All things that be written in God's holy book, the bible, are written to be our doctrine, long before our time, to serve from time to time, and so forth to the world's end.
Ye shall have in remembrance, most benign and gracious audience, that a preacher hath two offices, and the one to be used orderly after another. The first is, Exhortari per sanam doctrinam, "To teach true doctrine." He shall have also occasion oftentimes to use another; and that is, Contradicentes convincere, "To reprehend, to convince, to confute gainsayers, and spurners against the truth." "Why," you will say, "will any body gainsay true doctrine, and sound doctrine? Well, let a preacher be sure that his doctrine be true, and it is not to be thought that anybody will gainsay it." If St Paul had not foreseen that there should be gainsayers, he had not need to have appointed the confutation of gainsaying. Was there ever yet preacher but there were gainsayers that spurned, that winced, that whimpered against him, that blasphemed, that gainsayed it? When Moses came to Egypt with sound doctrine, he had Pharao to gainsay him. Jeremy was the minister of the true word of God; he had gainsayers, the priests and the false prophets. Elias had all Baal's priests, supported by Jesabel, to speak against him. John Baptist, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, had the Pharisees, the scribes, and the priests, gainsayers to them. The apostles had gainsayers also; for it was said to St Paul at Rome, Notum est nobis quod ubique sectae huic contradicitur: "We know that every man doth gainsay this learning." After the apostles' time the truth was gainsayed with tyrants, as Nero, Maxentius, Domitianus, and such like; and also by the doctrine of wicked heretics. In the popish mass-time there was no gainsaying; all things seemed to be in peace, in a concord, in a quiet agreement. So long as we had in adoration, in admiration, the popish mass, we were then without gainsaying. What was that? The same that Christ speaketh of, Cum fortis armatus custodierit atrium, &c., "When Satan, the devil, hath the guiding of the house, he keepeth all in peace that is in his possession." When Satan ruleth, and beareth dominion in open religion, as he did with us when we preached pardon-matters, purgatory-matters, and pilgrimage-matters, all was quiet. He is ware enough, he is wily, and circumspect for stirring up any sedition. When he keepeth his territory, all is in peace. If there were any man that preached in England in times past, in the Pope's times, as peradventure there was two or three, straightways he was taken and nipped in the head with the title of an heretic. When he hath the religion in possession, he stirreth up no sedition, I warrant you.
How many dissensions have we heard of in Turky? But a few, I warrant you. He busieth himself there with no dissension. For he hath there dominion in the open religion, and needeth not to trouble himself any further. The Jews, like runagates, wheresoever they dwell (for they be dispersed, and be tributaries in all countries where they inhabit), look whether ye hear of any heresies among them? But when fortis supervenerit, when one stronger than the devil cometh in place, which is our Saviour Jesus Christ, and revealeth his word, then the devil roareth; then he bestirreth him; then he raiseth diversity of opinions to slander God's word. And if ever concord should have been in religion, when should it have been but when Christ was here? Ye find fault with preachers, and say, they cause sedition. We are noted to be rash, and undiscreet in our preaching. Yet as discreet as Christ was, there was diversity; yea, what he was himself. For when he asked what men called him, his apostles answered him, "Some say you are John Baptist, some say you are Elias, and some say you are one of the prophets; "and these were they that spake best of him. For some said he was a Samaritan, that he had a devil within him, a glosser, a drinker, a pot-companion. There was never prophet to be compared to him, and yet was there never more dissension than when he was, and preached himself. If it were contraried then, will ye think it shall not be contraried now, when charity is so cold and iniquity so strong? Thus these backbiters and slanderers must be convinced. St Paul said, there shall be intractabiles, that will whimp and whine; there shall be also vaniloqui, vain-speakers. For the which St Paul appointeth the preacher to stop their mouths, and it is a preacher's office to be a mouth-stopper.
This day I must somewhat do in the second office: I must be a gainsayer, and I must stop their mouths, convince, refel and confute that they speak slanderously of me. There be some gainsayers; for there be some slanderous people, vain-speakers, and intractabiles, which I must needs speak against. But first I will make a short rehearsal to put you in memory of that that I spake in my last sermon. And that done, I will confute one that slandereth me. For one there is that I must needs answer unto; for he slandereth me for my preaching before the king's majesty. There be some to blame, that when the preacher is weary, yet they will have him speak all at once. Ye must tarry till ye hear more; ye must not be offended till ye hear the rest. Hear all and then judge all. What, ye are very hasty, very quick with your preachers! But before I enter further into this matter, I shall desire you to pray, &c.
First of all, as touching my first sermon, I will run it over cursorily, ripping a little the matter. I brought in a history of the bible, exciting my audience to beware of by-walkings, to walk ordinately, plainly, the king's highway, and agree to that which standeth with the order of a realm. I shewed you how we were under the blessing of God, for our king is nobilis. I shewed you we have a noble king; true inheritor to the crown without doubt. I shewed further more of his godly education. He hath such schoolmaster: as cannot be gotten in all the realm again.
Wherefore we may be. sure that God blessed this realm although he cursed the realm whose ruler is a child, under whom the officers be climbing, and gleaning, stirring, scratching and scraping, and voluptuously set on banqueting, and for the maintenance of their voluptuousness go by-walks. And although he be young, he hath as good and as sage a council as ever was in England; which we may well know by their godly proceedings, and setting forth the word of God. Therefore let us not be worse than the stiff-necked Jews. In king Josias' time, who being young did alter change, and correct wonderfully the religion, it was never heard in Jewry, that the people repined or said, "The king is a child: this gear will not last long: it is but one or two men's doings: it will not tarry but for a time; the king knoweth it not." Wo worth that ever such men were born! Take heed lest for our rebellion God take his blessing away from us!
I entered into the place of the king's pastime: I told you how he must pass his time in reading the book of God, (for that is the king's pastime by God's appointment,) in the which book he shall learn to fear God. Oh how careful God is to set in an order all things that belong to a king, in his chamber, in his stable, in his treasure-house!
These peevish people in this realm have nothing but "the King, the King," in their mouths, when it maketh for their purpose. As there was a doctor that preached, "the king's Majesty hath his holy water, he creepeth to the cross:" and then they have nothing but "the King, the King," in their mouths. These be they, my good people, that must have their mouths stopped: but if a man tell them of the King's proceedings, now they have their shifts and their put-offs, saying, "We may not go before a law, we may break no order." These be the wicked preachers; their mouths must be stopped: these be the gainsayers.
Another thing there is that I told you of, Ne elevetur cor regis, &c., "The king must not be proud over his brethren." He must order his people with brotherly love and charity. Here I brought in examples of proud kings. It is a great pride in kings and magistrates when they will not hear, nor be conformable to the sound doctrine of God. It is another kind of pride in kings when they think themselves so high, so lofty, that they disdain, and think it not for their honour, to hear poor men's causes themselves. They have claw-backs that say unto them, "What, Sir? What need you to trouble yourself? Take you your pleasure, hunt, hawk, dance, and dally: let us alone; we will govern and order the commonweal matters well enough." Wo worth them! they have been the root of all mischief and destruction in this realm.
A king ought not only for to read and study, but also to pray. Let him borrow example of Salomon, who pleased God highly with his petition, desiring no worldly things, but wisdom, which God did not only grant him, but because he asked wisdom, he gave him many more things; as riches, honour, and such like. Oh, how it pleased God that he asked wisdom! And after he had given him this wisdom, he sent him also occasion to use the same by a couple of strumpets. Here I told an example of a meek king, who so continued, until he came into the company of strange women. He heard them not by means, or by any other, but in his own person; and I think verily the natural mother had never had her own child, if he had not heard the cause himself. They were meretrices, whores; although some excuse the matter, and say they were but tipplers, such as keep alehouses. But it is but folly to excuse them, seeing the Jews were such, and not unlike but they had their stews, and the maintenance of whoredom, as they had of other vices.
One thing I must here desire you to reform, my lords: you have put down the stews: but I pray you what is the matter amended? What availeth that? Ye have but changed the place, and not taken the whoredom away. God should be honoured every where; for the scripture saith, Domini est terra et plenitudo ejus. "The earth and the land is the Lord's." What place should be, then, within a christian realm left for to dishonour God? I must needs shew you such news as I hear: for though I see it not myself, notwithstanding it cometh faster to me than I would wish. I do as St Paul doth to the Corinthians: Auditur inter vos stuprum; "There is such a whoredom among you as is not among the gentiles." So likewise auditur, I hear say that there is such a whoredom in England as never was seen the like. He charged all the Corinthians for one man's offence, saying they were all guilty for one man's sin, if they would not correct and redress it, but wink at it. Lo, here may you see how that one man's sin polluted all Corinth. "A little leaven, as St Paul saith, "corrupteth a great deal of dough." This is, communicare alienis peccatis, "to be partaker of other men's sins." I advertise you in God's name, look to it. I hear say there is now more whoredom in London than ever there was on the Bank. These be the news I have to tell you: I fear they be true. Ye ought to hear of it, and redress it. I hear of it, and, as St Paul saith, aliqua ex parte credo. There is more open whoredom, more stewed whoredom, than ever was before. For God's sake let it be looked upon; it is your office to see unto it. Now to my confutation.
There is a certain man that, shortly after my first sermon, being asked if he had been at the sermon that day,answered, Yea. "I pray you," said he, "how liked you him?" "Marry," said he, "even as I liked him always: a seditious fellow." Oh Lord! he pinched me there indeed; nay, he had rather a full bite at me. Yet I comfort myself with that, that Christ himself was noted to be a stirrer up of the people against the emperor; and was contented to be called seditious. It becometh me to take it in good worth: I am not better than he was. In the king's days that dead is a many of us were called together before him to say our minds in certain matters. In the end, one kneeleth me down, and accuseth me of sedition, that I had preached seditious doctrine. A heavy salutation, and a hard point of such a man's doing, as if I should name him, ye would not think it. The king turned to me and said, "What say you to that, sir?" Then I kneeled down, and turned me first to mine accuser, and required him: "Sir, what form of preaching would you appoint me to preach before a king? Would you have me for to preach nothing as concerning a king in the king's sermon? Have you any commission to appoint me what I shall preach?" Besides this, I asked him divers other questions, and he would make no answer to none of them all: he had nothing to say. Then I turned me to the king, and submitted myself to his Grace, and said, "I never thought myself worthy, nor I never sued to be a preacher before your Grace, but I was called to it, and would be willing, if you mislike me; to give place to my betters; for I grant there be a great many more worthy of the room than I am. And if it be your Grace's pleasure so to allow them for preachers, I could be content to bear their books after them. But if your Grace allow me for a preacher, I would desire your Grace to give me leave to discharge my conscience; give me leave to frame my doctrine according to mine audience: I had been a very dolt to have preached so at the borders of your realm, as I preach before your Grace."
And I thank Almighty God, which hath always been my remedy, that my sayings were well accepted of the king; for, like a gracious lord, he turned into another communication. It is even as the scripture saith, Cor regís in manu Domini, The Lord directed the king's heart." Certain of my friends came to me with tears in their eyes, and told me they looked I should have been in the tower the same night. Thus have I evermore been burdened with the word of sedition. I have offended God grievously, transgressing his law, and but for this remedy and his mercy I would not look to be saved as for sedition, for aught that I know, methinks I should not need Christ, if I might so say; but if I be clear in any thing, I am clear in this. So far as I know mine own heart, there is no man further from sedition than I; which I have declared in all my doings, and yet it hath been ever laid to me.
Another time, when I gave over mine office, I should have received a certain duty that they call a Pentecostal: it came to the sum of fifty and five pound: I set my commissary to gather it, but he could not be suffered, for it was said a sedition should rise upon it. Thus they burdened me ever with sedition. So this gentleman cometh up now with sedition. And wot ye what? I chanced in my last sermon to speak a merry word of the new shilling, to refresh my auditory, how I was like to put away my new shilling for an old groat. I was herein noted to speak seditiously. Yet I comfort myself in one thing, that I am not alone, and that I have a fellow; for it is consolatio miserorum: it is comfort of the wretched to have company.
When I was in trouble [Respecting the Statute of the Six Articles.], it was objected and said unto me, that I was singular; that no man thought as I thought; that I loved a singularity in all that I did; and that I took a way contrary to the king and the whole parliament: and that I was travailed with them that had better wits than I, that I was contrary to them all. Marry, Sir, this was sore thunderbolts. I thought it an irksome thing to be alone, and to have no fellow. I thought it was possible it might not be true that they told me. In the seventh of John, the priests sent out certain of the Jews, to bring Christ unto them violently. When they came into the temple and heard him preach, they were so moved with his preaching, that they returned home again, and said to them that sent them, Nunquam sic locutus est homo ut hic homo. "There was never man spake like this man." Then answered the Pharisees, Num et vos seducti estis? "What, ye brain-sick fools, ye hoddy-pecks [hoddypake : a term of reproach synonymous with cuckold. Toone], ye doddy-pouls [doddy-polls, thickheads, dolts.], ye huddes, [husks, refuse of the earth.] do ye believe him? are you seduced also? Nunquis ex principibus credit in eum? Did ye see any great man, or any great officer take his part? Do ye see anybody follow him but beggarly fishers, and such as have nothing to take to? Nunquis ex Pharisaeis? Do ye see any holy man, any perfect man, any learned man, take his part? Turba quae ignorat legem execrabilis est: This lay people is accursed: it is they that know not the law that take his part, and none else."
Lo, here the Pharisees had nothing to choke the people withal but ignorance. They did as our bishops of England, who upbraided the people always with ignorance, where they were the cause of it themselves. There were, saith St John, multi ex principibus qui crediderunt in eum, "Many of the chief men believed in him;" and that was contrary to the Pharisees' saying. Oh then, belike they belied him, he was not alone. So thought I, there be more of mine opinion than I thought: I was not alone. I have now gotten one fellow more, a companion of sedition; and wot ye who is my fellow? Esay the prophet. I spake but of a little pretty shilling, but he speaketh to Jerusalem after another sort, and was so bold to meddle with their coin. "Thou proud, thou covetous, thou haughty city of Hierusalem:" Argentum tuum versum est in scoriam. "Thy silver is turned into," what? Into testions [Or testoon. A coin originally worth a shilling; afterwards "cried down" to ninepence; and finally to sixpence, which still retains the name of tester.]? Scoriam: "into dross."
Ah, seditious wretch! what had he to do with the mint? Why should not he have left that matter to some master of policy to reprove? "Thy silver is dross; it is not fine, it is counterfeit; thy silver is turned; thou hadst good silver." What pertained that to Esay? Marry, he espied a piece of divinity in that policy; he threateneth them God's vengeance for it. He went to the root of the matter, which was covetousness. He espied two points in it, that either it came of covetousness, which became him to reprove; or else that it tended to the hurt of the poor people: for the naughtiness of the silver was the occasion of dearth of all things in the realm. He imputeth it to them as a great crime. He may be called a master of sedition indeed. Was not this a seditious varlet, to tell them this to their beards, to their face?
This seditious man goeth also forth, saying, Vinum tuum mixtum est aqua, "Thy wine is mingled with water." Here he meddleth with vintners: belike there were brewers in those days, as there be now. It had been good for our missal-priests to have dwelled in that country; for they might have been sure to have their wine well mingled with water. I remember how scrupulous I was in my time of blindness and ignorance: when I should say mass, I have put in water twice or thrice for failing; insomuch when I have been at my memento, I have had a grudge in my conscience, fearing that I had not put in water enough. And that which is here spoken of wine, he meaneth it of all arts in the city, of all kinds of faculties; for they have all their medleys and minglings. That he speaketh of one thing, he meaneth generally of all. I must tell you more news yet.
I hear say there is a certain cunning come up in mixing of wares. How say you? were it no wonder to hear that cloth-makers should become poticaries? Yea, and (as I hear say) in such a place, where as they have professed the gospel and the word of God most earnestly of a long time? See how busy the devil is to slander the word of God. Thus the poor gospel goeth to wrack. If his cloth be seventeen yards long, he will set him on a rack, and stretch him out with ropes, and rack him till the sinews shrink again, while he hath brought him to eighteen yards. When they have brought him to that perfection, they have a pretty feat to thick him again. He makes me a powder for it, and plays the poticary; they call it flock-powder; they do so incorporate it to the cloth, that it is wonderful to consider truly a goodly invention! Oh that so goodly wits should be so ill applied! They may well deceive the people, but they cannot deceive God. They were wont to make beds of flocks, and it was a good bed too: now they have turned their flocks into powder, to play the false thieves with it. O wicked devil! what can he not invent to blaspheme God's word? These mixtures come of covetousness. They are plain theft. Wo worth that these flocks should so slander the word of God! As he said to the Jews, "Thy wine is mingled with water," so might he have said to us of this land, "Thy cloth is mingled with flock-powder." He goeth yet on.
This seditious man reproveth this honourable city, and saith, Principes tui infideles; "Thou land of Jerusalem, thy magistrates, thy judges are unfaithful:" they keep no touch, they will talk of many gay things, they will pretend this and that, but they keep no promise. They be worse than unfaithful. He was not afraid to call the officers unfaithful, et socii furum; and "fellows of thieves:" for thieves and thieves' fellows be all of one sort. They were wont to say; "Ask my fellow if I be a thief." He calleth princes thieves. What! princes thieves? What a seditious harlot was this! Was he worthy to live in a commonwealth that would call princes on this wise, fellows of thieves? Had they a standing at Shooters-Hill, or Standgate-hole, to take a purse? Why? Did they stand by the highway side? Did they rob; or break open. any man's house or door? No; no; that is a gross kind of thieving. They were princes: they had a prince-like kind of, thieving, Omnes diligunt munera: "they all love bribes." Bribery is a princely kind of thieving. They will, be waged by the rich; either to give sentence against the poor, or to put off the poor man's causes. This is the noble theft of princes and of magistrates. They are bribe-takers. Nowadays they call them gentle rewards: let them leave their colouring, and call them by their christian name, bribes Omnes diligunt munera. "All the princes, all the judges, all the priests, all the rulers, are bribers." What? Were all the magistrates in Jerusalem all bribe-takers? None good? No doubt there were some good. This word omnes signifieth the most part; and so there be some good, I doubt not of it, in England. But yet we be far worse than those stiff-necked Jews. For we read of none of them that winced nor kicked against Esay's preaching, or said that he was a seditious fellow. It behoveth the magistrates to be in credit, and therefore it might seem that Esay was to blame to speak openly against the magistrates. It is very sure that they that be good will bear, and not spurn at the preachers: they that be faulty they must amend, and neither spurn, nor wince, nor whine. He that findeth himself touched or galled, he declareth himself not to be upright. Wo worth these gifts! they subvert justice everywhere. Sequuntur retributiones: "they follow bribes." Somewhat was given to them before; and they must needs give somewhat again: for Giffe-gaffe was a good fellow; this Giffe-gaffe led them clean from justice. "They follow gifts."
A good fellow on a time bade another of his, friends to a breakfast, and said, "If you will come, you shall be welcome; but I tell you aforehand, you shall have but slender fare: one dish, and that is all" "What is that," said he? "A pudding, and nothing else." "Marry," said he, "you cannot please me better; of all meats, that is for mine own tooth; you may draw me round about the town with a pudding." These bribing magistrates and judges follow gifts faster than the fellow would follow the pudding.
I am content to bear the title of sedition with Esay: thanks be to God, I am not alone, I am in no singularity. This same man that laid sedition thus to my charge was asked another time, whether he were at the sermon at Paul's cross: he answered that he was there: and being asked what news there; "Marry," quoth he, "wonderful news; we were there clean absolved, my mule and all had full absolution." Ye may see by this, that he was such a one as rode on a mule, and that he was a gentleman. Indeed his mule was wiser than he; for I dare say the mule never slandered the preacher. O what an unhappy chance had this mule, to carry such an ass upon his back! I was there at the sermon myself: in the end of his sermon he gave a general absolution, and, as far as I remember, these or such other like words, but at the least I am sure this was his meaning; "As many as do acknowledge yourselves to be sinners, and confess the same, and stand not in defence of it, and heartily abhorreth it, and will believe in the death of Christ, and be comformable thereunto, Ego absolvo vos," quoth he. Now, saith this gentleman, his mule was absolved. The preacher absolved but such as were sorry and did repent. Belike then she did repent her stumbling; his mule was wiser than he a great deal. I speak not of worldly wisdom, for therein he is too wise; yea, he is so wise, that wise men marvel how he came truly by the tenth part of that he hath: but in wisdom which consisteth in rebus Dei, in rebus salutis, in godly matters, and appertaining to our salvation, in this wisdom he is as blind as a beetle: tanquam equus et mulus, in quibus non est intellectus; "like horses and mules, that have no understanding." If it were true that the mule repented her of her stumbling, I think she was better absolved than he. I pray God stop his mouth, or else to open it to speak better, and more to his glory!
Another man, quickened with a word I spake, as he said, opprobriously against the nobility, that their children did not set forth God's word, but were unpreaching prelates, was offended with me. I did not mean so but that some noblemen's children had set forth God's word, howbeit the poor men's sons have done it always for the most part. Johannes Alasco was here, a great learned man, and, as they say, a nobleman in his country, and is gone his way again: if it be for lack of entertainment, the more pity. I would wish such men as he to be in the realm; for the realm should prosper in receiving of them: Qui vos recipit me recipit, "Who receiveth you, receiveth me," saith Christ; and it should be for the king's honour to receive them and keep them. I heard say Master Melancthon, that great clerk, should come hither. I would wish him, and such as he is, to have two hundred pound a year: the king should never want it in his coffers at the year's end. There is yet among us two great learned men, Petrus Martyr and Barnard Ochin, which have a hundred marks apiece: I would the king would bestow a thousand pound on that sort.
Now I will to my place again. In the latter end of my sermon, I exhorted judges to hear the small as well as the great; Juste quad justum est judicare, "You must not only do justice, but do it justly": you must observe all circumstances: you must give justice, and minister just judgment in time; for the delaying of matters of the poor folk is as sinful before the face of God as wrong judgment.
I rehearsed here a parable of a wicked judge, which for importunity's sake heard the poor woman's cause, &c.
Here is a comfortable place for all you that cry out, and are oppressed: for you have not a wicked judge, but a merciful judge to call unto. I am not now so full of foolish pity, but I can consider well enough that some of you complain without a cause. They weep, they wail, they mourn, I am sure some not without a cause: I did not here reprove all judges, and find fault with all. I think we have some as painful magistrates as ever was in England; but I will not swear they be all so: and they that be not of the best, must be content to be taught, and not disdain to be reprehended. David saith, Erudimini qui judicatis terram: I refer it to your conscience, vos qui judicatis terram, "ye that be judges on the earth," whether ye have heard poor men's causes with expedition or no. If ye have not, then erudimini, be content to be touched, to be told. You widows, you orphans, you poor people, here is a comfortable place for you. Though these judges of the world will not hear you, there is one will be content with your importunity; he will remedy you, if you come after a right sort unto him. Ye say, the judge doth blame you for your importunity, it is irksome unto him. He entered into this parable to teach you to be importune in your petition; non defatigari, "not to be weary." Here he teacheth you how to come to God in adversity, and by what means, which is by prayer. I do not speak of the merit of Christ; for he saith, Ego sum via, "I am the way': Qui credit in me, habet vitam aeternam, "Whoso believeth in me hath everlasting life." But when we are come to Christ, what is our way to remedy adversity in anguish, in tribulations, in our necessities, in our injuries? The way is prayer. We are taught by the commandment of God; Invoca me in die tribulationis, et ego eripiam te. Thou widow, thou orphan, thou fatherless child, I speak to thee, that hast no friends to help thee: "call upon me in the day of thy tribulation, call upon me; Ego eripiam te, I will pluck thee away, I will deliver thee, I will take thee away, I will relieve thee, thou shalt have thy heart's desire."
Here is the promise, here is the comfort: Glorificabis me, "Thou shalt glorify me; thank me, accept me for the author of it, and thank not this creature or that for it" Here is the judge of all judges; come unto me, and he will hear you: for he saith, Quicquid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, &c., "Whatsoever ye ask my Father in my name, shall be given you through my merits." "You miserable people, that are wronged in the world, ask of my Father in your distresses; but put me afore, look you come not with brags of your own merits, but come in my name, and by my merit." He hath not the property of this stout judge; he will bear your importunateness, he will not be angry at your crying and calling. The prophet saith, Speraverunt in te patres nostri, et exaudivisti illos; "Thou God, thou God, our fathers did cry unto thee, and thou heardest them. Art not thou our God as well as theirs?" There is nothing more pleasant to God than for to put him in remembrance of his goodness shewed unto our forefathers. It is a pleasant thing to tell God of the benefits that he hath done before our time. Go to Moses, who had the guiding of God's people; see how he used prayer as an instrument to be delivered out of adversity, when he had great rough mountains on every side of him, and before him the Red Sea; Pharao's host behind him, peril of death round about him. What did he? despaired he? No. Whither went he? He repaired to God with his prayer, and said nothing: yet with a great ardency of spirit he pierced God's ear: "Now help, or never, good Lord; no help but in thy hand," quoth he. Though he never moved his lips, yet the scripture saith he cried out, and the Lord heard him, and said, Quid clamas ad me? "Why criest thou out so loud?" The people heard him say nothing, and yet God said, "Why criest thou out?" Straightways he struck the water with his rod, and divided it, and it stood up like two walls on either side, between the which God's people passed, and the persecutors were drowned. (Exod. xiv.)
Josue was in anguish and like distress at Jericho, that true captain, that faithful judge: no follower of retributions, no bribe-taker, he was no money-man: who made his petition to Almighty God to shew him the cause of his wrath toward him, when his army was plagued after the taking of Jericho. So he obtained his prayer, and learned that for one man's fault all the rest were punished. For Achan's covetousness many a thousand were in agony and fear of death, who hid his money, as he thought, from God. But God saw it well enough, and brought it to light. This Achan was a by-walker. Well: it came to pass, when Josua knew it, straightways he purged the army, and took away malum de Israel, that is, wickedness from the people. For Josua called him before the people, and said, Da gloriam Deo, "Give praise to God; tell truth, man": and forthwith he told it: and then he and all his house suffered death. A goodly ensample for all magistrates to follow. Here was the execution of a true judge: he was no gift-taker, he was no winker, he was no by-walker. Also when the Assyrians with am innumerable power of men in Joshaphat's time overflowed the land of Israel, Joshaphat, that good king, goeth me straight to God, and made his prayer: Non est in nostra fortitudine (said he) huic populo resistere; "It is not in our strength, O Lord, to resist this people." And after his prayer God delivered him, and at the same time ten thousand were destroyed. So, ye miserable people, you must go to God in anguishes, and make your prayer to him.
Arm yourselves with prayer in your adversities. Many begin to pray, and suddenly cast away prayer; the devil putteth such phantasies in their heads, as though God would not intend them, or had somewhat else to do. But you must be importune, and not weary, nor cast away prayer: nay, you must cast away sin; God will hear your prayer, albeit you be sinners. I send you to a judge that will be glad to hear you. You that are oppressed, I speak to you. Christ in this parable doth paint the goodwill of God toward you, O miserable people! He that is not received, let him not despair, nor think that God hath forsaken him: for God tarrieth till he seeth a time, and better can do all things for us, than we ourselves can wish.
"There was a wicked judge," &c. What meaneth it that God borroweth this parable rather of a wicked judge, than of a good? Belike good judges were rare at that time and trow ye the devil hath been asleep ever since? No, no: he is as busy as ever he was. The common manner of a wicked judge is neither to fear God nor man. He considereth what a man he is, and therefore he careth not for man, because of his pride. He looketh high over the poor; he will be had in admiration, in adoration. He seemeth to be in a protection. Well, shall he escape? No, no. Est Deus in coelo, "There is a God in heaven:" he accepeth no persons, he will punish them. There was a poor woman came to this judge, and said, Vindica me de adversario, "See that mine adversary do me no wrong." He would not hear her, but drove her off. She had no money to wage either him, either them that were about him. Did this woman well to be avenged of her adversary? May christian people seek vengeance? The Lord saith, Mihi vindictam et ego retribuam; "When ye revenge, ye take mine office upon you." This is to be understood of private vengeance. It is lawful for God's flock to use means to put away wrongs; to resort to judges, to require to have sentence given of right. St Paul sent to Lysias the tribune, to have this ordinary remedy: and Christ also said, Si male locutus sum, &c., "If I have spoken evil, rebuke me." Christ here answered for himself. Note here, my lords and masters, what case poor widows and orphans be in. I will tell you, my lords judges, if ye consider this matter well, ye should be more afraid of the poor widow, than of a nobleman, with all the friends and power that he can make.
But nowadays the judges be afraid to hear a poor man against the rich; insomuch they will either pronounce against him, or so drive off the poor man's suit, that he shall not be able to go through with it. The greatest man in a realm cannot so hurt a judge as a poor widow; such a shrewd turn she can do him. And with what armour, I pray you? She can bring the judge's skin over his ears, and never lay hands upon him. And how is that? Lacrymae miserorum descendunt ad maxillas, "The tears of the poor fall down upon their cheeks," et ascendunt ad coelum, "and go up to heaven," and cry for vengeance before God, the judge of widows, the father of widows and orphans. Poor people be oppressed even by laws. Vae iis qui condunt leges iniquas! "Wo worth to them that make evil laws against the poor! What shall be to them that hinder and mar good laws?" Quid facietis in die ultionis? "What will ye do in the day of great vengeance, when God shall visit you?" He saith, he will hear the tears of poor women when he goeth on visitation. For their sake he will hurt the judge, be he never so high. Deus transfert regna. He will for widows' sakes change realms, bring them into temptation, pluck the judges' skins over their heads.
Cambyses was a great emperor, such another as our master is: he had many lords-deputies, lords-presidents, and lieutenants under him. It is a great while ago since I read the history. It chanced he had under him in one of his dominions a briber, a gift-taker, a gratifier of rich men; he followed gifts as fast as he that followed the pudding; a hand-maker in his office, to make his son a great man; as the old saying is, "Happy is the child whose father goeth to the devil." The cry of the poor widow came to the emperor's ear, and caused him to flay the judge quick, and laid his skin in his chair of judgment, that all judges that should give judgment afterward should sit in the same skin. Surely it was a goodly sign, a goodly monument, the sign of the judge's skin. I pray God we may once see the sign of the skin in England!
Ye will say, peradventure, that this is cruelly and uncharitably spoken. No, no; I do it charitably, for a love I bear my country. God saith, Ego visitabo, "I will visit." God hath two visitations: the first is, when he revealeth his word by preachers; and where the first is accepted, the second cometh not. The second visitation is vengeance. He went a visitation, when he brought the judge's skin over his ears. If his word be despised, he cometh with his second visitation, with vengeance.
Noe preached God's word a hundred years, and was laughed to scorn, and called an old doting fool. Because they would not accept this first visitation, God visited them the second time; he poured down showers of rain, till all the world was drowned. Loth was a visitor of Sodome and Gomorre; but because they regarded not his preaching, God visited them the second time, and burnt them all up with brimstone, saving Loth. Moses came first a visitation into Egypt with God's word, and because they would not hear him, God visited them again, and drowned them in the Red sea. God likewise with his first visitation visited the Israelites by his prophets; but because they would not hear his prophets, he visited them the second time, and dispersed them in Assyria and Babylon. John Baptist likewise, and our Saviour Christ, visited them afterward, declaring to them God's will; and because they despised these visitors, he destroyed Hierusalem by Titus and Vespasianus. Germany was visited twenty years with God's word, but they did not earnestly embrace it, and in life follow it, but made a mingle-mangle and a botch-potch of it I cannot tell what, partly popery, partly true religion, mingled together. They say in my country, when they call their hogs to the swine-trough, 'Come to thy mingle-mangle, come pur, come pur': even so they made mingle-mangle of it. They could clatter and prate of the gospel; but when all cometh to all, they joined popery so with it that they marred all together: they scratched and scraped all the livings of the church, and under a colour of religion turned it to their own proper gain and lucre. God, seeing that they would not come unto his word, now he visiteth them in the second time of his visitation, with his wrath for the taking away of God's word is a manifest token of his wrath.
We have now a first visitation in England; let us beware of the second. We have the ministration of his word; we are yet well: but the house is not clean swept yet. God hath sent us a noble king in this his visitation; let us not provoke him against us. Let us beware; let us not displease him; let us not be unthankful and unkind; let us beware of by-walking and contemning of God's word; let us pray diligently for our king; let us receive with all obedience and prayer the word of God.
A word or two more, and I commit you to God. I will monish you of a thing. I hear say ye walk inordinately, ye talk unseemly, otherwise than it becometh christian subjects ye take upon you to judge the judgments of judges. I will not make the king a pope; for the pope will have all things that he doth taken for an article of our faith. I will not say but that the king and his council may err; the parliament houses, both the high and low, may err; I pray daily that they may not err. It becometh us, whatsoever they decree, to stand unto it, and receive it obediently, as far forth as it is not manifest wicked, and directly against the word of God. It pertaineth unto us to think the best, though we cannot render a cause for the doing of every thing; for caritas omnia credit, omnia sperat, "Charity doth believe and trust all things:" We ought to expound to the best all things, although we cannot yield a reason.
Therefore I exhort you, good people, pronounce in good part all the facts and deeds of the magistrates and judges. Charity judgeth the best of all men, and specially of magistrates: St Paul saith, Nolite judicare ante tempus donec Dominus advenerit, "Judge not before the time of the Lord's coming." Pravum cor hominis, "Man's heart is unsearchable;" it is a ragged piece of work; no man knoweth his own heart; and therefore David prayeth, and saith, Ab occultis meis menda me, "Deliver me from my unknown faults:" I am a further offender than I can see. A man shall by blinded in love of himself, and cannot see so much in himself as in other men. Let us not therefore judge judges. We are accountable to God, and so be they: let them alone, they have their accounts to make. If we have charity in us, we shall do this; for caritas operatur, "Charity worketh." What worketh it? Marry, omnia credere, omnia sperare, "to accept all things in good part." Nolite judicare ante tempus, "Judge not before the Lord's coming." In this we learn to know antichrist, which doth elevate himself in the church, and judgeth at his pleasure before the time. His canonizations, and judging of men before the Lord's judgment, be a manifest token of antichrist. How can he know saints? He knoweth not his own heart. And he cannot know them by miracles, for some miracle-workers shall go to the devil.
I will tell you what I remembered yesternight in my bed: a marvellous tale to perceive how inscrutable a man's heart is. I was once at Oxford, (for I had occasion to come that way, when I was in my office;) they told me it was a gainer way, and a fairer way; and by that occasion I lay there a night. Being there, I heard of an execution that was done upon one that suffered for treason: it was, as ye know, a dangerous world, for it might soon cost a man his life for a word speaking. I cannot tell what the matter was, but the judge set it so out that the man was condemned: the twelve men came in and said, "Guilty;" and upon that he was judged to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. When the rope was about his neck, no man could persuade him that he was in any fault; and stood there a great while in the protestation of his innocency; they hanged him, and cut him down somewhat too soon, afore he was clean dead; then they drew him to the fire, and he revived; and then he coming to his remembrance, confessed his fault, and said he was guilty. Oh, a wonderful example! It may well be said, Pravum cor hominis et inscrutabile, "A crabbed piece of work, and unsearchable."
I will leave here, for I think you know what I mean well enough. I shall not need to apply this example any further. As I began ever with this saying, Quaecunque scripta sunt, like a truant, so I have a common-place to the end, if my memory fail not, Beati gui audiunt verbum Dei, et custodiunt illud, "Blessed be they that hear the word of God, and keep it." It must be kept in memory, in living, and in our conversation: and if we so do, we shall come to the blessedness which God prepared for us through his son Jesus Christ; to the which may he bring us all. Amen.