us. When we feel these things we must needs be altogether oppressed until he relieve us. And indeed in one minute of time we shall be plunged even to the depth of hell, were it not that he held us fast by the hand, and that we were after a secret manner stayed by him, although we see not how. Lo this is a doctrine which ought to serve us on the one side to humble us that we may forget all the strength which men think to have in themselves, and rest ourselves upon the majesty of God, and that we be altogether thrown down under that majesty, and yet nevertheless that we may know the end and necessity that we have of him to uphold us, even after an incomprehensible manner. And when we {41} shall think that he hath altogether forsaken and forgotten us, let us be assured that yet he will hold us by the hand,—we shall not perceive it, but yet he will do it,—and we can never get out of such a maze unless by his infinite mercy he draw us out: as it is certain that Hezekiah had never been relieved, if God by his Holy Spirit had not sustained him within, and enlightened him while he was in these great troubles. Now after he hath so said, he added, Lord, the pain vexeth me sore, comfort thou me. But what shall I say? It is he that hath done it even as he hath said it. Here Hezekiah confesseth in sum that (as touching himself) he is vanquished, and that there is no remedy without God help, and set himself as pledge. The word that he useth signifieth some time to answer for, which men term to be surety, it may be thus expressed: Lord be thou my surety in this extremity, for I can no more. Thou seest that there is no more power in me, then must thou answer as surety for me in my place. And this word also is often among the complaints of Job. But it signifieth also to refresh, and all come to one point, to wit, as we have touched before, that Hezekiah knew that he had no strength and that he must needs perish as touching himself: as if a man should declare that he hath nothing to satisfy his creditor that which he oweth, he cometh then to God for refuge. Now have we here yet another good admonition which is that we cannot call upon God as we ought except we be led to this reason to make ourselves as nothing. For while men keep I wot [know] not what remnant, it is sure that they {42} shall never call upon God but by halves. We must then be so brought in subjection that being altogether stripped naked of ourselves, our folly may constrain us to seek in God that which wanteth [lacks] in our selves. Lo this is one thing to be noted: Yet in the meantime we are advertised not to be discouraged when God shall so have spoiled us that we shall be void of all strength. For we may yet move our matter unto him following the steps of Hezekiah. Lord, I can no more, so I beseech thee that thou wilt ease me. Lo this it is that we have to learn of this place. But it is true that we are not always pressed as Hezekiah was, but howsoever it be, though the constraint be not so violent, yet ought we to be spoiled and void of all false persuasion of our own strength that God may be glorified as he is worthy. And in the meantime as I have said, let us follow with our prayers and requests unto God, though we be so vanquished that we have not one whit of strength in us, let us nevertheless have our recourse to our God, & he shall give us that which we want, forasmuch as in him lieth all the fullness of good things.

Now he further addeth, and what shall I say? for he that hath spoken hath also done it. Here some think that Hezekiah would now rejoice seeing the deliverance which God had sent him that he breaketh all his complaints which he used, and that now he hath his mouth open to confess the goodness of God. But the natural meaning of the text beareth it not. Rather Hezekiah breaketh his matter to shew the anguish which suffered him not to continue as {43} he would gladly have done. And we see many such examples in all the Psalms where there is some declaration of the chastisements which God sent either to David or to his other servants. Then when God hath so sharply afflicted his people, there have been such like requests as now and then the faithful interlace always. I wot not how, as if they were utterly cast away. So doth Hezekiah now. And there is an example very like in the nine and thirtieth Psalm, which we have already alledged. For there David also acknowledgeth that he had to do with God. It was then much to know that men persecuted him, but when he saw the hand of God to be against him, I may not (said he) come to plead here, nor to pursue actions, there is nothing better for me than utterly to keep silence and take the condemnation upon me. And in Job we see many such like complaints. Now let us come to the meaning of Hezekiah. What shall I say? it is he which hath said and he also hath done it. He lamented not as they which found no hope, for such people will cry alas, but all their sighs vanish away on the air. Contrariwise Hezekiah sheweth us here that if we will have God to hear us, we must open all our passions and sorrows before him, that we may be unburdened, as it is said in the Psalm. Hezekiah hitherto hath followed this order, that is, that he hath opened all his perplexities and cares which he endured as if he laid them abroad round about God. But now he reproveth himself. Alas saith he: what should I do? for it is God himself which hath said it and done it. {44} He hath sent me this message by his Prophet, that there was no hope of life, it is then in vain that I pray unto him. What shall I avail then in all my prayers? what shall I do? And I wot not whether he will have pity on me. We see now how Hezekiah outraged against himself. It is true that such disputation proceeded of infidelity [unbelief], but it is necessary that there should be infidelity [unbelief] in us to the end that our faith might the better be proved. Yet this is not meant to speak properly that we should be infidels [unbelievers], when we are so tossed with unquietness, but that we have a feeble faith, & that our Lord exercise us in such manner that we in the mean time may know what we are, and that without him we should be a hundred thousand times vanquished every hour. Lo in effect what Hezekiah meant to declare here: What shall I say? For I feel not that the prayer and entreating which I can make doth profit me, and why? God afflicteth me and I feel no manner of ease. I am afraid to present myself before him. Yet nevertheless I trust that my request shall not be rejected of him, although that I know for a truth that when he speaketh by the mouth of his Prophet, he hath forthwith stretched out his hand, and I feel by proof that this message is not as a threatening of little children, but that God hath published and proclaimed war against me, which he hath done as it were with fire and blood, and it appeareth that there is no more remedy.

Now have we here a good place to shew us that we ought to despise Satan and all unfaithfulness, when we have to do with praying to {45} God, so that when we shall have a hundred thousand disputations, yet we shall not let [be hindered] to conclude, so it is that I shall overcome all manner of lets [hindrances] in the strength of my God, and I will seek him although he repulse me, & though it appear that he hath an hundred armies to thrust me far from him, yet will I come unto him. Thus have I told you how we ought to be armed when we are to pray unto God. For as we have need in all extremities to run unto our God, so must we know that Satan applieth all his power to stop us that we have no access unto God. And there is none of the faithful which doth not feel this more than he would desire. But in the meantime let us learn to know the sickness, that in need we may take such remedy as is here given us of God. When then the devil shall set before us: What shouldst thou do to pray to God? And what thinkest thou that in so great wretchedness as thou feelest in thyself, he will aid thee? And what thinkest thou miserable creature? to whom preparest thou to go? Is it not God himself that doth persecute thee? But let us pass forward, this notwithstanding, and force ourselves to break through all stays, treading underfoot such wandering discourses.

Moreover it chanceth that being yet in some rest if we lift up our wit to God, by and by this cometh in our fantasy: Alas what are we? shall we dare to approach unto God? How oft have we offended him? And hereupon we sometimes conclude to hold us there still. But yet such disputations are very ill, and they are even so many blasphemies, if God would lay them to our charge. {46} As when we make question or doubt whether we be heard or no, certain it is that this is a deadly offence, and if God did not uphold us in our feebleness, we could not but be drowned. But howsoever it be, after we have been condemned, after we have felt that our spirit is wrapped in many despairs, and that we are in a maze: Yet for all that let us take good courage, and after we have said, alas what shall I do? let us break that stroke and say: I must yet pray and seek for my God. And why? for he hath said that he will hear them that seek unto him, even from the deepest bottoms. Now then lo, this is the fit time when I must go to him. This it is that we have to learn of this doctrine of Hezekiah, when we see these broken unprofit tales, and that he hath chattered, and we see his passions so excessive that they torment him. Let us know that it was God’s pleasure to shew here a mirror wherein we might behold our own feebleness and the temptations whereunto we are subject, that we should fight against them, and still to follow on till we feel the relief that he doth promise us, even as we shall feel indeed, so that we have a true continuance and fail not by our own slackness and slothfulness in the midway.
 

    Nowe   let   vs   throwe   oure   selues   downe
before the maiestie of our  good  God,  acknowe=
ledging our faultes, praying  hym,  that  more  and
more he wyll make vs to fele them,  vntyll  suche
tyme as we be  vtterly  spoyled.  And  though  he
haue  alway  muche  to reproue in vs:  Yet  let  vs
neuer cesse to hope in his mercy, and that he wyll
make vs so to taste the same in the name of  oure
Lorde  Jesus  Christe,   that it may geue vs a  true
patience in all our afflictions,  and  that  we  maye
be so holden in his obedience that we desire no=
thyng but to offre our selues vnto hym and
by hym to bee throughly sanctified.
And that not only he graunt
this grace vnto vs, but
also to all peoples
and nations.



THE THIRD SER-
mon.

What shall I saye, he who hath sayde it hath also done it. I wyll walke leasurly all the dayes of my lyfe in the bitternes of my soule. Lorde, to all those that shall lyue hereafter, the life of my spirite shall be notable among them, in that thou hast cast me in a slepe, and hast reuiued me. Behold in my prosperitie the bitternes was bytter vnto me: And thou hast loued my soule, to drawe it out of the graue, because thou hast cast my sinnes behynd thy back.
WE have already heretofore declared that the good King Hezekiah complaining that it is God that persecuteth him, is more confused for that, than if he had all the men in the world his enemies, and if they all had conspired to torment him, as of truth it is a case much harder & that ought to amaze us more without comparison if God lift up himself against us, than if all creatures did make war upon us. Behold then the cause why Hezekiah standeth confused and in trouble, because he well feeleth that the thing which God declared unto him by his Prophet Isaiah, is now fulfilled in him, and this it is that most toucheth us to the quick, when we make comparison, between the word of God and that {49} which we feel of his judgments. If God did simply but strike us, we might well be thrown down withall: but when he addeth also his word to reprove us, to make us know that it is he that doth chastise us, yea and that for our sins, lo, this is a cause of much greater confusion. Expressly then Hezekiah saith: According as he hath spoken he hath also done it, and therefore he doth thereupon conclude that he hath nothing to reply against it. For if we had to do with men, we might well make our complaints against them, but when we are to accuse God, the case must pass on his side. We may plead for a time, but he shall always be justified, when we shall be condemned. Therefore it is lost time to think to amend our harm when we shall not escape condemnation before God, but when we desire to stand in our own defence, and use murmuring and complaint, all this doth nothing but enforce our evil, even so far as to drown us altogether. And therefore let us keep our mouth closed as it is said in Job: for that is it which the good king Hezekiah meant in this place.

Now further he saith: That all the time of his life he will walk in fear, & go on easily or softly as a man whose pride is abated, & draweth his legs after him. Yea in the bitterness of his soul.

Here Hezekiah declareth that God hath so engraved in him the feeling of this correction, and hath so printed it in his heart, that the remembrance thereof shall never be blotted out. It may many times come to pass (and we find it in proof oftener {50} than we need) that when God presseth us, we be altogether astonished, & then we groan, & if we be to confess our faults with humility, it is a marvel to hear us. Briefly, we be not niggardly in words, either to shew the greatness of our grief, or to declare our faults, or to bless the name of God. But we do nothing but shake our ears by & by after, & by the next morrow after God hath given us release or rest, we think no more of it. Lo, in what sort men be, & how they seek God (as it is said unto the Prophet) while he doth draw them unto him by force, then they call upon him, and confess the debt as we have said, but so soon as God spareth them, they are as they were before, they lift up their heads like stags, they do nothing but rejoice, where before they were so stricken down as nothing could be more, their face was all amazed with fear, shortly, there was even now nothing but sorrow, and forthwith they made great cheer, they return to their delights, and (that more is) they fare as if they meant to despise God openly. We see then this inconstancy, this change, this lightness in manner in all men. On the contrary side Hezekiah saith here that it is not only for the time present that he knoweth that God hath chastised him, but for so long as he shall live in the world he shall always have mind of the correction that he hath received, and he shall go as with a trembling pace, for the word which he useth doth some time signify to go softly, and sometime to remove. Now in effect, he meaneth to say that he shall never have steadfast pace, but he shall be so much enfeebled, that he shall be as a man drawn out of the ditch, or as he that hath a long time been sick, he doth with great pain draw his legs {51} after him, and though he shew himself abroad in the streets yet men see well that, that is all he can do, & when he standeth by he seemeth still ready to reel & stagger. Now see we in a sum what Hezekiah meant to say. Hereby we are put in remembrance not to think strange if God sometime afflict us more rigorously than we would. For we have not sufficiently profited by his rods until we be truly humbled for all our life after. Who is he that shall find this in himself. Let every one now look, if a month after that God hath shewed him mercy, he hath re-acknowledged his faults and tremble thereat. But contrariwise (as I have already said) we seek nothing but to blot out all remembrance of them, for we think it to be matter that moveth melancholy.

Sith [Since] then we so easily forget the rods of God, let us not marvel if after we have been once chastised he return again the second time and shew himself so sharp that we shall not know where to become. Wherefore behold what we have to do: that is, that during the corrections, and when we be in trouble we bear patiently the rigour of God, knowing that it is not without cause that he useth so exceeding great sharpness against us, and that it is because he knoweth we have need of it: take this for one note. And also for another note, that we endeavour to awake, because of the great slothfulness that is in us, for we are so sluggish and so cold, that it is a pity to see. Let us then during the time of our affliction think upon all our offences, that we may have a feeling and conceiving thereof engraved even in the bottom of our hearts, & when God hath delivered us, {52} Let us still think upon it, and let not the feeling of our evil be only for one day or for a small space, but as we pray God to support us, and to give us leisure to bless his name and rejoice in him, let us so do it that he be not compelled continually to strike us like asses, seeing our carelessness and the slowness that is in us. Let us prevent the rods of God unless we will have them always tied at our backs. And now let us note that Hezekiah trembled in such sort, that he ceased not to be holden up by the hand of God, and to seek for comfort in God, knowing well that he was merciful unto him. But these two things agree well, that on the one side the faithful are always in care fearing to stumble the second and third time when they have once past a deadly fall. And yet nevertheless they take courage and trust in God to walk freely, for as much as they know that he will never fail them. Lo, this it is that we have to practice, on the one side to think upon our sins and offences, and to be moved with horrour, seeing that we have deserved that God should set himself against us, and that this do so cut us that it make us to walk tremblingly, & as scant able to go. Lo, how we ought to be thrown down and humbled under the hand of God. For there is no question here of being too wild, but rather we must know that the chief virtue of the faithful when God doth afflict and punish them is to be as brought to naught, & yet always drawing our legs after us to go on our pace sith [since] it pleaseth God to shew us mercy. And that we know, that though we have offended him, yet he will always continue his goodness toward {53} us, he will give us courage, and that therefore on the other side we become fresh again. Lo, this is the sum that we have here to learn of Hezekiah.

After he addeth that the bitterness became to him bitter in his prosperity. Here he enforceth the evil that he hath felt, because he was suddenly taken with it, when he thought he was at rest & free from affliction. As on the other side we see that the thing which is foreseen far off, may be more patiently suffered. For what is the cause that discourageth us when we are in affliction, but that every one during his prosperity maketh himself believe that all shall go well. If a man did think of the death of his father, or of his wife, or of his children, if he did think that his own life were subject to calamities, it is certain that he would be prepared with defence against all temptations, so as he would not be found so amazed when they come upon him. But because every man deceiveth himself in vain hope, that is it that troubleth us out of measure, when our Lord sendeth any adversity. Now Hezekiah confesseth that it is so chanced unto him, and for this cause he saith that his grief hath been so much the more bitter for that it happened unto him in his prosperity. For we have seen here before, how God afflicted him even to the extremity, that is to wit, when he was spoiled of his Realm, and that all his land was wasted by his enemies. He was besieged in the town of Jerusalem, there he was brought under, there they mocked him, there they spake of him all shame and reproach that was possible, yea, even the name of God was villainously blasphemed. {54} Lo, thus was Hezekiah all confused. Hereupon God delivered him miraculously, even as if he had come down from heaven to succour him. He seeing that discomfiture so great which was done by the hand of the angel [2 Chron. 32], rejoiced, and not without good reason, for God gave him cause having declared such a sign of favour toward him, as if he had reformed all the world at his desire. But there was a fault, wheresoever it was, that is, that he thinketh no more of his affliction passed, & resteth him too much, that is to say, he becometh careless and negligent. Lo, herefore now he saith that his sorrow is come upon him in his peace and in his prosperity. Now here we have a very profitable warning, that is to say, when we know the graces of God, we must so rejoice that yet we forget not the time passed, and that for the time to come we always have our estate before our eyes, that is to say, that with the turning of a hand, our life shall be turned into death, our light into darkness, as we see the diverse changes in this frail life. Briefly let us so magnify the goodness of God, when he assureth us that he will maintain us in peace and at rest, that in the mean time we still consider what our frailty is, and let us not be dazzled when God shall bless us and send us all after our desire, let not that (I say) make us fall too much on sleep [asleep], but let every man make himself ready when it shall please him to send us any change to receive always in fear, in humility, and in all patience that which he will send us. If we do so, we shall not find the hand of God so grievous nor so heavy upon us as we are wont to do. But when we are too sound on sleep [asleep], although {55} we know the grace of God, whereof we presently rejoice, he must awake us, yea and pluck us hard by the ear, yea and lay great stripes upon us. And here we have one example in the King Hezekiah, as we have also another in David. For in the 30th Psalm he confesseth that he was so drunk that felicity had made him to forget his estate. I have said in mine abundance, I shall no more be shaken. And how so? David had had so many pricks to prick him forward, he had been exercised so many ways to have always in mind what the life of man was, and he did profit right well therein, for he had been a long time as in the shadow of death. He had been persecuted of the people, being prisoner among his enemies, and having no minute of rest. Then when God had set him on the royal seat, he concluded that he should never stumble, and that he should therein remain peaceable. If David having the spirit of God in such excellence as we know, having had so many proofs that he was altogether ravished unto God, yet nevertheless hath so forgot himself: What shall become of us? After he addeth: It was of thy free goodness that I was upholden, O Lord, thou hast established me as on a mountain, but thou turnest thy face, and lo, I was troubled. Thus sheweth he his unthankfulness in that. For although he had not altogether forgot the blessing which he had received of the hand of God, yet is it so that he did not think upon this, God hath delivered me once that I should always have my recourse unto him: knowing that my life hangeth as by a thread except the stay of it be on his goodness, & that from minute to minute he worketh, confessing {56} that by and by I should perish if he continued not still to aid me. David thought not upon this and he knew also that he had failed, and so he addeth after, Lord thou hast hid thy face and behold I was troubled. So is it of Hezekiah, he was in peace, and lo, suddenly God wounded him so that the stripe was deadly, & he could not conceive anything but such an astonishment as if God had stricken him with lightening from heaven. Therefore of necessity must it be that he received a terrible bitterness.

Now let us apply this doctrine to our profit, and let us not stay till God make us with force of stripes to know our infirmity. But while he doth yet spare us and while he hath pity of our feebleness, let us not cease to think of him, and let us fear him, keeping ourselves hid as it were under his wings [Psalm 91.4], knowing that we cannot stand one minute without his aid. To the rest, if sometime we be overtaken, let us know it was because we were too fast asleep.

He addeth a little after that God hath delivered his soul, but he useth a manner of speech which importeth more. He saith thou hast loved my soul, or thou hast had thy good pleasure in it to pluck it back from the grave. By this circumstance he magnifieth the goodness of God so much the more for that he is come to seek him even to the grave. For if God do hold us still in our estate, I grant we thereby know that we are beholden to him, but then we acknowledge it but very coldly. But if he deliver us from death, then we better perceive how good he is, for that in such extremity he as it were cometh down unto us. {57} For it seemeth unto us that we are not much bound unto God, if he preserve us in this life, because we take that to be but as an order of nature. True it is that the more he spareth us so much the more we ought to feel his fatherly goodness, but we do it not, and so by reason of our dullness it is become needful that God work of another fashion. Now then as I have already said, if that God pluck us out of the grave, and that we have been as forsaken for a time, that it seemed we were cut off from all hope, that even men disdained to look upon us as if we were poor rotten carrions, if in this case God have pity upon us, in this he sheweth us so much greater brightness to see his mercy, and so much more we have occasion to acknowledge what and how infinite his bounty is, in this that God hath so plucked us back from the death. Lo, this it is that Hezekiah meant to say.

Lord (saith he) thou hast loved my soul: And how so? was there anything in it that might move God to love it? Alas, no: for it was nothing but shadow, a dead thing. I was (saith he) at the grave, and then thou declaredst thy love toward me. When then we shall be altogether disfigured, & that God nevertheless will vouchsafe to cast eye upon us, and to have care of us, in this we ought much more to be enflamed to bless his name, and to give him such praise as doth here the good king Hezekiah. Behold then in a sum what we have to learn of this place: that is, forasmuch as God seeth that we are not touched enough with the good things that he hath done for us, nor with his graces, and that it is needful that we be so stricken down, and in such extremity that there {58} be in us no more hope of life, that when we shall be as forsaken of him and of men, he may then take us to mercy. Thus are we earnestly touched and made to give him thanks, knowing that he saw nothing in us but miseries when he shewed his mercy upon us.

Now he saith also on the other side: Lord, they that shall live after, shall know that the life of my spirit hath been prolonged. This place because of the shortness thereof is dark, for it is not a sentence laid out at length, but they are as it were broken words. He saith in sum: Lord, they shall live amongst them, and in them all the life of my spirit, thou hast cast me on sleep, and thou hast revived me. Because he speaketh not here of the years in the beginning of the verse, that is the cause of the shortness. But when we look nearer, we shall find that Hezekiah meant to say that the miracle which had been done upon his person should be known not only for a day, but also after his decease. Some men do expound it, that God shall also prolong the life of other: but that exposition is not to purpose. For Hezekiah meant to say, that this was not a common ordinary benefit, but rather he hath felt that God hath wrought with him after an extraordinary fashion. Hereunto tendeth his purpose, that this miracle of God shall never be put under foot, but though he be dead, yet we shall still talk of it. Before he said, I shall remember all the time of my life how I have been chastised, & I shall feel the strokes: for I yet go staggering withal. Now he stretcheth further & largelier that which he said before, that is to say, that not only he himself shall be humbled before God, {59} but also all the world shall have occasion to say: Behold here an act worthy of perpetual memory that God hath done for a man. For we ought to desire that all the good things that God bestoweth upon us, be also known of others, that they may take ensample thereof, & that they may serve for their edification. And we see when David would be heard in his requests, he addeth commonly this reason, that every man shall think of it, that the good shall be edified, & the wicked confounded. Lord (saith he) when men shall see that thou so assistest thine, all they that call upon thee shall rejoice, & shall be so much more confirmed in waiting for the like: & also the wicked shall be confounded & though they now mock at the trust that I have in thee, seeing that thou hast afflicted me, if they know that I have not been disappointed when I have had my recourse unto thee, they shall be abashed. Thus much then saith Hezekiah, now that this miracle of God shall profit not only him but also others, as a thing known & notorious to all. And after he amplifieth it, saying that it shall not be for a small time, but also after his decease. Forasmuch as his life hath been so prolonged, it shall be talked of forever. For (saith he) thou hast cast me on sleep. This word to cast on sleep importeth that he was as it were in the grave, & after was revived. As indeed this miracle is even yet at this day celebrated in the Church of God, & shall be to the end of the world. So then we see that it hath not only profited one person alone, but hath been a confirmation generally to all the faithful, in this that they wait for God, to have pity upon them in their necessity to succor them, and though he do not prolong their life in such sort yet that he shall keep them {60} to the end, and that if he see them stricken down, he shall lift them up again, he shall give them some token of his pity, so that in life and death they shall feel him always their saviour, and shall know that they have not been forsaken nor given over of him. Lo whereunto this song is profitable, & to what intent it was made.

Now ought we to have such like affection, as Hezekiah had, to endeavour so much as shall lie in us that the graces of God may be known to all the world, although they specially pertain to us. For when God doth good to every one of us, we ought not only in secret to thank him, feeling our selves bound unto him, but to endeavour to publish the same, that others may be confirmed and hope in God, seeing such a proof of his goodness to them that call upon him: and that praise may be given him in common, as Paul saith, when the faithful shall all together praise God, that he hath been delivered, and that this giving of thanks shall give such a sound, that this shall be a cause why God shall always deliver him so much the more, that praises may be given to him by many. I grant we oft do publish such graces of God as we have felt, but many do it by ambition and hypocrisy, for making a shew to magnify the name of God, they draw a part of the praise to themselves. Let us beware of that, and let us have an upright and pure affection, so as every one may learn to look unto God, and to have his hope wholly stayed upon him, and let us have this zeal and this fervent desire that all creatures bear us company when we are to bless the name of God.

Moreover, when God shall as it were have {61} stricken us dead, and revived us by his grace, let this so much the more move us to praise him. There is not so small a benefit that deserveth not thanks, and when we shall apply all our wits to thank God only for this that he nourisheth us, yet can we not acquit ourselves of the hundredth part of our debt. But if God use a more excellent manner to declare his favour toward us, and that the good things which he doeth for us, are as it were wonderful and incomprehensible of men, our bond increaseth so much the more, and we have so much the less excuse if we be not then enflamed to praise him with full mouth, and to preach everywhere the goodness that he hath made us to feel.

After this Hezekiah addeth that God hath cast his sins behind his back. Here he leadeth us back to that we saw before, that is, that all that he endured was but the payment that was due unto him for his faults. And that now this that God hath been merciful unto him, is for that he hath hidden and buried his offences which brought all the evil upon him. This sentence is worthy to be well noted. For (as we have before declared) although we know well that adversities happen not unto us by chance, but that it is the hand of God that striketh us, yet so it is that we cannot come to the true cause as we ought. And that is partly because every one doth flatter himself in his own faults, and partly also because we enter not in judgment or examination of our own life to know whether it hath been well ordered: for willingly we are very loath to be disquieted. And yet must we come unto it, for that is the true sign {62} of repentance, when men of themselves search the depth of their sins, and tarry not till God force them unto it, but they present themselves unto him, they summon themselves so as they need neither sergeant nor officer, but they examine themselves and say: Alas, how have I lived? how stand I with God? When men of their own mind enter into this trial, in this they declare that God hath touched them by his Holy Spirit. But this is a rare thing as I have said: on the one side hypocrisy stoppeth us that we examine not our own faults, and that we discover them not, seeking always to flee from the shame and to hide our own evil: yea and we say that the evil is well, and we make ourselves believe that we have not offended God, or at least we make our faults less as if they were nothing, and as if we needed but only wipe our mouths. Lo, how we are carried away by pride and ambition that is rooted in our nature when we come not rightly to God in acknowledging what we are. On the other part, we are desirous to flee from sorrow, as naturally it is a thing that grieveth us. Now there is no sorrow so great as when we think that God is our judge, and that we are evil doers before him, for there we feel that which before hath been said, that he breaketh our bones as a Lion: the wrath of God is so terrible a thing that it is no marvel though we flee from it. And yet is this a fault, for we ought not to make ourselves like to them that are so blockish that they will in no case think upon that which they have deserved of God, that is the punishment whereof they are worthy. For this cause we ought so much the more to note this doctrine where {63} Hezekiah leadeth us by his example to know our sins, so oft as the Lord doth rigorously handle us, that we may not only know that it is his hand which afflicted us, but also that then he serveth his process upon us, and accuseth us of the sins that we have committed, and because we would not of our own mind come to have our cause tried before him, and to ask him pardon that he is driven to draw us thereunto by force. This is the first thing that we have to learn of this place.

The second point is that when God withdraweth his hand which he had heavily laid upon us, that is a token that he is merciful unto us, & that he will no more lay our sins unto our charge. True it is that sometime God after that he hath afflicted the wicked and reproved, leaveth them there and they ware lustier than they were before, as I have already said. But here Hezekiah sheweth how we ought to feel the goodness of God when he sendeth us any release, when he relieveth us of any sickness, when he delivereth us from any danger, when he comforteth us in poverty, when we have been in trouble and sorrow and he draweth us out. If then we be sad and sorrowful, it is not enough for us to feel the evil, but we ought to look unto the principal cause & to come to the original spring thereof. So when a little babe crieth, so soon as the teat is given him he is appeased. And why? he sucketh & is content, for he hath no understanding to go further than to his own hunger, he knoweth not whence the meat cometh, he hath not skill to thank her that gave him his substance, for he hath neither wit nor reason. {64} But when a man of the age of discretion shall see his father angry with him, and shall hear him say to him: away villain, get thee out of my house: it is certain that this sorrow more pierceth him to the quick to be thus cast off by his father than to endure hunger or thirst, & all the poverties that it is possible to think on. But if the father afterward do pardon him at the request of his friends, or for that he seeth his son to be sorry that he hath offended him, & saith unto him, come home again and dine with me, if that child have any reason he will not so much esteem his dinner as that he is returned into the favour and love of his father, so as he had rather to fast and to abide hunger and thirst than ever to give occasion to his father so to cast him off again, & is a great deal more glad that his father hath forgiven him than of eating and drinking his fill.

Now let us apply this to our use. The most part are as little children: if God be quickly appeased with them and pluck back his hand, so as they have no more outward occasion to be sorrowful, by and by they wax joyful, and praised be God (say they) which hath holpen me out of this sickness: but in saying praised be God they think not upon him, they enter not into examination of their sins, they look not upon the cause why God afflicted them, and so soon as they be comforted they do not acknowledge that it is because God loveth them and is favourable to them. And yet thereunto ought all their joy to be applied and not to say, behold my mirth is returned. He that hath been in any danger, if he see himself delivered, he rejoiceth that he is no more in torment as he was, {65/‘50’} but in the meantime doth he look upon the principal benefit and sovereign felicity of men, to be reconciled unto God? No, that cometh not into his mind. So much the more ought we to take hold of this doctrine, where Hezekiah saith not only, I am now up on foot again, and it hath pleased God to relieve me, my life is prolonged, as he hath said before: but he resteth all upon this: God hath pardoned me my faults, he hath taken me to mercy, he layeth not to my charge the offences that I have committed, he hath so forgiven me that now he is well pleased with me, he will no more call me to account as my judge, for he hath forgotten all my sins and hath cast them behind his back. Lo, this it is whereunto Hezekiah leadeth us by his example.

So, as oft as we shall be afflicted by the hand of God, let us learn to enter into examination of our own sins: and when we pray God to deliver us, let us not set the cart before the horse, but let us pray him to take us to his mercy. And though we have deserved a thousand more afflictions than he maketh us to endure, let us pray that yet he cease not to be merciful unto us: and when he hath set us up again, let us give him praises not only for the good that he hath done us touching our bodies, but for that which is much more to be esteemed, that he hath forgotten all our offences & so is agreed again with us that he accepteth us as his own children, because he turneth his face from our sins; for while God looketh upon our sins, he cannot look upon us but with indignation, and he doth but abhor us.

Then that God may look upon us with a merciful {51} and favourable face, it must first be that he forget our sins, and think no more on them. True it is that when we so speak, it is after the manner of men, for we know that all is present before God. But when we say that he must forget our sins and look no more on them, that is to express that he call us not to account, but love us as well as if we never had offended him.

Moreover by this fashion of speech that Hezekiah useth, we see what is the remission of our sins, that is, that God cast them behind his back, and cast them there in such sort that he punish them no more, nor ask vengeance on them. And this is worthy to be noted: For the devil always travaileth to darken this doctrine because it is the principal point of our salvation, and as it is shewed us in Holy Scripture, there is no other righteousness nor holiness, but this free forgiveness of sins. Happy is the man (saith David) whose sins are pardoned. Paul saith that hereby we see what is our righteousness, and that David hath made a brief sum thereof.

For this cause the devil hath always travailed by subtle means to turn men from this that they may not know what need they have of this forgiveness of sins, as in the Pope’s church we partly see they say it is not but with penance and confession, and beside that, that we must bring some recompence, and if God pardon us the fault yet that he reserveth the punishment as a judge. And that this should be a derogation to his majesty, if we should say that he wholly and fully pardoneth, and they say that he must needs shew always some rigour with his mercy, & that otherwise {52} it were to spoil him of his nature: Lo how the Papists have treated of the remission of sins, so that if a man should say unto them that God pardoneth our sins of his mere goodness, this should be to them as a blasphemy, for (say they) we must make satisfaction. And what is that? works above measure, which we do more than God commandeth us in his law. It is certain that these are detestable sayings. But howsoever it be, the poor world hath been so made drunk with such sorceries. So much the more then must we note this place where it is said that God in receiving us to mercy, will enter no more into account with us, as Hezekiah saith here: Thou hast cast my sins behind thy back.

It is true that God hath neither back nor stomach. For we know that his offence is infinite & spiritual: But he useth this similitude to signify that he pardoneth our sins like as when it is said that he casteth them to the bottom of the sea, that is as much as if he would have no more remembrance of them nor would have them more spoken or made mention of. We see then in sum when God receiveth us in such sort that he is at one with us, that it is not only to pardon us the fault as the Papists have imagined and juggle without reason, but it is to the end that we may feel his favour every way, and that he will persecute us no more. And instead that we were afflicted of his hand, and in stead of that he gave us by it a testimony of his wrath, that contrariwise he maketh us to know that he taketh us for his children, & that he will use us gently, shewing the love that he beareth us. Lo, here in sum what Hezekiah meant to say, using this manner of speech that God had cast all his sins behind his back. {53}

Now true it is that many times though God doth pardon us our faults yet he will not cease to chastise us, as it happened to David: but that shall not be but for our commodity and profit, to the end that we may walk so much the more warily in time to come. I said even now that God sendeth his punishment in such sort that there remaineth always some mark to put us in mind. Then God will surely punish us although he be merciful unto us. But these two things are not contrariant, that is, to cast our sins behind his back, and to receive us by and by to mercy & make us prosper by his blessing, and yet in the mean time not to nourish us in our idleness, but to awake us & make us feel some sign of his wrath to prevent us. Yet nevertheless if he mean to declare unto us fully the remission of our sins, he will give us oftentimes outward signs, that is to say he will give us such a taste of his goodness that we may perceive assuredly that he hath shewed mercy unto us, and that it is impossible that he should use us with such gentleness and favour, except he would examine our sins no more, and that he fully and perfectly acquiteth us, and that he requireth nothing but that we should walk with him as being made at one and truly reconciled unto his majesty. Lo, thus God declareth unto us the remission of our sins not only by his word or inwardly by his Holy Spirit, but also by the fruits, that is to say, when by his blessing he maketh us to prosper, and when he handleth us so favourably that we are compelled to confess in our own conscience that he useth a fatherly bounty toward us. {54}

Then when we shall have these signs, let us conclude boldly that God hath pardoned our sins and that he hath cast them behind his back, never to examine or think of them any more. So then so oft as we shall be afflicted of the hand of God, let us remember that he hath shewed himself good not only to those whom he hath taken out of this world where they sometime have endured strong & grievous afflictions, but that he hath also pardoned their sins, and let us know that he will use the same goodness toward us. And in doing this let us learn to humble ourselves hereafter. Moreover the grace of God shall so much the more brightly shine, as he shall not only handle us with all favour touching our bodies, but also in this that he would not have respect unto our sins, and will shew us that although we did provoke his wrath and gave him occasion alway to forsake us in our miseries, yet he will not handle us with rigour but that he will draw us unto him by his infinite mercy and goodness.
 

     Now  let  vs  throwe  our  selues downe before
the maiestie, of our good God,  acknowledging our
faultes,  beseching him that more and more he will
make vs to fele them, and that it may  be  to  hum-
ble vs in suche sorte that comming  vnto  hym  we
may bryng only a pure and simple cófession of our
sinnes, and that  in  the  meane  tyme  he  geue  vs
suche tast of his goodnesse that we maye not cesse
to runne vnto hym although  our  consciences  doe
reproue and códempne vs, that  we  may  embrace
his grace whiche he  hath  promysed  in  the  name
of our Lord Jesus Christe, and  as  oft  as  he  ma-
keth vs to fele it by experience that  we may  learn
to turne it to our profite, and that we may be so ar-
med againste all tentations, that we maye
neuer sink downe vnder the burden,
how heauy or troublesome soe-
uer it be. And that he wyll
not only graunt vnto vs
that grace, but also to
all peoples. &c.



THE FOVRTH SER-
mon.

For the graue shall not singe of the, and the dead shall not prayse the, nether shall they that are brought down into the pitte waite for thy truthe. The lyuing, the lyuing shall sing of the, as I do this day: the father shall make thy truthe knowen to his children. The Lorde it is that saueth me: we wyll sing a song in the temple of the Lorde all the dayes of our lyfe. And Esai commaunded, that one shold take a cluster of figges, and make a plaister of them to lay vpon the sore, and he shoulde be whole. Then sayd Ezechias, what signe shall I haue that I shall goe up into the house of the Lorde?
IT is certain that if our life were ordered as it ought to be, we should always shoot at this principal mark, to honour God so long as we be in this world. And good reason it is that we apply all our study thereunto, seeing that without end and ceasing we prove the gracious good deeds that he doth us. For this cause now Hezekiah after that he hath acknowledged that God prolonged his life, and hath given him a proof to witness his singular love toward him, saith that with so much more courage he will magnify the name of {57} God to confess the receipt of so great a benefit. And expressly he saith that this shall not only be while he is in the world, that he will travail to have the name of God blessed, but he will endeavour also for his successours that it may forever be known how God hath wrought for him. Finally for conclusion he saith that there is no saviour but God: and if men rest themselves upon him, their salvation shall be certain and infallible.

But it may seem strange that he saith that the death nor yet the grave shall not be to praise God, for it seemeth that he accounteth upon and knoweth no other goodness of God but when he preserveth men in this frail life. Indeed, if we look not but here below, our faith shall be but weak. And we know that we live to no other purpose but to taste in part the goodness of God, to the end we may be drawn up higher and altogether ravished to the heavenly life. It seemeth then that Hezekiah is too much given to the world, and that he hath no conceiving of the spiritual kingdom of God. For in saying that the grave cannot praise God, nor they that be dead, it seemeth that he hath no other regard but to this present life. And we know that it is said in the first place, that God will be glorified as well in our death as in our life. And Paul for the same cause saith, that he careth not whether he live or die, so [long as] the glory of God might be always advanced. There appeareth to be great diversity between Paul and Hezekiah, for the one fleeth and abhorreth death, alleging that those which are departed shall not praise God, the other saith it is to me all one whether I live or die, for God shall always be glorified {58} in me. If we behold the estate of those that are departed in that, that they are drawn out of this world, and that God hath taken them nearer to him, it is likely that they should be better disposed, & more cheerful to bless his name. Fourthly, we be here heavily loaden in this prison of our body, we cannot half (as a man may say) open our mouth to praise God; we go not with a free courage nor with so vehement fervor of zeal, as were requisite: now the dead are not so encumbered, they are not absent from God as we are (as Paul speaketh in the second [epistle] to the Corinthians [chapter 5,]) they may then so much the better agree with the angels of paradise in this melody. And we know what is said of the angels (as it is to be seen in the 6th chapter of Isaiah,) that without ceasing they cry, blessed be the Lord of hosts, the holy, the holy, the holy. Then as far as we may judge, those whom God hath drawn out of this transitory life, ought to be more ready to praise his name. But let us first mark that Hezekiah here had respect to the cause why God placed us in this world, and wherefore he keepeth us therein. He asketh not any reward of us. He is not like unto a man that setteth servants in his house: for that were to emprow [improve] his lands, & make profit thereof. Neither is he like unto a great prince which requireth to have many subjects, for that he is to be maintained and succoured by them when he hath need. But God seeketh no advantage by us, as he hath no need: Only he will that we do homage to him for all the benefits that he giveth us. For all our life ought to be applied to this mark, (as even now we have touched,) that we bless God, {60} and render witness that his benefits were not cast away upon us as they should be if we were like some men. Lo, this it is that we have to observe, that Hezekiah (in saying that the living shall praise God) meant to note, that men pervert the order of nature when they apply not themselves to praise God, and that their unthankfulness is by no means excusable, when they bury the graces of God and put them in oblivion. Seeing it is so then that our Lord requireth of us nothing but that his name be glorified in the world, it is not to be marveled that Hezekiah saith: the living, the living shall praise thee.

We must also note what difference is between the state of the living and of the dead. Though the dead praise God, yet we cannot judge nor imagine that they assemble after our manner to shew an agreement of their faith. Each one of them can right well praise by himself, & yet it meaneth not that they are gathered together in one body, as we are now, for the scripture saith nothing thereof. And we may not forge fantasies of our own brain as we think good. For we know that God reserveth this perfection to the latter day that we should be all united and in such sort joined unto our God that his glory should fully shine in us. Forasmuch then as they which are departed have not such a manner of exercising themselves in the praising of God as we, therefore it is said that, that is a thing properly pertaining to us that be living.

But there is yet more. For Hezekiah speaketh not here simply of death as we have touched already, but he setteth out his death to be such {61[A]} as if he had been cut off from the Church of God, and from all hope of salvation, when this judgment was come to be executed, or as if he had been before his Judge: Then Hezekiah prepared not himself to die, as by nature we cannot flee this necessity: but he had this testimony of God’s wrath, wherewith he was so feared as if all were lost to him. Now we know that no man can sing the praises of God except he have occasion and matter. For when our Lord sheweth us a terrible countenance, our mouths are stopped, we are filled with such anguish, that it is impossible for us to bless him. Rather contrariwise there shall be nothing but gnashing of teeth, when the wrath of God shall so astonish us. Lo, thus stood Hezekiah. On the other side, when God sheweth himself merciful toward us, and uttereth some sign of his favor toward us, he openeth our mouths, as it is said in the 51st Psalm, Lord thou hast opened my mouth: therefore will I sing thy songs. And in other places, Lord thou hast put a new song in my mouth, [Psalm 40.] By this the Prophet signifieth when God maketh them joyful for their deliverance from some evil, that by this mean, he stirreth them up to sing his songs, and to bless his name, and to be mindful of his benefits. So then, when we conceive nothing but altogether terrour in God, we are in a swoon, and then the gate is shut so that we cannot praise God. So Hezekiah in this place, saying that the dead shall not praise God, meaneth not generally all those that depart out of this transitory life, {61[B]} but those which are as it were cut off from God, and are confounded with his wrath, who also taste not his goodness any manner of way, & are made naked and estranged from all hope of health. It is then impossible that such should praise God.

There is yet another point to note. For when the faithful are holden down & oppressed with any distress, they see nothing but their own grief, and every man hath experience of this in himself too much. When any evil hath cast us down altogether, we cannot apply ourselves to any other thing, for we are there holden fast as in a straight prison. So was Hezekiah, as also it is said in the 88th Psalm, That the state of those that are dead, is a land of forgetfulness: men know not there what God is. This seemeth to be a blasphemy. But these manners of speech proceed of the unskillfulness and weakness of men, that is, because they cannot withdraw themselves to judge with a settled sense, & to have a well-framed and ordered knowledge. But the trouble so vexeth & carrieth them away that they speak as at random & confusedly. Behold, Job saith [chapter 3] that men being taken out of this world have no more carefulness, but every one is at rest, as if there were a confused mixture, that the master & the varlet were all one, and that the tyrant should cause no more terror. He speaketh of the state of those that are departed, as if death should destroy all things. Yet he had not such opinion, but it was because that his sorrow suffered him not to speak as a man at rest. For he was tossed with such unquietness that his words wandered. So may we think of Hezekiah. He speaketh not of the estate & condition of those that are departed {62} as the scripture teacheth us, and why? his heaviness, & horrour which he had conceived bare rule over him in such sort that he wist not where he was: it is true that this is not for excuse.

And thus therefore our Lord giveth us mirrors of our frailness when we see that the most holy, & most perfect speak so. Yet in the mean time God supported Hezekiah, because the principal thing remained with him still, as we have already seen, that he tended to this mark to glorify the name of God, for he had rather die a hundred times than to be one minute in this world profaning by unthankfulness the benefits that God hath done for him. Lo, then Hezekiah keepeth this rule, that men ought not to desire to live one day but to that end that God might be glorified in it. But in the mean time this that he was tossed with so great troubles that he could not orderly speak as he ought, proceeded of his weakness, which God holdeth for excused and supporteth. For it is not a disobedience, though we have many ranging words in our prayer. It is true that we ought alway to frame ourselves to his rule, which is given us, to the end that every man pray to God, not at adventure, and after his own fancy. But howsoever it be, we shall have measurable sorrows, & complaints in us, and it behoveth that God have pity of us in this behalf. Lo, in a sum, what we have to learn, that above all, while we live, we alway tend to this end that God be honored. For therefore it is he that hath set us in this world, to that end it is that he hath chosen us to be of his flock, to wit, that we might be assembled to sing his praises with one accord. {64}

And we see this yet better in the 115th Psalm, where is a like sentence. And it is not one man that speaketh, but the whole body of the Church of the faithful, which say that one cannot praise God in death, but we that live (say they) unto the end shall confess that God hath preserved us. There it is signified unto us that God will alway keep his church, and that he will have some people remaining unto the end of the world. Why? because he will be known the father and saviour among men. And although it be not of the greater multitude, yet will he have some company that shall praise him. So then let us learn to exercise our selves in blessing the name of God while he keepeth us here below, and while we be nourished by his liberality, and while (which more is) he calleth us unto him to tend alway to the hope of the eternal heritage. Sith [since] then it is so, let us apply all our study thereunto, yea all the days of our life. If we do otherwise, it were better for us that our mothers had been delivered of us before our time, or that the earth had gaped to swallow us up, than to be here gluttons, as brute beasts, and to continue unthankfully for so many benefits as God hath given us, and that his praise should be buried by us. Take this for a note.

The residue [remainder]: Let us alway be ready following the example of Paul, to glorify God, be it by life, be it by death. If at any time we be in troubles as the good king Hezekiah was, let us know that all our sorrows, complaints, and groanings, ought to be suspicious unto us, because we cannot keep measure by reason of the frailty {65} that is in us.

So that this which is said here, The dead shall not praise God, may not be drawn of us for a consequent proof, to plead with God when it shall please him to call us unto him. Let us not make this excuse under pretext of Hezekiah, or David, who spake so in the 6th Psalm, or of all the people as we shall allege. For there was excess, because as well David as Hezekiah, and generally all the Church then when a horrible dissipation was near tempted as if God would reject them, and utterly disclaim in them, and would have no more to do with them. As they then were pulled back from God, so were they abashed. And no marvel. Let us not therefore make thereof a rule, as if we might do the like: but let it serve to make us know our own weakness. Moreover although God do support us, yet let us not please ourselves in such a vice. Lo, this it is that we have to learn.

Now we are taught forasmuch as God hath made us to feel his graces, to have our hearts set at large, and our mouths opened to bless his name. And on the other side, that we cannot pronounce one word to his praise, which proceedeth from a good hearty affection, except we be throughly persuaded in this, that God is merciful unto us, & that we use to our profit the benefits which we receive of his hand.

As touching the first point, let every one learn to stir up himself according to that which he receiveth of the graces of God, for the number is infinite. {6[6]}

There is none of us when he shall duly consider himself, but ought to be ravished, as it is said in the 40th Psalm, that if we will number the testimonies that God hath given us of the fatherly care which he hath for us, and of his mercy, they are more than the hairs of our head, and we shall be thereat as it were astonished. But according as God setteth forth the riches of his goodness toward every one of us, let us be so much the more moved to bless his name, & let every one experuse and prick himself forward unto that. Lo, this is in sum that which we have to mark upon this place.

Now on the other side, let us confess that our life is cursed if we gluttonously devour the good things that God giveth us and do not therein behold his goodness. For we unchristianly abuse all that which was appointed for our use and salvation unless we be brought to this point, that God sheweth himself a very father unto us, and that by all means of gentleness he draweth us unto him, that we should not doubt that he taketh us for his children. And in this also we see how miserable is the state of Papists, for they will not assure themselves of the goodness of God, but say that always we must be in doubt of it. And so all their praying and thanksgiving to God, is nothing but Hypocrisy and feigning. For we cannot call upon the name of God but with affiance, we cannot praise his name except we know that he is favourable unto us. Then they are altogether excluded. Let us learn then that we can never offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving which he esteemeth and setteth by, and that we can never attain {67} to the right scope of our life, unless we be fully persuaded of his goodness. And so as oft as we think upon all the graces and benefits of God: let this come into our mind, that God doth confirm and ratify unto us his adoption to the end that we may not doubt that he counteth us as his children, and that we freely call upon him as our father: Lo, in a sum what we have to learn of this place.

Now we must also note this which Hezekiah saith: The Living, the living shall praise thee! Yea, the father shall declare to his children thy virtue. He had said before that the dead shall not wait any more for the truth of God, that is to say, they shall have no hope. And in this we see that which I have touched, that Hezekiah speaketh not indifferently of all these whom God hath taken out of this world. For it is certain that the faithful do wait upon the truth of God. When Jacob yielding up his spirit, said: I will wait for the salvation of the Lord, he said not that for one minute, but he declared and protested that he had this assurance imprinted in his heart, which should never be pulled out, so that though he passed through a hundred deaths yet always this treasure should remain with him. Now then the saints and faithful although God called them out of the world ceased not always to nourish the hope of the resurrection, and of this felicity which is promised them. But Hezekiah speaketh of the departed, which are as it were banished and estranged altogether from the kingdom of God, whom also he forsaketh. Now, he was even in the same estate in his own conceit until God comforted him by his prophet. {68} For the message which was sent to him, was to shew that God was his enemy, and that he came as his adversary with armed hand against him. Then was Hezekiah driven to remain confounded. Then it is not without cause that he said, that those which are departed, wait not for the truth of God, that is to say, that they are altogether shut out from the promises, so as they are no more of the number of his children.

But now he saith that the living which taste the goodness of God, shall cause their children to acknowledge his truth. Now here we see again how God shall be only praised and honoured among us, that is, when a man shall know that God is faithful to all his own, that he never forsaketh them, but that his help is ready for them in their necessity, and that they shall never be disappointed which lean unto him. Lo, this is the true substance of God’s praise. So in a sum we see that it is nothing but falsehood and lies when men shall pray unto God, and shall make as though they gave thanks unto him, & in the mean time they are not instructed of the love that God beareth them nor certified of their salvation, and shall know of no promise. Then when that wanteth, it is certain that all their praises of God, which may be sounded in the mouths of men, are but wind, and smoke. Will we then praise God as it appertaineth, in such manner as he alloweth the sacrifices which we shall offer unto him of praise, and thanksgiving? Let us profit in his word, let us know what it is, to trust in him, which we cannot do till he declare his good will {69} toward us, and have certified us that he hath received us, that we may freely come unto him, and that we shall never be forsaken, so [if] we flee unto him. If we have not such an instruction, we can never pronounce one word of God’s praises as we ought. Lo, hereunto it is to be applied, that Hezekiah saith here, that the father shall make known unto his children the truth of God.

Moreover, whereas he saith, that the dead cannot wait for it, nor lean unto it, Let us know, that forasmuch as God declareth himself merciful and liberal unto us, that is always the more to confirm our hope: That we should take so much the more courage to run unto him, and not to doubt that he hath his hand always ready to help us at need.

How then shall we use the graces of God as we ought? When we shall be always confirmed more and more in the faith, when we can despise all temptations, when we can resolve ourselves, that in calling upon God, we ought in no wise to fear the loss of our labour, forasmuch as our hope shall never be confounded.

When then we shall be well satisfied in this, so as we may fight against Satan, to beat back all temptations, behold how we may wisely apply the benefits of God to our own use, and how we may take profit of them: Lo, in a sum, what we have here to learn. {70}

Moreover, when he speaketh how fathers ought to behave themselves toward their children, we have to gather in general (as hath been said here before) that it is not enough that we procure that God be glorified during our life, but we ought to desire, as his name is immortal, so that from age to age it may be honored, & that those which shall come after us, may keep the pure religion, & that the service of God may never fall in decay.1 That it may be followed and advanced always and that the goodness of God may be everywhere magnified. They that have children, let them know that God hath committed them in charge to them, & that they must render an account if they bestow not all travail to teach them to serve God. For when it is said that the father shall shew to his children the truth of God, we must always come to this end. Why? to this end that the children may trust in him, that they may call upon him, that they may give to him the praise of all good things, that they may dedicate & consecrate themselves wholly to him & to his obedience. Then if fathers will discharge themselves of their duties, let them know that this is the principal heritage that they ought to leave to their children. But if they heap up goods & yet give them the bridle when they shall see them dissolute, mischievous, wicked despisers of God, Woe be to them in that they shall take pain to advance them in this world: for they lift them up very high to make them break their necks, & their fall shall be more deadly when they shall have store of goods: and yet in the mean time they shall despise God in his doctrine, their confusion shall be more {71} horrible, because their unthankfulness shall be less excusable. Let the fathers then think better of this than they have been accustomed, that is to say, when God giveth them children, he bindeth them to this charge, that they endeavor so much the more, that they may be instructed in his truth, so long as they live, as also we see the example given us in Abraham, which is the father of the faithful. For when God meant to shew that Abraham would govern his house, as appertained: Shall I hide from my servant Abraham (saith he) that which I have to do? No. Lo, how God maketh himself familiar with him. For (saith he) he shall instruct his children in my statutes, in my laws, & in my ordinances: Lo, this is the mark whereby the faithful are known from the despisers of God. If then we will be numbered in the church, let us follow this zeal, and this affection of Abraham, that every one according to the family that he hath, travail that God be honoured in it, and that his truth be always known even to the end.

Now for conclusion Hezekiah saith: The Lord it is that shall save me. This word doth import that he despiseth and throweth away all other safeguard, as if he should say, there is none but God. He might have said: The Lord hath saved me. He might have said: I hold my life of him and of his mere grace. But he goeth further, as if he meant here to maintain the honor of God, and to beat down all the affiances that men conceive in their fantasy. For we are wont to make our discourses when we mind to maintain ourselves, and when we seek to be assured, we take this mean, and that mean. {72}

Now Hezekiah forsaketh all and declareth that there is none but God, and that he it is whom we ought to go unto.

True it is that God suffereth us to use all the means that he offereth us, and he hath ordained them for that use, but yet he will not that his glory be darkened, as it is no reason it should be. Nevertheless, men be so wicked and froward, that always they take occasion to minish the glory of God under this colour that he helpeth them by his creatures. If God hath not been content only to make us feel his own virtue, but also applieth all his creatures to our use, we ought to be so much the more stirred to praise him. But clean contrary, we rob him of his right, we forsake him, and fasten our affiance here, and there, and we think that our salvation proceedeth from this thing and from that. Lo, how God is defrauded of his right. So much the more ought we to mark this that is here said by Hezekiah. The Lord it is that saveth us. That is, though the Lord do stretch his hand unto us, and giveth us wherewith to be maintained, yet let us confess that he is the fountain, and let the river that floweth from him unto us, not hinder us to know whence the river cometh. Let us then tend always to this wellspring, that God be glorified, and that he keep his own wholly: and after, when we are made naked of all other means, let us say: the Lord alone shall suffice. And for this cause saith David, The mercy of God is more worth than all lives, not meaning that the life of men is not of the mercy of God, but he sheweth that men ought not to be fast bound here beneath, & that they are become brutish {73} when they think to preserve, maintain, or warrant themselves by this, or that mercy, & that they ought above all things to prefer the only goodness of God, and to rest in the same. So then behold here a saying of great doctrine, if we can have skill to take profit thereof. Let us then follow the example of Hezekiah, and when God hath succoured us at our need: let us give him the praise for our life confessing that there is none but he alone to save us. Hereunto he addeth again, And we will sing our songs all the days of our life in the house of the Lord. Here he repeateth again the saying that he spake before, that is, that he will employ all the residue of the life that God hath given him to make to God acknowledgement thereof, that he might not be found unthankful. For as I have said, it were better that we had never been born, than to enjoy the good things that God hath done for us, and yet to have our mouth closed and to think no more upon him. Let us then note well that this repetition is not superfluous when Hezekiah saith so many times that sith [since] his life is prolonged, he will be so much the more stirred to praise God. Take this for one note.

Now, he further sheweth that this shall not be for a sudden braid, as many can well praise God with a meetly [appropriately] vehement affection, when they have had proof of his goodness, but that droopeth away by and by, and the memory is lost of it, & they think that it is enough that at one time they have testified that they thank God for the good that they have received. But Hezekiah sheweth us that we ought to continue therein with a true perseverance, for we are beholden to God no more for one day of our life than for another. {74} It must therefore be fully dedicate & avowed unto him. So seeing the slothfulness and coldness that is in us, let us learn to stir up ourselves when we shall feel that our zeal waxeth cold for fear lest it be wholly quenched. Let us awake. How? If I have once or twice reknowledge the grace of God, What is that? must it be now forgotten? And if I bless the name of God during one month, a year, or two, or three: And now I think no more of it; To what purpose shall it serve me? but to make me so much the more guilty of hypocrisy, & to shew that there was nothing but a fire of stubble, that there is no constancy nor stedfastness. If then we behold well the example of this good king, we shall every one be the more pricked forward, to feed ourselves no more in this idleness which is natural unto us, and whereunto we be too much inclined.

When he sayeth, In the house of the Lord, He meaneth not that the praises of God should be enclosed within the temple, for every man in his own house may and ought to praise God. But Hezekiah sheweth that it is not enough that he praiseth God in secret, but that he will stir up others, to have more company. He speaketh here of a solemn sacrifice of praise which he will make to God in a great assembly. And for this same cause our Lord hath willed his to gather together. For he was able enough to have taught them particularly if he would, & to say: Let every man praise me in his chamber. But his pleasure is that there be this policy, that we be knit together in one body, that we call upon him with one mouth, and that we make confession of our faith with one {75} accord. And why so? True it is, that first we see that it behoveth that all our senses be applied to glorify him, but there is also a second point, that every one stir up others as we have need, for there is none of us that feeleth himself disposed to praise God, but he hath yet a prick forward when he shall see the company of the faithful, and example shewed him. Forasmuch therefore as this doth stir us up, God willeth that openly and in common we sing his praises. And for this cause Hezekiah saith expressly that he will go to the temple of the Lord to praise and bless his name, as we see also that Jonah did the like. [Jonah 2.] He speaketh of the house of the Lord, and why? Not (as I said) that the praises of the Lord are there shut up & hidden but for that the people there assemble together, & for that he knew that this should bring more profit because there should be some that should be stirred up by his example. Lo, in a sum, the song of Hezekiah.

Now in the end it is here recited that the Prophet Isaiah commanded to make him a plaister of figs upon his wound, whereby it is likely that it was a pestilence which he had. And after he by and by addeth that Hezekiah also demandeth a token which is granted him, as we see when the sun was drawn back of his course upon the dial of Ahaz. A man might here move a question, whether this plaister were for medicine, or a token that the Prophet gave him. And it seemeth that if it had been for medicine, it should have diminished the glory of God, for it behoved that Hezekiah’s life should be miraculous. Why did he not then heal him without any mean? But when all shall be {76} well considered, the sign or miracle that was given to Hezekiah when the sun stayed his course, and when the shadow of the dial was drawn back so many degrees was sufficient, and took away all doubt. Moreover although Hezekiah used this plaister it is not therefore to be said that his healing was naturally wrought, for sith God had changed the order of the heaven, and shewed a witness so evident that this proceeded from his hand, and that it was an extraordinary benefit, we ought to content ourselves with that, and we see many times that God is served with his creatures and yet he hath sufficiently declared that it was his own power only.

They which think that Hezekiah rather had this plaister as a sacrament to confirm him, do think that the figs would more have hurt his wound than helped it. But a man may make a compound of them to ripe a sore, and that is commonly known. True it is that God sometime giveth signs that seem clean contrary, and that is to draw us the more to him, to make us forsake our own fantasies and hold us content with that which he hath spoken. As how? God promiseth that the world shall never be destroyed with water, and what sign giveth he thereof? a sign that naturally threateneth us rain. When we see the rainbow, what token is it? it is such a drawing together of waters, that maketh seem we shall all be overwhelmed and the earth shall perish. And how so? This sign is given us of God to make us know that the earth shall never be destroyed with overflowing of water. Yea, but it is to make us learn to stay upon his truth and to stop our {77} eyes against all the rest, and against all that we conceive in ourselves, and that the truth of God be of so sufficient credit with us, that we receive it without gainsaying. So then God worketh well in such sort: but as to this place, we may rather judge that the Prophet to assuage the grief of Hezekiah gave him this remedy, like to a fire that burneth a man. And so when GOD had prolonged the life of this good king, he would yet of abundant grace add this goodness also, that the pain should be mitigated. Then the prophet gave him this as it were an overplus that God had not only prolonged his life, but also would not have him endure so much or suffer the torments which he felt before.

Thus behold how in all and every way God hath declareth himself pitiful toward this good king, how he would shew himself pacified altogether after that he had used such roughness toward him and had stretched out his arm as if he would have altogether overwhelmed him. But this meaneth not that God doth the very same to every one of his children, to the end that we should not ask that in one minute of time God make us glad after he hath drawn us out of the grave and hath given us throughly to content us, but that it may be his pleasure by little and little to give us ease of all our griefs; in the meantime let us be content with this.

And indeed we may gather that God hitherto hath wrought by degrees in Hezekiah: for this miracle was done since the shadow of the sun was drawn back, and the message of prolonging his life was given him by the prophet. {78}

It seemeth then that Hezekiah was altogether delivered, and yet this plaister was also requisite. So then when our lord after he hath given us any ease in our trouble shall leave some remnant of pain: let not that trouble us, neither let us be weary of bearing his correction, until he have healed us altogether.

Now we have to declare why Hezekiah demanded a sign, for although it were of weakness yet God heard him in such a request, and herein we see how loving God is toward us, when he doth not only grant the requests which we make of a pure and right affection: but also though there be some infirmity mingled withall, and that we bear passions somewhat excessive, yet God hath pity on us in this point. Certain it is that Hezekiah when he had perfect faith he was content to have heard the word from the mouth of the Prophet. Then when he saith alas shall I not have some sign: herein he sheweth that he giveth not full and perfect faith to the word of God. But yet he confesseth his fault, and in confessing it, he asketh remedy: & of whom? of God himself. Then when we shall be so encumbered, first let us acknowledge our own poverty, and let us not go about to excuse the evil, but let us take upon us the sentence of condemnation willingly. If then we ask of God to help it by his goodness, he will succor us, and hear our requests.

It is true that it becometh not us to require a sign or miracle when we think good, for as it hath been declared in that place where the prophet even now made mention of the sign. Hezekiah had a special motion unto it, as Gideon also had [Judges 6.]: {79} Let us leave that to the good pleasure of God, when we know our infirmity, & pray him to help, and to confirm us to the end we may be fully satisfied in his word. Lo then, how we must go forward, and in this doing we shall feel that this is not written only for the person of the king Hezekiah, but that God would give it for a common instruction to all his church, that in our troubles when we shall be come to the extremity: yea, to the bottom of hell, we may yet know that we ought to have our refuge to him that hath called us, and handled us so gently, hoping that he will shew forth his strength toward us, although for a time it be far from us, and that we see no sign of it, & so that he will give us matter to glorify him, and also we are taught to apply all our life to bless the name of God, and to sing his praises according as we have experience of his goodness toward us.
 

   Now  let  vs  throwe  downe  our  selues  before
the maiestie of our good  God,  in  acknowledgyng
of our faultes, praying him,  that  more  and  more,
he wyll make vs to feale them, and  that  this  may
be to beate vs  altogether  downe, and  humble  vs
before him  yt  we may fight with the vyces which
make warre against  vs,  knowyng  that  our  Lord
hath ordeyned vs to this conflict,  till  we be fullye
renewed and clothed with his iustice,  & that there
may be no stoppe to let vs fró the obedience of his
good will, and that he graunt this grace not
onely vnto vs, but to all peopes and
nations. &c.



 
A   M E D I T A
T I O N   O F   A   P E N I -
T E N T   S I N N E R:   VV R I T -
T E N   I N   M A N E R   O F   A
Paraphrase vpon the
51. Psalme of Dauid.
¶  I  haue  added  this  meditation  fo- 
lowyng vnto  the  ende  of  this  boke,
not  as  parcell  of   maister   Caluines
worke,   but  for  that  it  well  agreeth
with the same argument,  and was de-
liuered me by  my  frend  with  whom
I knew I might be so bolde  to  vse  &
publishe it as pleased me.


¶ The preface, expressing
the passioned minde of
the penitent sinner.


THE heinous guilt of my forsaken ghost
So threats, alas, unto my feebled spirit
Deserved death, and (that me grieveth most)
Still stand so fixed before my dazzled sight
The loathsome filth of my disdained life,
The mighty wrath of mine offended Lord.
My Lord whose wrath is sharper than the knife,
And deeper wounds than double-edged sword,
That, as the dimmed and fordulled eye
Full fraught with tears & more & more oppressed
With growing streams of the distilled brine
Sent from the furnace of a grieful breast,
Cannot enjoy the comfort of the light,
Nor find the way wherein to walk aright:

So I blind wretch, whom God’s enflamed ire
With piercing stroke hath thrown unto the ground,
Amid my sins still groveling in the mire,
Find not the way that other oft have found,
Whom cheerful glimpse of God’s abounding grace
Hath oft relieved and oft with shining light
Hath brought to joy out of the ugly place,
Where I in dark of everlasting night
Bewail my woeful and unhappy case,
And fret my dying soul with gnawing pain.
Yet blind, alas, I grope about for grace.
While blind for grace I grope about in vain,
My fainting breath I gather up and strain,
Mercy, mercy, to cry and cry again. {}

But mercy while I found with shrieking cry,
For grant of grace and pardon while I pray,
Even then despair before my ruthful eye
Spreads forth my sin & shame, & seems to say:
In vain thou brayeth forth thy bootless noise
To him for mercy, O refused wight [rejected one],
That hears not the forsaken sinners voice.
Thy reprobate and foreordained spirit,
For damned vessel of his heavy wrath,
(As self witness of thy beknowing heart,
And secret guilt of thine own conscience saith)
Of his sweet promises can claim no part:
But thee, caitiff, deserved curse doth draw
To hell, by justice, for offended law.

This horror when my trembling soul doth hear,
When marks and tokens of the reprobate,
My growing sins, of grace my senseless cheer,
Enforce the proof of everlasting hate,
That I conceive the heavens King to bear
Against my sinful and forsaken ghost:
As in the throat of hell, I quake for fear,
And then in present peril to be lost
(Although by conscience wanteth to reply,
But with remorse enforcing mine offence,
Doth argue vain my not availing cry)
With woeful sighs and bitter penitence
To him from whom the endless mercy flows
I cry for mercy to relieve my woes.

And then not daring with presuming eye
Once to behold the angry heavens’ face,
From troubled spirit I send confused cry,
To crave the crumbs of all sufficing grace. {}
With faltering knee I falling to the ground,
Bending my yielding hands to heavens throne,
Pour forth my piteous plaint with woeful sound,
With smoking sighs, & oft repeated groan,
Before the Lord, the Lord, whom sinner I,
I cursed wretch, I have offended so,
That dreading, in his wreakful wrath to die,
And damned down to depth of hell to go,
Thus tossed with pangs and passions of despair,
Thus crave I mercy with repentant cheer. {}



A Meditation of a peni-
tent sinner, vpon the 51.
Psalme.

 

Haue mercie vpon me (o God) after thy great merci Have mercy, God, for thy great mercies’ sake.
O God: my God, unto my shame I say,
Being fled from thee, so as I dread to take
Thy name in wretched mouth, and fear to pray
Or ask the mercy that I have abused.
But, God of mercy, let me come to thee:
Not for justice, that justly am accused:
Which self word Justice so amazeth me,
That scarce I dare thy mercy sound again.
But mercy, Lord, yet suffer me to crave.
Mercy is thine: Let me not cry in vain,
Thy great mercy for my great fault to have.
Have mercy, God, pity my penitence
With greater mercy than my great offence.
And according vnto the multitude of thy mercies do away myne offences. My many sins in number are increased,
With weight whereof in sea of deep despair
My sinking soul is now so sore oppressed,
That now in peril and in present fear,
I cry: sustain me, Lord, and Lord I pray,
With endless number of thy mercies take
The endless number of my sins away. {}
So by thy mercy, for thy mercies’ sake,
Rue on me, Lord, relieve me with thy grace.
My sin is cause that I so need to have
Thy mercies’ aid in my so woeful case:
My sin is cause that scarce I dare to crave
Thy mercy manifold, which only may
Relieve my soul, and take my sins away.
Wash me yet more from my wickednes, and clense me from my sinne. So foul is sin and loathsome in thy sight,
So foul with sin I see my self to be,
That till from sin I may be washed white,
So foul I dare not, Lord, approach to thee.
Oft hath thy mercy washed me before,
Thou madest me clean: but I am foul again.
Yet wash me Lord again, and wash me more.
Wash me, O Lord, and do away the stain
Of ugly sins that in my soul appear.
Let flow thy plenteous streams of cleansing grace.
Wash me again, yea wash me every where,
Both leprous body and defiled face.
Yea wash me all, for I am all unclean,
And from my sin, Lord, cleanse me once again.
For I knowledge my wickednes, and my sinne is euer before me. Have mercy, Lord, have mercy: for I know
How much I need thy mercy in this case.
The horror of my guilt doth daily grow,
And growing wears my feeble hope of grace.
I feel and suffer in my thralled breast
Secret remorse and gnawing of my heart.
I feel my sin, my sin that hath oppressed
My soul with sorrow and surmounting smart.
Draw me to mercy: for so oft as I {}
Presume to mercy to direct my sight,
My Chaos and my heap of sin doth lie,
Between me and thy mercies’ shining light.
What ever way I gaze about for grace,
My filth and fault are ever in my face.
Againste thee onelye haue I sinned, & don euill in thy sight. Grant thou me mercy, Lord: thee thee alone
I have offended, and offending thee,
For mercy lo, how I do lie and groan.
Thou with all-piercing eye beheldest me,
Without regard that sinned in thy sight.
Behold again, how now my spirit it rues,
And wails the time, when I with foul delight
Thy sweet forbearing mercy did abuse.
My cruel conscience with sharpened knife
Doth splat my ripped heart, and lays abroad
The loathsome secrets of my filthy life,
And spreads them forth before the face of God.
Whom shame from deed shameless could not restrain,
Shame for my deed is added to my pain.
That thou mightest be founde iust in thy sayinges, and maiest ouer come when thou art iudged. But mercy Lord, O Lord some pity take,
Withdraw my soul from the deserved hell.
O Lord of glory, for thy glory’s sake:
That I may saved of thy mercy tell,
And shew how thou, which mercy hast behight [promised]
To sighing sinners, that have broke thy laws,
Performest mercy: so as in the sight
Of them that judge the justice of thy cause
Thou only just be deemed, and no more,
The world’s injustice wholly to confound:
That damning me to depth of during woe
Just in thy judgment shouldest thou be found:
And from deserved flames relieving me {}
Just in thy mercy mayest thou also be.
For loe, I was shapen in wickednes, and in sinne my mother cóceiued me. For lo, in sin, Lord, I begotten was,
With seed and shape my sin I took also,
Sin is my nature and my kind alas,
In sin my mother me conceived: Lo
I am but sin, and sinful ought to die,
Die in his wrath that hath forbidden sin.
Such bloom and fruit lo sin doth multiply,
Such was my root, such is my juice within.
I plead not this as to excuse my blame,
On kind or parents mine own guilt to lay:
But by disclosing of my sin, my shame,
And need of help, the plainer to display
Thy mighty mercy, if with plenteous grace
My plenteous sins it please thee to deface.
But lo, thou haste loued trueth, the hidden and secrete thinges of thy wisedome thou haste opened vnto me. Thou lovest simple sooth, not hidden face
With truthless visor of deceiving show.
Lo simply, Lord, I do confess my case,
And simply crave thy mercy in my woe.
This secret wisdom hast thou granted me,
To see my sins, & whence my sins to grow:
This hidden knowledge have I learned of thee,
To feel my sins, and how my sins do flow
With such excess, that with unfeigned heart,
Dreading to drown, my Lord, lo how I flee,
Simply with tears bewailing my desert,
Relieved simply by thy hand to be.
Thou lovest truth, thou taughtest me the same.
Help, Lord of truth, for glory of thy name.
Sprinkle me, Lorde, with hisope and I shalbe cleane: washe me and I shalbe whiter then snow. With sweet Hyssop besprinkle thou my spirit:
Not such hyssop, nor so besprinkle me, {}
As law unperfect shade of perfect light
Did use as an appointed sign to be
Foreshowing figure of thy grace behight [promised].
With death and bloodshed of thine only son,
The sweet hyssop, cleanse me defiled wight.
Sprinkle my soul. And when thou so hast done,
Bedewed with drops of mercy and of grace,
I shall be clean as cleansed of my sin.
Ah wash me, Lord: for I am foul alas:
That only canst, Lord, wash me well within,
Was me, O Lord: when I am washed so,
I shall be whiter than the whitest snow.
Thou shalt make me heare ioye and gladnesse, [that] the bones which thou hast broken shal reioyse. Long have I heard, & yet I hear the sounds
Of dreadful threats and thunders of the law,
Which Echo of my guilty mind resounds,
And with redoubled horror doth so draw
My listening soul from mercies gentle voice,
That louder, Lord, I am constrained to call:
Lord, pierce mine ears, & make me to rejoice,
When I shall hear, and when thy mercy shall
Sound in my heart the gospel of thy grace.
Then shalt thou give my hearing joy again,
The joy that only may relieve my case.
And then my bruised bones, that thou with pain
Hast made too weak my feebled corpse to bear,
Shall leap for joy, to shew mine inward cheer.
Turne away thy face from my sinnes, and do away all my misdedes. Look on me, Lord: though trembling I beknow,
That sight of sin so sore offendeth thee,
That seeing sin, how it doth overflow
My whelmed soul, thou canst not look on me,
But with disdain, with horror and despite.
Look on me, Lord: but look not on my sin. {}
Not that I hope to hide it from thy sight,
Which seest me all without and eke within.
But so remove it from thy wrathful eye,
And from the justice of thine angry face,
That thou impute it not. Look not how I
Am foul by sin: but make me by thy grace
Pure in thy mercies’ sight, and, Lord, I pray,
That hatest sin, wipe all my sins away.
Create a cleane hart within me, O God: and renew a stedfast spirit within my bowels. Sin and despair have so possessed my heart,
And hold my captive soul in such restraint,
As of thy mercies I can feel no part,
But still in languor do I lie and faint.
Create a new pure heart within my breast:
Mine old can hold no liquor of thy grace.
My feeble faith with heavy load oppressed
Staggering doth scarcely creep a reeling pace,
And fallen it is too faint to rise again.
Renew, O Lord, in me a constant spirit,
That stayed with mercy may my soul sustain,
A spirit so settled and so firmly pight [fixed]
Within my bowels, that it never move,
But still uphold th’assurance of thy love.
Cast me not away from thy face, and take not thy holy spirit from me. Lo prostrate, Lord, before thy face I lie,
With sighs deep drawn deep sorrow to express.
O Lord of mercy, mercy do I cry:
Drive me not from thy face in my distress,
Thy face of mercy and of sweet relief,
The face that feeds angels with only sight,
The face of comfort in extremest grief.
Take not away the succour of thy Spirit,
Thy Holy Spirit, which is mine only stay,
The stay that when despair assaileth me, {}
In faintest hope yet moveth me to pray,
To pray for mercy, and to pray to thee.
Lord, cast me not from presence of thy face,
Nor take from me the spirit of thy grace.
Restore to me the comforte of thy sauing helpe, & stablishe me with thy free spirit. But render me my wonted joys again,
Which sin hath reft, and planted in their place
Doubt of thy mercy ground of all my pain.
The taste, that thy love whilome [once, formerly] did embrace
My cheerful soul, the signs that did assure
My feeling ghost of favor in thy sight,
Are fled from me, and wretched I endure
Senseless of grace and absence of thy Spirit.
Restore my joys and make me feel again
The sweet return of grace that I have lost,
That I may hope I pray not all in vain.
With thy free Spirit confirm my feeble ghost,
To hold my faith from ruin and decay
With fast affiance and assured stay.
I shal teach thy waies vnto the wicked, & sinners shall be tourned vnto thee. Lord, of thy mercy if thou me withdraw
from gaping throat of deep devouring hell,
Lo, I shall preach the justice of thy law:
By mercy saved, thy mercy shall I tell.
The wicked I will teach thine only way,
Thy ways to take, and man’s device to flee,
And such as lewd delight hath led astray,
To rue their errour and return to thee.
So shall the proof of mine example preach
The bitter fruit of lust and foul delight:
So shall my pardon by thy mercy teach
The way to find sweet mercy in thy sight.
Have mercy, Lord, in me example make
Of law and mercy, for thy mercies’ sake. {}
Deliuer me from bloud o God, God of my helth & my tong shall ioyfullye talke of thy iustice. O God, God of my health, my saving God,
Have mercy, Lord, and shew thy might to save,
Assoil [cleanse] me, God, from guilt of guiltless blood,
And eke from sin that I ingrowing have
By flesh and blood and by corrupted kind.
Upon my blood and soul extend not, Lord,
Vengeance for blood, but mercy let me find,
And strike me not with thy revenging sword.
So, Lord, my joying tongue shall talk thy praise,
Thy name my mouth shall utter in delight,
My voice shall sound thy justice and thy ways,
Thy ways to justify thy sinful wight [man, person, i.e. my sinful self].
God of my health, from blood I saved so
Shall spread thy praise for all the world to know.
Lord, open thou my lippes, and my mouth shal shewe thy praise. Lo straining cramp of cold despair again
In feeble breast doth pinch my pining heart,
So as in greatest need to cry and plain
My speech doth fail to utter thee my smart.
Refresh my yielding heart, with warming grace,
And loose my speech, and make me call to thee.
Lord open thou my lips to shew my case,
My Lord, for mercy Lo to thee I flee.
I can not pray without thy moving aid,
Nor can I rise, nor can I stand alone.
Lord, make me pray, & grant when I have prayed.
Lord loose my lips, I may express my moan,
And finding grace with open mouth I may
Thy mercies praise and holy name display.
If thou haddest desired sacrifice, I wold haue geuen thou delytest not in burnt offringes. Thy mercies’ praise, instead of sacrifice,
With thankful mind so shall I yield to thee.
For if it were delightful in thine eyes,
Or hereby might thy wrath appeased be, {}
Of cattle slain and burnt with sacred flame
Up to the heaven the vapory smoke to send:
Of guiltless beasts, to purge my guilt and blame,
On altars broiled the savour should ascend,
To pease [appease] thy wrath. But thy sweet Son alone,
With one sufficing sacrifice for all
Appeaseth thee, and making thee at one
With sinful man, and hath repaired our fault.
That sacred host is ever in thine eyes.
The praise of that I yield for sacrifice.
The sacrifice to God is a trobled spirit: a broken and an humbled heart, o god, thou wilt not despise. I yield myself, I offer up my ghost,
My slain delights, my dying heart to thee.
To God a troubled spirit is pleasing host.
My troubled spirit doth dread like him to be,
In whom tasteless languor with lingering pains
Hath feebled so the starved appetite,
That food too late is offered all in vain,
To hold in fainting corpse the fleeing spirit.
My pining soul for famine of thy grace
So fears alas the faintness of my faith.
I offer up my troubled spirit: alas,
My troubled spirit refuse not in thy wrath.
Such offering likes thee, nor wilt thou despise
The broken humbled heart in angry wise.
Shew fauour, o lord in thy good will vnto Sion, that th walles of Hierusalem may be bylded. Shew mercy, Lord, not unto me alone:
But stretch thy favor and thy pleased will,
To spread thy bounty and thy grace upon
Sion, for Sion is thy holy hill:
That thy Jerusalem with mighty wall
May be enclosed under thy defence,
And builded so that it may never fall
By mining fraud or mighty violence. {}
Defend thy church, Lord, and advance it so,
So in despite of tyranny to stand,
That trembling at thy power the world may know
It is upholden by thy mighty hand:
That Sion and Jerusalem may be
A safe abode for them that honor thee.
Then shalt thou accept the sacrifice of righteousnesse, burnt offringes and oblations. then shall they offre yonge bullockes vpon thine altare. Then on thy hill, and in thy walled towne,
Thou shalt receive the pleasing sacrifice,
The brute [fame] shall of thy praised name resound
In thankful mouths, and then with gentle eyes
Thou shalt behold upon thine altar lie
Many a yelden host of humbled heart,
And round about then shall thy people cry:
We praise thee, God our God: thou only art
The God of might, of mercy, and of grace.
That I then, Lord, may also honor thee,
Relieve my sorrow, and my sins deface:
Be, Lord of mercy, merciful to me:
Restore my feeling of thy grace again:
Assure my soul, I crave it not in vain.

FINIS.


Footnote:

1. For this reason our Reformers of the First and Second Reformations entered into Covenants to uphold and defend the Reformed religion in their respective nations. The importance of these Covenants may be demonstrated from the obvious defection from the Truth, which grows stronger and stronger in every generation amongst those who deny the binding nature of these Covenants. See the Ordinance of Covenanting page.—JTK.