by Pierre Du Moulin
OR, A most Christian Exercise full of Comfort and consolation for these present times.
Written in French by the Learned and zealous PETER DU MOULIN, Professor of Divinity, in the University of Sedan.
LONDON, Printed by A. M. for Robert Mylbourne, and are to be sold at his Shop at the great South door of Paul's. 1623.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE, TRULY NOBLE, AND MOST EXCELLENT LORDS: LODOWICK, Duke of RICHMOND, and of LENOX, &c. JAMES, Lord Marquis of HAMILTON, &c. WILLIAM, Earl of PEMBROKE, &c. HENRY, Earl of SOUTHAMPTON, &c. ROBERT, Earl of LEICESTER, &c. JOHN, Earl of HOLDERNESS, &c. JAMES, Earl of CARLISLE, &c. and OLIVER St. JOHN, Viscount Grandison. AUDLEY, Lord NORTH, Baron of Catelage. ARTHUR, Lord CHICHESTER, Baron of Belfast. Religious Peers of ENGLAND, Mirror of Honour and Virtue, Noble Patrons, and Patterns of good Endeavours, True Pillars, and Upholders of Christ's true Doctrine, and the comfort of the Church of God. ABRAHAM DARCIE heartily wishes to your Illustrious Persons all Internal, External, and Eternal Happiness and Prosperity in the holy TRINITY.
IF in this vicious age it is a rare thing to see an Example of Virtue, then your Noble Persons must be much more rare, seeing they comprehend with great Excellency and Perfection all the Virtues in one, which the corruption of the present age renders most remarkable; but the Eminence of your High Callings, and the Nobility of your Illustrious Descendants, makes it more admirable. For if an inundation of vices (the dangerous contagions of Courts), where many seducing objects of evils are often presented rather to Great, than Inferior Persons, have not been able to deprave or vitiate the unspotted Sincerity of your Noble and Constant hearts, this is an Example almost without Example: applauded by those who know your Names, more admired by those who know your Persons; yea, Commended and Extolled even by your very Enemies. Amongst your many Rare Virtues, PIETY (which is and ought to be the chiefest, as that which dissuades us from all worldly and transitory Pleasures and Affectations, makes us approach near to GOD, to be partakers of that incomprehensible Joy, Comfort, and everlasting Happiness, allotted only to Christ's Elect) shines with an excellent splendour through your whole Noble Conversations. GOD, who is the only Giver, and true Rewarder of Virtues, has so adorned and enlightened you with the Clear and Radiant Beams of his Gospel that no waves of Idolatrous temptations shall be able to shake the Foundation of your true-grounded Faith; built, not upon the Sand of human Tradition, and Invention, that the least wind removes, but on the firm Rock of Divine Perseverance, and Constancy which no superstitious storm can overwhelm. That holy Providence which keeps you still pure and immaculate, has blessed and preserved you from time to time, from all perils and dangers, and has endued you with his heavenly Favours and Graces, which are evident demonstrations of greater Blessings to come hereafter, Making the people of GOD hope, you are thus preserved, to be true friends of his Church, and the terror of her Enemies: Over which you will be triumphant, CHRIST making your enterprises prosperous, and your Noble designs victorious: for which I am ever ready to send up my zealous Prayers to GOD for all happy success. In testimony whereof, I humbly tender and prostrate to your Honours this Excellent and healthful Preparation, Dedicated likewise to the most Noble, Sincere, and Religious Princes, and Lords of FRANCE, True and Zealous Warriors for CHRIST'S cause.
Your Graces and Honours most humbly Devoted. ABRAHAM DARCIE.
To the most Illustrious, H. & B. of Roan, Princes of Leon. FRED. Prince of Sedan. H. of Trimouille, Prince of Talmont. N. Duke of Seuilly. AMORI. Marquis of La Moussay. Mon. Le Vidame de Chartres. N. Marquis of La Force. ST. Marquis of Duras. CL. Earl of Montgomery. LE. E. of La Suze. GASP. E. of Chastillion.
Most Illustrious Lords,
IN these tottering and uncertain times, when the love and respect of the world, and the terror of persecutions and tribulations, make many look back, who have laid fast hold on the Plough of true Religion. I thought it most expedient to salute you with this Treatise of a secure and safe Preparation against the assaults of malicious hearts and attempting hands, that by the heroic virtues of Christian patience and constancy, you may be able to resist whatever impious force or violence, which would fain make a breach in your Noble, Religious, and Zealous hearts. This I have done, not out of any doubt or fear of your firm and settled resolutions; but only to give you to understand how far your Illustrious persons are interested in the daily and continual prayers of the whole Church, for your happy and victorious success; and that whenever you vouchsafe but to read this divine Discourse, your Lordships may be put in mind of the zealous and affectionate prayers of God's people, who having made my unworthy self their general mouth and voice, I do not a little rejoice at the fit opportunity I have herein, to manifest unto your Lordships my own particular humble love and affection, which being grounded upon the many noble and apparent virtues of your Lordships, and innumerable favours and benefits imparted to me without desert, desires yet in so small and slender a testimony as this, to make known the large extent of my wishes and desires, that God may accumulate upon your Lordships in so holy and just a cause, all auspicious and wished success, as he, whom all your Lordships jointly, and each of you in particular, will ever rest
Your Lordships most bounden and devoted, P. DU MOULIN.
A PREPARATION to Sufferings, for the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST.
A Christian Exercise full of comfort and consolation, for these present Times.
Surely he spoke not ill, that said, how Christian Exercise consisted in two things; To do well, and to suffer much: For God will be glorified, not only by our actions, but also by our Sufferings; by which we manifest our virtue and zeal, as much, or more than by our Actions. And so the holy Scriptures persuade us, the rather to acknowledge the importance of these duties, in that they so often exhort us both to the one, and to the other. Our Saviour Christ also was not content to give unto his Disciples necessary Instructions for well living, but further he premonishes and forewarns them with a careful Advertisement, against the diverse assaults and combats they were to suffer, through the hatred of the world, encouraging them to the fast-hold of Constancy, under the assured hope of eternal salvation, which he does expressly by these words here; You shall be hated of all men for my Name's sake; but he that holds out to the end, the same shall be saved.
In these words, he does not apply himself only to the Apostles, but in their persons to all the faithful, which he notifies, by declaring, that the subject of this hatred shall be the profession of his Name: as we are in like manner advertised in other places; That by many afflictions we must attain to the kingdom of heaven, Acts 14. and that all those who will in piety, according to Jesus Christ, must suffer persecution, 2. Tim. 3. which the faithful have so clearly proved to be true by experience, that we need not confirm it by examples. Christ says not simply, You shall be exposed, but which is more, hated: for there were many sects of Philosophers which contradicted, but did not hate them. And in all Faculties and Sciences, we see Doctors dispute one against another with much passion and zeal, both in speech and writing, and yet without violence: but as for the faithful, Christ saith unto them, You shall be hated.
And as hatred is the source and spring of the wickedest affections, and actions (of envy, choler, detraction, injury, exprobation, persecution, and cruelty) so in affirming that we shall be hated, it intimates unto us, that the combats and assaults which shall be urged upon us by the world, are of no small difficulty. For what pernicious design is there, which hatred does not nurse? what outrage does it not enter into? what is it fed and sustained withal, but with ruin, blood, and slaughter? Her throat is an open sepulcher, Rom. 3. She uses her tongue fraudulently: under her lips there is the venom of the Asp, her mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, her feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in her ways, she knows not the way of peace.
And unquestionably, so that we might not suppose that this hatred of the world against us is but slight and trivial, Jesus Christ describes it to us as so cruel and implacable that, gaining mastery over the senses and transforming reason into rage, it will violate all humanity, all respects and bonds of nature, and with more horrible and tragical barbarism, stain her hands with the blood of her nearest allies: For the brother shall deliver up his brother to death, the father the child; the children shall rise up against their fathers and mothers, and cause them to be put to death: and in regard to others, what will she not attempt? She is so furious that she will destroy Provinces, put Cities to the sack, and whole Estates to ashes, under a passion to set therein a flaming fire, the Church of God: she will make the fields and rivers look red with the blood of the poor and faithful Saints, and fill the world with cruel afflictions, with prodigious massacres, with horrible murders of an infinite number of innocent persons, without any detection of just crime, without regard to sex, age, or condition: she will omit no fraud, malice, perfidiousness, nor perjury; she will hold for a maxim of conscience, to make conscience of nothing, esteem it for an article of faith, to keep no faith at all; under pretext of Religion, to manifest nothing but irreligion; she perverts not only the will but the understanding, and makes it frantic and mad. For, as when a great fire is kindled, it sends up on high a gross thick vapour: In like manner when this hatred is inflamed in the heart, it sends up into the intellectual understanding, an obscure and duskish fume, which does obfuscate reason; and taking away the true use thereof, makes a man degenerate into a savage and cruel beast.
And though we see not this hatred always to break forth in bloody effects, it is, because God, (who by the invisible chains of his omnipotent power, hampers and shackles the malignant) depresses them. So that when the enemies of the Church permit her to live in some quiet and repose, and do not openly persecute her, it grows not through the defect of will, but of power. This hatred is then no more extinguished than the heat of the coal under ashes, or the venom of a Serpent, congealed and mortified by frigidity. She is always living in the world; and when she openly discovers not herself, she sets and covers, causing matters to hatch upon all occasions, whereof these present seasons yield us a lively proof and testimony.
And which moreover may seem more strange, Christ says not unto us, you shall be hated by some special men, but by all; that is to say, by all such as do not receive the verity and purity of the Gospel; this signifying, that we should not have a part, but the whole world exasperated together against us. And though it be divided into different Affections, Factions, and Religions, and that one Nation is an enemy to another; and that there are likewise some, who magnify themselves in the Title of Christians, yet they will ever appear in this point to hate us; they will unite to dissipate us, and assemble, to work our extirpation. So the Pharisees and Sadducees accorded to oppose themselves jointly to Jesus Christ; Herod and Pilate, who were enemies, grew reconciled to crucify him. And even so the Kings of the earth, (though in their Estates they have contrary designs) yet will they take the same counsel, the same resolution, and the same correspondency, to favour Antichrist, and to persecute the children of God. So as the accord of the world is nothing but a conspiracy against the Church, and peace among the wicked, nothing but war against God and his Saints.
The occasion of this hatred against the faithful is the mere profession of the Name of Christ, although oftentimes the pretext be otherwise. For they who live outside this holy profession are so far from being hated by the world that, on the contrary, they are beloved and cherished, the world permitting them to live in all licentiousness and excess: For if the faithful would imitate them in the error of belief, and perverseness of life, the world would change the hatred they bear towards them, to all favour and love.
It is a very strange thing that this name of Christ, so sweet and amiable, should be so odious: this Name more odorous than spread perfumes; this Name, which is not only a good odour in the nostrils of God, in itself, but also for us; making all acceptable to God which we present unto him, our Prayers or Affections, our works, and our persons. But as we say, that the Tigers enter into rage, upon the scent of any Aromatic drugs; so in like manner the world becomes stark mad, upon the very odour of the Name of Christ. By this Name, Diseases have been cured, the deaf have heard, the blind have seen, the dead men have been raised up. By this Name, wicked spirits have been expelled, Hell hath trembled thereat, Death was destroyed, God appeased, Paradise laid open, and all Believers saved. This Name is venerable among the Angels, adored of the Blessed, exalted above any other name that can be mentioned in this world, or in the world to come. To this Name every knee must bow, both of those above in heaven, of those on the earth, and of those under the earth; and every tongue shall confess, that JESUS is the Lord, sitting in glory with God the Father. This is the glorious name, by which, and for which all things were, all creatures subsist, have their being, their life, their operations, and their good: and yet nevertheless it is hated by men, after the custom of many barbarous Nations, who at the rising of the Sun, shoot their Arrows against it with a thousand maledictions, because they do but feel the ardour and heat of it at high noon day; not considering, that without the benefit of his beams and virtue they could not live. And even so the world shoots the darts of their hatred and madness against Christ, who is the Son of Righteousness, when they apprehend but the ardour of persecution, or else supposing that Christ brings with him some Inconvenience; whereas indeed he is the true sun of all happiness, and that without his light and special grace, there is nothing but darkness, misery, the shadows of death, and death eternal.
Persons poisoned with this hatred against the name of Christ, are of two sorts: some are those which make no profession at all of him, but openly detest him, as Pagans, Jews, Turks, and miscreants. The other have some knowledge of him; but yet they are erroneous Christians, mingling the word of God with false Doctrines, Superstitions, Inventions, and human Traditions, such as the Heretics, and adherents to Antichrist. And though this latter sort, and their believers, avouch not publicly any hatred to the name of Christ; yet they show it by plain and evident effects: as Saul before his conversion, persecuted the Church of God, though his intention and meaning was no ways such: And which is much to be lamented, deluded, and abused Christians, show oftentimes more rancorous & implacable hatred against the true faithful, than those people themselves, which hold the Gospel in abomination, and suppose they bear a great zeal to Jesus Christ, when they persecute him in his members; and that they offer an acceptable sacrifice unto God, when they put his children to death.
If it be wonderful therefore, that this name of Christ, is hated by men, is it not likewise a very strange thing, that true Christians should be hated one of another? For though they have the most principal rights in the city of this world, yet are they treated as strangers: they love all the world, and all the world hates them; they seek after peace, & everyone makes war against them; they are detested by their enemies, and yet they pray for them. They are the honestest men of all others, and yet are persecuted, than the most wicked sort; they live in the flesh, and yet not according to the flesh; they converse on earth, and are citizens of heaven; they submit themselves to Laws in their obedience, and by their holy life, surmount and excel them; others curse them, and they bless; they are punished, and tormented as malefactors, and men would not have them confess and acknowledge who they are: their good names are slandered, and depraved, and yet we are enforced to commend their integrity: mortal enmity is put in practice against them, and no just reason can be rendered thereof: men are ignorant of their Profession, and notwithstanding condemn it. In a word, look what the soul is to the body, the same are the faithful to the world; the soul is dispersed over all the members of the body, and the faithful over the several parts of the earth: the soul dwelleth in the body, yet is not of the body: and so the faithful dwell in the world, yet are not of the world: the soul loveth the body, though the body war and contest with it; and the faithful love all the world, though all the world be opposite to them: the soul is enclosed within the body, as within a jail or prison, and yet she preserves the body; and the faithful are imprisoned, and shut up in this world, as within a prison, and yet they preserve & support the world, by reason that for their sakes, God forbears to destroy it; and when the number of the faithful is accomplished, then the world shall end and finish. The soul is incomparably more excellent than the body, and the faithful of infinite more value, than the world: The soul is of heaven, and the body of the earth; so are all the faithful heavenly, whereas the body is wholly earthly, and terrestrial: The immortal soul dwelleth as a stranger within our mortal tabernacle; and so the faithful have but a travelling life in this corruptible world, attending most blessed and happy immortality: The soul being deprived of bodily delights, is made the better and more perfect: and so the faithful, rudely entreated by the world, do profit the more in the exercise of virtue.
From whence proceeds it then, that they are so hated of the world? Why, from this, that they are not of the world: for if they were of the world, the world would love them, because everything loves its like. But in that they are distinguished, and separated from the world, by the profession of the Gospel, which is a doctrine so sweet, amiable, and healthful, comprehending and exposing the promises of the grace of God, and of eternal life, propounding such sacred and admirable mysteries, such perfect and divine instructions, how comes it to be thus hated? First, in that the world is ignorant of it: for those that truly know it cannot but love and embrace it, and so violent persecutors often become ardent and zealous Professors. The reason of this ignorance is because it is altogether spiritual and celestial, and the world is earthly and carnal, which cannot believe nor apprehend it, because of its sublimity and excellency, no more than beasts can be capable of the discourse of Reason. To this purpose, the Apostle affirms in the first Corinthians, the second chapter: We propose wisdom to the perfect, a wisdom no ways of this world, neither of the princes of this world, which come to nothing: but we propose the wisdom of God, which consists in mystery; that is to say, hidden, which God had ordained before all ages for our glory, which none of the Princes of this world have known; for had they known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory. But as it is written, these are things which the eye never saw, the ear heard, nor that never hath entered into the heart of man; but God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the spirit searches all things, yea, even the profoundest matters of God. For who is he amongst men, that knoweth the very things of man, but the spirit of man which is in him. No man in like manner knoweth the things of God, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which is of God, to the end that we might know the things that are of God: for these things to it seem follies, and it cannot conceive them, because they must be discerned spiritually, but the spiritual man discerns all things. And indeed man being extremely vain in all his cogitations, in his opinions erroneous, and in his understanding and will completely perverted in matters of Religion; he takes darkness for light, falsehood for truth, and evil for good; no otherwise, but even like to those, whose taste is depraved, or stomach alienated, that delight more in gross and bad, than in good and wholesome meats; or those who having some bitterness lying on their tongue, find the very honey itself to be bitter in their mouths.
Moreover, the Gospel manifesting unto man his misery, his sin, his infirmity, and his impotency, he puffed up with a conceit and presumption of himself, abhorreth such a Doctrine.
And what further grieves them also, is that this condemns sensual and carnal affections, together with worldly reason, commanding a renunciation of oneself, and of the world, and man is loath to leave the love of these things.
It summons also to the endurance of persecution, and diverse things that are odious to the flesh: so that affecting to live at ease, he expels and drives away such a Gospel, which disturbs his worldly repose, and the enjoyment of his delights. Now, though the Lord has absolute power over all creatures, yet he did not abolish this hatred of the world against the faithful, from which he works many benefits for our good: for it is like a bar or rail, which separates us from the world, and the vices thereof. For if the world did not hate us, but rather loved us, what would come of it, but an adherence and confirmation of ourselves to it, and so to be infected with the contagion thereof? whereas hating us, we are thereby constrained to withdraw our hearts, and to alter our affections from it, that we may be preserved from the corruptions thereof, and aspire to a better estate than that of the world. While Jacob beheld the affable visage of Laban, he took delight in it: but when Laban changed his Countenance, then he spoke of returning into his Country of Canaan. While the children of Israel were not hated by the Egyptians, they dwelt willingly in Egypt: but after they came to be hated, and ill-treated, they had a desire to depart, to possess the land of Promise. While the world smiles upon us, we return reciprocal contentment to it: but when it sets countenance against us, and makes us feel the sensible effects of her hatred, then we call to mind, and desire our celestial Canaan, whereof God has promised to us a full possession.
Furthermore, God makes use of the world's hatred, as of a whip wherewith to scourge us when we fly out too far and abandon ourselves to the corruptions of the world. For then God loosens the reins to this hatred and permits them the execution of their malicious designs, as in this troublesome time we have had experience, through the wonderful excess of our sins and transgressions.
Besides, this hatred is a proper means whereby to exercise our virtue and constancy in the trial of our Faith, Patience, Charity, Perseverance, and Benignity. It is also a proper subject to us of spiritual victory; for where can any victory be without combat, any combat without opposition, any opposition without an adversary, or any adversary without hatred? The hatred of the world must erect unto us spiritual trophies and triumphs: and the purple of our glory must be of a more lustrous and resplendent dye, by the effusion of our own blood.
For if the Church were not hated by the world, what wonder would it be if it subsisted and persisted in the world, surmounting and trampling it under? And how should we come to acknowledge the miraculous aid and succor of God, the depth of his providence, power, and protection? Should we ascribe that to ourselves which proceeds merely from him? And take that to our own happiness which is derived immediately from his grace? But when God works a subsistence for his church in the very midst of all the world's hatred, it is no less to be wondered at than when it was preserved in the midst of Egypt and Babylon, among the most truculent and bloody adversaries she had: and as when she was retired within the ark, she was secured amidst the waves, winds, tempests, and storms, within a floating and frail residence. And if it is an admirable thing that this Universe should be maintained, being environed with such a contrariety of elements, surely it yields no less cause for astonishment that God still preserves his Church in the midst of hatred, contradictions, and worldly assaults.
Yes, the words of our Saviour enjoin us to this observation, that we should be so far from flattering the world or seeking the approbation thereof in any point that touches and concerns religion, that, on the contrary, we ought to have it in continual jealousy and suspicion. And besides this, it is not proper for the church to be applauded or exalted by the world, but rather to be molested and persecuted; and the peculiar property of the children of the world, as the Devil their father, is to hate; whereas the property of the children of God is to love; the whole law of God being comprehended in this one word, which is, To love God and our Neighbor. From whence you may clearly discern how far removed those of the Roman church are from Christianity, being stuffed with passion in all their censures, and with hatred in their designs against us, reckoning themselves the more zealous Catholics in that they hate us, and their charity towards us being extremely cruel and hard-hearted: for out of the love they bear us, they put us to death, they persecute and burn us, out of a love for our salvation: whereas we, on the contrary, seek peace and concord with them, so far as the duties of religion or civility in conversation may permit. But if Christ, though he were glorious and omnipotent, suffered himself to be hated by the world and by the enemies of his Gospel, let us learn to admire and imitate his patience and clemency. And when the world crowned him with thorns, can we expect to be crowned with flowers? If they crucified him, will they glorify us? We seek conformity with him in his beatitude, shall we disdain to follow him in his persecutions? And whereas the name of Christ is so holy, his cause so just, and our profession so authentic, what greater honor can be conferred upon us than to suffer for so worthy a cause? Like unto the Apostles, we must rejoice that we are found worthy to suffer for the name of Christ, and that with S. Paul, we may vaunt and glory in our tribulations.
For besides the honour we receive in suffering for the name of Christ, the reward we expect therefrom is incomparable: For he that perseveres to the end, shall be saved. It is not said, he that hates, that returns like for like, that seeks revenge, but he that endures: which is as much as to say, that perseveres, that suffers, that undergoes; for if there were no further question, but of just repelling of an injury, many wicked men might have as great a part in salvation as the honestest men that are. Moreover, Christ will have his Gospel avouched, not only by the voice, but even by the crosses and afflictions of the faithful: for then only we manifest our firm belief when the torments of the world cannot shake our credulity, nor the profession thereof which we make. What more infallible testimony can we yield to the word of Christ, than by our endurances? What more authentic subscription than our blood? What more sure seal than our death? What more solemn satisfaction than the sacrifice of our bodies? In this warfare, he performs most of a man, that utters the least part of a man; and thereto we are summoned, rather to suffer, than to act or execute.
The very words of the text are herein more remarkable, in that they properly infer the sustaining of a heavy burden, or else some assault or hot combat: all which implies how such endurances for the name of Christ are both hard and heavy. They are intimated to be no less in the word of the cross, which was a marvellous painful torment; and by the burning furnace, wherein we are tried and purified, as gold and silver is in the fire: so that if we mean to make profession of the name of Christ, we must be prepared and resolved not only for light and easy temptations, but for those most extreme and terrible.
And because Jesus Christ says, "He that perseveres," he gives us herein to understand how it is not enough for us to sustain one kind of affliction; but generally and without exception, all those wherewith it pleases God to examine and try us: for some would willingly pass over a little contempt and scorn, but not an open ignominy: others, the loss of goods, but not of their lives; but without reservation or exception of any trials, we must persevere and suffer to the end.
This word also signifies to suffer with courage and magnanimity: for many endure, which cannot be said to suffer, being vanquished and overcome, yea, even overwhelmed with the burden, being overcome with the violence of the temptation, or of the contrary shock, and force. He therefore is properly said to sustain or suffer, that supports and endures, without abatement of his courage. And therefore patience is here recommended unto us, one of the most necessary virtues for a Christian, for it helps to preserve all the others, which without this would fail, and prove defective. It is patience that bridles our affections, appeases our passions, moderates our violences, sways over our temptations, reduces errant reason into the right way, establishes the soul in her proper seat and residence, and confirms her in her offices. There is not a greater misery in the world than not to have patience in time of misery: without patience the least inconveniences are insupportable, and with patience, those most extreme are made light and easy. And as the pearl in dirt, causes its beauty to appear; so a patient man in adversity makes his virtue shine and appear.
But in that excellent beginnings are altogether unprofitable without a final prosecution, Christ says not simply, "He that endures," but he adds, "even to the end." For to what purpose is it to have begun a work well, and then to give it over? to have run well, and then lie down in the midst of the race? to have fought at first valiantly, and cowardly at last to yield? to have passed the danger of the waves, of the tempests, of gulfs, of rocks, and of Pirates, if we perish hard by our Port, and sink within the channel? wherefore we must add perseverance unto patience, which is the end and the accomplishment, both of patience and all other virtues. For what comes of patience without perseverance, but a shameful revolt? and what honour shall the other virtues have, except perseverance crowns them, which, conducting them to their last period, makes them victorious and triumphant: wherefore let us sustain, even to the end.
This end is chiefly that of afflictions, and not such an end as the sense or feeling of our flesh, and our own proper affections could desire; but such as it pleases God to give us. For it is not lawful for us to shake off our cross, nor to shrink from under the burden which God lays on us, but resolved, undergoing the same, we must attend, while God discharges us thereof.
Secondly, by this end is understood the period of our temporal life; for it is not enough to have sustained for a long time, we must support even to the hour of death, which is the coronation of our life. And certainly, in that the end of this life is short, and the number of our days cut off; would it not be a wonderful cowardice, if we should not persevere, and endure to the end?
But how can we do this, when our infirmities are so great, and our endurances so difficult? In the first place, this must be done by a serious renunciation of ourselves, and of all other earthly things, which will be of no power nor force to shake us if we contemn them, and be absolutely dead to the world. Next of all, by a constant faith in God and in his word, which assures us that his spirit will ease on his behalf our debilities, and his power will take place in our infirmities, and he will not suffer us to be tempted above our strength, but he will renew our force, and gives us a good and happy issue of our temptations. Finally, by zealous and continual prayers unto God, of whom they shall be heard, as he in his wisdom shall find it most expedient for his glory, and our salvation: for prayer does fortify faith, it supports hope, inflames charity, confirms patience, increases all other virtues; it expels sadness, banishes fear, comforts afflictions, eases vexations, mollifies torments, renews forces, makes the courage invincible, it surmounts temptations, gives victory to all opposing assaults, and remedy to all inconveniences. Why should we then doubt, or what need we fear, relying upon such puissant aids, and being further encouraged by so fair a recompense, as that of salvation. For, whosoever perseveres to the end, shall be saved. This promise is not like those which men make one to another, or captains to soldiers, which oftentimes prove frustrate without any effect, or by the death of soldiers and captains, or else for want of power and good will. None of these things can make void or frustrate the promises of Christ, to them that persevere and endure to the end: not death in our own persons; for it leads us to life; not death in the person of Christ, for it is immortal; not want of power, for he is almighty; nor of good affection, for he has suffered death for us, testifying therein an infinite love toward us. In a word, we must not call in question the verity of his word; for that is infallible.
Furthermore, this promise is not of weak or slight importance; for it intimates unto us a deliverance from an extreme misery, which is, from eternal death and damnation; to the horror whereof we are naturally subject, and from which it has pleased the Lord to redeem us, out of his wonderful goodness and mercy: for if men rejoice so much for escaping some eminent or great peril, or for being preserved a little while from death, which nevertheless is inevitable, what a joy should possess us for our liberty, and escape from eternal death and perdition, and to be preserved from the same forever, considering the small number of those that shall be saved, in respect of them that shall perish.
Whereas unto this benefit, there is also annexed an assured possession of eternal Beatitude, which Christ also infers, saying, Whosoever perseveres to the end, shall be saved. If he promised a life of many hundreds or thousands of years in this world, people would make great esteem of it, especially when it were exempted from all molestations, sadness, grief, infirmities, and all encumbrances; but accompanied with joy, contentment, health, power, and security of estate and condition. But much more also, were it magnificent and glorious, for the enjoyment of great wealth and many dominions of a flourishing kingdom, and famous empire, replenished with whatever the eye, the ear, or the heart could wish. And Jesus Christ promises much more unto us than all this, saying, He that continues to the end, shall be saved. For what can be comparable to this salvation, which in all circumstances, is most absolute and perfect? The place thereof is heaven; the continuance thereof is eternal; the constancy thereof is subject to no mutation; the possession secure and certain, the nature of its benefits are incorruptible, incomprehensible, and divine; their number, infinite; their degrees, eminent and supreme; their measure, immeasurable; and their purity, without taint of evil or corruption: for they are all absolutely perfect, holy, and blessed of God; the peace thereof is without molestation, the glory thereof, is the glory of the Lord God almighty. How different then is this salvation, from a frail and transitory life, which is nothing but a shadow, devoured and swallowed up in miseries, and mortality? A life, which humors, griefs, and inflammations consume and extenuate, which the air makes sick, which meats surcharge, which abstinence weakens, which sorrows waste, which passions disturb, which cares do wrinkle, which poverty abases, which old age bends and makes crooked, which torments overwhelm; and which a lamentable death does finish; a life assailed with a deluge of evils, wherein there is no firm station, where we can scarcely see one poor branch of the flourishing Olive, whereupon the fearful Dove may for a moment fasten the foot. A life affording the same residence allotted to unclean beasts, and the same light, which the very worms of the earth enjoy. How far, I say, more excellent is the state of salvation, than this present momentary life where no necessities press, no annoyances disturb, no apprehensions molest, no miseries approach or draw near unto, but replenished with happiness and beatitude; where life is without death, joy without sadness, youth without old age, peace without trouble, light without darkness, abundance without defect, good without evil, security without danger, and felicity without end.
This salvation is so much the more to be desired, in that it completely comprehends the happy estate of our whole persons; that is to say, both of the soul and body, which Christ signifies in saying, He that continues to the end shall be saved. For otherwise, how can we be said to be saved, if we might also be said to be lost? and Christ coming to save that which was lost; and absolute and entire man being lost, must he not likewise in his entire and absolute estate be saved? For what a defect were this, when Christ having assumed our entire person, he should have redeemed but the moiety thereof? If he were but our half Saviour, and that by him we were but saved in part? And who does not see, that the Justice of God requires the presentation of whole man; and as in the one or other part he has participated of good or evil, he has his share in the retribution, both in the one and other part?
But how should this come to pass, that this very body dissolved to ashes, atoms, and elements, should return to its former frame and composition? O man, he that revives the dead, and that calls things which are not, as if they were, cannot he give life after death, and repeal it from ruin and destruction? If he created it when it was not, can he not repair it when it has once been? especially when creation is a greater work than reparation, and to make, more than to restore. If he has made of earth flesh, and of flesh, earth; can he not of earth, reduce it to be flesh again? for to him whose will was to create, can anything be difficult or impossible? though this work exceed beyond measure the order and power of Nature, yet do not think that it surmounts the power of the Author of nature, who by a virtue and power supernatural, gave being to Nature; and who can when he pleases, exceed the bounds of nature, through the infinity of his power, which is comprehended within no bounds nor limits. And if you do but contemplate Nature herself, and the several parts of this world, high and low, may you not discern examples of the great power of God, which may be unto you as Images and figures of your restoration? For, but lift up your eyes to heaven, may you not see the Sun, who after he has run his course, and is spent after the manner of a death in the west (no otherwise than as if it were extinguished) he returns again to appear, and seems raised up in the East, with the resplendency of his former luster, the ornament of his beams, and the brightness of his light? and by his alternative absence and presence, do you not see the day die in the night, being buried in all parts in darkness, and then again to renew and revive, with clarity, beauty, grace, luster, and ornament, causing his death to die, which is the night, and opening its sepulcher, which is the darkness, living till night by a continual and indefatigable vicissitude, succeeds it, and brings it change, giving an end to it, as before it received light from the same. And do you not behold the innumerable company of lights celestial relighted, which before seemed quite put out, the twinkling of Stars revived, the light of the Planets renewed, and the wanes and increases of the Moon reestablished? Moreover, by the remoteness or approach of the Sun, who does not perceive all seasons to return with their qualities, forces, and virtues? Winter with his colds, humidities, and rains; the Spring with its beauty, sweetness, and flowers; Summer with its heat, siccitie, and drought? who likewise discern not the leafless trees to reassume their verdure and ornament, dead plants to resprout, withered herbs to reflourish, and corrupt seeds to revive: for that which you sow cannot quicken before it first die. A most wonderful thing! that Nature should destroy to preserve; take away, to restore; ruinate, to maintain; corrupt, to revive; and consume, to augment; and that things by her defeated, should be restored, made more beautiful and abundant: the which you may evidently see in the wheat, which being laid in the parts of the earth, as in sepulchers or graves, after it has putrefied, it comes up again much more rich and plentiful than before. And to say truth, the condition of all things in this Universe, is renewed by their loss, and suffer a falling away for their further reparation: so that all these ordinary revolutions, these mutable and rolling orders of things, are nothing but testimonies, and intimations unto us, and as it were a delineation, and draught of the Resurrection of the dead; the wonder whereof God has rather expressed in his works, than declared by his Ministers, by his power, rather than by his word; and by Nature, rather than by Prophecy; that so you might be made more fit for the doctrine of Faith, being instructed by the experience of this world, and so thereupon they should resolve and firmly believe, that he will likewise reestablish your person; for as you see, he reestablishes all things.
Wherefore then, should we fear, either the destruction, or endurances of this body, seeing it must be restored, yea into a glorious estate, conformable to the body of Jesus Christ? why should we fear the hatred of the world, which cannot exceed the respects of this world? nor be any obstacle to the accomplishment of our salvation? Let us persevere unto the end: for he that suffers to the end, shall be saved. So as there is no temptation that can shake our constancy, neither the cruelties of oppression, nor the perplexities of pain and anguish, nor the rigor of persecution, nor the hardness of famine, neither the ignominy of nakedness, or the horror of peril, neither the fury of the sword, nor the miseries of life, neither the violence of death, nor the force of all the creatures joined in one.
But by reason that in this general hatred of all men against the Church, we perceive the wrath of God kindled against us, because of the extremity of our sins, let us acknowledge them in their horror, with a detestation, and renunciation of them: let us lament with a profound contrition, in sighs, and tears, imploring God's mercy, to the end that his indignation ceasing, he may stay the power and fury of such as hate us. And let us be comforted, in that if we are hated by the world, we are beloved by God; and that as we cannot love God and the world together, so both God and the world cannot jointly love us.
If we ought to endure for the name of Christ, it is freely given us, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him: though men make war upon us, yet can they not take from us the peace of God, nor the peace of our consciences. If we are deprived of our earthly commodities, yet shall we not be exempted from the treasures of heaven: we may take joyfully the being stripped of our goods, and choose rather to be afflicted with the people of God, than to enjoy for a time, the delights of sin, esteeming opprobries for Christ, greater riches, than the treasures of Egypt, in respect of their renumeration. If we suffer any loss of the body, we shall find gain of the soul, and that is a good return, when we lose for to gain: for in these losses, the spirit profits and purchases incomparably more than the flesh loses. If we are put to trial by banishment, why, all the earth is the Lord's, and though we should be dispersed into the most savage Deserts, yet should we not be separated from God, nor lose the privilege of being Citizens in heaven. If most violent adversities assail us, the endurances of the time present are not comparable to the glory to come. Our light afflictions, which do but even pass over our heads, produce in us an eternal joy of a glory superexcellent. For if in this transitory world we see a number of men expose themselves to the extremist hazards and perils, be it out of a thirst after glory, desire of riches, be it for ambitions, quarrels, or the wars of their Princes, should we refuse to suffer for God's cause, such things as others suffer for mere worldly respects?
If we are urged to imprisonment, the Spirit of God will enter in with us, to give us consolation, and to reside with us, and in us. And though the prison were like the devil's house, yet by the spirit of our God, and by the efficacy of our prayers, we may be able to assault and subdue him in his own house: we shall put him to flight, to the greatest profundities of his depths, as an Adder, or Snake, who being pursued, betakes himself to his hole and concavity, keeps himself in, folds himself up in his twists, hides himself, and dares not appear: we shall send him from the prison to his hell, from the jail to his place of torments. And it need not be hard for us, to be sequestered from the things of this world, seeing we are but strangers to the world, and in that the world is worse than a prison; for the prison hath no such darkness in it, as that of the world, which blinds men's understandings; neither are there any such strong bonds, as those of the world, which do so hamper the soul; nor so evil scents as the odours of the world, which are stinking affections, and infected corruptions, that defile both heaven and earth. It holds not so many wicked ones within the precincts of it, as the world, which comprehends them all, neither expects such terrible Judgment as the world, which shall hear the sentence of eternal condemnation. To conclude, if the prison hath darkness, ourselves be light in God; if bonds, we are free in the Lord; if odious stenches, we are a good odour to God, through Jesus Christ; if we are found guilty, we are justified before God; if the Judge be there ready to give judgment, we shall one day judge as assistants with Christ, and Judges of all the world in like manner. For if a Christian out of prison renounces the world, how much being in prison, ought he to do the like? And what matters it, what he is in this world, seeing he is out of the world? And though he be enclosed within a prison, for are not all things open and at liberty to the Spirit? who will not forbear to break through roofs, or vaults, when in spirit he may take his free career, glide up to heaven, and make his happy sallies even into Paradise? That even as they that descend into a deep and dark well, they see there at all times the stars of heaven; so likewise the faithful, in the deepest obscurity of the dungeon, fail not with the eyes of faith, to behold the glory of the heavens, and the radiant light of God's countenance, which brings replenishment of joy: and then unquestionably, may a man be said to have lost his earthly condition, when the spirit is ravished up into heaven: for the body then hardly feels any misery, when its soul is with God, and converses with the blessed. But if in being released out of prison, we must endure death, or martyrdom, Christ will be benefit and gain, unto us both in life and death.
2 Timothy 2: If we die with him, we shall also live with him; and happy is that death which brings with it life, and opens unto us the gate of immortality. And further, it will be much glory for us, to set together and cement the Church of God, with our blood and ashes. And if this death be outwardly odious and ignominious, we do but in it contemn the dishonour of the world, we being for the name of Christ, annihilated in worldly honour, calling to mind, how Christ was first crowned with thorns, before with glory; he did first climb the cross before he mounted up into heaven; and nailed thereunto between two thieves, before he sat at the right hand of God his Father. If this death be painful, our soul shall be victorious over all bodily torments, by the divine virtue of our Lord, who out of his dear love transforming us into himself, will make us incompatible, even as he hath done many other zealous and constant Martyrs, which have suffered in their bodies, as in strange and different flesh, who, without astonishment, beheld their bodies, all on a light fire, their entrails hanging down, their members burnt off, and falling down piece by piece, and their very flesh brought to dust and ashes. By their heavenly notes, they have drowned the wind and rumour of the flames; and by the ardour of their zeal, vanquished that of the burning fire, and in the midst of fire-hot coals, as if it had been upon a bed of flowers, they have joyfully exalted their happy and blessed souls.