A Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for Any Christian Man
Set forth by the Kings Majesty of England, &c.
Introduction by the Reverend T.A. Lacey
London: R. Browning, 1895.
Here followeth the Exposition of the Prayer of our Lord, called the Paternoster, divided into seven Petitions
1. OUR father, which art in heaven: hallowed be thy name.
2. Thy kingdom come.
3. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
4. Give us this day our daily bread.
5. And forgive us our trespasses; as we forgive them that trespass against us.
6. And let us not be led into temptation.
7. But deliver us from evil. Amen.
FOR the better and more ample declaration of this prayer, ye shall understand, first, that our Saviour Jesu Christ was the author and maker thereof; and that therefore, like as he is of infinite wisdom and of infinite love and charity towards us, even so all Christian men ought to think and believe that this same prayer is the most excellent, and most sufficient, and most perfect of all others. For neither there is any thing in this prayer superfluous, neither there wanteth any petition, suit, or request for such things as be necessary for our journey and passage in this world, or for our furtherance to the attaining of the life and glory everlasting.
Secondly, that every good Christian man may be assured to attain the requests made in this prayer, if he shall enforce himself, and apply his whole heart and will to the will and grace of him unto whom this prayer is made, and also If he shall utter and offer the said petitions inwardly with his heart, and with such faith, confidence, and trust in God as he requireth. For surely no prayer is thankful unto God, but that which is made with the heart. And therefore the prophet David crieth to our Lord with all his heart. And Moses is noted to cry out aloud, when he spake no word with his mouth, but he spake aloud with his heart. And our Lord by his prophet noteth, that some Isaiah pray with their lips, and in their hearts mind nothing less than that which they pray for. And therefore whosoever kitendeth, by saying his Paternoster, to attain his desire, he must have with faith a good and earnest devotion, and his heart, as nigh as he can, void of vain thoughts, and applied to God, so that the intent and desire of his heart may be joined always with the prayer of his mouth.
And for this purpose it is meet and much requisite that the unlearned people should use to make their prayers in their mother tongue, which they best understand, whereby they may be the more moved and stirred unto devotion, and the more earnestly mind the thing that they pray for.
THE FIRST PETITION.
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
OF these words Our Father, placed in the beginning of this petition, all true Christian men ought to conceive a great comfort and joy, in that they be taught and commanded in this prayer to take Almighty God for their Father, and so to call him; as for example, if our sovereign lord the king would say to any of us, Take me for your father, and so call me, what joy in heart, what comfort, what confidence would we conceive of so favourable and gracious words! Then much more incomparably have we cause to rejoice that the King and Prince of all princes sheweth unto us this grace and goodness, to make us his children. And surely as the natural son may assuredly trust that his father will do for him all things that may be for his setting forth and advancement; even so we may undoubtedly assure ourselves, that having Almighty God to our Father, using ourselves as obedient children, we shall lack nothing which may be profitable for us, toward the everlasting inheritance prepared for us.
And here is to be noted a lesson, that as this word Father declareth the great benevolence, mercy, and love of God towards us, as well in the creation as also in the redemption of man; so it admonisheth us again of our duty towards him, and how we be bound to shew again unto him our whole heart, love, and our obedience and readiness to fulfil all his precepts and commandments with all gladness and humility. And therefore whosoever presumeth to come to God with this prayer, and to call him Father, and yet hath not full intent and purpose to use himself in all things like a kind and an obedient son, he cometh to him, as Judas came to Christ, with a kiss, pretending to be his friend and his servant, in calling him master, and yet he was indeed a traitor to him, and a deadly enemy. And for this consideration every Christian man that intendeth to make this prayer, ought inwardly and throughly to ensearch and examine himself; and if he find in himself any notable crime, for the which he ought to be ashamed to call God his Father, let him accuse himself thereof to God, and recognise his unworthiness; saying as the prodigal son said, Father, I have offended thee; I am not worthy to be called thy son. And with due repentance and firm purpose and intent to amend his naughty life, let him lift up his heart to God, and calling for his grace of reconciliation, humbly say, Our Father, &c.
Moreover, by these words our Father, is signified, that we ought to believe that Almighty God is the common Father of all true Christian people, and fatherly regardeth all, through and by the mean of our Saviour Jesu Christ, unto whom all faithful and obedient Christian men be brethren by grace and adoption, and called to inherit with him the kingdom of heaven. And they be also brethren each one to other, having all one Father, which is God Almighty. And therefore we ought not only to be of one spirit towards our said Father, and to employ and endeavour ourselves to the uttermost to please him, and to keep his laws and commandments, but we ought also each to consent with other in perfect love and charity, and each to help and further other towards the said inheritance of heaven. And finally, in all our prayers to God, each to comprise other, and to pray for other, like as in this prayer we be taught to say, Our Father, give us our bread: forgive us our sins: suffer us not to fall into temptation: and deliver us from evil.
By these words, Which art in heaven, we be taught, that we ought to have an inward desire and a great care and study to come to the place where our heavenly Father is, and much covet his sight and presence. For like as a loving child is ever desirous to be where his father is; even so ought we ever desire to be with our heavenly Father, and to endeavour ourselves that our conversation be all withdrawn from the world, the flesh, and the Devil, and be set in heaven and heavenly things, as St. Paul teacheth; and we should continually wail and lament because we be not with our heavenly Father, saying with the prophet, Woful am I, that my dwelling upon the earth is so Psalm c much prolonged.
In these words, Hallowed be thy frame, it is to be noted, that by the name of God is understand God himself, the power of God, the might, the majesty, the glory, the wisdom, the providence, the mercy and goodness of God, and all such other good things as in scripture be attributed unto God. And this name is hallowed when it is praised, glorified, set forth, honoured, and magnified of us both in word and deed.
And where in this petition we pray that his name might be hallowed, it is not to be taken or thought that this name of God, which in itself is evermore most holy, most glorious, most marvellous, and full of majesty, can be either advanced or diminished by us, or any thing that we can do, but we desire here that this most holy name may (according as it is in itself most holy) be so taken, used, honoured, and hallowed of us and of all others, as well heathen as christened, like as on the contrary part this name is said to be polluted and defiled, when we do, either in word or deed, contumeliously and contemptuously or otherwise dishonour the same.
We desire therefore in this petition, that all false faith, by the which men either mistrust God, or put their confidence in any other thing more than in him, may be destroyed: and that all witchcrafts, and false charms and conjurations, by the which Satan and other creatures be enchanted, may cease and give place to God's holy name: and so likewise that all heresies and false doctrines may vanish away, so that God's holy word may be truly interpreted, and purely taught and set forth unto all the world, and that all infidels may receive the same, and be converted to the right catholic faith, whereby all deceit, hypocrisy, and counterfeiting of truth, of righteousness, or of holiness, might clearly be extinct.
Furthermore, we beseech and pray God here that "his name may be hallowed, so that no man should swear in vain by it, or otherwise abuse the same, to lie or to deceive his neighbour: and generally that none should fall into pride or ambition, into desire of worldly glory and fame, into envy, malice, covetousness, adultery, gluttony, sloth, backbiting, slandering of his neighbours, ne into any other evil or "wicked thoughts and deeds, whereby the name of God may be dishonoured and blasphemed.
In this prayer also we require God to grant us that in all perils and dangers we run unto him as unto our only refuge, and call upon his holy name, and that in our good words and works we may please and magnify him and be by him preserved from the most damnable sin of unkindness towards him; and also that we which do already profess the right faith may still continue therein, and may do and express the same as well in our outward conversation as hi confessing it with our mouth, so that by our good life and our good works all other may be moved to good, and that by our evil works and sins no man may take occasion to slander the name or diminish the laud and praise of God, but that all our works and doings might return to the honour and praise of God's name.
THE SECOND PETITION.
Thy kingdom come.
THIS second petition is very necessary; for no doubt our ancient enemy the Devil goeth about continually by all crafty means to deceive us, and bring us under his power and dominion. And surely so long as pride and disobedience reigneth in us; so long as ire, envy, wrath, or covetousness reigneth in us so long as gluttony, lechery, or any kind of sin reigneth in us ; BO long we be under the dominion and kingdom of the Devil. For the Devil undoubtedly is king over all the children of pride, that is to say, over all them that be sinners, rebels, and disobedient unto God.
And forasmuch as it is not in our power to deliver ourselves from under this tyranny of the Devil, but only by God's help, (for our perdition and undoing is of ourselves, but our help and salvation is of God, as saith the prophet Osee,) therefore it is very necessary for all true Christian people to make this petition incessantly unto our heavenly Father, and to beseech him, according to this doctrine of Christ, that by his grace and help we may escape the dominion and power of the Devil, and that we may be made subject unto his heavenly kingdom. Therefore in this petition we desire God to give us, afore all things, true and constant faith in him, and in his Son Jesu Christ, and in the Holy Ghost, with pure love and charity towards him and all men; to keep us also from infidelity, desperation, and malice, which might be the cause of our destruction; to deliver us from dissensions, covetousness, lechery, and evil desires and lusts of sin, and so the virtue of his kingdom to come, and to reign within us, that all our heart, mind, and wits, with all our strength, inward and outward, may be ordered and directed to serve God, to observe his commandments and his will, and not to serve ourselves, the v, flesh, the world, or the Devil.
We desire also that this kingdom, once in us begun, may be daily increased, and go forward more and more, so that all subtile and secret hate or sloth which we have to goodness, be not suffered to rule so in us that it shall cause us to look back again, and to fall into sin, but that we may have a stable purpose and strength, not only to begin the life of innocency, but also to proceed earnestly further in Coloss, i., and to perform it, according to the saying of St. Paul, where he prayeth that we may walk worthily, pleasing God in all things, being fruitful in all good works, and growing and increasing in the knowledge of God. Also in another place he saith, Work and do the truth in charity, and increase and go forward in Christ.
Therefore in this prayer, desiring the kingdom of God to come, we require also, that we being already received and entered into the kingdom of grace and mercy of God, may so continue and persevere therein, that after this life we may come to the kingdom of glory, which endureth for ever. And this is that great and fervent desire wherewith good men, being mortified from worldly affections, have been and be always kindled and inflamed, as appeareth by St. Paul, when he said, I would be loosed from this body, and be with Christ. And in another place he saith, We that have received the firstfruits of the Spirit, wail and mourn in ourselves, wishing and looking to be delivered from the mortality and miseries of this body into the glory of the children of God.
THE THIRD PETITION.
Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
FOR the better understanding of this third petition, we must know that, by disobedience and sin of our first father Adam, we be as of our nature only without the grace of God, unable to fulfil the will and precepts of God, and so inclined *o love ourselves and our own wills, that we cannot heartily love neither God nor man as we ought to do. And therefore we being once Christian men, it is requisite for us to pray, that like as the holy angels and saints in heaven (in whom God reigneth perfectly and wholly) do never cease ne shall cease to glorify him, to praise him, and to fulfil his will and pleasure in all things, and that most readily and gladly, without any manner of grudging or resisting thereunto, knowing certainly and clearly that his will is alway the best; even so that we, the children of God in earth, may daily and continually praise God, and by our holy conversation in good works and good life, honour and glorify him: and that we may from time to time so mortify our own natural corrupt and sinful appetite and will, that we may be ever ready, like loving children, humbly, lowly, and obediently to approve, allow, and accomplish the will of God our Father in all things, and to submit ourselves with all our heart unto the same, and to acknowledge that whatsoever is the will of God, the same is most perfect, most just, most holy, and most expedient for the wealth and health of our souls.
Wherefore in this petition also we desire of God true and stable patience when our will is letted or broken; and that when any man speaketh or doth contrary to our will, yet therefore We be not out of patience, neither curse or murmur, or seek vengeance against our adversaries, or them which let our will, but that we may say well of them, and do well to them. We pray also, that by God's grace we may gladly suffer all diseases, poverty, despisings, persecutions, and adversities, knowing that it is the will of God that we should crucify and mortify our wills; and when any such adversity chanceth unto us, attribute all unto the will or sufferance of God, and give him thanks therefore, who doth order all such things for our weal and benefit, either for the exercise, and the trial of the good, to make them stronger in goodness and virtue, or else for the chastisement and amendment of the evil, to suppress their evil motions and desires.
And also we pray, that whensoever it shall please to call us out of this transitory life, we may be willing to die; and that, conforming our will to the will of God, we may take our death gladly, so that by fear or infirmity we be not made disobedient unto him.
We desire furthermore, that all our members, eyes, tongue, heart, hands, and feet be not suffered to follow xthe desires of the flesh, but that all may be used to the will and pleasure of God; and that maliciously we rejoice not in their troubles which have resisted our will, or have hurt us j nor that we be' enviously sorry when that they prosper and have welfare, but that we may be contented and pleased with all thing that is God's will.
THE FOURTH PETITION.
Give us this day our daily bread.
FOR the better declaration of this fourth petition, ye shall understand, first, that our Lord teacheth us not in this petition to ask any superfluous thing of pleasure or delight, but only things necessary and sufficient, and therefore he biddeth us only ask bread: wherein is not meant superfluous riches, or great substance, or abundance of things above our estate or condition, but such things only as be necessary and sufficient for every man in his degree; and according thereunto St. Paul saith, We have brought nothing into this world, ne shall take any thing with us when we depart hence. And therefore if we Christian men have meat, and drink, and clothes, that is to say, things sufficient, let us hold ourselves content; for they that set their minds on riches, and will have superfluities more than needeth, or is expedient to their vocation, they fall into dangerous temptations, and into snares of the Devil, and into many unprofitable and noisome desires, which drown men into perdition and everlasting damnation: for the spring and root of all evils is such superfluous desire. The Wise Man also, making his petition to our Lord, saith, Give me neither poverty nor excess, but only things sufficient for my living, lest that having too much, I be provoked to deny God, and to forget who is the Lord: and on the other side, lest that, by poverty constrained, I fall into theft, and forswear the name of my God. These two wise men, the one of the Old and the other of the New Testament, agree with the lesson of our Saviour; for both declare that they desire only things necessary, signified here by bread, and both renounce superfluities, unprofitable, dangerous, and noisome.
Secondly, in these words of our Saviour Jesu Christ be reproved all those persons which eat not their own bread, and devour other men's bread; of which sort be all those that live of raven and spoils, of theft, of extortion, of craft, and deceit: and they also which neither labour with their hands, nor otherwise apply then study, industry, and diligence to something that is good and beneficial to the common weal and the honour of God, but live in ease, rest, idleness, and wanton pleasure, without doing or caring for any such thing. Also all they be reproved, which being called in this world to any office or authority, do abuse the same, and do not employ themselves according to their vocation.
Thirdly, as the husbandman tilleth and soweth his ground, weedeth it, and keepeth it from destroying, praying therewith to God for the increase, and putteth all his trust in him, to send him more or less at his pleasure; even so, besides our own diligence, policy, labour, and travail, we must also pray daily to God to send us sufficient; and we must take thankfully at his hands all that is sent, and be no further careful than needeth, but putting to our endeavour, set our whole confidence and trust in him: for our Saviour Christ saith in the Gospel, I say to Matt, vi you, Be not careful for your living, what ye shall eat, ne what clothes ye shall wear. Is not life better than your meat, and your body better than your clothing? Look upon the birds of the air: they sow riot, they reap not, they bring nothing into the barn; and yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Be not you of more price than they? Look upon the lilies of the field: they labour not, they spin not: and yet I tell you, Solomon, in all his precious and royal apparel, was not no clothed as one of them. Therefore care you not for these things. Leave this care to them that know not God. Your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. But seek you first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and the ways justly and truly to live, and then God shall cast all these things unto you. These be the words of Christ, full of good and comfortable lessons, that we should not care ne set our hearts too much upon these worldly things, ne care so much for to-morrow, that we shall seem to mistrust our Lord. And here is a thing greatly to be noted, in comfort of the true labouring man. For surely be he craftsman or be he labourer, doing truly his office whereunto he is called, he may in that state and kind of life please God and attain salvation as surely as in any other state or kind of living. And although our Lord hath so provided for some, that they have already sufficient and plenty for many days and years, yet that notwithstanding, they ought to make this petition to God, and say, Give us this day our daily bread; forasmuch as their substance, (though it be never so great,) like as it could not have been gotten without God had sent it, so it cannot prosper and continue except God preserve it. For how many great rich men have we known suddenly made poor, some by fire, some by water, some by theft, and many other ways? Was not Job the one day the richest man that was in all the east land, and the morrow after had utterly nothing? It is therefore as needful to pray our Lord to preserve that he hath given us, as to pray him to give it: for if he give, and do not preserve it, we shall have no use of it.
Fourthly, by this bread, which we be taught to ask in this petition, may be understand the holy sacrament of the altar, the very flesh and blood of our Saviour Jesu Christ, as it is written in the sixth chapter of St. John, I am the bread of life which came down from heaven. And the bread which I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. And in this prayer we desire that the same may be purely ministered and distributed, to the comfort and benefit of all us the true children of God; and that we also may receive the same with a right faith and perfect charity at all times when we do and ought to receive the same, so that we may be spiritually fed therewith to our salvation, and thereby enjoy the life everlasting.
Finally, by the bread which our Saviour teacheth us to ask in this petition is meant also the true doctrine of the word of God, which is the spiritual bread that feedeth the soul. For as the body is nourished and brought up, groweth and feedeth with bread and meat, so need the soul, even from our youth, to be nourished and brought up with the word of God, and to be fed with it. And like as the body will faint and decay, if it be not from time to time relieved and refreshed with bodily sustenance; even so the soul waxeth feeble and weak towards God, unless the same be cherished and kept up with the word of God, according to the saying of Christ, A man liveth not with meat only, but with every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. And surely the word of God is the very comfort, remedy, and health of the soul. For if we have adversity in this world, as poverty, sickness, imprisonment, and such other miseries, where should we seek for comfort but at God's word? If we think ourselves so holy that we be without sin, where should we find a glass to see our sins in but in the word of God? If we be so full of sins, that we be like to fall into desperation, where can we have comfort, and learn to know the mercy of God, but only in God's word? Where shall we have armour to fight against our three great enemies, the world, the flesh, and the Devil? Where shall we have strength and power to withstand them, but as Christ did, in and by the word of God? And finally, if we have any manner of sickness or disease in our souls, what medicine or remedy can we have, but that is declared in God's word? So that the word of God is the very bread of the soul; and therefore, as well for this bread of the soul as for the blessed sacrament of the altar, also for the bread and daily sustenance of the body, our Saviour Christ teacheth us to pray in this fourth petition.
THE FIFTH PETITION.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.
IN this petition we be taught a fruitful advertisement of man's estate in this present life, which considered, no man ought to glory in himself, as though he were innocent and without sin, but rather that every good Christian man, without exception, ought to knowledge himself to be a sinner, and that he hath need to ask forgiveness of God for his sins, and to require him of his mercy: for doubtless we daily commit sin, which be commanded daily to ask remission for our sins. And St. John saith in his Epistle, If we say that we be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and truth is not in us.
Moreover it-is to be noted, that we be taught to desire God to forgive us our sins, like as we forgive them that trespass against us: so that if we forgive in heart, God will forgive, and not otherwise; as by many places of scripture may appear. First, by express words Christ saith, If you forgive men their offences done against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you your offences: and if you will not forgive them that offend you, be you assured your father will not forgive you your offences. And in another place, when Peter came to our Lord, and demanded of him how oft he should forgive his brother which had offended him, and whether it was not sufficient to forgive him seven times, our Lord answered him and said, I tell thee, Peter, that thou oughtest to forgive him not only seven times, but seventy times seven times: meaning thereby, that from time to time we must continually forgive our brother or neighbour, although he trespasseth against us never so often.
And Christ also declareth the same by a parable. There was (saith Christ) a king, which calling his servants unto account, and finding that one of them should owe unto him the sum of ten thousand talents, because he had it not to pay, commanded that the said debtor, his wife, and his children, and all that he had, should be sold. But when the debtor came unto the king, and prayed him on his knees to have patience with him, promising him to pay all, the king had pity of him, and forgave him the whole debt. It fortuned afterward, that this man, being thus acquitted, met with another of his fellows, that ought him but one hundred pence, and with violence almost strangled him, and said unto him, Pay that thou owest. And the said servant his fellow fell upon his knees, and prayed him to have patience, promising to pay all; which would not, but cast him into prison, until all was paid. And when the rest of his fellows, seeing this cruelty, had told the king thereof, the king forthwith sent for this cruel fellow, and said to him, O wicked man, I forgave thee thy whole debt at thy suit and request; it should therefore have beseemed thee to have shewed like compassion unto thy fellow, as I shewed to thee. And the king, sore displeased with this cruelty, committed him to tormentors, that should roughly and straitly handle him in prison, till he had paid the whole debt.
Upon this parable Christ inferreth and saith, Even so shall your heavenly Father do with you, if you will not forgive every one of you his brother even from the heart. Thus it appeareth plainly, that if we will be forgiven, if we will scape everlasting damnation, we must put out of our heart all rancour, malice, and will to revenge, and to satisfy our own carnal affections, referring the punishment of the offenders, which in their offences have transgressed the laws of God or of the prince, to the order of justice, whereof under God the princes and rulers be ministers in earth. In which doing we please God, so that we utterly forgive our own private grudge and displeasure.
And if any peradventure will think it to be an hard thing to suffer and forgive his enemy, which in word and deed hath done him many displeasures, let him consider again how many hard storms our Saviour Christ suffered and abode for us. What were we, when he gave his most precious life for us, but horrible sinners, and his enemies? How meekly took he for our sake all rebukes, mocks, binding, beating, crowning with thorn, and the most opprobrious death! It is undoubtedly above our frail and corrupt nature to love our enemies that do hate us, and to forgive them that do hurt and offend us and it is a deed of greater perfection than man hath of himself; but God, that requireth it, will give grace that we may do it, if we ask and seek for it. And therefore in this petition our Saviour Christ teacheth us to ask this grace of our heavenly Father, that we may forgive our enemies, and that he will forgive us our trespasses, even so as we forgive them that trespass against us.
It is farther to be noted, that to forgive our brother his default is also to pray to God that he will forgive him, and will not impute his offence to him; and to wish to him the same grace and glory that we desire unto ourselves: and also ourselves, when occasion shall come, to help him, as we be bound to help our Christian brother.
And finally, forasmuch as in the expounding and declaration of scripture it is convenient and requisite to observe and follow this rule, that whensoever scripture speaketh of any duty to be done of one Christian man to another, that then the same duty be so plainly and fully opened and set forth, that each man may hear his own duty touched; so that both parties, (that is to say,) as well he that is bound to forgive, as he which receiveth forgiveness, may indifferently know their duty and behaviour, and according thereunto endeavour themselves to do the same. For these causes it is expedient, that like as in the former part of this petition we have declared the part and duty of him which should for charity's sake forgive, so to declare the part and duty of them to whom forgiveness should be made, lest evil doers and naughty minded people might by the former declaration take occasion still to persevere in their naughty minds and doings, and yet claim forgiveness of their neighbour.
Wherefore ye shall understand, that forgiveness, afore spoken of, is not so meant in scripture, that by it justice or laws of princes should be broken, contemned, or not executed. For although our Saviour Christ, in this petition, doth teach us to remit and forgive all injuries and trespasses done against us, yet he which hath done the injury or trespass is nevertheless bound to acknowledge his fault, and to ask forgiveness therefore, not only of God, but of him also whom he hath offended, and to intend to do no more so: and furthermore to recompense and make amends unto the parties against whom he hath trespassed, according to his ability and power, and as the grievousness and greatness of the offence requireth. And in case he which hath committed the offence or trespass be obstinate, and will not do these things before rehearsed, which he is bound to do by the law of God, then may the party which findeth himself grieved, notwithstanding any thing that is said before in this petition, lawfully, and without offence of God's commandments, ask and seek recompense of such injuries as be done to him, according unto the order and provision of the laws of the realm, made in that behalf, so that he alway have an eye and respect unto charity, and do nothing for rancour or malice, or for sinister affection, neither bear any hatred in his heart towards him whom he sueth, but only upon a zeal and love of the maintenance of justice, correction of vice, and reformation of the party that hath offended, remembering always that he exceed not nor go beyond the limits and bounds of this general rule taught by our Saviour Christ in his Gospel, As ye would that other men should do unto you, even so do you unto them: for this is the law and the prophets. And thus we Christian folk, weighing forgiveness on the one party, and the duty of him that is forgiven on the other party, (as here now we be taught,) shall the better know how to endeavour ourselves to observe both ways; and by these means see and understand more perfectly the agreement and intent of scriptures, which we be bound to observe and follow.
THE SIXTH PETITION.
And let us not be led into temptation.
IT is to be noted, first, that there be two manner of temptations, whereof one cometh and is sent to us by God, who suffereth those that be his to be tempted by one means or other for their probation or trial, albeit he so assisteth and aideth them in all such temptations, that he turneth all at the end unto their profit and benefit. For, as the Wise Man saith, Like as the oven trieth the potter's vessel, so doth temptation of trouble try the righteous man. And with this manner of temptation God tempted sundry wise our holy father Abraham. He tempted also Job with extreme poverty, horrible sickness, and sudden death of his children. And daily he tempteth and proveth all such as he loveth.
The other manner of temptation cometh chiefly of the Devil, which, like a furious and a wood lion, rageth and runneth about perpetually, seeking how he may devour us; and cometh also of our own concupiscence, which continually inclineth and stirreth us to evil, as St. James saith, Every man is tempted, drawn, and enticed by his own concupiscence. This concupiscence is an inclination and pronity of our inordinate nature to sin, which imperfection man hath by the fall of Adam; so that although original sin is taken away by baptism, and the displeasure appeased betwixt God and man, yet remaineth the disorder and debate between the soul and the flesh, which shall not be extinct but only by bodily death. For there is no man so mortified, so sequestered from the world, and so ravished in spirit, in devotion, or in contemplation, but that some concupiscence is in him, howbeit by God's grace and mercy it reigneth not, nor is of God,accounted for sin, nor is hurtful but only to them that by consent yield unto it. It will never cease, but one way or another it will ever assault us; and if we do not fight with it, and resist it continually, it will overcome us, and bring us into bondage, so that the Devil, by this our concupiscence and our consent, all vice and sins be engendered, like as between man and woman children be engendered: according to the saying of St. James, where he saith, Concupiscence, when she doth conceive, she bringeth forth sin, and that of all sorts, that is to say, first, acts and deeds contrary to the laws of God, and after that, use and custom of the same deeds, and at length blindness and contempt. For so the Wise Man saith, The wicked man, when he cometh to the bottom of sin, setteth nought thereby, but, blinded with evil custom, either thinketh the sin that he useth to be no sin, or else if he take it for sin, yet he careth not for it, but either upon vain trust of the mercy of God, (which is indeed no right trust, but a very presumption,) he will continue still in purpose to sin, or else, upon vain hope of long life, he will prolong, defer, and delay to do penance for the same, until the last end of his life, and so, oft times prevented with sudden death, dieth without repentance. Wherefore, considering how dangerous it is to fall into sin, and how hard it is to arise, the chief and the best way is to resist with God's help the first suggestion unto sin, and not to suffer it to prevail with us, but as soon as may be to put it out of our minds. For if we suffer it to tarry any while in our hearts, it is great peril lest that consent and deed will follow shortly after.
Secondly, that our Saviour Jesus Christ teacheth not us in this sixth petition to pray unto God our Father that we should be clearly without temptation, but that he will not suffer us to be led into temptation, that is to say, that when we be tempted, he will give us grace to withstand it, and not to suffer us to be overcome therewith. According whereunto St. Paul saith, God is true and faithful, and will not suffer us to be tempted above that we may bear, but he will so moderate the temptation, that we may sustain and overcome it. And St. James saith, Think that you have a great cause to joy when you be troubled with divers temptations. For the trying of your faith bringeth patience, and patience maketh perfect works: so that you may be perfect and sound, lacking in nothing. And Almighty God also exhorteth us and calleth upon us to fight against temptations, saying, He that getteth the victory against them, I shall give him to eat of the tree of life. And again he saith, He that overcometh them shall not be hurt with the second death. And St. Paul saith, No man shall be crowned, except he fight lawfully; that is to say, except he defend himself, and resist his enemies at all points to his power. And our Saviour giveth us a good courage to fight in this battle, where he saith, Be of good comfort, for I have overcome the world; that is to say, I havehad the victory of all sins and temptations; and so shall you have, if the fault be not in yourselves: for ye fight with an adversary which is already vanquished and overcome.
THE SEVENTH PETITION.
But deliver us from evil.
IT is first to be noted, that like as in the sixth petition Christ taught us to desire of our heavenly Father that we should not be overcome with temptation, ne brought into sin, so now in this seventh and last petition he teacheth us to pray him, that if by frailness we fall into the captivity of the Devil by sin, he will soon deliver us from it; not to let us continue in it; not to let it take root in us; not to suffer sin to reign upon us; but to deliver us, and make us free from it.
Sin is the exceeding evil from the which, in this petition, we desire to be delivered. And though in this petition be also comprehended all evils in the world, as sickness, poverty, dearth, with other like adversities, yet chiefly it is to be understand of sin, which only of itself is evil, and ought ever without condition to be eschewed.
And as for other adversities, neither we can ne ought to refuse, when God shall send them, neither we ought to pray for the eschewing of them, otherwise than with this condition, if God's pleasure so be. Many things we suffer in this world, and take them for evil, but they be not evil of themselves. All affections, diseases, punishments, and torments of the body, all the troubles of this world, and. all adversities, be good and necessary instruments of God for our salvation. For God himself, who cannot say other than truth, saith, Those that I love I chastise. And again the apostle saith, He receiveth none but whom he scourgeth. This is time of scourging, and the time to come is the time of rest, ease, and bliss. And surely it id a great token that we be in the favour of God, when he doth scourge us, and trieth and fineth us like gold in the fire, whiles we be in this world: as contrary, it is a great token of his indignation towards us, to suffer us, living evil, to continue in prosperity, and to have all things after our will and pleasure, and never to trouble us or punish us with adversity. Therefore our Saviour Christ Jesus (who knoweth what is best for us) teacheth us to pray and desire to be delivered, not chiefly from worldly afflictions, trouble, and adversity, which God sendeth abundantly even to them whom he best loveth, and with whom he is best pleased; but the evil which we most chiefly should pray to be delivered from is sin, which of itself is so evil, that in no wise God can be pleased therewith.
And because our ancient enemy the Devil, who is the well and spring of iniquity, and is not only himself an homicide, a liar, and an hater of the truth from the beginning, but also is the very root and occasion of all sin, and the common provoker and stirrer of man to the same, and the letter and hinderer of all virtue and goodness; because this enemy never ceaseth, but continually searcheth by all crafts and wiles to induce us to sin, and so to devour us, and to bring us thereby to everlasting damnation: therefore like as we desire here to be delivered from sin, so also we desire that our heavenly Father will save us, and defend us from this evil, the causer of sin, that is to say the Devil, and from his power and tyranny, so that he should not by his malice and guiles entice us and draw us into sin, whereby we might finally be brought unto everlasting damnation. From the which also we pray here to be delivered.