Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology
The Works of the Right Reverend Father in God, John Cosin, Lord Bishop
of Durham. Now First Collected.
Volume the Fourth: Miscellaneous Works
Oxford: John Henry Parker.
Transcribed by the Revd. Donne E. Puckle, SSC
THE LAST WILL OF J. COSIN. LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM.
OUR HELP IS IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, WHO MADE HEAVEN AND EARTH.
In the Name and honour of the same Lord our God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the most high and undivided Trinity.
FORASMUCH as it is appointed for all men once to die, and that every man's body shall be dissolved, but the time of my dissolution is uncertain; of which notwithstanding, as if it were nigh at hand being mindful in my daily meditations, and shaken with the frequent infirmities of my body, I ever and anon think thereof; I, John Cosin, an humble minister in the Church of God, and by the permission of the most High now Bishop of Durham, not putting my hope in this present life, but ever aspiring to that other (which is to come) eternal in the heavens, and which by the mercy of God ere long I hope to obtain, and humbly praying, for the salvation of my own soul, that through the merits of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, our only Redeemer and Mediator, all mine offences be forgiven me, being of a sound mind, out of a sincere heart, do make, ordain, and constitute this testament, containing my last will, in this form as followeth. First of all, I heartily thank our Lord God Almighty, that He hath vouchsafed me to be born in this life of faithful and virtuous parents; and that it hath pleased Him that I should be regenerate (and born anew in His Church) unto life eternal by the holy laver of Baptism, which He hath instituted; and that He hath instructed me from my youth in sound doctrine, and hath made me partaker of His saints; that He hath imprinted in my mind a faith not feigned nor dead, but true and living, together with a firm confidence, that hereafter I shall be brought unto eternal life; which Faith doubtless consists in this:- that we adore and worship one God, and believe in Him, and in Him whom He hath sent, His most beloved Son, the Eternal Word, begotten before all ages, Jesus Christ our Lord: Who for us and for our salvation took flesh of the most blessed Virgin Mary (the Holy Ghost overshading her) in this life, and was made man, afterward was born, suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, and, after He had descended into hell, rose again from His grave, and, leading captivity captive, ascended into heaven, where, sitting at the right hand of God, He reigneth for ever; but sent from thence the Holy Ghost (in Whom we ought equally to believe) proceeding from the Father and the Son, by Whom He most bountifully gave gifts unto men, and founded His Catholic Church in the communion of saints, in the divine Sacraments, in true Faith, sound doctrine, and Christian manners, together with the remission of sons, to be conferred on all the godly, and that in the same Church being forth fruits meet for repentance; to whom also, when in the last day of the world He shall come from heaven to raise the dead and judge all, He will give eternal happiness; but to the rest, that are infidels, or that have lived according to the flesh, and would not repent or be converted, He will inflict eternal punishment. In this Faith, which is the summary and most absolute abridgment of all the Holy Scripture, 'once delivered to the saints,' [Jude, verse 3] and which the Apostles and their successors have spread abroad and derived down even to us, I profess myself to live, and that I may persevere in it constantly without doubting, unto my last breath, is my daily prayer; in the meantime seeking after unity by preserving the bond of peace and love with all Christians everywhere, who, among the great evils, distractions, and calamities of the Church, (which truly I cannot but heartily bewail,) entirely receive this Faith, and call no one part of it in question. I hope also, through the goodness of God, and Christ, God and man, our Saviour, that all they, that have together with us sincerely believed these things that are revealed and delivered from God, and have lived a godly life, shall be saved in the great Day of the the Lord: (who) although they are not able to give an account, or explain the manner of every of them, nor resolve the questions raised about them, and though perhaps, when they endeavour it, they cannot avoid some mistakes, and be altogether free from error.
But whatsoever heresies or schisms heretofore, by what names soever they be called, the ancient Catholic and universal Church of Christ with an unanimous consent hath rejected and condemned, I do in like manner condemn and reject; together with all the modern fautors of the same heresies, sectaries and fanatics, who, being carried on with an evil spirit, do falsely give out they are inspired of God:-the heresies and schisms, I day, of all these, I also, as most addicted to the symbols, synods, and confessions of the Church of England, or rather the Catholic Church, do constantly renounce, condemn, and reject. Among whom I rank not only the separatists, the anabaptists, and their followers, (alas) too too many, but also the new independents and presbyterians of our country, a kind of men hurried away with the spirit of malice, disobedience, and sedition, who by a disloyal attempt (the like whereof was never heard since the world began) have of late committed so many great and execrable crimes, to the contempt and despite of religion and the Christian Faith: which, now great they were, without horror cannot be spoken or mentioned.
Moreover I do profess, with holy asseveration and from my very heart, that I am now, and have ever been from my youth, altogether free and averse from the corruptions and impertinent new-fangled or papistical (so commonly called) superstitions and doctrines, and new superadditions to the ancient and primitive religion and Faith of the most commended, so orthodox, and Catholic Church, long since introduced, contrary to the Holy Scripture and the rules and customs of the ancient Fathers.
But in what part of the world soever any Churches are extant, bearing the name of Christ, and professing the true Catholic Faith and religion, worshipping and calling upon God, the Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost, with one heart and voice, if any where I be now hindered actually to be joined with them, either by distance of countries, or variance amongst men, or by any other let whatsoever, yet always in my mind and affection I join and unite with the; which I desire to be chiefly understood of protestants, and the best reformed Churches: for, where the foundations are safe, we may allow, and therefore most friendly, quietly, and peaceably suffer, in those Churches where we have not authority, a diversity, as of opinion, so of ceremonies, about things which do not but adhere to the foundations, and are neither necessary or repugnant to the practice of the universal Church. As for all them, who through evil counsel have any way inveighed against, or calumniated me, and even yet do not forbear their invectives, I freely pardon them, and earnestly pray to God, that He also would be pleased to forgive them, and inspire them with a better mind. In the meanwhile I take it to be my duty, and of all my brethren, especially the Bishops and Ministers of the Church of God, to do our utmost endeavours, according to the measure of grace which is given to every one of us, that at last an end may be put to the differences of religion, or at least that they may be lessened, and that we may 'follow peace with all men, and holiness;' which, that it may be accomplished very speedily, God 'the Author of peace and concord' grant: whose infinite mercy I humbly beseech, that He would cleanse me, who was conceived in sin and iniquity, from every spot and corruption of human frailty; and that through His great clemency He would make me, who am unworthy, to become worthy, and that He would apply to me the passion and infinite merits of His most beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, to the expiating of all mine offences; that at the last hour of my life, which I daily look for, I may be carried by His holy Angels into Abraham's bosom, and, being placed in the fellowship of His saints and elect, may fully enjoy eternal felicity.
Having now declared what belongs to my religion, and the state and salvation of my soul, which I have now delivered here in Latin, the rest, that belongs to my burial, and the disposal of my temporal estate, I shall cause to be written in my native language, and so conclude.
Durham, Jan. 18, 1672
Vera copia, examinata per me,
WILLIAM STAGG, Not. Publicum.
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