A COMMEN­tarie or Exposition vp­pon the twoo Epistles gene­rall of Sainct Peter, and that of Sainct JVDE. First faithfullie gathered out of the Lectures and Preachinges of that wor­thie Instrumente in Goddes Churche, Doctour Martine Luther. And now out of Latine, for the singuler benefite and comfort of the Godlie, fami­liarlie translated into En­glishe by Thomas Newton.

¶Imprinted at London for Abraham Veale dwellyng in Paules Church­yard at the signe of the Lābe. 1581.

¶TO THE RIGHT HO­nourable, Sir Thomas Bromeley Knight, one of her Maiesties moste ho­nourable priuie Counsell, and Lorde Chauncelor of Englande.

THE translation of these godlie and comforta­ble Commentaries of Mai­ster Luther vpon the Epi­stles generall of the blessed Apostles Peter and Jude, beeyng fullie finished and brought to an ende, it was the easiest matter of many, where to bethink mee of a fitte Patrone, vnder whom to shield the labours of so worthie an Organe in the Churche of God, and myne owne trauailes therein (suche as thei bee) frō the rancorous rout of suche baw­lyng Baalites and arrogant Apistes, as with o­pen Iawes will bee readie to barke at the sounde doctrine of Faithe and Maners, by hym heerein with a moste bolde spirite, maintained and vt­tered. I was (I saie, soone resolued with my self, to settle my choise in your Lordshippe: of whose [Page] cheerefull acceptaunce (suche is your Godlie zeale) J could not any whitte doubte: And of whose courteous construction of my honest and harmelesse meanyng heerein (suche is your ho­nourable inclination) J deemed it almoste hai­nous, to put any diffidence, or to harbour within mee so muche as a sparke or Mite of the leaste suspition. None so wilfullie blinde, nor so witles­lie bee sotted, but hath bothe seene and knowen, what a generall benefite it pleased the Lorde in mercie, to shewe vnto the worlde, beeyng almoste whollie whelmed in the Suddes of Superstition, and desperatelie drowned in the Dregges of J­dolatrie, by the ministerie of this one man: oppo­syng hymself (in defence of the glorious Gospell of GOD) againste all the Pedlarie of Pope and Popelynges, and againste all the rable of Coze­nyng Caterpillers in the Kyngdome of Darke­nesse, characterized and brended with the marke of the Beast. The triflyng trashe and ridiculous rifferaffe of whiche Cacolike Synagogue (for so is it muche rather to bee tearmed then Catho­like) this man with so vehement and zealous a spirite, hath so throughlie anatomized and vn­ripped, [...]) by suche ineuitable reasons out of the [Page] infallible VVorde of God, ouerthrowen and con­futed, that the rotten ragges thereof can not pos­siblie bee eft soones peeced: The crackte credite of suche Motheaten stuffe neuer againe salued: nor the totteryng walles of suche a roistyng and ruf­fianly raigne, euer any more after the former ga­lantise be reared vp & reestablished. In so muche that it maie bee thought, that our mercifull God, pitiyng the miserable thraldome wherin his peo­ple vnder that Romishe Pharao had long laine captiued, and in his Justice, meanyng at length to ridde the worlde of those deade Flies (whiche did nothyng els but corrupte and tainte sweete Ointmentes) and as it were to launce those Bot­ches and Biles, that so long had festured in the bodie of the Common wealthe of Jsraell, appoin­ted and raised vp this man, to bee as the Malle that should knocke that blasphemous Goliah in the pate, and the Leeche that should applie vnto him & his greazed generatiō suche a strong Pill, whiche thei should neuer bee able to swallowe. His life also & conuersation beyng so vnblamea­ble, that the starkest Balaamite and spightfullest Rabbine emong them (of whiche stampe there ne­uer wanteth stoare) could neuer iustlie reprooue [Page] hym of faultes, other then suche, as generally fol­lowe the infirmitie of Man. Jn so muche as that reuerend and renoumed Clerke Erasmus (whose testimonie herein maie stande for many, and the rather for that he somewhat to muche (the more pitie) for priuate respectes, bolstered and plaste­red the deformities and blottes of the Romishe Clergie) pleasauntly by waie of answere to a que­stion, mooued vnto hym by the good Duke of Sa­xony, saied: that the onely reason why poore Lu­ther was so deadly hated, was for none other cause, but for that, by his preaching and writing, hee had taken awaie the Croune from the Pope and Bishoppes, and the Beallie from the Mon­kes: and that otherwise he was bothe a Godlie, a learned, a vertuous, and a modest man. Jn the compassyng and atchieuyng whereof, little mer­uaile was it, though in his Style and maner of writyng, he seemed to some to bee ouer crabbed, seuere, sharpe, and bityng: For (saied he) to re­mooue sharpe & grosse diseases, God hath sent in this laste age of the VVorlde, a sharpe & austere Phisition. And as wee reade of the Repairers of Battered Hierusalem, that with the one hande thei builte the VValles, and with the other helde [Page] their sweard, to bee readie to encounter the ene­mie: So maie wee saie of Luther, that he with the one halfe of his studie, combated and conflicted with the Aduersaries of Gods truthe, and with the other halfe, generallie benefited the Churche, by pennyng & writing sundrie notable enarrati­ons vpon the Sacred Scriptures, and Catholique Religion. How valiauntlie also hee plaied the Christian Champion againste Meritemongers, and all Clouters vp of their Saluation with the Figgeleaues of their owne wretched VVoorkes and condignitie; and what an vndaunted Her­cules he shewed hymself, in choppyng of still those succreasyng heades of that Jtalian Hydra, sun­drie his learned Bookes plentifullie and at large declare, and this VVoorke emong many others doeth sufficientlie attestifie. The whiche with all humilitie J heere offer and exhibite vnto your lordship: assuring my self, that for your approued wisedome, you will not onely allowe of it, but al­so for the high Authoritie wherein you are wor­thilie placed, you will accordyngly countenaunce it. The Lorde from heauen blesse and strengthen you with his Spirite of zeale, fortitude and bold­nesse, to be a Buttresse and Proppe for the propa­gation, [Page] passage, and continuaunce of his glorious Gospell emong vs, your poore Countreimen of this noble Realme of Englande, to the encorage­ment of all true Professours of the same, and to the vtter terrour, extirpation, and weedyng out of all cancarde aduersaries and malicious Grin­nagods, beyng not onelie prickes in the feete, and Thornes in the eyes, but euen splintes in the han­des, and Daggers at the hartes of all the godlie: That by the prudent pollicie, and carefull vigi­lancie of your Honour, with others her Maie­sties moste Noble and zelous Counsellours, all dolledrenche Drones maie bee espied, and caste out of the Hiue of the Common wealthe, and ei­ther bee conuerted, least vtterly thei perishe, or spedily confounded, least thei procure and breed more treacherous annoiance. From Butley in Chesshire, this first of October 1581.

Your L. moste humble, Thomas Newton.

The argument of this first E­pistle of S. Peter, by M. Luther.

¶Before wee fall in hande with the interpretation of this Epistle, it shall bee verie requisite, first to laye downe vnto the Reader some briefe admonition, whereby he may knowe, bothe how it is to bee e­steemed, and also how to attaine to the certaine knowledge thereof.

FIrst of all is to bee noted, that all the Apostles doe handle one and the self same doctrine, and therfore is it not well done of some, in that they say there bee onely fower E­uangelistes, and fower Gospels, whereas all is one Gospell, what so euer the Apostles haue left in writyng.

Now, the Gospel signifieth nothing els then the preaching and publishing of the grace and mercie of God through Christ our Lorde, purchased for vs by his death. And to take it pro­perly, it is not that whiche is contained in bookes and com­prehended in letters, but rather the vocall preachyng, and the liuely worde and voyce, whiche soundeth in the whole worlde, and is so openly vttered, that it maie euery where bee heard. Neither is it a booke that containeth the Lawe, wherein are many points of good doctrine, as it hath bin hitherto commō ­ly beleeued. For it draweth vs from all confidence and hope of any woorke of our owne, whereby to become righteous: and declareth vnto vs the riche graces of God, freely and without any our owne merite giuen vnto vs: teachyng vs also Christ, [Page] who hauing by his intercession appeased ye wrath of God, and satisfied for our sinnes, hath quite abolished and blotted out our iniquities and by his works, iustified and made vs righteous.

Now, whosoeuer either preacheth or writeth these thyn­ges, he teacheth the true Gospell in deede, whiche all the A­postles, but especially S Paule and S. Peter haue done in their Epistles, Whatsoeuer then is preached or published con­cerning Christe, is one Gospell, although one handle it after one sorce, and in one kinde of wordes, an other after an other sorce, and in an other kinde. For a thing may be handled either in many wordes or in fewe and may be described either briefly or at large. Howbeit seeyng all tendeth vnto no other ende but to teache vs that Christ is our Sauiour, and that we through faith in hym, without any our owne workes, are iustified and saued, it is al one Word, and one Gospell, as there is one one­ly faith, and one Baptisme in the whole Churche of Christ.

Thou readest then nothing written by any of the Apostles, whiche is not also contained in the writynges of others that were as it were penners of the Scripture: but thei that haue handled this poynt especially and with greater endeuour and studie then the rest, namely that onely faithe in Christe doeth iustifie, euen thei are the best Euangelistes of all. Hereupon thou maiest more rightly call the Epistles of Paule the Go­spell, then those thinges whiche Matthewe, Marke, and Luke haue written. For thei describe not muche beside the Historie concernyng the doinges and miracles of Christe: as for the grace whiche Christe hath purchased for vs, none doeth more fully and fitly entreate therof then S. Paule, especially in his Epistle to the Romans. Now, seing the Word is of more im­portance then the actions and doynges of Christe, and that if we should want the one of them, it were farre better to be with out the deedes and Historie, then the Wordes and Doctrine, it followeth that those bookes are most highly to be esteemed, whiche entreate especially of the doctrine and wordes of our Lorde Iesus Christe. For asmuche as if there were no mira­cles of Christ, and that we were altogether ignoraūt of them, [Page 2] yet were his wordes sufficient for vs, and without which wee can not so muche as liue.

Hereupon therefore it followeth, that this Epistle of S. Peter is to bee accompted among the moste excellent bookes of the newe Testament, and is the true and pure Gospell, in asmuche as the Apostle herein teacheth nothyng els, then that whiche Paule and the rest of the Euangelistes doe: namely sincere faith, and that Christe is freely giuen vnto vs, who ha­uyng taken awaie our sinnes, is our onely Sauiour, as in the processe of this Epistle we shall see. By this that is here saied, wee maie likewise iudge of all bookes and doctrines, what is the Gospell, & what is not. For whatsoeuer is not either prea­ched or written after this sorte, and to this ende, that maie wée boldly iudge not to bee the Gospell, haue it neuer so faire and goodly a shewe. This power to iudge haue al Christians, and not the Pope or Councels alone, whiche face and crake that thei and none but thei haue au­thoritie to iudge of doctrines. And thus muche maie suffize for the argu­ment: let vs now heare the Epistle.

The first Epistle generall of Sainct Peter.

The first Chapter.

PEter an Apostle of Iesus Christe, to the straungers that dwell here and there throughout Pōtus, Ga­latia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithy­nia,

2 Elect accordyng to the fore­knowledge of GOD the Father vnto sanctification of the Spirit, through obedience and sprinck­ling of the bloud of Iesus Christ: Grace and peace be multi­plied vnto you.

3 Blessed be GOD, euen the Father of our Lorde Iesus Christ, whiche according to his aboundant mercie hath be­gotten vs againe vnto a liuely hope by the resurrection of Ie­sus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritaunce immortall and vndefiled, and that fadeth not awaie, reserued in heauen for you,

5 Whiche are kept by the power of God through faithe vnto saluation, whiche is prepared to bee shewed in the last tyme.

6 Wherein ye reioyce, though now for a season (if neede require) ye are in heauinesse, through manifolde tentations,

7 That the triall of your faith, beyng much more precious then gold that perisheth (though it be tried with fire) might be founde vnto your praise, and honour and glorie, at the ap­pearyng of Iesus Christ:

8 Whom ye haue not seene, and yet loue him, in whom now, though ye see hym not, yet do you beleue, and reioyce [Page 3] with ioye vnspeakeable and glorious:

9 Receiuyng the ende of your faith, euen the saluation of your soules.

10 Of the whiche saluation the Prophets haue inquired and searched, whiche prophesied of the grace that should come vnto you,

11 Searchyng when or what tyme the Spirit whiche te­stified before of Christ whiche was in them, should declare the suffrynges that should come vnto Christ, and the glorie that should followe.

12 Vnto whom it was reueiled, that not vnto themselues, but vnto vs thei should minister the thinges which are now shewed vnto you by them whiche haue preached vnto you the Gospell by the holy Ghost sent doune from heauen, the whiche thinges the Angels desire to beholde.

13 Wherefore girde vp the loynes of your minde: bee so­ber, & trust perfectly on the grace that is brought vnto you, by the reuelation of Iesus Christ,

14 As obedient children, not fashioning your selues vnto the former lustes of your ignorance:

15 But as he whiche hath called you, is holy, so be ye ho­ly in all maner of conuersation,

16 Because it is written: Be ye holy, for I am holy.

17 And if ye call him Father, whiche without respect of persone iudgeth according to euery mans woorke, passe the tyme of your dwellyng here in feare:

18 Knowing that ye were not redemed with corruptible thinges, as siluer and golde, from your vaine conuersation, receiued by the traditions of the fathers,

19 But with the precious bloud of Christ, as of a Lambe vndefiled, and without spot.

20 Whiche was ordeined before the foundation of the worlde, but was declared in the last tymes for your sakes,

21 Which by his meanes doe beleeue in God that raised him from the dead, and gaue him glorie, that your faith and hope might be in God.

[Page] 22 Hauing purified your soules in obeying the truthe through the Spirit, to loue brotherly without fainyng, loue one an other with a pure harte feruently,

23 Beyng borne a newe, not of mortall seede, but of im­mortall, by the worde of God, who liueth and indureth for euer.

24 For all fleshe is as grasse, and all the glorie of man is as the flower of grasse. The grasse withereth, and the flower falleth awaie.

25 But the worde of the Lord endureth for euer: and this is the worde whiche is preached among you.

¶The first Chapter.

Verse 1 Peter an Apostle of Iesus Christ, to the straungers that dwell here and there throughout Pontus, Gala­tia, Cappadocia. Asia and Bithynia,

2 Elect accordyng to the foreknowledge of God the Father, vnto the sanctification of the Spirite, through obedience and sprincklyng of the blood of Iesus Christ.

THis is bothe an inscription and subscription. Thou seest here in the verie beginnyng, that that whiche is here written, is the Gospell. He saith that he is an Apostle, whiche signifieth a Legate or Messenger, that doeth by woorde of mouthe the businesse whiche he hath receiued in charge: which name, beeing so englished of the Greeke worde [...], be­cause it is now commonly knowne, what it signifieth, I haue not thought it good by any other phraze or terme, to expresse and translate it. Howbeeit properly it signifieth hym, that de­clareth something by worde of mouth: not a mere carier of let­ters, but a messenger that with liuely voice deliuereth his er­rand, and by wordes vttereth his commission and charge: and suche in Latine we call Oratores, that is, Orators. Whereas thē he calleth himself the Apostle of Iesus Christ, it is as much as if he had saied: I haue charge from Iesus Christ, to preache of this same Iesus Christe vnto you. Marke here how at the first thei are excluded & debarred whatsouer thei be, yt preache any of the dreggie and doatyng doctrines of seelie foolishe and vaine men: for he is a messenger of Iesus Christ, whiche doeth that whiche Christ hath commaunded hym: If he preache any other thyng, he is not Christes messenger, and therefore in no wise to bee heard. But if he preache that whiche Christe hath enioyned hym, then is he to bee heard: and to heare hym is as muche as to heare Christ hymself beyng present.

1 To the Straungers, Elect.

THe Apostle wrote this Epistle to those Countries that are here mentioned. Thei were in tyme paste Christian, but are now in miserable subiection and slauerie vnto the Turke, among whom thou maiest perhaps euen at this daie finde some that faithfullie beleeue in Christe. Pontus is a greate and large countrie bordering vpon the sea: next vnto it is Cappadocia, the borders and limites of whiche twoo countries are almoste conioyned. On the hinder parte is Galatia, on the former toward the Sea Asia, and Bithynia, all situate toward the Easte, greate and large Countries. Paule preached personallie in Galatia & Asia, whether he did ye same also in Bithynia, I doe not certeinly know: But in the further­most two, it is certain that he did not preache. Straūgers are thei whom we call Forreiners, namely such as come frō some other place, and not borne in the Countrie wherein wee are. Now the Apostle calleth them so, because thei had been Gen­tiles. Neither is it to be thought straunge, that Peter beeyng the Apostle of the Iewes, did neuerthelesse write also vnto the Gentiles. The Iewes call those Proselites, (that is, ad­mitted to the state of the Iewes) who beeyng not lineallie of their stocke, and of the blood of Abraham, had notwithstan­dyng embraced Iudaisme, and submitted theim selues to the obseruation of their lawe. To these therefore the Apostle wri­teth, who before had been Gentiles, and therefore no members of the common wealthe of Israell, but beeyng now conuerted to the faithe, had adioyned them selues to the faithfull Iewes. Wherefore he calleth them Straungers Elect, whom vndoub­tedly hee none otherwise reputeth then true Christians, and to these alone he writeth. Whiche maner of callyng theim, con­taineth in it no common doctrine, as wee shall hereafter more at large heare.

2 Accordyng to the foreknowledge of GOD the Father.

[Page 5]HE calleth thē Elect, but how? Surely not of them sel­ues, but accordyng to the ordinance of GOD. For it lieth not in our owne powers, to bryng our selues vn­to heauen, nor to haue faithe when wee liste: neither will God receiue into heauen all whom so euer: Naie, hee will verie di­ligently and circumspectly sifte, examine, and trie all them that be his. Awaie therefore with all mannes doctrine of free will, and of all strength in our selues: this thing dependeth not of our, but of Gods good will and election.

2 Vnto sanctification of the Spirite.

God hath predestinate vs to be holie, and that spirituallie. These woordes, holie and spirituall, the Belligods of the Ro­mishe Cleargie, haue shameleslie taken from the true profes­sors of the Gospell, and entailed the same vnto their Maume­tishe Monkerie, whiche state thei doe now call holie and spiri­tuall. Euen as thei haue doen by this name Churche, so that thei will haue none but the Pope and his mitred Bishops, to bee the Churche, saiyng, that the Churche hath commaunded this and that: whereas thei in the meane tyme at their plea­sures, doe and determine what thei liste. Holinesse consisteth in nothyng lesse then in this, that one bee a Monke, a Freere, or a Nunne, or to bee a Shauelyng and weare a Coule, or some peltyng religious habite.

The word, Spirit, signifieth that we should be holie in hart, inwardly and in spirite before God. And this is saied especial­ly for this cause, to shewe that nothing is holie, but that whiche God maketh holie in vs. For at that tyme the Iewes had ma­ny outward sanctifications, but the true sanctification thei had not. This then is the meanyng of sainct Peter: God hath pre­destinate you to this ende, that now at the laste ye should bee holie in deede, accordyng as sainct Paule saieth in the fourthe to the Ephesians: In righteousnesse and true holinesse, that is in holinesse whiche is sincere, and altogether entire. For suche outwarde holinesse as the Iewes had, is nothyng esteemed [Page] nor regarded before God. After this sort doeth the Scripture call vs, holie and Sainctes, when wee beleeue, beeyng as yet liuyng here on earth. But our Rabbines the Papistes, haue ta­ken this name from vs, saiyng that we are not Holie, but that thei onely are Holie, whiche are in heauen. We must therefore repossesse, and againe take this notable name vnto vs. Thou must needes be Holie, yet must thou not thinke that thou haste this holinesse of thy self, or by thine owne merite, but that thou art therefore Holie for that thou haste the worde of GOD: for that the kyngdome of heauen is thine, and for that thou art be­come entirely righteous and holy through Christ. These thin­ges must thou confesse, if thou wilte bee a Christian. For this were extreme ignominie, & blasphemie to the name of Christ, if we should so denie this honour to his blood, as not to beleeue that by it onely our synnes are cleane washed awaie, and wee sanctified. Thou must beleeue therefore and confesse, that thou art holie, yet by the blood of Christe, not by thine owne righte­ousnesse: and this thou must doe with suche certaintie and con­stancie, that in this cause thou maiest not sticke (if neede be) to spende euen thy life, and boldly to abide and looke for whatso­euer maie herevpon come vnto thee.

2 Through obedience and sprincklyng of the blood of Iesus Christe.

AFter this sorte saieth the Apostle, commeth it to passe that wee bee holie, when wee beleeue and obey the Woorde of Christ, and are sprinc­kled with his blood. And here sainct Peter hath vsed somewhat an other maner of speeche then sainct Paule: Yet is it in effecte as muche as when S. Paule saieth, wee are saued through Faithe in Christe: because it is Faithe whiche maketh that wee bee attentiue, and obediente to Christ and his holie Worde. Wherefore to obey the Word of God, is as muche as to bee subiect to Christ, to bee sprinck­led with his blood and to beleeue. For it is verie greeuous to [Page 6] Nature, to bee so wholie subiecte to Christe, as altogether to forslowe and ceasse from our owne matters, altogether to ne­glect our owne causes, and to counte all that we doe to be syn­nes: Nature therefore stoutly resisteth, and striueth againste this doctrine, and yet neuerthelesse it must at the laste stoupe and yeeld it self thereunto.

Of Sprincklyng we read in the 51. Psalme. Sprinckle me with Hysop, O Lorde, and I shalbe cleane. He alludeth to the Lawe of Moses, from whence saincte Peter tooke this kinde of speeche, thereby to reuele Moses vnto vs, and as it were to bryng vs into the kynges highwaie of rightly vnderstandyng the Scriptures. For whē Moses had builded the Tabernacle, he tooke the blood of Goates, and therewith sprinckled bothe the Tabernacle and all the people. Now this sprincklyng did not inwardlie sanctifie in spirite, but onely outwardlie and in externall thinges, and therefore is there neede of a Spirituall clensyng, forasmuche as that sanctification was outward and carnall, whereof there is no regarde before God: yet did God thereby as it were, by a Type or figure, signifie this spirituall sanctification. That then whiche S. Peter here saieth is thus muche in effecte: The Iewes please them selues in outwarde holinesse, wherby thei are thought righteous, and of a good life before men, but thei counte you emong the reprobate: howbeit you haue a sprincklyng farre better, for ye are sprinckled in spirite, and are clensed inwardlie. The Iewes sprinckle them selues with the blood of Goates outwardlie, but ye are sprinc­kled in your consciences inwardly, so that your harte is cleane and therefore herein you haue greate cause to reioyce.

Hereof it is that the Gentiles bee no more Gentiles: euen as those righteous Iewes are no more righteous by their sprincklyng, for these thynges are now chaunged and altered. None other sprinklyng is required, but that whiche maie con­uert vs, and make vs Spirituall. Now to sprinkle after this sort, is nothyng els then to preache, that Christe hath for this cause shed his blood, onely to make intercession for vs vnto his Father, and to saie: Moste deare Father, thou seest here my [Page] blood, whiche I haue shedde for this synner. Here, if thou doe beleeue, thou art truelie sprinkled. And thus thou seest what is the true maner of sprinklyng. Now if all the Popes, Mon­kes, and sacrificyng Priestes should at once iumble together and bryng all their trashe, rifferaffe and baggage, thei are not able either to teache, or doe so muche as S. Peter doeth here in these fewe woordes. And this is the subscription of the E­pistle, wherein he declareth his office, what that is whiche he preacheth. Wherefore that whiche is here taught, is the onely Gospell: all other kindes of doctrine (if men accoumpt theim any waie necessarie to saluation) whiche sounde not after this sorte, are to bee troden vnder our feete, reiected, forsaken, re­fused, and abandoned: Yea all those bookes are to bee loathed, and misliked, whiche hauyng gaie titles of good Woorkes, Praiers, Indulgences, Pardons and suche like, are not plain­lie, directlie, and soundlie grounded vpon this foundation.

2. Grace and peace be multiplied vnto you.

HEre S. Peter obserueth that maner whiche the Apo­stle Paule in his salutyng vseth, although not in euery respect. And that which he saith is in effect thus much: Ye haue now peace & grace, but not perfectly, therefore must ye continually profite, vntill that olde Adam bee wholy killed and mortified in you. Grace is the fauour of God: here hath it his beginnyng in vs, but needefull and requisite is it that it al­waies become daily more and more effectuall in vs, and take encrease euen till our diyng daie. He that acknowledgeth, be­leeueth and is fully perswaded in his cōscience, that God is fa­uourable vnto him, is assuredly possessed of this grace: and his hart comfortably enioyeth peace, so that he feareth neither the world nor Deuilles. For he knoweth that God, who hath po­wer ouer al thinges, is fauourable and mercifull vnto him, and that he will deliuer him from death, hell, and al incommodities whatsoeuer: hereupon his conscience is at peace within it self and is ioyfull and glad. This doeth Sainct Peter here wishe [Page 7] vnto the faithfull, which is a true Christian salutation, where­with all Christians ought to salute one an other. Thus haue wee the inscription with the salutation, and now beginneth he the matter of his Epistle.

3 Blessed be God, euen the Father of our Lorde Iesus Christ, whiche accordyng to his aboundant mercie hath begotten vs againe vnto a liuely hope by the resurrection of Iesus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritance immortall and vndefiled, and that fadeth not awaie, reserued in heauen for vs,

5 Which are kept by the power of God through faith vnto saluation, whiche is prepared to be she­wed in the last tyme:

6 Wherein ye reioyce, though now for a season (if neede require) ye are in heauines through ma­nifolde tentations:

7 That the triall of your faith, beyng much more precious then golde that perisheth (though it bee tryed with fire) might be founde vnto your praise and honour and glorie at the appearyng of Iesus Christ:

8 Whom ye haue not seen, and yet loue hym, in whom now though ye see him not, yet do you be­leeue, and reioyce with ioye vnspeakeable and glorious,

9 Receiuing the ende of your faith, euen the sal­uation of your soules.

IN this Induction or Preface we see the wor­des and nature of a true Apostolicall Pastor: suche a beginnyng (I saie) wherein wee maie plainly perceiue and note that to be true, which was said afore: namely that this Epistle amōg all the reste is of moste singuler excellencie. For, in the verie [Page] entraunce hee beginneth to declare what Christe is, and what benefite wee receiue by hym, when as hee saieth, that wee are begotten againe of God vnto a liuely hope by the resurrec­tion of Iesus Christ. Also that all giftes are bestowed vpon vs of the Father, of his mere mercie without any our deserte. These are in deede true and right Euangelicall phrazes, these are comfortable speeches moste meete to bee published and preached. But (alas) what small stoare of suche kinde of prea­chyng is there to bee founde in the Bookes, euen of them that are accoūpted the best. The written workes euen of Hierome and Augustine, what small consonancie and agreement haue they with these wordes? And yet must Iesus Christ bee thus preached, that he died and rose againe, and why hee died and did rise againe: that men beeyng throughly moued with this kinde of preachyng, maie beleeue in hym, and beleeuyng maie obtaine saluation. This it is to preache the true Gospell in deede. Whatsoeuer is not preached after this sorte, is not the Gospell, whosoeuer hee bee that preacheth it.

The very summe then and effect of these woordes is this: that Christ by his resurrection hath brought vs to his father, and hereby also Sainct Peter goeth about euen by our Lorde Iesus Christe to bring vs to the Father, and to set hym a me­diator betweene GOD and vs. It hath bin hitherto preached that wee must call vpon Saincts, to bee our intercessors with God. Hereupon wee haue runne to the holy Virgine Marie, and haue made her our Mediatour, leauyng Christe in the meane season as an angrie Iudge. So doeth not the Scrip­ture, it commeth and approcheth nerer: it giueth this glorie to Christ our Lord, that he is our onely mediator, by whom alone we must come vnto the Father. O inestimable treasure which is giuen vs by Christe, namely that wee maie goe to the Fa­ther and aske the inheritance wherof Sainct Peter here spea­keth.

These wordes doe moreouer plainly shewe what mynde the Apostle had, why that so earnestly and with such vehement ardencie he began to praise the Father, and will haue vs also [Page 8] to praise and blesse hym, for the incomparable riches which he hath giuen vnto vs, in that he hath begotten vs againe, and that before we could euen so muche as thinke thereof, muche lesse preuent hym, so that here is nothing remaining to preach and praise, but the onely mercie of God. And therefore can we boaste of no workes at all, but must confesse that we haue all through his onely mercie, whatsoeuer wee haue. Here is now no more Lawe, no wrathe as in tyme past there was, when it made the Iewes to flée, beyng striken with terror, so that they durst not goe vnto the Mount. God doeth not now still vrge and strike vs, but handleth vs as fauourably as maie be, fashi­onyng and makyng vs anewe: neither giueth hee vs grace to doe one good woorke or twoo, but frameth in vs a newe crea­ture and a newe life, so that wee bee now an other thyng then wee were before when wee were the sonnes of Adam: namely wee are translated from the inheritance of Adam to the inhe­ritance of God, that hee maie bee our Father, and we his chil­dren, and therein his heires euen of all good thynges that he hath. See what excellent thinges are in the Scripture hand­led concernyng this matter. Now inasmuche as wee are re­generate, and the sonnes and heires of God, wee are equall in dignitie and honor with Sainct Paule, Sainct Peter, the ho­ly Virgin Marie, and all the Saincts. For wee haue the same treasure from God, and all good thynges as largely as they. They were no otherwise regenerate then we, wherefore they haue no more then all other Christians.

3 Vnto a liuely hope.

OUr life here vpō the earth, is for none other cause, but that we should help others, otherwise it were best that God should euen straight after our bap­tisme, and the receiuyng of faith, ende our daies, and suffer vs to dye. Howbeit he permitteth vs to liue here to this ende, that we maie bring others also vnto the faith, which he him self hath doen to vs before. Nowe while wee liue here [Page] on the earth, wee liue in hope. For albeit wee be certaine that through faithe wee haue all the good thinges of God (for faith as it assuredly bringeth with it regeneration, so doeth it bring also adoption and inheritance) howbeit we see not this as yet, and therefore doeth it as yet consist in hope, beyng somewhat remoued from our sight that wee can not see and beholde it. Now this the Apostle calleth the hope of life: which is an He­brewe kinde of speeche, as is this, The man of sinne. Wee call that a liuely hope, wherby we certeinly hope & assuredly looke for eternall life, whiche is now hid as it were with a veile, that it can not bee seene, neither is it presently perceiued but in the harte through faith, as Iohn in his first Epistle Chap. 3. wri­teth: Now are wee the sonnes of God, and yet doeth it not appeare what wee shalbe: but we knowe that when he shal appeare, we shalbe like hym: for we shall see hym as he is.

Because the life present, and the life to come can not be to­gether, neither can it bee that wee should eate, drinke, sleepe, watche, and doe other workes of Nature which this life brin­geth with it, and bee therewith also blessed: therefore can wee not attaine vnto this, to liue for euer, vnlesse wee first dye, and forgoe this present life. Wherefore while wee here liue, wee must still stande in hope vntill it please God to call vs hence to beholde and see, those good thinges which we now hope after. And how maie we come vnto this liuely hope? By the resur­rection, (saieth the Apostle of Iesus Christ) from the dead. I haue oftentymes saied, that none can rightly beleeue in God, and come vnto hym without a meane, for asmuche as wee are all the children of wrathe, and of our selues can doe nothyng that is acceptable before God: wee haue therefore neede of an other, by whom we maie appeare before hym, who may make intercession for vs, and reconcile vs vnto hym. Now there is none other mediator then the Lord Christ, who is the Sonne of God. It is therefore no true faithe whiche the Turkes and Iewes haue, who saie and beleeue that GOD is the maker bothe of heauen and earth: for thus doeth the Deuill also be­leeue, and yet doeth this beleefe nothyng at all profite hym. [Page 9] Thei presume to come into the sight of God without Christe the mediator. Thus saieth Sainct Paule in the fift to the Ro­manes: Wee haue accesse vnto God through faithe, (not by our selues, but) by Christ. Wherefore wee must haue Christe with vs, wee must come with hym, wee must satisfie God by hym, and doe all thinges with God by hym and in his name. The same is this in effect whiche Sainct Peter saieth in this place: for it is asmuche as if he had saied: we certeinly looke for eternall life although wee liue here on the earth: yet no other­wise then by the resurrection of Christe, that is to saie, euen therefore, because he is risen againe, ascended into heauen, and sitteth on the right hande of his Father. For this cause did hee ascende, that he might giue vnto vs his spirit, whereby beyng regenerate we might bee bolde to goe to the Father and saie: Behold I come before thee O mercifull father, and praie vnto thee, not that I putte any trust or confidence in any praier of myne owne, but for that my Lorde Christ doeth make inter­cession for me, and is myne Aduocate. All these wordes carie an ardent efficacie and fierie force, where there is a harte that beleeueth: where the harte beleeueth not, there all suche words are colde, neither doeth the conscience feele any comfort there­by.

Wee maie here also iudge and knowe, whiche is syncere doctrine and true Christian preaching and which is not. For, hee that is a Preacher of the Gospell, must moste zelously and diligently preache forthe the resurrection of Christ: whiche he that doeth not, is no Apostle. For this is the Summe of our faithe. And those Bookes of all other are the best and the excel­lentest, whiche teache and treate vpon this poincte principally and chiefly, as before hath beene declared. This article of our Faith is of most waightie importaunce. For if Christ had not risen againe, all our comforte and hope were in vaine: and all whatsoeuer Christ hath either done or suffred, should be to vs in no steede. And therefore this maner of teaching is moste re­quisite. Beholde, Christ hath dyed for vs, and taken vpon him to satisfie for vs to the iustice of his Father, against Sinne, [Page] Death and Hell, with whom he had a moste sharpe and bitter encountrie, yet could none of them ouercome hym, but were by hym all conquered and subdued, for that he was the stron­ger. He rose again (mawgre the forces of them all) & brought them in subiection to himself, and that for none other cause, but to set vs free and at libertie, out of the daunger and thral­dome of them. This if wee stedfastlie beleeue, wee haue a per­fect assuraunce and full possession of all these benefites: whiche beyng eche waie impossible to bee brought to passe by our sel­ues or any strength that is in vs, it behoued that Christ should performe the same. Otherwise, there had been no cause, why he should haue descended from heauen hither among vs, vile wretched and sinfull men.

And therefore when men in preachyng attribute any of these thinges to our woorkes, thei doe nothyng els but cause that these so necessarie pointes of doctrine cannot afterwards take any place in the hartes of the hearers, nor be rightly vn­derstood of them. O, how well ought these thinges to be kno­wen to vs Christians? how throughly ought this Epistle to be vnderstoode of vs?

4 To an inheritaunce immortall and vndefiled, and that fadeth not awaie.

WEE hope not for suche a substaunce and inheri­taunce, as is not present: but wee liue in hope of an inheritaunce whiche is present in deede, and is immortall, is also vndefiled, and fadeth not awaie. This inheritaunce wee haue perpetual­ly, and without ende: howbeit wee doe not as yet [...]ee the same. These are wordes forcible, and of wonderfull efficacie: and he in whose minde thei are firmely fixed, will be (as I thinke) lit­tle mooued with desire of riches, and pleasures of this worlde. For how can it bee, that one should so set his minde vpon these transitorie riches and delightes, if he beleeue those thynges, whiche bee here spoken? For when worldlie wealthe, and ter­rene [Page 10] treasures bee compared to these thinges, it appeareth straight, how those thinges of the worlde endure but a small tyme, and doe sone passe awaie: but these thinges continue for euer, and doe neuer faile nor fade. Moreouer, all the thynges of the worlde are vnpure, and doe defile vs, for there is no man here so godly, but in one respect or other he is caried away, and defiled with the vanities and pleasaunt thinges of this life: but this inheritaunce is vndefiled and pure, and he that possesseth the same, remaineth for euer immaculate. Finally, this inhe­ritance doeth not fade, doeth not decaie, neither is euer subiect to any corruption: but euery yearthly thyng, although it bée as hard as Iron and Stones, is neuerthelesse chaunged, and continueth not still. As soone as man also becommeth old, his beautie is gone, and he becommeth lothsome and vnamiable. Howbeit, this inheritance is farre from mutation or chaunge, it alwaies remaineth, it is alwaies freshe and floorishyng. There is no pleasure so greate on the yearth, whiche will not by continuance become lothsome and tedious, as we see there is at the laste a tediousnesse in all thynges: but our good thyn­ges here spoken of, are otherwise, whereof there is not sacietie for euer. All whiche we obtaine in Christ, through the mercie of GOD, when we firmely beleeue, that thei are freely giuen vnto vs. For how should we miserable men by our owne wor­kes merite those so greate good thynges, whiche no reason or vnderstandyng of man is able so muche as to comprehende, or by imagination of harte once to conceiue?

4 Reserued in heauen for you.

THis inheritaunce immortall, vndefiled, and that fa­deth not awaie is vndoubtedly ours: it is onely for a little while remoued and kepte from our sight, vntill these eyes bee closed vpp, and this mortall life ended: Then shall we certainly finde and see the same, vnlesse wee bee vnbe­leeuyng. And because wee should not doubte of the certaintie thereof, the Apostle here addeth that this inheritaunce, where­unto [Page] no corruption can cleaue, is reserued for vs in heauen.

5 Whiche are kepte by the power of God through faithe vnto saluation.

WE in hope (saieth the Apostle) looke for this excellent inheritance, whereunto wee come by faithe. For these doe in this sorte followe one an other: By the Woorde is wrought in vs Faithe: by faithe that newe birth, and by this newe birthe wee come vnto hope, so that wee certainly looke for these thynges, and are throughlie assured thereof. Wherefore sainct Peter fitly here saieth that these thynges must be doen by faithe, and not by our workes.

The Apostle here expressely saieth: Ye are by the power of God kepte vnto saluation. There are many who hauyng heard the Gospell, how that faithe onely doeth iustifie without woorkes, doe by and by burst forthe and saie: Wee also doe be­leeue: thinkyng that that bare opinion, whiche thei feine vnto theim selues, is right faithe. Wee haue alreadie taught, and that out of the Scriptures, that it is not in our power to dooe euen the least good woorke that is, without the especiall assi­staunce of Gods Spirite, how then shall wee by our owne strength arrogate that, whiche of all other is moste excellent, namely to beleeue? These cogitations therefore are a mere dreame, and thinges vaine and fonde: Gods power must bee present to woorke in vs, as Sainct Paule writeth, Ephes. 1.17. God giue vnto you the Spirite of wisedome, that yee maie knowe what is the exceadyng greatnesse of his power to vs warde whiche beleeue, accordyng to the woorkyng of his mightie power. &c. For it is not onely by the will of God, but also by a certaine Power of his, that we doe beleue: wher­by wee are to learne, that it is no lesse matter to make faithe in one, then it is to create againe heauen and earth.

Wee maie euidently perceiue therefore, that thei little knowe what thei saie, whiche vse suche woordes as these: how [Page 11] can onely faithe doe all, seeyng many beleeue whiche doe no good woorkes at all? For thei thinke their owne imagination to bee faithe, and that faithe also maie bee without good woor­kes. But wee saie with saincte Peter, that faithe is the power of GOD: In whom soeuer God woorketh thus, the same is a regenerate and a new borne creature, so that then of faith there can not but naturally followe good woorkes. Wherefore, it shalbe needelesse to saie to a Christiā: doe this or doe that good woorke: forasmuche as of his owne accorde, vnbidden, he wor­keth nothyng but good woorkes. Howbeit he is to bee hereof admonished, that he dooe not deceiue hym self with any false, counterfaite, and supposed faithe. Doe not therefore take any regarde to those vaine talkers, that can prattle muche of these thynges, whose woordes notwithstandyng, are but as winde & me [...]e trifles. Of such, Paule speaketh, 1. Cor. 4. I will come vnto you, and will knowe, not the wordes of them that are puffed vp, but spirituall power. For the kyngdome of GOD consisteth not in woordes, but in power. Where this power of GOD is not, there is neither true faithe, nor good woorkes. Wherefore thei vndoubtedly are liers, whiche boaste themsel­ues of the name and faith of Christ, and doe (notwithstanding) leade a leude and wicked life. For assuredly if the power of God bee present, thei can not but become other maner of men then suche.

But what meaneth that, whereas S. Peter saith: By the power of God ye are kepte vnto saluation: surely euen this: Faithe (whiche the power of God beeyng in vs, and where­with wee are replenished) doeth woorke in vs, is a thing so no­ble and excellente, that by it wee haue certaine and manifeste knowledge of all thynges, that pertaine to saluation: beeyng now able to iudge, and freely pronounce of all thinges, whiche are in the yearth, as for example: This doctrine is sincere, and sounde, that is corrupt and false: this life is good, that is euill: this was well dooen, that otherwise. And what soeuer suche a man doeth define, and determine, is so in deede. For hee can not bee deceiued, but is preserued and kepte by the power of [Page] God, & remaineth iudge of all doctrines. Contrariwise, where faithe and the power of God is not, there is nothyng but error and blindnesse: there reason is caried away hither and thither, from one woorke to an other, in asmuche as it striueth by her owne woorkes to come vnto heauen, and therefore alwaies thinketh: Behold, this will bryng me to heauen, let me worke this, and I shall bee partaker of eternall felicitie and blessed­nesse. Hereupon haue ouerspread the worlde suche rabbles and swarmes of Monasteries, Altars, sacrificyng Priestes, Mon­kes, Friers, and Votaries. Into suche greate blindnesse doth God suffer them to fall, whiche doe not beleeue: but to vs that beleeue hee preserueth and affordeth a right vnderstandyng in all thynges, that wee maie not bee condemned through this blindnesse, but through his mercie attaine saluation.

5 Which is prepared to be shewed in the laste tyme.

THat is, the inheritaunce whereunto ye are appoincted, is alreadie purchased, and from the beginnyng of the worlde prepared, but now it is hid, it is as yet couered, and as it were closed and sealed vp: but after a while it shall in a moment be opened and reueiled, that we maie plainly sée it.

6 Wherein ye reioyce, though now for a season (if neede require) ye are in heauinesse, through mani­folde tentations.

IF thou bee a Christian, and lookest for this in­heritaunce or saluation, thou must needes who­ly depende vppon it, and vtterly conteinne all earthly thynges: thou must also confesse, and o­penly affirme, that all the vnderstandyng, wise­dome, & holinesse of this worlde is altogether nothing. Wher­fore thou must looke for no other, but that the worlde will con­demne and persecute thee: And therefore hath Sainct Peter rightlie ioyned together these three, Faithe, Hope, and the [Page 12] crosse or affliction, for asmuche as one of these proceedeth out of an other. Howbeit, he giueth no small comfort to them that suffer persecution: for his woordes dooe sounde thus: This heauinesse shall endure but a little while, afterward ye shall for euer reioyce. For saluation is alreadie prepared for you, wher­fore bee in the meane season pacient in afflictions, whiche ye suffer. This is a right and Christian consolation, not as the doctrines of men doe comfort, whiche haue relation no further but to bee ridde and deliuered from outward discommodities. The Apostle speaketh not here of any suche corporall comfort. It is no discommoditie, if outward troubles come: with a good courage sustaine & suffer ye thē: thinke not how ye maie shake theim of, and bee deliuerd from theim, but rather thinke thus with your selues: Mine inheritance is alreadie prepared, these afflictions shall shortly cease. So shall that temporall com­fort bée taken awaie, and that eternall consolation whiche wee haue in God, supplie the place thereof. Moreouer these words are diligently to be noted, whiche the Apostle addeth, when he saieth (If neede require) whiche in effect he vttereth also after­ward Chapter 3. in these woordes: If the will of God bee so. There be many men which (as it were), with a certaine force striue to come vnto heauen, and euen by and by to chruste in: and therefore laye vpon them selues a crosse, and an affliction accordyng to their owne opinion and iudgement: so fondlie is reason giuen to extoll her owne woorkes. But God vtterlie disalloweth all suche dealyng. For our owne woorkes whiche wee make choise of, are not of any force before hym, we must looke what he will laie vppon vs, and what he will sende vnto vs: that we maie walke and followe whither he doeth lead and guide vs. Wherefore there is no neede why thou shouldest seeke or procure to thy self affliction: If neede so require, that is, if it bee the will of God that thou shalte suffer, then cheare­fullie take the Crosse vppon thee, and comforte thy self with hope, and expectation of that saluation, whiche is not tempo­rall, but eternall.

[Page] 7 That the triall of your faith, being much more pre­cious then golde that perisheth (though it be tried with fire) might be founde &c.

THis is the effect of the crosse and of those mani­folde affictions whiche wee suffer in this life, that syncere faith maie bee knowne from that whiche is false and counterfait. And for this cause doeth the Lord so afflict vs, that our faith maie be tried, exercysed and made manifest to the world, that others also maie bee inuited and wonne to the same faithe by our example, and wee at the last maie attaine vnto glorie. For as wee praise God: so will he againe also praise, glorifie, and honour vs: when as those counterfait and liyng Hipocrites, who haue contemned the right waie, shall be subiect to shame and confusion. The Scripture doeth often compare the crosse vnto fire: so here Sainct Peter compareth gold which is tried with fire, to the triall of faith whiche is made by the crosse and afflictions. The fire doeth not diminishe Golde, but clenseth and purifieth it, that whatsoeuer drossie substaunce is mixed with it, maie be separated from it. After the same sorte layeth God the crosse vpon all Christians, whereby thei maie be (as it were) scoured and polished. And it was well saied of the A­postle: That the trial of your faith &c. That is your faith must be tried and purified, euen as the Worde is pure, whereunto alone ye must sticke, and trust vnto nothyng els. Now, this purgyng, scouryng and polishyng of vs by the crosse, is daily very necessary for vs, because otherwise that olde and dull A­dam would still to muche hang vppon vs, and dull the spirite, and make our faith vnpure.

Suche then is the life of a true Christian, that it continu­ally becōmeth better and purer. For when through the worde of the Gospell wee doe beleeue, wee are iustified and beginne to be purged: yet as long as we are in the fleshe, we can not be altogither cleane and pure. And therefore doeth God cast vs into the middest of the fire, that is, into affliction, ignominie [Page 13] and trouble, whereby wee are daily more and more purged, vntill suche tyme as wee dye. This purgyng wee can attaine vnto by no workes of our owne: for how should the outwarde worke purifie the harte within? Now, when faith is after this sorte tried, whatsoeuer was mixed with it, or was feined and counterfait, must needes bee remoued and separated from it. Hereupon at the last when Christe shall appeare, shall followe magnificent honour, praise, and glorie.

8 And reioyce with ioye vnspeakeable & glorious:

9 Receiuyng the ende of your faith, euen the salua­tion of your soules.

THE Apostle saieth they haue vnspeakeable and glorious gladnesse and ioye, because it bringeth with it honour and glorie, when as the worlde hath suche ioye, whereof cometh ignominie and shame. Sainct Peter spea­keth here of true spirituall ioye more plainly then thou shalt reade almost in the whole Scripture: yet could he not fully vtter & declare the same. Now, these things which haue bin saied are part of the preface, wherein the Apostle she­weth both what faith in Christ is, and also how the same must be proued and purged by aduersities and afflictions whiche God doth sende. It now followeth that this faith is contained and promised in the Scriptures.

10 Of the whiche saluation the Prophets haue inquired and searched, whiche prophesied of the grace that should come vnto you,

11 Searchyng when or what tyme the Spirite whiche testified before of Christe whiche was in them, should declare the suffrynges that should come vnto Christ, and the glorie that should fol­lowe.

12 Vnto whom it was reueiled, that not vnto them selues, but vnto vs they should minister the [Page] thinges whiche are now shewed vnto you by thē whiche haue preached vnto you the Gospell by the holy Ghost sent downe frō heauen, the which thinges the Angels desire to beholde.

HEre Sainct Peter calleth vs to the Scriptu­res, wherein wee may see that God of his one­ly grace, and by no merit of ours performeth those thynges whiche he hath before promised. For hereunto tendeth the whole Scripture, that withdrawyng vs from al confidence in our own works, it maie bryng vs to faith: and very needfull it is that we he very diligent in learnyng the Scriptures, whereby wee maie bee certein and throughly confirmed in faith. After the same sorte doeth Sainct Paule also call vs to the Scriptures, when as in the first Chapter to the Romanes, he saieth that God had promised his Gospel afore by his Prophets in the holy Scrip­tures. Also when as he saieth Rom. 3. that the faith whereby wee are iustified, was witnessed before in the Lawe and the Prophets. We reade also in the 17. of the Acts that he did the same when he preached of faith to them of Thessalonica, whō he called to the Scriptures and expounded the same vnto thē: who also on the other side searched the Scriptures daily, whe­ther those thynges were so or no which sainct Paule did teach. This it behoueth vs to doe also, that those thynges whiche we reade in the newe Testament, wee maie learne to confirme out of the olde. Wherein wee shall see those promises concer­nyng Christ, whereof Christ himself also hath admonished vs Iohn. 5. Searche, saieth he, the Scriptures, for they beare wit­nesse of mee. And againe: If ye did beleeue Moses ye would also beleeue me, for he wrote of mee. Those vaine ianglers therefore are not to bee regarded, whiche contemne the olde Testament, and presumptuously saie that wee haue no more neede thereof: when as notwithstandyng out of it alone must be taken the foundation and grounde of our faith. For to this ende God sent his Prophets to the Iewes, that thei might te­stifie [Page 14] vnto them of Christe that was to come. Wherefore the Apostles did euery where conuince and refell the Iewes out of their owne Scriptures, prouyng Iesus to be Christ. And for this cause the bookes of Moses and the Prophets are Go­spels, forasmuche as in them we reade the same thinges fore­tolde concernyng Christe, whiche afterwarde beyng doeu and accomplished, the Apostles did preache and write. This diffe­rence onely there is, that whereas the bookes of bothe were committed to writing, yet is it (not withstanding) not so much requisite that the Gospel or new Testament should be contai­ned in writyng, as preached by the voyce, whiche maie openly publishe and sounde it forth, that it maie be heard euery where in the worlde. Now, whereas it was also written, that was more then necessary. For whereas the olde Testament doeth speake onely of Christ to come, the Gospel is that liuely word and vocall preachyng of Christe who is alreadie come. Be­tweene the bookes of the olde Testament, moreouer this dif­ference there is: first the fiue bookes of Moses are the summe of the whole Scripture, and are peculiarly called the olde Te­stament. Then are there Histories also and Bookes, wherein are described the deedes and diuers examples of them whiche obserued Moses lawe, and also of them which transgressed the same. Lastly there are Prophets, whiche haue plaine relation to the writyngs of Moses, and haue more largely and in plai­ner wordes expressed the same. Howbeit there is one and the same meaning both of Moses and of al the Prophetes. Now, whereas it is wont to be saied that the olde Testament is ab­rogated and reiected, it is thus to bee vnderstoode. First, this difference there is betwéene the olde and newe Testament, as wee haue saied, that the olde signifieth Christe to come, and the newe doeth performe and exhibite present, those thynges which in the old were promised and by figures shadowed forth and signified. Wherfore those types or figures doe now cease, forasmuche as that is accomplished and performed whiche thei did signifie, and that fulfilled which thei did promise. Nei­ther ought there to bee obserued hereafter any choyce of mea­tes, [Page] apparell, places, and tymes: thei are all in and by Christe (to whom thei were referred) made of an indifferent vse. For these obseruaunces did not saue the Iewes, neither were they giuen them to this ende, that thei should thereby bee iustified: but that thei should by them (as it were) set forth Christ, who was to come.

Furthermore, in the old Testament God had a double rule or gouermente: the one inward, the other outward: For he go­uerned his people bothe inwardly in harte, and outwardly in bodie and externall affaires. Therefore did he giue vnto theim so many Lawes, and so mingled one with an other. As where the househande might giue a bill of diuorcement to the wife, if he would not keepe her, but put her awaie from hym, it per­tained to outward rule or regiment. But it belonged to Spi­rituall gouerment, whereas God commaunded theim to loue their neighbour as themselues. Howbeit, now he ruleth onely Spiritually ouer vs by Christ: corporally & outwardly by the ciuill Magistrate. Wherefore, when Christe was come, that externall or outward gouernment was taken awaie: he doeth not commaunde vs to putte any more difference betweene the outward persones, tymes, or places, but doeth so gouerne vs spiritually by his woorde, that wee are Lordes of all thynges that are without vs, and are bounde and tyed to no corporall thynges. But those thynges whiche pertaine to spirituall ad­ministration or gouernment, are not taken awaie, but are still in force, as are those thynges whiche thou readest in Moses, concernyng the loue of God and thy neighbour. These GOD will haue duely obserued: for by the Lawe he will condemne all those that doe not beleue. The figures also haue their place and sense Spiritually, that is, thei were Spirituall thynges which were signified by these outwarde figures: Whiche out­ward thynges are now taken awaie▪ as where the housebande did refuse his wife for adulteries sake, and put her awaie from hym: whiche was a figure, and had a certaine spirituall signi­fication, whiche was afterward spiritually fulfilled. For God did after the same sorte refuse the obstinate Iewes, whiche [Page 15] would not beleeue in Christe, and chose the Gentiles, whiche he dooeth euen yet also: prouidyng that when any refuseth to liue in the faithe, he bee caste out of the Churche of Christ, that he maie repente. After the same sorte is that constitution also, wherein it was ordeined, that a woman should bee maried to the brother of her housebande beyng deade, and to bryng forthe children by hym, who must bee called by the name of hym that was deade, and possesse his substaunce. Albeeit this bee now abolished, yet is it neuerthelesse a figure, whiche signifieth somethyng concernyng Christe. For he is our brother, who hath died for vs, and before his Ascention into heauen com­maūded vs, that we should by the Gospel make soules (which are his spouses) as it were pregnant and fruitefull: hereuppon wee retaine his name, and are named of hym, to whose moste excellent riches we succeede. Yet must we not boaste and saie, that we haue conuerted and wonne men: for all suche effectes must be onely attributed vnto Christ. The same maie be saied also of other figures of the old Testament, whiche it were too long and tedious seuerally to rehearse.

Whatsoeuer then in the olde Testament, is not externall or outwarde, is yet in force and efficacie, as are all the saiyn­ges of the Prophetes, concernyng Faithe and Loue. Whiche Christ confirmeth, Matth. 7. Where he saieth: Whatsoeuer ye would that menne should doe to you, euen so doe ye to [...]hem: for this is the Lawe and the Prophets. Moreouer Mo­ses and the Prophetes are witnesses of Christ beyng to come: So that if I at any tyme preache of Christ, that he is our one­ly Sauiour, I shall doe very conueniently, if takyng that place which is in the 22. Chapter of Genesis, namely: In thy seede shall all the Nations of the yearth bee blessed, I dooe there­vppon with a liuely voice inferre, that by Christe, who is that seede of Abraham, all men must bee blessed. Hereof now it fol­loweth, that in Adam we are all cursed and damnable, and that therefore it is necessarie, if wee desire to bee deliuered from damnation, that we beleeue in that Seede. Vpon suche seiyn­ges as these, wee muste grounde our Faithe, wherefore wee [Page] ought duely to regard, and reuerentlie to esteeme theim, in as muche as thei testifie and beare witnesse of Christ, so that our Faithe maie bee established and confirmed by them. And this is that whiche S. Peter doeth in the woordes followyng.

10 Of whiche saluation the Prophetes haue enquited and searched, whiche Prophesied of the grace that should come vnto you.

AFter the same sort sainct Paule also speaketh in the last Chapter of his Epistle to the Romanes By the reuelation of the mysterie, whiche was kept secret since the worlde beganne, but now is opened and published among all Nations, by the Scriptures of the Prophetes: Many saiynges thou maiest read in the newe Testament, taken out of the Prophe­tes, whereby the Apostles haue proued, that all thynges were so dooen and accomplished, as thet were foretolde by the Pro­phetes. For Christe Matth 11. rehearseth that saiyng out of Esaie: The blinde see, the halt goe, &c. None otherwise, then if he would saie: Those things which ye there read written, ye see here truely dooen, and in verie deede performed. The same we read also of sainct Paule, Actes 9. and of Apolios Act. 18. How thei cōuinced the Iewes, and preued by the Scriptures that Iesus was Christe: in whom whatsoeuer the Prophetes had foretolde, was now accomplished and fulfilled. More euill Actes 15. the Apostles did after the same sorte shewe, that the Gospell must be preached to the Gentiles, that thei also might bee brought to the Faithe. Bee assured that all these thinges, were therefore dooen by the common endeuour of all, that the Iewes might be conuinced, and as it were compelled to ac­knowledge, that all thynges were then so dooen, as thei reade them foretolde in the Scriptures.

11 Searchyng when or what tyme the Spirite, whiche testified before of Christe whiche was in theim, should declare the sufferynges that should come vnto Christ.

[Page 16] THe meanyng of sainct Peter is this: Albeit the Prophetes did not plainly knowe any certaine and definite tyme, yet generally thei did all si­gnifie the circumstances, bothe of tyme and place, as how Christe should suffer, what death he should dye, and how the Gentiles should beleeue in hym, so that by the signes whiche thei foretold, it might bee certainly knowne, that the same time was come. The Prophet Daniel came verie nere the matter, neuerthelesse, he spake thereof ob­scurely and darckly, namely at what tyme Christ should suffer and dye, and when this or that thing should come to passe. So thei had an undoubted Prophecie, that the Kyngdome of the Iewes should ceasse before Christe did come, but the daie and certaine tyme, when the same should bee fulfilled, was not ex­pressed, forasmuche as it was sufficiente to knowe, that when that tyme was come, the commyng of Christe was not then farre of. So Ioel in the second Chapter of his Prophecie, fore shewed the time, when the holie Ghost should come: In the last daies I will powre out my Spirite vppon all fleshe. Whiche Prophecie Sainct Peter in the seconde Chapter of the Actes rehearseth, and thereby proueth, that it was foretold of that his tyme, and those his brethren whiche then liued.

Hereby thou seest with what diligence, alwaies the Apo­stles rendered reasons of those thynges, whiche thei preached and taught, approuing thē same by the Scriptures: but Coū ­cels and the Pope would doe all thynges with vs, without the Scriptures, cōmaundyng vs by the obedience of the Churche and vnder paine of excommunication to beleue thē. The Apo­stles were replenished with the holie Ghoste, & were certaine bothe that thei were sent of Christ, & also that thei did preache the true and vndoubted Gospell: yet did thei humble and sub­mit them selues thus farre, that thei required to be beleeued in nothyng, whiche thei did not proue soundlie out of the Scrip­tures, to bee so as thei affirmed: that the mouthes of Infidels might be stopped, and be able to saie nothyng against thē with reason. And shall wee beleeue these grosse and vnlearned Lub­bers, [Page] whiche neither preache the Woorde of God, neither can doe any thyng but iangle and prate, bauie and reuile? It could not be yt the Fathers should thus erre, so long is it since it was so concluded, wherefore of these thinges there ought now, no reason to be giuen to any man. Wee are able to proue certain­ly out of the Scriptures, that none shalbee saued, but he that beleeueth in Christe, so that these men are not able to speake any thyng there againste. And also thei shall neuer bee able to proue vnto vs their childishe trifles by the Scriptures: as namely, that he is in a damnable ease, whiche fasteth not this or that daie, and suche like: wherefore it is not meete, neither ought wee at any hande to beleeue them. Sainete Peter now saieth moreouer.

11 And the glorie that should followe.

That whiche is here spoken of the Apostle, maie bee vnderstoode bothe of the afflictions whiche Christ him self suffered, and also of those which wee Christians being his members doe suffer. For sainct Paule calleth that the sufferyng of Christe, whiche euery Christian doeth suffer. As the affiance, name, worde and woorkes of Christe are myne (forasmuche as I firmely beleeue in him) so are my afflictions also his, in asmuche as I am afflicted for his sake. Wherefore the afflicti­ons of Christ are daily accomplished in Christians, euen vnto the ende of the worlde. This now is no small comfort vnto vs, that howsoeuer thinges fall out, wee are certaine, that all our afflictions are so common togither with Christe and vs, that he counteth them no otherwise then his owne. This also maie not a little encrease our comforte, that glorie shall vndoubted­ly followe these afflictions. Howbeit wee must knowe this al­so, that as Christ came not vnto glorie before hee had suffered, so wee also must first beare the crosse with hym, that we maie afterwardes reioyce togither with him. All thinges therefore, saieth the Apostle in effect, whiche wee dode now preache, the [Page 17] Prophetes haue long since manifestly declared and foretolde that thei should come to passe, the holie Ghoste reuellyng the same vnto them. Now whereas wee doe so little vnderstande the Prophetes, the cause is for that wee are ignorant of the tongue wherin thei did write: for thei haue written very plain­ly and manifestly. Wherefore to them that are skilfull of the tongue and haue the Spirite of God, whiche vndoubtedly all that beleeue haue, it is not harde to vnderstande them, for as muche as thei know where unto the whole Scripture tendeth. But where bothe the tongue is not vnderstood, and the spirite is wantyng, it appeareth no otherwise then if the Prophetes were madde or dronken. Howbeit, if wee should want either of these, it were farre better to haue the Spirite without the tongue, then the tongue without the Spirit. The Prophetes spake after an other sorte then did the Apostles; yet did they signifie the same thinges which afterward the Apostles prea­ched. For bothe shewe many thinges of the afflictions aswell of Christe as of those that beleeue in his, and also of the glorie that followeth the same▪ So Dauid, Psal. 22. when hee spea­keth of Christ in this sorte: I am a wo [...]e and no man, [...] doth he els declare but his exceeding debasing and [...] whiche in his passion hee suffered? Also Psal. 44. he writeth of the afflictions of Christians, sayng Wee are counted as sheepe appoincted to be slaine &c.

12 Vnto whom it was also reueiled, that not vnto them selues, but vnto vs they should minister the thyn­ges whiche are now shewed vnto you by them whiche haue preached vnto you the, Gospell by the holy Ghoste sent downe from heauen.

IT was sufficient for the Prophetes that they knewe these thynges, but in that they left the same behinde them in writyng, it was for out sakes, makyng themselues herein as it were Ministers, to [...] as to the [...], and [Page] vnderstandyng hereof, and that wee might learne the same of them as of our maisters. And thus haue wee a sure helpe and strengthenyng of our faithe for our further and better instruc­tion, whereby wee maie bee able to defende our selues against all false doctrines.

12 Whiche thinges the Angels desire to beholde.

SO greate thinges haue the Apostles delared vnto vs by the holy Ghoste, whiche came downe vppon them from heauen, that euen the very Angels doe desire to beholde and see them. Here wee muste with greate attention shut our eyes, and see what the Gospell is, wherein surely we can not but haue exceedyng delight, ioye and consolation. We can not yet see these thynges with our bodily eyes, but wee must beleeue, that wee are made partakers of righteousnesse, truth, saluation, and of all good thinges which God hath. For inasmuche as he hath giuen vnto vs Christe his onely begot­ten Sonne, the fountaine and head of all good thinges, how should hee not through and with hym giue vs also all his good thynges, riches and treasures, whereat the Angels in heauen doe take merueilous ioye and delight? All these thynges are offered vnto vs by the Gospell: so that if we beleeue, we must needes likewise take merueilous delight and pleasure therein: howbeit, our delight and pleasure while wee liue on the earth, cā not be so perfect as that of the Angels is. For here it begin­neth in vs, so that by faith wee haue a certein feelyng thereof: but in heauen it shall bee so greate, that the harte of man is not able to comprehende it, yet shall we enioye the same when we come thither. Thus thou seest how Saincte Peter teacheth vs to arme and prepare our selues by the Scriptures. For hi­therto hath he described what it is to preache the Gospell: and how it was foretolde by the Prophetes, that it should bee after this sorte preached and taught. Now hee proceedeth and here­after exhorteth vs by faithe to embrace, and by loue to followe suche preachyng of the Gospell, saiyng:

13 Wherfore girde vp the loynes of your mind: bee sober, and trust perfectly on the grace that is brought vnto you, by the reuelatiō of Iesus Christ:

14 As obedient children, not fashioning your sel­ues vnto the former lustes of your ignorance:

15 But as he whiche hath called you, is holy, so be ye holy in all maner of conuersation,

16 Because it is written: Bee ye holy, for I am ho­ly.

THis is an exhortation to faith, the meaning wher­of is this: Forasmuche then as so greate thynges are preached and giuen vnto you by the Gospell, whiche euen the Angels doe desire with pleasure to beholde, see that ye faithfully cleaue vnto them, and with an assured trust and affiance repose your hope therein, that your faithe maie bee sincere and sounde, and not any fained opinion or dreame.

13 Girde vp the loynes of your mynde.

SAinct Peter speaketh here of the spirituall gir­dyng of the mynde, like as if a man should cor­porally girde a sworde vppon his loynes. Of which girdyng Christ maketh mention Luke 12. where he saieth Let your loynes be girded about. In some places of the Scripture, Loynes signifie car­nall lust or concupiscence. But sainct Peter speaketh here of Spirituall Loynes. Whereas the Scripture speaketh of the bodie, and calleth that part the Loynes, from whence from the Father proceedeth naturall generation, according as we read Gen. 46. that Christ should spring out of the Loynes of Iuda. Wherefore corporally to girde the Loynes signifieth nothing els then chastitie, as it is in Esay Chap. 11. Righteousnesse shall be the girdle of his Loynes, and faithfulnesse the girdle of his reynes: that is, by onely faithe, filthie and vnlawfull lust [Page] is restrained and brideled. But the spirituall girdyng where­of the Apostle here speaketh, is after this sorte. As a Virgin is in bodie chast and entire, so the mynde through faithe whereby it is espoused to Christ, is spiritually sounde and sincere Howbeit, as sone as it reuolteth from faithe to false and erroneous doctrine, it is violate and corrupted, wherevppon the Scrip­ture commonly calleth Infidelitie and Idolatrie, by the na­mes of adulterie and fornication, namely when the mynde sticketh to the doctrines of mē, and forsaketh faithe in Christ. From this Sainct Peter here dehorteth, when hee biddeth to Girde vp the loynes of the mynde, which in effect is asmuche as if he should saie: Ye haue now heard the Gospell, & attained vnto faithe: see then that ye persist therein, and suffer not your selues to be defiled & corrupted with false doctrine, waueryng in vncertentie, now this waie, now that waie. The Apostle sainct Peter vseth here a certen peculiar and proper kinde of speeche, (not suche as sainct Paule vseth) when he saith: Gird vp the loynes of your mynde. Hee calleth that the Mynde which we otherwise call the thought: as when I saie, I thinke thus, that this is right, and as sainct Paule saieth, so dooe wee thinke, suche is our opinion, so it seemes vnto vs. And by this meanes doeth the Apostle here moste properly signifie Faith, meanyng thus much in effect: Ye haue now attained to a true thought, and are setled in a right perswasion, that wee are iu­stified by faithe onely: persist strongly herein, girde it fast vn­to you and valiauntly sticke thereunto, let no man pull these sounde opinions out of your hartes, and then shall yee prospe­rously persener and stande.

There will many false teachers arise, who will forge doc­trines of men, thereby to corrupte your mynde, and looze this girdle of Faithe, wherefore in harte receiue this admonition, whiche I giue you aforehande, that the Doctrine of Truthe maie be well fixed in your mynde, and that you maie valiaunt­ly persiste therein. Those Hypocrites whiche truste to their woorkes, and liue an honest and vertuous life, as it appeareth outwardly, dooe verily thinke, and are fully perswaded, that [Page 19] God muste needes receiue theim into heauen, because of their woorkes. This maketh them proude, presumptuous and glo­rious in their owne conceiptes: As that Pharisey mentioned in the 18. of Luke, and whereof also Marie maketh mention in her song, commonly called Magnificat, where she vseth the same woorde, whiche thou readest here in Sainct Peter: He hath scattered the proude in the imagination of their hartes, that is, he hath ouerthrowne and brought them to confusion, in the deuises of their owne myndes and thoughtes.

13. Bee sober.

THis Sobrietie perteineth outwardly to the bo­die, and is an especiall woorke of Faithe. For although manne bee iustified, yet is he not free from euill desires. In deede Faithe hath begonne to restraine and bridle the fleshe, not­withstandyng the same doeth continually striue against it, and assaulteth it with sondrie sortes of desires, whiche goe aboute accordyng to the concupiscence thereof, againe to burst forthe and preuaile. Wherefore the Spirite hath daiely muche adoe, to bridle and restraine them: and it must therefore without in­termission, haue continuall fight with them, and alwaies take greate heede of the fleshe, least that at any tyme, (suche is the craftinesse thereof) it vndermine and supplant Faithe. By the premisses it appeareth, how farre thei deceiue theim selues, whiche boste that thei haue Faithe, and coumpt that sufficient: liuyng in the meane season, according to their owne lustes and desires. For where true Faithe is, there muste needes bee an earnest endeuour to keepe the bodie vnder, and to holde it as it were with a bridle from outragyng and doyng what it listeth: herevpon it is that sainct Peter here exhorteth vs to bee sober. Howbeit, he biddeth vs not as it were to destroye our bodie, or to weaken it more then is meete, as some haue doen whiche haue made them selues mad by ouer muche fastyng, yea some haue quite pined and consumed themselues a waie. In this [Page] fonde error for a tyme was sainct Bernard, although he was otherwise an holy man. For he afflicted his bodie with so great abstinence, that by reason of noysome breathe whiche hee gott thereby, no man could abide to stande neere hym, or bee in his companie. But hee was at length deliuered from this error, and willed his brethren that thei should not too much pine and pinche their bodies. For he well sawe that by that vndue absti­nence, he had made himself vnfit to serue his brethren. Where­fore Sainct Peter requireth no more, then that wee be sober, that is, that wee doe so muche and so farre restraine the fleshe, as wee feele the wantonnesse and vnrulinesse thereof to re­quire. Hee appointeth no certen tyme, as the Pope hath doen, how long wee must faste, but leaueth it to euery ones iudge­ment, so to fast that hee bee alwaies sober, that hee doe not so surcharge his bodie with ouermuche eatyng and drinking, but that he maie haue the perfect vse of reason, and knowe how to vse his senses aright, and how to liue profitably and benefici­ally to others in his vocation. For it is a very preposterous, ab­surde, and vnprofitable thyng, to giue a generall precept hereof vnto the whole people, or to the Churche: for asmuche as wee are vnlike among our selues, one hath a strong bodie, another a weake, so that it is needefull for one to absteine muche, for an other to absteine little, that the bodie maie neuerthelesse re­maine in health, and bee fit to doe good workes.

Againe, there bee some that deale cleane contrarily, and thinke thei doe very well in fastyng nothyng at all: supposyng that thei maie without respecte of tyme, eate what thei will. But herein thei doe not well, for albeit thei haue somewhat ta­sted of the Gospell, yet haue thei profited little or nothyng, like vnto the former. For thei haue profited no further, but onely to contemne the Lawes of the Pope: Thei will not girde vp their mynde and senses, as Peter here biddeth, neither do thei bridle the desires of their bodie, that the sluggishnesse and la­sciuiousnesse thereof maie bee repressed. It is good to faste, howbeit the right Faste in deede is, to giue the bodie no more nourishmente, then is needefull to preserue it in healthe: also [Page 20] to exercise it with labours and watchynges, least this old Asse of ours, become more wanton and lasciuious then is meete. Let hym bee restrained and bridled, and obedient to the Spi­rite, whiche Saincte Peter calleth here to bee sober. Not as some are wont to faste, who so excessiuely engorge and pam­per them selues with fishe, and the beste sortes of wine at one diner, that thei make their beallies like a Taber or Drumme, with stuffyng and crammyng them so full.

13 Truste perfectly on the grace that is brought vnto you.

SVche is Christian Faithe, that with all affiaunce it wholie trusteth to the woorde of God, quietly com­mitteth it self vnto it, and confidently attempteth whatsoeuer it teacheth. Whereupon S. Peter saith, then are the loynes of the mynde girded vp, then is your faith sincere and sounde, when ye doe quietly and confidently com­mit your selues to the Worde of God, and be bolde vpon trust therein: hauyng no regarde whatsoeuer thyng of yours com­meth into perill, whether it bee riches or good name, bodie or euen the life it self. Excellently therefore hath he in these wor­des described a sincere and vnfeined Faithe. For Faithe must not be sluggishe and sleepie, whiche is rather a dreame then a Faithe, but it must bee liuely and effectuall, so that one would with all confidence offer him self to all afflictions and troubles whatsoeuer, and depende wholy on the Woorde, esteemyng indifferently whatsoeuer state God sendeth, that wee maie pa­tiently susteine aduersitie, as well as enioye prosperitie. As for examples sake: when I must dye, I must confidently com­mit my self to Christe, I muste quietly offer my life for his sake, and trustyng to the Woorde whiche can not deceiue, I muste boldly and couragiously triumpht ouer myne aduersa­ries. It is needfull moreouer that Faith should passe through, without declinyng any waie, and that it suffer it self to be hin­dered and terrified by no meanes, that it remoue frō the eyes [Page] whatsoeuer it seeth, heareth or feeleth. Suche a faithe doeth Sainct Peter require, whiche consisteth not in thinkyng and woordes, but in mightie power, and effectuall vertue.

Further saieth sainct Peter: Trust perfectlie on the grace that is brought vnto you, that is to saie, You haue not deser­ued this exceadyng greate grace, but it is euen freelie offered and brought vnto you. For, the Gospell whiche declareth and publisheth this grace vnto vs, wée our selues haue neither de­uised nor found out, but the holie Ghost hath sent it frō heauen into the worlde. And what thyng is it that is brought vnto vs? Forsooth euen the thinges whiche wee haue afore mentioned. Namelie, that whosoeuer beleeueth in Christe, and cleaueth faste vnto his woorde, hath together with hym, all the benefi­tes and blessynges whiche bee his▪ in so muche that he is there­by, euen a Lorde ouer Synne, Death, Deuill, and Helle: and is moste certainly assured of euerlastyng life. This so greate a treasure is brought home to vs, (as it were) to our owne doo­res, and laied vp in our bosomes, without any our owne helpe, merite or deseruyng, yea, euen vnhoped and vnlooked for, when we neither knewe of it, nor so muche as once thought of any suche matter▪ And therefore the Apostle exhorteth vs, that wee should boldlie and vndoubtedlie looke for this Grace, be­cause that God, whiche offereth and bestoweth the same vpon vs, can not in any wise lye.

13 By the reuelation of Iesu Christe.

GOD offereth his Grace to none, but by Christ: and therefore without this Mediatour, lette no mā presume to come into his sight, as we haue afore admonished. For he will heare no manne, but hym that bryngeth with hym Christe, his moste deare Sonne, to bee his Aduocate and Spokesman: as one, whom he onely hath respecte vnto, and for his sake, to all those that by Faithe cleaue faste vnto hym. And therefore he requireth at our handes, that we acknowledge his Sonne, as [Page 21] the persone by whose blood wée are at one with hym, and now dare to present our selues before hym. For to this ende, came our Lord Christ, who taking flesh and blood vnto him, ioyned hymself with vs, that hee might obtaine pardon, and purchase Grace for vs at yt hādes of his Father. By this faith in Christ were all the Prophetes and Patriarches saued. For it behoo­ued all menne generally to beleeue this promise made vnto A­braham: In thy seede shall all Nations bee blessed. And there­fore the Iewes, Turkes, and all thei that repose any truste in their owne workes, hopyng thereby to winne heauen, haue no Faithe at all in them. And therefore dooeth Peter saie: Grace is brought to you, but yet by the reuelation of Iesu Christe, or (to speake it more plainly) by this, that Iesus Christe is re­uealed vnto you. In the Gospell it is shewed vnto vs what Christe is, that we maie throughly knowe hym, namely that he is our Sauiour, that he taketh awaie our Sinnes, that he deliuereth vs out of all miseries, that he reconcileth vs vnto his Father, and that without any our workes, he doeth iustifie and saue vs. Who soeuer doeth not thus acknowledge Christ, is altogether deceiued. For albeit thou knowe hym to bee the Sonne of GOD, who died, rose againe and sitteth now at the right hande of his Father, yet hast thou not thereby throughly knowne Christ, neither shall this knowyng of hym any whitt auaile thee: vnlesse thou proceede a steppe further, and bothe knowe and also beleeue, that he did all these thynges for thee, to helpe, relieue and comfort thee. Vaine therefore are al those thynges, whiche hitherto haue been obtruded, and preached vnto vs by the Schoolemen, insomuche as thei were without this knowledge of Christ: and entred commonly no further in consideration thereof, but onely to thinke how muche sorrowe and greef our Lorde Christ sustained in his passion: as though that now he sitteth idle in heauen, takyng no further care for vs, but ioiyng with hym self, whereby the peoples hartes re­maine vtterly drie, without the right vse of that heauenly dew, and water of their soules, so that no liuely faithe can growe or take roote in them. Now, Christe ought not thus to bee prea­ched, [Page] as that he liueth and raigneth for hym self, but that he is ours. For other wise, what neede was it for hym to descende into the worlde, and to shedde his precious blood? Sith then he was sent into the worlde, that by hym the worlde might bee saued, as be hymself in the third of Ihon declareth, needefull it was, that he should accomplishe and performe that selfsame thyng, for the whiche he was sent of his Father. For this woorde (sent or commyng) is not to be vnderstoode of the di­uine Nature of Christe onely, but rather of his humaine Na­ture, and office whiche he bore and executed. Immediately af­ter he was Baptized, he beganne to deale in this his office, and to doe that wherevnto he was sent, and for whiche he came in­to the worlde: Namely, to shewe and declare the truthe vnto menne, that as many as beleeued in hym should bee saued. Af­ter this sorte therefore, hee openly published hymself, woor­kyng the meanes that he might be knowne, and offring Grace by his owne self vnto vs.

14 As obedient children.

SO behaue your selues, as becommeth obedient children. Obedience in the Scriptures, signi­fieth Faithe: but the Pope with his Doctorlie Schoolemen, and Cloistered Diuines, hath with their Gloses mangled this woorde, and wrested it to the maintenaunce of their lyes and trifles, as thei haue dooen whatsoeuer els is reade in the Scriptures concer­nyng this obedience. As namely, that notable saiyng. 1. Reg. 15. Obedience is better then Sacrifice: after that thei sawe, how highlie Obedience was commended in the Scriptures, thei haled and forced the same, as proper vnto theim selues, thereby to blinde the worlde, and to bryng menne into this er­rour, to thinke that the Obedience so greatly commended in Scriptures, is nothyng els, then to embrace and allowe what soeuer thei should enioyne and laie vppon theim. And by this meanes doe thei drawe vs from the Woorde of God, to their [Page 22] liyng Legendaries, and Deuelishe obedience. Whereas in deede, he is the obedient child of God that heareth the Gospell and woorde of GOD, and with Faithe embraceth the same. Therefore whatsoeuer is not the Woorde, giue no eare vnto it, but rather stampe and tread it vnder thy feete.

14 Not fashionyng your selues vnto the former lu­stes of your ignoraunce.

BEE not of those maners that you were of before, neither haue you suche conuersation as aforetyme you haue had: let no man see that life in you, whiche heretofore you haue ledde and liued. Heretofore you were Idolaters, and liued in luste, Surphette, Drunkennesse Couetousnesse, Pride, Wrathe, Enuie and Hatred, whiche was an euill and Heathennishe life, yea rather mere infidelitie: and in this desperate and forlorne conuersation you walked, as blinde and ignoraunt, not wottyng what you did. Now there­fore put ye awaie these euil desires. Here thou seest how he im­puteth all these mischeeues vnto Ignoraunce, as vnto the Spring, out of whom thei procede and flowe. For where per­fect faithe and true knowledge of Christ is lackyng, there can be nothing els then Errour and blindnesse: so that menne liue vtterly ignoraunt what is right or what is wrong, and there­by runne headlong without stoppe or staie, into all mischeeues and inconueniences.

After this sort hitherto haue wee been dealt withall, when as Christe was darkened, and almoste abolished and banished out of the worlde: when in steede of truthe, wee were nozzeled in Errour, and in place of the sincere knowledge of the Truth wee were fast chained and clogged in Ignorance: in so muche that within a while this question was mooued and debated all the worlde ouer, how and by what meanes wee might attaine felicitie. This was an infallible signe of Blindnesse and igno­raunce, and that the sincere knowledge of Faithe, was extinct and taken awaie. Herevpon it grewe that the worlde was pe­stered [Page] with suche a number of Sectes, and all thynges torne a sonder and disordered, while euery manne framed after his owne imagination, a peculier and seuerall waie for hymself to heauen. And out of this Euill (sith wee are not able any waie to helpe our selues) wee can not choose but alwaies bee drow­ned deeper and deeper, in the gapyng gulphe of vtter blinde­nesse. And therefore sainct Peters woordes here are, as if he should saie: You haue long inough walked in foolishnesse, now caste the same awaie from you, as beeyng wise, and hauyng raught vnto the true knowledge.

15 But as he whiche hath called you is holie, euen so bee ye holie, in all maner of conuersation:

16 Because it is witten, Bee ye holie, for I am holie.

HEre doeth Sainct Peter alledge a place out of the old Testament, in the 19. of Leuitie: where the Lorde saieth, Bee ye holie, for I am holie: that is to saie: Because I am your Lorde and God, and you my people, meete it is, that you should bee as I am. For he that rightly and throughly plaieth the parte of a Lorde in deede, bendeth his care to make his peo­ple like vnto hymself, dutifully in eche respect to behaue them selues towardes hym, and frame theim selues seruiceable to his will. Herevpon it falleth out, that as our Lorde and God is holie, so also should his people bee holie, and that is, when we walke in faithe. Verie little mention is made in the Scrip­tures, of any Sainctes or holie men departed out of this life, but alwaies in a maner it speaketh of those holie menne, that as yet were aliue: as the Prophet Dauid pronounceth himself holie in the 86. Psalme, saiyng. Preserue thou my Soule Lorde, for I am holie.

But our smatteryng doctorlie Diuines and Schoolemen haue also misconstrued, & peruerted the true sense of this place saiyng: that the Prophete hath a peculier reuelation, in that he calleth himself Holie: Wherein thei flatly bewraie themselues [Page 23] bothe to lacke Faithe, and also to be vtterly vnacquainted with this reuelation of Christ: for if thei had any, thei might easely by the effect feele in them selues the power therof. For he that is a Christian, hath a feelyng of suche reuelation in his consci­ence: and he that hath no feelyng of it, the same is no Christiā. For he that is a Christian, commeth into a Communion with Christ, and is partaker with him of all his goodnesse: and ther­fore seyng that Christ is holie, his members must also needes be holie, or els deny that Christe is holie. For if thou bee Bap­tized, thou haste put on the garment of holinesse, whiche is Christe, as sainct Paule testifieth.

This worde Holie, signifieth that whiche is onely proper vnto God himself, and to hym onely doeth it appertaine, the which we commonly doe call consecrated. And therefore doth sainct Peter now saie: You haue consecrated your selues vnto God, and therefore it standeth you vppon so to looke to it that ye suffer not your selues to bee caried awaie againe into the vaine lustes and desires of this worlde, but giue you place vn­to God, that hee maie raigne, liue and woorke in you, and so shall ye bee holie euen as hee is holie.

Thus hath he hitherto described the Grace that is offered vnto vs by the Gospell and preachyng of Christe, and hath taught vs how againe we ought to behaue our selues toward the same, namely to persist and continue in a pure and sincere perswasion of Faithe, being well assured that no worke what­soeuer, that we either can doe or deuise, can any thing auaile vs toward our saluatiō: But where this doctrine is preached, then straightwaies reason commeth in and inferreth thus: If the case so stande, what neede haue I to doe any good worke? Then doe these grosseheads enter into this fonde opinion, or rather mere madnesse, makyng of a right Christian life a car­nall licentiousnesse, deemyng it lawfull for euery man to dooe what him listeth. With suche maner of persones doeth sainct Peter here in this place meete withall, and by preuention ta­keth aforehande from them that their foolishe imagination: teachyng vs that Christian libertie, without dependyng vpon [Page] any good workes is to bee vsed towardes GOD, because on hym we are onely to build our Faithe without any Workes: for hereby wee attribute vnto hym his due due honour, and ac­knowledge hym for our good God, who is bothe iust, true and mercifull. Suche a Faithe as this deliuereth and offereth vs frō our sinnes and all other mischéeues whatsoeuer. Now, af­ter that we haue attributed this vnto God, al the residue of our liues that we haue to liue, we are to bestowe to the benefite of our neighbor, to serue and doe good vnto hym. The very chee­fest & principallest worke of all others proceeding and issuyng out of Faith is, with our mouthes be readie to confesse Christ, and with our bloud also to beare witnesse vnto hym, and if the case so require to bestowe our very liues also for his sake. And yet hath not God any neede of this or any such worke of ours: but therefore must wee doe it, that our Faithe beyng thereby throughly tried and manifested, maie also drawe and allure o­thers to the like. Furthermore, there bee other Woorkes, which dooe generallie also serue to this ende, that wee maye thereby doe good vnto our neighbors: all whiche notwithstan­dyng, not wee our selues but God is hee that must worke and bryng the same to passe in vs. Thus haue wee nothyng at all in the worlde of our owne, that wee can ascribe in any respecte vnto our selues.

Hereby now it euidently appeareth, how farre of it is, that this preaching of the Gospell doeth open any (yea neuer so lit­tle) a windowe to liue carnallie, or that euery man maie law­fullie doe what he listeth. And therefore saieth Sainct Peter furthermore.

17 And if ye call him Father, whiche without re­spect of persone iudgeth according to euery mans woorke, passe the tyme of your dwellyng here in feare:

18 Knowyng that yee were not redeemed with corruptible thinges, as siluer and golde, from your vaine conuersation, receiued by the traditions of the fathers,

[Page 24] 19 But with the precious bloud of Christ, as of a Lambe vndefiled, and without spot.

20 Whiche was ordeined before the foundation of the worlde, but was declared in the laste tymes for your sakes,

21 Whiche by his meanes dooe beleeue in God that raised him from the dead, and gaue him glo­rie, that your faithe and hope might be in God.

THE meanyng of sainct Peter in this place is this: Ye are now by Faithe come to this poinct that ye are the Sonnes of God and he your Father. Ye haue attained an incor­ruptible inheritaunce, whereof hath beene spoken afore: now therefore there remaineth nothing behind, but that the veile being taken awaie, that may bee openly shewed which earst was hidden. This must ye yet expect and looke for, till the tyme come that it bee giuen you to see it. You therefore are come to this good poinct, that you maie with boldnesse and trust, inuocate and call vppon God your Father, because he is (neuerthelesse) iust, as he that will render vnto euery one without respect of persones accordyng to their workes. Let no man perswade hym self, for that he is dignified and entitled with this worthie name to bee called a Christian or the Sonne of God, that therefore God will spare hym, if hee liue without his feare: and accoumpt it enough be­cause hee hath suche an excellent name. The worlde in deede iudgeth accordyng to respectes of persones, not iudgyng all persones equallie and indifferently, but spareth suche as bee their Freendes, wealthie, riche, fayre, learned, wise, mightie, and in high authoritie. But God respecteth none of all these, hee dealeth in all thynges with indefferencie, bee the persones neuer so high of callyng. So did hee in Egipt slea the Childe aswell of the kyng, as of the poorest Sheepeheard. Exod. 10. And therefore the Apostle here warneth vs that wee lookyng for the like iudgement should stand in feare, and not so to vasit [Page] our tytle because wee are called Christians, that therefore wée should presume that God will any whitt more spare vs then hee wil others. For this vaine perswasion long agoe deceiued the Iewes, who bragged them selues to bee the Seede of A­braham, and the people of GOD. The Scripture maketh no difference accordyng to the fleshe, but according to the Spirit. Very true it is that God promised, that Christ should be borne of the seede of Abraham, and that out of hym should come an holie people: but it followeth not therevpon, that all they bee the children of God whiche descended from the ligne of Abra­ham. Hee also promised saluation to the Gentiles, but he saied not, that hee would saue all the Gentiles.

But here now ariseth a question. When we say that God doeth saue vs onely by faithe without respect of good workes, how happeneth it that Sainct Peter doeth here saie, that hee will not iudge accordyng to the person, but according to euery mans worke? I answere. Whatsoeuer wee haue taught con­cernyng faithe, how that it alone doeth iustifie vs before God, is without al doubt very true: forasmuch as the Scripture de­clareth and witnesseth the same more plainly then that it can bee denyed. Now, whereas sainct Peter doeth here saie, that God iudgeth accordyng to workes, that also is as true. But this by the waie muste vndoubtedly bee beleeued, that where Faithe is not, there neither can any good woorke bee: and a­gaine, that there is no Faithe where there bee no good wor­kes. Therefore thou muste bryng bothe thy Faithe and thy good woorkes into one, as in the which being bothe together, is comprehended and contained the summe of a true Christian life. As thou liuest therefore, so shalt thou receiue, and so will God iudge thee. And therfore although God iudge vs accor­dyng to our woorkes, yet neuerthelesse, this remaineth also alike true, that good workes are onely the fruictes of Faithe, whereby it shalbe easie to finde and trie where Faithe is, and where is Infidelitie. And therefore will God iudge thée accor­dyng to thy workes, and will thereby laie it face to face to thy charge whether thou haue Faithe or no. As no man can bet­ter [Page 25] confute a Lyer then by his owne woordes: And yet neuer­thelesse it is plaine that by those words he is not made a Lior, but he was a Lyer afore that he vttered any lye, because that a lye must needes proceede from the harte into the mouth.

Take therefore these same woordes of Sainct Peter in a moste simple sense, and in such sorte that you vnderstande wor­kes to be the fruictes and seales of Faithe, and that God doth iudge men according to these fruictes, whiche can not but en­sue and followe a true and sounde Faithe: to the intent it maye manifestly appeare, where Faithe remaineth in the harte, and also where Infidelitie lodgeth. God will not iudge accordyng to these interrogatories and questions: whether thou be called a Christian or no: or whether thou bee baptized or not: but hee will thus question with thee: Sirrha, if thou bee a Christian, where bee thy fruictes, whereby thou art able to confirme and approue thy faithe.

And therefore saieth sainct Peter, forasmuche as you haue suche a father, which iudgeth not accordyng to any mans per­son, see that yee haue your conuersation in the tyme of your dwelling here, in feare: that is to saie: Feare ye this Father, not in the feare of punishment and reuenge (for so the wicked reprobates and Deuilles dooe feare hym) but feare ye hym, least he should forsake you, or withdrawe his holie hande from you. Euen as an honest and good childe standeth in feare least hee should offende his father or commit any thyng that should not bee well liked of hym. Suche a feare doeth God require at our handes whereby wee maye loathe and abhorre sinne, and diligently studie to helpe out neighbour so long as we haue to liue in this worlde.

That Christian that beleeueth well, is possessed of all the goodes and benefites of God, and is the childe of God, as wee haue heard afore declared: but the tyme that hee here hath to liue, is nothyng els then a kinde of Sequestration or Pilgri­mage. For his Spirite by faithe is alreadie in heauen, by the whiche hee is euen a Lorde of all thynges. But God therefore suffreth hym yet for a tyme to liue in the fleshe and to bee con­uersant [Page] in bodie vpon the earth, purposelie that he should help others, and bryng them with him to heauen.

And therefore wee ought no otherwise to vse this worlde, nor to make any other accompt thereof, but as Straungers or wayfaring men are wont to doe: who commyng into their Lodgyng or Inne, make no further reckoning, but to haue at their Hostes handes, meate, drincke and lodging for one night and no longer: thei doe not chalenge and laie claime vnto their Hostes whole substaunce.

After the same sorte ought euery one to accoumpt of his wealth and richesse, euen as though thei were none of his: to take therof onely so much as is sufficient, for the maintenance and nourishment of his bodie, and with the rest to relieue and helpe his needie neighbours. Therefore the life of a Christian man is no otherwise but as a mansion for one night. For wee haue here no permanent dwellyng place, wee must haue our desire thither, where our Father is, namely heauen. And ther­fore, wee ought to abandon and laie aside all lasciuiousnesse and dissolute life, and to passe (as sainct Peter saieth) the time of our dwellyng here in feare.

18 Knowyng that ye were not redeemed with cor­ruptible thinges, as siluer and golde, from your vaine conuersation, receiued by the traditions of the fathers,

19 But with the precious bloud of Christ.

THis (saieth he) ought to prouoke and stirre you to employe your conuersation in the feare of God, consideryng how greate a price your re­demption coste. Heretofore ye were Citezins of the worlde, liuyng vnder the tyrannous rule of the Deuill: now hath God deliuered you from suche lamen­table and desperate conuersation, and hath brought you into an other place, so that now you are Citezens in heauen, and but Straungers and Pilgrims on earth. But marke ye wel, how [Page 26] muche God hath bestowed on you, and how vnvaluable and exceedyng greate that treasure is wherewith you are redee­med, and brought into that happie case to become the children of God. Therefore passe your time and conuersation in feare, and take ye good heede least if ye should contemne and neglect these thynges, ye loose this so excellent and precious a trea­sure.

And what treasure is that whiche is so excellent and preci­ous, wherewith wee are redeemed? Not these corruptible thinges, Golde or Siluer, but the moste precious bloud of Christe the Sonne of God. This treasure is so excellent and of price so inescimable, that no sense or reason of man is able to comprehende it, insomuche that one small droppe of this most innocent Bloud, had been fullie sufficient for the sinnes of the whole worlde. But it pleased the eternall Father so aboun­dantly to poure out his Grace vpon vs, and with suche a price to procure and worke our Saluation, that he would haue his moste deare Sonne Christ to shed all his bloud and to bestow and giue vnto vs all his treasures at once.

And therefore he requireth vs, that we doe not (as it were) cast awaie into the ayre or make small accoumpt of suche a greate Grace, but rather so to esteeme of it, that wee maie bee stirred and mooued vnto feare: that liuyng therein, wee maie not deserue est sones to be depriued of this so surpassing a trea­sure.

And this withall must diligently be noted and considered, how that sainct Peter here doeth saie, that ye were redeemed from your vaine conuersation which ye receiued by the tra­ditions of the fathers.

For by this, hee vtterlie throweth downe that perswasion that wee are wont moste commonly to leane vnto, thinkyng that all our dooinges ought to bee allowed and well liked of, because the same of an olde custome haue had lon [...] continu­aunce, and because our Auncestours and predecessors (a [...]ng whom there haue been many wise and good men) haue so ob­serued them.

[Page]For thus hee saieth. Whatsoeuer our fathers haue either enacted or doen, all was ill: and consequently, those thinges that you haue learned of theim concernyng the worshippe of God, are so corrupt and naught, that God muste bestowe the blond of his owne Sonne, to redeeme and free men from the same: Whatsoeuer now therefore is not washed awaie by his bloud, is altogether by the fleshe infected and accused.

Wherevpon it followeth, that the more earnestly that any man striueth to attaine to righteousnesse without Christ, the further of is he from true righteousnesse, and the deeper is hee plunged and drouned in the gulphie dungeon of blindnesse and iniquitie, makyng himself guiltie of this most precious bloud.

Other grosse externall vices are in effect little to bee made accoumpt of, in comparison of this odious Sinne, that tea­cheth vs to attaine our iustification and righteousnesse by wor­kes, and whiche frameth a worshipping of God according to the imagination of mans idle braine and phantasie. For by this meanes that most innocent bloud of Christ is dishonored, and moste shamefully blasphemed.

Euen as the Gentiles and Heathen people did farre more grieuously sinne in honouryng the Sunne and Moone, whiche thei thought to bee the true worshipping of God, then thei did in committyng any other faultes whiche thei were out of all doubt to be sinfull and lewde. And therefore humane iustifica­tion and righteousnesse is nothyng els but a mere blasphemie of GOD, and of all offences that man is able to commit, the moste hainous. And so those thinges that now the worlde em­braceth and accoumpteth for the right worshippe of God and for the perfect waie to iustification, are accoumpted greater Synne in the face of God then any other faultes whatsoeuer. Of the which sort, are the professed orders of religious Cloy­sterers and Munkes, and whatsoeuer els hath any glorious glitteryng shew in the iudgement of the world, and yet neuer­thelesse are cleane without faithe.

And therefore whosoeuer he bee, that by any other waie or meane, seeketh the grace of God, then by his Blood, better is [Page 27] were for hym neuer to come in the sight of GOD: as he that with his owne beggerlie righteousnesse, doeth more and more displease and offende his diuine Maiestie.

19 As of a Lambe vndefiled and without spotte.

HErevpon againe doth Sainct Peter expounde and interprete the Scriptures. For this Epi­stle (although breef and short) is wonderfull ef­fectuall, pithie, and riche. So a little afore, where he speaketh of their vaine conuersation, in pursuyng the traditions of their Fathers, he did (as it were) lightly touche sundrie places of the Prophetes, as namelie, that place in the xvj. of Ieremie: The Gentiles shall come vn­to thee from the endes of the worlde, and shall saie, Surelie, our Fathers haue inherited Lyes and Vanitie &c. As though he should saie, euen the Prophetes foretolde that you should be redeemed from the traditions of your Fathers.

After the same sorte he here also leadeth vs into the Scrip­tures, where as he saieth: You were redeemed with the pre­cious blood of Christ, as of a Lambe vndefiled and without spotte. For here dooeth he expounde that whiche is read in the Prophetes and Moses: as that in the liij. of Esaie, He was brought as a sheepe to the slaughter: And the figure meante in the xij. of Exod. by the Paschall Lambe. All these thynges dooeth he here interprete, and saieth: This Lambe is Christe, who as it behooued hym to bee without blemishe or spotte, so also was he vndefiled and without spotte, whose blood was shedde for vs.

20 Who was ordeined before the foundation of the worlde, but was declared in the laste tymes.

WEE haue deserued nothyng at all, ne yet so muche as euer desired this thyng, that the pre­cious blood of Christe should bee shedde for vs: and therefore there is no cause or matter here­in, whereof wee maie lawfullie of our selues [Page] glorie or make any bragge. All glorie apperteineth onely to GOD: who without any our [...]ites, promised, [...]eueiled, and manifested that, whiche from euerlasting (euen before the foū ­dation of the worlde was laied) he had foreseen and foreordei­ned. And in the Prophetes were these thynges promised, but yet couertlie, not plainlie and openlie, but now after the resur­rection of Christ, and sendyng of the holie Ghoste, are openlie preached, and plainly published throughout the worlde.

This is now the laste tyme, (as Saincte Peter saieth) in whiche wee are: whiche from the tyme of Christes Ascension, continueth till the daie of the laste Iudgement. For so doe the Apostles and Prophetes call it, and Christe hymself tearmeth it the laste howre. Not that the daie of Iudgement shall short­ly approche and come anone after the Ascension of Christe, but because that after this preachyng of the Gospell of Christ, there should bee none other: And that wee should not looke for any further reuelation, or more manifestation of Grace, then is now alreadie reueiled and manifested. Heretofore, alwaies one reuelation was shewed after an other: Wherevpon in the vj. of Exod. the Lorde saieth: My name Adonai haue I not re­ueiled vnto them. For albeit the Patriarches knewe GOD, yet had thei not suche a manifest declaration and preachyng of God, as afterward was published and sette out by Moses and the Prophetes. Now, there was neuer any preachyng heard of in all the worlde, notabler or more manifest then the Gos­pell: wherefore it is also the last, as the whiche (after the course of those former tymes expired) is in this laste age reueiled vn­to vs.

Furthermore also, accordyng to the accoumpte and com­putacion of tyme, the ende of the worlde is not farre of, as S. Peter in his seconde Epistle and third Chapter declareth, sai­yng: One daie is with the Lorde as a thousande yeres, and a thousande yeres as one daie. For his meanyng thereby is to call vs awaie from the earnall computation of this tyme, be­cause we should esteeme thereof, accordyng to the iudgemente of GOD. Wherein certainly the laste time and finall ende is [Page 28] fullie come: For that small tyme that is lefte behinde remai­nyng, is with GOD as nothyng. Saluation is now reueiled and throughlie perfected: onely God suffereth the worlde thus still to stande and continue, to the intent he might be the more throughlie honored and glorified: albeit as touchyng hymself, he is so perfectly reueiled, that it is not to bee looked for, that he shalbe any perfectlyer manifested.

21 For your sakes, whiche by his meanes doe beleeue in God, that raised hym from the deade, and gaue hym glorie, that your Faithe and Hope might bee in God.

FOr your sakes (saieth he) is the Gospell reuei­led. For God & his Christ had no neede therof: it was doen for our healthe and saluation, to the ende that wee should beleeue in hym: Neither haue we of our owneselues strength and power so to dooe, but through Christe who maketh intercession vnto his Father for vs: Who was raised from the deade, that he might raigne ouer all thynges, in somuche that he whiche be­leeueth in hym, hath all the good thynges that bee his: and by hym ascendeth vp to the Father. And by this meanes haue we faithe in God, and through this faithe, also hope. Onely faithe is it that must saue vs, but yet a sure and firme faithe in God. For unlesse God helpe thee, thou shalt be sure euer to remaine helplesse, and therefore it is to no purpose, though all the men in the worlde doe neuer so muche fauour thee. The fauour of God is onely necessarie, wherein thou maiest glorie, that he is thy Father, and thou his Sonne: in whom thou reposed grea­ter confidence and trust then in thy [...]rnal father and mother and that he will in all thy necessitie bee readie to helpe thee▪ euen for Christes sake our onely Mediatoure and Sauiour. Suche a Faithe as this commeth not of any humaine power, but GOD planteth th [...] same in vs: for that Christe with his Blood deserued and merited it, to whom therefore be hath gi­uen [Page] this glorie, that beyng set on his right hande, he by his di­uine power might settle and staie a sure faithe in vs.

Hitherto therefore wee haue heard, how saincte Peter ex­horteth vs first, to girde vp the loynes of our mynde, and also sincerely to walke in a perfecte faithe. Then consideryng how deare a price this hath co [...]te Christe, that wee should haue our conuersation in feare: not bearyng our selues hold vpon this, that we are named Christiās, sith God is suche a iudge as re­specteth no maintes persone, one more then an other: but iud­geth equally without any parcialitie. Now proceedeth he fur­ther, and endeth this first Chapter, saiyng:

22 Seeyng your Soules are purified in obeiyng the truthe through the Spirit, to loue brotherly with­out [...]inyng, Loue one an other with a pure harte feruently.

23 Beeyng borne a newe, not of mortall seede, but of immortall, by the woorde of God, who liueth and indureth for euer.

24 For all fleshe is as grasse, and all the glorie of man is as the flower of grasse. The grasse withereth, and the flower falleth awaie.

25 But the worde of the Lorde endureth for euer and this is the worde whiche is preached among you.

SAinct Paule in the fifte to the Galath. rekoneth vp the fruites that followe faithe. The fruites of the Spirit (saieth he) are Loue, Ioye, Peace long suffering, Gentlenesse, Goodnesse, Faith Meekenesse, Temperance. So also here doeth saincte Peter teache vs, whiche bee the fruietes of faithe. To witte, to purifie our Soules in obeiyng the truthe through the Spirite: For where true Faithe is, it bryngeth the bodie vn­der, and in subiection, and bridleth the lustes of the fleshe: and although it make not a cleare riddaunce and dispatche there­of, ye [...] makers it the Bodie subiect to the Spirite, and [...]s with [Page 29] a bridle, qualifieth the wilde motions thereof. The same mea­nyng also hath sainct Paule, where he speaketh of the fruictes of the Spirite. It is a greate and busie peece of woorke, to bryng the Spirite to Maister and beare rule ouer the Bodie, and to represse the wilfull affections, and fleshlie desires natu­rally engraffed in vs from our parentes. For it is not possible for vs to liue well, no not in the state of Wedlocke, without speciall Grace: I saie nothyng, what wee can doe herein, be­yng without Grace.

But why saieth he, Purifie (or make chaste) your Soules, and not rather your Bodies? Surely he full well knewe, that the lustes and concupiscences of the fleshe, accompainie vs to our Graues, and are neuer quenched in vs (although wee bee Baptized) till our diyng daie. Now, it is not inough for a manne to conteine hymself from the acte doyng, and to be out­wardly chaste and a virgine, his harte in the meane while boi­lyng in filthie desires of fleshly lustes: but wee must earnestly endeuour our selues with all diligence, that our Soules maie bee chaste, so that this chastitie maie proceede, and come from the harte, and that the Soule maie bee at continuall enemitie and warre with all naughtie desires, and still fight againste them, till it be cleare deliuered from them.

And it agreeth very well that is here added, that we must purifie our Soules in obeiyng the truthe through the Spirit. Muche hath been preached and spoken of Chastitie, and many Bookes haue been written concernyng it. The Aucthours whereof haue taught vs, with long Fastyng, abstinence from fleshe, wine and suche like, to quenche these filthie motions of concupiscence and luste. Whiche although some what thei hel­pen therevnto, yet could thei not be sufficient, neither could thei beate doune the inordinate desires of the flesh. Sainct Hierom writeth of hymself, that he so punished and pinched his Bodie, that he was euen like an Ethiopian ▪ yet neuerthelesse, he so lit­tle therewith profited, that he many tymes dreamed he was in Rome, in companie of Gentle women and faire Maiders. S. Bernard also so punished, and with suche abstinence almoste [Page] so spoiled his bodie, yt it stonke loathsomely, as afore I haue de­clared. These holy men were greeuously tēpted: for with those outward thinges thei thought thei could restraine and quench their temptations: but because the remedies whiche thei vsed were externall and outwarde, and were applied outwardlie and not inwardly (where in deede the disease was harboured) thei could not serue as sufficient and able to maister and kill those desires of the mynde, with whiche thei warred. But S. Peter in this place sheweth vs a moste true and Soueraigne remedie wherewith to cure this euill, to witte, Obedience to the truthe through the Spirite. Whiche the Scripture in o­ther places also setteth doune, as in the 11. of Esaie: Faithful­nesse shalbe the girdle of his reynes. This is the true Cata­plasme, wherewith the Reynes are to be girded: whose sound­nesse must proceede from the inner thinges to the outwarde, and not contrariwise from the outwarde to the inner. For the Soare whiche we would cure lieth, not outwardlie in the ker­ther, or clothes, but deeyng bredde inwardlie, ragingly raig­neth and lyeth in the Bloud, Fleshe, Marrowe and Veines. Therefore it is not the beste waie, with outwarde thinges to goe aboute to represse and quenche fleshly concupiscence: the bodie with fasting and labours may be brought into greate de­bility and weakenesse, and at lēgth thereby be vtterly marred, spoyled and brought vnto death, but to bee cased from euill de­sires it can not. But Faithe is able to quenche them, and so to keepe them vnder, that thei shall bee brought to giue place and yeeld vnto the Spirite.

So also speaketh the Prophete Zacharie in his 9. Chapter, of wine, whereof Christe first drinketh, whiche maketh them maydens, to whom hee drinketh and forecasteth. Then a­rare of other wine is wont to enkindle and stirre vp naughtie desires: but this wine, to wit, the Gospell, represseth the same and maketh the harte chast. And this is it that S. Peter here meaneth, when hee saieth, where Truthe is bolden fast in the harte, and obedience thereunto giuen through the spirite, that that and none but that, is the truest cure & presentest remedy a­gainst [Page 30] this daungerous euil and mischiefe▪ beside which, there is none other that can be found so able to driue awaie and qua­lifie these euill cogitations and vaine thoughtes. For whē this remedie (the Gospell I meane) is entered and taken possessiō within the harte, all naughtie leude motions do straightways giue place and vanishe awaie. Let hym that wil, trie this mat­ter, and hee shall duely finde it so to bee, as all they that haue made triall thereof, doe very well know. But the Deuill doth not easely suffer any man to come to that poinct, as in harte so to embrace the Worde of God, that he maie feele what a good taste and sauour it hath: because hee knoweth full well, what great power and mightie efficacie is in it, to subdue and beate downe all naughtie desires and euill thoughtes. Therefore, that whiche sainct Peter here speaketh, is as though he should thus saie: If you bee desirous to remaine and continue chast, it standeth you in hande, to embrace and shewe your obedience to the truthe through the Spirite: that is to saie, It necessari­ly behooueth you not onely to reade and heare the Worde of God, but to embrace the same in your hartes. And therefore, it is not enough, that the Gospell bee once preached or once heard, but thou must continuallie cleaue vnto it and followe it. For, this grace hath the Worde, that the oftner a man tasteth it, the sweeter it still wareth, and the pleasaunter it relisheth. For albeit it alwaies teacheth one and the same doctrine con­cernyng Faithe, yet can it neuer bee to the godlie and well dis­posed mindes sufficiently and enough heard. Now addeth the Apostle further.

22 To loue brotherly without fainyng.

TO what ende now must wee leade a chast life? to the ende thereby to attaine Saluation? No, for­sooth. But to the ende and purpose that wee maie serue and doe good to our neighbors. What shall I doe that I maie restraine and keepe vnder my Sinnes? I must dutifullie obeye the truthe in the Spirite, that is to saie, [Page] the Faithe of the Woorde of God. And why doe I bridle and keepe vnder subiection, my Sinnes? Forsoothe, that I maie dooe good to others. For I must first bridle and ouermaister my bodie and fleshe through the Spirite, and then shall I bee able to profite and doe good to others.

22 Loue one an other with a pure harte feruently:

THe holie Apostles Peter and Paule doe separate and make a difference betwene brotherly Loue and com­mō Loue: a brotherhood is yt bond, wherein all Chri­stians ought to be among themselues, euen as brothers, with­out any respect or difference: for why, we haue all in common, one Christe, one Baptisme, one Faithe and one Treasure: I can not bee more worthie then thou: that whiche thou haste, I also haue: finallie I am euen as riche as thou. Wee haue one and the same treasure, sauyng that I peraduenture receiue it more worthily then thou doest, as if I should laie it vpp in Gold, & thou shouldest kepe it in some filthy rag or vise cloute. Therefore, as wee haue the grace of Christe and all spirituall blessynges common together, so also ought we to haue our bo­dies, liues, wealth and dignities common one to an other, that one maie serue an others turne and necessitie in all thinges.

Now, hee verie significantlie saieth, To loue brotherly without fainyng, that is: without any glosing, hypocrisie or dissimulation: whiche terme and phraze the Apostles gladlie vse, for that vndoubtedlie thei foresawe, that wee would not sticke to call one an other, Christian or Brother, and yet would falsly, feinedly, dissemblyngly and altogether hypocri­tically vndermine one an other. We haue erected in the world many Fraternities and Brotherhoodes, whiche in very deede are nothing els then starke vanities and mere deceiptes: alto­gether deuised, inuented & brought into the world by the De­uill himself. All whiche are wholy and altogether repugnaunt and contrarie to the Faithe and sincere loue of Brethren.

Christe is aswell myne, as hee is sainct Barnardes: thine [Page 31] no lesse then he is S. Francis. When thou hearest any there­fore saie: I shall come to heauen, if I be one of the Brother­hood of this or that order, answere thou thus: It is mere pal­trie and counterfaited hypocrisie that thou speakest.

Christe can not abide any suche trumperie, he can brooke none other then a common Brotherhood, whiche we haue al­together: and wilt thou plaie the notorious foole by breakyng of that, to erecte and make to thy self any newe vpstart and pe­culier Brotherhood?

This truely could I well abide, that thou shouldest erecte one: but how? not whereby to make any peculier helpe to thy Soule: but for a certaine number to come together, to contri­bute and gather some treasure, for the reliefe of them that bee in necessitie.

Therefore all we Christiās haue one Brotherhood, which we tooke vpon vs in our Baptisme, of the whiche brotherhood there is no Saincte that hath any more then thou or I. For looke with how greate a price he was redeemed, with so great am I also bought and redeemed. GOD bestowed no lesse for my sake, then for the greatest Saincte that is: sauyng that he peraduenture embraced this treasure better then I doe: That is to saie, hath a stedfaster and stronger Faithe then I.

Furthermore this woorde (Loue) hath a larger significa­tion then Brotherlinesse: because it reacheth also vnto our ene­mies, and those especiallie whiche are not worthie of Loue. For as Faithe sheweth forthe her woorkyng where she seeth nothyng: so also ought Loue to see nothing: and there especial­ly to exercise her operation, where there is in apparaunce no­thyng worthy to bee loued, but rather all thynges odious, and suche as maie breede and procure loathsomnesse. Where there is nothyng that can well be liked of, euen there ought the effec­tes of Loue to shewe forthe: yea, this ought also to be doen fer­uently (saieth Peter) and with the whole harte, euen as God loued vs, at suche time when wee were in euery respect moste vnworthie of his loue.

23 Beeyng borne anewe.

THirdlie, al these thinges are therefore of you to be per­formed and doen, because ye are not now as you were before: but you are (saieth he) borne anewe, and there­fore newe Men. This was not brought to passe through a­ny your owne workes, but you needed a newe Birthe. For a new man can not be brought forthe by any power of his owne into the worlde, but he must first be begotten and borne. What Carpenter is able by his owne Arte to make a Tree, but the same must needes of it self first grow out of the groūd? Ther­fore euer. as we are not made, but borne the Sonnes and chil­dren of Adam, and haue naturally sucked synne from our Pa­rentes: so neither shall wee by our owne industrie and labour, euer become the children of God, but it behoueth vs by a kinde of newe Birth and regeneration so to be. This therefore is the meanyng of the Apostle in this place: Seeyng therefore that you are a newe Creature, it is verie meete and conueniente withall, that you demeane your selues after an other order, and practise a newe kinde of life. As heretofore ye liued in ha­tred, so now vse your conuersation in Loue, and let all thinges be transposed and tourned after an other sorte. But how came this new Birthe to passe?

23 Not of mortall and corruptible seede, but of im­mortall and incorruptible, by the woorde of God, whiche liueth and endureth for euer.

OF a kinde of Seede wee are regenerated and newe borne: no otherwise then as we see, all o­ther thynges to bee borne and generated of Seede in their kinde. If therefore the old birth proceeded and came of Seede, the newe Birth also must needes be of some Seede. But what Seede is this? Truely not fleshe and blood. What then? Nothing that is cor­ruptible and mortall, but euen the eternall and liuyng worde. [Page 32] This is all that, whereby we liue, whereby we are nourished, and haue our beyng, and whereby specially (as he here saieth) we are regenerated.

But how and by what meanes is this wont to bee dooen, and brought to passe? God sendeth out this his Worde, to [...], the Gospell, whiche casteth seede into the hartes of menne▪ [...]f this Seede abide and sticke Fast in the harte, then is there pre­sently readie the holie Ghoste, who fashioneth a newe manne, whiche becomneth altogether of an other fort their he was a­fore, hath other deuises, thoughtes and cogitations, other wor­des, and other woorkes. And thus is he whollie and altoge­ther altered. Whatsoeuer thou aforetyme diddest est huc and auoide, now thou pursuest and seekest: what soeuer thou [...]a [...]ste sought, thou now fleest. The state of Corporall generation is suche, that the Seede whiche is in manne hath his alteration, and remaineth not still Seede: But the Seede of the Spirite can not bee chaunged, but remaineth one for euer: so entirely alteryng & chaungyng me, that I am transmitted and altered into it: and the corruption and euill whiche naturally dwelleth in me, is quite abolished. And therefore this is a wonderfull kinde of Birthe, and of a merueilous Seede.

24 For all fleshe is as grasse, and all the glorie of man is as the flower of grasse. The grasse withereth, and the flower falleth awaie. But the word of the Lord endureth for euer:

THis place is takē out of the xl. Chap. of Esai [...]. Where a voice saied vnto the Prophete, Crie. And he saied, what shall I crie? To whom the voice saied, Crie thus▪ All fleshe is grasse, and al the glorie thereof as the flower of the feeld, The grasse withereth, and the flower fadeth a waie: but the word of the Lorde standeth for euer. These wordes hath S. Peter here brought in and alledged: For this Epistle is (as I saied) bothe riche, and grounded vpon the aucthoritie of sondrie [Page] Scriptures. Now the meanyng of the Scripture here alled­ged, is this.

The woorde of the Lorde endureth for euer: But whatso­euer is fleshe and blood, the same is as corruptible grasse. Bee a manne of neuer so flourishyng and gallant age, bee he neuer so riche and mightie, neuer so wise and iuste, neuer so braue, freshe and beautifull, all whiche appertaine to the flower: yet doeth the flower in the ende wither awaie, and that whiche in gallante age and beautie lately excelled, is waxed olde, and be­come ilfauoured: that whiche earst was riche, is growne to be poore: and so forthe also all other thinges fade awaie, sauyng onely the Woorde of God, Whiche Seede can neuer perishe nor decaye.

25 And this is the Worde whiche is preached among you.

AS though he should saie: you neede not to seeke farre, how to come to this Woorde, for behold you haue it euen before your eyes. It is that Worde whiche wee preache vnto you: by this you maie qualifie and restraine all wicked desi­res. Thou needest not to seeke farre for it, onely looke to this, that thou gladly embrace it, when it is preached vnto thee. For it is so neere vnto thee, that it maie bee heard. As Moses also saieth in the xxx. of Deuter. The worde which I commaunde thee this daie, is not farre of from thee, that thou shouldest neede to goe farre to seeke it: as either to goe vp to heauen, or to goe ouer the Sea to fetche it, but it is verie neere vnto thee, euen in thy mouthe, and in thy harte. It was straight­waies preached and heard, but when it hath feased and take [...] full possession of thy harte, it can not any more dye and vanishe awaie, neither dooeth it suffer thee to dye, but saueth thee, so long as thou stickest and cleauest faste vnto it. As when I heare how that Iesus Christ died for me, and bore all my syn­nes, and purchased heauen for me, and also how he, hath giuen all that he hath vnto me, now dooe I heare the Gospell and [Page 33] glad thynges, I meane, the Worde of God beyng preached, whiche peraduenture quickly passeth awaie, and is forgotten [...] but if it bee effectually receiued with the harte, and that thou throughlie embrace hym in faithe, then can not he any more slippe from thee, nor be forgotten. This truthe no Creature whatsouer, is able to ouerthrowe, the Gates of hell shall neuer preuaile againste it. Yea although I sticke faste in the Iawes of the Deuill, yet if I be able to take holde vpon, and to appre­hende this Woorde, I muste needes bee bailed and deliuered thence, and shall remaine where the Woorde remaineth. And therefore it is not without good cause, that the Apostle here in effect saieth, that there is none other Worde to bee looked for, then this whiche we haue preached vnto you.

To this purpose tendeth that, whiche Paule in the firste to the Romaines saieth: I am not ashamed of the Gospell of Christe, for it is the power of God vnto saluation to all that beleeue. The Woorde is the Diuine and eternall power of God. For although the voice, sounde, or speeche, dooe quicklie vanishe and passe awaie, yet the kernell, that is to saie, the knowledge and truthe, contained in that voice, remaineth stil. As when I putt a Goblet or Iugge of wine to my mouthe, I drinke vp the Wine, the Goblet or Iugge remaining still vn­spent: So also ye Word which being brought vnto vs by voice, descendeth into the harte, and there beginneth to haue life: the voice remainyng still without, and vanishyng awaie. And therefore it is well tearmed the power of GOD, yea rather God hymself. For so he saied vnto Moses, Exod. iiij. I will be in thy mouthe. And in the lxxxj. Psalme: Open thy mouthe wide: that is, shewe forthe boldlie, speake out, bee an hungred and I will fill it, I my self beyng present with thee, will speake enough. So also Christe in the xiiij. of Ihon saieth: I am the waie, the truthe and the life, he that cleaueth therevnto, the same is borne of God. Therefore this Seede is the Lorde our God hymself.

All which thinges serue to this end, to instruct and teache vs that wee can not possibly bee relieued and holpen by woor­kes: [Page] and the Woorde (be it neuer so small a thyng in shewe, when it is vttered out of the mouth, and in apparaunce seeme nothyng glorious and honorable) yet is there in it, a kinde of suche incomparable vertue and force, as maketh so many the children of God, as faithfully cleaue thereunto. Iohn. 1. Vpō suche an excellent staie and goodnesse, leaneth our saluation.

This is the first Chapter of this Epistle, wherein thou seest with what singuler Arte and cunnyng sainct Peter han­dleth and preacheth Faithe. Whereby it manifestly ap­peareth that is Epistle is the very Gospell or glad Tydynges it self. Now followeth next the seconde Chapter wherein he teacheth vs how we ought to behaue our selues in our workes and dealinges towards our Neighbor.

The seconde Chapter.

WHerefore, laiyng aside al maliciousnesse and all guile, and dissimulation, and en­uie, and all euill speakyng,

2 As newe borne babes desire that sincere milke of the worde, that ye may growe thereby,

3 If so bee that ye haue tasted how bountifull the Lorde is.

4 To whom commyng as vnto a liuing stone disalowed of men, but chosen of God and precious,

5 Ye also as liuely stones, bee made a spirituall house, an holy Priesthood to offer vp spirituall sacrifices acceptable to God by Iesus Christ.

6 Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I put in Sion a chiefe corner stone, elect and precious: and he that beleeueth therein, shall not be ashamed.

7 Vnto you therefore whiche beleeue, it is precious: but vnto them whiche be disobedient, the stone which the buil­ders disalowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

8 And a stone to stumble at, and a rocke of offence, euen to them whiche stumble at the worde beeyng disobedient, vnto the whiche thyng they were euen ordeined.

9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royall Priesthood, an holy nation, a people set at libertie that ye shoulde shewe forthe the vertues of hym that hath called you out of darke­nesse into his merueilous light,

10 Whiche in tyme past wore not a people, yet are now the people of God: which in tyme past were not vnder mer­cie, but now haue obtained mercie.

11 Dearely beloued, I beseche you, as strāgers & pilgrims, absteine from fleshly lustes, whiche fight against the soule,

[Page] 12 And haue your conuersation honest among the Gen­tiles, that they whiche speake euill of you as of euill doers, maie by your good woorkes whiche they shall see, glorifie God in the day of visitation.

13 Therefore submitte your selues vnto all maner ordi­nance of man for the Lordes sake, whether it bee vnto the King, as vnto the superiour,

14 Or vnto gouernours, as vnto thē that are sent of him, for the punishment of euill doers, and for the praise of them that doe well.

15 For so is the will of God, that by well doyng ye maie put to silence the ignorance of the foolishe men,

16 As free, and not as hauyng the libertie for a cloake of maliciousnesse, but as the seruantes of God.

17 Honor al men: loue brotherly fellowship: feare God: honour the Kyng.

18 Seruants, bee subiect to your maisters with all feare, not onely to the good & courteous, but also to the froward,

19 For this is thankeworthie, if a man for conscience to­warde God endure griefe, sufferyng wrongfully.

20 For what praise is it, if when ye bee buffeted for your faultes, ye take it paciently? but and if when ye doe well, ye suffer wrong and take it paciently, this is acceptable to God.

21 For hereunto ye are called: for Christe also suffered for you, leauyng you an ensample that ye should follow his steppes.

22 Who did no sinne, neither was there guile founde in his mouth,

23 Who when he was reuiled, reuiled not againe: when he suffred, he threatened not, but committed it to hym that iudgeth righteously.

24 Who his owne self bare our sinnes in his bodie on the tree, that wee beyng dead to sinne, should liue in righteous­nesse: by whose stripes ye were healed.

25 For ye were as sheepe goyng astraye: but are now re­turned vnto the sheepherde and bishoppe of your soules.

[Page 35] HEre beginneth he to teache vs, the right works of a Christiā life & the true fruites of the same. Wee haue oftentymes afore shewed that in these two thinges, Faithe towardes God, and Loue towarde our neighbour, doeth consist and is contained the whole life of a Christian. Also, that this Faith of Christe is not giuen to any, but that there remaine (neuer­thelesse) in our fleshe (so long as wee here liue) many naugh­tie concupiscences, lustes and desires: sithins that none here in this worlde can be so holie, but that he liueth in the fleshe, and whatsoeuer is in the flesh, the same can not be perfectly cleane. Therefore saieth sainct Peter, be ye so instructed that ye may abstaine frō the Sinnes which as yet adhere, and cleaue vnto you, and against them see that ye continually fight: for those be the most daūgerous and most pernicious enemies that we haue, which lye within our owne bosomes: and in the middest of our fleshe and bloud dooe watche, sleepe and liue with vs, as it were some troublesome Guest, of whom (when a man hath once harboured and taken hym into his house) he can not againe be ridde. Wherefore, seeing that Christ through Faith is all and wholly yours, and that you bee now possessed of his sauyng healthe and all other his benefites and graces, knowe ye now that this charge and duetie lyeth vppon you, that you laie aside all maliciousnesse, or whatsoeuer is euill, & all guile, that is, that none deale with an other vnfaithfullie and dissem­blinglie, let there not bee seene any falshood in fellowshippe a­mōg you (as the prouerbe is) neither any craft and treacherie, whiche (God hee knoweth) is now adaies too rise. But as it becommeth vs that bee Christians, in all poinctes towarde God to deale, not feinedly and crookedly, but directly, sincerely and with a pure harte: so also towardes men, it is our partes to deale plainly, simply and iustly, that no man ouerreache or vndermyne an other, in buying, selling, or suche like.

So saieth sainct Paule, Ephes. 4. Put awaie liyng, and let euery man speake truthe vnto his neighbour. The truthe is this, that your speeche bee, yea yea, and naye naye. Dissem­bling [Page] is, when one sheweth him self an other maner of man outwardly, then he is inwardly in minde affected. It behoueth therefore and is required of euery man, that he beare and shew hym self suche outwardlie, as hee is in deede and in harte in­wardlie.

A Christian ought so to liue, that he maie not care though all men see and knowe what he thinketh in his harte: as he that in all his conuersation and life seeketh nothyng els but to glo­rifie God, and to be seruiceable vnto his neighbour: not fearing any man at all. For euery one ought to shewe hymself suche an one in the verie secretes of his minde, as he is outwardly ac­coumpted: and not vnder the visor of honestie to deceiue and bleare the eyes of the people.

Sainct Peter further saieth, that wee must also laye aside Enuie, and euill speakinges. Wherein hee doeth very aptlie and well reproue those vices that among men are vsuall and common in their mutuall traffiques and dealinges. This vice of euill speakyng, is a sinne now adaies very common, and rife, quickly slipped into, and sooner committed then a man would weene. Therefore take heede to your selues (saieth he) of this fault, yea although ye haue the Spirite: to the intent that ye maie by proofe know what be the fruictes of the Spi­rite.

2 As newe borne Babes desire the sincere milke of the worde, that ye maie growe thereby.

HEre hee bryngeth in a similitude, and his mea­ning thereby is this: ye now are newe borne by the worde of God, and therefore so behaue your selues, as newe borne Babes are wont to doe: that is: thei desire and couet after nothyng but Milke. As thei therefore desire the Dugge and Milke, euen so ought ye to desire the Woorde, and to haue your whole de­light in the same: accoumpting that all delicacies and dainties are therein readie for you, so lōg as you may sucke that Milke [Page 36] whiche is sincere and without deceipt.

Againe, these wordes bee figuratiue. For he speaketh nei­ther of bodily Milke, neither of any corporal kinde of sucking, nor yet of any naturall birthe and natiuitie. But hee speaketh here of an other kinde of Milke, whiche is Spirituall, whiche is drawen by the Soule, & sucked with the Hart. This Milke ought to bee without deceipte, and not guilefull, as it many tymes nowadaies happeneth yt much paltring and deceiptfull wares are retailed and vttered in sale. Truly it is moste ne­cessarie that Christians beyng new Borne and yet Infantes, should be nourished with sincere, pure, and perfect good milke. Now, this Milke is nothyng els then the Gospell, whiche is the Seede whereof we be conceiued and newe borne, as afore we declared: thesame also is our meate, wherwith (after we be come to growth, we are fedde: it is also our Armor wherwith we bee fenced, cladde and armed: and to speake all at once, the self same Gospell is all thynges vnto vs. Now, whatsoeuer is thereunto myngled or corrupteth and infecteth the sinceritie thereof, is the doctrine of men. Therefore doth the holie Ghost here warne vs, that euery one of them whiche bee regenerate and newe borne in Christ, should carefullie looke about hym, and take heede what Milke he sucketh, and learne to bee able to iudge of euery doctrine.

The Dugges or Teates, distilling and draynyng out this milke, and out of whom Infantes doe sucke, are thei whiche preache and teache the pure Worde in the Churche of Christ. So speaketh the Bridegroome to his Spouse in the Cantic. Chapter. 4. Thy two Breastes are like two twinnes of yong Roes. Betwene these ought there to hang a būdell of Myrrhe, as the Spouse there saieth Canti. 1. A bundell of Myrrhe is thy Louer vnto mee, whiche lyeth betweene my breastes. The meanyng whereof is, that Christ onely is alwaies to be preached. This Bridegrome alwaies ought to lye in the mid­dle betweene our breastes. Otherwise, if Christ be not purely preached, the Milke is corrupted, and al thinges are preposte­rous, noysome and contagious.

[Page]Purely preached I call that, when it is first taught, how that Christe hath dyed for vs, and by his death hath rescued and de­liuered vs from Synne, Death and Hell: this doctrine is in hearyng very pleasant, and like as it were sweete Milke. But withall, anone after must the Crosse also bee preached, to wit, that wee must euen so suffer as he hymself hath suffred: this is a vehement strong drinke and mightie Wine. Therefore to suche as are but newly wonne and begotten in Christe, gentle meate (that is to saie) Milke must bee first giuen: whiche can no waie be so conueniently doen, as first and formost by prea­chyng and shewyng vnto them Christe: who is nothyng at all sharpe and bitter, but rather euen sweetenesse it self: both plea­saunt in relishe and toothsome in taste, without any maner of harshnesse or harme. And this is that very sincere and Spiri­tuall Milke, without all deceiptfulnesse.

And here againe hath sainct Peter by Milke, comprehen­ded and glaunced at other places of Scripture, as his order and custome is often and very plenteously to doe: namely that in the 23. of Exod. and Deut. 14: The Lorde gaue this com­maundement, saiyng: See that thou seeth not a Kidde in his mothers Milke. For what purpose I praie you, willed God this to be written? what matter is there in it, that a Kidd must not bee killed, so long as it sucketh? Doubtlesse, for none other cause, but to signifie the same thyng whiche sainct Peter here teacheth. For it is nothyng els, then if hee should saie. Looke that ye preache gently and softlie to those Christians that bee as yet Infantes and Weakelinges, let them be well fedd, and fatted in the knowledge of Christe, ouercharge them not with strong learnyng, for their weakenesse and age can not awaie with it, nor yet digest it. But after that thei bee growen and waxen strong, then see them to bee killed and sacrificed with the Crosse.

The same sense and meanyng hath that Lawe whiche we reade Deuter. 24. That a man takyng a newe wife, shall not be compelled to goe a warfare the first yeare, least he should be slaine, but shall be free at home and reioyce with his new [Page 37] wife whiche he hath taken. Whereby assuredly there is none oth [...] thyng ment, but that wee are to allowe and graunt vnto those that as yet be children in the Schole and faith of Christ, their conuenient tyme and space to grow vp: and in the meane season that we ought to deale with them and handle them gēt­lie and curteously: whom afterwarde being waxed strong, and of sufficient growth, the Lorde will bryng to the Crosse, and make to be slaine as he doth other Christians. And then is the Kidde killed.

3 Whereby ye maie growe, if so bee ye haue tasted how bountifull the Lorde is.

IT sufficeth not once onely to haue heard the Gospell. It must continually bee inculked, that we may daiely thereby grow, & accordyngly as we see one endued with strongnesse of faithe, so ought he to be prouided for, and so to bee fedde. Now, do not thinke that this is spoken or ment, to such as yet haue not heard of the Gospel: for thei neither know what Milk is, nor what Wine meaneth. Therefore added he these woor­des, If so bee you haue tasted how bountifull and gracious the Lorde is, As though he should saie: He that hath not tasted this geare, to hym is it neither perceiued with the harte, nei­ther hath it any pleasaunt or sweete sauour. But thei that haue tasted it, doe long after it, and are euer desirous of this meate: to theim the Woorde relisheth and sauoureth, euen as it is in deede, and of theim is it with wonderfull sweetenesse receiued and taken.

And this I call Tastyng, when I dooe with my very harte beleeue, that Christe hath giuen hymself vnto me, and that I haue my full interest in hym, that he beareth and aunswereth for all my Sinnes, trangressions and harmes, and that his life is my life. When this perswasion is throughly settled in my hearte, it yeeldeth wonderfull and incredible good taste. For how should not I herewith bee euen rauished with ioye and [Page] pleasure, seeyng I am so glad and so ioyfull of a small tempo­rall commoditie, as if a freende should giue vnto me but onely an hundreth peeces of gold? But he that feeleth no tast of this thing in his harte, can not hereof conceiue and take any ioye or pleasure. Furthermore, thei beste taste these thynges, that are drawyng neere to the agonies of Death, or are any waie dis­quieted with remorse of conscience. In those cases, hunger is (as the Prouerbe saieth) the beste sauce, those pinches maketh this meate meruailous sauorie. For the harte and conscience, when thei once beginne to haue feelyng of their miserie, and wretched state, can heare nothyng that is so pleasaunte as the Gospell: thei whollie rely vnto it, thei smell afarre of the deli­cacie and toothsomnesse thereof, and can not bee fullie satisfied therewith. So was the song of the blessed virgine Marie, He hath filled the hongrie with good thinges: In the meane sea­son, those stiffe mynded persones, that trust to their owne holi­nesse, and leaue to their owne woorkes and righteousnesse, haue neither any feelyng of their Synnes and wickednesse, neither enioye any tast of these thynges here spoken of. As for example: when any that is hungrie sitteth at a table, eche kinde of meate sauoureth well, and hath a good relishe in his mouth: whereas to hym that is full stomacked, nothing sauoreth well, but all meates, yea the beste and daintiest dishes seeme loath­some. Therefore vseth the Apostle these woordes, If so be that you haue tasted how bountifull the Lorde is, as though he should saie, If you haue not as yet tasted this, my preachyng to you is but in vaine.

4 To whom comyng as vnto a liuyng stone.

HEre againe, taketh he holde of Scriptures afore tyme written, and bryngeth in the xxviii. of Esaie, saiyng thus: Heare the woorde of the Lorde, ye mockers, be­cause ye haue saied: wee haue made a couenant with Death, and with Hell are wee at an agreement, and haue made fals­hood your refuge: Therefore thus saieth the Lorde: Beholde [Page 38] I will laie in Zion a Stone, a tried Stone, a precious corner Stone, a sure foundation &c. This place doeth saincte Paule also alledge, and it is one of the principallest places of the Scripture. For Christe is that precious Stone, whom God hath laied for the foundation, and vppon whom wee are to bee builded. And here beholde how S. Peter taketh these wordes and interpreteth them of Christ. Again, that which Esaie cal­leth Trustyng in hym, that saieth S. Peter to be the same, that to bee builded vpon hym, is: And this is, truely and aptly to expounde the Scriptures. Thei that builde, laie their founda­tion in suche a place, where it maie continue faste and remaine firme, so that it may beare vp the whole house and frame that is builded vpō it: And euen so doth this liuyng Stone, which is Christ, vphold and beare all this spirituall buildyng. And to be builded vpon hym, is nothyng els, but that we all together re­pose our trust, confidence and hope whiche wee haue in our sel­ues, whollie vpon hym.

4 Disalowed of men, but chosen of God & precious.

HEre againe he alledgeth a place out of the Cxviij. Psalme of the Prophete Dauid: The same Stone whiche the builders refused, is become the hedde Stone of the corner, and it is merueilous in our eyes. Whiche place Christ hymself also citeth in the xxj. of Matthewes Gos­pell: and is repeted in the fourth of the Actes: The Stone whiche you builders reiected and set nought by: You (saieth he) are the builders. For thei taught the people, preached ma­ny thynges, enacted sondrie ordinaunces and Lawes, but thei made men nothyng thereby but Meritemangers & Hypocri­tes. Wherevpon Christe pronouncyng sentence vppon them, calleth them plaine Hypocrites, and the generation of Vipers, and pronounceth many terrible sentences vpon theim, recko­nyng theim among Synners, and not for suche greate holie men, as thei would faine haue semed. This can thei not abide, but reiect hym and saie, Hereticke, forbiddest thou to doe good [Page] woorkes? Thou shalte dye the death for thy so saiyng. And therefore saieth saincte Peter here: This same corner Stone, vpon whiche you must be builded, is euen likewise refused and set at naught. This (as the Prophet saieth) appeareth meruei­lous in our eyes, and seemeth verie straunge, and so wonder­full, that vnlesse the Spirite did teache it vs, no man by reason could conceiue in. Therefore (saith he) before God this Stone is chosen and precious, and of so high price and value, that it taketh awaie Death, recompenseth for Synnes, deliuereth from Hell, and laste of all, giueth also vnto vs the Kyngdome of Heauen.

5 Ye also as liuelie Stones, be made a spirituall house.

HOw and by what meanes are wee builded? Euen by the Gospell and preaching of the Woorde. The Buil­ders are thei that preache: Thei that are builded, are suche Christians which heare the Gospell: & thei are the Sto­nes whiche must be laied and couched vpon this corner Stone so, that wee repose our whole truste vppon hym, and that out harte leane onely vpon hym, and so bee at reste. Now it follo­weth, that wee must so directe and frame our selues, that wee maie expresse, shewe forthe and imitate that course of life that he ledd, For it is verie meete, that I who am builded and laied vpon hym by faithe, should freme my self to the same workes that he did, and shewe forth the same conuersation: Which or­der all menne generally and ioyntly, ought and are bounde, to resemble. And this issueth forth and proceedeth frō Faithe, and is the woorke of Loue, that we should mutuallie bee mor­teised and ioyned out into an other, that we all together maie make one buildyng. The same reason hath sainct Paule also, j. Cor. iij. Howbeeit not altogether after the same maner that this is. You are (saieth he) the Temple of God. It is not the materiall house, made of woodd and stone, which is his House: a Spirituall house is that whiche he requireth, whiche is the Churche of Christe, in whiche wee are all through one Faithe [Page 39] equall: That whiche one is, an other is: all builded together within our selues mutuallie, and emong our selues cemented, couched, framed, and knitte together by Loue, without al ma­liciousnesse, guile, hypocrisie, enuie, and euill speakyng, as a­fore hath been declared.

5 An holie Priesthood.

HEere taketh he awaie that outwarde and corporall Priesthood, whiche was in the old Testament, as al­so that outward Temple: all whiche he quite remoo­ueth, and saieth thus: That outwarde and externall pampe of Priesthoode is now cleane ceassed: now therefore beginne yea newe Priesthood? and offer other Sacrifices, but so, that all thynges be Spirituall. Here haue we had somewhat adoe, for that wee haue mainteined and affirmed, that these persones whiche commonlie of late yeres haue been called, and tearmed by ye name of Priestes, are not Priestes before God at all: and that assertion prooued we cheeflie out of this place. And there­fore vnderstande it aright, and beare it well in mynde. That if any should bee so wilfull in suche sorte, to wreste and teare in peeces (for I will not call it expounde) this place, as that the same were to be meant of a double Priesthoode (whiche some blusteryngly and boldly haue auouched) that is to witte, bothe of a Spirituall and also of a Corporall Priesthoode, will hym to cleare his eyesight, and a little better to awake his senses. For sainct Peter saieth thus. Be ye builded into a Spirituall or holie Priesthood. Now, demaunde of these corporall Prie­stes, whether thei be holie. That shall their life quickly declare, as it is alreadie openly knowen to all the worlde, how misera­bly and desperately this leuderable of thē, is euen drouned in Couetousnesse, in Luste, and in al other greate en [...]rmities. He that is inuested in this Priesthood, whereof is here spoken, he needes muste bee holie: and be that is not holie, hath nothyng lesse then this Priesthood. Thereby is appeareth that Sainct Peter in this place speaketh of one onely and the same a true [Page] and spirituall Priesthood.

Againe, we will aske theim this question, whether in this place, S. Peter make any distinction or difference, betweene persons Spirituall & persons prophane: as commonly now a­daies the Priestes, are tearmed Spiritual, & the rest of Chri­stians called prophane. And thei shal euen (will thei, nill thei) be driuen to confesse, that sainct Peter here in this place, spea­keth vnto all Christians, and namely to them whiche ought to laie aside all Maliciousnesse, Guile, Dissimulation, Enuie and euill Speakyng: and to be as newe borne Babes, and to sucke this same sincere Milke. Behold, how a lye doeth rightly and featly conuince it self. The case therefore standeth very cleare, for somuche as sainct Peter speaketh vnto all that be Christi­ans, and the truthe is manifestly shewed forthe by it self, how that these maskyng Priestes doe vtterly lye: and that Sainct Peter speaketh not so muche as one worde of that Priesthood of theirs, whiche thei them selues haue frames and deuised, and afterward, accordyng to their accustomed violence and tyran­nie, haue deriued and drawen vnto them selues.

Therefore, the whole route of this counterfait Prelacie is in deede nothyng els, then as it were a sorte of Idolles and light persones: euen such Prelates and Bishoppes as children make among them selues at sainct Nicolas tyde. And as is their Priesthood, so also are their Lawes, their Sacrifices, and all their workes, directed to mere superstitiō and for the belly.

Thei therfore onely are an holie and spirituall Priesthood, whiche are the true Christians and are built vpon this corner Stone. For sith that Christe is the Bridegroome, we are his Spouse: and the Spouse or wife hath all thinges that bee her hoasbandes, yea euen his owne bodie. For when hee giueth himself to his Spouse or wife, he can not but withall also giue himself wholly vnto her, and al that he hath whatsoeuer. Like­wise the wife doth giue, and dedicate herself wholly vnto him. Now, is Christ an high Priest, and chiefe of all Priestes, an­noynted by God himself, who for vs hath offered vp his owne bodie, which is the first and chiefest office of a Priest. Second­lie, [Page 40] he, he praied for vs vpon the Crosse, whiche is an other office that appertaineth to a Priest. And lastly, he preached also the Gospell, and taught men bothe how to knowe God and them selues. These thres offices therefore, he bestowed and bequea­thed vnto vs. And sith yt he himself is thus a Priest, and we his Brethren, all wee that are Christians haue not onely power and authoritie, but also a commaundement and charge: yea it is our partes and dueties, and necessarilie behooueth vs to set out and preache the glorie of God, to praie and make interces­sion one of vs for an other vnto GOD, and finallie to offer vp our selues vnto God. All these considered, let hym come forth that dare or cā presume truelie to preach or declare the Word of God, vnlesse he bee a Priest after this maner and fashion.

5 To offer vp spirituall Sacrifices acceptable to God, by Iesus Christ.

SPirituall Sacrifices are not the money that men are enforced and must pase to the Pope, neither the Sa­crifices that in the olde Testament were wont to bee offred, when thei were commaunded of all thinges which thei had and possessed, to offer vp the tenthe. These and suche like outwarde actions both Sacrifices and Priesthoodes are ceas­sed, and are now newe and spirituall. Christ is a Priest, and so also are all wee: and as he offered his bodie, so also ought wee to offer vp ours. Then are al those thinges performed and ful­filled, whiche by the Sacrifices of the olde Testament were prefigured and signified, after whatsoeuer maners thei were doen. And to knit vp all in a woorde, all these thinges are no­thyng els, but to preache and embrace the Gospell.

Hee that preacheth this, and in his harte embraceth the same, he it is that doeth and perfecteth al these thinges: killeth the Calfe, to wit, the motions and concupiscences of the flesh, and crucifieth the olde Adā. For that same brute Beast that is in our fleshe and bloud, must by the Gospell bee slaine: whiche is as muche to saie, as that wee must bee offred and killed as [Page] a crucified sacrifice. Then (I say) is the office of a Priest by vs duely and rightly executed, when wee sacrifice vnto God, this fame pernicious, naughtie, sloughfull and olde Asse of our flesh. If the world doe it not, we our selues must needes doe it. For abolished and killed must al that be, whatsoeuer it is that we haue of the olde Adam, as afore out of the first Chapter we heard more at large. And this is that onely sacrifice, whiche is pleasing and acceptable vnto GOD. Hereby now, maie wee clerely see, how farre wide from truth, those doltishe and blind guides of the blinde haue drawen vs, and how shamefullie thei haue hitherto mistaken this place.

But here now, maie a question arise: If the case to stande, that we bee all of vs Priestes, and that all haue power and au­thoritie to preache, what shall wee then saie? Shall there bee no difference among men? Must women also execute the par­tes of Priestes? I aunswere, that in the newe Testament it was vtterly vnmeete that any Prieste should haue a shauen Croune, not for that the thyng of it self is euill, (sithē a man maie if he will haue al his bodie shauen) but least, there should bee any difference at all betweene them and any other of the common sorte of the Christians, whiche thyng in deede our faith can not suffer: so that those which be now called Priestes, are no otherwise in that respect, then others of the people whō their al the Laitie. Onely this thei vsed to appoinct some, vnto whom being elected and chosen by the Churche or Congrega­tion, the office and charge of preachyng was committed. And therefore, there is none other difference among Christians, but onely in respect of Office, vnto whiche a man is by the Churche lawfullie to be called. Before God there is no diffe­rēce at all. For therfore are some chosen and selected out of the Church, to the intent that in the name and behalf of the whole Congregation, they maie beare and execute that office and function: which office (neuerthelesse) all haue: and not, that one should haue more power (absolutely) then the rest. Therefore ought no man to intrude hymself & take vpon him to preach to the Congregation, but it behooueth, that he bee chosen by the [Page 41] Churche, and bee thereto appoints to and [...] admitted: whom againe, vpon iust occasion the same Churche maie dis­place. Now, these shauelyng Priestes haue erected and [...] among themselues a certaine proper state and condition, as though they were so appoincted and constituted by GOD by meanes whereof thei haue gotten here suche large priuiled­ges, that now adaies euen among vs our selues here in the middest of Christendome there is more diuersitie and greater difference, then is betweene vs and the Turkes. When thou wilte consider and looke into thē that beare the name of Chri­stians, thou oughtest not to make of them any respect or diffe­rence: as that thou shouldest saie, this is a man and that is a woman: this is the maister and that is the seruaunt: this is a young man and that is an olde man, as sainct Paule saieth to the Gala. Chap. iij. For thei are all one, and a spirituall people: and therefore thei are all Priestes together, and all bothe may and ought to shewe forthe the Worde of God. Sauyng that, in the Church, women ought not to speake, but to referre that to men to teache and preache there, because of the commaun­dement of God, who hath commaunded that women ought to bee subiect to their housbandes, as Sainct Paule teacheth j▪ Cor. xiiij. This order doeth God in deede permit and allowe of. But for this, he dooeth not admit any difference of power. But in places where none are allowed to be but women, and no men, as in Nunneries, there might a woman well bee ap­poincted to preache to the rest.

Therefore this is the two Priesthood, which (as we haue saied) consisteth in these three poinctes▪ namely, in spirituall oblation: in praiyng for the Churche or Congregation: and in teachyng and instructyng the same with the pure Woorde of God. He that can do this, is a Priest: and whosoeuer are such, vpon them also lyeth the charge to preache the Word: to pray for the Congregation: and to sacrifice themselues vnto God. Forsake therefore and renounce the opinion of those Doltes, which call the common raskall sorte of Clergie men, or Cler­kes (as thei terme them) onely Priestes: whiche kinde of per­sons, [Page] you euidently sée to execute no other office, but to bragge out their lewdnesse with a shauen croune, and greasie fingers. If this shauyng and anoyntying dooe make Pristes, then tru­ly can I aswell make an Asse to bee a Priest, by shauyng and clippyng of certaine of his haires, and by annointyng and bee­smearing his hoofes.

Last of all, sainct Peter wisseth vs to offer vp spirituall sa­crifices, acceptable vnto God by Iesus Christ. Now, if Christ bee that corner Stone vppon whom wee are builded, it must needes bee, that all our cogitations to Godward, ought to bée furthered, administred and doen by and through him alone, as hath afore been sufficiently declared. For God (although I should pine awaie and consinne my self euen to death) would neuer a whit regard or respect my death: but he respecteth and regardeth Christe, by whom it cōmeth to passe, that my wor­kes are regarded and had in price with God, which otherwise, he would not accoumpt worth a rushe. Greate cause therfore there is why the Scripture tearmeth Christe, a precious cor­ner Stone, seeyng that he communicateth and imparteth his vertue and power vnto all them that by Faithe are built vpon him. Therefore teacheth S. Peter in this place, how Christe is that liuyng Stone: whereby plainly appeareth, what also Christe is to vs. For it is a very apt similitude, whereby wee maie easily vnderstande, how and in what sorte wee ought to beleeue in Christe.

6 Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Be­holde, I put in Sion a chiefe corner stone, elect and precious: and hee that beleeueth therein, shall not be ashamed.

7 Vnto you therefore whiche beleeue, it is precious: but vnto them whiche bee disobedient, the stone whiche the builders disalowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

8 And a stone to stumble at, and a rocke of offence, euen to them whiche stumble at the worde beyng [Page 42] disobedient, vnto the which thing they were euen ordeined.

9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royall Priest­hood, an holy nation, a people set at libertie, that ye shoulde shewe forthe the vertues of hym tha [...] hath called you out of darkenesse into his meruei­lous light,

10 Whiche in tyme past were not a people, yet are now the people of God: whiche in tyme past were not vnder mercie, but now haue obtained mercie.

I Haue tolde you afore, how notably S. Peter hath confirmed and fortified this his Epistle with Scriptures: at whiche marke, all prea­chers generallie ought to aime and leuell, to wit, that thei settle and grounde all their spee­ches vpon the Worde of God. So doeth he here in this place inferre and bryng fower or fiue places of the Scripture toge­ther. The first whereof, he hath taken worde for worde out of the Prophete Isaiah: to wit, that Christe is that precious fun­damentall or Corner stone. Whiche place is the very same, that wee euen last of all entreated of, and accordyng to our a­bilitie expounded. The firste and chiefe place is, the Doctrine of Faithe, whiche ought to bee first set downe as the Founda­tion, if a man were to preache in any place where Christ afore­tyme had not been preached. For here and hence must we take our beginnyng, that Christ is that Stone, vpon whom Faith ought to be builded & to rest. That the Prophete speaketh not of any corporall or materiall Stone, it is most plainly proued by that which next followeth: He that beleeueth in him, shall not bee ashamed. If I ought to beleeue in him, then it follo­weth, that he must needes hee a Spirituall Stone. For how or why should I beleeue in Stones or Woodd? Againe, hee must needes bee the true God, for because in the firste Com­maundement of the first Table, wee are expressely forbidden to beleeue in any other thyng, sauyng in him. Seyng therefore [Page] that suche a Stone is couched and saied in the foundation, vp­pon whom wee ought to beleeue, it consequentlie followeth, that he the same is God. Againe, he can not onely be God, but he must also bee Man withall: because he is to bee partaker of the building, and not onely partaker, but also the head thereof. Now, where any house or building is set vp or reared, there it behooueth that one Stone bee agreable to an other, that eche one maie frame and bee couched and squared in the same con­dition, nature and forme that the other stones are. Therefore, seeyng that wee ought to bee builded vppon Christe, it must needes bee that he bee like vnto vs, and altogether of the same nature that other stones are of, whiche are builded and laied v­pon him, that is to saie, very perfect, and true Man as we are.

After this sorte, in plaine and common wordes the Scrip­ture expresseth suche high Mysteries and waightie matters: to wit, the Summe of our Faithe: and in suche short and brief sentences comprehendeth more then by any mortall man can possiblie by vttered.

What Buildyng or edification is, wee haue also declared, to witte, It is that Faithe, by whiche we are staied and builte vpon Christ, reposyng our whole trust and confidence in him, by whiche meanes wee be come like vnto hym: and this must therfore so be, that the whole diuiding maie cōsist of all his par­tes aptly agreing together, and mutually ioined & framed one into an other. For it is of necessitie, that all the other Stones must be placed and couched orderly, accordyng to this first foū ­damentall Stone. And this is Charitie, the fruite of Faithe.

But why dooeth the Prophete call hym, a Fundamentall Stone? Truly for none other cause, but that, as nothyng can be builded, vnlesse the foundation Stone bee first saied (for ex­cept all the other Stones test and state vpon that Stone, thei can not stande) so must we leane and stare vppon Christe, and acknowledge him as our foundation. From whom deyng our state and Buttre [...]e, we receiu [...] all benefites. For wee doe not support and beare hym, but he vs: and vpon hym, lieth Sinne, Death, Hell, and all that we haue [...] that, beyng thus suppor­ted [Page 43] by hym, nothyng is able any whit to hurte vs. For so long as we rest and staie vppon hym, as naturall stones doe vppon their foundation, and put our trust in hym, we must neede be where he is.

Furthermore, the Prophete also calleth hym, a Corner Stone. The maner of the holie Ghost, is to cōclude and speake muche in fewe woordes. Now, Christe is the Corner Stone, for that, he conioyned bothe Gentises and Iewes, who afore were at mortall enemitie, and of them gathered together one Churche: of whiche matter and argument Sainct Paule wri­teth at large. The Iewes gloried muche, that thei had the law of God, vauntyng them selues to bee the people of God, in re­spect whereof thei contemned the Gentiles. But when Christ came, he tooke awaie these glorious boastes of the Iewes, by callyng the Gentiles also vnto God. Therefore of bothe of vs, the Iewes (I meane) and the Gentiles he hath made one peo­ple, by Faithe: and hath so bountifully dealt with vs, that bothe of vs can not but needes confesse, that of our selues wee haue no goodnesse at all, but that we be all Synners, and that bothe of vs ioyntly together, ought to looke for our righteousnesse and for heauen, not elswhere, but from hym alone: and that we beyng the Gētiles, haue our assuraunce of Faithe, that Christ is come for our auaile, helpe, relief, and succour, aswell as for the Iewes. And therefore is he the Corner Stone, for that he hath ioyned together these twoo walles, knittyng theim faste one to an other, to witte, the Iewes and the Gentiles, that thereby we might be made one buildyng and one house.

Laste of all the Prophete thus concludeth, He that belee­ueth in hym, shall neuer bee ashamed. In that, the Prophete saieth, that thei shall not be ashamed, whiche beleeue in Christ, he plainly sheweth vnto vs, what God hath in his owne coun­sell decreed, namely, that the whole worlde, shall one daie bee confounded and ashamed: But yet that he will deliuer some out of that companie and number, so that none shall be able to auoide and escape that confusion, sauyng onely suche as shall firmely beleeue in Christ. In this sorte doeth Christ also hym [Page] self, expounde and interprete these thynges in the laste Chap­ter of Marke, where he saieth thus, He that shall beleeue and is Baptized, shall be saued, but he that will not beleeue, shall bee damned. In whiche woordes soothly he alluded vnto this Prophete. And therefore verie well to this purpose spake S. Peter afore in his first Chapter, where he saied, That the Pro­phetes haue enquired of the tyme and searched of the salua­tion, and Prophecied of the grace that should come vnto vs. And after this maner now ought Christ to bee preached, that it is he whiche hath ridde and deliuered vs from this confusion and shame, wherevnto we did al lye open & were endaūgered.

Let these stoute Champions, and braggyng mainteiners of Freewill, and of any ablenesse and power in man, come forth and answere this place if thei can. When soeuer thou art min­ded at once and with one reason, vtterly to ouerthrowe all hu­maine woorkes, all humaine doctrines, and all whatsoeuer els can, or maie proceede from man, this one place shall abundant­ly furnishe thee with sufficient matter to confute the same, that thei shall not bee able to stande, but to fall doune euen like drie leaues from a Tree.

Wee conclude therefore, that whatsoeuer dooeth not staie and leaue vpon this Stone, the same to bee in a desperate and forlorne case. This quite debarreth thee from attributyng any thyng at all, vnto thyne owne woorkes. The holie Ghoste and Diuine Maiestie speaketh in suche familier phrases, that any man maie perceiue the same and againe, vttereth all so migh­tily, that nothyng is able to stande againste it. Who therefore dare oppose hymself, or again saie this? Naie, who is he that will not therewith be daunted and terrified? God therefore re­quireth at our hādes, that we should vtterly distrust our owne selues, and relye onely and wholly vpon his goodnesse, beeyng builded vpon that foundation, which no creature can be able to ouerthrowe, or caste doune: whiche is as muche to saie, as that no manne should trust to his owne righteousnesse, but depende and staie vpon the righteousnesse of Christe, and the benefites that he hath purchased for hym. But what is it, to staie, de­pende, [Page 44] and relye vppon his righteousnesse? It is nothyng els, but that I should altogether despaire of all help in my self, and enter into this cogitation: all righteousnesse, all truthe, and all whatsoeuer is myne, must needes quaile, and bee renounced: And I am wholly to put my trust in this, that the Righteous­nesse, Truthe, and Life of Christe, and all his goodnesse and benefites, whiche I doubt not but are frankly, and freely giuē vnto me, shall continue for euer. The foundation is alreadie laied, wherein I firmely stande: And sure I am that whatsoe­uer is not staied on it, can not but altogether fall doune. But he that leaneth vppon this foundation, shall not onely not bee confounded and ashamed, but shall for euer stande so faste, that no power shalbe able euer to hurt him. Therefore must Christ not onely be a Stone, but a Stone of foūdation: whiche thing ought to make vs chearfull and bolde. For it is God that hath spoken it, who can not lye.

Finallie this Stone serueth not for it self, but suffereth it self to bee troden doune, and digged so deepe into the ground, that it can not be seen: but the Stones whiche be couched and laied vppon it, are seene. For therefore was he giuen vnto vs, that we should receiue giftes of hym, that we should reste our selues vppon hym, staie on hym, and stedfastly beleeue that whatsoeuer he is, the same to be wholie ours: And whatsoeuer he can doe, the same maketh to our saluation, in so muche that I dare boldly saie, Thei are myne owne proper Goodes, and my Treasure, wherevpon my Conscience is firmelie stayed, and whereto I stedfastly trust.

7 Vnto you therefore whiche beleeue, it is precious: but vnto them whiche bee disobedient, the Stone whiche the builders disalowe, thesame is made the heade of the Corner.

8 And a Stone to stumble at, and a Rocke of of­fence,

[Page] THis moste excellent and precious Stone, is vn­to some precious and moste highlie regarded: Againe, vnto no fewe, it is not precious at all, but rather a Stone of Offence, and a Stone whereat many doe stumble. And how commeth this geare to passe? Forsooth, the Scripture speaketh of the same, in twoo sortes: namelie, there bee some that doe beleeue on hym: And againe, there bee many that dooe not beleeue on hym. Now, vnto them that doe beleue on hym, he is precious: and it can not be, but their hartes (hauyng still their hope, trust and confidence in hym) muste needes bee excedyngly cheared, and made ioyfull. And therefore it is, that he saieth: Vnto you whiche beleeue on hym, he is precious: that is to saie, he is of you highlie esteemed. For, although he bee neuer so precious and excellēt of hymself and by himself, yet would that without more nothyng at all auaile vs: and therefore it behooueth that he muste bee precious vnto vs: to the ende it maie enriche vs with many singuler good thynges: Like vnto some precious Pearle or Gemme, whiche keepeth and retaineth not his ver­tue to it self, but vttereth and sheweth it foorthe to others: and so totallie manifesteth hee his whole powers and vertues, that we maie now both enioye and possesse, whatsoeuer thesame is.

But vnto them whiche beleeue not, this Stone is nothing precious, for thei disalowe and caste it awaie, and take offence and stumble at it▪ whereby it falleth out, that thei repose no as­suraunce or trust in it, and so vnto them it turneth vnto a grea­ter detriment, and maketh them worse: albeit the same of his owne nature is wont rather to stirre vp in men a more strong hope and perfect trust. Thei that thus stumble, are not onely suche as are chained and clogged in those grosse and manifest synnes: but suche hypocrites rather whiche heare themselues bold vpō their vizured sanctimonie and fained holinesse, which trust vnto their owne Freewill, to their owne Workes & their owne Righteousnesse. These fellowes can not choose but stū ­ble and bee offended at this Stone▪ Here now doeth God defi­nitiuely set it downe, that thei whiche come without workes, [Page 45] must come by Faithe onely, for their righteousnesse: and that thei whiche come otherwise then by Faithe, shall neuer speede of their purpose: because thei goe about (as sainct Peter saieth Rom. x.) To stablishe their saluation by their owne righte­ousnesse. And therefore saieth Sainct Peter here, That he is made the Stone which the Builders disalowed and refused: and here he conferreth certaine places of the Scripture toge­ther, eftsoones cityng that text out of the 118. Psalme: where­vnto he afore alluded: The Stone which the Builders refused, is the head of the Corner. Who these builders bee, wee haue afore sufficiently declared: namely, thei that teache and preach the Law, and go about to iustifie men by their Works. These Iusticiaries agree aswell with Christ, as Winter with Sō ­mer, and therefore it must necessarilie followe, that these? Me­ritemongers bee euen thei, that reiect and refuse this Stone.

He further bringeth in an other place out of Esay Chap. viij wherein the Prophete foretelleth that the same thyng should come to passe, whiche sainct Peter here in this place telleth is come to passe alreadie, and is daily doen and put in practise. His wordes are these: Sanctifie the Lorde of Hostes, and let hym bee your feare, and let hym be your dread, and he shall bee to you as a Sanctuarie: but a stumblyng stone, and as a Rocke to fall vppon, to bothe the houses of Israell. The mea­nyng of the Prophete is as though he should saie: The Lorde shall be vnto you a Sanctification, that is, he ought to be sanc­tified in your heartes: other Sanctification you neede none, neither is there any other thyng required of you, but that you beleeue in hym. To all others, he shall bee a Stone of offence and stumblyng.

And what is the sense and meanyng of hese wordes, Of­fence and Stumbling? Truely this: when Christ is preached, and that thou hearest these wordes, Beholde, he is the Stone that is laied for a foundation: then art thou vtterly to dispaire, distrust and renounce al helpe in thy self, and to condemne and accoumpt as detestable, all thine owne woorkes and all thyne owne Righteousnesse: and onely to repose thy confidence vpō [Page] hym, firmelie beleuyng that Christes righteousnesse is thine: At these and suche like wordes these fellowes stand agast, are offended, and become worse then afore. What (saie thei) darest thou auouche & saie that Virginitie, Single life, Massing and suche like, are nothyng worthe? Thou speakest thus through the very instinct of the Deuill. For nothyng but mere good deedes are accepted before GOD. Yea thei are not (as they think) without some strong places of Scripture, for the main­tenaunce of their assertion: hauyng still in their mouthes, that God hath commaunded vs to doe good Workes. Therefore when wee reiect the same, straightwaies wee heare at their handes, Heretike, Heretike, to the Fier with him, to the Fier with him. And thus thei can not abide this Stone, thei vio­lently rushe and push at it, and doe all thei can to pull it doune, and are therein themselues so crushed and bruised, that by the same very Stone thei are vtterly dashed in pieces. Euen as in the xxj. of Mathewes Gospell, Christe himself saieth: Haue you not read in the Scriptures, The Stone whiche the Buil­ders refused, the same is made the head of the Corner? And anone after it followeth: Whosoeuer shall fall on this Stone, he shall bee broken, but on whomsoeuer it shall fall, it will grinde hym to powder. Take heede therefore what ye doe, it is no game nor plaiyng matter that is spokē concernyng this Stone. It is laied and shall for euer remaine in his place: hee that wil rushe and bruise himself vpon it, can not better escape but be dashed in peeces and grounde into pouder.

This is the stumblyng and offence taking at this Stone, whereof the Scriptures speake muche. Therefore the Iewes euen to this daie doe stumble at this Stone, and still will con­tinue till the ende of the worlde: for then shall this Stone fall vppon all Infidelles and faithlesse Miscreauntes, and grinde them vtterly to pouder. And thus it commeth to passe, that Christe (albeit hee bee an elect and precious Stone) is called without any fault of his owne, a Stone of Offence and Stum­blyng. And as the Iewes did, so also dooe wee and that conti­nually. For as thei greatly boasted of the name of GOD, and [Page 46] vaunted themselues to bee the peculier people of God: euen so fareth it now with vs: for vnder the pretext of Christe, and of the Churche of Christe, wee renounce and renye the name of Christe, and flatly refuse this precious Stone. Hee came into the worlde among them, to the intent thei should reiect and renounce their owne workes which thei not abiding, reiected and refused hym.

8 Euen to them whiche stumble at the Woorde, be­yng disobedient, vnto the whiche thyng thei were euen ordeined.

WHen it is saied that their workes are not good, nor any thyng accoumpted of with God, thei neither can, neither will abide the hearing ther­of, Now, God hath put Christ for a foundatiō, vpon whom thei ought to bee laied and placed, and by hym attaine al their Saluation. For to thende that thei should bee founded and laied vpon hym, he hath caused hym by preachyng of the Gospell to bee notified, and declared vnto the whole Worlde. Hym will not thei receiue but reiect, & so per­siste in their owne fleshlie sense and woorkes. For if thei could abide themselues to be placed and couched vpon Christ, their high pompe, dignitie, wealthe and power would soone quaile, and be abated.

9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royall Priesthood a holie Nation, a people set at libertie.

HEre hath he dignified them that bee Christians, with their true titles: and this place hath he takē out of the vij. of Deuter. Where it is thus saied to the Iewes: Thou art an holie people vnto the Lorde thy God: the Lord thy GOD hath chosen thee to bee a precious people vnto hymself, aboue all people that are vpon the Earth. And in the xix. of Exod. he saieth. Ye shalbee my cheef treasure aboue all [Page] people ye shalbee vnto me also a kyngdome of Priestes and an holie Nation. Here thou seest of whom Peter speaketh. As I saied afore, so saie I still, that wee must acquaint our selues so to speake of Priestes, as the Scripture speaketh of theim. Let it not trouble thee, who thei bee that the vulgar and com­mon sorte tearmeth Priestes. Let euery man in Gods name, tearme them as he liste, but cleaue thou faste vnto the woorde of God, and whomsoeuer thou seest by hym▪ to be tearmed and called Priest, lette the same also bee likewise tearmed and cal­led by thee. We giue good leaue to the greasie Rable of those (whom the Bisshoppes and Pope do consecrate and annoint) to tearme theim selues Priestes, or by what other name thei will, so that thei call not themselues the Priestes of God. For thei are not able by one woorde out of the Scriptures to ap­prooue theim selues so. But when thei will stiffely mainteine, that this place also is to be vnderstoode, as spoken of them: an­swere thou vnto theim, as afore I haue taught thee, and aske them, to whom Saincte Peter here speaketh, and thou shalte quicklie see theim laye theim selues open vnto shame and im­pudencie. For it is moste manifest and plaine, that he speaketh to all the people of Christe, and the whole Congregation of Christians, when as he saieth, You are a chosen generation, and an holie people. Againe, hitherto he hath spoken of none o­ther persones, their of them that are builte vppon that Corner stone, and doe beleeue. And therefore it euidently and certain­ly followeth, that he whiche doeth beleeue, is no Priest. Again, when as thei shall saie, that these woordes are so to bee taken, as the auncient Fathers haue interpreted and expounded thē. Therevnto make thou this aunswere: Lette the Fathers or any other whatsoeuer, interprete what thei will: but sainct Pe­ter dooeth thus speake vnto me, who hath a farre better testi­monie and warrant from God, then thei haue: and also is elder then thei, and therefore I will subscribe and yeelde vnto hym. Finallie, this place needeth no interpretation at all, s [...]e it in suche plaine tearmes and woordes, speaketh of theim that be­leeue. Now, who is he that seeth not, how monstruously these [Page 47] Polleshorne greasie Popelynges erre, and faile in the Article of Faithe. And therefore wee entrie not the name that thei call themselues by, whether it be Priestes or otherwise. For wee make not any care, what, and how thei call theim selues, but herein standeth the question, whether in the Scriptures thei be called Priestes, and whether God doe so name and call thē. There maie some bee chosen and appoincted by the Churche, to execute the charge and office of Ministers of the Worde: to feede the Congregation by preachyng, and to administer the Sacramentes: and yet neuerthelesse wee are all Priestes, as many of vs as are Christians. For seeyng that we be founded and couched vppon that Stone, whiche is the highest Prieste before GOD: wee also must needes be Priestes also, for that whatsoeuer he hath, we haue, and thesame is ours.

Wherefore I would wishe that this worde Priest, as well as this name Christian, should bee common to all. For these names, Prieste, Christian, and Baptized are all one. Now, as I can not abide, that these Popishe Shauelynges should thus presume and take vpon them, onely to be good Christians, or onely Baptized: So neither ought I to suffer this, that thei would onely haue them selues to bee Priestes. Although not­withstandyng, thei haue violently haled and pulled this worde, as pertinently and properlie spoken vnto theim, euen with the like presumption and brainlesse boldnesse, as thei haue called that onely the Churche, whiche the Pope with his Mured Crewe hath hitherto concluded and decreed. But the Scrip­ture teacheth vs an other maner of lesson. And therefore dili­gentlie note and marke these thynges, to the ende thou maiest throughly discerne betweene theim whom▪ God calleth Prie­stes, and theim that so call theim selues. For by this meanes, (after a long mistakyng of it) wee must at length recouer and reduce this woorde Prieste, to his right sense and proper mea­nyng, that it maie bee as common a name, as the name of Christian. For to bee a Priest, is not the name of any outward or externall office, but it is suche as is exercised onely towarde God, and that in Spirite.

[Page]And euen after the self same maner it is, that wee are all indifferently called Kinges. For euen as Priests, so also Kinges are in this place, Spirituall vocables or woordes, like as also these names are, Christian, Holie, and Churche. And euen as thou doest not cal any man a Christian, because he hath muche money and wealthe, but because, he beeyng builte vpon the a­foresaied Stone, beleeueth in Christe: So likewise art thou not therefore called Prieste, because thou haste a shauen Croune, and iettest the streates in a long Goune, but because thou da­rest appeare and shewe thy self in the sight of God, offryng vp thy self vnto hym: and praiyng for the whole Churche: vnto whom thou bothe canst and vsest to preache Christe. And after the verie same maner altogether, thou arte not therefore a Kyng, because thou wearest a Croune of golde, and hast large Dominions, and many people vnder thee in subiection, but because thou art Lorde of all thinges, yea, ouer Death, Sinne and Hell. For thou art aswell a Kyng, as Christ hymself is a Kyng, if so bee that thou beleeue on hym. Now, he is not a Kyng in suche sorte, as the Kynges of the worlde are: For he neither weareth any Croune of golde, neither rideth he pom­pouslie abroade with any glitteryng traine, and gallaunt hor­ses. But yet neuerthelesse, he is the Kyng of all Kynges, and hath all Kynges vnder his power and iurisdiction: and to speake all at once, all thynges must be subiect vnder his feete. Behold, euen so greate and suche a Lorde art thou, if thou be­leeue on hym: for what soeuer he hath, the same is also thyne.

Here might some peraduenture obiecte thus vnto me and saie: Saincte Peter by this thy assertion called Christians, Kynges: and yet all the worlde well knoweth, that we are not all Kynges: and therefore (saie thei) this place is not to bee vn­derstoode, as spoken of all sortes of Christians. For he that is a Christian, is not therevppon straightwaies the Kyng of Fraunce, or that Prieste of Rome. But here now will I de­maunde this question of theim: whether the Kyng of Fraunce be a Kyng in the sight of God or no? Whiche thyng no man dare vpon warrant affirme.

[Page 48]For GOD will not Iudge accordyng to the dignitie of a Croune. In Earth (in deede) and before the worlde he is a Kyng: but when Death hath once seized vpon hym, then shall his Kyngdome ceasse and haue an ende, and then shall he (vn­lesse he beleeue aright) be subiecte vnder the feete of them that truely beleeue. Wee in this place speake of an eternall Kyng­dome and Priesthoode: of the whiche sorte is euery one before God, whiche beleeueth: and is bothe a true Prieste, and a true Kyng. Now, who is so ignoraunte that knoweth not, that all the table of the greasie Shauelynges, bee nothyng lesse then Priestes? And as these aforesaied Polleshorne Shauelynges, are not therefore to be reputed Priestes afore GOD, because of their crounes, so neither before God are Kynges accoump­ted as Kynges, because thei weare Crounes. Crouned Kyn­ges and anointed Priestes are of this worlde, and are establi­shed and constituted by Men. The Pope may at his holie plea­sure, make as many suche prollyng Priestes as hym listeth, to serue his turne, but let him not presume to constitute and make a Priest, that boldlie maie bee accoumpted for a Prieste before God: for, suche doeth God himself make and appoinct. There­fore, in that, Sainct Peter here in this place saieth: You bee a royall Priesthood, it is as muche as if he should saie, You are Christians. If thou wouldest knowe, what title, what power, prerogatiue and glorie, true Christians haue, thou seest that thei bee, Kynges, Priestes, and a chosen people. Now, what this Priesthood is, doeth here straightwaies ensue.

9 That you should shewe forth the vertues of hym that hath called you out of darknesse into his mer­ueilous light.

THis office especially appertaineth vnto the Priest, that hee should bee the Ambassadour or messenger of God, and according to that Commission which he hath from God, sincerely preach and declare his Worde. The vertues (saieth sainct Peter) that is to wit, those [Page] wonders whiche God hath doen for you, in bringyng you out of darkenesse into light, your partes and office is, to preache and tel forth: for therein chiefly consisteth the office of a Priest. Thus therefore and to this ende ought your preachyng to tende, that one Brother should declare and shewe forthe vnto an other, that greate, and wonderfull worke of Gods admira­ble vertue: how Christ hath deliuered vs from Sinne, Death and Hell, and all other miseries, and hath called vs vnto eter­nall life.

Hereof you ought to admonishe others also, that thei in like sort maie attaine and come vnto this Light. For vnto this ende ought all your driftes to be directed: first to acknowledge and knowe what God hath doen for you: and next, with all di­ligent care and studie, to notifie, preache and openly make knowen this benefite of God towarde you, and this wonder­full worke of his in you: and also to drawe and call all men in­differentlie into this Light. Where you see any men that are as yet ignoraunt hereof, those ought you to instruct, and to teache these thinges, in whiche you your selues haue been en­structed and taught: to wit, that by the vertue and power of God, thei must obteine saluation, and attaine this merueilous Light.

Here thou seest how sainct Peter plainly saieth, that there is but one onely Light: wherein he maketh it most apparaunt, that all our Reason (seeme it neuer so sharpely to vnderstande and perceiue) is nothyng els then mere darkenesse. For albe­it, that Reason be able and hath the skill to coumpt, one, two, three &c. and likewise to see, discerne and knowe, blacke from white, and greate from small, and so of other externall and out­warde thinges, yet is it not able to see what Faithe is. Here is it altogether blinde, insomuche that if all the wisedome of al men in the worlde were gathered and incorporated into one, yet were it not able to comprehende or reache so muche as vn­to one letter of the wisedome of God. Wherefore, S. Peter here speaketh of an other Light and that a merueilous Light, and flatlie also telleth euery one of us, that we grope in dark­nesse [Page 49] and vtter blindnesse, if God dooe not call vs into his true Light.

Experience also teacheth vs the same thing. For when we heare it preached, that by our workes we can not obteine any thyng at Gods handes, and therefore that wee haue neede of a Mediator, to make intercession vnto God for vs, and to recon­cile vs vnto hym: heere (doubtlesse) must reason needes con­fesse, that of it self it was neuer able to vnderstande and know these thinges, and therefore had neede of an other Light and an other knowledge, to teache it to vnderstande the same. Therefore whatsoeuer is not the Worde of God and Faithe, the same is nothyng els then blinde darkenesse. For without these two (the Worde of God (I meane) and Faithe) Reason iumbleth at randon, and groapeth after his waie like a blinde man in the darke, catchyng holde first of one thyng and then of an other, and neuer knoweth what it should dooe. But when these thinges are tolde to the greate learned and wise men of this world, thei can not abide to heare it, thei stamp and stare, thei fret, fume and merueilously rage at it. And therefore, S. Peter sheweth himself here, an Apostle of a singuler vndaun­ted boldnesse, in that, he dared to call that Darknesse, whiche the whole worlde in a maner doeth euen generallie almoste, adore and reuerence as Light.

Now, therefore wee see that the chiefest and especiallest office of all others, appertainyng vnto vs Christians, is, that wee should shewe forthe and declare the vertues and wonder­ful workes of our God. These Vertues and notable workes, by God for vs doen, are those which somewhat afore we haue spoken of: namely, how that Christ by the vertue of God hath swallowed vp Death, deuoured Hell, consumed Sinne, and placed vs into an eternal life. These Vertues are so great and wonderfull, that no man is able to comprehende the same, muche lesse to perfourme them. And therefore it is to little purpose, that some in this poynt obiect and preach to vs Chri­stians, the doctrines of men: they ought rather to preache vnto vs this Vertue, whiche ouercometh both Deuill, Synne and [Page] Death. And here againe, alludeth sainct Peter to sundrie pla­ces of the sacred Scripture, as in all the rest of his Epistle al­moste, he still conioyneth and knitteth one place of Scripture to confirme and proue an other. For of this, doe all the Pro­phetes foretell and prophesie, that it should come to passe, that all men euery where should worship & preache forth the name and glorie of God, and the power of his mightie arme: and that he should worke suche a worke, whereof the whole world should both speake and make reporte. Of this, the Prophetes are euerywhere very plentifull: and to these places doeth S. Peter here allude. Thei haue also spoken muche of Light and of Darkenesse, and that it is necessarie for vs to bee illumined with the Light of God: wherby (vndoubtedly) thei shewed and signified, that all humaine Reason is nothyng els then very Darkenesse it self.

10 Whiche in tyme past were not a people, yet are now the people of God: whiche in tyme past were not vnder mercie, but now haue obtained mercie.

THis place worde for word is taken out of the Prophet Osee in his ij. Chap. and is cited al­so by sainct Paule in the ix. to the Romanes. I will call them my people whiche were not my people. Al which saiyngs belong to this place. God peculierly choose the people of Israell, and bestowed on them greate honour: he gaue vnto them many Prophetes, and did for theim many merueilous things: because he had decreed, that out of this people the man Christ should be borne.

For this Childes sake, were all these thinges doen for thē, and for this cause, are thei in the Scriptures called the people of God. Whiche the Prophetes more at large expounded, and foretolde, that this promise of Christe should stretche further and reache also vnto the Gentiles. Therefore saieth S. Peter in this place, You are now the people of God, which in time [Page 50] past were not a people. And by this it euidentlie appeareth, that he wrate this Epistle vnto the Gentiles, and not vnto the Iewes. And hereby his meanyng is to proue and shewe, that the saiyng of the Prophete is now fulfilled, sith thei whiche once were Idolatrous Nations and blasphemous Gentiles, and thereby no People, are now made and become an holie nation, a peculier people, a royall Priesthood and a Kyng­dome: and haue all thynges that Christe hath: so that in the meane tyme thei haue onely a stedfast beliefe.

11 Dearely beloued, I beseche you, as straungers and pilgrimes, abstaine from fleshly lustes, which fight against the soule,

12 And haue your conuersation honest among the Gentiles, that they whiche speake euill of you as of euill doers, maie by your good woorkes which thei shall see, glorifie God in the day of visitation.

SAinct Peter here vseth a Style somewhat dif­feryng from the phraze of Sainct Paule. For Sainct Paules methode is not after this sorte, as anone wee shall heare: but euery man hath a seuerall and peculier kinde of speakyng: as also in the Prophetes wee maie easily perceiue and see. Hitherto hath hee very aptlie and orderlie planted the foundation of the Christian Faith, whiche is his chiefest drift: Now proceedeth he to teache vs, how we ought to demeane and behaue our sel­ues generallie towardes all Men. And this is truely the verie right course and order of true preachyng. Namely, first to set out the dignitie, excellencie and effect of Faith: how it is to be knowen, how and what it worketh, what vertue, strength, ef­ficacie, and nature it hath, how it yeeldeth and bringeth vnto vs all thinges euen aboundantlie, whiche are appertinent and needful to Godlinesse or Saluation: how that no good Work can bee doen by any man, but onely by Faithe, and finally how that by this faithe, all that whiche God hath, is made ours. If [Page] God now haue thus dealt with vs, and hath giuen and besto­wed all his riche gifes vpon vs, it followeth, that he himself al­so is ours: insomuche that by Faithe, we are possessed of all his goodnesse, whereby wee can lacke nothyng. What a greate charge therefore lyeth there now vpon vs, to doe in lieu of this so surpassyng bountie? Shall wee giue our selues to idlenesse? God forbid. It were best (in deede) euen straight waies to dye, that we might presently haue the fruition and possession of all these his gracious goodnesse. But so long as wee liue here, it is our partes and dueties, so to deale and so to shew our selues in euery respect towardes our neighbours, as God hath dealt and shewed himself towardes vs. Therefore it is Faithe one­ly that saueth vs: & Loue requireth of vs, that we should serue our neighbours and bee carefull ouer them. For that whiche Faithe receiueth from God, Loue bestoweth vpon our neigh­bour. That which was spoken in one word, maie now largely be expounded and declared in many, as S. Peter doeth in this place. The meanyng therefore of the Apostle where he saieth, Dearely beloued, I beseche you as Straungers and Pilgrims, is this: You that are now one with Christe, are growen (as it were) into one masse or lumpe with him, insomuche that his goodnesse is yours, and your hurtes be his hurtes: who as he is carefull bothe for you and for all suche thinges as maie hap­pā vnto you, so also ought you to imitate herein this your so lo­uing a Sauiour, and so to frame and direct your liues, that you maie seeme nothing lesse then to bee Citizens of this World, sith you bee adopted and enfraunchised Citizens in heauen, where al good thinges are laied vp for you. That if you should once loose all these transitorie and momentanie goodes of the worlde: yet hauing still Christe, who is infinitely more worth then all these brittle and temporall trash, you shall receiue and sustaine no damage, no losse, no hinderaunce at all.

The Deuill is Prince of this Worlde, and gouerneth the same: and his Citezens are the men of the World: Therefore seyng that you are not of this Worlde, so vse and behaue your selues, as Straungers and Passingers dooe in their Inne: [Page 51] who hauing not there their full wealth and Substaunce, make shifte to buye for their money onely suche thinges as be neede­full and necessarie, and straightwaies addresse themselues for­ward to the dispatch of their iourney. So also we, vnto whom this life is nothyng then a certaine passage to an other place, (for here wee haue no abidyng place, but muste passe to an o­ther) ought not to rake vnto our selues, nor vsurpe more of these worldlie pelfe and gooddes, then maie competentlie sup­plie our wantes for meate, drincke and raimente. All other thynges muste bee so rekoned and accoumpted of, as that thei maie not bee any hindrance or impechement, vnto that speedie iourney whiche wee make into an other Countrey. In Hea­uen wee are Citezens, on Earth wee are but Pilgrimes and Straungers.

11 Absteine from fleshly lustes, whiche fight againste the Soule.

I Will not here define, whether in this place S. Peter speake of an outwarde Incontinencie or no: or whether he doe (as Sainct Paules order is) call all those thynges Fleshly, whiche a man yet liuyng in this bodie and carnall life, commit­teth and dooeth without Faithe. But I am of opinion that S. Peter in this place, vseth an other maner of reason. Neither doe I thinke that he taketh this worde Soule, in suche a sense, as Sainct Paule doeth, who taketh it for Spirite: But that he somewhat more déepely (as I suppose) considered the proprie­tie of the Greeke. Howebeit, it is not greatly materiall, whe­ther a man vnderstande this place, as meant of all carnall af­fections, or els onely of an externall and outwarde intempe­raunce.

This profitable lesson (notwithstanding) is hereby taught vs, that no man in this life can be perfectly holie, and through­ly pure from sinnes. This place the Schoole men haue grosse­ly mistaken, rouyng farre wide from the true meanyng there­of. For thei thinke it to bee onely spoken and meant of theim [Page] that bee Sinners: As though the holie ones were cleare with­out all euill lustes, and carnall affections.

But he that will profitablie searche and read the Scriptu­res, must with iudgement and discretion waigh and through­ly sifte, the nature, sense, and signification of euery woorde: for the Prophetes vse sometymes so to speake of them that be ho­lie, as that thei seme to pronounce theim pure, and altogether cleare from all maner of Sinnes: Againe, sometymes thei so speake of theim, as that thei confesse theim yet to haue euill af­fections, corrupt motions, and to fight against Synne.

This diuersitie and varietie, that in apparaunce seemeth to bee in theim, marueilouslie grauelleth and offendeth these greate Rabbines, and wonderfullie blindeth their Senses from rightlie vnderstandyng the true meanyng of the Scrip­tures. Thus therefore staye thou thy self, and for thy sure con­ceiuyng of this and suche like places, bee at this resolution. Thou oughtest to consider Christians, after twoo sortes, na­mely, accordyng to their inwarde and hidden life, (to witte, Faithe): and also accordyng to their outwarde and open life, that is to saie, the Fleshe. Now, if thou consider and respecte a Christian, accordyng to Faithe, he is all pure, and without all filthe and vncleannesse: but after the flesh, he is not so.

For the woorde of GOD, can abide no vncleane thyng, to reste in that harte where it is throughlie and faithfullie recei­ued: so that the harte whiche faste cleaueth vnto the Woorde, can not but thereby bee throughlie purged, and entirely cleansed. Therefore in faithe all thynges are perfecte, accor­dyng to that saiyng afore, wherein wee are sayed to hee Kyn­ges, Priestes, and the peculier People of GOD. But for so muche as wee hauyng Faithe, are as yet cladde in this fleshe, and dwell on this Earth, it can not bee but that now and then wee feele within our selues, sundrie corrupt and Earthly af­fections, as Impacience, feare of Deathe, &c. And these bee the diseases remainyng yet of the old Manne: For Faithe hath not yet here raught to hir perfection, nor gotten a full power ouer the fleshe.

[Page 52]This maiest thou plainlie and euidentlie vnderstande by the Parable, Luke. x. of a certaine man, Who goyng doune from Hierusalem to Hiericho, fell among Theeues, who rob­bed hym of his raimente, and wounded hym verie sore and departyng lefte hym halfe dead: on whom in the ende a cer­taine Samaritane tooke compassion, boūd vp his woundes, powred in Oile and Wine, sett hym on his owne beaste, and brought hym to an Inne, and made prouision for hym. Here thou seest, that this man was cared for, & his cure prouided for, anone after he was wounded: and now beeyng out of daunger of Death, was lefte sicke in deede, but not vnto Death, how­beeit he was not as yet fullie healed and cured. His life is pre­serued, and he left aliue, but yet is he not come to his perfecte healthe, he is lefte in the charge of the Phisitious to bee cured and dressed afterward. Euen so wee that beleeue, haue Christ all and entire, and are assured of eternall life: but our perfecte and consummate healthe wee haue not yet obteined: for some reliques of the old Adam remaineth yet still within vs.

To the same purpose, serueth that other Parable, mentio­ned by Christe Matth. xiij. The Kyngdome of heauen is like vnto Leauen, whiche a woman taketh and hideth in three Peckes of Meale, till all bee leauened. For when the Meale is begonne to bee kneaded, the Leauen is all there, but it hath not yet sowred and pearced the whole lumpe of Dowe, the mix­ture is not yet fullie perfected: & yet the Meale is therein still, till it bee fullie Leauened, and more Leauen maie not bee put vnto it. So also, whatsoeuer thou oughtest to haue, thou haste it alreadie by Faithe, whereby thou haste taken holde of the Worde and embraced it: but it hath not yet throughlie soaked and pearced into thee, and therefore it needes must bee so long in woorkyng, vntill thou be whollie renewed. And in this sort, oughtest thou to discerne and interprete the Scripture: And not so to Iumble and mangle the textes thereof, as dooe the Papistes. Therefore when in the Scriptures thou readest of holie meime, that are saied to bee perfecte: thou must thus vn­derstande it, that accordyng to Faithe thei were altogether [Page] pure and without synne: But all the reste was fleshe, and ther­fore could not bee entierly cleane. Wherevpon, Christians in their praiers, desire to bee dissolued and ridde of this bodie or fleshe, that thei maie whollie attaine to an entire puritie. Thei that other wise teache, neither haue any feelyng, nor yet any sounde taste of the same. And therevpon it commeth to passe, that thei speake euen as thei thinke within themselues, and as thei can comprehende by their owne reason, and therefore thei can not choose but bee deceiued. This hath been a stumblyng blocke to many, yea, of them that haue been accoumpted wor­thie and famous for their holinesse and sanctimonie, and who haue taught and written verie muche. Origene speaketh not one worde hereof in his Bookes. Hierome neuer vnderstoode thē. Augustine also would haue had small knowledge thereof, if he had not so much buckled with the Pelagians. Some, whē thei speake of holie men, thei so muche extol and dignifie them, as though either thei had been of some higher degree and ex­cellencie then other Christians: or els as though thei had had no feelyng of this Flesh: or as though thei had not complained thereof, aswel and as muche as wee. Therefore saieth Sainct Peter: You are all cleane, and haue your full righteousnesse, there now remaineth nothyng for you, but yt you stoutly fight againste these wicked and naughtie affections. And so also speaketh Christe, Iohn xiij. He that is washed, needeth not, sauyng onely to washe his feete. For it is not enough, that the heade and handes bee cleane: and therefore albeeit he saie, that thei are all cleane, yet neuerthelesse he requireth theim to washe their feete.

But what meanyng hath Saincte Peter, in saiyng Ab­staine ye from fleshlie lustes, whiche fight against the Soule? Forsoothe, euen this. Thinke not that your life is a game or a sportyng pastyme, or that you maie Iulle your selues in ease, without takyng any further care. Your synne is (in deede) ta­ken awaie by Faithe: But yet neuerthelesse ye carie fleshe still about with you: whiche fleshe is giuen to many outragious lu­stes and disordered affections: and therefore ye must endeuor [Page 43] and applie your selues to suppresse, ful [...]ue and gette the mai­strie ouer it. Here haue you neede of a greate strength, that ye maie be able to vnquishe and extinguish your concupiscence: for the stronger and greater that our Faithe is, the fiercer and sharper shall your assaultes and temptations bee. It behoueth you therefore, to stande stoutlie on your garde, and to bee well furnished and armed; and to acquaint your selues to fight still without intermissions: For, your assaultes, will bee greeuous and terrible, and will rushe vppon you by lumpes and heapes, and nothyng will be left vnattempted, to carie you awaie cap­tiue.

Herevpon also it is, that Sainct Paule Roma, vii saieth I delight in the Lawe of God, concernyng the inner Man: but I see an other Lawe in my members, rebellyng againste the Lawe of my minde, & leading me captiue, vnto the Lawe of sinne whiche is in my mēbers. As though he would saie: I re­sist what I maie: but mine Enemy will neuer suffer me to rest be can neuer bee throughlie and wholly ouercome. Therefore willyngly would I bee deliuered from it, but it can not bee: My wishē therein auaileth nothing. What shall I then doe? O wretche that I am (saieth he) who shall deliuer me from the body of this sinne? After the same maner, crie all ye holie. But them that are without Faithe, the Deuill leadeth, and is verie glad to see continue still in their Synnes, to frequent and take delite in their loosenesse, and not to care a whit, for entring into conflict or cōbate against their Iniquities. As touching suche persons, the Deuill thinketh thus: well, I haue these faithlesse people through infidelitie, now my captiues and Bondstaues: I will so suffer theim to proceede and continue in their owne imaginations and counsaites, that thei shall not committe any grosse or notorious Sinne, neither will I assaulte them with any vehemente temptation: and by th [...] meanes, I shall cou­nyngly hide their old festered botch, and correctly s [...]roude their old naturall, and secretly luckyng Adam. Now, thei that be­leeue, haue euer temptation in greate abundaunce, and neuer are free from continuall cōflict. Thei that are without Faithe [Page] either feele not temptations at all, or els thei willyngly yeelde vnto theim, breakyng out into outragious wickednesse, and yeldyng them selues to the seruice of their owne vntemperate affections. But assoone as the Spirits and Faithe haue seized vpō the hart man straight waies seemeth to himself so weake, so fraile, and so vnhable, that he feareth hymself not to bee able to quenche the least cogitation and sparke of Temptatiō that can bee: He feeth in hymself nothyng but Synne, from the croune of his head, to the soale of his Foote. For, afore he wal­ked as he liste, but now since the Spirite hath appeared and shined, whiche seeketh to cleanse and purifie hym, then there quicklie ariseth a skirmishe. The Deuill, the Fleshe, and the Worlde, bidde battaile all at once vnto Faithe. And of this do all the Prophetes, in many and sundrie places of the Scriptu­res complaine. And therefore the meanyng of sainct Peter is, that this couflicte is not made by Sinners, but by Beleeuers onely. Againe, it conforteth, in that it hath in it an hope, to ex­pell and banishe all concupiscence, if a man doe but resiste and striue against it. If thou bee accumbred with naughtie cogita­tions and thoughtes, yet bee not there with dismaied, neither despaire for the same, but beware at any hande that thei carie thee not captiue. The remedie which our Teachers and Doc­tours haue hitherto taught vs, wherwith to preuent and mete with this inconuenence is: that a Manne afflict and punishe hymself so long, till he foete no moe ill thoughtes within hym: whiche deuise many Do [...]she, naie rather brainlesse persones haue and doe vse to put in practise. But learne thou this lesson: that thou beyng a Christian, shalt (doubtlesse) feele in thy flesh diuers inordina [...]e lustes, and wicked motiōs For, when thou are once throughly settled in Fhithe, thou shalt be assured to be assaulted with a thousande wilfull cogitations, and a thousand tēptations, more then thou were afore. But stande thou stout­tly to thy ankerhol [...] and plaie the man: suffer not thy self to be therewith rapri [...], but straight waies [...]ie but againste their somm [...]n [...]e, and replie vnto theim with a flatte deniall. For the case herein it standeth▪ as it doeth betweene as chur [...]she wai­ward [Page 54] housebande, and an vnquiet scouldyng wife: who are e­uer iarryng and murmuryng, one againste the other, so that whatsoeuer liketh the one, disliketh the other.

For thus is a sure note of true Christianisme, when thou seest thy self neuer to liue in quiet: neither must thou thinke to be so exempted and priuiledged, as that thou shouldst not feele Siunes within thee: for feele theim surely thou shalte: But yet thou must haue suche a feeling of thē, as that thou do not with­all yeeld thy consent vnto them. And in this respect thou must bothe faste, praie and labour, that thou maiest the better extin­guishe and subdue thy concupiscences. And therefore thinke nothyng lesse, then that thou canst bee so holie and perfecte, as these aforesaied doatying Doctours surmize, to wicte, suche a one, as is without any feelyng of Sinne within hym. For so long as we be cladd with this fleshe and this blood, so long re­maineth this Synne within vs. And therefore we muste euer and continuallie striue and resiste. Who soeuer hath not this feelyng in hymself, that man in vaine maie boaste himself to be a Christian.

Thei hitherto haue taught vs, that whosoeuer is once pro­fessed a Monke, is cleare and free from all Sinnes, and that, suche an one hath no neede to fight and striue against Sinnes. Also thei affirme, yt Baptisme doth so, ent [...]erly cleanse & wash awaie all Sinnes, that no remnaunt thereof at all remaineth, and therevpon haue thought thus with them selues: well, now shall I bee sure to enioye reste and quietnesse. The Deuill straight waies chargyng vpon them, caried them hedlong into farre worse then afore thei were. Learne therefore here, how the case in truth standeth. When thou confessest thy Synnes, and crauest mercie for the same, thou muste thinke with thy self so to deale, as Souldiours are wont: who a little before the Battaile, raunge themselues into order and Martiall arrayes but when the tyme commeth that the matter is to bee tried by dent of sworde and handyblowes, then (as though all that had been doen afore, had beene but preludes and sportinges) they buckle themselues to their tooles, drawe their Blades, and co­ragiously [Page] slashe at the face of the enemie: and so long as the conflict endureth, are moste diligently busied in gettyng the cōquest ouer the Enemie. Euen so like wise and after the same maner, after thou art Baptized, thou must carefully and wa­rily looke to thy self, and promise not to thy self somuche as one houres truce or respite from the Deuill and Synne, or that thou shoulde it liue in any securitie: naie rather thinke that now from hence forthe thou shalt neuer bee at any reste. And therefore the life of a Christian is nothyng els but a Battaile or a warfare, as the Scripture saieth: and therefore the Lorde our God is called the Lorde God of Sabaoth, that is, of Ho­stes: and in other places, he is named, the Lorde mightie in Battell. And by this he declareth, what a mightie Lorde he is, whiche maketh his people wage battaile, and to stande euer prest in warlike araye and readinesse, whensoeuer the Trum­pet shall sounde: to the ende, thei should still thus consider and thinke with themselues: stande here, stoppe there: strike heere, vndermine there &c. So that heere is nothyng but a certaine perpetuall combat, wherein all thinges must bee assaied, and nothyng that thou art able to dooe, bee left vnattempted, but that thou maiest with the Worde of God, ouerthrowe and dis­comforte the Deuill. So long therefore as thou liuest heere, thou must manfully resist, and incessantly praie vnto God, and vtterly despaire of all humaine power or worldly strength.

12 And haue your conuersation honest among the Gentiles, that thei whiche speake euill of you, as of euill doers, maie by your good workes which thei shall see glorifie God in the day of visitation.

HEre wee maie see what a precise and exquisite order S. Peter obserueth. Hitherto he taught vs, what we should doe, to quenche and subdue the fleshe with al the lustes and concupiscences thereof. Now hee yeeldeth a cause, why wee ought so to doe. Wherefore then must I bridle my fleshe? Is [Page 45] it because I should thereby obtaine Saluation? No: but it is, to the ende I maye haue an honeste conuersation before the Worlde. Neither are wee made iust through our honest con­uersation, but wee must first bee iust and beleeue, before wee beginne any honest and good conuersation. And I am bounde to shewe forthe an honest conuersation, not for mine own sake and commoditie, but that the Gentiles maie thereby bee dra­wen and prouoked to amendement, and (as it were) bee euen thereby wonne and allured to come vnto Christ. Whiche is a worke of true loue in deede: for wee knowe, how that thei both slaunder, raile and backbite vs, and accoumpt of vs no better then of very leude and naughtie persons: and therefore it stan­deth vs vpon, to behaue our selues so orderly, honestlie and de­centlie in our conuersation, that thei beyng enforced and ouer­come by the truth, maie reporte and saie: Surely these fello­wes can not be worthily charged with any notorious wicked­nesse.

We read, that when the Emperours persecuted the Chri­stians, thei could burden them with no odious crime, nor laie any other thing to their charge, but onely this, that thei wor­shipped Christ and honoured hym as a God, as maie appeare by certain letters thereof written by Plinie vnto Traiane then Emperor: wherein hee specifieth that hee could perceiue no harme nor ill behauiour in the Christians, sauyng onely that euery mornyng before daylight, thei assembled together and song Psalmes vnto their God Christe, and that thei did eate together, (to wit) the holie Communion or Euchariste: But from any other misdemeanours, he cōfesseth them to be cleare and vnaccusable. And therfore (saieth sainct Peter here in this place) you must paciently beare, though thei raile and backbite you as euill doers: but you therefore so much the rather ought narowlie to looke to your conuersation, and so vnblameablie to liue, that ye giue cause of offence to none. And by this mea­nes shall you at length, bring them (thus seeyng your honest behauiour) to abandon their former naughtie life, and frame themselues to a better.

[Page] 12 In the daie of visitation.

YOu ought so long to suffer thē to slaunder and speake euill of you, vntill the truth of all thinges burst for the and come to light: when thei shall openly beholde the sinceritie of all your dealinges, and shall plainly see that they haue slaundered you, and shall therby beginne to glorifie God in you.

13 Submitt you selues vnto all maner ordinaunce of man for the Lordes sake, whether it bee vnto the King, as vnto the superiour,

14 Or vnto gouernours, as vnto them that are sent of him, for the punishment of euill doers, and for the praise of them that doe well.

15 For so is the will of God, that by well doyng ye maie put to silence the ignorance of the foolishe men,

16 As free, and not as hauyng the libertie for a cloake of maliciousnesse, but as the seruantes of God.

17 Honor al men: loue brotherly fellowshippe: feare God: honour the Kyng.

AFter this sort proceedeth sainct Peter in his or­derly methode of teachyng vs, how and what maner of persones wee ought to shewe our sel­ues in eche respect. Hitherto he hath reasoned in a generalitie, how in euery seuerall condition of life, wee should frame our selues and direct our conuersati­ons: now he instructeth and teacheth vs, how wee should be­haue our selues towarde the ciuile Magistrate. For, seyng he hath alreadie afore declared, first what we are to dooe to God: Secondly, how wee are to deale with our selues, that is to saie, our Fleshe: now lastly he also teacheth vs what we are to doe and performe to all other Men in generall. This therefore is his meanyng: First of all, when you haue performed these [Page 56] vniuersall and generall dueties, whiche I haue afore layed downe vnto you, to wit, of walkyng in true Faithe towarde God, and of bridelyng and chastising your Bodie, for waxyng too wanton and lasciuious: the next and chiefest poinct, whiche I will and require you vnfeinedly and hartily to performe, is this, that you be obedient vnto the Magistrate, & vnto the Lawes set doune by him. For, as the Laws and Statutes by GOD enacted, are of vs in all humblenesse and reuerence by faith to be obeied: so also there be certaine humaine and world­lie Ordinaunces and decrees (consistyng in Lawes and Pro­clamations) for the quiet & politique gouernance of the Com­mon wealthe: vnto whiche Statutes wee also ought to bee o­bedient.

13 Submitt your selues vnto all maner ordinaunce of man, for the Lordes sake, whether it bee vnto the Kyng, as vnto the Superiour,

14 Or vnto Gouernours, as vnto them that are sent of hym, for the punishment of euill doers, and for the praise of them that doe well.

THE obedience whiche wee in duetie owe vnto the ciuile Magistrate, is not (saieth sainct Peter) for their owne sakes, but for Gods sake whose childrē we bee. Whiche obedience vnto Magistrates we are dutifully to exhibite, and that without hope of any merite or rewarde. For, whatsoeuer I doe for Gods sake, that ought I to doe freely for his sake: insomuche that there should be no­thyng whiche I knowe to bee agreeable and consonant to his wil, but yt I am desirous and most willing both to allowe and doe the same. And why ought we to abene the Magistrate for Gods sake? Forsooth, because it is the good wil of God by him to punish the wicked and euill doers, & to defende, protect and maintaine the good and vertuous, that therby Concorde may bee established in the worlde: whiche publicke peace and con­corde, wee for our partes and abilities are bounde too further [Page] as muche as we maie. For, sithens we doe not yet all beleeue, but the greater moitie of the worlde still wāteth Faithe, ther­fore hath God ordeined and appointed the Magistrate to beare the Sworde: thereby to curbe and restraine the wicked, com­pellyng them (euen maugre their willes) to keepe peace: least otherwise, men should deuoure, consume and spoyle one an o­ther. This office (I saie) of Magistracie he executeth, to the entent the worlde maie in eche parte bee well and quietlie go­uerned. Heere wee see, that if there were none euill men, wee should haue no neede of the Magistrate: for hee is (saieth sainct Peter) for the punishment of euill doers, and for the praise of them that doe well. Thei therefore that doe well and liue orderlie and honestlie, ought at the Magistrates handes to re­ceiue praise: and them ought the Magistrate to commende, preferre and gracifie: that others by their example maie bee prouoked, drawē and allured to the like vertue and integritie: not that thou shouldest thinke to reape vnto thy self any merde at Gods handes for the same. For so saieth S Paule Rom. xiij. Power is not to bee feared for good woorkes, but for euill: and therefore if thou wilt bee without feare of the Power, doe well.

15 For so is the will of GOD, that by well doyng ye may put to silence the ignoraunce of foolish men,

IN these wordes sainct Peter schooleth and re­prehendeth those vaine talkatiue persons, that bragge and thinke themselues sufficiently fur­nished, euen with the bare name and title of Christianitie: and also herein he prenēteth and answereth aforehande to an obiection which (perchaunce) thei might alledge, saiyng: If Faith onely bee sufficient to a Chri­stian; and Workes do not iustifie, why then and for what pur­pose should we neede to be subiect vnto the Magistrate, & paie Tribute? To this he saieth thus muche. Although wee should receiue from thē no good or commoditie at all, (yet neuerthe­lesse) [Page 57] wee are bounde euen for Gods sake, freely to performe, and willingly to yeeld our obedience vnto them, that the mou­thes of the Enemies of God (whiche diffame and slaunder vs) maie be stopped, & that thei maie not be able to speake against it: But bee compelled to confesse that wee are persones harmelesse, dutifull and obedient. After this sort we reade that many holie men warrefared vnder Heathen Princes, vāquished and subdued their Enemies, and in all thinges were subiect and seruiceable vnto theim, no lesse then wee now are bounde to yeeld obedience vnto Christian Magistrates. Howbeit, it is now thought of some, that we could not bee Christians, if we liued in Turkie in subiection to the Turke. Here now againe, maie arise an other doubt or allegation, thus: Christ hath com­maunded that wee should not resist euill: but to hym that stri­keth vs on the one Cheeke, wee should turne the other: and how then (will thei saie) can it bee lawfull for vs to strike and kill other men? I answere: This was an old obiection, which the Ethnickes in tymes past alledged against the Christians, saiyng: that if thei should liue in suche order, their Countries and Commonweales would soone bee brought to ruine, and bee quickly ouerrunne. But wee now vnto these thinges aun­swere thus: It is true that Christians ought not to resist euil, neither to reuenge them selues, but rather to suffer violence and wrong, which also is a cause why thei maie not be charge­able, burdenous and troublesome to Ethnikes. But by this, the Magistrate is not inhibited the Sworde, nor iudiciall try­alles, for although thei liue so orderly that no mā hath any iust cause to complaine vppon them, because thei offer wrong to no man, but deserue well of all men, and paciently beare whatso­euer is doen to them by others: yet because of false and conn­terfaite Christians, and them that knowe not Christe, these thinges (the Sworde and Iudgement) muste bee in vse, that thei whiche doe hurte and wrong to others, maie be punished, whereby publicke tranquillitie maie bee maintained, and the Godly maie liue in peace and safetie. God therefore, ouer and beside his worde, hath instituted and appoincted this prophane [Page] or ciuile power, to represse them, which of their owne accorde will not refraine from doyng and offryng harme and iniurie to others.

It plainly therefore appeareth, that God hath appoincted and instituted the Magistrate, because of them that doe not be­leeue: And that therefore Christians whiche administer that function, not onely maie, but also ought to vse the Sworde: namely, thereby to releeue their neighbours, in repellyng and punishyng malefactours, and in defendyng and mainteinyng the peace, tranquillitie, and safetie of theim that bee good and vertuous: and yet neuerthelesse the saiyng of Christe standeth sure, of not resistyng euill.

For although a Christian man beare the Sworde, whe­ther he be a Prince, or any other Magistrate, yet should he ne­uer vse it for hymself, neither should he therewith reuenge hymself for any priuate quarell of his owne: But must execute his place and office for the behoofe of others, and this is the woorke of Christian loue, with the Sworde to defende the whole Commonwealthe, and not to suffer good men vniustlie to be molested and trodendoune. Christ gaue and bequeathed his doctrine to theim onely, that beleeue and haue Loue: And suche dooe shewe forth and expresse the same in their workes. But seyng that the greater parte of the worlde beleeueth not, neither obserueth this precepte and Commaundement, there­fore it is moste expedient to ouerrule and gouerne theim, not as Christiās (for suche thei are not) but as Ethnikes and Pa­nims: and to staie and represse their sensuall and wilfull out­rages: For otherwise, if thei should bee suffered to runne hed­long at their owne pleasures, in their disordred loosenesse, and lawlesse violence, no man should bee able to liue in quietnesse, and safetie.

Therefore, there bee twoo sortes of Rule and Dominion in the worlde as there bee also menne of twoo sortes: to witte, Christians, and not Christians. Christians are gouerned by the Worde of GOD, and those neede not in respecte of them selues any prophane Magistrate. But thei that be not Christi­ans, [Page 58] haue neede to bee vnder an other power and rule, namelie the Sworde: because thei can not abide to be obedient vnto the Worde of God. But if wee were all Christians, and obedient to the Gospell, wee should not haue any neede at all of the Sworde, or any Ciuile power. For where there are no misse­li [...]ers and malefactours, what vse can there be of punishment▪ Sithe therefore it can not be, that we should all bee godlie and vertuous, Christe hath committed the euill vnder the rule of Ciuill and Prophane power, that thei maie bee so gouerned, as thei are and ought to bee gouerned. But the Beleeuers he hath reserued vnto hymself, whom he gouerneth with his one­lie Woorde.

Therefore, a Christian Empire is not against the Princi­palitie and Empire of the worlde: Neither is Ciuile and Pro­phane power against Christ: but yet it properlie appertaineth not to the office of Christ, for yt it is an externall and outward thinge, as also all other offices, conditions, and states of men bee. And as these are beside the mere office of Christe, (in so muche that an Infidell and Miscreaunt maie aswell beare the Office, as a Christian) so is also the office of the Sworde: For it neither maketh nor vnmaketh a Christian. But hereof wee haue spoken elswhere oftentymes more at large.

16 As free and not as hauing the Libertie for a Cloke of maliciousnesse, but as the Seruauntes of God.

THis is peculiarlie spoken vnto vs, that haue heard of Christian libertie, and yet dooe not ab­use the same: that is, that vnder the colour and name of Christ and Christian libertie, we dooe not commit and dooe, what beste liketh our sel­ues: or that our libertie should breake out into licencious wan­tonnesse, and carnall loosenesse. As wee see come to passe now in our daies, and read to haue happened in the tyme of the A­postles themselues, as by the Epistles bothe of Sainct Peter and Sainct Paule, wee maie manifestlie gather: for the same [Page] was then dooen and practized, whiche now adaies the greater sorte of Men vsually committeth. Wee now through the good gifte and greate fauour of GOD, dooe againe vnderstande and knowe the truthe: And plainly see that all is nothyng but mere deceipte and iugglyng, whiche hitherto by the Pope and his Chergie hath been taught, established and doen. Our con­sciences now (thankes bee vnto God) are deliuered out of the snares of humaine Traditions, and freed from that violence, wherein thei had before entrapped vs: And now are wee made free, and not tyed vnder paine of damnation to doe suche thyn­ges, as thei enioyned and commaunded vs. In this libertie we ought to stande, and to maintaine it, neither to suffer our selues to be drawen from it: but withall, we are to take heede, that wee make not this libertie, a Cloake and pretext of wic­ked life. And therefore shamefullie and verie vngodlie hath the Pope dealt in this behalfe, in presumyng to compell and en­force menne by his Lawes: for in a Christian people there nei­ther ought neither can bee a compulsion of any good thyng. For straightwaies decaieth and falleth doune Faithe and all Christianitie, when the Conscience is bounde with externall Rites, and outward Constitutions. For, Christians must be ledde and gouerned by the Spirite, that thei maie knowe first, how that by Faithe thei alreadie possesse all thynges necessa­rie, and appertainyng to their saluation, and haue neede of no­thyng els for the obtainyng thereof: and nexte, to knowe, that thei ought to employe and addicte their industries and ende­uours to nothing els, but to helpe, serue, & relieue their neigh­bours with all that thei can or maie, euen as Christe hath hol­pen, succoured, and relieued theim. And that whatsoeuer good thei thus shewe vnto thē, thei doe it freely, freendly, and with­out compulsion: And that all thynges maie flowe and spryng from a wel willyng and chearfull harte, that humblie thanketh God, and praiseth his holie name, for all his gracious giftes, so largely and bountifully powred vpon them. Vnto this pur­pose serueth that saiyng of sainct Paule, j. Timoth j. where he thus writeth: The Lawe is not giuen to the righteous: For [Page 58] thei that be suche, doe all thyng es freely, willyngly, and with­out either constraint or commaundemente, that thei knowe to bee allowed and agreable vnto the good will and pleasure of God. Now, these carnall, irreligious, faithlesse, and counter­faict Christians, knowing the bondes of humaine Traditions to bee broken, and hearyng true Christian libertie preached, come steppyng in, and vaunte themselues for iollie Christi­ans, in that thei professe themselues not to obserue and keepe the Popes lawes, pretendyng for their excuse, Christian liber­tie, and that thei not herevnto tied and bound: and yet in the meant season omitte, and leaue vndoen those thynges, whiche true Christian libertie requireth, to witte, chearfull and vn­constrained helpyng of their neighbor in all thynges to the vt­termoste of their abilitie, without respecte of any Commaun­dement: whiche to doe, all true Christians endeuour themsel­ues: therefore, thei makyng Christian libertie onely a Cloake for their filthie and wicked impuritie, doe disgrace and pollute the precious name and excellente title of Libertie, whiche a­greeth onely to true Christians.

This doeth sainct Peter in this place forbid vs to doe: and this is the effecte and meanyng of his speeches, as though he should saie thus: Although in all outward and externall thyn­ges ye be free, because you are Christians, and ought not to be compelled by the lawe to obey the Magistrate, for that, the law is not made for the righteous and iuste, as before is declared: yet ought you (neuerthelesse) to doe it, willyngly, vnconstrai­ned, and not as by necessitie enforced, but euen for the loue that you beare to GOD, and for the benefite of your neighbours. This we read, Matth. vij. that Christ hymself did, when as he beeyng free, and Lorde of all, did (notwithstandyng) paie Tri­bute or Polle money. So also obeyed he Pilate, and suffered hymself to bee Iudged of hym, whereas (notwithstandyng) he in the verie same place testified and saied vnto him. Thou coul­dest haue no power at all againste me, excepte it were giuen thee from aboue: by whiche wordes he expressely and flattly confirmeth Magistracie and Power: But he yet submit­ted [Page] hymself therevnto, because it so pleased his heauenly Fa­ther: and that not forcedlie or by compulsion.

We see by this, that these peeuishe counterfaites, contem­nyng aswell the thynges that please GOD, as the thynges whiche the worlde requireth, and still persistyng in their wil­full waies and corrupte Iudgementes, haue no right vnder­stāding nor knowledge what Christiā libertie meaneth, brag thei neuer so much of their Religiō, & vaunt thei thēselues ne­uer so gloriouslie vnder the shewes and titles of the Gospell. Wee are (in deede) freed from all Lawes, howbeeit it is of vs necessarily required, that withall wee helpe and relieue the weake and vnskilfull Christians, our brethren: whiche is the verie office of Loue. Wherevppon Sainct Paule Roma. xiij. saieth thus: Owe nothyng to any man, but this, that ye Loue one an other. He therefore that would boaste of Christan Li­bertie, muste firste performe and doe the partes and office of a Christian to witte, to loue and helpe his neighbour: and then afterward vse Christian Libertie after this sorte. If Pope or any other whatsoeuer, would compell and tye hym vnto their Lawes, and to enioyne hym by commaundement to dooe this or that, he maie saie againe: Sir, I will not dooe that whiche you giue vnto me in commaundement to doe, and for none o­ther cause, but for that you would binde me therevnto by com­maundement: and by taking awaie from me Christian Liber­tie, to impose a necessitie on me: wee must deale and doe freely as the Seruauntes of GOD, and not as the Seruauntes of Men, as here in this place sainct Peter teacheth vs. But if any man whom I might therby benefite, should require any suche thyng at my handes, I am (willyngly and of myne owne ac­corde) to doe it: not respectyng, whether it bee a commaunde­ment or no: But onely consideryng and waighyng, that Bro­therlie loue requireth the same at my handes, and assuring my self, that it is a thyng right acceptable and pleasaunte to Al­mightie GOD, by suche seruice and dueties to helpe my bro­ther. By the same reason, and for the same causes I will not bee compelled and enforced, to obaie ciuile and prophane Ma­gistrates, [Page 60] but yet I will willynglie and of myne owne accord obeye thē: not because thei themselues so exact and demaunde it, but because it tendeth and serueth to the commoditie and be­nefite of my neighbour. To this ende ought all our woorkes to be framed, that thei maie issue and proceede from a willyng and louyng mynde, and that thei maie bee profitable and a­uaileable to our Neighbours.

17 Honour all men.

THis is no Commaundemente, but an Exhortation. For wee owe honour vnto all men, although wee bee free, because this Libertie ought to bee readily benie alwaies to doe good, and not to doe euill. Afore wee shewed in many places, that euery Christian by and through Faithe, is possessed of all those thynges, whiche are Christes: and is also made and become his Brother: and therefore euen as I owe all maner of honour vnto Christe, so likewise muste I honour my Neighbour. But thou maiest not thinke, that this honour cōsisteth in outward gestures, as bowyng doune thy bodie, or vncoueryng thy heade before him: but rather in thy harte, with all vnfained sinceritie to reuerence hym, loue hym, and highly esteeme hym: euen as Christ hymself is to bee reuerenced, lo­ued, and highly esteemed of the. Moreouer, wee are the Tem­ple of God, as sainct Paule saieth. j. Cor iij. Because the holie Ghost dwelleth in vs. Wee therefore that haue been so easilie caried and leadde to a superstitious bowyng of the knee before the Idolatrous Hoast (as thei tearme it) or before the Image of a woodden Crosse, why should wee not muche more fall doune and shewe obeisaunce before hym that is the liuely Tē ­ple of God?

After the self same maner S. Paule Rom. xij. exhorteth vs, that in giuyng honour, one should goe before an other, so that euery one should be subiect and humble himself vnto an o­ther, and preferre an other before himself. The giftes that are giuen vnto vs of God, are vnequall, so that one surmounteth [Page] an other in dignitie and preeminence of place and callyng, yet no man knoweth who is the highest in the sight of God. For he is able to raise vp hym whiche in this world is the abiectest: and from a moste seely estate, to aduaunce hym to the highest degree. And therefore euery one (though here in this worlde he bee placed in neuer so high callyng) ought to deiect and hum­ble himself, and to yeeld honour vnto his Neighbour.

17 Loue brotherly fellowshippe,

WEE declared afore, how the Apostles make a greate difference betweene Common loue and Brotherly loue. Our duetie is, to loue euen our Enemies, and this belongeth to Cōmon loue. But Brotherly loue is that, whereby we Chri­stians loue one an other, euen as Brethren, seekyng one an o­other commodities, and not our owne: because wee haue all a­like good giftes giuen vnto vs from God. And this Loue is that, whiche Sainct Peter here in this place peculiarly requi­reth.

17 Feare God, Honour the Kyng.

HE biddeth vs not onely to make greate accoumpt of, and highly to esteeme the Kynges and Rulers of the Earth, but withall also to honour them, y [...]a although thei bee Ethnickes and Heathen. Whiche thing bothe Christ hymself did, and the Prophetes also, who prostrated themsel­ues at the feete of the Kynges of Babylon. Here might one saie to mee: Loe, thou seest, that by this place, wee ought to o­bey the Pope, and euery one ought to fall downe and prostrate himself at his feete. I aunswere. True it is, that if he vsurped and tooke vpon hym a ciuile or prophane power, or did execute the place of any Temporall Magistrate or worldly Prince, he were (doubtlesse) to bee obeyed. As for example, if hee should thus saie: I commaunde thee to weare a Hood, or to shaue thy [Page 61] Croune of thy head, or vpon this or that daie to faste: not that thou shouldest beleeue that God any whitt regarded or cared for the same, or that any parte thereof were necessarie to thy Saluation, but therefore doe I commaunde thee to doe it, be­cause I beyng the Ciuile Magistrate and Prophane Prince, am so mynded to haue it dooen. But then as hee shall (as hee doeth) plaie the Tyraunt after this sore: I being Gods Vicar here on Earth, and his onely Vicegerent, commaunde thee to obserue, keepe and embrace this my Commaundement, no o­therwise then as if God himself by expresse woordes did com­maunde it, and this vnder paine of Excommunication and deadly Sinne: Then maiest thou saie: Bee fauourable to mee Sir Pope: hold me excused: for truely, I meane nothyng lesse then to performe and dooe that whiche thus thou proudely and presumptuously commaundest.

Wee are bounden to bee subiect vnto the higher Powers and to obeye their ordinaunces, so long as thei binde not our consciences: I meane, so long as thei impose any thyng vppon vs concernyng outwarde and worldlie thinges, yea although thei plaied the partes of very Tyrauntes towardes vs. For, to him that taketh awaie our Coate, wee are commaunded to let hym haue our Cloake also. But when thei entermeddle and take vpon them to raigne ouer the Spirite, and to leade awa [...] our Consciences captiue, wherein God alone ought to sit and raigne, then ought we rather to offer our heades to the block, then any whit to obeye them in suche poyntes. The ciuill Ma­gistrate and this externall Empier, hath power ouer no fur­ther but erternall and corporall thinges. But the Pope hath not onely violently challenged vnto hym and forcibly intruded vpon this externall power and outwarde Iurisdiction▪ but also goeth about to rake, catche and chalenge vnto him, the Spi­rituall also: whereas in deede he hath right to neither of them bothe. He keepeth a greate coyle, and setteth doune his Lordly commaundements, Rules, Lawes and Ordinaunces for Ap­parell, for choise of meates, for Colleges, Abbayes, Priories, Bishoprikes, and Benefices? He staieth not here, but goeth on [Page] further, and coyneth out of these, bothe Synnes, and good woorkes: and therefore Christ can not abide suche a monstru­ous Empier and meane Domination. But this externall or outwarde Gouernement, whereby the Worlde is ruled, hee bothe liketh and alloweth: for that, it neither vsurpeth nor en­termedleth any thyng with Sinnes, or good Workes and o­ther spirituall dealinges, but dealeth altogether in externall and outwarde Policies: as the maintenaunce, defence, and for­tification of Cities, building and making of Bridges, appoin­tyng and assessyng of Tributes, Receite of Reuenues, main­teinyng and continuyng of peace, defendyng their Territo­ries, Landes and Dominions, and settyng order for punishe­ment of Malefactours and Offendours. Therfore, eche Chri­stian maie without daunger (naie, willingly and of his owne accord, not compulsiuely and forciblie) ought to yeelde his o­bedience vnto suche a Prince, sithens he chalengeth no autho­ritie ouer his Conscience.

Therefore now, if either Emperour, Kyng or Prince should aske mee what my Faithe is, I ought plainly to con­fesse and protest the same vnto him: not for any his commaun­dement: but for that, I otherwise am bounde to confesse my Faithe openly before all men, as often as occasion is offered. Now, if he should proceede further with me, commaundyng me to beleeue this waie or that waie: then muste I saie after this sorte vnto hym. Noble Prince, your charge is in respect of an externall Principalitie and Empire, looke well to that: your authoritie reacheth not to encermeddle with the Kyng­dome of God, it is not lawfull for you to eueroache vppon the sanie, nor to vsurpe vnto your self that which belongeth to him alone, and therefore herein I maie not obeye you. You can not well abide, that any other should chalenge any right vnto him self within any of your Dominions: yea, if he should but onely passe through the rankes of your Watchmen, setting them at naught, as though thei had not to deale with hym, you would I saie (I am sure) pursue such a one with Gūnes, Glaues, and other store of Partiall prouision. And how then can you think, [Page 62] that GOD will suffer you, to attempt to pull him out of his Seate, and to set your self in his place? Sainct Peter calleth here the ciuile Magistrate, onely the Ordinaunce of man: and therfore their authoritie stretcheth not (as of themselues) to e­nact and commaunde any thing vppon the Statutes of God and poinctes of our Faithe.

18 Seruants, be subiect to your maisters with al feare, not onely to the good & courteous, but also to the froward.

19 For this is thankeworthie, if a man for conscience towarde God endure griefe, sufferyng wrongfully.

20 For what praise is it, if when ye bee buffeted for your faultes, ye take it paciently? but and if when ye doe well, ye suffer wrong and take it paciently, this is acceptable to God.

SAinct Peter hitherto hath taught vs, how wee should be subiect vnto the ciuil Magistrate, and what honour wee ought to giue vnto the same. In the discourse whereof wee haue declared, how farre it extendeth, and how the same Ma­gistrates are not to stretche their authoritie further then their limited Commission, neither to ouerrule matters of Faithe. All whiche is spoken of Magistrates in generall, and therfore this doctrine appertaineth vnto all. Now, he speaketh of suche Magistracie as appertaineth not to the whole Cōmonwealth, but to certaine priuate persones: And first of all, how a Fami­lie ought to bee gouerned, and how Seruauntes in an house­holde ought to demeane and behaue themselues towarde their Maisters. The meanyng of all whiche his wordes, in effect is this.

Seruauntes both men and women, are Christians aswell as others, hauyng one and the same Worde, one Faithe one Baptisme, & all other benefites besides, aswell as any others: and therefore in the sight of God are nothyng inferiour to any [Page] other. Onely here in this worlde, in this externall and tēporall life there is some difference, for in that respecte thei are of lesse accoumpt and estimation, and therein beeyng inferiours and vnderlinges, they are bounde to waite and obeye. Therefore, seeyng that God hath called them to that estate, thei ought so to frame and enure themselues in their dueties, that thei shew their subiection and testifie their submission vnto their Mai­sters, honour them, reuerence them, be seruiceable vnto them, and carefullie looke to their dealinges and businesse. Where­vppon the Prophete Dauid Psalm. Cxxiij. borowyng from them a very apt and proper similitude, signifieth thereby how diligently thei ought to attende vnto their Maisters and Mai­stresses. As the eyes of the Seruauntes looke vnto the handes of their Maisters: and as the eyes of a Maiden vnto the han­des of her Maistresse, so do our eyes waite vpō the Lord our God: whiche is as muche to saie, as Seruauntes and waiting Maidens ought with submission and feare to doe whatsoeuer maie please their Maister and Maistresse. God requireth it, and therefore thei ought with cherefull and willyng myndes to doe it. That which thou thus doest accordyng to the Word of God and Faithe, bee assured is acceptable and allowed of God: And therefore these are the best workes of al others that a man can woorke: so that a man maie here perceiue that hee needeth not to got farre to dooe other Woorkes. What thy Maister commaundeth his Seruaunt, or the Maistresse her Maide, that hath God commaunded to be doen of thee. Think it not to bee the bare commaundement of man, although it be vttered and doen by man. And therefore thou oughtest not to consider and respect, what maner a Maister he is, whom thou seruest, whether he be good or badd, gentle and curteous, wai­warde and churlish: but thinke this rather what maner a Mai­ster soeuer he bee, yet is it my duetie truely and faithfullie to serue hym, and diligently to applie my self in his businesse, and that for Gods sake, who requireth the same at my handes: re­membryng also that my Lorde Iesus Christe for the redemp­tion and freedome of me, became a Seruaunt.

[Page 63]This is the true doctrine of life, whiche ought continually to bee inculked and beaten into the heades of all men: but alas, the blindnesse of our age is so greate, that it is nowadaies al­moste quight abolished and vtterlie extincte. And this doctrine is of suche sorte, that none can well embrace and like of it, sa­uyng onely true Christians, who haue their lesson for the same, out of the Gospell. And therefore if thou wilt be the true child of God, frame thy mynde so to serue thy maister, as if Christe hymself were present, and commaunded thee euery particuler charge to doe. For so writeth saincte Paule Ephe. vj. Seruaun­tes, bee obediente vnto theim that are your Maisters, accor­dyng to the fleshe, with feare and tremblyng, in singlenesse of your hartes, as vnto Christe, not with seruice to the eye, as men pleasers, but as the seruauntes of Christ, doyng the will of GOD from the harte, with good will seruyng the Lorde and not men. And againe, Coloss. iij. For ye serue the Lorde Christe. Oh that our Monkes and Nunnes now adaies were in that state, that these poore Seruaūtes are, what ioye might thei haue in their consciences, and to giue God thankes for his benefites: There is neuer a one of theim that can truely saie: God hath commaunded me to heare a Masse, to sing Mattins, to mumble vp the Seuen houres, or suche like Trumperies: For there is not so muche as one woorde thereof spoken in all the Scriptures. And therefore if thei should bee asked, whe­ther thei bee assured and out of all doubte, that their profession and condition bee allowed of GOD: thei will aunswere, No. But if a man should aske any poore moilyng Kitchin drudge, why she washeth Disshes and Platters, or why the Milketh Kine, she can yeelde reason and saie. Sir, I knowe that the thyng whiche I doe, is acceptable and allowed of God: For I haue the woorde of God, and his expresse commaundemente for my warraunte, that I ought to doe these thinges. This is surelie a singuler comforte, an excellente benefite, and a right precious treasure, of the whiche no man can well thinke hym­self worthie. The Prince maie thinke hymself an happie man, and highlie in Gods fauour, if vpon like confidence and truste [Page] of a sure commaundement of God, he can throughly discharge and execute his waightie Office and Function. And truelie he maie in his high callyng doe that, whiche God hath commaun­ded: Namelie, if he punishe transgressours and malefactours. But when alas, yea, how seldome happeneth it, that he right­ly and lawfullie is able throughlie to execute this his chargea­ble office? But in this condition and state of seruage, all thyn­ges are in that sorte, that poore Seruauntes certainly knowe and are throughlie assured that all the thinges, whiche thei doe at their Maisters commaundementes, are allowed and accep­ted before God. For God respecteth not the basenesse and vilenesse of the woorke, but regardeth the harte, that in suche vile dradging labours is obedient vnto him. But it happeneth and falleth out in this case, as in al other matters it vsuallie doeth: For, looke what God commaundeth, that is no man willyng to dooe: But that whiche men establishe and commaunde and not God: that (I saie) euery one seeketh after and followeth.

But here will some peraduenture saie: what if I haue suche a frowarde, testie, waiwarde, and angrie Maister, whom no manne can please, nor any seruice can content, of whiche sorte there are not a fewe euerywhere? Sainct Peter herevnto [...] ­ [...]eth a plaine aunswere, in effecte as if he should saie thus: If thou bee a Christian, and bee desirous to please GOD, thou must not respecte how waiward and churlishe thy Maister is: But consider rather and euer beare in mynde, what the Lorde thy God commaundeth thee. Therefore thinke this with thy self: well, in this my seruice I shall serue my Lorde Christe: he requireth at my handes, that I should bee obedient, seruice­able, and in eche respecte duetifull to my Maister, bee he neuer so frowarde, sullen, and vnquiete. If God should commaunde thee to wipe the Shoes of the errantest verlett, or Deuelishest Rakehell in the worlde, thou oughtest with a chearfull harte, and willyng mynde to doe it: and this woorke of thyne should bee bothe good and laudable before GOD, and so is any other woorke whatsoeuer, of the like sorte, to bee accoumpted right excellent and commendable: for that, God hath commaunded [Page 64] it. And therefore in this case respecte not the persone, but con­sider onely the good will and pleasure of GOD, and what he willeth to bee doen. Thy duetie and seruice in this sort, truely and faithfullie performed, shall before God farre surpasse and excell all the woorkes and merites of all Shauelyng Priestes and mumblyng Monkes in the worlde, if thei were all layed together on one heape. If there bee any that thinketh not this sufficiente, in that, it is so pleasaunte and acceptable a woorke before God: it shall not muche auaile to vse any further rea­sons to perswade hym. For there is nothing better, if thou doe it: nothyng worse if thou forslowe and omite it. And therefore (saieth saincte Peter) this must with all feare bee performed, and all thynges muste orderly and duely bee executed, seeyng that it is the cōmaundement not of man, but of God hymself.

And sainct Peter doubtlesse in this place, peculierly spea­keth of suche Seruauntes, as many were in his tyme, to wit, Slaues, suche as in some Countries yet to this daie, are bought and solde, like brute Beastes. These were euill entrea­ted, and oftentymes whipped and beaten by their Maisters, who safely and without any daunger of law, when thei listed, might kill and put them to death. And therefore it was neede­full, that such Apostles as S. Peter was, should diligently ad­monishe and comfort them, to be contented duetifullie to serue their frounyng and waiward Maisters, and to beare those in­iuries, where with thei were rigorouslie handeled. For euery one that is a Christian, must needes beare his Crosse: and the more that he is pinched with iniuries, the better fareth his case. Therefore take vp this kinde of Crosse willyngly, harte­ly thankyng God for the same: for this is that verie true afflic­tion that pleaseth GOD. For what should it profite or auaile thee, if when thou arte buffered, and shreudlie beaten for thy desertes, thou shouldest boaste and bragge of sufferyng the Crosse? And therevpon it is, that saincte Peter here saieth: If when ye doe well, ye suffer wrong and take it paciently, this is thanke worthie and acceptable to God, that is a true obe­dience vnto God, and a pleasyng worship. Behold here plainly [Page] described and set out vnto thee, those true and excellent woor­kes, whiche thou oughtest to doe, and yet we foolishemen haue set at naught, and troden vnder our feete this good and whole­some doctrine, and in steede thereof haue deuised, and founde out for our selues other good woorkes, inuented by our owne braines and phantasies, of whiche wee make suche speciall ac­coumpt, that we thinke we can neuer sufficientlie and enough, extoll, praise, and dignifie thē. Wee therefore that are now de­liuered out of this blindnesse, and are taught againe, whiche be the true and right woorkes, that please God, let vs with han­des holden vp to heauen, yeelde moste humble thankes vnto God for this so greate a benefite, and let vs hartily and entire­ly reioyce in the Lorde for the same.

21 For herevnto ye are called: for Christe also suffered for vs, leauyng vs an example, that ye should fol­lowe his steppes.

22 Who did no synne, neither was there guile founde in his mouthe.

23 Who when he was reuiled, reuiled not again: whē he suffered, he threatened not, but committed it to hym that iudgeth righteouslie.

24 Who his owne self bare our Synnes in his bodie on the Tree, that wee beyng deliuered from sinne, should liue in righteousnesse: by whose stripes ye were healed.

25 For ye were as sheepe goyng astraie: but are now retourned vnto the Shepeheard and Bisshoppe of your Soules.

HErevnto (saieth Saincte Peter) ye are called. Vnto what is that? Forsoothe to suffer perse­cution, trouble and wrong, euen as Christ him self afore you hath dooen. As though he should thus further saie. If thou wilte bee a true follo­wer of Christe, it is not fitte, decent, nor agreeable to thy pro­fession, [Page 65] when thou arte iniuried, to brabble muche, and repine thereat, but pacientlie to beare it, and to take it well in worth: consideryng how innocentlie Christe suffered all thynges for our sakes. He did neither exclame, neither cried out for venge­aunce, neither cursed, when he giltleslie was brought before the Iudge: and therfore thou must also not here looke alwaies to bee iustlie dealt withall, but as it were whollie to neglecte, and not to care, how indifferentlie and rightlie Iustice in this respect is ministred vnto thee: but when thou haste wrong of­fred thee, saie rather to thy wrong: I thanke GOD, herevnto am I called, that I should suffer wrong. For why should I complaine, sithe Christe my Lorde and Sauiour (who was guiltlesse and innocent euery waie) complained not? And here hath Saincte Peter alledged certaine woordes, out of the liij. Chapter of Esaie the Prophete, where it is thus saied that He had committed no wickednesse, neither was any guile founde in his mouthe. And these woordes By whose stripes ye were healed, mentioned also in the same Chapter. vers. v. Christe was so pure, that there was not so muche as one euill woorde in his tongue; he was worthie to haue had all honoure at their handes, he deserued to bee kneeled vnto, and (as it were) to bee caried in the armes of all menne. Finallie, he had power and aucthoritie enough to haue reuenged hymself, if it had so pleased hym: but he suffered hymself rather to bee reui­led, mocked, blasphemed, and laste of all, put to death, and yet not once opened he his mouthe. Why therefore shouldest thou bee any whitte vnwillyng to suffer persecution and wrong, sith thou art nothyng but Synne? Thou shouldest rather har­tilie thanke God, and highlie extoll his gracious goodnesse, who hath accoumpted thee worthie to bee like to his Christe: and not to repine and mutter, nor to bee vnpacient when thou art wronged, seeyng that the Lorde hymself, neither reuiled nor threatened againe, but earnestly praied for his Enemies. But thou wilte peraduenture saie: Sall I allowe and thinke well of them that deale Iniuriously with me, and saie that therein thei doe well? I aunswere: No. But saie rather thus [Page] in thine harte: although I haue not deserued this hard dealing, nor to bee thus wrongfully entreated, yet will I willyngly suffer these thynges for my Lorde God his sake, who beeyng moste innocente, was for my sake euill entreated, and moste wrongfully dealte withall. Commit thy cause to God, who is a righteous Iudge, and he will abundauntly recompence all thy sufferynges: euen as Christ committed his cause vnto his Father in heauen. Who his owne self (saieth Saincte Peter) offered vp our Synnes in his bodie on the Tree, that is, he suf­fered death not for any cause of his owne, but for our sake, and for our Saluation, whom wee through our Synnes, crucified and nailed on the Crosse. But alas, wee are yet verie farre from suche kinde of sufferyng wrong. And therefore if thou be a sincere and a true Christian, thou muste imitate Christe in this poincte, and bee hartily sorie for them that hurte thee, prai­yng earnestly for thē vnto almightie God, that it maie please hym to forgiue theim, and not to punishe theim for the same. For (alas) thei doe more hurte thereby to them selues in their Soule, then thei doe harme to thee in thy Bodie. This if thou throughly consider, and in harte rightly waigh, thou canst not choose but be presently eased of all inward grief, and willyng­ly suffer all thynges with pacience. And finallie wee are to re­member, that wee our selues aswell as thei, a little afore ledde a wicked life, but are now at length tourned vnto Christe, as sainct Peter in the knittyng vp of this Chapter saieth.

25 For ye were as sheepe goyng astraye: but are now returned vnto the sheepherde and bishop of your soules.

AND this place also hath hee taken out of Esay. Chapter. liij. Where he saieth thus: All wee like sheepe haue gone astraie: wee haue tourned euery one to his owne waie. But now saieth sainct Peter, wee haue gotten a Sheepeheard. The Sonne of God is come doune for our sakes, to bee our [Page 66] Sheepeheard and our Bishoppe: hee by giuyng vnto vs his Spirite, feedeth vs, and so guideth & leadeth vs by his Word, that wee are now certaine and sure of our Saluation. There­fore, if thou acknowledge and confesse that thy Sinnes are cleane washed and taken awaie by him, thou art his Sheepe, and hee is thy Sheepeheard, and thy Bishoppe. This is the greatest comfort that all Christians haue.

Thus haue wee fullie finished two Chapters of this Epi­stle: wherein Sainct Peter hath firste laied doune and plainlie taught the sinceritie of Faith: and secondarily the sincere wor­kes of Loue: and herein also hath hee treated of twoo sortes of Workes: namely aswell of those woorkes whiche wee are all bounde in generalitie to shewe vnto the Magistrate, as also those dueties that Seruauntes owe vnto their Maisters. And what sainct Peter here speaketh of Seruaunts, thesame also appertaineth vnto certaine other sortes of men: namely, Artificers, Hirelinges, and all sortes of mercenarie seruantes whatso­euer. Now, next he laieth downe lessons, how man and wife shoulde Christianly liue together.

The third Chapter.

LIkewise let the wiues be subiect to their housbandes, that euen thei which obey not the worde, may without the worde bee wonne by the conuersation of the wiues,

2 While thei behold your pure con­uersation, whiche is with feare.

3 Whose apparailyng, let it not be outwarde, with broy­ded haire, and golde put about, or in puttyng on of apparell.

4 But let the hid man of the harte, bee vncorrupt with a meeke and quiet spirite, which is before God a thyng much set by.

5 For euen after this maner in time past did the holy wo­men, whiche trusted in GOD, tier themselues, and were subiect to their husbandes.

6 As Sara obeyed Abraham, and called hym, Sir: whose daughters ye are, whiles ye doe well, not beyng afraide of any terrour.

7 Likewise ye housbandes, dwell with them as men of knowledge, giuyng honour vnto the woman as vnto the weaker vessell, euen as thei which are heires together of the grace of life, that your praiers bee not interrupted.

8 Finally, be ye al of one minde: one suffer with an other: loue as brethren: be pitifull: be courteous,

9 Not rendring euill for euill, neither rebuke for rebuke: but contrariwise blesse, knowyng that ye are thereunto cal­led, that ye should be heires of blessing.

10 For if any man long after life, and to see good dayes, let him refraine his tongue from euill, and his lippes that thei speake no guile.

11 Let him eschewe euill and doe good: let hym seeke peace, and followe after it.

[Page 67] 12 For the eyes of the Lorde are ouer the righteous, and his eares are open vnto their praiers: & the face of the Lorde is vpon them that doe euill.

13 And who is it that will harme you, if ye followe that whiche is good?

14 Notwithstanding blessed are ye, if ye suffer for righte­ousnesse sake. Yea, feare not their feare, neither be troubled:

15 But sanctifie the Lorde God in your heartes: and bee readie alwaies to giue an answere to euery man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, and that with meeke­nesse and reuerence,

16 Hauyng a good conscience, that when they speake euill of you as of euill doers, thei maie bee ashamed, whiche slaunder your good conuersation in Christe.

17 For it is better (if the will of God be so) that ye suffer for well doyng, then for euill doyng.

18 For Christe also hath once suffred for sinnes, the iust for the vniust, that he might bryng vs to God, and was put to death concernyng the fleshe, but was quickened in the spirite.

19 By the whiche he also went, and preached vnto the spirites that are in prison.

20 Whiche were in tyme passed disobedient, when once the long sufferyng of God abode in the daies of Noe, while the Arke was preparing, wherein fewe, that is, eight soules were saued in the water.

21 To the which also the figure that now saueth vs, euen Baptisme agreeth (not the puttyng awaie of the filth of the flesh, but in that a good cōscience maketh request to God) by the resurrection of Iesus Christ,

22 Whiche is at the right hande of God, gone into hea­uen, to whom the Angels, and Powers, and Mighte are sub­iect.

1 Likewise let the wiues bee subiecte to their Hous­bandes, that euen thei whiche obey not the word, maie without the woorde bee wonne by the con­uersation of the wiues.

2 While thei behold your pure conuersation, which is with feare.

SAincte Peter in this place, namely speaketh of those Wiues, whiche in his tyme had vnbelee­uyng Housebandes: and again, of suche faithful Housebandes, as yet had Heathen and Ethnick wiues. For, it oftentymes happened in those daies, that the Apostles preached the Gospell emong vnbelee­uyng Pagans and Infidelles: emong whom it was often seen that the one of the parties, to witte, either the Housebande or the Wife, was conuerted and wonne vnto Christe, the other still wallowyng and persisting in errour. Now, if this charge of Wiues subiection and obedience to their housbandes, were so straightly commaunded then: how muche more is it behoue­full and necessarie to performe, and shewe it forth now adaies. The office therefore of a Wife, (saieth sainct Peter) is this, to bee loyall and subiecte to her Housebande, yea, though he bee an Infidell and a Heathen. And here he inferreth the cause why it is conuenient and behoouefull so to doe.

1 That euen thei whiche obeye not the worde, maie without the woorde bee wonne, by the conuersa­tion of the wiues.

WHen the Housebande seeth that his Wife liueth orderly, innocently, and honestlie he is thereby moued and prouoked to embrace the like Chri­stian Faithe and godlinesse. And albeeit, the of­fice of preachyng bee not committed, nor allo­wed vnto Women, yet ought thei neuerthelesse, so honestly to demeane and behaue themselues in maners and conuersation, that euen thereby thei maie allure and drawe their Houseban­des [Page 68] vnto Faithe. Wee reade, that the vertuous Matrone Mo­nica, Mother vnto sainct Augustine, conuerted her houseband a little afore his death, vnto the Faithe of Christ: and after that her Soonne Augustine also. But wee must note, that this is an externall office and outward charge, not to bee doen of any woman, with intent thereby to bee iustified. For, by all this o­bedience shall not a woman bee saued. For, euen emong the Heathen Infidelles, wee maie finde some Wiues in eche re­specte verie duetifull, seruiceable and debonaire to their house­bandes: but that obedience of theirs, raught no farther then to content, serue, and please their housebandes. For, so did God ordaine and appoincte Genes. iij. when he saied to the woman: Thou shalt be subiecte to thy Housebande, and he shall rule ouer thee: whiche is one of the punishmentes, that God there inflicted and laied vpon Women. But yet this is (as I saied a­fore) appertainyng to outward conuersation, and belongeth to the bodie, not to the Spirite.

Women haue here greate cause to reioyce, in that, thei knowe, what Worke to doe, to please God withall. For, this is suche a greate treasure, as a wife can not haue a greater, nor more precious: in that, she certainely knoweth, that when she sheweth suche subiection and obedience to her housebande, she highlie pleaseth God therewith, and doeth that, whiche to hym is right acceptable: then whiche knowledge and persua­sion, what can be tide vnto her more ioyfull and gladsome? And therefore, she that is desirous to bee a right Christian wise, let her thus thinke with her self: I will not respect, what maner of persone my housebande is, with whom I am now coupled in mariage, whether he bee Iewe or Gentile, good or badde: but I will drawe my self to this consideration and respecte onely, that God hath appoincted me to bee this mannes Wife, and linked me vnto hym in the bandes of Matrimonie, and there­fore, as I am bounde, so will I in all poinctes bee subiecte and obedient vnto hym. This persuasion beeyng once throughlie settled in her, liuyng in suche duetifull obedience, all her Wor­kes bee bothe acceptable and commendable.

[Page]If any bee so wilfull and waiwarde, whom these reasons doe not moue, to suche a one (doubtlesse) no other persuasions will be auaileable. By beatyng, a man shall doe no good, if he thinke thereby to bryng his wife to be tractable and duetifull: for in castyng out one Deuill by beatyng, he shall bee sure to beate in twoo as badde or worse, as in our common Pro­uerbe we are wont to saie: O that Wiues throughlie knewe this doctrine, and exhortation of Saincte Peter: how happily and blessedlie should thei liue? But our peruerse and crooked Nature is suche, that what God commaundeth, none are wil­lyng to followe, but what mannes idle braine deuiseth, after that men runne headlōg. Furthermore, God hath willed this Commaundement of wiues obedient subiection to their hous­bandes, to bee so firmely and inuiolablie obserued, that he hath graūted power and aucthoritie to the housebandes, to dissolue, vndoe, disalowe, and to make frustrate, and of none effecte any vowes made by their wiues, if thei mislike the same: As wee read Num. xxx. And that for none other cause, but to liue ther­by at home in peace, quietnesse, and tranquillitie. And thus muche firste, of the office and duetie of Wiues towarde their Housebands: now next the Apostle setteth doune, how a Wife ought to behaue her self towardes all others.

3 Whose apparailyng let it not be outward, as with broided haire, and golde put aboute, or in puttyng on of apparaile:

4 But let the hidde man of the harte bee vncorrupte, with a meeke and quiet Spirite, whiche is before God a thyng muche set by.

THis treasure and inward garnishement, we maie not thinke here to be commaunded and prescribed onely for Wiues, but the same stretcheth & ought to bee construed, as ment also of Men. Here maie some aske this question: Whether these saiynges of Saincte Peter, concernyng Womens apparaile, bee straightly com­maunded [Page 69] or no? Wee reade of Queene Esther, how that she ware a Croune of gold on her head, and putte on her roiall ap­paraile that was very rich, precious, and meete for a Quene: Esth. ij. and .v. Iudith also apparailed her self moste brauelie and magnificently. Iud. x. But in bothe places we finde it thus explaned, that thei did it not for any vaine delite that thei had therein, but rather that thei contemned, and little esteemed that gorgeous furniture, whiche thei did weare but for the tyme, the better to compasse and bryng aboute their godlie and zealous purposes. The same aunswere maie wee make here. That it is the duetie of eche godlie woman, to bee in mynde so vertuouslie affected, as that she maie wholly contemne this gaie attire and womannishe brauerie: for if thei once linke thē selues in loue therewith, (the nature thereof is suche) that thei will daiely seeke more and more to prancke theim selues, and will keepe neither meane, nor order therein, but wantonly and licenciously without ende, couet the continuall maintenaunce of suche vaine and dissolute prodigalitie.

A Christian Woman therfore ought vtterly to despise this outward deckyng, and worldlie gallantise: but yet so, that if her Housebande will haue her so to dooe, or any other honeste re­specte require the same, it is to bee borne withall, and tolera­ted. Howbeeit it is moste to bee wished, and thei are moste es­pecially so to frame themselues in their attire and deckyng, as sainct Peter here teacheth them: to witte, to bee inwardly gar­nished, and decked with a milde and gentle spirite. Thy braue­rie and furniture is gaie and gallant enough, if thou decke and attire thy self, to content and please thy Housebande. Christe requireth no suche thyng at thy handemaie, he is highly offen­ded, if thou trimme thy self to the intent to please the eyes of o­ther men, or because thou seekest thereby to bee dignified and called faire, louely, or beautifull. But thy cheefest care ought to bee, to carie this precious furniture, and incomparable gar­nishement (afore spoken of) in thy harte, farre from all cor­ruption, as saincte Peter saieth, and to leade a decent, honeste, and chaste life.

[Page]It is a sure token, that thou haste very small workyng of the Spirite in thee, if thou feele thy self to bee muche giuen to this phantastical, worldly and outward brauerie. For if Faith and the Spirite were truly settled within thee, thou wouldest sooner stampe and treade it vnder thy feete, then to take delite and pleasure therein. And thou wouldest saie as Esther did: Esth. xiiij. Thou knowest Lorde that I hate and haue no de­light in this Croune whiche I weare on my head, and that I weare this gorgeous apparell euen againste my will. If I were not compelled so to doe, to please my Lorde the Kynges eye, I had leifer tread it vnder my Feete. A wife thus myn­ded, can not herein but bee muche the dearer and acceptabler to her housbande. And therefore Saincte Peter willeth Ma­trones and Wiues to sett their delite in attiryng and garni­shyng themselues with this inwarde furniture, and to bee en­dued with a meeke and quiet Spirite, hauyng their heartes voide and free from all corruption.

In aduising them to be meeke and gentle spirited, his mea­nyng is not onely, to restraine them from licencious gaddyng abroade, and other open and outwarde misdemeanours of the worlde: but his meaning is, that thei should with muche more heede and carefulnesse looke to themselues, that their myndes inwardlie bee incorrupt, and that thei constantlie perseuere in a true and sincere Faithe, not suffryng the same any waie to be empayred or violated.

And thus it commeth to passe, that the hart willingly con­taineth it self within his limitted boundes, without breakyng out into any disorder, and be thinketh how it maie please their housbande. And suche an harte, is an exceedyng pleasure and acceptable attyre before God. If a woman bee neuer so richely apparelled in cloath or beaten golde, and garnished all ouer (e­uen to the foote) with Gemmes and precious Stones of price inestimable, this her apparell must needes bee very magnifi­cent and sumptuous: but no woman can be any waie so richlie and brauely attired, as in any respect to be comparable to that vnualuable attyre of the Soule, whiche before God is a thyng [Page 70] muche esteemed and set by. Golde and precious Stones in the eye of the worlde are thinges highly esteemed and of singuler price, but before God, thei bee thinges filthie, abhominable and of none accoumpt. That woman therefore is gorgeouslie and richlie attired before God, whiche hath a quiet and gentle spi­rite: for seeyng that before God it is a thyng so highly set by, it can not but bee a thing of singuler greate excellencie and ful of maiestie. A Christian soule alreadie hath whatsoeuer Christ himself hath: because Faithe bringeth together with it al good thinges. And this is suche a precious treasure and riche attire, that no man can sufficiently and according to the worthinesse thereof esteeme and prize it. For it is highly esteemed and pri­zed by God himselfe. The perswasion and inculkyng of these reasons, will bee muche behouefull, expedient and forcible to drawe womens myndes from the desire of this worldly pom­pous apparell, wherevnto thei are by nature otherwise muche enclined: and so to bring them in loue with this inwarde gar­nishyng, that thei maie of themselues willingly loathe and de­test all worldly and outwarde brauerie. For it can not be, that a vertuous Christian woman hearyng these thinges, and in­wardly in harte digesting them, but she straightwaies entreth into this consideration with her self: Beholde, if this braue at­tyre and sumptuous apparell bee nothyng at all regarded be­fore God, why should not I also contemne and despise it? But if I must needes weare it, I will dooe it onely, to please my housbande thereby, whose pleasure it is to haue it so: and vnto whom, God hymself hath expresselie commaunded me to be o­bedient. A woman thus minded, is truely garnished and dec­ked in her Spirite. Now, moreouer sainct Peter bringeth in, the example of holie women, thereby to drawe and prouoke o­ther women to this Christian purpose and consideration: sai­yng.

5 For after this maner in tymes past, did the holy women, which trusted in God attyre themselues, and were subiect to their Housbandes.

6 As Sara obeyed Abraham and called him, Lord:

[Page] AS thei attyred themselues, so is it meete that you also decke your selues (for so is his mea­nyng) and to bee loyall and obedient to your housbandes, as Sara was vnto Abraham, who called him Lorde, as in the Scripture it appea­reth Gen. xviij. When as the Aungell came to Abraham and saied to Sara his wife: this tyme tweluemonth thou shalte beare a Sonne, she laughed and saied: After I am waxed olde, and my Lorde also, shall I giue my self to lust? Whiche place Saincte Peter here fitlie remembred and aptly alledged. For Sara would not haue called her housbande Lorde, if shee had not been subiect and obedient vnto hym, and carefully bent to please hym. Therefore he afterwarde saieth.

6 Whose Daughters ye are, whiles ye dooe well, not beyng afraide of any terrour.

WHat meaneth hee by this admonition? Doubtlesse this. The nature and disposition of women is for the moste parte, tymorous and fearefull of euery wag­ging of a Strawe, and is easilie drawen to shake and tremble at euerie shadow: which is the cause that there is in that Sexe such stoare of magicall Impostures and supersticious en­chauntmentes, whiche thei also teache one an other, the num­ber of whom now adaies is growen to bee very greate. This mischieuous practise ought to be farr awaie from euery Chri­stian Matrone: who ought to dwell in suche safetie of consci­ence, and to liue so voide of seruile feare, that she should not in suche fearefull sorte runne vp and downe, now seekyng helpe of this Enchauntresse, nowe of that. But rather so surely to stand vpon her garde, that she maie boldly and faithfullie com­mitt all thinges to the good disposition of God: not doubtyng but that all thinges shall happen to her for the best, and that no harme can betyde her. For, beeyng assured and certaine of her estate, and that her condition is allowed and liked of GOD, what cause hath she to feare? If her Childe dye, if shee her self [Page 71] bee touched with any disease, all is for her good: let her referre the case to God, for sith she is in that state that is pleasing and acceptable to God, what can she wishe better? And let this be taken as spoken to the women: now followeth that which con­cerneth Men.

7 Likewise ye housbandes, dwell with them as men of knowledge, giuyng honour vnto the woman as vnto the weaker vessell, euen as they whiche are heires together of the grace of life, that your pra­yers bee not interrupted.

THE Wife (saieth hee) is a vessell and Instru­ment of God: which God vseth to this purpose that she should conceiue and bring forthe Chil­dren, nourish and bryng them vp, and gouerne the house. These be the offices and dueties that belong to the Wife, who is a vessell and Organe of God, crea­ted and made for the same purpose: & wherevnto he hath made her by a certain naturall propension, apt and enclinable. Such an Organe and meane, must a manne haue to helpe hym, and therefore saieth S. Peter, you housbandes ought to dwell with your wiues as men of knowledge: And not that you should accordyng to the vnruly affections of your owne con­ceiptes and braines seeke to rule ouer them. Their duties are to frame themselues to fulfill their housbandes commaunde­mentes, and to seeke all waies to please them: But withall, it is the housbandes charge again, to deale with his wife by rea­son, and to handle her gentlie and curteouslie, yea yeeldyng something vnto her, and giuyng honour to her, as to the wea­ker vessell of God.

The Housband also is the Vessell and Organ of God, but the Woman is the weaker, and that not onely in bodie but al­so in minde, wherein she is of a weaker and fearfuller moulde. And therefore thou must so handle her and so deale with her, as shee maie beare it. And herein thou must none otherwise [Page] frame thy dealinges, then thou wouldest doe about any other Instrumentes whatsoeuer, that thou hast neede for any pur­pose to vse: as if thou wouldest preserue and keepe thy knife in a good edge, thou must beware that thou cutt no stones with it. But of this poynt there cā not any certaine rules be prescri­bed. God referreth that to the discretion and wisedome of eche peculier mā, to vse his Wife with reason and knowledge: and as the nature, wit and disposition of euery one doeth require. For thou arte not allowed to vse that power and authoritie whiche thou haste ouer her, accordyng to the deuise of thyne owne sensuall phantasie: for thou art her housbande, because thou shouldest helpe her kéepe her, maintaine and nourish her, and not to spoyle and marre her. Herein therefore (I saie) can no certaine scope and boundes be limited to a man for circum­staunce how to rule and gouerne his wife, but the vsage there­of is referred to euery particuler mans discrete dealyng and wise gouernement.

After this sorte wee are likewise taught, as touchyng the Housebandes, what dealynges are fitte and decent for theim, and what behauiour thei are to vse, agreeable to Gods good will and pleasure: To witte, that thei should dwell with their Wiues, and ioyntlie with theim seeke to gette bothe their li­uynges, helpe to maintaine and comfort one the other, and to vse themselues the one to the other, gentlie and courteouslie. And although all thynges in housholde matters, at all tymes be not handeled accordyngly as thou wouldest haue them, but many times contrary to thy mynd and appointment, yet must thou remember that thou art a Man, and of more wit, reason, and perfection then a Woman: And therefore the defects and missehappes, growyng through thy Wiues weakenesse and imperfection, thou arte by reason to amende and beare with: And what any waie wanteth in her, thou arte to supplie: Yea, sometymes thou muste winke at matters, and seeme not to knowe all thynges: sometymes to yeeld a little, many tymes to forgiue and pardon thynges amisse, and eche waie to giue to thy wife her due honour.

[Page 72]This honour (I know not how) many haue after sundrie sortes interpreted. Some thinke it to bee meant, that a manne should prouide for his Wife conuenient foode and raimente, and so cherishe and keepe her: Some others would haue it to signifie the louelie beneuolence, that is and ought to bee be­tweene maried folkes. In my opinion, the interpretation of this place, is thus muche in meanyng, that the Housebande should so accoumpt of his Wife, and so vse her, as a Christian vessell, and the organ or Instrumente of God. For thei ought bothe, so to frame and dispose their liues, that the Wife muste obeye, loue, and honour her Housebande: and again, the Hous­bande is to giue vnto his Wife that honour, that is due vnto her. If thei can frame themselues after this sorte, thei should liue in moste amiable peace and loue together, and all thynges would goe well with theim, whereas otherwise, if this know­ledge and mutuall zeale bee wantyng, all thynges in their ma­ried estate are lothsome, tedious, cumbersome, and ful of grief. And hence commeth it, that suche couples (I meane suche Housebandes and suche Wiues) as marie together, for none other cause, but for wanton pleasure onely, thinkyng so still to liue in lasciuious delightes, and sensuall appetites, finde no­thyng in their mariage, but irkesome grief, and verie torment of mynde. But if thei would haue regard, and respect vnto the Woorke and will of God, and thither directe all their reasons and accoumptes, thei should liue a right Christian life in their maried estate, and farre otherwise then the Pagans and Eth­nikes doe, who are vtterly ignoraunt of the good will and pur­pose of God in this behalfe.

7 As thei whiche are Heires together of the grace of life.

THE Housebande ought not onely to marke and consi­der. that his Wife is a weake Creature, and easie to of­fende, and there to staie: But this rather is required of him, that he haue speciall regarde vnto this, that she is Bapti­zed [Page] into the Faithe of Christe, and that she is possessed of all those good thynges in Christe, whiche he hymself is enherita­ble vnto. For accordyng to our inner man, wee are all equall and alike, and there is no difference betweene a Manne and a Woman: But outwardlie, God requireth that the Man be the head and gouerne: and the Woman to be subiect and obedient.

7 That your praiers be not interrupted.

WHat meaneth Sainct Peter by these woordes: For­sooth euen this: that if wee will not directe our doyn­ges herein, by this rule of reason, but deale sensually, roughly, selfwilledly, vnreasonably, vnquietly, and waiward­ly, and (as men that will neuer bee pleased) looke to haue eue­rie thyng to fall out iumpe, accordyng to our owne wilfull de­uises: Wée maie not thinke but that the Wife also, hath her di­seases and imperfections, and so shall the one neuer please nor content the other, nor greatly care the one for the other: the one neuer yeeld an inche to the other, neuer pardon and forget any thyng the one to the other: Nor the one to like well of that, which is doen by the other, or of the one to thother: and in these outragious garboiles, how can thei praie, and saie: Forgiue vs our trespasses, as wee forgiue them that trespasse againste vs. By this praier, we must fight against the Deuill, and there­fore it behooueth vs to agree emong our selves. These are those true and moste excellent good Workes, that herein wee are required to ensue and put in practise. Whiche if thei were throughlie inculked, and preached vnto vs, and that wee effec­tuallie and entirely would agnize and remember theim, wee should haue all thinges at home in moste quiet case, and peace­able tranquillitie. Hitherto now wee haue heard how a Chri­stian man ought to vse, and behaue hymself in sundrie vocati­ons and kindes of life: and priuatelie also one with an other. Now, he will teache vs, how all maner of men generallie are to behaue theimselues Christianlie one to an other, and what comely conuersation outwardlie thei are to vse.

[Page 73] 8 Finally, bee ye all of one mynde: one suffer with an other: loue as brethren: bee pitifull: bee courteous:

ALL that he here saieth, carieth none other mea­nyng, but that wee should loue one an other. For that whiche the Scripture elswhere com­prehendeth in fewe woordes, is here somewhat at large paraphrazed and expoūded. The mea­ning therefore of sainct Peter here is, as though he should saie: This is the summe of all that can be commaūded and prescri­bed, concernyng your outward conuersation, that you bee all endued with one mynde, affected alike, and linked in harte and iudgemente alike, that whatsoeuer seemeth right and good to one, maie semblably bee so thought and deemed of others.

Wee can not all of vs doe one and the self same Woorke: euery one must worke for hymself, and in that vocation where­in it hath pleased God to place him. The Housbandes charge, is not as the Wiues, nor the Seruauntes office as the Mai­sters, and so of others. It is too too foolish and ridiculous, that some of our maisterlie leaders haue taught, how that we must all doe the same thynges, and woorke the same Woorkes. Of this stampe are those dreaming Popelinges, that are still bea­tyng into our heades, their liyng Legendes of Sainctes, prea­chyng thereout vnto vs, that this holie Saincte did this, and that holie Saincte did that: inferryng therevpon, that wee also must doe the same. Doubtlesse, Abraham when he would haue Sacrificed his soonne Isaac, beeyng so peculiarlie commaun­ded to doe by God, did therein a moste excellente and worthie act: but when the Gentiles and other Nations would imitate his dealyng therein, without any expresse commaundemente of God, and sacrifice their children: that dealyng of theirs was abhominable before God. So did Salomon moste godlie and well, in buildyng a Temple vnto the Lorde, for the whiche God moste liberallie recompenced hym: now thervpon sodain­lie starte vp our blinde foolishe and pratlyng Buzzardes, who teache vs that wee also must builde Churches and Chapells, [Page] whereas in truthe, there is no suche thyng commaunded vnto vs of God. And herevpon it commeth to passe, that whereas wee ought among our selues to haue all one mynde, and one iudgement, but diuerse woorkes, the case is turned cleane vp­side doune: and wee all seeke to doe one self same woorke, and to haue disagreyng iudgementes, and contrary mindes: which is flatlie repugnaunt to the Gospell.

All men are now therefore to be taught, that it is required at all our handes, that wee should thinke all one thyng, bee all of one iudgemente and like affection, but yet that wee muste woorke diuerslie: that wee haue one harte, but yet many han­des. Wee must not all followe one and the same woorke, but euery one must exercise his owne woorke: For otherwise wee could not perseuere and continue, in one mynde and one harte. That whiche is outward, must needes bee diuerse: so that eue­rie one must abide in that, whiche he is commaunded vnto, and wherevnto he is called. This is a true & sound doctrine for this life, and needefull of all men to bee throughlie knowen, and ef­fectuallie practized: for the Deuill is moste busie in this poinct, yea, and hath alreadie in many brought his purpose to passe, that fewe men continue in the function peculierlie incumbent vnto theim, but blindlie runne on, and seeke to discharge their owne peculier offices by the woorkes of others: wherevppon there hath growen among vs muche iarryng disagreemente: Monkes snappyng at Priestes, and Priestes kickyng at Monkes, and euery seuerall Profession of life, spightyng an other. For euery one would haue his owne Profession and trade, to bee accoumpted beste, and therevppon hath growen vp suche a table of sondrie professed Religions, one seekyng to be had in estimation before an other. Thus the Augustine Friers sought to outcountenaunce, and deface the Preachyng Friers: and the Carthusians still grunted against the Mino­rites: So that thei are all growen to bee seuerall and distincte Sectes, and in no Profession or trade of life hath there beene lesse agreemente, then among these holie religious Orders, for so (sauyng your reuerence), thei must bee tearmed.

[Page 74]But if one should preache vnto theim, that no Woorke be­fore GOD excelleth other, but that all thynges by Faithe are made equall, that our hartes should continue vniforme, and that wee all should be alike mynded: or if one should saie: This Order or Profession wherin the Bisshop liueth, is before God of no more acceptation, then the order of life wherein the poore Laiemā liueth: or that the kinde of life that a Nunne hath pro­fessed, is no better then the state of a maried woman, and so of the residue: I am sure, thei can not abide to heare it: for euery one striueth to bee accoumpted of greater excellencie then o­ther. What? (will thei saie) how can it bee, but that this stricte and austere trade of life, whiche wee haue vowed and profes­sed, muste needes bee muche better and excellenter, then the plaine profession of the Laitie?

Therefore to bee of one mynde and of one iudgement, sig­nifieth that euery one should so thinke of his owne worke and profession, as of an other mans: so that he accoumpt and think the maried state to bee as good, as the vowed state of chastitie and virginitie: and that all thinges are equal before God, who iudgeth accordyng to the hearte and faithe, and not accordyng to the persones or outwarde workes. And therefore we ought so to iudge as God himself iudgeth, that is, that we must haue all one mynde and one iudgement, that vnitie and concorde maie flourishe and remaine in the world: that our hartes may continue vndisseuered, and not bee drawen asunder for these outwarde by matters: so that we are to deeme allow and think well of the worke that any other doeth, so long as the same is not of it self, Sinne.

Of this Concorde speaketh sainct Paule ij▪ Cor. xj. where hee saieth thus: I feare, least as the Serpent beguiled Eue through his subtiltie, so your myndes should bee corrupt frō the simplicitie that is in Christ: whiche is as muche to saie, as, I feare least the Deuill likewise deceiue you, and drawe your simple heartes and agreing myndes into diuision and discord. Likewise Phil. iiij. The peace of God whiche passeth all vn­derstandyng, preserue your hartes and myndes in Christ Ie­sus. [Page] And why is the Apostle so carefull for our hartes and min­des? Truely because therevpon al other thinges doe depende.

For if I once fall into a reprobate sense, and bee possessed with a peruerse vnderstandyng, I make a general shipwrack of all together. As if I bee a Monke, and therein fullie per­swade my self, that my woorkes are more regarded and estee­med before God, then other mens: and should saie: I thanke thee O GOD, that I am become a Monke: my profession is farre better then the vulgare state of maried life: therevppon straightwaies necessarilie ariseth a swelling arrogancie of the minde: and a vaine puffyng vp of the hart can not but be there, where I seeme in myne owne eyes to bee more iust and righ­teous then others be, and in respect of my self contenme other men. By whiche meanes I wilfullie beguile my self: for there is no maried woman liuyng in the true and sincere Faithe of Christ, but is muche more esteemed before God, then I with my lowsie Profession and witlesse Vowe. Therfore when we acknowledge & assuredly knowe that Faithe bringeth with it all thinges that be expedient and needefull for a Christian man to haue, then are wee all of one mynde, heart and iudgement, without makyng any difference of workes, or preferryng one before an other.

Thinke therefore that this place of S. Peter is not to bee vnderstoode of any externall mynde, but of a spirituall and in­ternall iudgement in thinges, and suche as before GOD are highly set by: that life and doctrine maie vniformallie agree to­gether, and that the same thing that séemeth good to an other, maie seeme also good to vs, and also that that maie bee likyng and pleasaunt to an other, that is liked and pleasaunt vnto vs, as afore hath been declared. This hearte and this mynde haue thei that be right Christians, and this ought thei with all care and diligence to looke vnto, that by no meanes it quaile accor­dyng to sainct Paules exhortation. For assoone as the Deuill by his malice ouerthroweth this hart and this minde: straight­waies is the bonde of true vnitie broken asunder, and all thin­ges at once come to an vtter confusion.

[Page 75] 8 One suffer with an other:

LET one haue a care for an other: lett the necessitie of thy Neighbour no lesse moue thy hearte, then if the case were thine owne: yea thinke it to apper­taine vnto thee: And when hee hath sustained any hindraunce, losse or mischaunce, doe not thou reioyce thereat, neither thus thinke with thy selfe: It is well enough: if some worse thing had happened vnto him, he hath well deserued it. For where charitie is, there is so muche and so greate care for the state of our Neighbour, that if any mishappe befall vnto hym, it should no lesse pearce our heartes, then if it had chaun­ced vnto our selues.

8 Loue as Brethren:

LEt euery one accoumpte an other as his owne Bro­ther: the whiche how to bee vnderstood, is very easie, for euen Nature her self teacheth vs. Wee see that thei whiche bee naturall borne brethren, liue in a more neerer bonde of loue, and are more carefull, zealous, willing and rea­die one to assist an other, then any other freends be. The same must wee now dooe, beeyng all Brethren together by Bap­tisme, insomuche that our verie Parentes after our baptisme, are to vs in the place and steede of Brethren, for that wee haue the same giftes, graces and benefites at Christes hande by Faithe, whiche thei haue.

8 Be pitifull one to an other.

THE Greekes in this one word ( [...]) com­prehende all this sentence: whiche to expresse againe in one worde in Latine, wee must bee driuen to call it Viscerosi. And I knowe not how better to interprete and ex­plaine it, then by a comparison or similitude. Behold & marke how a Father or Mother is affected towarde their Childe: [Page] that if a mother see her Infant to suffer any extremity or wāt, her harte and bowelles earne within her. And thence is this forme or phraze of speakyng borowed, whiche is very vsuall and often in the Scriptures. One Historie thereof we haue in the first Booke of Kynges Cap. iij. Where it is declared, how two women contended before Kyng Solomon, for a young Infant, whose it should be, for either of them laied claime vn­to it. The Kyng therefore purposing to trie out, whether of them was the right mother of the Childe, could deuise no bet­ter waie to bolt out the truth, then by nature it self: by whiche pollicie he tryed out the matter. For hee saied to the women: Thou saiest that the liuyng Childe is thine, and she saieth, it is hers: Bryng mee therefore hither a Sworde, and diuide the Infant in twaine, and giue the one halfe to the one, and the other halfe to the other. By whiche wise pollicie, hee founde out which was the true mother of the Childe. For the Scrip­ture in the self same place recordeth, that straightwaies the bowelles of her compassion were mooued in loue towarde her Childe: and that she cried out and saied: Oh my Lord, not so, but let her rather haue the whole Childe, and staye hym not. Wherevpon the King presentlie gaue iudgment, & saied. This is the true mother of the Childe, deliuer him vnto her. Here­hence maie wee gather the very true sense of this worde, here deliuered vnto vs by saincte Peter, to signifie an entyer com­passion and most hartie affection. And that we should be none otherwise mutuallie affected one towarde an other, then they that are naturall Brethren by bloud: that euery ones whole harte, marowe, veines and all the powers of our mynde and bodie be totallie moued with compassion at the mishappes of an other: and that we ought to beare suche a zealous, mutuall, hartie and motherly affection one toward an other, that if any thing with thē miscarie, it should euen pearce vs (as it were) to the death. Suche a mynde ought one Christian to beare to­wardes an other. But I feare, there are but a very fewe to bee founde, whiche so entierly with their harte loue their Neigh­bour, and that are so moued with compassion ouer the neces­sities [Page 76] and wants of others, as a mother is ouer her Babe that she bore in her wombe.

8 Be curteous.

VSE your conuersation so gently and amia­bly one towarde an other in these outwarde thinges of the world, that euery one not one­ly accoumpt the thynges whiche happen to an other, to appertaine also to hymself: euen as Parentes are wont to doe, who make no lesse reckoning of that whiche is their Childrens then of their owne: but also that euery one vse louing and curteous conuer­sation with his Neighbour. For there bee some so waiwarde, churlishe, crabbed and vnreasonable, that euery one almost is vnwillyng to haue any dealyng or vse any companie or confe­rence with theim. And so it commeth to passe that suche per­sones commonly be suspicious and easilie drawen vnto wrath and anger, so that none will willingly deale with them. But thei be truely curteous, freendly, fauourable, sincere and ami­able, whiche construe all thinges to the best, bee of nature no­thyng suspicious, and are not easilie mooued vnto anger and wrathe, but can take well in worthe whatsoeuer is doen vnto them.

Beholde now and looke into the Gospell, and there shall you finde Christe depaincted and sett out after this maner, in whom wee maie beholde and see moste euidently all these ver­tues singularly abidyng. The Pharisees tempted hym after sundrie sortes, now one waie and now an other, to entrapp and catche hym at auauntage, and yet is not hee a whit therewith mooues. And although his Apostles now and then stumbled and did amisse & foolishly, yet neuer did he roughly and hardly checke them, but vsed alwaies a myld and curteous lenitie to­wardes them, assuryng and drawyng them vnto hym, to the intent to make them the gladder and willynger with all their hartes to liue with him, and to haue a greate pleasure in adhe­ryng [Page] and cleauyng vnto his companie.

The same kinde of louyng affection wee commonly see to bee among tried freendes and faithfull Companions, where there bee two or three that bee sincerely affected in mynde one towardes an other: If one of them make a fault, the other ta­keth it well in worth, and gentlie beareth with it.

This example somewhat confirmeth this sentence and ad­uertisement of Saincte Peter, but not whollie expresseth the full meanyng thereof. For the freendlinesse and courtesie that is here spoken of, ought indifferently to bee extended and she­wed vnto all men.

Here thou seest the verie nature of sincere and true Loue, and what a perfecte, gracious and fauourable people, Christi­ans are. The Aungelles leade this maner of life emong theim selues in heauen: Whiche kinde of life wee ought also to prac­tise, and leade here on earth: but the nomber emong whom the same is to bee founde, is verie rare and scante. As sainct Peter therefore hath taught Housebandes, and Wiues, Menser­uauntes, and Womenseruauntes, so to frame and leade their liues, as that eche one should looke to his owne charge and function, and carefullie applie his owne peculier vocation: So willeth he likewise thesame practise and order, to bee putte in vre in our common dealynges emong our selues.

Now, the onely Workes, wherevnto Sainct Peter here would haue vs earnestlie and zealouslie to giue our selues, are these: to bee sorie at the harmes and mischaunces of our Bre­thren, to bee feruent in Brotherlie Loue, to haue our verie bo­welles throughlie enflamed with the loue of thē, and to shewe our selues readie, willyng, tractable, and fit to loue, and to bee loued of all men.

Here is neuer a woorde mencioned of any of those flim-flam toyes, and friuolous deuises that haue heretofore verie deuoutlie been preached, or rather prated on vnto vs. He doeth not here saie, Builde an Abbeye or a Nunnerie, giue some maintenaunce for an ordinarie Masse, take the holie order of Priesthood vppon thee, professe thy self a Monke, weare a [Page 77] Cowle, vowe Chastitie or any suche like. But he saieth thus: Looke that thou bee milde, gentle, and courteous. These are the true good Woorkes in deede, yea, rather the golden Dee­des, the Pearles and the precious Stones, wherewith God is singularlie delighted.

But as this doctrine is a perfecte, Christian, and right wholesome doctrine: So can not the Deuill any waie abide it. For this doctrine once preuailing, would quickly ouerthrowe and subuerte his Kyngdome: And therefore he seeketh all the waies that he can to deface and extinguishe it, by stirryng vp these pompous Popes, and mumpyng Monkes to yell and [...]aule, to banne and curse, and malapertly to affirme, that who­soeuer he be, that speaketh against any of their doynges, spea­keth by the verie instincte, suggestion and procurement of the Deuill hymself. But little knowe thei, the vse of these [...]eede­full and necessarie good Workes, whereof saincte Peter here speaketh: Namely, Brotherly loue, beeyng entirely and in the bowelles of vnfeined sinceritie, meante and exercised with all freendlinesse, courtesie, and sweetenesse. For if these bee [...], (as needes thei must confesse them to bee) then are thei muche to blame, and to bee accoumpted as impudent liers, in presu­myng and affirmyng their owne dregges and deuises, to bee moste worthie to bee preferred. It is to bee wondered at, how suche grosse and palpable blindnesse could sincke into mennes hartes. Thomas Aquinas [...]e of their moste re [...]erende couled Rabbines, impudently aduouched, that the Orders of Popes and Monkes, farre surmounted the common state of the sim­ple Laitie. Whiche moste impious, shamelesse, and liyng as­sertions, were afterward by the Schoolemen ratified and al­lowed: and thei onely that were the Professors thereof, inue­sted with the title, dignitie, and name of right Reuerend Doc­tors: and afterward the Pope with the Ruffianlie route of his carnall Cardinalles and adherentes, Canonized and Calen­dred them for holie Sainctes.

Abandonyng therefore, and reiectyng all other doctrines, I wishe thée to embrace, and firmely to sticke vnto this. Christ [Page] hymself and his Apostles haue taught so. If thou wilte there­fore dooe those Woorkes that of all others are beste, and take that profession vpon thee, that of all others is moste holie, em­brace Faithe and Charitie: and detest that grosse impudencie of these Popelynges, whiche affirme and vaunte their Profes­sion to surmounte either Faithe or Charitie. For if their vo­wed Profession were of suche worthinesse, that it excelled Faithe, it muste also excell the woorde of God: And if it excell the worde of God, it must needes followe, that it excelleth and passeth God himself. And here we see, that S. Paule ij. Thes. ij. wrate verie truely in saiyng, that Antichrist should exalt him self against al that is called God. Finally, lea [...] thus to iudge al these matters: wheresoeuer Loue, Mildnesse, and Courtesie are wanting, there doubtlesse all other Workes be damnable. Wee see therefore how plainely and fullie Sainct Peter hath here sette doune vnto vs, how wee ought to frame our selues to liue a Christian life, euen in our outward conuersation: ha­uing afore, with no lesse excellencie and skill declared, how our [...]nner life should be framed to God warde. Wherefore this E­pistle is fullie staught with stoare of muche godlie and whole­some doctrine, and therefore to bee accoumpted as golden, and among the beste, and moste absolute Epistles that are.

9 Not rendryng euill for euill▪ neither rebuke for re­buke▪ [...]ut contrariwise blesse, knowyng that ye are the [...]eunto called, that ye should bee heires of bles­syng.

YEt he continueth his exposition of Loue more at large, instructyng vs further how we should behaue our selues toward them, that hurte and persecute vs. The meanyng of the Apostle is this: when thei persecute, trouble, moleste and hurte you, dooe not you the like againe vnto them, but for the euill that thei doe vnto you require ye good vnto them againe. When thei ceuile and slaunder you, take heede that ye doe not [Page 78] the like vnto thē, but contrariwise blesse them, praie for them, and wishe well vnto them. And this is a moste excellent point and office of Loue: But O Lorde, how fewe is the number of suche Christians? But why must wee not render euill for euil, but contrariwise good for euill? Doubtlesse (saieth he) because ye are herevnto called, that ye should bee heires of blessyng. Whiche ought bothe to admonishe and to inuite, and allure you herevnto.

In the Scripture, we Christians are called a blessed peo­ple, blessed euen by God hymself. For God saied vnto Abra­ham. Gene. xij. In thy Seede shall all Nations of the Earth be blessed Seeyng therefore that God hath so bountifully pow­red this blessyng vpon vs, that he might take a waie from vs all the curse and malediction, whiche we had drawen from our first Parents, & which Moses denounced vnto all those that did not beleeue, it is verie meete and requisite, that wee beeyng thus graciouslie blessed, should so vse and behaue our selues in eche respecte▪ as that this maie be saied and verified on vs: be­hold, this is a blessed people. And therefore sainct Peters mea­nyng herein is, as though he should haue saied: Consider with your selues and behold, GOD hath infused and bestowed this his gracious fauour vpon you, to take awaie all curse and ma­lediction from you, and hath not imputed nor laied to your charge the blasphemie, where with ye haue dishonoured hym, neither hath he for the same punished you, as ye haue well de­serued: but contrariwise hath moste liberally and franckly be­stowed the richesse of his grace and benediction vppon you: who in respecte of your continuall blasphemie, were worthie of al maner of malediction and curse: for where stedfast Faithe wanteth, there can the harte none otherwise doe, but still curse and blaspheme God. Now therefore endeuour your selues, so to deale with others, as it hath been dealt with you. Curse not, reuile not, but doe good and speake well, yea, although others raile on you, and speake all maner of euill against you, and pa­ciently suffer when iniurie and wrong is offred vnto you. And now he bryngeth a place out of the xxxiiij. Psalme, where the [Page] Prophet Dauid saieth thus:

10 For if any man long after life, and to see good da­yes, let hym refraine his tongue from euill, and his lippes that thei speake no guile.

HE that would enioye a pleasaunt and delight­some life, and not dye the, Death but see good daies, that all thynges maie prospere and goe well with hym, lette hym refraine his tongue from speakyng euill, and that not onely against his freendes, whiche is a moste vi [...]e qualitie, and resemblyng the Nature of verie Serpentes and Vipers: but his meaning is thus muche more: let hym carie aboute with hym an honest and good meanyng mynde, let hym refraine his tongue from speakyng any harme euen against his Enemies, yea, when hee is thereto prouoked, and hath greate cause ministred vnto hym, to reuile and speake amisse. Yea, lette hym restraine his lippes also (saieth he) that thei vtter no guile. For there be not a fewe, whiche outwardly in mouthe speake well, and bidde their neighbour freendly Good morowe, whiche inwardly in harte thinke cancardly and spightfully: euen wishyng them at the Deuill. These men are thei that haue no right nor interest in the inheritaunce of blessyng. Thei be euill fruites of an euill Tree. And thus dooeth Saincte Peter fitly referre the place whiche he alledged concernyng Woorkes, vnto the roote in­wardly, namely vnto the Harte. And this is the verie true and proper interpretation hereof. There followeth al [...]o afterward in the afore alledged place of the Psalmist these woordes.

11 Let hym eschue euill and doe good. let hym seeke peace, and followe after it.

THE worlde thinketh the beste waie to purchase this peace, is to require wrong with wrong, and one dis­pleasure with an other. But this is not the right waie [Page 79] to attaine vnto it. For there was neuer yet any Kyng, that by this meanes could winne peace at his Enemies handes. The Romaine Empire grewe to suche might and Maiestie, th [...] it subdued and ouerthrew all that againstoode it: and yet could it neuer retaine the people that were Subiecte vnto theim, in their due obeisaunce. And therefore this course and order of repressyng our Enemies with force, is not the beste waie to purchasse and confirme stedfast peace emong vs. For if we o­uercome and suppresse one Enemie, there will arise vp tenne, yea twentie, till we our selues bee brought to confusion.

But hee taketh the right and orderly waie to seeke after peace, and shall surely finde it, whiche refraineth his tongue, escheweth euill, and rendreth good for il. This is another ma­ner of waie then the Worlde taketh or hath skill of. Now, to decline from euill and to doe good, signifieth to refraine either from hearyng or speakyng any wordes of spight and malice, and not to seeke requitall of iniuries. Seeke after peace this waie, and thou shalt bee sure to finde it. For when thyne ene­mie hath serued his owne mynde and fullie satisfied his angrie humour in doyng what he can against thee: if thou againe re­plie not againste hym with bitter and bityng wordes, neither storme and fret at his iniuries, thou shalt ouerthrowe hym in his owne turne, and get the vpperhande of hym in the swaie of his owne maliciousnesse. For in this sort did Christ ouercome his Enemies vppon the Crosse, and not with any sworde or materiall weapon: Requitall of one iniurie with an other, and one shrewde turne with an other encreaseth furie and setteth parties at further iarre then thei were afore: wheras pacience and suffraunce procureth quietnesse and ease. But some will saie: how can this so bee? it standeth not with manhood, neither can flesh and bloud abide so to deale. I confesse, it is more then is simplie in man thus to dooe, but beeyng assisted with super­nall grace, and thus paciently tolerating iniuries without de­sier of actuall reuenge, thou shalt be sure to speede as this next sentence purporteth: to wit.

12 For the eyes of the Lorde are ouer the righteous, and his eares are open vnto their praiers: and the face of the Lorde is vpon them that doe euill.

IF thou thy self seeke not priuate reuenge, nei­ther recompence euill for euil, there sitteth one in the Heauens, euen the Lorde, who can not a­bide to see his Seruauntes to take wrong: and therefore thei haue the best and the iustest cause whiche strike not againe, neither seeke reuenge. God hymself careth and respecteth thē, and their praiers sound in his eares. He is our protectour, ayder and mainteinour, he is our Guar­dian and ouerseer, he will not be vnmindfull of vs, neither can wee slide out of his sight, for his eyes are alwaies vppon vs. And this is it that ought to erect and stirre vp our courages, and to perswade and prouoke euery Christian paciently to suffer all maner of iniurie without requiring one euill with an other. For al I cōsider the matter with my self aright, I mu [...] thus thinke, that the Soule of that man whiche hurteth me, (without earnest repentaunce) shalbe in endlesse tormentes in hell▪ and there vppon a Christian harte can not choose but th [...]s burst out in hartie and zealous praier vnto God and saie: most louyng and gracious Father, forsomuche as this man hath so horriblie incurred thy displeasure, and so miserably thereby throwne himself into the daunger of Hell fier? I humbly praie and beseeche thee, that thou wouldest pardon and forgiue hym this his fault: and so doe to him as thou haste doen vnto me, in deliueryng me frō this thy heauie wrath and anger. For as he hath his eyes euer readilie bent and with fauour moste graci­ouslie beholding them that be good: so looketh he with a sterne and frounyng countenaunce vppon them that bee euill. Wee therefore whiche knowe, that hee fauourably and graciouslie looketh vpon vs: but vpon them angerly, frouningly and with indignation: ought to pitie their wofull case and to be through­ly sorie for their miserable estates, and hartily to praie for thē.

13 And who is it that will harme you, if ye followe that whiche is good?

WHen wee followe that whiche is good, and re­compēce not euill for euill, but rather most cur­teouslie and with the very bowelles of tender affection embrace and loue all menne, there is none that can doe vs any harme. For although thei should take from vs our wealth, our name and bodie, yet are not wee in any poynt harmed, because wee possesse suche abundant stoare of good thinges: vnto whiche, the thinges ta­ken from vs, can by no meanes and in no respect bee compa­red. Thei that persecute and seeke after vs to dooe vs harme, haue no goodes at all, sauyng onely these lame, momentarie, vnperfect and transitorie trashe of the worlde, and shall after­ward if thei continewe in impenitencie, bee cast into Hell fier, there for euen to bee tormented. But our goodes are eternall and incorruptible, although wee suffer a little losse of these worldly and temporall goodes.

14 Notwithstanding, blessed are ye, if ye suffer for righ­teousnesse sake.

HE not onely saieth that no man shalbe able any whitt to harme you, if ye suffer any thyng for Gods sake: but he further addeth Blessed are ye for the same: so that ye haue greate cause of re­ioycing, if ye so be afflicted. For so saith Christ Matth. v. Blessed are ye when men reuile you and persecute you and say all maner of euill against you for my sake, false­lie: Reioyce and bee glad. Hee that rightlie and throughlie waigheth these wordes, and considereth that the Lord hymself speaketh them, and that so louingly and so comfortably, how should he but constantlie stande to his tacklyng, and paciently abide all that can or maie happen? Againe, thei that in these wordes feele no comfort and inwarde consolation, can not but [Page] bee voide and vtterly without all strength, ioye and comfort.

14 Yea, feare not their feare, neither be troubled:

15 But sanctifie the Lorde God in your heartes:

THis place againe hath sainct Peter cited out of the Prophete Esay, where he hath these words: Feare ye not their feare, neither bee ye afraied of them: but sanctifie God in your hartes, and let hym bee your feare, and let hym bee your dread &c. Esay. viij. Here wee haue a ver [...] greate protection and refuge, so that we maie boldly repose ourselues in safetie, and bee assured that none shall harme vs▪ Let the worlde terri­fie, and rage, threaten and menace neuer so tyrannouslie, yet shall their terrour come to an ende, whereas our ioye and con­solation shall be endlesse. And therefore we ought not to feare the worlde any thing a [...] all, but rather to bee valiauntlie min­ded and constantly encouraged againste it: but before God to humble our selues and [...]o feare with all reuerence.

And what meaneth sainct Peter, in bidding vs to sanctifie the Lord God ▪ How can we sanctifie hym, of whom we must be sanctified? I answere, that wee after this sort, praie, Hallo­wed (or sanctified) bee thy name: for that it is our dueties to sanctifie his name: whereas (notwithstandyng) he hymselfe sanctifieth his owne name. Wherefore, sainct Peter is thus to bee vnderstoode: Sanctifie the Lorde God in your hartes, that is, whatsoeuer it shall please God to laie vppon vs, whe­ther it seeme to vs good or badde, pleasaunt or greeuous, ho­norable or ignominious, luckie or vnluckie, it is our partes and dueties, not onely to embrace and take the same in good par [...]e, as thinges sent to vs for our furtheraunce and benefite, but also to accoumpt the same as holie, and therevpon to saie: This that I now receiue from the Lordes hande, is a thyng so precious and holie, that I am not worthie to bee partaker thereof. So saieth the Prophete Dauid Psal. Cklv. The Lord is iust in all his waies, and holie in all his woorkes. When as [Page 81] I therefore in these thinges doe thus glorifie God, and repute his workes as precious and holie. I doe thereby sanctifie hym in my harte. But those fellowes that dwell so muche vpon the poinctes of the Lawe, that thei thinke not God to bee righte­ous, but that he doeth them wrong: and that he is asleepe and neither wil maintaine his owne iustice and righteousnesse, nor yet repulse wrong and iniurie doen vnto hym, these fellowes (I saie) dishonour God, in thus deemyng him to bee neither iust nor holie. But hee that is a true Christian, must entierlie ascribe all iustice vnto God, and vnto himself (as truthe it is) all iniustice: to acknowledge God euer holie, and himself pro­phane: and sincerely to professe and confesse that God is in all his doinges most iust and holie. This harty acknowledgment he requireth at the handes of euery one of vs. And foreade we Dani. ix. O Lorde God, iuste and true are thy Iudgmentes which thou hast doen vnto vs, for we haue sinned and com­mitted iniquitie, and haue doen wickedlie, yea wee haue re­belled, and haue departed from thy preceptes and from thy iudgementes: and therefore vnto thee O Lorde belongeth Righteousnesse, honour and glorie, but vnto vs open shame and confusion. To conclude, when any calamitie or mishappe (as it is commonlie taken) betydeth vs, let vs hartilie thanke God and blesse his holie name for it, and that is it which sainct Peter and Esay doe here cal, the right sanctifiyng of the Lord our God.

Notwithstanding, it is not hereby required at our handes, to saie, that he whiche hath harmed vs, hath doen therein well and iustly. For the Iudgment that is betwene God and thee, is of a farre other sorte, then the iudgment betweene thee and me. I maie foster and nourish in my harte, hatred, euill lustes, and dissolutes desires, wherein I nothyng at all hinder or harme thee: as thou likewise hurtest not mee in that whiche thou doest: but yet before God I am vnjust and haue deserued sharpe punishment: and therefore if he punish me for the sinne, he dealeth iustly with me and doeth me no wrong, for I haue deserued it. If he doe not punishe me but pardon my trespasse & [Page] offence, yet he doeth therein iustlie, for alwaies and in all thin­ges iustice and righteousnesse is to bee ascribed vnto hym: al­beit herevpon it followeth not, but that he doth vniustly which persecuteth mee. For although I haue grieuouslie sinned and am guiltie of hainous offences before the Maiestie of God, yet haue I not thereby wronged hym, that without cause persecu­teth mee. Therfore when God giueth leaue to the Deuill and euill persones to haue power to woorke any harme vnto thee, and to afflict thee, hauyng doen no harme vnto them: knowe this, that God vseth them as Executioners of his Iustice: that thou maiest thereby learne, that godlesse persons and wrong­full practises, are to the godlie, thinges bothe good, expedient and profitable.

For so reade we, Ezech. xxix. of Kyng Nebuchadnezzar, where the Lorde by his Prophete saieth: Dooest thou not knowe that he is my seruaunte, and serued a greate seruice for me. And then he further saieth: Behold, I will giue hym a rewarde▪ for I haue not as yet recompenced hym, for the la­bour and seruice that he did for me. I will giue vnto hym, the lande of Aegypt for his labour, and it shall bee the wages for his Armie, for he serued againste it, and thei wrought for me, saieth the Lorde God. This Kyng had neither right, nor aucthoritie ouer the Egyptians, but GOD had bothe: And therefore it pleased hym, by this Kyng and his Armie, as by his instrumentes, to take punishement on theim. And in this sorte also are euill and gracelesse persones the Seruauntes of GOD, and serue hym: because thei should not bee fedde at his hande francklie and freelie, without doyng somewhat for their liuyng. For God commonlie franketh and pampereth theim full of these Temporall pleasures, and worldlie delightes: in lieu whereof he vseth their ministerie and seruice, to woorke his will, and that thei should Butcherlie persecute his Sainc­tes. Whiche purpose of God, because these bloodie Wolues by their fleshelie reason, can not looke into: thei thereby nozzle themselues in this errour, that thei thinke themselues to deale therein verie well and godlie. Whereas in deede thei are in [Page 82] this present worlde, onely rewarded with wealth, prosperitie, Pompe, Dignities, Reuenues, Iurisdictions and Seignio­ries: and that for none other cause, but for that thei bee Gods Hangmen and Executioners, to persecute the godlie Christi­ans. And therefore if thou pacientlie suffer, and sanctifie God in thy dealynges, yeeldyng vnto hym thankes for all thinges, whatsoeuer it pleaseth him to sende vnto thee, there is no doubt but all goeth well with thee, For, he will neuer faile them that vnfeinedlie truste in hym, but will assuredlie throwe and caste thy persecutours (excepte thei earnestlie repent) into hell fire, there to bee perpetually tormented euen for the wronges that thei haue dooen vnto thee: whereas thée he will mercifullie re­ceiue into endlesse blisse and felicitie. And therefore be conten­ted to let hym iudge and requite: for of hym shall euery one re­ceiue, accordyng to his desertes.

An example hereof wee haue in the holie man Iob. Who after that all his goodes were consumed, his Cattall taken a­waie, his Children slaine, and al that he had, wasted: brake out into no worse woordes then these: The Lorde hath giuen, and the Lorde hath taken awaie againe, euen as it hath plea­sed the Lord, so is it come to passe, blessed be the name of the Lord. Iob. j. And when as his wife came to hym, mocking and skornyng hym, saiyng: What meanest thou? What gettest thou by this thy vprightnesse? Blaspheme God and dye. But he said vnto her, Thou speakest like a foolishe woman what? Shall wee receiue good at the hande of God, and not receiue euill? Wherefore euen as it hath pleased him, so is it come to passe: as the Lorde hath giuen (saieth he) so hath he taken a­waie againe: It was not God that gaue, and the Deuill that tooke awaie, but yet the Deuill was the meane or Instrumēt whereby all this was doen: but he did it none otherwise then as a minister or Tormentor appoincted therevnto by GOD. This man righly sanctified God: wherefore God also highly commended hym and wonderfully enryched and dignified hym.

[Page] 15 And bee readie alwaies to giue an answere to e­uery man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, and that with meekenesse & reuerence,

WEE must needes confesse, that sainct Peter writeth these wordes vnto all Christians in general, aswell to Popes and Popishe Cler­gie as to the Laitie, to Women aswell as to Men, to yong aswell as to old, of what state, sexe or condition so euer they bee: willyng e­uery one that professeth Christianitie, without any exception, to hold fast the sure ground worke of their Faith: wherby thei maie at all tymes bee able to yeeld a reason of the same, and to aunswere for it, when and wheresoeuer occasion requireth, The Laytie hitherto hath been debarred and inhibited the readyng of the Scriptures: in whiche practise the Deuill vsed a meruailous suttle deuise, to terrifie, abashe, waine, and e­straunge men from the Scriptures: wherein (the more to bee lamented) he preuailed and attained to the verie ende and pitche of his firste conceiued drifte. For thus thought he with hymself: If I maie once bryng to passe, that the Laitie may not read the Scriptures, I doubt not but within a while, I shall driue the Popes themselues from the Scriptures al­so, to the studie of Aristotle, and of the Schoolemen. Where­by it shall come to passe, that ere it bee long, thei shall babble and prate on nothing so muche, as their owne dreamyng deui­ses, and make a Religion of their owne foolishe and absurde phantasies: and as for the Laitie, thei shalbe driuē to haue none other instruction, but what it shall please the Clergie to tattle and preache vnto them. For, if it were otherwise, and that the Laitie also might bee suffered to reade the Scriptures, then should the Popes also theimselues, bee driuen to applie the Scriptures, least thei should be iustly reprehended of the Lai­tie, and their falshoode and forgerie detected. But marke these woordes of Sainct Peter, thus generally spoken vnto vs all: that we should all bee readie to yeeld an accoumpt and reason [Page 83] of our Faithe. When thou diest, it is neither I, nor yet the Pope, that is able to helpe thee, if thou stande not vppon a sure foundation of the hope that is in thee: or if thou shouldest haue nothyng to saie, but that thou beleeuest and wilt beleeue, as the Councelles, as the Pope, and as thy forefathers haue beleued. For the Deuill will by and by replie againste thee, and saie: What if thei haue erred? Whereby he will driue thee to haue neuer a woorde to saie, and so hale and drawe thee into Helle. And therefore it standeth vs vpon, to bee certainly perswaded and grounded in those thinges whiche we beleue, namely, that the Woorde of God is not that, whiche the Pope, or whiche our holie Fathers doe either beleeue or saie. For wee must not depende vpon, nor trust vnto any persone whatsoeuer, but one­ly vpon the verie expresse and onely Woorde of God.

And therefore when thou art rebuked, reprehended, or (as though thou were an heretique) demaunded any questions concernyng thy Faithe, or why thou beleeuest that by Faithe onely thou shalt be saued: let thine aunswere bee thus: Because I haue the expresse Worde of God for my warraunt, and eui­dent textes of the Scriptures that so teacheth me, as namely, sainct Paule Rom. j. The iuste shall liue by his Faithe. And a­gaine, the woordes afore alledged by sainct Peter out of Esaie Chap. xxviij. as touchyng the liuely Stone Christe, where he saieth: He that beleueth on hym, shall neuer be confounded. These sure groundes doe I sticke vnto, and in so doyng, I am certaine and sure that I cannot be deceiued. But if thou wilte wilfully (as many foolishe mynded persones vse) saie: Sir, we will relie and adhere to what soeuer the Generall Counsell in this or in that poinct shall define and determine: and whatsoe­uer is there concluded, wee will stande vnto and maintaine: I tell thee, who soeuer thou bee that so saiest, thou art a forlorne persone, and in a moste miserable case. Let this rather bee thy saiyng: what is it to me, what either this man or that man, ei­ther beleeueth or decreeth: For if he bryng not the sincere and true Woorde of God, wherewith to direct and perswade me, I will neither heare hym nor beleeue hym.

[Page]Peraduenture thou wilt saie: All thynges are now so per­plexed and so intricate, that no man certainly knoweth, what to beleeue and therefore we must staie till suche tyme as it bee concluded, what we must obserue, and what we must followe, I saie againe, that if thou dwell vpon that poinct, thou shalte in the meane season goe straight to the Deuill. For when thou art come to the laste pinche of life, and seest thou must dye, and yet knowest not what thou art bounden to beleeue, then canst thou neither bee holpen and relieued by me, nor yet by any o­ther. And therefore it behooueth thee to knowe perfectly what thou art to beleeue, and not herein to depende vppon the deter­mination and appoinctment of any other manne: But firmely and stedfastly to cleaue vnto the woorde of GOD, if so be that thou desire to escape the paines of hell.

It shall also bee verie expedient and necessarie for suche as be vnlearned, perfectly to learne, and faithfully to beare in me­morie some plaine and euident places of Scripture, and some such certaine and infallible sentences, whereon as vpon a foū ­dation thei maie leane & trust. Among the which this maie be one, where the Lord saied vnto Abrahā Gen. xij. In thy Seede shall all nations of the earth bee blessed. This place beeyng firmely fixed in memorie, thy surest Auckerholde and state is stedfastlie to beleeue it, and strongly to relie vnto it with this perswasion in thy self. Beholde, although the Pope and all his Cardinalles and all Councelles mainteined the contrarie, and would affirme anything otherwise then is here set downe, yet will I vnmooueablie confesse and sticke vnto this, because I certainlie knowe this to bee the Woorde of God, whiche abi­deth fast for euer, and can neuer deceiue mee. Nothyng can be blessed but through this Seede. And to bee blessed, is nothyng els, but to bee freed and deliuered from all curse, that is, from Sinne, Death and Hell. Wherevpon it necessarily followeth, that hee whiche is not blessed by and through this Seede, is a damned Soule and a member of Sathan: and that therefore our own Works and Merites are nothyng at all auaileable to vs towarde our Saluation.

[Page 84]The verie same thing is meant vp that afore mentioned place of Sainct Peter: He that beleeueth in that Stone, shall not bee ashamed. Therefore if thou be appreached by any, and asked a reason of thy Faithe, aunswere out of this place, and saie: This is the foundation and groundworke of my Faithe, which I knowe can not deceiue me: and therefore, I little care what Pope or Bishoppe either teacheth or defineth. If they were true Bishoppes, as thei ought to bee, thei should so zea­louslie, so painfully and so continually preache this foundation of Faith, that none among the Christians should be ignorant of it. Whereas thei (contrari wise) crye out and saie, that it is not lawfull for the Laie people to reade the Scriptures. And therefore if thou bee asked, whether thou wilt consent and be­leue that the Pope is the head: answere thou, Yea: and safe that thou so takest hym to be: to witt, the head and ringleader of all ruffianlie Ve [...]lettes and bloudie Tyrauntes in the worlde be­cause thou hast a place out of sainct Paule. j. Ti [...]. illj. teaching thee: That there should come some in the lati [...]e tyme, that should teache the doctrines of Deuilles, forbiddyng to ma­rie, and commaunding to abstaine from meates, which God hath created to bee receiued with thankesgiuyng of them whiche beleeue and knowe the truthe. &c. These thynges hath the Pope forbidden, whiche is so generally well knowen that none can denie it, and therefore he is Antichrist. For what soeuer Christe either teacheth or commaundeth, against that hee bothe kicketh, and endeuoureth all that euer hee can, eche waie to infring it, and to establishe the contrarie. That which Christe hath left free, the Pope bindeth, and that which Christ plainly saieth not to be Sinne, that doeth the Pope affirme to bee Sinne.

After this sorte therfore thou must learne to yeeld a reason of thy Faith. For, of this bee assured, that a reason thereof thou muste yeelde: if not in this life, doubtlesse in the tyme of thy death, thou shake bee charged there with. Thyne Enemie the Deuill will bee readie at thy elbowe, to saie: Why haste thou called the Pope Antichrist? Now, if thou bee not fullie furni­shed [Page] with sufficient reasons, to yeeld vnto hym the cause, why thou didst so, he will triumph ouer thee and goe away with the victorie. And therefore sainct Peters meanyng is here to pre­monishe vs thereof: That seeyng wee haue beleeued in Christ Iesus, wee must make our reckonyng to bee exercised with diuers temptations and sundrie kindes of persecutions: in all whiche, wee must bee strongly armed and comfortably shiel­ded with the hope and expectation of eternall life. And therfore when wee shalbe asked, why we so hope, it shall moste neede­fully stande vs vppon, to bee furnished and instructed with the Worde of God, and therevnto onely to sticke.

Furthermore, the crabbed and Sophisticall Schoole men haue vtterly peruerted, wrested and misconstrued this place, as thei haue (in a maner) all the reste of the Scripture: maintey­ning and holdyng, that Heretiques are to be confused and con­uinced by Reason and by the light of Nature, by Aristotle and suche like: because in the Latine texte it is tearmed, ratio­nem reddere. As thaugh sainct Peter meane that this should bee doen by humaine Reason. Wherevpon thei grewe so farr in their dreamyng dotage, that in the ende thei were not asha­med to saie, that the Scripture was too weake to refell and confute Heretiques: and therfore that the defectes therof must be supplied by Reason: and that the right triall of true Faithe must bee fetched out of the wisedome of mans braine. Where­as our Faithe farre passeth all reason, as that whiche is the greate power and vertue of God. Therefore whē thei wil not beleeue thee, it shall be best for thee to holde thy peace: and to, rest thy self inwardly, satisfied, that thou canst and doest drawe all the foundation and ground woorke of thy Faithe out of the pure and liuely Woorde of God. But some of them will here steppe forthe and saie. What Saiest thou that wee ought not to obserue the doctrines of men? Were not Peter and Paule, yea and Christe himself, Men? When thou meetest with any such shamelesse and impudent persons, so blinded & obstinate, as either to denye or to doubte whether that whiche thou prea­chest out of the Worde of God, be the Woorde of God or no: [Page 85] giue them no answere, haue neither speeche [...] communica­tion with them, but refraine them: giuyng this reason [...] them for a farewell, that thou wilt and art readie to giue suffi­cient reason of that whiche thou preached out of the sacred Scriptures: if that they will beleeue and giue credite to the Scriptures, thou doest a good deede so to winne and confirme them: if thei will tooke for other helpes besides, deale not with them. But here will some saie. So shall the Worde of Godlie open to confusion, and bee troden doune. Commit th [...] that is God, whose quarell it is, and who is beste able to defende his own cause. It shall therfore be very expedient [...], through­lie to acquaint our selues with the sacred Scriptures, where­by wee shalbe able to stoppe the mouthes of [...]: be­cause the number of theim that vsually make these and suche like obiections is now adaies very rise.

15 And that with meekenesse and reuerence.

WHen ye are questioned withall, & asked [...] touching your Faithe, answere ye not with any opprodr [...]s or malaper [...]termes, neither with so [...] strugling distemperaunce, as though you would howe downe a mayne Tree, but doe it with suche in idlnesse and submission, as if ye should stande to answere euer before the Iudgement of God. For it maie be, that it thou [...] to answere concernyng thy Faithe, before Kinges and Prin­ces, and that thou hardest a certaine time afore, very well pre­pared and furnished thy fr [...]t for the same purpose with suffici­ent flo [...]e of sundrie places of the Scriptures, and [...] thin­kest with thy self: I am now readie for all my [...] shall be very well able to [...] their [...] their obiections: it maie bee (I [...]) that the Deuill [...] wa [...]te to [...]rippe thee, will bee [...] thy [...] and of thy hande, and by thee meanes so [...] the [...] of [...] and dismaie thy courage, [...] be able to doe that whiche thou pretendedst, but discredite the cause and [Page] thy self, and so thy former furniture nothyng auaile thee. For, he is so enured with malicious skill, that hee knoweth well e­nough how to wring from thee (as it were thy fighting sword out of thy hands) those places wherwith thou chieflie haddest armed thy self to buckle with thyne aduersaries, and to main­taine the cause that thou haddest in hande: and so thy good pur­pose should come to none effect. For he knoweth aforehande thy purposed deiuses, and God suffreth it so to come to passe, thereby to represse and pull downe thy pride, and insolencie, and to make thee to humble thy self.

Therefore if thou wouldest not that suche a foyle should happen vnto thee, it behdoueth thee to take it ill hande with tremblyng and reuerent feare, and not to repose any maner of trust in thyne owne strength & abilitie, but onely in the Word of GOD, and promise of Christ, Matth. x. When ye shall be brought before Kynges and Rulers for my sake, take ye no thought how or what ye shal speake: for it shal be giuen you in that houre, what ye shall saie: for it is not ye that speake, but the Spirite of your Father, which speaketh in you. Thou doest very well, at suche a tyme when thou must in suche case answere, to furnish thy self with sufficient stoare of textes and sentences of Scripture: but this withall thou must take speci­all heede vnto, that thou doe not trust too much in the same, or insolently deale therin: least God take aswell out of thy mouth, as out of thy memorie, that place or Texte, wherewith thou diddest purpose moste speciallie and strongly to assaile and en­counter thyne Enemie, although thou were afore armed and stoared with all the places and textes within the Scripture. Therefore thou haddest neede to tremble and feare. Where­with if thou together with the sentences of Scripture, be fur­nished, thou shall be able to defende thy self and the cause that thou haste in hande before Princes and Magistrates, yea be­fore the Deuil himself. Onely take heede, that the staffe wher­vnto thou leanest, be the pure, Woorde of GOD, and not the dreggie deuises of mans fantasticall imagination.

[Page 86] 16 And haue a good conscience, that whē thei speake euill of you, as of euill dooers, thei maie bee asha­med, whiche blame your good conuersation in Christe.

OF this spake Sainct Peter afore. For we can not escape (if we sticke fast to the profession of the Gospell) but be euil spoken of, reuiled, yea and condemned of the worlde: in somuche that we shalbe accoumpted no better then the lew­dest fellowes and naughtiest persones that liue. And therefore we must arme our selues paciently and willyngly to beare all these thynges, and onely before GOD to stande in reuerent feare, and to haue within vs the testimony of a good conscience: And then let the Deuill rage at vs, and all the worlde stamps and stare at vs: let them bothe backbite, reuile, and slaunder vs as muche as euer thei liste: in the ende thei must be put to con­fusion and shame, for so falsely and slaunderously accusyng vs. For when the Lorde God in the daie of visitation (as Sainct Peter saieth) shall laye all thynges open and manifeste, then shall we stande in safetie before hym, with a good conscience. These excellente and pithie sentences, are sufficiently able to confirme and strengthen vs, and also to keepe and conserue vs in awe and feare.

17 For it is better (if the will of God be so) that ye suf­fer for well doyng, then for euill doyng.

IT can not possibly bee, that thei (to whom hea­uen is appoincted for their enheritaunce) should here in this worlde liue in quiet state according to the desire of Nature: seeyng the same happe­neth not to those that be of the worlde, and which haue neither parte nor portion in the kyngdome of heauen. It is an Iniunction indifferently appertainyng, and equally a­like liable vnto all Adams children and posteritie, whiche was [Page] denounced to Adam by the mouthe of God hymself. Gene. iij. In the sweate of thy browes shalt thou eate thy breade: And vnto Eue, In sorrowe shalt thou bryng forthe Children. Se­yng therefore that these externall incommodities, are indiffe­rently and alike inflicted vpon all persones, how muche more meete is it, for them to beare the Crosse vpon their shoulders, who shortly after shall bee translates hence into the heauenlie kyngdome, there to enioye endlesse blisse, and life euerlasting? Therefore (saieth he) if the will of God bee so, it is better that ye suffer for well doyng. Thei whiche suffer for euill dooyng, and deseruedly, cary aboute with them an euill conscience, and are tormented with a double punishemente: Whereas true Christians abide onely but she one haste of that paine: because although thei suffer outwardly muche paine, grief, anguishe, smarte, vexation, tribulation and torment in their Fleshe, yet haue thei inwardly in their Spirite and conscience, greate ioye and consolation.

But here he hath set doune certaine limited boundes, how we should submit our selues to affliction. And in that he saieth If the will of God bee so, he giueth vs a profitable lesson and warnyng, that none should bee so madde, to imitate the cu­stome and maner of the Donatistes, of whom Saincte Augu­stine maketh mention: who snatching certaine textes and pla­ces of the Scripture, touchyng suffryng and affliction, killed themselues, and wilfully threwe themselues headlong doune into the Sea. GOD hath no pleasure in seeyng vs to doe any kind of harme vnto our selues, or to seeke any new [...]angled de­uise of bodily annoyance. Let this bee our drifte and shoote an­ker, sincerely to w [...]lke in Faithe and brotherly loue and then if it please the Lorde to laye the Crosse vpō vs lett vs ioyfully embrace it as it please hym to exempte vs from tr [...]ble, let vs not wilfully and willyngly [...] it. And therefore [...] pre­posterous course doe those [...] h [...]te Spirites take, whiche vse to whippe and per [...]e, yea many tymes to [...] themselues with beatyng, thinkyng by that meanes to [...] and winne Heauen.

[Page 87]This kinde of newe founde Religion, and wilfull counter­faite humilitie and affliction, in this outward punishement of the bodie, S. Paule forbiddeth to be vsed, Coloss iij. We must mortifie our bodie, and subdue our members, that thei growe not wanton, [...]r waxe [...]asei [...]i [...]s, but wee maie not violently destroye them. This is the meanyng of these wordes. (If the will of God b [...] so) whiche is as muche to saie, as, if God bee pleased to [...] any kinde of Crosse or persecution vnto vs▪ For then it is better to suffer, and them therein out the happier and blessedder, if for well doyng thou abide and suffer afflictiō.

18 For Christe also hath once suffred for sinnes, the iuste for the vniuste.

HEre againe doeth sainct Peter propounde and sette before vs, for a paterne to imitate, our Lorde Christe and his bitter Passion: after the rule whereof, wee ought to frame our selues, and not presume to prescribe vnto our selues, a­ny newe deuised singularitie. For as Christe is a Patterne to all Christian Beleeuers, and to them all is sette doune for an Example, so ought all men in generalitie to imitate his step­pes: and in all their actions, professions, and functions of life, what soeuer betide, to haue respect vnto him, and after his dea­lynges semblablie to conforme themselues. And Sainct Pe­ters woordes in effecte sounde thus: Christ was iuste and suf­fred for well dooyng, for our sakes that were vniuste: But he sought not to sayng the Crosse vpon hym, but taried the tyme till the will of GOD did so appoincte, that he should drinke of the Cu [...]e of his painfull Passion. Hym now ought wee to take is by Example, and in the whole course of our life, diligē ­tly [...]presse and resemble. And this example Saincte Peter here namely setteth doune vnto vs, because he hath alreadie taught euery sorte of persones, in what trade soeuer thei liue, their seuer all offices and dueties, concludyng the same with this example of Christes Passion.

[Page]And this is here to bee noted, that he saieth that Christ suf­fred once: which is as much to saie, as that Christ suffred and satisfied once for al, euen for all the sinnes of the whole worlde, and not that he should for euery seueral sinne, seuerally die. By which his death, once for all, he hath cleane taken awaie al the Synnes, of so many as in Faithe approche nexe vnto hym, and faithfully beleeue in hym: All which are now deliuered frō the daunger of Death, as surely and as certainly as he hym­self is now deliuered and freed from the power of Death.

18 The iuste for the vniuste.

AS though he should saie: How muche more ought we to bee willyng to suffer, beyng so sin­full, and so many waies deseruyng it, seeyng that Christ was content to suffer death for our sakes, beeyng hymself moste iuste, for vs that were vniuste, and clogged with the chaines of so many moste horrible Sinnes, wickednesse, and transgressions?

8 That he might bryng vs to God.

ALL this is spoken, onely to instructe and teache vs in what sorte the Passion of Christe was, to witte, suche, that he died not for any cause of his owne, but to the intent to reconcile and bryng vs to GOD. How can that bee, wilt thou saie? Did he not offer vp hymself? I aunswere: True it is, that he offred vp hymself on the Crosse, for so many of vs as beleeue in hym: In whiche his offryng and oblation he offred vs vp al­so, so that so many of vs as stedfastly beleeue on hym, must al­so with hym, accordyng to the fleshe suffer and be killed, euen as he suffred and died. God hath here in such estate placed vs, that wee liuyng in the Spirite, might yet due in the fleshe, as afterwardes sainct Peter declareth. But as we are offred vp with Christ (that is) as we dye with Christ, euen as he, accor­dyng [Page 88] to the fleshe truely died, so doe we liue with hym in Spi­rite, euen as he hymself doeth Spiritually liue.

18 And was put to Death concernyng the fleshe, but was quickened in the Spirite.

THis woorde Fleshe in the Scripture is a com­mon vsuall woorde, as also this woorde Spirite is: whiche twoo vocables the Apostles doe euer in a maner set, the one against the other. Now, the meanyng of these woordes is this: Christe in his Passion died and was taken out of this life, whiche is fleshe and blood: suche fleshe and blood as manne here in this worlde is cladd withall: the offices and functions whereof are these, Goyng, Standyng, Eatyng, Drinkyng, Sleapyng, Watchyng, Seeyng, Hearyng, Touchyng, Feelyng, and to speake all at one woorde, what soeuer is naturally to bee doen in this bodie, and is fraile and transitorie. To all these died Christe. Saincte Paule calleth these, the Naturall or Animall bodie, for that all other Creatures, haue the vse of all these ac­tions as well as we. But his fleshe died not, in any other sorte but accordyng to the fleshe: that is, accordyng to those Natu­rall and corporall functions, whiche are done and exercised by the bodie: To this life (I saie) Christe died, so that all these functions likewise died and ceassed in hym, and hee hymself transported into an other life. And beeyng quickened accor­dyng to the Spirite, tooke vnto hym a life Spirituall and su­pernaturall, comprehendyng and possessyng in it self, all that life whiche Christe now possesseth, as well in Bodie as in Spirite. Who now hath not any longer suche a carnall Bodie as he had afore, but a Spirituall bodie. And thus doeth sainct Paule expounde this place.

The very same, hope wee also at the latter daie to enioye: to witt, that our fleshe and bloud shall passe and bee altered in to a spirituall life, wherein these our Bodies shal no more eate and drinke, begette children, digest, concoct, euacuate or any [Page] suche like: but shall [...] in Spirite, and this bodie shall bee as clear [...] as n [...]w the S [...]nne is, yea [...] clearer. Fleshe and bloud shall not thenceforth bee naturall, there shall then be no suche function either [...] or corporall, suche as other Creatures now [...] aswell as wee.

These bee in a maner the woordes whiche sainct Paule v­seth. j. Cor. xv. The first man Adam (saieth he) was made a li­uyng Soule, and the last Adam was made a quicknyng Spi­rite. And it there followeth, That as we haue borne the Image of the earthie and naturall Man, so shall we beare the Image of the spirituall and heauenlie. From Adam wee haue all the offices and functions naturall, euen as brute Beastes haue, accordyng to our outwarde senses and faculties. But Christe liueth in the Spirit, and is fleshe and bloud, but not so as he did afore: all outwarde functions of bodily Senses are ceassed in hym, he neither sleepeth nor watcheth, and yet knoweth he all thinges and is in euery place. Suche also shall wee bee: for he is the first fruictes, the oblation and first box [...]re (as S. Paule saieth) of the [...]: that is, he is the first that arose from the dead and tooke vnto him a spiritual life. Therefore Christ doeth now liue accordyng to the Spirite, that is to saie, He is still very perfect Man, but he hath a spiritual Body. And ther­fore that whiche is here saied, is not so to [...] taken as we vsu­ally doe, whē we separate Fleshe and Spirite asunder the one from the other: but that the Bodie and Fleshe are now spiri­tuall, and that the Spirite is bothe in the Bodie and with the Bodie. For sainct Peters meanyng is not here, that Christe was raised by the holie Ghost, but he vseth this worde Spirite after a general maner: [...] if a man should saie, the Spirit doth this or that. In whiche wordes, is not simplie meant the holie Ghoste, but rather that inwarde working, and effectuall force whiche worketh in vs by the operation of the holie Ghost.

19 By the whiche he also went, and preached vnto the spirites that are in person.

20 Whiche were in tyme passed disobedient,

[Page 89] THis place I dooe take to bee as obscure and harde to bee vnderstoode, as any in the newe Testament: insomuche that I confesse my self not yet to haue founde out the certaine meanyng thereof. First the words them sel­ues doe sounde, as though Christe had prea­ched vnto Spirites: I meane, the Soules of them that would not beleeue in the tyme that Noah built the Arke. The sense thereof beeyng somewhat harde to conceiue, hath hitherto so entangled mee, that neither can I aduouche any sounde inter­pretation of it, neither any other as yet that hath takē in hand the exposition thereof. Some peraduenture will not sticke to take these woordes so, as that Christe after his deathe on the Crosse, went downe into Hell, and preached to the Soules there: with whiche vain opinion I meane not here to enter dis­putation. But mee thinkes, these wordes doe very well admit an other sense & meanyng, to wit, that our Lorde Christ, after his ascension into Heauen, came in Spirite and preached, al­beeit not bodilie. For hee speaketh not now with any bodilie voyce, as he also vseth none of the other functions of corporall or bodily nature. And therefore, let vs take the wordes to sig­nifie and meane, accordyng as thei sounde, that is, in Spirite: and that he preached to the Spirites in that his spirituall life. Wherevppon it also followeth that his preachyng then was spirituall, emplantyng the same in their hartes and Soules: so that, there was no neede for him to goe in bodie and preache with mouth for the same. These words of sainct Peter proue not, that after he dyed, he went doune vnto the Ghosts that are in Hell to preache vnto them. For he saieth thus: In whiche he went &c. Whiche is asmuche as if he had saied: After he was deade accordyng to the fleshe and quickened accordyng to the Spirite, (that is) after hee had laied doune and left his life in the fleshe, and all other naturall workes and functions of his bodie, and had now taken vnto him a spirituall life and conuer­sation, as now he hath and doeth in heauen: then hee went and preached to the Spirites &c. Now it is most euident and cer­taine, [Page] that Christ descended not eftsoones to Hell, after he had receiued this his newe glorified life. And therefore wee must vnderstande, that he made this preachyng, after his Ascension into Heauen.

Seyng therefore that the wordes doe well beare to be vn­derstood of a Spirituall preachyng: wee are to thinke that S. Peter in this place speaketh, of the Office of Christe: for that as the worde is outwardly preached by Voyce, so worketh he inwardly in the harte. Hee enioyned his Apostles, to preache the Gospell bodily, but yet is hee hymself present spiritually: and whatsoeuer the Apostles vtter in outwarde speeche to the bodily eares of men, that doethe he speake and preache into the hartes and myndes of them inwardlie. And then preacheth hee to the Spirites, whom the Deuill holdeth captiue and in thraldome: so that wee take this worde (went) and these wor­des preachyng to the Spirites that are in prison accordyng to the accoumpt and computation of God himself, because in the sight of Christe thei that haue been long since, are euen in the same state as thei bee that now presently liue. For his Kyng­dome reacheth to the deade aswell as to the liuyng. In that life wherein hee now liueth, the Beginning, the Middle and the ende of the Worlde, are conteined and reckened after one and the same accoumpt & all as one: although in this life these thinges bee not reckened so, but eche thyng accordyng to his orderly succession, as the Sonne after the Father, and so of o­thers. All thinges lye naked to the sight of GOD, and are as now present vnto his eyes: and he in one moment or minute of tyme ouerlooketh and surueigheth all that is, was or shalbee. A thousande yeeres with hym are but as one daie, as saincte Peter in his seconde Epistle declareth. And therefore the first man is as present vnto him, as the man that shalbe last borne, for with one glaunce he beholdeth at once the whole Worlde.

Let this therfore be the meanyng of this place: that Christ now preacheth not any more corporallie, but is present in his Woorde, and thereby preacheth to the Spirites in their har­tes. And here wee must note, that Saincte Peter vseth a Fi­gure, [Page 90] named Synecdoche, which is, when the whole is taken for a parte: and contrariwise, when the parte is taken for the whole. For hee preached not altogether vnto them alone, but vnto all that are like vnto them, and of semblable disposition to theirs: As if a mā (for example sake) should now saie: This man preached among the Heluetians, who sometymes were vnder the gouernement of the Dukes of Austria. It herevp­pon by and by followeth not, that hee preached to theim that sometymes were Vassalles to the Dukes of Austria, and are now long since dead: but it sufficeth to saie, that he preached to the people dwellyng now, in that Countrie, which afore liued in suche subiection. And thus vnder the name of the parte, the whole is many tymes vnderstoode, and the whole againe of­tentymes is put to signifie the Parte. And after this sorte must we by this life haue respect, and consideration of the other life.

This is the beste interpretation in my Iudgemente that can bee for this place: howbeit if any manne bryng a better, I will bee glad (as meete it is) to allowe of it. But to be plaine, I can not at any hande bee perswaded to beleeue, that Christe beeyng quickened in Spirite (that is, hauyng now taken vn­to hym a Spirituall life) did descende into Helle, and preache to the Soules there: speciallie, seeyng the Scripture is flatte againste any suche matter: affirmyng that when thynges are brought to that poinct, euery one shall receiue accordyngly as he hath dooen and beleeued. Againe, it is not certaine in what state the dead remaine. To conclude, the woordes themselues are against any suche meanyng for the deade. Now, this is vn­doubtedly true, that Christe is presente and preacheth in the harte, when as the faithfull Minister or vocall Preacher, with fruite vttereth and instilleth the Woorde of God into the Ea­res: and therefore wee maie boldly and without daunger, ad­mit and embrace this interpretation of this place. He to whom God hath reueiled, and opened a better exposition, I wishe to be followed. The verie summe therefore of this our Interpre­tation is this: Christe beyng now quickened in Spirite (that is, after he was ascended into Heauen) preached afterwarde [Page] vnto the Soules of menne, who afore vsed to preache to their bodies: emong whiche Soules there were many Vnbeleuers in the daies of Noah.

20 When once the long suffring of God abode in the daies of Noah, while the Arke was preparyng, where in fewe, that is, eight Soules were saued in the water.

HEre againe persisteth Sainct Peter, in alled­ging and insertyng the Scriptures, in whiche, his purpose is to drawe vs to enure and exer­cise our selues. And out of theim he bryngeth the figure of Noah his Arke, whiche be also explaneth. It is verie cōfortable and proper, to fetche Simili­tudes from suche maner of Examples as this: whiche order Saincte Paule also followed: Gala. iiij. where he recordeth the mysterie of the twoo Sonnes of Abraham, and also his twoo Wiues, and afterward expounded the same. And Christe also Ihon. iij. speaketh of the Brasen Serpent, whiche Moses lifte vp in the wildernesse, Num. xxj. Suche pithie Similitudes are easily learned, and willyngly hearkened vnto, and menne commonly take greate delight in the hearyng of theim. And therefore Saincte Peter here bryngeth in by waie of compa­rison, the Similitude of the Arke of Noah: whereby he briefly and in fewe woordes, and yet with a certaine pleasure, setteth doune a sure lesson to confirme Faithe. And that whiche he here setteth doune, to haue come to passe when Noah made the Arke: after the same sort standeth the case now: that as he and his, (euen eight Soules) were saued in the Arke, whiche was caried vpon the Waters, so must wee also bee saued through Baptisme: that Water did then once saue bothe menne and all Creatures beside: and so Baptisme beyng receiued in Faithe, drouneth in vs whatsoeuer is carnall and naturall, and maketh vs Spirituall: And this commeth to passe, when wee betake our selues into the Arke, whiche signifieth and figureth our [Page 91] Lorde Christ, or the Churche of Christ, or the Gospell whiche Christe preached, or the Bodie of Christe, in whiche wee all hange together by Faithe, and are deliuered from all euilles, euen as Noah by the Arke was saued from beeyng drenched in the Waters. Gene. vij. Thus we see, how this example by hym here brought, comprehendeth (as it were) compendious­ly and briefly, bothe what Faithe is, and what the Crosse is: what is Life, and what is Death? Now, where soeuer there bee men that whollie depende vpon Christ, there certainly is the Churche of Christ: and there is vtterly drouned and killed, what soeuer is in vs that is euill, and that issueth and commeth from our old Adam.

21 To the whiche also the figure that now saueth vs, euen Baptisme agreeth (not the puttyng awaie of the filthe of the fleshe, but in that a good consci­ence maketh request to God)

YE are not hereby satted, in that the filth of your bodies is cleane washed awaie, and nothyng els cleansed but the Bodie, as the Iewes pre­cisely obserued and vsed to doe, (for suche kinde of purifiyng is of no moment nor force: but it is a good Conscience makyng request to God, that saueth you. When as ye feele within you a good Conscience, chearfullie and confidently daryng to shewe it self, and to appeare before God, as though there were a couenaunt or bargain betwéene theim, and therevppon dare boldly saie: This hath my Lorde God promised me, and I am sure he will performe it, for he is suche a one, as can not deceiue. If ye thus stedfastly cleaue vn­to his Woorde, and whollie depende vppon hym, you can not misse but bee saued. And the Meane whereby we thus obtaine Saluation, is Faithe: and not any outward Worke, that we our selues are able any waies to doe.

21 By the resurrection of Iesus Christe.

THis small portion of woordes hath Saincte Peter purposely added to that whiche went before, to shewe a reason of the Faithe that is grounded here­vpon: because that after Christe died, and descended into the lower partes, he staied not still there, but anone arose againe from the deade. For if he had continued still in Death, we had remained still in our miserable estate, forlorne as wee were afore: But because he is risen againe from the deade, and now sitteth on the right hande of his Father, and hath caused the same to bee published and preached vnto vs, to the intente wee should beleeue on hym, we haue therefore a certaine coue­naunt, or promise with GOD, vnto the whiche wee certainly and vnfeignedly dooe truste, and by the whiche wee are saued and preserued, euen as Noah was by the Arke. Thus there­fore hath Saincte Peter laied before our eyes, and made the whole Arke spirituall vnto vs: in whiche is neither Fleshe nor Blood, but a good Conscience to Godward, and that is Faith.

22 Whiche is at the right hande of GOD, gone into heauen, to whom the Angelles, and Powers, and Mightes are subiecte.

ALL this he speaketh, to make our Faithe the perfecter and stronger. For it behooued, that Christe should ascende into Heauen, and bee made Lorde of all Creatures, and that all Po­wer what soeuer, and where soeuer, should bee subiected vnto hym, to the ende he might aduaunce and bryng vs thither, and make vs also Lordes of all thynges.

All whiche be of singuler force and efficacie, to comfort and confirme our hartes and mindes. For hereby are we assuredly perswaded, that all thinges through Christ and by Christ, are made to serue vs: That whatsoeuer power there is in Heauē, or in Earth, yea Death & Deuill, all are hereby enioyned and cōpelled to serue vs, and for our vses, euen as thei are bound to serue Christ, and to lye in all subiection vnder his feete.

The fourth Chapter.

FOrasmuche then as Christ hath suffred for vs in the flesh, arme your selues like wise with the same mynd, which is, that he which hath suffred in the flesh, hath ceassed from sinne,

2 That he henceforward should liue (as muche tyme as remaineth in the fleshe) not after the lustes of men, but after the will of God,

3 For it is sufficient for vs that wee haue spent the tyme past of the life, after the lust of the Gentiles, walkyng in wā ­tonnesse, lustes, drunkennesse, in gluttonie, drinkinges, and in abominable idolatries.

4 Wherein it seemeth to them strange, that ye runne not with them vnto the same excesse of ryote: therefore speake thei euill of you.

5 Whiche shall giue accounts to hym, that is readie to iudge quicke and deade.

6 For vnto this purpose was the Gospell preached also vnto the dead, that thei might be condemned, according to men, in the fleshe, but might liue accordyng to God, in the spirite.

7 Now the ende of all thinges is at hande. Be ye therefore sober, and watchyng in praier.

8 But aboue all thinges haue feruent loue among you: for loue couereth the multitude of sinnes.

9 Be ye harberous one to an other, without grudgyng.

10 Let euery man as he hath receiued the gift, minister the same one to an other, as good disposers of the manifold grace of God.

11 If any man speake, lett him talke, as the woordes of [Page] GOD. If any man minister, let him doe it, as of the abilite, which God ministreth, that God in all thinges maie bee glo­rified through Iesus Christe, to whom is praise and domini­on for euer, and euer, Amen.

12 Dearely beloued, thinke it not straunge concernyng the firie triall, whiche is among you to proue you, as though some straunge thing were come vnto you:

13 But reioyce, in asmuch as ye are partakers of Christes suffringes, that when his glorie shall appeare, ye maie bee glad and reioyce.

14 If ye be rayled vpon for the Name of Christe, blessed are ye: for the spirite of glorie, and of God resteth vpon you: whiche on their parte is euill spoken of: but on your parte is glorified.

15 But let none of you suffer as a murtherer or as a thiefe, or an euill doer, or as a busie bodie in other mens matters.

16 But if any manne suffer as a Christian, let hym not bee ashamed: but let hym glorifie God in this behalfe.

17 For the tyme is come, that iudgment must beginne at the house of God. If it first begin at vs, what shall the ende be of them whiche obeye not the Gospell of God?

18 And if the righteous scarsely be saued, where shall the vngodly and the sinner appeare?

19 Wherefore let them that suffer accordyng to the will of God, commit their soules to him in well doyng, as vnto a faithfull Creator.

1 Forasmuche then as Christe hath suffred for vs in the flesh, arme your selues likewise with the same mynd, which is, that he whiche hath suffred in the fleshe, hath ceased from sinne:

SAinct Peter still continueth in the same Argu­ment that he had in hande in the other Chapter afore. For as he there generallie exhorted vs to suffer affliction and persecution (if so the will of God bee) and for the same, sett Christ for an ex­ample vnto vs: so doeth hee here more largely handle and con­firme the same, makyng thereof as it were a repetition: sai­yng: Forasmuch as Christ our Graund Captaine and head, suffred in the fleshe for vs, and also by his bitter passion redee­med vs, and in his suffryng became an Example vnto vs, it is most meete and our bounded duties are to imitate him, and to bee likewise armed and furnished. For, the life of Christe, and especially his passion, is set doune vnto vs in the Scriptures after two sortes. First, as a free Gift giuen vnto vs (as sainct Peter in the third Chapter afore hath worthilie described and set him doune vnto vs) moste chiefly labouring to builde vs on him by Faithe, and teaching vs that by the Bloud of Christ all our sinnes are expiated and clearely done awaie, and we freed from the thraldome of our transgressions, and restored to the participation of eternall life: seeyng that Christe was freely giuen vnto vs: all whiche benefites can of vs bee none other­wise conceiued and apprehended then by Faith onely. And of this hee spake afore, where he saied, that Christe once suffred for our Sinnes. This is the principall and the chiefest poinct of all, and in the holie Scriptures set doune as most excellent. And secondlie, Christe was giuen and set forthe vnto vs, as an Example or patterne for vs to imitate.

For when as wee haue once apprehended and taken holde of Christ as a free Gift, by Faithe, wee must nexte endeuour our selues and bende all our studies to imitate and resemble him in the whole course of his life, vnto passion. After this sorte, [Page] doeth sainct Peter here commende vnto vs, Christes passion. He purposelie speaketh not hereof the workes of Loue, wher­in wee serue our Neighbour, which bee properly called Good workes (for of them hath he alreadie spoken very sufficiently) but of suche workes as concerne our owne bodies: as namely, when wee serue our selues, and bee so carefull of our owne e­states, that our Faithe (while wee mortifie our Sinnes) may be the strōger, and we our selues the fitter to serue our Neigh­bour. For when as I doe tame and bridle myne owne bodie, and keepe it vnder, that it waxe not wanton and proue to las­ciuiousnes, I shall not haue any delight to enueigle my neigh­bours wife or his daughter to satisfie my inordinate lustes. So likewise, if I my self kill and quench in mine owne mynd, the flames of spightfull enuie and cancarde hatred, am I not a greate deale the fitter to deale louingly and gentlie with my neighbour? I haue oftentymes afore saied, that although by Faith we bee fullie iustified, and haue Christe with all his me­rites fullie our owne, yet ought wee to applye our selues to good Workes, and to seeke (all that wee can) the benefite and commoditie of our Neighbour. For we are neuer perfectly purged and cleane so long as we dwell in this worlde: there is no man but feeleth and findeth in his Bodie a Storehouse of many euill lustes and filthie desires. For Faithe beginneth to mortifie Sinnes, and to bryng with it an heauenly life: but it is not as yet here perfect and strong enough to doe that which it would: Euen as Christe reasoned of the Samaritan, which was not yet wholly restored to health, although his woundes were bounde vp, and charge enough giuen for his curyng and looking to: so fareth it with vs. For whē we beleue, our woun­des are bound vp that is to saie, the infection and disease which by propagation is deriued into vs from Adam, is begonne to bee healed: whiche is brought to passe (as wee see) in some, re­misselie and slowly, in other some, speedily and quickly, accor­dingly as euery one chastiseth himself and represseth his flesh, and hath a fuller measure of Faithe giuen vnto hym.

And therefore, when we haue attained these two, Faithe, [Page 94] and Charitie, our next studie and care ought to be, euen vntill wee dye, to skowre and pourge these reliques of Synne, yet harboroughyng within vs. And therefore saieth sainct Peter, Arme ye your selues likewise with the same mynde, that is, confirme your myndes, and strengthen your hartes in this co­gitation, to dooe as Christ hath dooen afore you. For if wee be right Christians, wee ought thus to thinke with our selues. My Lorde GOD hath suffred for me, hath shew his precious blood for me, and hath suffred Death on the Crosse for me: why should I bee suche a bastarde, to bee vnwillyng to suffer any kinde of affliction? For, if our Lorde hymself issue out in­to the brunte and breaste of the Battaile, how muche more meete is it for vs, beyng his poore Seruauntes, ioyfully to a­bide and vndertake any daunger? These cogitations would a­nimate vs to pearce into, and boldely to aduenture to giue the [...]nsect vpon any daungerous assaies what soeuer.

This woorde Fleshe signifieth not onely the Bodie, consi­styng of Fleshe and Blood, Skinne and Bones: but all what soeuer commeth from Adam. So saieth God Genes. vj. My Spirite shall not alwaies striue with manne, because he is but Fleshe. And Esaie likewise: Chap. xl. All Fleshe shall see the sauyng health of God: That is, it shalbee manifest before all menne in the worlde. So also saie wee in our Creed, I beleeue the resurrection of the Fleshe, (that is) that all mennesh all a­rise againe. Fleshe therefore signifieth the whole and entire Manne, euen as he liueth in this life. Now, the w [...]rkes of the Fleshe are in an excellent order, reckoned vp and recoumpted by sainct Paule, Gala. v. And not those grosse actions and wor­kes of the Fleshe onely, as Fornication, but the chiefest and greatest vices that bee, as Idolacrie, and Heresies, whiche bée resiaūt not in the Bodie onely, but rather in the Reason. Note therefore, that Manne, together with his Reason, Will, and all inward motions, (Soule and Bodie) is called Fleshe, and that because with al his powers bothe inwardly and outward­ly, he pursueth and himteth onely for those thynges that are carnall, and delightfull to the Fleshe. Euen so saieth Saincte [Page] Peter in this place, that Christ suffred in the Fleshe: whereas it is certaine, that his Passion was not onely in the Fleshe but in his Soule also, whiche adode that moste extreme agoine, whereof Esaie speaketh.

And after the same sorte must we also take this that follo­weth He whiche suffreth in the Fleshe, ceaseth from Synne. For this is not the meaning of it, that he whiche hath his head chopped of, or his bodie onely dismembred, ceasseth from syn­nes: but this suffryng in the Fleshe comprehendeth in it, what soeuer it bee that aggreeueth and vtterly discontenteth Man, or that whiche shalbee his happe willinglie to suffer and beare: what Miserie, Calamitie, Vexation, or necessitie so euer it bee. For there are a greate sorte, that beeyng sounde in bodie, are (notwithstandyng) inwardly in mynde greatly perplexed and disquieted, and in harte greeuously tormented. Now, if these grieues be laied vpon them, for Christes cause, it is good and commobious for them: for he that is afflicted in the Fleshe (saith he) ceasseth from Synne. For this purpose is the Crosse very profitable, because thereby Synnes are qualified, and greatly alaied. For when a Manne once beginneth earnestly, and from the verie bottome of his harte to repente, it is won­derfull to see, how soone and how quickely Luste, Enuie, ha­tred, and other synnes doe vanishe awaie and ceasse. Where­fore, GOD hath laied the Crosse on vs, thereby (as it were) to compell and pushe vs forwarde, as well to beleeue in hym, and to put our thirst in hym, as also that wee should reache our helpyng hande one to an other, through Loue.

2 That he henceforthe should liue (as muche tyme as remaineth in the Fleshe) not after the lustes of menne, but after the will of God.

OVr partes and dueties are, as in the whole course of our life, so by the Crosse and daiely chastifyng of our selues, to conquere and subdue our Fleshe, and to bryng it in subiection: not with intent ther­by [Page 95] to merite any thyng toward our Saluation, but to shewe our selues gratefull and duetifull vnto God. Not after the lu­stes of menne, (saieth he) that is: We must not doe it, to please either our selues or others thereby. For wee must not fashion our selues like vnto this worlde, as Saincte Paule writeth in the xij. Chapter to the Romaines. Whatsoeuer the worlde re­quireth of vs, that must we refraine and forbeare.

3 For it is sufficiente for vs, that wee haue spent the time paste of the life, after the luste of the Gentiles walkyng in wantonnesse, lustes, drunkennesse, in gluttonie, drinkynges, and in abhominable Idola­tries.

WEE haue alreadie too muche cockered our sel­ues, and been too muche giuen to our owne wā ton delites: for before wee receiued the Faithe, wee spente our tyme and bestowed our liues, accordyng to our owne sensuall appetites, in no better sorte then very Gentiles: And therefore we must striue and endeuour our selues to consecrate, and direct the residue of our life, according to the will of God, and to doe that whiche maie bee acceptable, vnto him. For we haue our Enemie with­in our owne bosome, wee foster and nourishe hym within our owne fleshe: there and from thence the craftie and moste Pe­stilent enemie (as it were) out of an ambushe, priuily and se­cretly setteth vpon vs: and that not with any grosse and appa­raunt vices, but rather with the credite, iolitie, and estimation of the Fleshe, which is called by Sainct Paule, The wisedome of the Fleshe. j. Cor. j. This beeyng now beaten doune, all the reste would easily and with little adode bee repressed and van­quished. For this oftentimes annoyeth and hurteth our neigh­bour, and that so closely and secretly, as that it can not bee de­scried or espied.

Sainct Peter calleth that Wantonnesse, when with sasci­uious woordes and gestures, the luste of the harte and minde [Page] is stirred vp and although no actuall dealyng ensue therevpō: and when either in speakyng or in listenyng to others that vse lende and vnchast talke, a manne any waie intemperately be­haueth hymself: so that anone after, there bee enkindled naugh­tie desires and inordinate motions, yea, and many tymes burst out into open acte. Thereout sometyme spryngeth Idolatrie also, whiche in the sight of God is a thyng abhominable. This mischieuous wickednesse (if wee bee not warie and carefull, to keepe our Faith vnspotted, will goe nere to touche vs. For if we once loose and make shipwracke of our Faithe, wee are moste sure withall to loose God also, and so shall we committ more grosse and horrible Idolatries, then euer any Gentiles did, and therefore it standeth vs greatly in hande, to looke well to our selues.

4 Wherein it seemeth to theim straunge, that ye run not with them vnto the same excesse of riot: there­fore speake thei euill of you;

5 Whiche shall giue accoumptes to hym, that is rea­die to iudge quicke and dead.

YE haue heretofore ledde a Heathenishe life, and now because ye haue forsaken that trade, it semeth vnto theim that still wallowe in the same myre, a verie straunge thing, yea, a verie foule and foolishe parte of you: not stickyng to saie: Loe, what foolishe fellowes bee these, that thus thei renounce all worldly iolitie, and dis­possesse theimselues at once from all the delightes of this life? But suffer ye them to haue this their vaine talke, let theim ac­coumpte this your conuersion, and alteration very straunge, and let them dispraise and despise your purpose as wilfull and absurde. The daie will come, when thei must be called to their reckenyng, and giue an accoumpt of their dealynges: and ther­fore in the meane space, commit ye all thynges vnto God, that will iudge all thynges accordyng to right.

[Page 96] 6 For vnto this purpose was the Gospell preached also vnto the deade, that thei might bee condem­ned, accordyng to menne, in the fleshe, but might liue accordyng to God, in the Spirite.

7 Now the ende of all thynges is at hande.

THis place againe is somwhat straunge and dif­ficile. The woordes dooe plainly saie, that the Gospell was preached not onely to the liuyng, but also to the Dead, and yet neuerthelesse he addeth these wordes, That thei might be con­demned, accordyng to menne, in the Fleshe. Now, thei that are dead, haue no Fleshe: wherefore these woordes can not be vnderstoode otherwise, then of them that be aliue. How soeuer wee take it, the phraze is somewhat straunge. Whether the whole texte and sentence in this place bee perfecte, or whether some woordes be missyng, I will not take vpon me to define. But thus doe I vnderstande this place, and am certainly per­swaded in the same, that it belongeth nothyng to vs, how and after what maner GOD meaneth to condemne the Gentiles whiche dyed many hundred yeares agoe: For it behooueth vs rather to looke and consider what he will doe to them that yet are aliue in the worlde.

This woorde Fleshe is so to bee vnderstoode as was afore declared: to witte, that it entierly signifieth the whole Man, as he liueth, as also he is called all Spirite, when he careth for the thinges that be of the Spirite. These be so mingled together, as if one should say of him that is woūded: this man is whole, if but onely the better parte in hym bee whollie cured. For hee is saied to be wounded but onely in that parte, wherein he was striken. So likewise in a Christian man, the Spirite ought to haue the chiefe Souereigntie. Therefore saieth hee, that thei are condemned in the fleshe: that is, accordyng to the outward man: but accordyng to the inwarde man, which is the Spirit, thei bee saued and liue.

But how commeth this to passe, that he saieth, they liue, [Page] and yet notwithstandyng calleth them dead? Truely, accor­dyng to my poore skill and capacitie (for I will not that this my interpretation should preiudice and forestall the meanyng of the holie Ghost, but that I dutifullie yeeld my self to them that bryng a better) I dooe thinke, that by those whom he cal­leth Dead, he meaneth Infidels. For it carieth no likelihood of truth, to saie that the Gospell was preached to them that bee departed out of this life. Vnlesse saincte Peters meanyng bee this: that the Gospell was so generallie and vniuersallie in the worlde proclaimed, and so openly in euery place rong out, that it was hidden neither to the quicke nor to the dead, neither to Aungelles, neither yet to Deuilles: that is to wit, It was not preached secretly in corners and in huckermucker, but so pub­lickly and openly that al Creatures, if thei had cares to heare, might heare: accordyng to the tenour and effect of that Com­mission and charge giuen by Christe himself. Mar. xvj, Goe ye into all the worlde and preache the Gospell to euery Crea­ture. Now, when it is in this sorte preached, it findeth some, whom accordyng to the Fleshe it condemneth, but in Spirite it maketh them to beginne to liue.

7 Now the ende of all thinges is at hande.

AND this sentence also seemeth very straunge. There are now passed aboue a thousande and fiue hundreth yeares since Sainct Peter wrate this Epistle, whiche is no small tyme to looke for the ende of all thinges to approache. But he saieth, that the ende of al thinges is alreadie come, and is now present. And so saieth sainct Iohn also in the seconde Chapter of his first Epistle. This (saieth he) is the last tyme, Vnlesse therefore suche an excellent Apostle had plainly saied, that the ende of all thinges is at hande, it might haue been saied again, that he had erred and not tolde the truth. But now must wee stedfastly beleeue, that (no liyng but) a true Apostle hath spo­ken it. What he meaneth in so saiyng, he himself declareth in [Page 97] his seconde Epistle, where he yeeldeth a reason why he saieth that this so long a space is but a shorte tyme and nere at hande: One daie (saieth he) is with the Lorde as a thousande yeares, and a thousande yeares as one daie. But wee must vndoub­tedly thinke, that there resteth not so many yeares till the dis­solution and ende of the world, as haue continued from the be­ginnyng vnto the tyme wherein this was written. Neither must wee looke that this life shall continue yet twoo or three thousande yeares from the natiuitie of Christ, for the ende wil bee sooner then wee thinke.

7 Be ye therefore sober and watchyng in praier.

8 But aboue al thinges haue feruent loue amōg you: for Loue couereth the multitude of sinnes.

HEre wee see, to what ende Continencie & So­brietie are needefull, and whereto thei serue: to wit, that we maie bee the readier to praie bothe for our selues and also for our neighbors. Fur­thermore, our Loue can not be feruent, vnlesse wee so chastice our bodies, that thei maie be apt to receiue and ledge Loue within vs. This sentence sainct Peter boroweth out of the x. Chapter of the Prouerbs. Hatred stirreth vp con­tentions, but Loue couereth the multitude of sinnes. This therefore is his meanyng: Chasties your fleshe, and quenche ye the lustes thereof, for if ye dooe not diligently endeuour to doe so [...] ye shall easilie offende one an other, and not be easie and willyng to forgiue one an others offences. And therfore striue to represse and subdue the affections and lustes of your fleshe: for so shal ye bothe loue one another, and willingly forgiue one an other. For loue couereth Sinnes.

This place is by some so wrested as though it did seeme to make against Faith. For this is their saiyng: Thou affirmest that man is iustified onely by Faithe, and that no man can bee deliuered from the guilt of his Sinnes, by his workes. How chaunceth it then, that bothe Solomon and S. Peter affirme [Page] and saie, that Sinnes are couered by Loue▪ Solomons mea­nyng and wordes are in effect these: he that swelleth with any hatred against an other, teasseth not to practise and stirre vp contentions and braulinges: But where sincere loue is, it co­uereth Sinnes and gently pardoneth any offences. Where [...]naer and wrathe haue taken holde, there is a man waiward, stubborne, harde to yeeld to any reconciliation, remaineth still full of indignation and spight: but when a manne is endued with Loue, he will not be incensed and moued to any garboile and vnquietnesse, though he bee greatly prouoked therevnto: he curteously couereth, hideth and winketh at all thinges, as though he sawe them not. So that this worde (Couer) wher­of both Solomon and sainct Peter speake, when thei saie, that Loue couereth the multitude of Synnes, must haue relation to our Neighbour and not vnto God. For as it is Faithe one­ly, whiche couereth my Sinnes before God, so is it Loue that couereth the sinnes and faultes of my Neighbour. For as the mere loue of God to me warde, couereth my Sinnes, when as I faithfully and stedfastly beleeue that God will not looke vp­pon them nor punishe them: so ought I also with my Loue to­warde my Neighbour to couer his sinnes towarde mee, that I bee not therewith offended. And therfore (saieth he) Aboue all thinges haue feruent loue one to an other, that ye maie couer and hide one an others faultes. And this is further to be noted, that this Loue couereth not one or two Sinnes onely, but the multitude of Sinnie: it cannot be drawen by any pro­uocation to bee so angrie, but that it couereth all. The same al­so hath saincte Paule j. Cor xiij. Where he doeth (as it were) expounde this place. Loue suffreth all thinges, beleeueth all thinges, it hopeth all thinges it endureth all thinges: that is, it thinketh the beste of euery thyng, it can paciently beare all thinges, and take well in worth whatsoeuer it bee.

9 Bee ye harborous one to an other, without grud­gyng.

10 Let euery man as he hath receiued the gift, mini­ster the same one to an other:

[Page 98] HE is barborous, whiche cherefully and hartilie receiueth and entertaineth Straungers. As when the Apostles trauailed through diuers Countries, and preached where thei went, sen­dyng their disciples abroade to sundrie places, it was requisite that thei should mutuallie bee harborous one to an other. Whiche example were good to be more put in vre nowadaies then it is: that wee hauyng the gift of preachyng, should likewise trauaile from place to place, from Citie to Ci­tie, from house to house, and not to sitte still in one place: to see where any were weake, that wee might comforte him: if any were fallen, that wee might raise him vp, and likewise to doe suche other dueties as to an Apostolicall function belongeth.

Now, all this must bee doen without grudgyng (saieth sainct Peter) not as though we were loath to doe it. And this is one office or duetie of Loue, as this is likewise whiche next followeth, namely, that wee should with the giftes wherewith God hath endued vs, minister one to an other. The Gospell requireth, that euery man should bee as an others Seruaunt, and to minister and serue to the necessitie of an other in that vocation and function whereunto he is called, to the best of his abilitie: according to the measure of that Talent that is com­mitted vnto hym, and accordyng to that stace and condition of life, wherein euery one is placed. For it is not hereby meant, neither is it the will and commaundement of GOD, that the Maister should minister and bee at becke to his Seruaunt, nor that the Handmaide should haue the rule ouer her Mistresse, or that the Kyng should bee corporallie seruiceable to a Begger: for he can not abide, that that authoritie and high degree of su­perioritie, wherein thei are placed should either bee disquieted or diminished. But hee requireth that euery one in harte and Spirite should serue an other: that although thou bee of high callyng and authoritie, yet maiest thou none otherwise vse thy authoritie but to the commoditie and benefite of thy Neigh­bour. And in this sorte, is it requisite and conuenient for the Maister to further and helpe his Seruaunt with al the seruice [Page] he can, wherein he yet remaineth a Maister still, and lawfullie maie repute and accoumpt himself in higher degree of calling then his Seruaunt: but a man maie not lift vp himself in the pride of his harte for the same, but to thinke of himself, as of a Seruaunt, insomuche that he could finde in his harte (if it so seemed good to the Lorde) euen to bee a Seruaunt. This in­warde perswasion ought also to be in the godlie, in euery state and degree.

10 As good disposers of the manifolde grace of God.

GOD hath not giuen a like measure of grace and giftes to euery one of vs. And therefore euery one must looke aboute hym, and consider with hymself whereto he is made fitte of the Lorde, and what gift it hath pleased God in mercy specially to endue him with­all. Whiche when he hath throughly skanned, and exactly no­ted in hymself, his duetie is therewith to serue his neighbour, and that in suche sorte as here is more at large particularly set doune by sainct Peter, saiyng.

11 If any manne speake, let him talke as the woordes of God.

THat is, if any manne haue the gift of preachyng and teachyng, sette hym preache and teache, as Saincte Paule Roma. xij. willeth hym: That no manne bee wise in his owne conceipt, nor presume to know more then is meete for hym to vnderstande, but that euery one vnder­stande accordyng to sobrietie, as God hath dealte to euery manne the measure of Faithe. For as wee haue many mem­bers in one bodie, and all members haue not one office, so wee beeyng many, are but one in Christ, and euery one, one an others members, hauyng giftes that are diuers, accordyng to the grace that is giuen vnto vs. And immediatly after in the same Chapter he addeth: If any manne haue Prophecie, [Page 99] let hym Prophecie accordyng to the proportion of Faithe: If he haue an office, lette hym waite on his office: Or he that teacheth, on his teachyng: After suche an order and course doeth he teache in other of his Epistles, as namely. j. Cor. xij. And Ephes. iiij.

And this is the cause, why God hath diuersely distributed his giftes vnto menne, namely, to the intent wee should vse them to the benefite and mutuall helpe one of an other: special­ly and chiefly thei that bee in any maner of publique office or function, whether it bee in the ministerie and preachyng of the Woorde of God, or in any other. To the office of preachyng, that properly belongeth, whiche here sainct Peter prescribeth: namely, vnto whom soeuer the office, vocation, and charge of preachyng the Woorde of GOD is allotted, let hym speake, As the woordes of GOD. Whiche caueat and lesson ought moste carefully to bee taken heede vnto, that no man presume to preache or teache any thyng, whereto he hath not the ex­presse Woorde of GOD for his warraunt, and except he bee moste certaine, that the same bee directly to bee auouched out of the sacred Scriptures. Whiche beeyng so, what maie bee thought of the Pope, and of his dirtie Dregges & traditions? Doe wee not see his mouth with this one worde notably stop­ped? This I saie, to the intent euery one maie manifestly see how shamelesly and ridiculously he braggeth and vaūteth him self, to bee sainct Peters Heire and Successour, not makyng any accoumpt at all, of that whiche saincte Peter in this place prescribeth and willeth.

11 If any man minister, let hym doe it, as of the abilite, whiche God ministreth.

WHo soeuer executeth any function in the Churche, or hath the cure of Soules committed vnto hym, maie not deale as be liste hymself, or to ouerrule matters accordyng to his owne sensuall will, [...]ither maie he saie: Tushe, I am a Prelate, the people muste all listen to that [Page] whiche I saie, and obserue my Lawes, Ordinaunces, and In­iunctions without gainsaie. For God requireth this, that no manne minister, or doe any thyng, contrarie or repugnaunt to that whiche he commaundeth and appoineteth. A Prelate or Bisshoppe (I saie) ought to dooe nothyng in the Churche, vn­lesse he be certaine and sure of the warrantise thereof by Gods Woorde. For God can not abide to haue his seruice iumbles and mingled at pleasure, with euery foolishe guegawe, and light tromperie. And therefore he ought to haue an assuraunce and certaintie in his mynde and conscience, that euen GOD bothe speaketh and worketh in hym: and to stande vpon so sure a grounde for the veritie thereof, that his Faithe dare boldlie witnesse with hym, and saie: Whatsoeuer I haue spoken, and what soeuer I haue doen or dealt herein, I am so out of doubt, that the same in eche respect is consonant to the Worde & will of God, that I am readie and dare to seale the same with my blood, & to confirme it with my death. For other wise, if I wa­uer and totter this waie and that waie, not knowyng whose cause and businesse I haue in hande, my Faithe is builded vp­pon the Sande, so that the Deuill myne aduersarie, is able to shake and tumble it whiche waie be liste. And therefore we are here straightly forbidden, not to relye vnto, nor to allow what soeuer decree or constitution these Bisshoppes liste to obtrude and enioyne, vnlesse thei stande vppon a sure grounde, that the thynges whiche thei doe, are allowed of God, yea doen of God hymself: and vnlesse thei bee able to saie: Doe this, for it is the will and commaundement of GOD, and we haue his expresse Woorde and Commaundement for our warrant. If thei bee not able to saie thus, thei ought to bee accoumpted as Lyers and deceiuers: muche lesse ought any Christian to yeelde vnto them therein any obedience or subscriptiō. For, the Lorde hath so appoincted, that our Consciences should not elsewhere bee staied, but vpon the moste sure and infallible Rocke. And thus muche for publicke functions, wherein it is not lawfull for vs at any hande, to followe our owne wilfull deuises, and sensu­all conceptes nor to prescribe any role or order to bee embra­ced, [Page 100] vnlesse wee bee vndoubtedly assured, that it standeth with the will and Worde of God. Wherein wee euidently see, how cleane againste the Kyngdome of the Pope, and his Mitred Bisshopps (as thynges therein are now handled) Sainct Pe­ters mynde and Iudgement was, long before any Pope were knowen in the worlde, to rule the roste in suche Pontificalitie, as since thei haue doen.

11 That God in all thinges maie be glorified, through Iesus Christe, to whom is praise and dominion for euer, and euer, Amen.

I Would haue you so sure and certaine, that that whiche you speake and doe, God hymself spea­keth and dooeth, that ye maie therein glorifie God as the aucthour thereof, humbly thanking him for his bounteous gift: whiche thing ye can not doe, when ye doe any thyng, whereof ye bee not sure whe­ther God allowe it, or no. But beeyng sure and certaine there­of, how can ye choose but with moste humble thankes to praise and extoll so good, so gracious, and so bounteous a Lorde, who vouchsafeth to giue his blessed Woorde to speake in you, and he hymself to doe his owne woorke in you? Whom otherwise ye should but mocke and skorne, and lye vnto hym, so long as ye pretende to giue thankes vnto hym for his good gifte: bee­yng not sure, whether it were his gifte or some idle deuise and imagination of your owne braines. And therefore there is no­thyng so pernicious, nothyng so monstruous, nothyng so bea­stlie, as to goe about to gouerne the Churche of God, without the warrant of Gods owne Woorde and Woorke, and there­fore sainct Peter sawe greate reason to adde this muche, ther­by to teache how the Churche ought to be gouerned.

12 Dearely beloued, thinke it not straūge concernyng the firie triall, which is emong you to proue you, as though some straunge thing were come vnto you.

[Page] HEre againe he vseth a phraze or forme of speech where with our tongue is not acquainted. But Sainct Peter therefore vseth it, to putte vs in minde of sundrie is textes and places of the Scri­ptures, whiche many tymes tearmeth Per­secution and Affliction, by the name of a fierie Furnace. Af­ter whiche sort Sainct Peter hymself, afore in the first Chap­ter of this his first Epistle hath these words: That the triall of your Faithe beyng muche more precious then gold that pe­risheth, (though it bee tried with fire) might bee founde vn­to your praise, honour, and glorie at the appearyng of Iesus Christe. Likewise we read in the Prophete Esaie. Chap. xlviij. that the Lorde speaketh these woordes: Beholde I haue tried thee, in the furnace of affliction. And in the xxvj. Psalm. Trie me O Lorde, prooue and examine my reines and my harte. Againe Psal. lxvj. Wee passed through fire and water. To bee short, it is an vsuall phraze in the Scripture, to call affliction, Fier: and triall of fire. And herevnto alludeth Saincte Peter, willyng vs, not to thinke it straunge, or a thyng vnmeete and vnexpediente for vs, though this fierie triall happen vnto vs, to prooue and trie vs, euen as golde is tried in the Fire.

For as soone as wee haue vowed our sincere Faithe vnto God, and haue giuen our names to serue hym: God lingereth not long, neither maketh any delaie, but presently withall, laieth his Crosse vppon vs, to trie and confirme vs in our pro­fession, and to make our Faithe the more strong and effectual. The holie Gospell is a Worde of wonderfull power, and ther­fore can not shewe out his proper force and might otherwise, then in Temptation and Affliction. And no manne is euer a­ble to declare or to knowe, what the mightie power and vertue thereof is, vnlesse he haue experimented and tasted the same in Tribulation. Wheresoeuer the Crosse and Affliction bee, there namely doeth the glorious Gospell of GOD, bothe dis­plaie and exercise his force, might and vertue. It is the worde of life, and therefore can not declare out his mightie operation and power, otherwise then in Death. And therefore where [Page 101] there is not a Death and affliction, there is no manne that can tell or trie, what the force and power thereof is, and how farre stronger it is then either Sinne or Death. And therefore it is, that he saieth [Whiche is kindled among you to proue you] that is to say: GOD neuer sendeth vnto you any Affliction or fire, (that is, any Crosse or tribulation) to make a fierie triall of you, but he doeth it to prooue, whether you will sticke vnto hym, and depende vpon his holie Woorde and Prouidence, or no. In the x. Chapter of the Booke of Wisedome it is writ­ten of Iacob, that GOD gaue hym an hard conflict, to the in­tent be might by triall knowe, that the feare of God is stron­ger then all thynges. And this is the cause, why GOD laieth the Crosse vppon all theim that bee beleeuers, that thei might taste and feele what the power and might of GOD is, whiche by Faithe thei haue embraced.

13 But reioyce, in asmuch as ye are partakers of Chri­stes suffringes.

SAinct Peter doeth not here require that we should feele and sustaine the same afflictions of Christe, wherewith he hymself was persecuted, and so to be made partakers of his suffringes: but his mea­nyng is this: Christe was afflicted and persecuted, and there­fore thinke not you to escape scotfree without persecution. When ye are thus afflicted, ye partake with Christe. For if wee will liue with him, wee must dye also with him. If wee will raigne with him, wee must also suffer with him, as sainct Paule saieth Rom. vj. Col. ij. Ephe. iiij. Hebr. xij.j. Cor. vj.ij. Tim. ij. and in many other places.

13 That when his glorie shall appeare, ye maie bee glad and reioyce.

WHen ye fall into any suche tribulation and Crosse, ye haue cause to reioyce. And this ioye must bee no lesse in the Spirite, then the torment is in the bodie, if so [Page] bee that ye aspire to eternall ioye. For this maner of ioye in af­flictions hath his beginnyng here, but his continuaunce is e­uerlastyng. Whereas on the other side, hee that kicketh and repineth at the affliction whiche the Lorde sendeth vnto hym, and is (as it were) displeased and angrie with GOD for the same, that person shall suffer double torture: that is, both here in this worlde, and perpetually in the worlde to come. Wee reade of certaine holie Martirs, how they went to their tor­ment, and suffred death with moste cherefull and merie myn­des: as of sainct Agatha, who shewed more ioye and alacritie when shee was haled and drawen into Prison, then if shee had gone to any pleasaunt melodie and daunsyng. So also did the Apostles returne with ioye from the Counsell, yeeldyng ear­nest thankes to Almightie God, who had vouchsafed to make them worthie to suffer persecution for Christes cause, who now are in blisse and eternall ioye in Heauen.

13 When his glorie shall appeare.

CHriste sheweth not forthe himself visiblie as Lorde, but as yet laboureth and is in trauaile with vs. As concernyng himself he is alreadie Lorde of all thyn­ges, but wee that bee his members, are not as yet become so. But wee shall bee so, when his domination and glorie shall be manifested and shine brighter then the Sunne.

14 If ye be rayled vpon for the Name of Christe, bles­sed are ye:

CHriste is to the world, an o [...]ious and hatefull name: of whom when thou once beginnest to preache, thou must not thinke, but that thei whiche on Earth be of highest calling and greatest countenaunce, wil both blaspheme and speake euill of hym. And in this Age wherein wee now presently liue, this further mischief is growen, that thei which be our persecuters, are those, which pretend yt name [Page 102] of Christians, and would deare vs in hande that thei bee the true professors of his name: whereas in their deedes thei vtter­ly denye, renounce, and persecute Christe: and yet (forsooth) thei will bee called Christians, gloriyng and vauntyng them­selues for that thei bee baptized. So that our case now is bothe more daungerous and also more troublesome and greeuous then others afore hath been. For is not that conflict and Bat­taile more then twise lamētable, wherin our Enemies and ad­uersaries against whom wee fight, carie the same tytle, beare the same Standardes, and pretende to maintaine the same quarell that wee doe? And therefore if this comfort and conso­lation of sainct Peter were euer necessarie for any people, tru­lie it is in these tymes moste expedient and needefull for vs, that wee maie constantly stande in our profession, and chere­fully perseuere in maintenaunce of the truthe againste those that persecute vs: those (I saie) whiche in the eye of the worlde are accoumpted the best and the wisest.

14 For the spirite of glorie, and of God resteth vppon you: which on their parte is euill spoken of: but on your parte is glorified.

YE haue among you (saieth he) the Spirite, whiche is the Spirite of God and the Spirite of Glorie, that is to saie: the Spirite whiche maketh vs glorious: but not here in this worlde, but in the laste daie when the glorie of Christe shall appeare and bee reueiled. Furthermore he is not onely the Spirite of Glorie, for that he maketh vs glorious, but also for that wee agnize and acknowledge hym to bee glo­rious, and attribute that honour as peculier vnto hym: stedfa­stly beleeuing that he will also glorifie and dignifie vs, euen as he hath alreadie glorified & dignified Christ, and brought hym into the glorie of his Father. And therefore wee ought not to be aggreeued or much disqu [...]eted, although we be both blasphe­med and accursed, sith this Spirite resteth vpon vs: whereof we maie bee sure, for that the name of Christ resteth vpon vs. [Page] For that Blasphemie redoundeth vnto him, that is the Spirit of Glorie, and not vnto vs: and he will in his good tyme bee re­uenged thereof, and will bryng vs out of it into glorie. This is a notable comfort that wee Christians haue, in that wee maie saie: the worde whiche I preache, is none of myne owne, nei­ther is my Faithe myne owne [...] thei are all the workes and the giftes of God: He that reuileth and raileth on me, reuileth and raileth on God: accordyng to Christes owne saiyng, Math. x. He that receiueth you, receiueth mee, and he that despiseth you, despiseth mee. Sainct Peters woordes therefore are in effect as though hee should saie: Knowe ye that the Spirite whiche ye haue, is of that power and might; that he can easelie auenge himself of his enemies as the Lord himself Exod. xxiij. promiseth saiyng: If thou wilt has Led vnto my voyce, and do all that I speake, I will bee an Enemie vnto thyne Enemies. And the Scripture in many places calleth the Enemies of Gods people, the Enemies of GOD himself. And therefore when wee are rayled on for none other cause, but for that wee bee Christians, and truely honour Christe: let vs bee assured, that so long as wee stedfastlie beleeue, it is not wee that are railed on, but the spight and railyng properly reboundeth vnto God. And therefore (saieth he) paciently abide it, and reioyce in your mynde is, for that which is doen vnto you, is doen vnto the Spirite, whiche is the Spirite of God. And now be pro­ceedeth and giueth good fruiteful [...], that we should take heede and not suffer for [...].

15 But lette none of you suffer as a Murtherer or as a thiefe, or an euill doer, or as a busie bodie in other mens matters.

16 But if any man suffer as a Christian, let hym not be ashamed: but let hym glorifie God in this behalfe.

HIs meaning is this: Ye haue heard both how ye must needes suffer affliction, and also in your affliction how you must behaue your selues: alwaies forseen, that ye suffer not for your owne ill desertes but for Christe. Ye haue [Page 103] heard also how in this our Age the case so standeth, that wee are cōpelled to suffer persecution vnder wicked bloudsuckers, who (notwithstanding) beare the name of Christiās. So that now a true follower and embracer of the truth of Christe, suf­fering for the sincere profession of Christ, is not thought to suf­fer persecution as a Christian, but is rather reputed and taken as an Enemie of Christe: for that thei whiche bee the persecu­tours, chalenge to themselues the name and tytle of the true Christians: affirmyng aswell as wee, that he is blessed and happie which dieth for Christ. In this case, none but the Spi­rite is able to discerne who be the true, and who be the dissem­blyng and counterfaite Christians. And therefore thou must be firmely settled in Faithe, & throughly perswaded in sound­nesse of Cōscience, that thou art before God a right Christian, and that thy heauenly Father doeth so accept and take thee, whatsoeuer otherwise the Worlde iudgeth of thee.

When ye are therefore afflicted as Christians, let none of you (saieth sainct Peter) bee ashamed, but rather let hym glo­rifie God for the same. Wherein he sheweth that tribulations, afflictions and tormentes are thynges so precious, that wee ought to giue God hartie thankes therefore, and to glorifie his holie name for so greate a domitie: in that, of his especiall fa­uour towardes vs, of vnworthie he maketh vs worthie to suf­fer for the profession of his name. But alas, this bearyng of the Crosse nowadaies in many places is thought in a maner whollie to consist in a garishe carryng aboute of a materiall Crosse, after a io [...]ie ceremonious solempnitie, whiche doeth a man as muche good as Saite cast into his eyes. It is not the Crosse of Christ that shall faue mee: I ought to beleeue it: but to beare myne owne. If thou in thine harte conceiue and think vppon his affliction, thou haste obtained and arte possessed of a right true treasure. The Boanes of S. Peter bee holie, but what good gette I by that: Thou must so striue that thou thy self and thy boanes maie attaine to bee holie, which thing thou art sure of, when thou art afflicted and suffrest persecution for Christ.

[Page] 17 For the time is come, that iudgment must beginne at the house of God. If it first begin at vs, what shall the ende be of them whiche obey not the Gospell of God?

HEre he bringeth in two places of the Prophets at once, tendyng both to this purpose. The first is in the xxv. of Ieremie, saiyng thus. Beholde, I beginne to plague the citie, where my name is called vpon: I will first chastise and punishe my best beloued and dearest children, thei must first haue some tryall and experience of this fier of tribulation, wherein the iust are proued & tried: And shall ye that are myne enemies (saith Ieremie) goe free? Ye shall not goe free. And againe, Cap. xlix. Behold, thei whose iudgment was not to drinke of the Cuppe, haue assuredly drunken: and art thou he, that shalt goe free? Thou shalt not goe free: but thou shalt surely drink of it: that is to saie: I strike and punish those whom I dearely loue, to the intent thou shouldest see, what I meane to dooe to them that be myne enemies. The meaning of whiche wordes are worthie of diligent consideration. The holier and godlier children that God hath in this worlde, the more ignominiously and cruellie he suffreth them to be dealt withall and massacred in the worlde. What then maie the rest looke for?

The other place is out of the ix. of Ezechiel. The Prophet there sawe certaine armed men, cariyng tooles and weapons of destruction in their hands, who were commaunded to smite all that were in the Citie, young and olde, men, women and children, that were not marked in their forheades with TAV. And vnto them, GOD there further saied: Beginne ye at my Sanctuarie. Assoone as euer the Gospell is preached, God be­ginneth to punishe Sinne, that he maie bothe kill and quicken again, but he vseth to beate the godly to their no harme, but as it were with a Foxetayle (as the common Prouerbe soun­deth) and with a fewe twigges after a motherly affection. What shall wee thinke then, will he dooe to those that doe not [Page 104] beleeue? As though he should saie: if he deale so roughly and so seuerely with his welbeloued children, wee maie easily gesse, what the tormentes shall bee that tarie for the vnbeleeuers.

18 And if the righteous scarsely be saued, where shall the vngodly and the sinner appeare?

THis place is taken out of the xj. of the Prouerbes. Be­hold, the righteous shall receiue punishment in the earth: how muche more then the wicked and the synner? If the godlie bee beaten, where shall the wicked re­maine. The verie same here reporteth Sainct Peter, saiyng: The iuste shall scarce bee saued. He is iuste whiche stedfastly beleeueth, but no manne persisteth and perseuereth in Faithe without greate labour, trouble, and sweate: he must passe ma­ny Pikes, taste of many a sharpe brunte and calamitie, and go through the fire of many tribulations. Where then shall there bee any place for hym that beleeueth not? When as Faithe is so violently and forcibly assailed and shaken, that it euen trem­bleth and quaketh, how can he stande that is voide of Faithe? And therefore he concludeth.

19 Wherefore lett theim that suffer accordyng to the will of God, committe their soules to hym in well doyng, as vnto a faithfull Creator.

THei vnto whom God sendeth affliction, beyng vn­sought for, vndesired, and vnprocured by themsel­ues, lette them committe their Soules vnto hym that is their Creatour. Thei still continue in well dooyng, thei perseuere and goe forwarde in good Woorkes, thei shrinke not backe for afflictions, but committe and com­mende their Soules to hym that created them, and is faithe­full: In whiche Woorde is contained moste plentifull store of heauenly consolation. For, seeyng that God hath created thy Soule without any care, labour, or helpe of thee, when as thou [Page] was not as yet any thyng, shall not be also easily preserue and saue it? And therefore committe it onely to hym, but yet so, that thou muste not thinke thy self exempted and priuiledged from good Woorkes: for thou must not thinke that thou must bye idle: thou must striue and endeuour thy self to accomplish, and be eche waie aunswerable to the name of a Christian: wit­nessyng thy Faithe by thy good Workes. But if thou liue here carelesly and rechlessely, thou shalt in the ende (doubtlesse) finde that thou haste foulie decei­ued thy self. This is the laste admoniti­on of saincte Peter vnto them that must suffer affliction for the will of GOD.

¶The fifth Chapter.

THe Elders which are emong you, I beseeche whiche am also an El­der, and a witnesse of the suffryn­ges of Christe, and also a partaker of the glorie that shalbe reueiled.

2 Feede the flocke of GOD, whiche dependeth vpon you, ca­ryng for it not by constraint, but willingly: not for filthie lucre, but of a readie mynde.

3 Not as though ye were Lordes ouer Gods heritage, but that ye maie bee ensamples to the flocke.

4 And when the chief shephearde shall appeare, ye shall receiue an incorruptible croune of glorie.

5 Likewise ye yonger, submit your selues vnto the Elders, and submitte your selues euery man, one to an other: decke your selues inwardly in lowlinesse of mynde: for GOD resi­steth the proude, and giueth grace to the humble.

6 Humble your selues therefore vnder the mightie hande of God, that he maie exalt you in due tyme.

7 Cast all your care on hym: for he careth for you.

8 Bee sober and watche: for your aduersarie the Deuill as a roaryng Lion walketh aboute, seekyng whom he maie de­noure:

9 Whom resist stedfast in the Faithe, knowyng that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren, whiche are in the worlde.

10 And the GOD of all grace, whiche hath called vs vnto [Page] his eternall glorie by Christe Iesus, after that ye haue suffred a little, make you perfect, confirme, strengthen and stablishe you.

11 To hym bee glorie and dominion for euer and euer. Amen.

12 By Syluanus a faithfull brother vnto you, as I suppose, ha [...]e I written briefly, exhortyng & testifiyng, how that this is the true grace of God, wherein ye stande.

13 The Churche that is at Babylon elected together with you, saluteth you, and Marcus my sonne.

14 Greete ye one an other with the kisse of Loue. Peace be with you all, whiche are in Christ Iesus. Amen.

[Page 106] 1 The Elders which are among you I beseech, which am also an Elder, and a witnesse of the suffringes of Christ,

HEre sainct Peter teacheth those that haue any charge of feedyng the Flocke of Christe, how thei ought to behaue thēselues. In the Chapi­ter afore, he tolde, that none should presume to teache or preache any thing, vnlesse he were certeine and assured that the same was the syncere and pure Worde of GOD, vppon whiche as vpon a firme and strong Rocke, our Consciences maie boldly staie. For this in dutie is required of vs Christians, that wee should bee certaine and knowe throughly what thing is allowed of Christe, and what is not: for thei that wauer in vncertaintie of this knowledge, are not to bee taken as Christians. He addeth also thus much, that whosoeuer entreth into any office or functiō, should so be­haue himself therein in eche respect, as that he should not doubt but that God was the Authour therof. But what he here saith, peculierly belongeth to Bisshops and Ecclesiasticall Pastors, wherein he teacheth them how they are to deme [...]ne themsel­ues in the administration of their dueties and charges, and what maner of persons thei ought to bee.

Wee must here further be acquainted with the phraze and proprietie of the tongue, wherein this Epistle was written, that wee bee not deceiued through ignoraunce of the significa­tion and force of the Woorde. For this Greeke name [...], which S. Peter here vseth, doeth signifie An Elder: by whiche worde thei also are called that bee. Senatours: that is, Meuiexcellyng in age, grauitie, vertue, wisedome, and ex­perience. After the same sorce; doeth Christ call his Disciples, Ministers, and Senate, to whose office it belongeth to ouersee and gouerne his Spirituall Empire (that is, to preache and to take care of the Christian Congregation) by the name of El­ders. And therfore meruaile not awhit, neither let it any thing moue thee, though thei which bee Elders, [...]e nowadaies called [Page] by other Titles or names, whereof the Scripture maketh no mention at all: But not respectyng the order, wherein thinges presently stande, weigh and conceiue the mater thus: When S. Peter or any other of the Apostles, came into any Citie wherein Christians were, thei ordeined some one or other of theim, suche as liued honestly and vnblameably, and had wife and children, and also skilfull in the Scriptures of GOD, to haue the superintendencie and charge ouer the rest. And them thei called Seniors or Elders, whom afterward bothe sainct Peter and also Saincte Paule called Bishopps, whereby wee maie note, that Bishoppes were none others, then the verie same, that were Elders.

Touchyng this purpose, wee reade in the historie of sainct Martine, how a ceirtaine man came vnto a place in Apbrica, and there in a poore Cotage found an elderly man, whom thei thought to haue been some plaine Countrieman. Within a while, thei sawe many people come flockyng to hym, to whō he preached and expounded the Woorde of God, whereby thei perceiued that he was their Pastour or Bishopp. For in those daies, there was no difference either in apparaile, or maners betweene the Bishoppes, and the residue of Christians.

The Elders (saieth S. Peter) vppon whom the charge lieth, to feede the flocke of Christ with the Worde of GOD, and to haue care ouer them in the Lorde, I exhort, whiche am also an Elder. Whereby it manifestly appeareth, that thei whom he here nameth Elders, were suche as laboured in the ministerie of the Woorde, and diligently preached the glad ti­dynges of the Gospell. For, suche as he was that calleth hym­self their fellowe Elder, suche also appeareth it that thei were. And here we see; how farre he humbleth and abaseth hymself, in that, he taketh not vpon hym the name of a Prelate, (which in respecte that he was an Apostle of the Lorde he might haue doen) but calleth himself a Fellowe Elder, and also a witnesse of the suffrynges of Christe. As if he had saied: I doe not one­ly preache, but I am also emong those Confessours of Christ, that are exercised in daiely afflictions. And withall he also she­weth [Page 107] that so many as bee Christians, must bee persecuted and suffer affliction. And this is a true Apostle of Christe, vnto whom if the Pope and his Bishoppes were any thing like, (as thei are shamelesse enough, to chalenge to themselues the same title) we would not greatly stick, willingly to kisse their feete.

1 And also a partaker of the glory that shalbe reueiled.

THis parte of the Apostles Style and Title, is of farre more excellencie, then any that our Popishe Bishopps dare pretende to vse. For thereby doeth Sainct Peter take and recken hymself holie, and a blessed Manne. And al­hou [...]gh he perfectly knewe, that he should be a partaker of the glorie to come, yet taketh he no pride therein, he lifteth not hymself vp in any swellyng glorie, but modestly conteineth hymself within the boundes of temperate softnes and curtesie.

2 Feede the flocke of God, whiche dependeth vpon you, caryng for it, not by constraint, but willingly: not for filthie lucre, but of a readie minde.

CHrist is the first and chiefest Pastour, who hath many Pastours vnder hym: as he also hath ma­ny Flockes: whom beeyng dispersed in sundrie quarters of the worlde, he committeth to the charge and ouersight of their Shéepheardes and Pastours, as in this Epistle of S. Peter, written into diuers Countreis and Regions appeareth. But what is the charge of these Pastors to do? Forsooth, to feede the Flocke of Christ. This worde (Feede) the Pope hath raked and haled vnto hym self, whereby he goeth aboute to prooue hymself Lorde and Prince of all, and that it is in his owne choise and aucthoritie, to deale with the Sheepe as he listeth hymself. But alas, who is so ignoraunte that knoweth not, what this woorde (Feede) meaneth: To witte, that the Pastours and Sheepheardes ought to prouide Pasture for their Sheepe, and to see theim [Page] haue their meate in conueniente and due season, whereby thei maie growe to bee fruitfull: And moreouer to watche that de­uouryng Wolues rushe not in emong theim, and teare the Flocke in peeces? This word (Feede) signifieth nothyng lesse then to kill and spoile.

Furthermore S. Peter calleth it peculierlie the Flocke of Christ, as though he should saie: Thinke not that the Flocke is any of your owne, ye are but onely Seruauntes and Mini­ster to looke vnto it, ye are no Lordes nor Maisters ouer it. Contrarie to the bold practise and customable dealyng of ma­ny Bishops, whiche accoumpt and call euery one within their Diocesse and iurisdiction, their Sheepe. We are the Sheepe of Christe, for he saied afore, Ye are now retourned vnto the Sheepheard and Bishoppe of your Soules. Bishopps are the Ministers of Christe, to keepe his Sheepe, and to giue them meate and pasture. And therefore to feede, is nothyng els then to preache the Gospel, wherwith their Soules maie be fedde, fatted and fructified, that so the Shepe maie be nourished with the Gospell. This is the onely and proper office of a Bishopp.

So saied Christ vnto Peter: Feede my Sheepe, Ioh. xxj. that is, the Sheepe whiche I committe vnto thee to feede, are not thyne, but myne. Howbeeit these woordes haue been so canuassed and wrested by my Lorde the Pope, that he thereby vsurpeth and exerciseth an externall domination and Lordship ouer the Churche of Christe, whereas neither he, nor any of his sacrilegious Chapleins, preacheth so muche as one worde of the Gospell. Thei bragge that thei haue their succession frō S. Peter. If it were so; yet feare I, that it could scarcely bée prooued that any Pope euer preached the Gospell: For none of them hath left any thyng behynde hym, that is written and ex­tant, wherein a man maie read the Gospell. Sainct Gregorie the Pope was surely an holie man: and yet the thynges which he preached, are not to bee esteemed worth a strawe: whei e [...]y it maie appeare, that the same See of Rome is peculiarly and specially accursed of God. I deny not, but sundrie of the Popes suffred Martiredome vnder cruel Tyrauntes, for the Gospels [Page 108] sake, but yet there is nothyng extant that was written by any of them, whiche is Euangelicall. And yet thei still bragge and crake, that it is their charge to feede, whereas in deede thei doe nothing els but entangle, and clogge mennes consciences with Lawes of their owne, and make hauocke and sale of mennes Soules, neuer troublyng theimselues with preachyng one woorde of Christe his sacred Gospell.

True it is, that there are many to bee founde, aswell wo­men as men, whiche are able to preache, and that with no lesse dexteritie and sufficiencie, then he vnto whom that charge and office is peculiarly committed. But because the greatest num­ber in the flocke alwaies is of weakelynges, therefore it is ex­pedient that some bee appoincted to strengthen and confirme suche, and to keepe backe the Wolfe from russhyng in emong them and deuouryng them. For a Preachers office and duetie is not onely to feede, that is, to teache his Sheepe, how thei ought to frame theimselues to become true and sincere Chri­stians: but he hath the charge also to looke that the Wolfe bee kept out, and that none of the Sheepe be deuoured, or seduced by false doctrine, and so drawen into errour, whiche is the con­tinuall drifte and practise of the Deuill. Now, there bee many that can well enough abide to haue the Gospell preached, so that there might bee no exclaimyng, and speakyng againste Wolues: I meane, so that Preachers in their Sermons, would forbeare railyng and tauntyng against Prelates. But although I preache sounde doctrine, and that whiche is true: and although I feede and teach (my charge) the Sheepe, well and rightly: yet is not that sufficient: for it is further required at my handes to keepe the Sheepe from daunger, and to haue a carefull regarde vnto theim, that Wolues come not emong theim, to driue theim awaie out of their fertile and wholesome pastures. For, to what purpose is my building. if when I haue couched and orderly laied my Stones, an other straightwaies come & hurle them doune as fast againe, and I seyng him, for­bidde him not? The Wolfe is well enough contented, that the Sheepe bee well fedde, and fatted in good pasture: because the [Page] fatter thei bee, thei pleasaunter and daintier praie thinketh he to make of them. But that Dogges should incessauntly barke and baule at hym, that can he not abide. And therefore it is a matter of no small waight and charge, to feede well, accor­dyng as GOD hath giuen in commaundement to doe: and it behooueth eche one in that function carefully to consider his charge in this behalfe.

The Flocke (saieth he) whiche dependeth vpon you, that is, ouer whiche ye haue charge, or whiche is among you, and not whiche is subiect and liyng at your Feete. Care for it, and that not by cōstraint because ye can none otherwise choose, but willingly: not for filthie lucre sake, but of a readie mynd. Here he comprehendeth in one worde, all that whiche the Pro­phete Ezechiell in the xxxiiij. Chapter of his Prophesie, wri­teth concerning Pastors or Bisshoppes. The meaning of this place is thus: Not onely feede ye, but take ye care also and pro­uide for them, that thei want nothing, and where any standeth in necessitie or neede, there see that ye relieue them: and in eche respect, doe the partes and dueties of right [...], that is, good Watchmen and faithfull Espialles. Looke out, least daunger appeare, stande alwaies preste and readie on your guarde, and diligently beholde and espie out of your Watch­tower, what it is that is wantyng, or what it is that is befal­len vnto euery one within your charges. Hereby wee maie well perceiue and knowe, that a Bisshoppe is euen the same that is here meant by an Elder. And therefore it is not true, whiche some saie, that a Bisshopricke is a dignitie, and a Bis­shop onely he that weareth a forked Mitre. Episcopacie is not a name of Dignitie, but of Office: for he that is inuested with that name and tytle, ought to looke to his Flocke & to be care­full for it, and to serue as a good Watchman, to see abroade & learne what thinges be amisse any where within his charge. As if there be any that is weake, hauing his conscience woun­ded, hym ought he to confirme, comforte and heale: if any fall, him ought he to lift vp againe, and so as other defectes arise, to bee readie to helpe, whereby Christian people maie bee suffi­ciently [Page 109] looked vnto and prouided for, bothe in Soule and in Bodie. This is the reason that hath moued mee heretofore of­tentymes to saie, that if wee would institute a right Christian Common wealth, it were necessarie, that in euery Citie there should bee three or fower Superintendentes, to take care and regarde ouer the Churche and Congregation, and to reforme and restore whatsoeuer therein is amisse or wantyng.

And here he toucheth two speciall poyntes, ynough almost to terrifie and discourage any man from bearyng authoritie o­uer the people, or to take this greate charge and burden vpon hym. For, first there bee some vertuous and honest men, who half vnwillynglie are drawen into the Ministerie and function of Preachyng: for that, thei see it to be a painfull and laborious office, to skoute aboute euery where, to see how the Sheepe liue, to succour and helpe them that bee in want, to strengthen and raise vp them that bee waueryng and readie to fall: and fi­nallie to haue suche diligent care and continuall watche ouer them, that the Wolfe finde no entraunce to inuade and come russhyng in among them: yea in that, he must not sticke to laie downe his life for their preseruation and safegarde. And also for that it is suche an harde matter & of so great difficultie, tru­lie to discharge the office of a godly Pastor: yea of so greate daunger also, because it must be throughly executed, & that not vnwillingly, or as though it were, by constraint. True it is, that no man ought to intrude himself into that Office: but if he [...]hereunto called and required, he ought willingly to take it vpon hym, and to discharge and perfourme as muche as to his function and office appertaineth.

For thei that take this matter vpon thē vpon necessitie and constraint, and haue neither courage nor pleasure in the same, shall neuer with any profite fruitfully discharge or execute their office.

Againe, there bee others worse then these, which take this Office vpon them for none other ende, but for filthie Lucre, to scrape and rake together wealth, and to pamper and cramme their bellies. These fellowes seeke onely for the Wooll and [Page] the Mylke of the Sheepe, but as for good pastures for them thei care not: and with this scabbe is the Popishe Clergie hor­riblie infected. And this is a moste hurtfull, daungerous, noy­some and filthie Vice, then whiche there can not bee any so dishonorable or shamefull for him that taketh on him the name and charge of a Christian Bisshoppe or Pastor. Whiche was the thing that caused both the Apostles, Peter and Paule, and also the Prophetes so oft to recorde and inculke it. This cau­sed Moses to saie, Num. xvj. I haue not taken so muche as an Asle from them: neither haue I hurt any of them. And Sa­muell also: Ye know that I haue not taken any mans Oxe, or Asse from hym, nor doen wrong to any &c. j. Sam. xij. For if he that hath this charge and function of feeding the Flocke, be gréedily giuen to scraping together of richesse and wealth, and to gape after filthie Lucre: suche a one (I saie) is hymself easilie and soone chaunged from a Pastor into a Wolfe.

2 But of a readie mynde:

THat is, euen with pleasure. Let the Pastor or Bis­shoppe applie his Office and vocatiō, and that with a readie willingnes. Thei that thus cherefully, prōptly, and zealously discharge their function, are those, which as thei dooe their dueties willingly, so dooe thei not greedily pull the fleeze from the Sheepe. There bee therefore twoo sortes of false Pastors. The one sorte occupie their roume grudginglie and vnwillingly: the other willingly and gladlie: but yet for gaine and filthie lucre.

3 Not as though ye were Lords ouer Gods heritage.

SVche are thei that are willing to take the office vpon them, for dignitie sake, because thei would liue pompouslie and beare greate swaie and au­thoritie in the Worlde. He therefore exhorteth Bisshoppes, Elders & Pastors, that thei prac­tise [Page 110] not any Lordly tyrannie ouer the Flocke, as though the people were their Slaues and Vnderlings, or as though they had suche authoritie and Lordshippe ouer them, to commaund what thei list. For wee haue but one Lorde whiche is Christe, and he it is whiche gouerneth our Soules. Elders and Pa­stors haue no further charge thē to féede. And here in one word Saincte Peter vtterly ouerthroweth all the kingdome of the Pope: and concludeth that no Bisshoppe hath any authoritie, somuche as in one worde to clogge and tye the consciences of the faithfull to the obseruation of their preceptes. For they themselues ought to bee Seruauntes and Ministers, and to saie: Thus saieth the Lord, and these be the Words of Christ: it is not wee, the woordes are none of ours: and therefore ye ought to doe that whiche is here commaunded. Accordyng to that whiche Christe saieth: Luc. xxij. The Kynges of the Gen­tiles reigne ouer them, and they that beare rule ouer them, are called gracious Lordes, but ye shall not bee so. Contrary wherevnto the Pope boasteth and braggeth, saiyng. Wee ought to bee Lordes, and to vs onely it belongeth to exercise chief rule and supreme authoritie.

3 But that ye maie bee ensamples to the Flocke.

4 And when the chiefe Shepeheard shall appeare, ye shall receiue an incorruptible croune of glorie.

SEE that ye bee the formost in the battaile, vsyng suche honest conuersation, that your life maie bee a Lanterne to giue light, and an example to the peo­ple, to imitate you. But our Lordly Shauelynges vse to tel the people an other tale, bidding them to doe this and that, thei themselues in the meane while leanyng on their soft Cusshions, and takyng their ease like Lordinges: laiyng vpon vs greate and greeuous burdens, whiche thei themselues will not touche nor lift at with one of their fingers: not trauailyng any whit in preachyng the true Worde of God, but rather in commaundyng others to doe that, whiche thei themselues ne­uer [Page] did, nor euer ment to dooe. And yet must no man tell them therof, for if he doe, he should be sure quickly to feele the smart of it.

Againe, to suche Pastors, Bisshoppes, Elders and Su­perintendentes, as here in this worlde did their dueties faith­fully, truely, sincerely and holily, Saincte Peter assigneth no temporall rewarde: As though he should saie· Your Office and function is of more excellencie and dignitie, then that in this life it can bee requited and recompenced: there is due and kept for you an euerlastyng Crowne, that shall bee giuen vnto you whiche faithfullie and diligently feede the Flocke of Christe. And this is the Exhortation, where with S. Peter encorageth them, to whom the charge and cure of Soules is committed. Whereby is manifestly concluded and proued, that the Pope with his Cardinalles and Bisshoppes is the very Antichrist, and the professed aduersaries of Christe, for that they dooe no­thyng of all these, whiche Sainct Peter here requireth. For thei neither teache others, neither doe thei any thyng themsel­ues, but are whollie and altogether busied in those deuises, and bymatters, whiche are most opposite and contrarie therevnto. Thei neither feede the Sheepe themselues, neither will they suffer others to feede theim: but rather plaie the rauenyng Wolues, deuouryng and murtheryng the Flocke, and yet bragge thei that thei bee Christes Vicars on Earth. Too tru­lie (the more pitie) are thei in the roume and steade of Christe beyng absent: after the maner and example of the Deuill? For wheresoeuer Christ is not in place, there thei beare swaie, and as Butcherlie Tyrauntes raigne and commaunde moste im­periouslie.

It is therefore verie expedient and requisite, that the Lat­tie and simpler sort should perfectly remember this and suche like places: by the whiche thei maie be able to answere against that Antichristian Kyngdome of the Pope, when soeuer thei shalbe called into question and examination as touchyng their Faithe: yea, thus maie thei well saie, when thei are brought vnto suche pinches: Behold, Christe saieth thus: and the Pope [Page 111] saieth the cleane contrary: Christe saieth yea, the Pope saieth naye. Thei therefore thus teachyng contrarie and repugnant doctrines, the one of them must needes lye. Now, that Christ should lye, it is impossible, and therefore it is the Pope, that is the liyng Ruffian of the worlde, and not onely a Deuilishe Lyer, but euen Antichrist hymself. Thus oughtest thou to bee furnished and armed with the Scriptures, by the whiche thou maiest not onely boldlie call the Pope, Antichriste, but maiest also (when thou haste so doen) must plainly and easily proue it, so that thou maiest surely by the woorde of God persist in thine opinion, euen to the death, against the Deuill and all his infer­nall Armie.

5 Likewise ye younger, submit your selues vnto the Elders.

THese are his laste admonitions of this Epistle. This order requireth S. Peter in the Church of Christ, that the younger sort be duetifull and obeisaunt to their Elders, and that in the whole course of their life the Inferiours shewe sub­mission towardes their Betters. Which if it were now adaies obserued and put in vre, we should not neede so many Lawes. For he requireth of the Younger sorte, their obedience toward their Elders, and willyngnesse to be gouerned, by the directiō of their wisedomes: For that, thei beste knowe what is moste pleasyng to God, and what shall moste redounde to their com­mendations and praises. But he speaketh here of suche Elders as are learned in the holie Ghoste, and are godlie experienced. For if they theimselues hee not endued with godlie wise­dome, but bee sottishe and foolishe, it is not to be thought, that thei can any waie well gouerne others. But of suche as be dis­crete and wise, it is most expedient and conuenient, the Youth should be gouerned. And sainct Peter here speaketh not of the ciuile administration and gouernement of the Common­wealthe, but he speaketh generally: namely, that thei which be [Page] Elders, either in yeares or by office, or any waie els, should traine vp and gouerne the Younger sorte in their dueties, and in matters of the Spirite.

5 And submitte your selues euery man, one to an o­ther: decke your selues inwardlie in lowlinesse of mynde:

HEre he somwhat tempereth and qualifieth his woordes spoken afore, requiryng that euery one should submit themselues one to an other. But how can this well agree, that all menne should submit themselues one to an other, if the superioritie and gouernement bee to bee giuen (as was afore saied) vnto them that bee of the Elder sorte? Some will saie, that Peter in that former sentence spake of Elders and here in this place onely of the Younger sorte, who ought to submitte themselues first to their Elders, and next one to an other. But wee will take these woordes as spoken in a generalitie, euen as that sentence of S. Paule Roma. xij. In giuyng of honour, one goyng before an other. For I take that place, as I also doe this present sentence of S. Peter, to haue reference to all maner of persones indifferently, and without respecte. The Younger ought to be obedient, & submissaunt vnto the Elder: but yet so, that the Elder maie not thinke themselues to bee Lordes ouer them, but be readie and willyng to submitt them selues also, and be directed by them that bee Yonger, if any of theim bee endued with deeper vnderstandyng, or profounder skill then thei haue. Euen as in the old Testament, the Lorde oftentymes aduaunced Yonglie men, to beare chief office and principalitie, where he sawe theim to excell the Elder in wise­dome and foresight. The same lesson teacheth Christ, Luc. xiiij When thou art bidden to a feaste, sette not thy self doune in the chiefest place, least a more honourable man then thou be hidden, and then he that badde bothe hym and thee, come and saie to thee: Giue this man roume, and thou then begin [Page 112] with shame to take the lowest roume. But when thou art bidden, goe sitte doune in the lowest roume, &c. Whiche pa­rable he concludeth thus: For he that exalteth hymself shalbe brought lowe, & he that humbleth hymself, shalbee exalted. Therefore truly the Yonger ought to submit themselues, and bee in subiection vnto the Elder: and yet neuerthelesse, the El­der ought againe for their partes, to bee so modestly minded that eche of them thinke hymself in his harte the lowest. If we could thus dooe, the worlde would bee in a merueilous quiete staie and tranquillitie. And this (saieth he) we ought to applie our selues vnto, that wee maie thereby shewe forth the lowli­nesse of mynde, that is emplainted and resiaunt within vs.

5 For God resisteth the proude, and giueth grace to the humble.

THem that bee so loftie mynded, that thei will not yeelde and stoupe, God hymself cooleth and deiect [...]th: and con­trariwise, exalteth and aduaunceth those which humble and throwe doune themselues. This is a common beaten sai­yng in euery mannes mouthe, but would God it were aswell vsed and putte in vre in life, as it is often and almoste euery where still talked and pronounced with tongue.

6 Humble your selues therefore vnder the mightie hande of God.

FOrasmuche as God so requireth, that ye should sub­mit your selues our to an other, see that ye doe it wil­lingly, and so he will exalt you but if ye doe it vnwil­lyngly, yet shall ye doe it, because he will abate your pride, and throwe doune your loftinesse.

6 That he maie exalt you in due tyme.

[Page]THinke ye not that he will tarie long, but stedfastly trust ye in hym: for ye haue his sure promise, that this is the hande of GOD, and his blessed will: and though in the iudgement of flesh, the tyme seeme somewhat long, yet neuer haue ye any respect to the tyme, but committe your selues to be protected and gouerned by the mightie hand of God, which moste assuredly in the ende will exalt you.

7 Caste all your care on hym: for he careth for you.

YE haue those promises, by the whiche ye maie rest in moste perfecte assuraunce, that God will neuer forsake you, but still take care for you: and there­fore abandon and caste awaie your owne careful­nesse, and lette the Lorde alone deale for you. Suffer hym to take the entier charge and care, bothe of you and yours. These be moste comfortable and sweete woordes, and to a Christian Conscience moste chearfull and amiable. And why vseth he so many, and suche forcible prouocations and reasons to per­swade Humilitie? Truely, because the Nature of man is so stiffe and so stoute, that no man almoste willynglie will abase and deiecte hymself, or renounce his owne sensuall phantasies. And therefore herein he suig [...]y comforteth vs, shewyng how that God dooeth not onely looke to vs, but also careth for [...], and bestoweth euen all the vowelles of his incomparable loue vpon vs.

8 Bee sobe [...] and watche: for your aduersarie the De­uill, as a roaryng Lyon walketh aboute, seekyng whom he maie deuoure.

HE admonisheth vs to looke to our selues, and goeth a­bout to open our eyes, that wee slumber not in slouthe or giue our selues to idlenesse, not regardyng how nere we bee to daunger and perill. And here wee maie behold and see, what this life is, and how this worthie Apostle hath [Page 113] depainted and set out the same vnto vs: insomuche that there is none, hauing his Conscience touched with any feare of God, but continually wisheth to bee dissolued and to exchaunge it for that other. For here we bee in the kingdome of the Deuill and Sathan. And as a trauailer or Straunger that commeth into an Inne, where he knoweth there are none but Theeues and Murtherers, will looke well to himself, and bee very care­full for his owne safetie before he will enter into that house: (if the case so bee that needes he must goe in) and will be sure (as neere as he can) to arme his bodie from the violence of their furies, and will not sleepe muche in that house, but stande vp­pon, his guarde, that he maie departe thence without harme: Euen so and with like daunger liue we here on Earth, where Sathan beareth the swaie and is Prince, who hath so the har­tes of men within the daunger of his power, that by them he bryngeth to passe whatsoeuer he listeth: It is a terrible matter to thinke thereon, and therefore S. Peter herein giueth vs a watchworde to beware, and admonisheth vs to be carefull and diligent in looking to our selues: saiyng: Be ye sober. For they that be giuen to drunkennes and surphetting, and as Swine, care for nothyng but for their bellie, are fitte for nothyng that good is. And therefore wee must endeuour our selues to haue alwaies in readinesse our Armor of Sobrietie.

And Watche ye (saieth he) and that not onely spirituallie but also corporallie. For a heauie, lumpishe and drowsie body, when it hath pampered, crammed and ingurged it self with meates and drinks, is not fit nor able to resist the Deuill seing it is hard enough for them so to doe, which are strong in faith, and haue plentifull giftes of the Spirite.

But what is the cause why wee should so muche giue our selues to Sobrietie, and watchfulnesse? Because (saieth hee) your aduersarie the Deuill skuddeth about like a roaring Li­on, seeking whom he maie deuour. For the Deuill neuer slee­peth, he is throughly enured and furnished with guile, suttletie and malice, and carieth that cancarde stomack against vs, that he leaueth no waie vnattempted how he maie molest and en­snare [Page] vs, yea he well knoweth whiche waie to laie his baytes to catch vs & bryng vs vnto his lure, and therfore he roameth and trudgeth vp and downe, like a roaryng and rampyng Ly­on, that yelleth and roareth hideouslie and horribly, as though he would deuoure all that commeth in his waie. And therefore hath sainct Peter left vnto vs in writyng this so necessarie and profitable an admonition: wherein he discouereth vnto vs our deadly and infernall Enemie, that wee should take heede of hym, and with S. Paule not bee ignoraunt of his malicious driftes. For, in that he skuddeth and walketh about, his drift and meanyng is thereby to bryng vs into a negligence and se­curitie: wherein if he maie once lulle vs, there straightwaies issue and budde out from thence Anger, Wrath, Contention, Arrogance, Shamelesnesse, contempt of God, and all other mischieues whatsoeuer.

And here note, how he saieth that the Deuill walketh a­bout. He setteth not vpon thee directly before thy face, where he knoweth thou art fenced and garded: but he cowardly lyeth in waite to surprize thee behinde at thy backe, or aslope on the one side: he pryeth and tooteth within thee and without thee very diligently to espie thee at some vauntage, where he maie set vppon thee. For when he hath attempted thee one waie (if he speede not of his purpose) he straightwaies taketh an other in hande. If he misse his purpose on this side of thee, he flin­geth to the other, omitting no suttle deuise, no craftie ambush, no cunnyng pollicie to catche thee in a trippe and so to possesse thee. If he finde thee strongly armed and fenced on one parte, he planteth his batterie to an other side: if he bee disappoincted there, he chargeth vpon thee (and that with incredible speede) in an other place, he neuer ceasseth, but is in cōtinuall practise of mischiefe, for thy ouerthrowe and confusion: he neuer taketh any pause or staie, but still runneth about, not suffryng thee to haue any maner of test, or intermission. And yet wee as men senselesse and carelesse make no reckonyng of this geare, nei­ther watche wee to withstande hym, whereby he maie easilie and without resistaunce assaile and ouerthrowe vs. Let euery [Page 114] one therefore looke diligently and warely to hymself: and he shall finde all this to be most true: as thei that haue been temp­ted, can not bee ignoraunt. And therefore wee are more then twise miserable, that liue here so carelesly and retchlesly. For if we would enter into cōsideration with our selues of this our life present, we should see good cause for vs to crye out and call for help, none otherwise then if wee were beset with a nūber of murtherous Theeues. This caused Iob to saie, that the life of man on Earth is a mere Warfare, and a continuall tempta­tion or fight. But why then (will ye saie) doth God place vs in this life beeyng so full of miseries? Truely for this cause, that our Faith maie be exercised and encreased, and that we should be the gladder and willinger to departe hence: and further that Death might become more sauoueie vnto vs, and bee the ear­nestlier of vs desired.

9 Whom resist, stedfast in the Faithe,

WEE must bee sober and watche, but yet to this ende, that our bodies maie bee fit and readie for the conflict and battaile: and yet this is not suf­ficient, to ouercome the Deuill withall. These weapons are onely auaileable for this respect, that the bodie maie bee the lesse occasioned to sinne. But the true weapon wherewith wee must giue the ouerthrowe and foyle to our Eenemie, is Faithe. For if wee take sure holde of GOD in his Worde, and in harte constantly cleaue therevn­to by Faithe, the Deuill shall neuer bee able to vanquishe vs, but like a daunced Cowarde straight waies runne out of the fielde. If thou canst saie: This hath my Lord my God spoken, this I do stedfastly beleue, hereupon I staie my self, & hereun­to doe I leane: thou shalt see the Deuill quickly like a Micher sneake awaie and departe: with whom all beautinesse, all ill concupiscence and iuste, all wrath, all couetousnesse, all faint-hartednesse and desperation vanishe and packe awaie also. But suche is the [...]uctletie and craft of the Deuill, that he will [Page] hardlie suffer thee to come to that poynct, but will vse all the meanes that hee can, to plucke this weapon out of thy hande. Whiche he easily bryngeth to passe, when he hath once ensna­red thee in a drowsie slothfulnesse, and made thy bodie vtterly vnapt for the battaile, and giuen to nothyng els but to lasciui­ous wantonnes. For by that meanes with little adoe he wrin­geth out of thy hande the Sworde of the Spirite, which is the Worde of God, as he did by our firste Graundmother Eue. She had the Word of God, wherevnto if she had firmely and stedfastly adhered, shee had not fallen. But when the Deuill sawe her negligently and carelesly to regarde the Worde, he easilie pulled it out of her harte, and so obteined that whiche he would haue.

Sainct Peter therefore hath here sufficiently warned vs, that wee should striue and fight against the Deuill. To which battaile and encountrie, it nothyng auaileth to runne vp and doune hither and thither for any good Worke, whiche thou of thy self canst doe: but this onely must thou haue care vnto, that thou constantlie sticke, and stedfastly by faithe embrace the Worde of God. If the Deuill then approache thee, and goe a­bout to hurle thee into pensiuenesse of minde and desperation, by reason of thy manifolde sinnes and transgressions before committed: betake thou thy self straightwaies to the Word of God, wherein remission of all thy Synnes is promised: com­mit thy self wholly thereunto, and thou shalt see, that he will quickly packe awaie and be gonne from thee.

9 Knowyng that the same afflictions are accompli­shed in your brethren, whiche are in the worlde.

MEruaile ye not, that ye must suffer temptatiōs of the Deuill: let this rather comforte you that you suffer not the same alone. For there bee a greate many of you, and ye are all Brethren: and ye must all suffer and endure the same: All they take your partes, and in this conflict are aiders and hel­pers vnto you.

[Page 115]Thus hast thou this former Epistle of S. Peter somwhat largelie expounded: In the whiche thou art taught euen fullie and abundauntly the whole summe of Christian doctrine, and wherein also thou maiest see Faithe, Loue, and the Crosse, right aptly and copiouslie described: and maiest also read many godlie instructions, and necessarie premonitions how to wage battaile, and continue fight with that greate Dragon the De­uill. Whiche Epistle who so euer hath rightly and throughlie learned, hath (no doubte) a riche Storehouse of all suche thyn­ges, as any waie concerne sincere and true Christianitie: In somuche that he shall not neede any other doctrine or helpe be­side this: as in deede there is none other: Sauyng that God of the aboundaunte store of his mercie and bountie teacheth the same doctrine, in sundrie and many other places of the Scrip­tures. For other then this that is here sett doune by sainct Pe­ter, there is nothyng that can be taught, or that needeth to bee displaied, sith he herein hath omitted nothyng of all those thin­ges, whiche are expediente and behoouefull for a Christian to knowe.

Finallie, he here deliuereth the partes of a faithfull Prea­cher and good Pastour: to witte, that he should accoumpt it his bounden duetie, not onely to feede the Sheepe, but also to bee carefull for them, and to praie for theim, that God maie graci­ouslie encrease theim in goodnesse, and strengthen theim in Faithe, whereby thei maie bothe receiue and heare the Word, and also digest, vnderstande, and bryng forthe the fruites ther­of. And thus with a praier in the ende, he concludeth, saiyng:

20 And the GOD of all grace, whiche hath called vs vnto his eternall glorie by Christe Iesus, after that ye haue suffred a little, make you perfect, confirme, strengthen, and stablishe you.

IN this Praier he commendeth them to God. The God (saieth he) who a [...]de is the giuer of all Grace, and that not pinchyngly, or in parte, but who moste liberally and aboundauntly (as it were) by full heapes, powreth all his Graces [Page] vpon you: who hath called you through Christe, that ye should enioy and be partakers of eternal glorie, & that not for any me­rite of your own, but by & through Christ. Whom if ye haue, ye also haue through Faithe in him (not for any merite of your owne) eternall life and felicitie. He it is that shall make you perfecte, that you beeyng by hym strengthened, maie growe and stande faste, readie to woorke all good woorkes: He also shall confirme and stablishe you, that you shalbee able to suffer and abide all thynges.

11 To hym bee glorie and Dominion for euer and e­uer. Amen.

THis praise, is that Sacrifice, whiche the duetie of all vs which bee Christians, is to offer. He addeth yet a fewe woordes moe.

12 By Syluanus a faithfull brother vnto you, as I sup­pose, haue I written brieflie, exhortyng and testifi­yng how that this is the true grace of God, where­in ye stande.

ALthough I am not ignoraunte, that ye haue heard and learned these thynges afore, so that ye greatlie neede not to bee taught the same againe at my han­des, yet thought I it good to write the same againe vnto you: to thintent I might bee as a Remembrauncer to you (as it is the duetie of al true Apostles to bee) to perseuere and continue in that doctrine which ye haue learned, to practise and exercise it, and to liue accordyng to the preceptes, rules, and directions thereof: not thinkyng that I doe preache any other thyng vnto you now, then ye haue afore bothe heard and learned.

13 The Churche that is at Babylon elected together with you, saluteth you.

[Page 116] SAlutations were wont in this sorte to bee sent by let­ters. The Churche (saieth he) that is at Babylon sa­luteth you. There were twoo greate Cities of this name, the one in Chaldaea, the other in Aegypt, whiche is now called Alkair. Rome also by an Allegorie is called Babylon, because of the greate confusion of villainous vices, beeyng ga­thered thither, as into the common Sinke of the worlde. And some would faine haue it to be here so taken. But I can not bée brought to that opinion. The woorde by interpretation signi­fieth Confusion. It is moste like to bee that Babylon in Assy­ria or Chaldaea, where Saincte Peter was the Apostle of the Circumcision.

13 And Marcus my Sonne.

SOme saie this was Marke the Euangelist, whom he cal­leth his Sonne, not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit. As sainct Paule likewise calleth Timotheus and Titus his Soonnes, and writeth to the Corinthians, that he had be­gotten them in Christ.

14 Greete ye one an other with the kisse of Loue.

THis custome of Kissyng is now growen out of vse. Wee reade in the Gospell that Christ kissed his Di­sciples, whiche was a custome then in those Coun­treis. Of this Kisse Sainct Paule also maketh often mention. Act. xx.j. Cor. xvj.ij. Cor. xiij. Rom. xvj.

14 Peace bee with you all, whiche are in Christe Ie­sus. Amen.

THat is, whiche faithfullie beleeue in Christe. And this is the ende of this his former Epistle, wherein he com­mendeth theim vnto the protection and tuition of Al­mightie God: who mercifullie graunt that wee maie through­lie vnderstande, and effectuallie keepe and practise the doc­trine comprised in the same. Amen.

❧An Induction or Preface of D. Martine Luther, into the seconde Epistle generall of Sainct Peter.

SAinct Peter perceiuyng and foreseyng that the true & pure doctrine of Faithe, should after his daies be corrupted, obscured and dimmed, writeth this Epi­stle: wherein [...]e meetet [...] with two errors at once, arisyng out of the false vnderstandyng of this doctrine of Faithe; and giueth moste profitable lessons of either parte: to witte, first, that no man ascribe any suche strength or force to VVoorkes, as that thei should be any waie able to iustifie vs before God for that is the effect of Faithe onelie. Againe, that no man should thinke, that Faithe can bee without Good woorkes. For, wee can no soner preach of Faith, how that it alone without the helpe of any our Good woorkes, maketh vs iuste and acceptable before GOD, but straight­waies some are readie to barke against vs, sai­yng, that then it is needelesse and bootelesse for any manne to doe any Good deedes: and this wee [Page 117] knowe by daiely experience is the common speech and saiyng. On the other side, when we vrge and teache Good woorkes, & praise them: then Faithe falleth and looseth muche of her dignitie. So that wee see it to bee a verie hard matter, in this be­halfe to kepe a right meane, speciallie where there is want of painfull and faithfull Preachers.

Now, the Lorde teacheth vs, that we should attribute all our Iustification before God, vnto a sincere Faithe in Christe Iesus. But when wee haue thus soundly preached, & inculked this in­fallible doctrine of Faithe, we must also teache, that Good woorkes muste needes ensue. Because wee maie not at any hande, (so long as wee be in this life) bee idle, without dooyng some woorke. All this doeth Sainct Peter in this Epistle pur­sue and discourse vppon at large: meetyng with those, who peraduēture out of his former Epistle, had foded themselues with a false opinion, and mistaken his meanyng: in thinking Faithe to bee sufficient, although there be no good VVorkes at all. And vpon this poinct, is the firste Chapter of this Epistle specially written: wherin he teacheth and willeth the godlie to approue and declare the certaintie of their Faithe by their Good workes.

[Page]The seconde Chapter is against them, whiche extoll VVorkes onelie, and throwe doune Faithe. And therfore he warneth vs aforehande of false teachers and seducers, whiche by newe doctrines of their owne deuise, should darken and abolishe this assuraunce, whiche eche one ought firmely to haue of Faithe: for he sawe, what detestable iug­glyng, Apostacie, add departyng awaie from the Faithe would bee in the worlde, whiche euen then beganne: as Saincte Paule saieth, ij. Thess. ij. The Mysterie of Iniquitie doeth alreadie woorke.

Jn the third, hee plainlie describeth and set­teth out the impietie of those that make a moc­kage and ieste of the woorde of God: and sheweth that in the latter daies the people through vnbe­beleef, and lacke of feare of the Iudgement of the laste daie shalbee euen as Epicures, whollie giuen to the fleshe.

This Epistle therfore is written to forewarne vs, to shewe our Faithe by our VVorkes: but yet not so, that we should haue any confidēce or trust in our VVorkes, or thinke them any whitte, or in any respecte, meritorious, or auaileable towarde our saluation.

The second Epistle Generall of Sainct Peter.

¶The first Chapter.

SImon Peter a seruant and an A­postle of Iesus Christe, to you whiche haue obteined like pre­cious faith with vs by the righte­ousnesse of our GOD and Saui­our Iesus Christe:

2 Grace and peace bee multi­plied to you, by the knowledge of God, and of Iesus our Lorde.

3 Accordyng as his godly power hath giuen vnto vs all thinges that perteine vnto life and godlinesse, through the knowledge of hym that hath called vs vnto glorie & vertue.

4 Wherby most greate & precious promises are giuē vnto vs, that by thē ye should be partakers of the godly nature, in that ye flee the corruptiō, which is in the world through lust.

5 Therefore giue euen al diligence thereunto: ioyne more­ouer vertue with your faithe: and with vertue, knowledge:

6 And with knowledge, temperance: and with tempe­rance, patience: and with patience, godlinesse:

7 And with godlinesse, brotherly kindnesse: & with bro­therly kindnesse, loue.

8 For if these thinges bee among you, and abounde, they will make you that ye neither shalbe ydle, nor vnfruitfull in the knowledge of our Lorde Iesus Christe.

9 For he that hath not these thinges, is blind, and can not [Page] see farre of, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his olde sinnes.

10 Wherefore, brethren, giue rather diligence to make your callyng and election sure: for if ye doe these thinges, ye shall neuer fall.

11 For by this meanes an entring shalbe ministred vnto you abundantly into the euerlasting kingdome of our Lord and Sauiour Iesus Christe.

12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you alwaies in remembraunce of these thynges, though that ye haue knowledge, and be stabished in the present truth.

13 For I think it meete as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stirre you vp by puttyng you in remembraunce.

14 Seyng I knowe that the tyme is at hande that I must laie doune this my tabernacle, euen as our Lord Iesus Christ hath shewed me.

15 I will endeuour therefore alwaies, that ye also maye be able to haue remembraunce of these thinges after my de­partyng.

16 For wee followed not deceiuable fables when wee opened vnto you the power, and commyng of our Lorde Iesus Christ, but with our eyes wee sawe his maiestie.

17 For he receiued of God the Father honor and glorie, when there came suche a voyce to hym from the excellent glorie, This is my beloued Sonne, in whō I am well pleased.

18 And this voyce we heard when it came from heauen, beyng with hym in the holy mount.

19 Wee haue also a moste sure worde of the Prophetes, to the whiche ye doe well that ye take heede, as vnto a light that shineth in a darke place, vntill the daie dawne, and the daie starre arise in your hartes.

20 So that ye first knowe this, that no prophesie in the Scripture is of any priuate interpretation.

21 For the prophesie came not in olde tyme by the will of man: but holiemen of God spake as they were moued by the holy Ghost.

1 Simon Peter a Seruaunt and an Apostle of Iesus Christ, to you whiche haue obteined like precious Faithe with vs, by the righteousnesse of our GOD and Sauiour Iesus Christ.

AS in the former Epistle, so in this, wee haue bothe a Subscription, and an In­scription: That wee maie knowe, bothe who writeth it, and to whom it is writ­ten: namelie to them that zealously heare the Woorde of GOD, and constantly stande by Faithe in the sincere profession of the same. But what Faithe meaneth he? Euē that (saith he) whiche is by the righteousnesse of God. In whiche woordes he ascribeth Iustification to Faithe onely, euen as S. Paule Roma j. saieth: In the Gospell the righteousnesse of GOD is reueiled from Faithe to Faithe: as it is written, The iuste shall liue by Faithe. Sainct Peter therefore warneth them to stand readie, & not to be beguiled, nor to suffer the doctrine of Faithe whiche thei had receiued and learned, to slippe awaie from thē. And whereas he here peculierly speaketh of the Righteous­nesse of God, he thereby excludeth and putteth backe all hu­maine Iustice. For it is Faithe onely that iustifieth vs before GOD: and therefore, Faithe is called the Righteousnesse of God. For, before the worlde it is nothyng accoumpted of, nay it is rather persecuted, and flatly condemned.

2 Grace and peace bee multiplied to you, by the knowledge of God, and of Iesus our Lorde.

THis is an vsuall Salutation, wont to bee prefixed at the beginnyng of Letters and Epistles: The meanyng whereof is thus: I wishe vnto you the encrease of Grace and peace, and that ye maie bee therewith enriched euery daie more and more. Whiche grace issueth and floweth from the knowledge of GOD, and of our [Page] Lorde Iesu Christ: as if he should saie: This Grace no manne can haue vnlesse he haue withall the knowledge of God, and of our Lorde Iesus Christ.

Of this knowledge of GOD, aswell the Apostles as the Prophetes dooe verie often and almoste continually make mention in the holie Scriptures, as Esaie the xj. In all my ho­lie hill thei shall not hurte nor destroye, for the Earth shalbe full of the knowledge of the Lorde, as the waters that couer the Sea. That is, The knowledge of God shall bee as plenti­full and abundaunt, as the waters of the swellyng Sea, when it breaketh out, and surroundeth some whole Countrey. And here hence shall suche peace and tranquillitie presently ensue, that no man shal seeke to molest or damnifie an other. But this is not to knowe God, if thou dooe but onely beleeue that God is Almightie, and that he hath created and made all thynges: and that Christ was borne of the virgine Marie, suffred death and rose againe: for thus muche doe the Turkes, Iewes, and Deuilles beleeue. But the true knowledge of GOD is this: That thou haue a feelyng of hym in thyne harte & conscience, and that thou be certainly perswaded, that God and his Christ is thy God and thy Christ: whiche belief the Deuilles and false counterfaite Christians haue not, neither can haue. Therefore the knowledge of God is nothing els, then a sounde and entire Faithe in Christ. For when thou thus fullie knowest GOD and Christe, thou wilte moste gladlie resigne, and committe thy self vnto hym, and firmely beleeue and trust in hym, aswell in aduersitie, as in prosperitie, in death aswell as in life. This settled confidence and sure trust, can not bee in theim that haue euill consciences: that is, in theim that want true and sincere Faithe. For thei knowe GOD none otherwise, but that he is the God of S. Peter, and of all the Sainctes in Heauen: But for their God thei dooe not knowe hym, neitheir haue any fee­lyng of hym, but haue hym and take hym, rather as their hea­uie tormentour and angrie Iudge.

To haue GOD, is to haue all Grace, all Mercie, and all goodnesse that can bee named. To haue Christe, is to haue a [Page 120] Sauiour and a Mediatour, who hath brought vs vnto God, and made hym now all ours: and at whose handes he hath ob­tained for vs all Grace, and Blessyng. All these thynges, thou muste drawe and applie to thy self, and not doubte but that Christ is thyne, and thou Christes. And this is the true know­ledge of Christ. An vmnaried woman seyng a man, maie saie: this is a Manne: but she can not saie: this is my Manne, or my Housebande. In like sort, all of vs can saie: This is God: But all of vs can not saie, that he is our God: because wee dooe not all of vs beleeue and trust in hym, and comfort our selues one­ly in hym and by hym. This true knowledge of GOD the Scripture tearmeth the face and Countenaunce of the Lorde: whereof the Prophetes speake verie copiouslie. For thei that see not his face, and knowe hym not, doe see but onely his hin­der partes: that is, doe see hym as their angrie and displeased God: whereas if thei sawe his face, that is, if thei had the true knowledge of hym by Faith, thei should behold and see nothing but Grace and Mercie.

Wee see here how sainct Peter in this his seconde Epistle purposely entreateth not of Faithe, (for he largelie discoursed therevppon in his former Epistle) but his purpose is in this to write an Exhortation to them whiche beleeue, that thei should shewe forthe their Faithe by Good workes. For he would not haue Faithe to bee without Good woorkes, nor Good woor­kes without Faithe. But firste he requireth in vs Faithe, and Faithe beeyng once surely grounded, to shewe foorthe Good woorkes. And therefore he addeth:

3 According as his godlie power hath giuen vnto vs all thynges, that pertaine vnto life and godlinesse.

WHen wee throughlie knowe God by Faithe, wee are possessed of the franke gift of all his heauenly graces and benefites. Wee haue the influence of his Diuine power woorkyng in vs: whiche promoteth and furthereth vs vnto all thynges that pertaine vnto life and godlinesse: that is, [Page] when wee beleeue, wee receiue so many benefites of hym, that God bountifully bestoweth vpon vs euen the giftes of his po­wer: whiche power is diffused into all and euery our actions, & bothe is, and also effectually woorketh in vs. What soeuer we speake, or what soeuer wee doe, it is not wee but GOD in vs that speaketh and doeth. He is in vs strong, mightie, and om­nipotence, yea, euen when wee suffer torment and affliction, when wee are killed and dye, and when before the worlde wee are altogether seelie and weake: In somuche that when wee haue not this power of God, there is in vs no strength at all, no facultie, no habilitie.

Now, whereas Sainct Peter saieth, that all thynges are giuen vnto vs of his Diuine power, his meanyng is not, as though wee should bee able to make Heauen and Earth, and to woorke Miracles, and doe wonders: For what good would that doe vnto vs: But wee haue all the giftes of his godly and Diuine power in vs, so farre as is necessarie and profitable for vs. And therefore the Apostle addeth further these woordes, That pertaine to life and godlinesse: That is to saie: wee haue all thynges by his godlie and diuine power, moste abundantly giuen vnto vs, that wee should dooe good, and alwaies liue in vertuous estate and blessednesse.

3 Through the knowledge of hym that hath cal­led vs.

THis mightie power and greate grace of God, proceadeth not from elswhere, then from this perfecte and sounde knowledge of GOD. For when thou throughlie knowest hym for thy God, he dealeth with thee as God. After this maner also sainct Paule j. Cor. j. saieth. In all thynges ye are made riche in hym, in all kinde of speeche, and in all knowledge, as the testimonie of Iesus Christe hath bin confirmed in you: so that ye are not destitute of any gift ▪ This is the greatest and the moste necessarie gift of all others [Page 121] that God can giue vnto vs, whiche wee ought not to exchange for all other riches, that is either in Heauen, or in Earth. For what would it auaile thee, although thou couldst goe through Fire and Water, without takyng any harme, and woorke all kinde of Miracles and wonders, if thou shouldest want this? For there bee a greate many condemned, that haue been able is woorke suche Miracles. But this exceedeth and farre sur­mounteth all Miracles: in that, God bestoweth and giueth so greate a power vnto vs, wherby al our sinnes are forgiuen vs, and abolished quite out of remembraunce: Death, Sathan, and Hell beyng vtterlie vanquished and swallowed vp. Whereby we possesse our Consciences without feare, and haue our har­tes ioyful, merie, and bold, without beyng afraied of any thing. All whiche, the knowledge of GOD that calleth vs, doeth af­foord and bryng vnto vs.

3 Vnto glorie and vertue.

AND after what sorte was that Callyng, where­with God called vs? Forsooth this: God sent his holie Gospell into the World, and caused the same to bee proclaimed and preached abroade: for the whiche, no man euer made any labour, no man euer praied or made any entreatie to him but before any one so much as once thought of it, he offred and gaue this grace vnto vs, and pow­red the same moste aboundantly vppon vs all, that he alone might haue all the glorie and praise, and wee enioying suche a benefite, should ascribe this power and vertue al onely to him. For it is no worke of our owne, but his. And therefore seeyng that this Callyng is none of our owne, neither cōmeth of our selues, it is not m [...]te that we should lift vp our selues in pride, as though we had brought it to passe of our selues: but he is onely to bee glorified of vs, and all thankes are to bee giuen vnto hym, for so mercifullie bestowyng and giuyng his Gos­pell vnto vs, and withall also for so strengthenyng vs with po­wer and vertue against Sathan, Death, Hell, and all mischie­ues [Page] at once whatsoeuer.

4 Whereby moste greate and precious promises are giuen vnto vs,

SAinct Peter hath added this, to shewe forth and de­clare the nature and force of Faithe. For when we knowe God to bee ours, wee haue also with hym, by Faith, eternall life and the power of God, wher­by wee ouercome and get the victorie both of Death and De­uill. And yet for all this, we do not see these things, neither yet feele wee them, although all thinges be promised vnto vs. We haue al things, but thei yet appeare not: but in the last daie we shall plainly discouer and see all thinges present and apparant­ly laied open vnto our eyes.

Wee beginne here in this Worlde, but wee come not to any ful fruition or perfection thereof in this life. But we haue this promise, that we liue here by the mightie power of God, and that after this life we shalbe euerlastingly blessed. He that faithfully beleeueth these thinges, hath the some (as it were) alreadie in possession: he that beleeueth not, hath them not, but is sure to perishe eternallie. How greate and how precious these promises are, Sainct Peter further yet declareth, say­ing.

4 That by them ye should bee partakers of the god­lie nature, in that ye flee the corruption, whiche is in the worlde through lust.

THis benefite wee haue by the power of Faithe, that wee thereby are made partakers of God, and come into a certein participation and com­munion of his diuine nature. This is suche a sentence, as the like ye shall not reade againe, neither in the olde Testament nor yet in the newe. Howbeit among the Painims and Heathen writers it is often read, [Page 122] that wee partake with the very diuine nature it self. But what is this nature of God? Euerlastyng truth, righteousnesse, iu­stice, wisedome, eternall life, peace, ioye, pleasure, and al good­nesse that can bee named. He now that is partaker of the na­ture of God, is seized and priuiledged in all these: to wit, that he shall liue for euer enioye perpetuall and endlesse peace, plea­sure, ioye, and mirth: bee pure, holie, iust, and able to withstand and supplant Sathan, Sinne & Death. Peters wordes there­fore sounde as though he should saie thus: Looke how vnpossi­ble it is, to take from God euerlastyng life and eternall truth: so impossible is it also, that these thinges should be taken from you. If any man hurt you, he must needes also hurt God. For he must first oppresse God, that seeketh to oppresse a right Christian. All these properties are comprehended vnder this worde Diuine or Godly Nature: whiche worde be therefore vsed, because it containeth in it so large a signification. These bee greate and singuler benefites, if wee faithfully beleeue the veritie of them. But all that is here set doune, is (as afore was declared) Doctrines, wherevppon the groundwoorke of our Faith is laide: for that whiche here is written is rather to de­clare and shewe what greate and excellent benefites grow vn­to vs through Faithe. And therefore he saieth: All these thyn­ges shall ye bee sure to haue, if ye so liue, that ye shewe foorth your faithe, Flee and the corruption whiche is in the worlde through lust.

5 Therefore giue euen all diligence thereunto: ioyne moreouer vertue with your faith:

HEre sainct Peter exhorteth them to declare and shewe foorth their Faith by their good Woor­kes: as though he should saie: Seeyng that ye haue obtained so many and so greate benefites by Faithe, that what God himself hath, ye also haue, endeuour your selues and geeue all diligence hereunto: be not slouthful and sluggish, but shewe forth the effectes and [Page] fruictes of your faith: that is, let your Faithe appeare openly before Men, let it bee dutifull, charitable, seruiceable, diligent, effectuall and workyng, euer occupied in well doing: not ydle, neither vnfruitfull. Ye haue a good Farme and a fertile Field to worke in: be ye diligent husbandes therfore and take heede, leaste through your slouth and securitie, there growe vp in it Brambles, Weedes, Darnell and Cockle.

5 And with vertue, knowledge.

THis is that Knowledge, by the which ye maie chiefly know, how by reason to qualifie and leade your liues, and how to direct theffectes & vertues of your Faith: that ye neither ouermuche pamper and cocker your bodies, neither denie vnto it that whiche is needefull. For thus farre is the flesh to bee brideled and kept vnder, and no further, that it maie bee sober, watchfull, and apt to good Workes▪ and not (as some Hypocrites wider the vizard of feined holinesse doe) to hurt or destroye your bodies. For although GOD hate the Sinne that is in the fleshe, yet his will is not that you should therefore destroye your bodies. Ye ought to suppresse and re­straine the lustes and concupiscences thereof, but not to de­stroye or hurt it: but rather to minister vnto it sufficient allo­wance and maintenaunce, that it maie continue sounde, health­full and liuyng.

Knowledge also is ioigned and linked with vertue, whēas good respect and regard of honestie and modestie is had in all our conuersation and dealinges: and when a conuenient mea­sure is obserued and kept, in our Meates, Drinckes, Appa­raile, Wordes, and all other our actions: so that wee neither swerue from the rule of reason, nor giue any occasion of offence to our Neighbour.

6 And with knowledge, temperaunce:

[Page 123] TEmperaunce consisteth not onely in eatyng and drinckyng, but in obseruyng that due meane, whiche, knowledge (whereof wee spake afore) doeth prescribe to bee vsed in all our life and conuersation, aswell in woordes and woorkes, as in maners and dealinges: that no man frame hymself to liue after a more sumptuous and nice sorte then is conuenient: that all superfinitie of Appa­raile and brauerie be auoided: and that no man goe more pom­pouslie and gorgeouslie then is meete, or standeth with Chri­stian modestie. But saincte Peter in these cases inescribeth no certein rule, nither limiteth any boundes for the same (whiche thyng our Papisticall munckishe Votaries presumed to doe) comprizyng these matters within the compasse of certein Ca­nons and rules deuised out of their owne braines, tiyng men to a straicte obseruation of these thynges after one and the selfsame maner. Whiche thing to bee vsed among Christians is vnpossible: to wit, that a certaine sett order and precise ano­tation in these externall thynges, should bee comprehended within the compasse of certein preceptes and generall rules, of euery particular person to bee particularlie obserued. For, men bee of vnlike disposition: one is of a strong and sounde na­ture, an other weake and faint: and no man is at all tymes and in all respectes so affected and giuen as an other is. And there­fore euery one ough [...] to haue a speciall regarde to the constitu­tion and disposition of his owne bodie what he is able to beare, sustaine and endure, and what he is not.

6 And with temperaunce, pacience:

SAinct Peters meanyng [...] these words is this: Although ye liue accordyng to knowledge, modestie, and tempe­raunce, without giuyng offence to any in your conuersa­tion and behauiour: yet thinke ye not that ye shall liue quietly without temptation and persecution. For, when yée beleeue, and leade an honest and Christian life, agreeable to your pro­fession, [Page] the Worlde will not ceasse to hate and persecute you. Here then must Pacience bee shewed foorth, whiche is one of the fruictes of Faith.

6 And with pacience, godlinesse.

WHat soeuer wee dooe, or what soeuer wee suffer in this l [...]fe, let vs be thankfull to GOD for thesame, not seekyng our owne glorie, praise, or commodi­tie: but onely that thereby God maie be glorified: and that we so behaue our selues in all thynges, that it maie appeare, that wee doe all thynges for the loue, whiche we beare vnto God.

7 And with godlinesse, brotherly kindnesse.

HEreby Sainct Peter bindeth vs one to serue an others turne, and to bee helpyng one to an other as Brethren: one to be carefull of an others welfare, one not to hate, despise, or hurte an other. And this is an other triall or fruicte of our Faithe, whereby we testifie to the worlde, that we haue that Godlinesse, whiche is spoken of afore.

7 And with brotherlie kindnesse, Loue.

BY Loue be meaneth that common and generall Loue, with the whiche wee are bounde to Loue as well our Enemies, and those which doe not accōpt of vs as Bretheren, nor vouchsafe to liue together with vs freendlie and Brotherlie, as the [...] that are our verie freendes in deede. In whiche fewe woordes, Saincte Peter hath comprehended all that appertaineth to a Christian life, and what be the woorkes and fruletes of true Faithe in deede: namely, knowledge to liue well, Temperaunce, Patience, Godlinesse, Brotherlie kindnesse, and a generall Loue to all. And therefore he addeth further.

8 For if these thynges bee among you, and abound▪ thei will make you that ye neither shalbe idle not vnfruictfull in the knowledge of our Lorde Iesus Christe.

WHen ye giue your selues to these exercises, and woor­kes, ye tread the right pathe, ye goe the right waie, and haue in you the true and sincere Faithe: and fur­ther, the knowledge of Christ is effectuall and fruitfull in you. Take heede therefore to your selues, that ye make not light accoumpte of these thynges. Keepe your bodies in subiection, and so deale with your neighbours, as you knowe that Christ hath dealt with you.

9 For he that hath not these thynges, is blinde, and can not see farre of, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old synnes.

HE that hath not in hymself these fruictes of his Faithe, dooeth but (as it were) grope for his waie like a blinde man in the darke, not know­yng whereto sette his foote: yea, suche is his life that he resteth doubtfull and vncertaine, in what case he standeth towardes GOD: He neither hath true Faithe, nor any further knowledge of Christ, sauyng that, he can talke of hym as he hath heard others reporte. And there­fore doeth but bluster blindly and at randō in the whole course of his life, like a blinde manne that seeketh his waie with his hande, and hath forgotten that euer he was Baptized, or that his sinnes were forgiuen hym: and so becommeth he vnthank­full, Idle, and vnfruictfull, without any consideration of his profession, liuyng loosely without any remorse of Consci­ence: Hauyng neither feelyng, neither yet so muche as any taste of so greate Graces, giftes, and benefites. And this is an exhortation wherin Sainct Peter exhorteth and stirreth vs vp whiche beleeue, to the practise of Good woorkes, thereby to [Page] declare and shewe foorthe, that wee haue a true, sincere and sounde, and not an Hypocriticall, or feigned Faithe. Neuer­thelesse, he stil earnestly vrgeth and prooueth this, that Faithe onely doeth iustifie: and that where soeuer this Faithe is, true Good woorkes doe also necessarilie ensue. That whiche now followeth, maketh for our confirmation herein.

10 Wherfore brethren, giue rather diligence to make your callyng and election sure.

THe Electiō and eternall predestination of God is so sure in it self, that there is no nede to make it surer. And so also is our calling firme and sta­ble. For he that heareth the Gospell, beleeueth, and is baptized, is (doubtlesse) called, & is sure of his Saluation, yea hee alreadie hath it. Seeyng therefore, that wee are called to these thynges, wee ought to giue all dili­gence (saieth S. Peter) to approoue and assure our Callyng and Election to our selues in our Consciences, as the same is alreadie assuredlie knowen with God. And this is a phraze or maner of Speeche vsuall in the Scriptures, as Ephes. lj. Ye were strangers from the couenauntes of promise▪ and had no hope, and were without God in the world ▪ For although there bee no man, whether he bee good or hadde, but God hath the rule ouer hym, (sith hee is the Lorde of all Creatures) yet neuerthelesse (S. Paule saieth) that hee is without GOD, whiche dooeth not acknowledge hym, loue hym, and truste in hym. Euen so here, although in it self the Callyng and Electi­on of God, wherewith he hath called and elected vs, bee sure and vndoubted: yet is it not sure and stable to thee, so long as thou dooest not certainly beleeue, and vndoubtedly assure thy self, that the same belongeth vnto thee. And for this cause doeth S. Peter exhorte vs, that wee should make our Callyng and Election sure through good Workes.

And here againe thou seest, how muche the Apostle ascri­beth and attributeth vnto the Fruites of Faith. For albeit thei [Page 125] appertaine, and seene to doe good with thy neighbour withall, yet also are thei profitable vnto thée, because thereby thy Faith is strēgthened and confirmed, [...] stirred vp more and more to the practise of Good woorkes. Wherein also thou seest a farre other vertue and qualitie, then is in the faculties of the bodie. For, the powers of the bodie, the more thei bee exercised and vsed, the weaker and freebler thei be, and in th'ende vtterly decaie: whereas contrariwise, this Spirituall vertue (if it bee not exercised, decaieth and fainteth: But with muche vse and practise it is strengthened and greately encreased. And this was the cause, why God at the beginnyng did leade the Chri­stian Churche, through hard and rough waies, vexed it, tour­moiled it, and throughlie exercised it, in diuers conflictes of Faithe, through Ignominie, Persecution, and Death. For he knewe, that hereby it should receiue strength, and encrease, and become the mightier, because the more that it was oppressed, the more it flourished. And this is that, whiche Sainct Peter here meaneth, when he faieth, that wee should not suffer our Faithe to be Idle or vnfruictfull: seeyng that the nature there­of is suche, that it groweth and encreaseth by vexation and per­secution, so long till bee fullie assured and certaine of the Cal­lyng and Election of God, so that it can not bee deceiued.

This is the marke that wee must shoote at, touchyng Pre­destination. There are many light Spirites, who beeyng en­dued with verie small pi [...]aunce of Faithe, will yet rashelie presume to despute vpon this poincte, and curiouslie scare he in what place thei bee reckened and accepted with God. But doe not thou entermeddle with such scrupulous curiositie for thou shalt neuer by this waie attaine to that, whiche thou seekest. If thou desire to bee sure of thy Saluation, treade that [...] and followe that course, whiche Saincte Peter hath [...] shewed thee for if thou take any other waie, thou [...]iuest thy self, and shale bee sure to misse thyne entente. Thyne owne experience must teache it thee, and that shalte thou certainly knowe, and bee assured of when thy faithe is throughly cried and en [...]ed.

[Page] 10 For if ye doe these thynges ye shall neuer fall.

YE shall stande firme and stedfaste, ye shall neither stumble, fall, nor synne, but walke without offence: all thynges shall goe well with you, and frame to the beste: whereas if ye leane and trust to your owne foolishe cogi­tations, and rotten deuises, the Deuill will quickely and easi­ly hurle you headlong into desperation, and hatred of God.

11 For by this meanes an entryng shall bee ministred vnto you abundantlie, into the euerlastyng kyng­dome of our Lorde and Sauiour Iesus Christe.

THis is the highwaie to Heauen, and none other: And therefore let no manne thinke by dreames and de­uises of his owne making, touching Faithe, to come thither: there needeth nothyng therevnto but a liuely Faithe, that is throughlie tried and exercised. But alas, what repu­gnant doctrines to this, hath there but foisted into the Church of GOD, by our seducyng teachers, while thei affirmed and taught, that if a man, hauyng runne headlong in wickednesse all his life, and at the laste pinche of his death, haue but a seelie pittaunce (bee it neuer so small) and as it were but a verie sparke of Faithe in hym, that he should bee sure thereby of sal­uation? But if thou putte of, and deferte thy repentaunce and Faithe till then, thinkyng and presentyng that thou shalt then euen presentlie and vpon the sodaine, haue the gifte of suche a iustifyng Faithe, thou trustest to a broken Reede, and shalte seeke after Faithe and Saluation, when it shall bee too late. Dooest thou not heare, that euen thei whiche bee strong, shall scarcely be saued? Howbeit wee ought not to despaire of them that bee weake, because there is hope that thei maie bee called, although it hardly and not vsuallie so commeth to passe. But he whiche in this life throughlie and effectuallie exerciseth and strengtheneth his Faithe in dooyng good, shall haue abroade and easie passage or waie, with chearfulnesse and assured confi­dence [Page 126] to enter into the life to come. Suche a one maie dye with courage and gladnesse, suche a one maie (not esteemyng this present life) depart hence in the peace of Conscience: And (as it were) with mirthe and ioye, take possession of the kyng­dome of Christe. Whereas on the other side, thei that haue a languishyng, fainte, weake, and vnexercised Faithe, and haue not enured and acquainted themselues to good and godly exer­cises, shall not with like confidence and ioye as the others, en­ter into eternall life: And if thei doe enter, yet shal thei not find the doore so open, nor the entraunce so easie into the kyngdom of Christe, but shall tremble and quake for feare, and be loathe [...]odye: wishyng rather still in this life, to lye be dred, sicke and diseased, then once to dye or exchaunge this life for any other.

12 Wherefore I will not bee negligent to put you al­waies in remembraunce of these thynges, though that ye haue knowledge and bee stablished in the present truth.

OF this we haue oftentymes spoken afore. Al­beit GOD hath caused a great light to shine vnto vs, in this so mercifull a manifestation of the Gospell: so that we both now know what a Christian life is, and also what Christian Doctrine meaneth, and dooe also see the skope of the whole Scripture to tend to none other ende but this: yet, neuerthe­lesse, it is expedient and necessarie still to perseuere and go for­warde in preachyng and teachyng without ceassyng, and to [...]terate & in [...]lke the self same doctrine from daie to daie, if not to learne, yet to bee admonished and put in remembraunce of doctrine before learned and receiued. For there are twoo Offi­ces in the Church as S. Paule teacheth Rom. xij. the one con­sisteth in Teaching, the other in Exhorting. He that teacheth, let hym take heede to his teaching and doctrine, and he that exhorteth, to his exhortation. Rom. xij. Teachyng is, where [Page] wee laie the foundation of Faithe, and preache the Gospell to them that haue not yet heard any thyng thereof. Exhortyng, or admonishyng is, (as here sainct Peter saieth) to preache to them that haue bothe heard and learned the same afore, to en­courage them manfully to proceede and continue in their well begonne enterprise, and to awake and stirre vp their dull and drowsie natures to goe on forwarde, from steppe to steppe and from degree to degree euery daie more and more. We are all cladde and laden with this olde rotten Sacke, our Fleshe and Bloud: which stil pulleth vs doune, and draweth vs the wrong waie, whereby the Soule is easily [...]ulled asleepe and brought into securitie. And therefore it is very beh [...]m [...]ful and necessa­rie for vs to bee continually exercised, euen as a good house­holder keepeth his Seruauntes and Familie still occupied, and calleth vppon them to looke to their businesse, leaste they should growe into ydlenesse. Now, if the dulnesse of our na­ture bee suche, that it must bee called vppon and put in mynde to dooe thinges expedient and behoouefull for externall foode and maintenaunce of the Bodie, how muche more conuenient and meete is it, that the same bee vsed and putte in practise in matters appertainyng to the Spirite and Soule?

13 For I thinke it meete as long as I am in this Taber­nacle, to stirre you vp, by puttyng you in remem­braunce.

SAinct Peter here calleth his Body; a Taberna­cle, wherin the Soule for a time saiourneth and it is a muche like phraze to that whiche is vsed in the former Epistle: wher he called the Body of the Woman, a Vessell or Droun. And after the like sorte speaketh S. Paule ij. Cor. v. Wee knowe that if our earthly house of this Tabernacle be destroyed, we haue a building giuen of God, that is, an house not made with hāds, but eternall in the Heauens: for the whiche we sigh, desiryng to be clothed with our house whiche is from Heauen. For so [Page 127] long as wee are in this Tabernacle, wee sigh and are hurde­ned &c. And againe: But wee are comforted and are bold in this, that wee knowe, that whiles wee are in the bodie, wee are absent from the Lorde: But wee had leifer to remoue out of the Bodie and to dwell with the Lorde. Here wee see S. Paule calleth this Bodie of ours, an House makyng two ma­ner of Dwellynges, and twoo maner of Pereg [...]inatiōs or ab­sences from home. By which phraze of speeche, Sainct Peter also here in this place calleth this Bodie, a Tabernacle for the Soule to soiourne in: by whiche name, he doeth muche exte­nuate the reputation that is commonly made of it, and also seth it lower then moste parte of men accoumpt of it: for he doeth not call it an House, but a Tabernacle, [...] poore Cotage such as seelie Sheepeheardes vse to dwell in▪ The house is slender and contemptible, but the treasure that is laied vp and kept in it, is riche and precious.

14 Seeyng I knowe that the tyme is at hande that I must laie downe this my Tabernacle, euen as our Lord Iesus Christ hath shewed me.

15 I will endeuour therefore alwaies, that ye also may be able to haue remembraunce of these thinges af­ter my departyng.

SAinct Peter here testifieth of himself, that he is as­sured of eternall life and that by speciall reuelation from the Lorde, he knewe when he should dye: all which was doen for our sakes, and to confirme and strengthen our Faith: For it was very expedient and necessa­rie that there should bee some suche men; that had in themsel­ues a certain perswasion and sure knowledge of their electiō: who might establishe & laie the foundation of Faith in others, whereby it might bee out of all doubt knowen, that they prea­ched not the dreames and fantasies of men, but the true and sincere Worde of God. Whiche men before thei came to that assuraunce and certaintie, God throughly tryed and prooued. [Page] Therefore saieth sainct Peter: I will not onely with my liuely voyce admonishe and put you in remembraunce, but I will al­so committ these my admonitions to writyng, and leaue my exhortations written for your directions and instructions: that after my death aswell as in my life tyme, ye maie bee thereof put in minde by others, and bee called vpon to obserue and put the same in vre practise. Beholde here what a vigilant care this Apostle had for the safegarde and saluation of Soules, and yet neuerthelesse wee see, through the malice of Sathan, what shamelesse shiftes and cogging marchaundize hath been and still is made of them.

16 For wee followed not deceiuable fables when we opened vnto you the power, and commyng of our Lorde Iesus Christe, but with our eyes wee sawe his Maiestie:

17 For he receiued of God the Father honor and glo­rie, when there came such a [...]oyce to hym from the excellent glorie. This is my beloued Sonne, in whom I am well pleased.

18 And this voyce we heard when it came from hea­uen, beyng with hym in the holy mount.

HEre S. Peter bringeth in the hystorie of the transfiguration of Christe vppon the Mount, written by the Euangelist Mathewe Chapt. xvij. Wherein is declared how the Lorde Ie­sus, tooke three of his Disciples, viz. Peter, Iames and Iohn into an high Mountaine, and was there transfigured before them, his face shinyng as the Sunne, and his clothes beyng white as the Light: where also there appea­red vnto them Moses and Elias, talkyng with hym: till at length a bright Cloude shadowed them, and a voyce comming out of the Cloude, saied: This is my beloued Sonne, in whom I am well pleased: heare hym. Whiche when the Disciples heard, thei fell on their faces and were sore afraide. Then Ie­sus [Page 128] came and touched them and saied▪ Arise & be not afraide, And when thei lifted vp their eyes, thei sawe no man, saue Ie­sus onely. And as they came downe from the Mountaine, Ie­sus charged them, saiyng: Shewe the Vision to no man, vntill the Sonne of man rise againe from the dead.

This therefore whiche here Sainct Peter writeth, hath this meanyng: That Gospell which I haue preached and she­wed vnto you of Christ and of his commyng, I haue not suc­ked out of myne owne fingers endes, nor feigned out of myne owne braine, neither yet receiued I the same from vaine and Sophisticall Pratlers and Ianglers, that can roundely and readily talke and tattle of matters, such as the Greekes were: Whereas in truthe, all that which thei with finenesse of Elo­quēce, and galantnesse of phrazes painted out (thinkyng them selues therein greate Wisemen) was nothyng els but mere toyes, trifles, and vanities: These and suche like persones wee neither haue giuen eare vnto, neither followed and sought af­ter: that is, wee dooe not preache vnto you the doatyng drea­mes, and foolishe fantasies of Men: But we are moste sure of our doctrine, and of the certaintie thereof, that it is of GOD: because we haue bothe heard it with our eares, and seen it with our eyes. To witte, when wee were present with Christe in the Mounte, and there bothe sawe and heard his glorie from heauen proclaimed. Whose glorie was suche, that his face shi­ned as the Sunne, and his clothes were white as Snowe, and wee also heard a voice from the high Maiestie of the Father, saiyng: This is my beloued Sonne, heare hym.

Therefore euery Preacher ought to be so sure, and so farre from any doubtyng of the certaintie of his doctrine, and of the Woorde whiche he preacheth, that he should not feare to scale and confirme the same with his death, seyng it is the Woorde of Life, whiche he hath in hande. The Apostles therefore were certainly assured of the truthe of the Gospell, whiche thei prea­ched, and were out of all doubt that it was the true, and infalli­ble Worde of GOD: and withall, that the Gospell is none o­ther thyng, then the preachyng of Christe. And therefore none [Page] other preachyng is to bee heard; because the Father will not haue any other. This is my beloued Sonne (s [...]th he) heale hym. Let hym be your Schoole maister and your Teacher: as if he should saie: when ye heare hym, ye heare me: And there­fore saieth S. Peter, wee haue preached and made knowen vnto you, that Christe [...]s [...]e Lorde and Ruler of all thynges, and that all power is deliuered ouer vnto hym: whiche power he also hath, whiche faithfullie beleeueth in hym. These thyn­ges haue not wee deuised, and forged by our owne imagi­nations, but wee haue bothe seen and heard them by the Reuo­lation of God, who hath commaunded vs, to heare this Christ alone. But what is the cause that S. Peter here seuereth the Power of Christ, from his Commyng ▪ His Power is in that he is Almightie and able to dooe all thynges. And againe, in that he hath all thinges in subiection vnder his feete. This his Power shall perpetually continue, and stande in force, so long as the worlde hath continuaunce, and so long as Fleshe and Bloud hath any beeyng vpon earth. This entire power of the Kyngdome of Christe shall haue continuaunce and force, till the laste daie, and then shall an other worlde begiane, when as Christe shall deliuer vp his Kyngdome vnto God his Father, whereof is spoken by S. Paule j. Cor. xv. Christe is the firste fruictes, then thei that are of Christe, whiche shall bee at his commyng, and then shalbee the ende, when he hath deliue­red vp his Kyngdome to GOD, euen the Father &c. And a­gaine, When all thynges shall bee subdued into hym, then shall the Sonne also hymself bee subiecte vnto hym, that did subdue all thynges vnder hym.

And whereto tendeth all this? Is not the Kyngdome of God the Father now at this presence? and are not all thynges now also subdued vnto hym: I aunswere: S. Paule in the self same place expoundeth hymself, & yeldeth a reason of his wor­des, saiyng: That God maie be all in all: that is, what soeuer a man longeth after, what soeuer he desireth to haue, that shall God bee vnto hym, that (as S. Peter saied afore) we maie bee partakers of the Diuine Nature. And therefore what GOD [Page 129] hath, the same shall we haue, and what soeuer is needefull and necessarie for vs, shalbee ministred vnto vs: what soeuer any manne requireth, as Wisedome, Righteousnesse, Fortitude, and Life, it shalbe giuen to vs: which wee now beleeue by hea­ryng with our eares, and truely possesse in the Worde of God. But then shall the Woorde ceasse, and our Soules shall open and displaie themselues, and shall see and feele all thynges pre­sent. And this is it that bothe S. Peter and S. Paule meane, that now in this while, the power of Christes Kyngdome bea­reth all the aucthoritie: now dooeth the Woorde raigne and exercise his Empire: by whiche Woorde, he now raigneth in his humanitie ouer Deuilles, Synne, Death, and Helle. And all these thynges shall not till the laste daie bee plainly mani­fested. For although God doeth raigne for euer & alwaies, yet is not the same manifestly to vs apparaunced. He seeth vs, but we see not hym. And therefore it behooueth, that Christ should resigne his Kyngdome ouer vnto hym, that wee also maie see, and then shall wee truely bee the Brothers of Christe, and the Soonnes of God. In this sorte Receiued he of God the Fa­ther, honour and glorie, (as here S. Peter saieth) when as the Father subiected all thynges vnto hym, and made hym Lorde of all, glorifiyng and dignifiyng him with these woordes: This is my beloued Soone, in whom I am well pleased.

And in these woordes S. Peters meanyng is, to confirme his Doctrine and preachyng, that it might bee knowen from it whēce it was. Besides this seyng of the Maiestie of Christ, and hearyng of the voice of the Father concernyng Christe, it was needefull also that the holie Ghoste must woorke withall, and confirme him in that he had bothe seen and heard: the more to make hym to beleeue it, and that he might bothe boldelie preache, and zelouslie confesse the same to others.

19 Wee haue also a moste sure worde of the Prophe­tes, to the whiche ye doe well that ye take heede, as vnto a light that shineth in a darke place, vntill the daie dawne, and the daie starre arise [...]n your hartes.

[Page] HEre commeth S. Peter nerer to the matter: and of that whiche he here saieth, this is the ve­rie meanyng. All that I preache vnto you, is to this ende, that your Consciences maie bee surely settled & strengthened in the truthe: and that your hartes maie be firmely fixed vpon the same, not suf­fryng your selues to bee caried a ware from it by any meanes, because wee are out of all doubte, that wee haue the verie pure and sincere Worde of GOD. For the Gospell is a matter of greate waight and importaunce, and therefore we ought to be most diligent, carefull, and precise, that wee keepe and retaine the same sincerelie and soundlie, without addyng any thyng therevnto. or myng [...]ng any false and erroneous doctrine ther­with. And therefore S. Peter now afterward addresseth hym self to write against humaine doctrines, and newfangled de­uises of mannes Idle and fonde imagination. But for what cause dooeth he saie, Wee haue a moste sure Woorde of the Prophetes? Truely I am thus fullie perswaded, that wee shall neuer hencefoorthe haue any suche Prophetes, as in the old Testamente the Iewes had. A Prophete properlie is hee, that bringeth the glad tidynges of Iesus Christ: and although many of the Prophetes in the old Testament, prophecied also of other matters to come, yet thei came and were sent of God peculiarly to this ende and purpose, to preache and foretell of Christe. All thei that beleeue in Christe, are Prophetes: For thei haue the chief head of that thing, whiche Prophetes ought to haue, although al of them haue not the gift of Propheciyng. For euen as through the Faithe of one Iesus Christ, wee are all Brothers, Kynges, and Priestes: so also through Christe wee are Prophetes. For wee can all vtter and declare those thinges that appertaine to the glorie of GOD, and Christian life: wee also (so farre as is needefull and expedient for vs) can foretell of thynges to come, as that there shall bee a daie of ge­nerall Iudgement, and that wee shall all rise againe from the dead: and finally wee vnderstande the whole Scripture. This witnesseth S. Paule, saiyng, You maie all Prophecie, one by [Page 130] one. j. Cor. xiiij.

Therefore saieth S. Peter thus: We haue suche a worde of the Prophetes, as is sure inough of it self: Onely see ye that it bee firme and sure to you. And ye dooe well, if ye take heede vnto it: As though he should saie: It is verie necessarie and ex­pedient for you to stande sure in it. For, it fareth with vs in this case of the Gospell, muche like as it dooeth with a man that is taken and enclosed in a darke house, at Midnight, who had neede to haue Candlelighte, till it bee daie light, that hee maie see whiche waie to goe. Euen so, the Gospell is as a Candle at Midnight, and in the darcke: whereas all humaine reason and wisedome, is nothyng but mere errour and blindnesse. The Worlde is nothyng els but a Kyngdome of darkenesse. In this darkenesse, God lighteneth vs with his Candle, to wit, his glorious Gospell: whiche directeth our steppes aright, that wee maie see whiche waie to goe, and walke in this Worlde, till suche tyme as the Mornyng appeare, and the daie dawne.

This place doeth also mainly oppugne, and beate doune all the foolishe tromperies of humaine doctrines. For, seyng that the Woorde of God is the Candle and Lanterne, that giueth light in darke corners and obscure places, wee must necessari­ly therevpon conclude, that al other thinges be mere darknesse. For if there had been any other Light beside the Woorde, S. Peter would not haue vsed these speeches. Neuer consider and waigh therefore, how skilfull and wise those menne bee, that teache any other doctrine beside the Woorde of God: neither let it any whit mooue thee, how gloriouslie and galantly so euer thei couche their smothed reasons. For where thou feelest and seest the Worde of God to bee absent, doubt not but all which thou hearest, is mere blindnes and erroneous darkenes. Nei­ther lette it any thyng mooue thee, in that thei b [...]agge and saie that thei haue the holie Ghost. For how can thei haue the Spi­rite of God, which haue not the Word of God? And therefore thei doe nothyng els but call Light darkenesse and darkenesse light, as it is saied, Esaie. v. This Woorde of God is the Gos­pell, whereby wee are through Christ redeemed from Sinne, [Page] Death, and Hell: he that harkeneth and giueth eare therevnto, hath a Linke or a Lampe lighted and kindled in his harte: By the which we may see, and are enlightened and taught what to our duties is appertainyng. But where soeuer this Lampe is absent, there wee fall into our owne rotten waies, and seeke by Works, Merites, and deuises of our own Forge, to bespeake (forsooth) & make to our selues a nerer waie to Heauen. Here now and in suche like cases, thou maiest with the helpe of this Lampe, iudge, and plainly perceiue all these doatyng Inuen­tions and dreames, to bee nothyng but mere darkenesse. The aucthours whereof haue not the Light, neither can thei abide the Light: and therefore thei must needes remaine in darke­nesse, and continue in blindnesse. For this is the Light, that teacheth vs what we ought to doe, and what thinges be neede­full and necessarie to our Saluation: whiche be poinctes farre differyng from the wisedome and skill of the Worlde. Wee daiely stande in greate neede of this Light, and we must giue heede vnto it, euen till the laste daie. Afterwardes we shall not neede the Worde any longer: as a Candle is wont to be quen­ched and put out, when the broad daie light is once appeared.

20 So that ye first knowe this, that no prophesie in the Scripture is of any priuate interpretation.

21 For the prophesie came not in olde tyme by the will of man: but holie men of GOD spake as they were moued by the holy Ghost.

HErein S. Peter beginneth to oppugne false and erroneous doctrines, and of his words this is the meanyng. Forasmuch as ye knowe, that wee haue the Worde of God, cleaue fast vnto it, and suffer not your selues to bee seduced by false Teachers, although thei come and saie, that thei haue the holy Ghoste. For, know ye this first, that no prophesie in the Scripture is of any priuate interpretation. Note this saiyng therefore well, and thinke not that ye shall euer bee able of [Page 131] your owne reason and industrie to expounde and explane the Scriptures.

Hereby are throwne doune to the grounde, all the proper and priuate interpretations of all the Fathers: and strait charge here giuen to the contrarie, that no man should relye or leane to any suche explanations. If either Hierome or Augu­stine or any other of the Fathers interprete and expounde any place of the Scripture, of themselues, or by any of their owne deuised gloses, we are (if the same be dissonant to the doctrine contained in other textes of the sacred Scriptures) vtterly to refuse those their interpretations. For S. Peter doth here for­bidd any man to interprete and expound the Scripture by his own spirit. The true explanation thereof, is the woorke of the holie Ghost, and he it is that must interprete and expounde the same, or els it must be left without interpretation. Therefore, if any of the aunciēt Fathers can auerre and iustifie his inter­pretation and exposition by the Scripture, and can thereby prooue that the place whiche he expoundeth, is so to bee taken and vnderstoode, we are reuerently to accept and embrace his saiynges: if no, we are not bounden to beleeue hym.

Within the compasse of this Censure also, wee maie see, how S. Peter noteth and nippeth the spirites of those greate Rabbines & Doctors, that are in countenaunce and credite ac­coumpted and reputed for the best and the grauest Clerkes. Therfore this must be holden as a firme & generall rule, that no man (whosoeuer he be) interpretyng ye Scripture after his owne humour, is to bee credited, no although he alledge and bryng Scripture for hymself: because the true Sense thereof can not by any meanes bee attained and founde by the priuate enarration of Man. In this poynct haue stumbled and foulie failed our Graund maisters and teachers whiche haue hereto­fore taken vppon them to expounde and interprete the Scrip­ture. As when thei expound and stretch that saiyng of Christ, Matth. xvj. Thou art Peter &c. to be meant of the Pope, which addle interpretatiō is of mans owne deuise, and forged by the Expositours themselues, to drawe it to the pitch of their own [Page] conceit and to serue their owne turnes, and therefore not to be credited: for that thei be not able to prooue by Scripture, that this name [Peter] any where signifieth the Pope: but wee are well able to proue that Christ is the Rock, as S. Paule saith: j. Cor. x. This interpretatiō is true and sound, for we are sure thereof, and knowe that it is not deuised and inuented by man, but grounded and drawen out of the very Word of God. For, those thinges that are written & mentioned in the Prophetes, were not inuented and deuised by men, but holy mē spake as thei were inspired and mooued by the holie Ghost.

And thus endeth this firste Chapter, wherein Sainct Pe­ter hath first taught vs the right and true good Woorkes in deede: whiche wee ought to practise and walke in, thereby to notifie and declare our Faithe. And next, that in the Church of Christe there ought nothyng to bee preached, but onely the Worde of God, which remaineth and continueth for euer, and by the whiche our Soules are saued and made to liue eternal­lie. Now next here followeth a fruictfull admonition, wherein bothe Christ and his Apostles warne vs diligently to beware of false Preachers. And this also must wee with all diligent care looke vnto, that wee suffer not our selues to bee bereaued and cozened of this right and power of examining iudging and proouyng doctrines: neither to be so pent in and curbed, that we should staie and expect till we see what the Councelles de­fine and decree what wee shall beleue, and what not: keepyng our heades so vnder their girdles, that thei would not willin­gly suffer vs to beleeue and embrace any thyng but what they list to set downe, ratifie and determine.

¶The second Chapter.

BVT there were false Prophetes also a­mong the people, euen as there shalbee false teachers among you: which priui­ly shall bryng in dānable heresies, euen denying the Lorde, that hath bought them, and bryng vpon themselues swift damnation.

2 And many shall followe their damnable waies, by whō the waie of truth shalbe euill spoken of,

3 And through couetousnesse shall they with fained wor­des make marchandise of you, whose iudgement lōg agone is not farre of, and their damnation sleepeth not.

4 For if God spared not the Angels that had sinned, but cast them downe into hell and deliuered them into chaines of darknesse, to be kept vnto damnation:

5 Neither hath spared the olde world, but saued Noah the eight person, a preacher of righteousnesse, and brought in the flood vpon the worlde of the vngodly,

6 And turned the Cities of Sodom and Gomorrhe into ashes, condemned them and ouerthrewe them, and made them an ensample vnto them that after should liue vngodly.

7 And deliuered iust Lot vexed with the vncleanly con­uersation of the wicked,

8 (For he being righteous, and dwellyng among them, in seeyng and hearyng, vexed his righteous soule from daie to daie with their vnlawfull deedes.)

9 The Lorde k [...]oweth to deliuer the godly out of tenta­tion, and to reserue the vniust vnto the day of iudgement to be punished:

[Page] 10 And chiefely them that walke after the fleshe, in the lust of vncleannes, and despise the Gouernement, which are presumptuous and stande in their owne conceit, and feare not to speake euill of them that are in dignitie.

11 Whereas the Angels which are greater both in power and might, giue not railyng iudgement against them before the Lorde.

12 But these, as brute beasts, led with sensualitie and made to bee taken and destroyed, speake euill of those thinges whiche they know not, and shall perish through their owne corruption.

13 And shall receiue the wages of vnrighteousnes, as they which count it pleasure to liue deliciously for a season. Spots thei are and blottes, delyting themselues in their deceiuings, in feastyng with you,

14 Hauyng eyes full of adulterie, and that can not cease to sinne, be guilyng vnstable soules: they haue hartes exercised with couetousnesse, thei are cursed children,

15 Whiche forsakyng the right waie, haue gone astraye, following the waie of Balaam, the sonne of Bosor, which lo­ued the wages of vnrighteousnesse.

16 But he was rebuked for his iniquitie: for the dumme Asse speakyng with mans voyce, forbade the foolishnesse of the Prophete.

17 These are Welles without water, and Cloudes caried about wi [...]h a tempest, to whom the blacke darknesse is reser­ued for euer.

18 For in speakyng swelling wordes of vanitie, they be­guile with wantonnes through the lustes of the fleshe them that were cleane escaped from them whiche are wrapped in errour,

19 Promising vnto them libertie, and are themselues the seruauntes of corruption: for of whom soeuer a man is ouer­come, euen vnto the same is he in bondage.

20 For if they after they haue escaped from the filthinesse of the worlde, through the knowledge of the Lorde, and of [Page 133] the Sauiour Iesus Christ, are yet tangled againe therein, and ouercome, the latter ende is worse with them then the be­ginnyng.

21 For it had been better for them, not to haue knowen the waye of righteousnesse, then after they haue knowen it, to turne from the holy commaundement giuen vnto them.

22 But it is come vnto them, accordyng to the true pro­uerbe, The dogge is returned to his owne vomit: and, The sowe that was washed, to the wallowyng in the myer.

[Page] 1 But there were false Prophetes also amōg the peo­ple, euen as there shalbe false teachers among you:

ALL true Prophecie hath his proceedyng from the holie Ghost, and so hath had frō the beginnyng of the worlde, and shall haue till the ende of the same: so that no­thyng is to be preached, but the sound and sincere Worde of God. Howbeit it hath alwaies béen seen, that as there haue been true Prophetes, sincerely vtteryng the pure Woorde of the Lorde, so haue there still been false Teachers, and malicious Seducers: And shall so hencefoorthe continue till the ende of the Worlde. When ye therfore haue the true Worde of God, thinke none otherwise, but yt ye also shall haue false Teachers. This admonition maie stand for a generall and infallibe rule: that wheresoeuer the Worde of GOD is sincerely preached and taught, there also by and by arise false Teacher's, and dis­semblyng Hypocrites. The reason is, because although the Worde bee preached to all, yet doe not all embrace and beleeue it. Thei that beleeue it, doe followe it, and conforme their liues thereafter. But the greater number, whiche bee thei that be­leeue not, dooe construe and take the same Woorde in a false sense, contrary to the true meanyng of the holie Ghoste, and thereof it commeth to passe, that there spryng and growe vp so many false Teachers. But ful slenderly haue we heretofore harkened vnto this admonitiō: For what dreames soeuer haue been obtruded and preached vnto vs, wee rashely and without iudgement haue been readie to accept, embrace and allowe the same. And by this meanes wee haue rushed headlong into suche a brainsicke doltishenesse, that wee haue verily thought the Pope, with the rable of his Chapleins and Mūkishe Cler­gie could not erre. And thei whiche should and ought to haue kept vs from errour, were the firste, that taught this doctrine vnto vs. Here wee learne, that wee are vnexcusable, if wee be­leue amisse, or followe and allow any false and erroneous doc­trines: [Page 134] ignoraunce shall not excuse vs, seeyng wee haue been so diligently warned aforehande. And God hath expressely char­ged, that euery one should bee able to iudge of that whiche is preached, and to giue a reason of the doctrine, whiche he hath receiued: if wee neglecte or make small accoumpt thereof, wee are in a forlorne case, it shal not auaile vs (I saie) to plead igno­raunce. The daunger is no lesse, then the hazarde and losse of the saluation of our own Soules. And therefore it behooueth eche one to knowe whiche is the true Woorde of God, that he maie adhere and cleaue vnto it: and whiche is false doctrine, that he maie flee and eschue it.

Of suche kinde of admonitions, that we should take heede of false doctrines, wee haue in many places of the Scriptures greate store. Sainct Paule in the laste Sermon that he made to the Ephesians, when he tooke his leaue of theim, and was now readie to departe toward Hierusalem, forewarned theim of these thynges, saiyng: I knowe, that after my departyng▪ greeuous Woolues shall enter in among you, not sparyng the flocke: And of your owne selues shall menne arise, spea­kyng peruers thinges, to drawe Disciples after them. Act. xx. Christ also foresheweth no lesse to his Disciples. Math. xxiiij. When any shall saie to you, Loe, here is Christ, or there, be­leeue it not. For there shall arise false Christes and false Pro­phetes, and shall shewe greate signes and wonders, so that if it were possible, thei should deceiue the verie electe. Againe S. Paule j. Timo. iiij. hath these woordes: The Spirite spea­keth euidentlie, that in the latter tymes some shall departe from the Faithe, and shall giue heede vnto Spirites of er­rour, and doctrines of Deuilles, whiche speake lyes through hipocrisie, and haue their Consciences burned with an hote yron, forbiddyng to marie, and commaundyng to abstaine from meates, whiche God hath created to be receiued with giuyng thankes, &c. As these premonitions were bothe vehe­mently and seriously vttered, so ought we to haue taken more heede, and to haue been the wiser in looking to our selues. But we haue had no regard to theim, thei haue little or nothyng a­uailed [Page] vs: yea, we haue suffred our selues still to be wilfully se­duced and nozzeled in errour. Let vs now see, who these false Teachers are, of whom S. Peter here speaketh. Truely I doe thinke it was not without the singuler and hidden councell of God, that our Popishe Prelacie were called and tearmed by the name and title of Teachers and Maisters, to the ende eue­ry one might plainly see who thei were, whō S. Peter meant. For he vseth here the same verie woorde, False Teachers, or false Doctours and Maisters: he saieth not, false Prophetes or false Apostles.

1 Whiche priuilie shall bryng in damnable heresies.

HEresies, Sectes, vowed Orders, and Profes­sions of life, he therefore calleth damnable, for that, who soeuer haltereth hym self into any of the same, is in a damnable case, and in the state of perdition. Thei shall priuillie (saith he) bring in Heresies and Sectes. For thei shall not openly detecte the Gospell and Scripture of falshood, nor directly charge it with vntruthe, for that were a cleane contrary course, and would flatly & altogether marre the drift of their malicious plat: but thei shall vnder pretence of greate cloked holinesse, still retain the names of God, Christ, Faithe, Churche, Baptisme, Sa­cramentes, and suche like: and shall bee contente to suffer the same to bee honoured and reuerenced: But vnder these names thei shall s [...]ilie creepe in, and priuilie foiste in doctrines of their owne forgyng and stampe, altogether discrepant and deroga­torie from the right honour and worship that is due vnto God. And therefore there is greate difference, betweene preachyng directly against Christe, and preachyng couertly and hypocri­ticallie vnder colour of truely worshippyng Christe. As for example, if I should thus preache: Christe is the Soonne of God, perfect God and perfect manne, and he that beleeueth in hym, shalbee saued: this preachyng is true and aduouchable by the Gospell and Scriptures. Now, if another should come [Page 135] and preache thus: Christe is not the Sonne of GOD, neither was he euer incarnate, and Faithe doeth not Iustifie: this ma­ner of preachyng were moste false, and moste directly contra­rie vnto all truthe. But of suche plaine and palpable godlesse doctrine, S. Peter doeth not in this place speake, neither dooe our Papistes and Munkishe Mawmettes so grosselie deale: but thei priuilie coigne a counterfaicte kinde of doctrine, and foiste it in among vs, in steede of true and sounde religion. As when thei saie thus: It is true that Christe is bothe perfecte God, and perfecte Manne, and that he suffred death for our sin­nes, in whom whosoeuer beleeueth not, cā not be saued. These and suche like Articles, as thei affirme to bee true, so doe thei holde, that thei appertaine and serue for the vulgare and com­mon sorte of people. Lett vs therefore (saie thei) institute some perfecter waie and preciser trade of Life. Let vs binde men by Vowe to Chastitie, to Pouertie, and to an Obedience to their professed Rules, let vs teache them to builde Abbaies, Mona­steries, Celles, and Hermitages, and lette vs flatly perswade them, that if thei zelously and deuoutly doe the same, thei shalbe sure, assone as the breathe is out of their bodies, to goe straight to Heauen. When these and suche like dotages are preached, and colorablie instilled into mennes myndes, that there is no­thing more excellent & blessed then Virginitie: nothing more meritorious then counterfaite & feigned Obedience: that Mū ­kes and Freers liue a farre better and perfecter life then o­thers. Here in these poinctes there is no open defiaunce in flat woordes, made against the sinceritie of Christian doctrine: herein is neither Faithe nor Baptisme expresselie denied, nei­ther yet doe thei renounce or denie Christe to bee the Sauiour of the Worlde: but yet (neuerthelesse) the doctrine of truthe is here couertly impugned, and clouded with deuises of mannes owne inuention: and menne are thereby drawen and seduced from the right waie, and are brought to an ouerweenyng and selflikyng of theimselues, trustyng in their owne Merites, Woorkes, and rotten Ceremonies. Thei beleeue that Christ the Sonne of God, in his humanitie suffred death, and rose a­gaine [Page] the third daie, & that he is the Sauiour of the worlde, &c. but thei doe not firmely and onely trust in hym: for if thei did, thei would not so scrupulously bee tied to their owne Lowsie trashe, and beggerly Traditions.

After the same maner, did thei beare the Laitie in hande, that they could not attaine to saluation, except they did after their directions. Ye are Christians (saie thei, we confesse) but this is not enough: ye must doe suche and suche good workes: ye must build Churches in the honor of this and that Sainct: ye must erect and founde Monasteries and Abbayes: ye must buie certaine Trentalles of Masses to be saied or song for you: ye must pyue awaie your selues with fastyng and suche like. Thus haue the séely poore people been beguiled, and thus haue thei been perswaded and brought to shew themselues as well likers of these trumperies, thinkyng it to be the Kynges high waie to heauen: and these rotten workes of blinde deuotion to be of all workes the best, because they sawe them which caried the tytle of the Church, to allowe and followe the same: so that in processe of tyme, there grewe to bee as many Factions, Sectes and Religions as there were Cities, yea, almoste as there were Men. Whereas they should rather haue taught them thus: Ye are Christians, aswell as thei that bee an hun­dred myles distant from you: ye haue all one Christ, one Bap­tisme, one Faith, one Spirite, one Worde, one God: there is no worke that ye of your selues are able to doe towarde your saluation, or able to bring you to the perfection of a right Chri­stian. If this Doctrine might generally bee preached, men should be kept in the fellowshippe and vnitie of one Common Faith, neither would there bee any difference at all in thinges appertainyng to God, but all would be alike: and one the same that an other is. This Communion and vnitie thei haue bro­ken and disioynted, in that thei seduce and misleade vs, in tea­chyng vs that wee must merite heauen by our Workes: dra­wyng vs thereby from Faith to our own Pharis [...]icall deedes. S. Peters wordes therefore if he bee well marked, ca [...]ie this meanyng: There shall arise among you, Sophisticall Schole­men, [Page 136] Doctors, Teachers, Priestes, Munkes, and suche like, beyng the very offall and Skumme of the Worlde, who shall bryng in pernicious sectes, odible orders, damnable heresies, and seduce the Worlde with their lying and false Doctrines. These, these, (doubtlesse) are thei of whom the Apostle here speaketh. For thei are all thus perswaded and verely beleeue, that their willfully Professed Orders are meritorious to thē, and shall bryng them to saluation: and perswade others also to put confidence and trust in them. If this were not their opini­on, who would thinke but thei would rather liue free abroade, then (as thei do (cage and empound themselues in their Cloy­sters, as it were in Prisons.

1 Euen denying the Lorde that hath bought them.

THei are readie to saie, that thei doe not denye the Lord: but if this question be demaunded of them: what thei meane or what they seeke to get through these their vowed Professiōs, if thei beleeue (as thei saie thei doe) that they are redéemed by Christ, and that their sinnes are washed awaie by his bloud: Thei will quickly aunswere, that (forsooth) Faith alone is not sufficient, and therefore they must haue the helpe of good Workes. Thus with mouth they confesse God, and in harte flatly renounce hym.

Consider also what pithie and vehement words S. Peter here vseth. They denye (saieth he (the Lord that hath bought them. Thei ought to bee subiect vnto hym, as vnto their su­preme Souereigne Lord, whose inheritaunce thei are. Now, they dooe beleeue that he is the Lorde, and that he redeemed the worlde by the sheadyng of his precious bloud: but that he redeemed them, thei cannot nor doe not beleeus, neither dooe thei acknowledge and take hym for their Lorde: for thei saye and confesse, that he hath bought and redeemed them, but yet thei are not perswaded that that is enough and sufficient: be­cause thei must (thei saie) discharge and satisfie for their sinnes [Page] by their Works. To whom, this answere maie wel be made: If thou canst doe any worke to take awaie thy Synnes, what good hath Christe by his death doen vnto thee? For there can not bee twoo Christes to take awaie Synnes. Hee (as good right it is) must bee acknowledged to be the onely Redeemer and taker awaie of Sinnes. Whiche beeyng graunted to bee true (as it is moste true) thou thy self canst dooe no maner of worke to take away thy sinnes. If thou do goe about or think any whit by thy works to merite Heauen, thou canst not truly saie, thou beleeuest that he taketh awaie thy Sinnes. And this is flatly to denye Christe. For although these fellowes doe ac­knowledge Christe to bee the Lorde, yet doe they denye that he bought them. Thei beleeue that he sitteth in heauen, and is Lorde: but the takyng awaie of Sinnes, whiche is his proper and peculier office, thei nippe and take quite from hym, and attribute it vnto their owne woorkes: and by that meanes, leaue nothyng to hym but the bare name and tytle: ascribyng his power, woorke, vertue and office vnto themselues. And therefore Christ moste truely foretolde, that there should come many in his name and saie, I am Christ, and shal deceiue ma­ny. Math. xxiiij. Mar. xiij. For these Iusticiaries and Merite­mongers thus tying Saluation to Woorkes, shewe foorth in their so doyng (as though they should saie) not I am [called] Christe, but I [am] Christ. Whereby thei snatch and applye vnto themselues that office, whiche is onely proper and pecu­lier vnto Christ: and so thrust Christ out of his seate, and place themselues therein.

This is so euidently knowen, that no man can truely de­nye it. And therefore worthily doeth S. Peter tearme them damnable & pernicious Heresies, for thei leade a man straight to Hell, insomuche that I greatly feare, least in a thousande of them, there is scarcely one saued. For whosoeuer of them wil­bee saued, must quight abandon himself and all that of himself he hath or can doe: yea he must franckly confesse and from the harte pronounce these wordes: The rules of my vowed Obe­dience are nothyng worth, my Chastitie can not saue me, my [Page 137] workes can not take awaie any parte of my Sinnes &c.

1 And bryng vpon themselues swift damnation.

THeir damnation shall come vppon them sooner then thei thinke: although God seeme to deferre his commyng, and to tarie long, yet will he ha­sten his iudgment, and come tyme enough to their cost. But this shall not bee corporallie and visiblie to the eye, but so and in suche sorte as it is sett downe in the l.v. Psalme. They shall not liue out halfe their dayes: that is, Death shall catch holde of them sooner then thei think, so that thei shalbe driuen to saie as Ezechias did: Esay. xxxviij. I saied in the middest of my daies, I shall goe to the gates of the graue. As if he should saie: O Lorde God, is Death come vppon mee so sodainly? For thei that liue without faithe, are loath to dye: the longer they liue, the more they desire to liue: and the more of this painted holinesse that hath appeared in them, the terribler and dreadfuller is Death vnto them, name­ly to those that haue such tender & spiced consciences, & exercise and afflict themselues in these woorkes of their owne, whiche they take to be meritorious. For it is vnpossible, that any man should ouercome Death by any humaine strength. Whereso­euer Faithe is not, there must the conscience needes tremble and dispaire. But where Faith is, there Death seemeth many times to tary too long ere he come: whereas to the Faithlesse and vnbeleeuyng, it alwaies commeth sooner then thei would haue it.

Sainct Peters meanyng therefore is, that thei whiche set abroache suche Sectes and Heresies, and consequently denye Christ, dye moste vnwillingly, and that with horrour and des­peration. For it can not otherwise bee, seyng thei stand doubt­full of their saluation, vsing these or suche like tearmes: Who can tell whether God wilbee mercifull vnto mee and forgiue me my Sinnes or no? And thus while thei stande in doubte, with these wordes, [Who can tell? and who knoweth] their [Page] consciences can neuer be merie nor quiet. And the longer that thei continue plunged in this waueryng doubte, the more ter­ribler still will Death bee vnto them: whiche can neuer bee o­uercome, vnlesse synne and guiltinesse of conscience be first ta­ken awaie. Sodaine Death therfore, destruction and damna­tion shall come vppon them, so that thei shall alwaies remaine in perpetuall death.

2 And many shall followe their damnable waies,

THat this hath come to passe accordyng to Pe­ters prediction, all men well knowe. For there were almoste no Parents, but thei desired and were willyng, to make some one of their Chil­dren either a Priest, or a Munke, a Nunne, or some like ydle Votarie. Therefore foolishe Fathers made foo­lisher Children: while they mislikyng and beeyng wearie of the troubles, disquietnes and discommodities of Matrimonie, meant hereby to ease and ridde their children from the same, by tying them thus to a vowed Profession, thinkyng thereby to make them liue both quietly, ydlie and delicately. Wherein thei shewed themselues merely ignoraunt, what an holy thing Mariage is, and how blessed the troubles and greeues thereof are. Sainct Peter therfore in these wordes foretolde, how the worlde should bee pestered with Priestes, Munkes, Nunnes and Votaries. To whiche Profession most of the Youth of the worlde betooke themselues, euen as if it had bin into the clut­ches and clawes of the Deuill: so that (alas) too truely hath S. Peter foreshewed, that these damnable waies should bee fol­lowed of many.

2 By whom the waie of truth shalbe euill spoken of,

AND this also wee both haue seen, and at this daie in many places of the Worlde dooe see to come to passe. For, he that feareth GOD, and studieth to leade a Christian life, is sure to bee euill reported [Page 138] of, rahated and detested: and the true syncere profession of the Gospell shal not escape the rancorous note of spightfull repre­hension, but hee spurned against and ill thought of, as though it were Heresie and Errour. If any man in zeale of truthe should preache and tell them, that their Sectes bee contrarie to the doctrine laied downe in the Gospell, for that, thei carie men awaie from Faithe to Workes, thei straightwaies with open mouth crye out against him, and saie: Accursed art thou, for thou seducest the worlde. They heinouslie also blaspheme God, tossyng and turnyng the wordes of Christe which waie thei list, to serue their owne turnes: of expresse Commaunde­mentes, makyng Consultations, Counsailes, deliberations, and dispensations: forbiddyng that whiche Christe plainly al­lowed, and did: and makyng that to bee as Sinne, which is no Sinne: yea whosoeuer he bee that speaketh against these their blasphemous treacheries and enormious prankes, shalbe sure to bee condemned and burned to ashes. For the waie of truthe is a right vertuous life and syncere conuersation without any halting or hypocrisie. This truth beeyng onely sett downe in the Worde of God, and by faith firmely beleeued, is that waie wherein all true Christians ought to walke. Which waie and truth, these fellowes can not in any wise abide, but blaspheme, reuile, slaunder and condemne it, to the ende they maie esta­blishe, extoll, magnifie and mainteine the peeuishe pedlarie of their owne shamelesse Sectes.

3 And through couetousnesse shall they with fained wordes make marchandise of you,

COuetousnesse for the moste parte is the compa­nion of Heresie: These sowers of fa [...]e doctrine generally haue chiefest respect vnto their bellie, as in our daies hath been manifestly seen. For none of them would either patter up a Masse of mumble vp their Vigiles (as thei called them) without mo­ney. Among them, no peine, no Pa [...]er [...]oster▪ No [...] nor [Page] Colledge, no Monasterie nor Freerie was erected and peo­pled, till order was taken for their maintenaunce, and that e­uen riotously and abundantly: neither was there any of these Houses, that for Gods sake onely, would doe any thyng for a­ny man. Money must be had, without it there was no dealing, if purse were penilesse, there was nothyng to bee gotten at the handes of these pitifull Lurdaines, and holie Maisters. But where true Faith beginneth to be preached, there is very little money stirryng, it bryngeth no stoare of pence at all: for then downe goe Pilgrimages: Bulles and Pardons will not bee bought of any man, Abbayes and Nunneries are not estee­med: vpon all whiche (notwithstandyng,) more then halfe the wealth of Christendome was bestowed: and no profite at all redoundyng or commyng thereof to any man, sauyng onely to these greasie Priests, Munkes, Freers and Nunnes. But by what waies and meanes doe thei thus scrape together and rake to themselues, so muche money? With fained woordes (saieth S. Peter) shall they make marchandise of you. For they haue coigned certaine smooth speeches to serue their tur­nes, whereby to cozen men of their money: as when thei saie: If thou wilt bestowe so many hundreth Crounes vppon our blessed Ladie, or vpon this or that Sainct, thou shalt therein doe a merueilous meritorious woorke: thou shalt buye there­with so many Pardons: and for so many thousande yeres: thou shalt haue cleare remission of all thy Sinnes: and finally thou shalt deliuer so many of thy Freendes Soules out of Purga­torie &c. These and suche like wordes are deuised and feigned for none other purpose, but to picke mens purses, and gleane their money from them. For in all these triflyng trashe, which thei sell so deare, and where withall thei scratch together suche huige Summes of money, there is not a mite of merite grace or remission of Sinnes, how muche soeuer they boast & wrest the holie and precious Worde of God, to bleare the eyes of the Worlde, and to serue their auaritious appetites. So also of the Sacrament of the blessed bodie and bloud of Christe, what other thyng practized they, but a shamelesse marchan­dyzing? [Page 139] for they vsed the same in a maner to none other pur­pose, but as a baite to catche men, and to wryng money from them. Iudge and consider now (good Reader) whether sainct Peter many hundreth yeeres agoe, hath not notably and liuely set forthe and described our holie Romishe Clergie with their vsuall properties.

3 Whose iudgement long agone is not farre of, and their damnation sleepeth not.

THeir iugglyng & paltrie (for that is S. Peters mea­ning) shal not alwayes cōtinue in such iolitie, neither shal thei choppe and chaunge and vse marchandize of you euer: when thei are come to their highest ruffe and state­linesse, then shall they haue a sodaine downefall, and a heauie iudgement and destruction shall quicklie light vpon them. It is euen now at hande, they shall not escape. As S. Paule also saieth ij. Tim. iij. Their madnesse shalbee euident to all men, that thei maie be confounded. God open their eyes and graunt thē grace to turne vnto hym by true and earnest repentaunce, and to forsake and detest these their wicked and fruictlesse Sectes: sith they here maie learne, that they are nothyng els then Sectes of perdition and condemnation. For albeit there bee some, not altogether peruerted and desperatelie seduced in these Sectes, yet are the Sectes themselues nothyng els then vndoubted and certein Sects of damnable perdition. After this sorte therefore hath S. Peter here described the fil­thie and wicked life of these Popish Monsters, which he sawe would come to passe, after the syncere Doctrine of the Gospel preached by yt Apostles. Now, laieth he before our eyes three straunge and terrible examples of them whom God hath con­demned and in his iustice punished: to wit, the Aungelles, the whole Worlde, and the Cities of Sodome and Gomorrhe.

4 For if God spared not the Angels that had sinned, but cast them downe into hell and deliuered them into chaines of darknes, to be kept vnto dānation:

[Page] IN these words S. Peter terrifieth thē that liue in securitie, and wilfully wallowe in their wic­kednesse: as we see in thē whiche bee the Popes sworne Suppliantes, and are deepely drowned in the dregges of his filthy Traditions: for thei looke so bigge, and vaunt thēselues so impudentlie, as though thei would treade whom thei liste, vnder their feete. S. Peter therefore in this place speaketh to this purpose, as if hee should say: Is it not a meruailous malapert saucinesse, and presump­tuous boldnesse in them, thus impudently to seeke to establishe and maintaine by force and violence, their Heilishe impietie? as though thei thought that GOD were in awe to theim, and that he would spare and winke at theim, who spared not the Aungelles. As if he should saie: The verie Sainctes and holie ones are wonderfullie afraied to see so seuere a Iudgemente, namely in that, GOD spared not his excellent Spirites, and moste noble Creatures, which were farre perfecter and wiser then wee, but bindyng theim in Chaines of darkenesse, caste them into Hell. This is that seuere Iudgement and dreadfull damnation, wherein the prisoners appoincted to the same, are kept in Chaines, and can not by any meanes escape out of the handes of God, but are kept in holde, to bee throwne into vt­ter darkenesse, whereof Christ speaketh in the Gospell. Math. viij.xxij. and xxv. Here also doeth S. Peter shewe, that the de­uilles haue not yet that punishement laied vpon them, where­vnto thei are condemned. but remaine and continue in obstina­cie and desperation, lookyng euery minute and momente for their Iudgement: euen as a Felon or other malefactour that is condemned to die, and despairyng of any releasse, hardeneth hymself in obstinacie, and groweth still worse and worse. The punishement wherevnto thei are iudged, is not yet laied vpon them, but thei are kept for it, in chaines of darkenesse, that is, in their malicious obstinacie of mischief and desperation.

5 Neither hath spared the olde Worlde, but saued Noah, the eight person, a Preacher of righteousnes, [Page 140] and brought in the floud vpon the worlde of the vngodlie.

THis example also is so terrible, and so full of hor­ror, as none in the whole Scripture more: beeyng able to appall and shake the conscience euen of him that is right strong in Faithe. For when this and suche like places of Scripture, and suche sharpe Iudgemētes of God, come into a mannes minde that is diyng, who in his harte deepely considereth theim, how can hee but tremble and shake, and be brought to the verie brinke of desperation, vn­lesse his Faithe be moste strong and constant? For what man is he in all the worlde, that would not be merueilously daunted and dismaied, to consider how that emong so many thousandes of men, as were then in the worlde, no mo should be saued aliue but eight persones? And what had thei committed, thinke ye, why God should so in his seuere iudgemente at once destroye the whole worlde in the floud, drounyng bothe Men and Wo­men, Maisters, and Seruauntes, Yong and Old, Beastes of the field, and Birdes of the Aire? Forsoothe, the cause of so ge­nerall a destruction, was their wicked and abhominable life. Noah was a iuste manne, and a preacher of righteousnesse, he liued fiue hundreth yeres before the floud, what tyme GOD commaunded hym to builde the Arke, whiche he made within the space of an hundred yeres after, and liued alwaies an holie and godlie life. Wherein wee are to note and consider, what a Crosse this good man bare, in what perilles, daūgers, and ex­tremities he was lapped, when as he must in worde and deede openly professe hymself a Christian, that it, one that truely and vnfeinedly trusted in God. For it is not possible, that Faithe should be Idle or lye hidde, without shewyng it self openly to the Worlde before menne, aswell in preachyng, as in sinceri­tie and integritie of life. It is therefore verie like, that long be­fore he was commaunded to builde the Arke, hee executed the office of Preachyng, and francklie vttered the Worde of God, and that not in one place and Region onely, but (doubtlesse) in many other and sundrie Countries. And therefore it could [Page] not be chosen, but that he suffred many, and the same verie gre­uous persecutions: In so muche that S. Peter here saieth) it had neede to be a speciall priuiledged protection, and a peculiar and Spirituall assistaunce from aboue, that should in suche a desperate and forlorne tyme, relieue and helpe hym: els had he been quickly dispatched, and no waie could hee haue escaped death: For he that sincerely and zelously preacheth the Worde of GOD, can not escape the enuious onsettes, and bitter bat­tries of many, and that of them whiche cary the countenaunce of wisedome, modest life and sanctimonie. But when this ho­ly manne had so long tyme in vaine continued his preachyng to the men of that Age, and thei neuer a whit repentyng their lewde life, but still contemnyng the Word of God, and grow­yng worse and worse: GOD saied at length, after that hee sawe their obstinate perseueraunce in Sinne, My Spirite shall not alwaies striue with Manne, because he is but fleshe: his daies shalbe an hundreth and twentie yeres. Genes. vj. And a little after in the same Chapter. I will destroye from the Earth the Man, whom I haue created, from Man to Beast, to the creepyng thyng, and to the Foule of the Heauen, &c. These wordes did Noah in his daiely Sermons preache, and beate into their heades: withall also buildyng the Arke, accor­dyng as God had commaunded hym, and that in the full space of an hundreth yeres. But thei were so senselesse of their estate, and so frozen in the dregges of their accustomed Synnes, that thei laughed him to skorne, and grewe still more and more ob­stinate and rebellious. The Sinnes wherefore God brought the Floud vppon the Worlde, as it appeareth in the same sixte Chapter of Genesis, were, that the Soonnes of God, that is, the Children of the holie Fathers, degenerated from the Faith and knowledge wherein thei had been trained & taught, For, seing the daughters of Mē that thei were faire, thei tooke them wiues of all that thei liked. Of whom were borne migh­tie Gyantes, and lawlesse Tyrantes, whiche did all thynges accordyng to their owne lustes, and as beste liked themselues. This was the cause, why God punishing their sinnes, drouned [Page 141] the whole Worlde.

6 And tourned the Cities of Sodom and Gomorrhe into ashes, condemned them and ouerthrewe thē, and made theim an ensample vnto them that after should liue vngodly.

THis third example is of the fiue Cities, whiche God destroied, as we read Genes. xix. Ezechiel also in his xvj. Chapter, speakyng hereof in the persone of God, and appliyng his woordes by waie of vpbraidyng to Hierusa­lem, saieth: This was the iniquitio of thy Sister Sodom: Pride, fulnesse of Bread, & abundaūce of Idlenesse, both in her and in her daughters: neither did she strengthen the hande of the poore and needie: but thei were hautie and committed abhomination before me, therefore I tooke theim awaie, as pleased me. Sodome and Gomorrha and the Territories thereof, till the Lorde destroyed them, were as Moses wit­nesseth Genes. xiij. as the Paradise or gardein of the Lorde, aboundyng and flowyng with plentie of Wine and Oile: in theim all thynges that to the life of man were either necessa­rie, delightfull, or commodious, were in moste aboundaunce to bee had, in so muche that the common sorte beleeued, that God hymself had chosen it for his owne peculier habitation and dwellyng. And therefore as Moses in the same Chapter saith, the people thereof were wicked, and exceeding sinners against the Lorde, leadyng their liues accordyng to the leuell of their owne leude lustes. Whiche inordinate, beastly, and wicked lu­stes, their owne vaine curiositie and the greate plentifull a­boundaunce and Idlenesse whiche thei enioyed, procured and brought vnto them. As wee at this daie by experience doe set, that the wealthier a [...]y Cities be, the wantoner and dissoluter life the people therein lead: but where Famine, Penurie, or o­ther extremities pinche, there the Citezeins are nothyng so muche giuen to loosenesse and Sinne. And therefore God v­seth to exercise, and enure those that be his, and whom he loueth [Page] with hard cheere and slender pittaunces because they maie the better walke in integritie of life.

These therefore are the three dreadfull Examples, where­with S. Peter threateneth the vngodlie: whiche he here aptly alledgeth and bringeth in, as fitlie hittyng the persones of whō he here speaketh: who (he saieth) liued euen as these Sodomi­tes and Gomorrheans did: whose greeuous punishement is heere laied before them, for their greater terrour. And there­fore these thynges agree in eche respect: and verie fittly are to be applied namely and specially vnto the Pope, with his Car­dinalles, Bisshoppes, Munkes, Friers, Nunnes, and all the rest of his filthie Spiritualtie, and rumpwood retinue. For thei beyng appoincted to be as it were Angels, & in the places of Apostles, truely to preache and expounde the Woorde of God, in steade of beyng suche Angelles (for the name Angell is a worde of Office, and not of Nature, signifiyng a Messen­ger, or an Embassadour: wherevppon all Preachers of the Truthe, who are the Messengers of GOD, are called in the Scriptures, Mala. ij. & j. Cor. xj. by ye name of Angels) thei do cary vs headlong with themselues, into the dungeon of error, and quite reuolte from their loyall allegiaunce to GOD, by mere Pride and Apostacie, like these of whom S. Peter here speaketh: aduauncyng theimselues aboue God, and will haue no Lorde ouer them, but bee Lordes themselues and of them selues. And yet will thei bee called Apostolicall, hauyng no­thyng in theim, but onely a vaine braggyng shewe of the bare name and title: as heere afore in this Chapter, thei are named by the name Angelles, who properly are not so. This blasphe­mous route therefore of Pope and Popelynges, for that thei haue conspired with the Deuill against God, and denied hym that is their Creatour, are kepte faste fettered in Chaines of darkenesse vnto damnation, whose Iudgement (as he saied a­fore) ceasseth not, neither dooeth their damnation sleepe, al­though as yet it bee not fullie and completly come vpon them.

Againe, thei bee herein also like vnto the old Worlde, who although thei haue the Prophetes, and the Woorde of GOD [Page 142] preached vnto them, yet did thei blaspheme and (as it were) de­fy hym: and as Moses writeth of them, tooke to theim selues Wiues, accordyng to their owne lustes and likynges, and be­came mightie Tyrauntes and Gyantes in the earth. Gen. vj. Now a little let vs see, whether all the properties and dealyn­ges, reported by Moses, to be in those men of the old World, bee not nowe moste manifestly resiaunte and inuested in our Popishe Clergie. For thei now be greate, mightie, and dread­full Tyrauntes, thei liue of all menne moste delicately, moste riotouslie, and euen as thei liste theimselues, thei haue moste aboundaunt store and plentie of all thynges, thei oppresse the Worlde, and with their tyrannous exactions, and bloodie cru­elties ouercrowe all Christendome: and yet maie no manne speake one woorde, or once open his mouthe against them, no not Kynges and Princes. Againe, if thei bee disposed to take a waie a mannes Wife, or his daughter from hym, thei maie with suche impunitie dooe it, that no man maie dare so muche as complaine of their violence: and if any doe complaine, yet are thei themselues, the iudges of the matter, and so it shall be euen as good to saie nothyng at all: for amendes hee shall haue none at all. Finallie, by all the shiftes and driftes, by all the waies and meanes that thei can possibly deuise to pill and poll, robbe and spoile, rake and scrape, by cosonage, pillage, exacti­on, tribute, commaundementes, licenses, depredations, and al other suttle trickes whatsoeuer, thei hale and pull, thei catche and snatche vnto theim, without hoe, without measure, with­out conscience, without shame. And if any manne in any sorte laye his lawfull claime, or touche any thyng, whiche thei pre­tende to be theirs, and whiche thei haue in theirs possessions, by and by thei bawle and barke, howle and crie against hym that the same thing so claimed is Spirituall liuelihoode, Spi­rituall patrimonie, & the goods of the Church, which hath and ought to haue and enioye a free immunitie, so that no manne may or ought so much as once to touche them. But those, that sincerely preach the worde of God, and charitable reprehende their loose and dissolute life, denouncyng and declaryng vnto [Page] them the iudgementes of God, that tarieth them suche: prea­chers of Iustice (I saie) can thei not abide to heare, but mocke and skorne them: and not onely so, but also cruelly persecute, imprison, banish, kill and murther them. But their Style and Tytle [to bee called Spirituall fathers] as these others in the daies of Noah were called the Sonnes of God, thei holde fast with toothe and naile: and needes will they rule all the roste with mere violence, force and power, euen as thei list themsel­ues. But in the ende (notwithstandyng) they shall perishe and bee destroyed, whereas the true Preachers of the Woorde of God (who are resembled to Noah) are saued, kept and preser­ued.

Thirdly, as the Countrey wherein the Cities of Sodome and Gamorrhe stoode, flowed moste abundantly with stoare of all thinges that the Earth yeelded, so that the Inhabitants thereof liued ydlie, giuyng themselues to nothing but banque­tyng, drunkennesse and belly cheere, without lendyng any re­liefe to the poore: so also fareth it with the state of this pom­pous Clergie. The beste landes, the fattest soyles and fruict­fullest groundes in euery Countrey haue thei gotten to their shares: the best Cities, the goodliest Castles, the richest reue­nues, and clearest rentes haue thei catched into their possessiō: so that thei maie lye downe and sleepe, short, tipple, surphett and cramme, as long as thei list, and that of freecost: and as for ease, there is no kinde of people in the World so loytering and ydle, so slothfull and secure, as thei be, or that fareth more deliciously and daintilie without takyng any maner of paines, but liuing altogether by the sweate of other mēs browes. And what commoditie is engendred of sloth and ydlenes (specially when it is so rooted in lazinesse) wee can not bee ignoraunt. The Pope forbiddeth his forked Stalions to marie: and if a­ny of them keepe a breedyng whore or twaine, that bryngeth foorth children, the Bisshoppes then (forsooth) because they maie not séeme altogether to winke at such notorious crimes, assesse some pecuniarie punishment vppon them, and so for a little money they are not onely for this fact released, but also [Page 143] permitted still to keepe their Concubines as afore: as though this were a sufficient remedie against the sinne of fleshly luste. I will not here speake any thyng of other their secrete, enor­mious and shamelesse pranckes, whiche no modest and chaft mynded man can almoste without blusshyng so muche as ei­ther heare or name.

To conclude: wee here see how S. Peter accoumpteth the state of these Shauelinges no better, nor any otherwise then theirs of Sodome and Gomorrhe. For such be the dispositiōs and dealinges of al yt whole table of that viperous broode, that no good groweth from them to any: but catche and get all that thei can to themselues, vnder a pretence and colour that what soeuer is giuen to them, is giuen to God: whom they haue al­waies in their mouth, the easilier to beguile the Worlde. And therefore as Sodome and Gomorrhe were burned to Ashes, so shall they in the last daie bee consumed and brought to no­thyng.

7 And deliuered iust Lot vexed with the vncleanly conuersation of the wicked,

WAS not this a merueilous abhomination in them, that they not onely committed all kindes of fornications and Adulteries, but other hor­rible factes and enormities also, whiche are not to bee named, and that openly, boldly, presump­tuouslie and without all shame: insomuch that thei forbare not the Angels that came to Lot: into whiche madnesse thei ranne all hedlong together with one mynde and consent, both young and olde, in euery corner and quarter of the Citie. Against these their disordered dealinges the godly man Lot did daily preache, and reprehended them, but all in vaine. The more he exhorted them to amendment and repentaunce, the more they hardened themselues in dissolute life and desperate demeanor, so that not findyng in them any hope of recouerie, he sawe he might aswell holde his peace as speake. In the like desperate [Page] case are we nowadaies: in whom (alas) there is no hope of bet­ter amendment: wee so turne the deafe eare to all good exhor­tations, and make so small accoumpt of theim that giue vs good and godly counsaile out of the infallible Booke of God.

8 (For he beeyng righteous, and dwellyng among them, in seeyng and hearyng, vexed his righteous soule frō daie to daie with their vnlawfull deedes.)

HEre S. Peter describeth what Crosse this ho­lie man was forced to beare, preachyng vnto suche desperate and forlorne persons, and brin­gyng vp his daughters in the Faithe of Christ and nurture of the Lorde: in whiche office, vo­cation and trade he zelously and incessantlie continuyng and liuyng there among them, was saued and preserued from the destruction of the reste, by the mercifull hande of Almightie God. Finallie, S. Peter concludeth and knitteth vp the mat­ter, that he beganne withall: namely, how that the wicked are kept vnto damnation and torment at the daie of Iudgement.

9 The Lorde knoweth to deliuer the godly out of tentation, and to reserue the vniust vnto the day of iudgement to be punished:

IF God spared not the young World, when it was but newe, how muche more seuerely and sharpelie will he now punish it, séeyng the Gospell hath been so long tyme manifested and so openly preached? For there was neuer aforetyme suche light, as wee haue now since the propagation of the Gospell enioyed, as Christe hym­self saieth, Matth. xj. Woe be to thee Capernaum, which art lifted vp vnto heauen, but thou shalt be brought downe to hell: for if the greate workes which haue been done in thee, had been done among them of Sodom, they had remained to this daie. But I saie vnto you, that it shalbe easier for them [Page 144] of the Lande of Sodom in the daie of Iudgement, then for thee. But these comminations and threatninges maketh a greate sorte at this daie neuer awhitt the warier and godlier after so muche and so long preachyng and teachyng. The wic­ked stil persist in their rebellious waies, and vtterly contemne and care not for these or any the like reprehensions.

10 And chiefely them that walke after the fleshe, in the luste of vncleannesse: and despise the Gouerne­mente: whiche are presumptuous, and stande in their owne conceit, and feare not to speake euill of them that are in dignitie.

11 Whereas the Angells whiche are greater bothe in power and might, giue not railyng Iudgemente a­gainst them before the Lorde.

TO walke after the Fleshe in the lustes of vn­cleannesse, is to liue like vnto Beasts accor­dyng to the likyng of sensuall appetite, and selfwill. As in the Popes Decretalles, wee see how all thynges be set doune, as it plea­seth the Pope to appoincte: eche thing must [...]oupe and bee determinable by the doome of his lawlesse Ty­rannie: he and his adherentes haue wrinched, wrested, and ex­pounded all thynges, as beste pleased theimselues. And now loste of all thei haue boldly pronounced, that the holie See of Roome can not erre. Not one of theim taught any thyng of Faithe or Charitie, but of dreames and dotages of their owne brainelesse deuisyng.

By Gouernemente and Dignitie, he meaneth Kynges, Princes, Lordes, and all Ciuile Magistrates, not the Pope with his Cardinalles and Bishoppes, who ought to bee no­thyng lesse then Lordes: For Christe in the newe Testament appoincted none to be any otherwise then Seruauntes, & that one Christian should serue and helpe to benefite an other, and one to reuerence and honour an other. Saincte Peters mea­nyng [Page] therefore, is, that thei whiche boaste themselues to be of Christ, should in all thynges be Subiecte and obedient to the Ciuile and externall Magistrate, and should stande in awe of the power of the Sweard, beeyng Gods Institution and Or­dinaunce. Contrarie wherevnto, these Shauelynges in eche respecte dooe deale: who haue exempted themselues from their due obedience to Ciuile Magistrates, and affirmed themsel­ues not to be subiect vnto them: yea, thei haue not onely exem­pted themselues from this their due subiection, and lawfull o­bedience vnto the Magistrate, but thei also moste arrogantlie haue made the Ciuile Magistracie subiect vnto thē, and haue trodden it vnder foote: And withall moste impudently suffer theimselues to bee called Lordes, ouer Kynges and Princes. The Pope also calleth hymself Lorde bothe of Heauen and Earth, and braggeth that hee hath in his handes bothe the Sweardes, the Spiritual and the Temporal, & that euery one should fall doune before hym, and kisse his feete. Also saieth S. Peter, Thei feare not to speake euill of theim that bee in di­gnitie. For it hath hitherto been but a plaiyng matter, and a tricke of small regarde with the Pope, at his pleasure to curse Kynges and Princes, and to depose theim from their Regall crounes and aucthorities. And this to all Popes hath been a thing vsual and familier, to set Princes together by the eares, and to sowe inextricable discorde, warre, and dissension be­tweene them.

If any resisted or withstoode this bloudie Tyrannie of theirs, hym thei shortly suppressed and snatched vp: not as one that had committed any thyng repugnainte or contrarie to Christian Charitie, but as a rebellious Childe, and wicked member, that would not enthrall & subiect himself to the See of Rome, and kisse the feete of that Italian Prieste the Pope: whose power thei affirme so farre to surmounte and excell the dignitie of any earthly Kyng or Ciuile Magistrate, as the Sunne in brightnesse of light exceedeth the Moone, and as farre as the Heauen is higher then the Earth. Beholde howe­gregiously thei blaspheme, and how impiouslie thei lye. For [Page 145] thei which ought to be subiect, and to shewe all humble obedi­ence vnto Kinges & Magistrates, to blesse thē and to praie for them (as Christe shewed obedience to Pilate, and paied Tri­bute vnto Caesar) shake of the yoke of all obedience, and bee the aucthours and Seedemen of al Obstinacie, Rebellion, Con­tempt, and Disorder. Thei ought at the hearyng of any euill spoken against Princes and Magistrates, beyng placed in so­ueraigne dignitie, to tremble: But thei are so shamelesse, so gracelesse, so voide of reuerent awe and duetifull feare, that thei moste saw [...]ily and malapertlie theimselues without all feare, blapheme and speake euill of theim. Not waighyng and consideryng, that if the Angels whiche be of greate power and might, can not abide the heauie iudgement of GOD against theim, how muche lesse then shall thei (wretched caitifes) be a­ble to abide it, whiche boldly resiste and blasphemously speake euill against them?

12 But these, as brute beastes, led with sensualitie and made to bee taken and destroyed, speake euill of those thynges whiche thei know not, and shall pe­rishe through their owne corruption.

13 And shall receiue the wages of vnrighteousnesse,

HE calleth them brute and vnreasonable Bea­stes, for that thei haue not in them any sparke of the spirite of God, neither giue themselues to that spirituall function whereunto they are charged, but liue like filthie Swine, altogether swallowed vp in the beastly pleasures of the fleshe. Whereas he saieth, Thei are made to bee taken and destroyed, it maye bee vnderstoode after two sortes: either that they doe deuoure and destroye that whiche they haue taken, as the maner of Ly­ons, Beares, Hawkes, Egles and Vultures is (for after the maner of these Beastes, dooe our Polleshorne Prelates take and catche to themselues all wealth, honour, promotion, dig­nitie and preeminence that possibie thei can) Or els because [Page] thei shalbe taken, caught, ensnared and made a praie to others, to bee destroyed, and (as it were) slaughtered in iudgement at the last daie.

13 As they which count it pleasure to liue deliciously for a season.

BEholde how angrie S. Peter sheweth hymself to be with these Bellygods. They thinke, if thei maie liue delicately & ydly, and fare deliciouslie, that then they are throughly happie, and haue raught to the tippe of their wished desires. This euidently appeareth in their owne Decretalles, wherein they pronounce hym the Sonne of the Deuill and an accursed per­son, that dare presume to touch or meddle with their pompous wealth and reuell, or with their pampered paunches and em­bolned bellyes. Wherein they so manifestly, so apparauntly, and in so good earnest handle the cause of their Belly, that thei can not themselues denye, but that their whole Canons and Lawes, and the whole pollicie of their Churche is purposelie directed to this ende, that they maie lye snortyng in ease and carelesse securitie, and liue in most abundant stoare of all thin­ges without either paine or labour, makyng others to labour in the meane while for them. And other cause to pretende and alledge for themselues why thei should thus dea [...]e, haue they none, sauyng that (forsooth) thei must chaunt, sing and pipe God a daunce in the Churche, or pray. But God hath expresly commaunded all men without exception, that thei should eate their breade in the sweate of their owne browes, and vppon e­uery one hath he laied some burdens and troublesome charges to exercise themselues in from which; these our Lordly Rab­bines and Maisters would bee exempted, and by their good willes would do nothing but leane on their pillowes. And this is the greatest blindnesse and blockishnes that can be, to think that suche a beastly and shamefull life, is either good or wor­thie to be any waie dignified or had in any honor or estimatiō.

[Page 146] 13 Spottes thei are, and blottes,

THese Drones and Humblebees in their own con­ceites thinke themselues the Pillers and Orna­mentes of the Churche, euen as the Sunne and the Moone are the beautie and ornamentes of the Heauen: they looke to bee accoumpted of all others the best, the noblest and the excellentest: euen as in the Worlde, Golde and precious Stones are of greatest price and highest estima­tion. But S. Peter here in plaine tearmes calleth them foule Spottes, filthie Blottes and opprobrious Staines. For a true and sincere Christian life consisteth wholly in Faith, it serueth all men by loue, and beareth his Crosse. This is the right co­lour and true beautie of the Christian Churche: this is her ornament, glorie & renowne. But these Shauelings in steede of bearyng the Crosse haue betaken themselues to pleasure: in steede of loue to their Neighbours, thei haue chosen delica­cie, nycenesse, loue of themselues, desire of self gaine and pri­uate commoditie: rakyng all thinges to themselues, and not hauyng any regard or remorse to serue any other bodies turne or benefite. And as for Faithe, thei knowe thereof nothing at all. They are therefore nothyng but Spottes and Blottes, of whom the Churche hath iust cause to bée ashamed: because for their sakes she is euil spoken of, and pitifully slaundered. Here­by me thinkes these our spirituall Tyrauntes are wel enough discouered, and sufficiently reprooued.

13 Delytyng themselues in their deceiuynges, in fea­styng with you,

THE reliefe and sustentation whiche at the firste was giuen by charitable & deuout persons, of mere Chri­stian loue, to bee as publique Almes, for the vse of poore Widowes, fatherlesse, and other seelie poore mēbers of Christ, because there might bee no Beggers or any distressed with pinching penurie: all this whatsoeuer being giuen to this [Page] good ende, hath been since, conuerted into Freeries and Mo­nasteries: so that now these Shauelings doe there with crāme and pamper their owne paunches, and fare moste deliciouslie and liue moste pleasurablie: finallie thei affirme that all these doe properly appertaine vnto them, and that it is lawfull for no mā to reprehend or finde fault with them for it. But doubt­lesse, the holie Ghost can not abide, that the true Ministers of the Churche should liue in delicacie and ydlenesse, vppon the gaine of other mens labours, or vpon that which is appointed for the sustentation, succour and reliefe of the poore, needie, impotent, and weaklyng.

14 Hauyng eyes full of adulterie,

FOR, this vicious effect can not choose but needes followe, when the bodie is ingluuiouslie crammed and gurmandized with excesse of meates & drinks, and walloweth in ease and slothfull ydlenesse. But what is the cause, that S. Peter here saieth not, that they bee Adulterours, but that thei haue eyes full of Adulterie. True­lie, his very meaning is this: Al their cogitations & thoughtes are stil vpon Whordom & Adulteries: their fleshly desires and inordinate lustes can neuer with the dissolute haunt of sinne be satisfied, glutted or wearied. And the cause is, for that thei are continually giuen to ryot, and bellicheere. To conclude, they boldly and impunely doe what thei list.

14 And that can not ceasse to sinne,

FOR the Pope hath cōmaunded, that neither Prince nor other ciuile Magistrate presume to controll or chastice that Romishe Clergie: whiche if thei should attempt to dooe, he straightwaies excommunicated them. The censure ouer them, must bee referred to their Ordinaries and Bisshoppes: who beeyng lewde and vicious themselues, winke at the shamelesse and enormious villanies of others. [Page 147] In this sorte therefore, they haue exempted themselues from vnder the power of the temporall Sword, so that no man dare withstande or againsaie their lawlesse lustes and wicked pro­ceedinges: thei liue so abhominablie, and so sensually, euen as the Gyantes and Tyrauntes did before the Floud.

14 Beguilyng vnstable soules:

VNder this gaie & glorious shewe, which thei pretende in the whole course of their wicked life (as mumbling of Masses, chattering and chaunting, praiyng and singing) thei beguile and deceiue light and vnstable soules, that want Faithe. And herehence it grewe that all men so desired and wisshed to beecome Priestes, because they liked that state better then any other: and therefore the greatest sorte of Parentes thought themselues happie, if they could traine and bryng vp their children to that profession: so that within awhile this opinion was commonly receiued, that in this kinde of life, there wanted nothyng (nay rather al thin­ges moste plentifully abounded) whereby they might bothe in this present Worlde liue commodiously and delicately: and a­gaine, because thereby thei were fully perswaded in their con­sciences that this was the very right high waie and straight passage vnto Heuen.

But he that would somewhat more neerely sifte the truth and founde the depth of this matter, shall (doubtlesse) finde, that therein they sought none other thyng, but how to fill the belly with delicious fare, and pamper this filthie sacke of the fleshe with excessiue superfluitie and choyse of the daintiest Iunkettes.

14 They haue hartes exercised with couetousnesse,

AND this vice also is among these Shau [...]lynges so grossely and openly c [...]mitted, that none almoste e­uen of the bluntest [...] common people, but [Page] both seeth and complaineth of it. He doeth not saie (They are couetous) but they haue a harte exercised with couetousnes, and through practise notablie enured and acquainted there­with. Whiche hereby euidently appeareth, in that they haue deuised suche a number of suttle shiftes and craftie conueigh­aunces, whereby they haue catched and gotten into their han­des the wealth and richesse almost of the whole Worlde. Yea, whatsoeuer this rable of Monsters goeth aboute or taketh in hande, is nothing els but cursed couetyse: it must bring money to their purses, or els thei will not meddle with it. But their liues, behauiours, dealinges, practises and conuersations be so generally to all the Worlde manifested, and euery man seeth them so readily bent to the fingeryng of money, and to catche by hooke or crooke, all that commeth to hande, that S. Peter needeth not to feare to bee herein reprooued, as though he had herein spoken vntruly of them.

14 Thei are cursed children,

BY this Trope or figure of the Hebrewe tongue, is asmuche meant as if he had saied, They bee accur­sed persons, and vnder the malediction of God: so that with God they haue no ioye, nor consolation, but become euery daie worse and worse, and encrease dailie in blasphemie and hatred of God, bringyng the full measure of Gods heauie wrath vpon them. These be very sharpe and ter­rible saiynges. Whereby wee learne that it is more then high tyme for them to be dispatched out of this horrible and execra­ble life. For if they bee tearmed and called by this most dread­full tytle of the children of curse, their case is most miserable. When the high Maiestie of GOD doeth thus greeuously re­prooue, curse and condemne, who is he that is able to abide it?

15 Whiche forsakyng the right waie, haue gone a­straye,

[Page 148]THey ought to preache and teache the right waie, how wee should by faithe cleaue vnto Christe, and by hym haue accesse vnto God: how by loue we are to help and further our Neighbours, and afterwarde how to beare the Crosse, and paciently suffer whatsoeuer for this cause is layed vpon vs: whereas thei teach nothing els, but bidd and enioyne vs to gadde on Pilgrimage to this place and to that place, to professe our selues Mūkes & to weare a Friers Weede: to be­come sacrificyng Priests, to build Churches, & to giue exhibi­tion and maintenaunce for Masses &c. By these meanes they drawe men from Faith, to Workes of their owne appoynct­ment, no maner of way auaileable or profitable to our Neigh­bour.

15 Following the waie of Balaam, the sonne of Bosor, whiche loued the wages of vnrighteousnesse.

16 But he was rebuked for his iniquitie: for the dūme Asse speakyng with mannes voyce, forbadde the foolishnesse of the Prophete.

THis storie is taken out of the xxij.xxiij. & xxiiij. Chapters of the Booke of Nombers. Wherein is mentioned how the children of Israell com­myng out of Egypt, into the lande of the Moa­bites, Balak the King thereof sent messengers into Syria to Balaam, to request hym to come and curse the people of Israell, whereby hee might bee able to smite theim with the Sword, and driue them out of his lande. Then came GOD vnto Balaam, and commaunded hym, not to curse the people: wherevppon Balaam sent awaie the Kynges messen­gers, and denied to goe with theim. But when the kyng sente to hym the seconde tyme, and promised to giue hym greate wealthe, and to promote hym to greate honour, God permit­ted the Prophete to goe with them, but withall he commaun­ded hym to speake nothyng, but what he should direct and ap­poinct him to speake. Then saddled he his Asse and went. And [Page] in the waie, the Angell of the Lorde stoode against hym, with a naked Sworde in his hande, whiche when the Asse espied, she turned out of the waie, so that Balaam smote her, to turne her into the waie againe. Then the Angell of the Lorde wente further and stoode in a narrowe place, where was no waie to turne, either to the right hande, or to the lefte: where the Asse seeyng the Angell, with his Sworde still drawen, thruste her self vnto the wall, and dasshed Balaams foote against it: wher­vpon he smote her again· And at last, she laie doune vnder Ba­laam: Wherefore Balaam was verie wrothe, and in a greate rage cudgelled his Asse with his staffe. Then God opened the mouthe of the Asse, that she spake in the voice of a manne, and saied: what haue I dooen vnto thee, that thou thus beatest and bounsest me? To whom Balaam answered: If I had a sword in myne hande, I would surely kill thee. The Asse saied again to her Maister, am not I thyne Asse, whiche thou haste ridden vpon, since the firste tyme vntill this daie? Was I euer wont to doe thus vnto thee before? Then the Lorde opened the eyes of Balaam, that he sawe the Angell of GOD, standyng afore hym in the waie, with a naked Sworde in his hande: Where­with he beeyng greatly agast, would haue gone backe againe, but the Angell commaunded hym to goe foreward: but with­all, he gaue hym in charge, that hee should saie nothyng, but that whiche he should appoincte and tell hym. So when Ba­laam was come to Kyng Balak, the Kyng brought hym into an high place, from whence he might descrie, and take a full viewe and sight of the whole people of Israel. In which place, Balaam commaunded seuen Altars to bee made, and Sacri­fice for euery Altar. Then wente he to aske counsell of the Lorde what he should speake: to whom the Lorde deliuered his woordes: so that he in excellente Parables and Sentences, in steede of cursyng, did blesse the people of Israell, and that thrée tymes one after an other. Then the Kyng beeyng exceedyng­ly angrie, saied: I sent for thee to curse myne enemies, and behold, thou haste blessed them now three tymes. I thought to haue promoted thee vnto honour, but loe, the Lorde hath [Page 149] kept thee backe from honor. To whom Balaam answering, saied: Tolde I thee not by thy messengers, which thou sentest vnto mee, that if thou wouldest giue me thy house full of sil­uer & gold, I could speake none other thyng, thē what God should put in my mouth? Notwithstandyng, afterward Ba­laam gaue counsell to Balak, how hee should deale with the people of Israell, to make them to synne against their God, because he hymself was neither able to curse theim, neither the Kyng by force able to vanquishe and subdue theim. Then the Kyng erected and sett vp an Idoll, whiche had to name Baal Peor, and caused the chiefest of the Madianitishe women, and the daughters of the Princes and Nobles, to drawe and allure the people of Israell to the sacrifice of their Gods: who anone with them beganne to commit Idolatrie, to banquet, to feaste, yea, to commit whoredome with them. Wherefore the Lorde beyng angrie, commaunded that all the chief heades of the peo­ple should be hanged vp in the Sunne, that the indignation of the Lordes wrathe might bee tourned from Israell: and there died in one daie of the people xxiiij. thousande persones. All this mischief was brought in among theim, by Balaam, for the co­uetousnesse of money.

Of this matter doeth sainct Peter now here speake, mea­nyng that our greased Popelynges and Romishe route, with all their Disciples, Fauourers, Abetters, and Sectaries, are the verie children of this Balaam. For as hee gaue Pestilente counsell to erecte and set vp an Idoll to be worshipped, where­by the Israelites beeyng drawen to synne, prouoked the ven­geaunce and wrathe of God against them, and were greeuous­ly punished for thesame, with the death of so many thousandes: euen so in like maner our Bisshoply Balaamites haue erected an Idoll, vnder the name of God, to witte, their owne peeuishe Traditions and lowsie Inuentions, Doctrines of Merites and Iustifiyng Woorkes, excludyng and banishyng Fatther and thus thei steale awaie mennes consciences, and cause them to leaue the true and liuyng God, and to goe a whoryng vnto straunge Idolles. Whiche rebellion and disobedience hath so [Page] prouoked Gods wrathe and indignation, that he hath long pu­nished the worlde with suche greate blindnesse and obstinacie, wherein many a Soule hath perished. For al whiche miseries and mischiefes, wee maie thanke none but these our graunde Spirituall Lordynges.

Saincte Peter therefore peculiarly and properly resem­bleth and likeneth these false Teachers, vnto Balaam the Prophete: because like as he, so dooe thei, for money sake, bryng in moste abhominable Id [...]latrie, and destroie infinite numbers of Soules. The verie interpretation of the name of this Pro­phete, maketh somewhat to the better openyng of this mat­ter. For Bileam or Balaam, in the Hebrue tongue signifieth a Deuourer, or a Sweepestake, or a Supper vp, who with o­pen mouthe deuoureth and gulleth vp all that cōmeth to hand. He had this beastly and odious name therfore giuē vnto hym, because he allured, and was the cause that so many men sinned, whereby thei were brought to their deathes and destruction. Suche maner of fellowes be our Balaamites, the Clergie of the Romishe Sinagogue now a daies, who with their wide opē throates, are verie Deuilles, dououryng and swallowyng vp innumerable Soules. The Sirname of this Prophete, is the Sonne of Bosor, whiche signifith Fleshe, or as Moses cal­leth hym Beor, whiche signifieth Foolishe. So likewise are our Polleshorne Doltes, blinde, blockish and foolishe: who see­kyng to beare rule ouer others, haue moste neede themselues to be ruled and gouerned by others. For suche bee the menne, that are begotten of Fleshe: the Spirite beegetteth other ma­ner of persones. Thus hath God in his Scriptures very pro­perly and aptly tearmed, and sette them out in liuely colours: namely, thereby to giue vs to vnderstande and knowe, what is to bee thought of them.

The Asse beeyng a dumme beaste, and daiely accustomed to the yoke and burdēs, signifieth the People, whiche must bee content bothe to bee snaffled, brideled, sadled, ridden vpon, and to goe whiche waie thei are bidden. And as this Asse was vio­lently dealt withall, and greeuously beaten, when she went out [Page 150] of the waie, and was forced to goe still forwarde, till she came into suche a straite Lane, where shee could not any waie either starte aside for the narownesse of the place, nor goe on, for the Angell that withstoode and stopped her, so that she was driuen to fall doune: So, the poore people, so often as thei feele theim selues to be hardly dealt withall, and to be caried into vnsuffe­ [...]able errours, and faine would goe aside out of that wicked waie, straighwaies these seducyng Balaamites were readie with rigour and violence, to bryng them into their erring waie againe, and therein compelled and enforced them to goe, till it pleased God to open our mouthes, and to putte his Woordes therein, so that now (his name be praised) euen young children doe talke of it. Whereby their brainsicke madnesse, is so noto­riously detected, that though thei be moste shamelesse and im­pudent, yet can thei not choose, but blushe thereat.

And here, out of this place, our Balaamites maie very fitly bee answered, when as thei bragge and crie out, accordyng to their wonted order, that it is not meete for the Laie people (as thei call thē) to read the Scriptures, nor to talke and conferre of the same one with an other: but rather to giue eare and hear­ken what the Generall Councelles doe decree: and what soe­uer thei agree vpon, that onely to bee beleeued and embraced. Maie we not thus answere them? That GOD speaking by a poore Asse, reprooued the Prophete whiche satte on her backe, of madnesse. Thei now therefore beeyng infatuated, and their harte whollie possessed with couetousnesse, what marueile is it, though God stirre vp the poore common people, to declare and shewe foorthe his truthe, whom thei hitherto haue surchar­ged with heauie burdeins, and driuen whiche waie thei lifte, none otherwise then a dumme seelie Asse, seruyng onely to ca­rie burdens. This is therefore the similitude that sainct Peter sheweth betweene Balaam, and our blinde Popishe Guides.

17 These are Welles without water, and Cloudes ca­ried about with a tempest,

[Page] SOlomon in the xxv. of his Prouerbes vseth a si­militude, saiyng: A manne that boasteth of false liberalitie, is like Cloudes and Winde without Raine. So saieth sainct Peter here in this place: Thei are Welles without water, and Cloudes caried about with a tempest, that is: they boaste of great things, but thei performe nothyng: thei are like Wel­les that are stopped and dried vp, hauyng in them no water at all, and yet thei beare theimselues highly vppon that title, and boste themselues to bee the true Welles. But the Scripture calleth theim, Welles, whiche teache, and from whom doeth flowe and issue good and wholesome doctrine, wherewith the Soules of men maie be refreshed. This is the office that thei ought to doe, and for this are thei appointed. But alas, sauyng onely the name, there is no suche thyng in theim: as likewise thei call theimselues Shepeheardes, whereas in verie deede thei be rather rauenyng Wolues.

Againe, thei be as Cloudes, caried hither and thither with the winde: Not as the thicke and blacke Cloudes, that destill and droppe doune Raine vpon the earth: but as the thinne and light fleetyng Cloudes in the Aire, whiche are tossed and ca­ried about hither and thither, out of whom there commeth no Raine at all. Euen so likewise doe these Pompous Prelates vaunt and bragge, and carie loftie and high countenaunces in the Churche, seducyng the worlde with their owne vaint gue­gawes and Traditions: beyng like to light windetossed Clou­des, and are contented to swaie whiche waie soeuer Sathan lifteth to carie them, and to preache what soeuer maie be to his likyng: but not so much as one Worde of the pure and sincere Gospell of God. Which Gospell & Word▪ because none prea­cheth but thei that be true Preachers and Teachers, therefore are thei in the v. of Esaie, and other places of the Scriptures tearmed Cloudes, because thei doe destill and lette fall into the hartes of their Auditorie, the sweete and comfortable Water of Gods truthe and mercie.

17 To whom the blacke darknesse is reserued for euer.

[Page 151]THey liue now euen at their own pleasures: euery thing accordyng to their owne hartes desires prospereth and hath good successe: but there is a glommie daie toward them, there shall come vpon them euerlastyng darkenesse, al­though now thei neither beleeue it nor feele it.

18 For in speakyng swelling wordes of vanitie, they beguile with wantonnes through the lustes of the fleshe, them that were cleane escaped from them whiche are wrapped in errour,

IF ye aske, how they can bee called Welles without water and Cloudes without raine, sith thei preache very much euery where, S. Peter maketh you this answere: thei preach (in deede) and rayne enough and enough: but their prea­chynges are nothyng els then swellyng and proude woordes, wherewith they accloye and fill the eares of the poore seelie people, whom thei make to beleeue, that what thei speake, is right good and Catholike, whereas indeede there is nothyng more vaine, fonde, and childishe. Thus are our lubberly Mon­kes wont with braue and plausible words, to boaste and vaunt their Obedience, Pouertie, and Chastitie, and all because thei would be thought of the common people, to be of all menne the holiest: whereas all their doings and preachinges, are nothyng but mere iugglynges, deceites, and collusions, not hauyng in theim, either Faithe or Charitie. And so is also this loftie vaine bragge of theirs, that the state and office of a Bishoppe, is an estate of perfection: whereas thei that bee in that mitred state, dooe nothyng but Pompously ieste the streates, awaited vppon with a greate retinue of Suiters and Seruauntes, as though their were great Lordes: and fare like Princes, riding vpon braue horses like gallant Caualieres: Without any re­gard had to their Pastorall charge, sauyng that now and then thei hallowe a Churche, or consecrate an Altar, or Baptize Belles: for with these and suche like swellyng and vaine wor­des, their whole Pontificiall Law is full thwackte & pestred.

18 Thei beguile with wantonnesse through the lustes of the Fleshe, them that were cleane escaped from them whiche are wrapped in errour.

THE drifte of these Welles and these Teachers is none other, but to entangle and catche in their snares, the se­lie Soules that had scarcely afore escaped. As namelie, children lately Baptized, and newly receiued into the Church, and washed from their synnes, deliuered from Adam, and en­graffed into Christ: them I saie, waxyng somwhat bigge, thei lye in awaite to ensnare, and drawe into errour. Whom thei ought rather to teache the principles and groundes of Faithe and Charitie, and how to beare the Crosse of Christ: but alas thei instill nothyng into their tender myndes, but praises of their Hypocriticall Woorkes: whereby it commeth to passe, that thei (seelie younglynges) are caried backe againe into er­rour, although afore thei had escape out thence. But how doe thei thus beguile men with wantonnesse, to the lustes of the Fleshe, and what baites dooe thei vse for the accomplishyng thereof? Forsooth, these holie Priestes, Monkes, Freers, Nū ­nes, and the reste of those marked mates dooe saie and teache theim, that thei ought not to Marie, but to liue in single life, vnto the whiche thei binde theim faste by Vowes and precep­tes: In whiche dooyng thei clogge and beguile menne, incen­syng and incityng theim to the lustes of the Fleshe: wherein thei suffer theim miserably to burne, without allowyng vnto theim that lawfull remedie, whiche God hath ordeined. Here wee sée that S. Peter speaketh of none other, but of those false Teachers and Bussardly guides whiche are aflote, and raigne like Princes in the Churche of God, ouer poore Baptized and beleeuyng Christians.

19 Promisyng vnto them libertie, and are themselues the seruauntes of corruption: for of whom soeuer a manne is ouercome, euen vnto the same is hee in bondage.

[Page 152] THei extoll, praise, and vaunte their holie Orders, their religious Sectes, and sinnelesse professions: in­to the whiche, who soeuer doeth enter, shall bee saued, as that moste Swinish and impudent Dominicane Thomas writeth: affirming that who soeuer professeth hymself a Mōke is in that state of perfection wherein he was at the tyme, whē he was newlie Baptized, and that thereby he shall assuredlie merite the ioyes of heauen, and haue full remission of his Sin­nes, through his owne Workes. These and suche like blasphe­mies of them, must wee listen and giue eare vnto: beeyng no­thyng at all ashamed, to compare their owne dirtie dreames and triflyng toyes, vnto Faithe and Baptisme, whiche bee Gods owne proper Woorkes and institution. Who hauyng the Spirite of GOD in hym, and hearyng these horrible blas­phemies, can suffer them and holde his peace? Now, these and suche like madde conclusions, and impious Sentences, our Monkes doe traine vp Youth withall. Finallie, whiche is not the least poinct to be meruailed at, theim that be the aucthours of these detestable errours, thei haue canonized and Saincted: whereas theim that bee the true Sainctes in deede, thei haue murthered and burnt to ashes.

20 For if they, after they haue escaped from the filthi­nesse of the worlde, through the knowledge of the Lorde, and of the Sauiour Iesus Christe, are yet en­tangled againe therein, and ouercome, the latter ende is worse with them then the beginnyng.

SAinct Peter heere proueth and sheweth reasons why thei be the Seruauntes of corruption. For to knowe Christe throughly and truely, is to knowe what he is: to wit, our onely Sauiour and Redee­mer, who of his owne mere goodnesse and grace hath freelie pardoned and forgiuen vs our Sinnes. Through this know­ledge wee escape iniquitie, and are deliuered from the filthi­nesse of the Worlde. Whiche corruption and filth they hauing [Page] in their baptisme, renounced and put of: are againe myered and throwne hedlong into the same, whensoeuer they departe and start from Faith, to trust in their owne vile Works. For, where Faith faileth and is absent, there is not the Spirit pre­sent: and where the Spirite is wantyng, there is nothing but fleshe, and there can no cleannesse bee. And after this sort, hath it fallen out hitherto in the Churche. Rome at the first hearke­ned vnto, & embraced the pure Gospell: but afterward it decli­ned and turned aside into bypathes of mās deuised doctrines, so that now it swarmeth with al maner of abhominations, and is become the common Synke of all blasphemous impietie. The latter ende thereof is therefore farre worse then the be­ginnyng, because they are now become farre more desperate and forlorne Ethnikes, then euer they were, before they heard the Worde of God.

21 For it had been better for them, not to haue kno­wen the waye of righteousnesse, then after they haue knowen it, to turne from the holy Com­maundement giuen vnto them.

22 But it is come vnto them, accordyng to the true prouerbe, The dogge is returned to his owne vo­mit: and, The sowe that was washed, to the wallo­wyng in the myer.

THis Prouerbe hath S. Peter taken out of the Booke of the Prouerbes, where Solo­mō hath these words: As the dogge turneth againe to his owne vomite: so a foole tur­neth to his foolishnesse, Prou. xxvj. And so also by the m [...] when as in Baptisme thei haue forsaken all wickednesse & are washed cleane from their filthie life, and haue be taken themselues co [...]re conuersation of Faithe and Charitie, and afterwarde fall backe and infide­litie, and a trust in their owne Workes, they [...]myere and de­raye themselues againe in the filthinesse of their formed [...]. [Page 153] This place therefore ought not in any wise to bee applyed to Workes: as these Papistes vse was to doe, who after auricu­ler confession and shrift, were wont thus to enioyne thē whose confession thei heard: Take heede that from hencefoorth thou bee chast, milde, gentle, pacient &c. But thei ought rather thus to enstruct and teache them: If thou haue a desire to become vertuous and godlie, humbly praie vnto GOD by hartie and earnest praier, that it would please hym to graunt vnto thee a true and sincere Faith: and thence beginne to liue godlie, and to departe from wickednesse and impietie. For when thou art possessed of a true & sincere Faith, good Works will straight­waies followe and issue from it: then shalt thou liue chast and pure: other remedie is there none, to ridde thee from the daun­ger of synne. For although for a whyle thou mayest hide and restraine wickednesse and impietie in thyne harte, yet will it burst out in open flames at length.

This is now the seconde Chapter of this his seconde Epi­stle, wherein the Apostle hath forewarned and foretolde vs, what maner of Teachers & false Seducers should afterward come among vs, and miserablie misleade vs. We can pretend no excuse, but that we haue had sufficient warnyng aforehand, howbeit wee haue little regarded it: and therefore our fault is the greater in that wee haue thus sleightly esteemed the Gos­pell, and swerued from the sweete doctrine comprized in the same: whereby wee haue through our lewde liues prouoked the heauier wrath of God against vs. Wee are all not vnwil­lyng to heare the Pope with his lubberly Drones to bee in­ueighed againste, and for their monstruous marchandize of Christian Soules to bee condignely taunted and reproued: but few of vs taketh any occasion thereby to amende his owne life, or to refourme his former conuersation. For it is no try­fling matter, or laughyng toye, but a serious case and of greate importaunce, & suche whereat our hartes ought to trē ­ble and quake for feare. These thinges therefore are most ear­nestly, and diligētly to be bothe spoken and heard: and God is moste humbly to bee desired and praied vnto, to turne his hea­uie [Page] wrath and plague from vs. For this calamitie and wret­chednesse commeth not vpon vs by chaunce or blinde fortune, but it is sent vnto vs from God, as a plague for our wicked­nesse and impietie, as S. Paule witnesseth ij. Thes. ij. Because (saieth he) they receiued not the Loue of the truth, that they might bee saued, therefore shall God sende them strong de­lusion, that they should beleeue lyes. For if this punishment and reuenge of God had extended no further, but to the peri­shing onely of these false, counterfaite, and seducing Teachers thēselues, it might haue seemed very tollerable: but now they hauyng maistered and ouerruled the whole Worlde at their own pleasures, they haue caried with them to hell whole mul­titudes of people, that haue beene bewitched and enchaunte [...] with their spirituall sorceries. There is no remedie therefore for vs to recure this mischiefe, but to prostrate our selues be­fore the mercie seate of almightie God, in all feare and humi­litie, moste penitently confessyng our faultes, and suppliaunt­lie imploryng his diuine grace and assistaunce [...], that it might please him to vouchsafe to remoue and take awaie this plague from vs. It is earnest and hartie praier, wherewith wee must impugne and withstande these false and de­ceiptfull Teachers: for Sathan our Aduer­sarie the Deuill will not bee driuen a­waie with any other weapons.

¶The third Chapter.

THis seconde Epistle I now write vnto you, beloued, wherewith I stirre vp, and warne your pure myndes,

2 To call to remembraunce the wor­des, whiche were told before of the ho­lie Prophetes, and also the commaun­dement of vs the Apostles of the Lorde and Sauiour.

3 This firste vnderstande, that there shall come in the laste daies, mockers, whiche will walke after their lustes,

4 And saie, Where is the promes of his comming? for since the Fathers died, all thynges continue alike from the begin­nyng of the creation.

5 For this thei willyngly knowe not, that the Heauens were of olde, and the Earth that was of the water and by the water, by the woorde of God.

6 Wherefore the worlde that then was, perished, ouer­flowed with the water.

7 But the Heauens and Earth, whiche are now, are kepte by the same Woorde in store, and reserued vnto fire against the daie of Iudgemente, and of the destruction of vngodlie men.

8 Dearely beloued, bee not ignoraunt of this one thyng, that one daie is with the Lorde, as a thousande yeres, and a thousande yeres, as one daie.

9 The Lorde is not slacke cōcernyng his promise (as some men count slackenesse) but is pacient toward vs, and would haue no man to perishe, but would all men to come to re­pentaunce.

10 But the daie of the Lorde will come as a Thief in the [Page] night, in the whiche the Heauens shall passe awaie with a noyse, and the Elementes shall melte with heate, and the Earth with the woorkes, that are therein, shalbe burnt vp.

11 Seeyng therefore that all these thinges must bee dissol­ued, what maner persones ought ye to bee in holie conuer­sation and godlinesse:

12 Lookyng for, and hastyng vnto the commyng of the daie of God, by the whiche the Heauens beeyng on fire, shal be dissolued, and the Elementes shall melt with heate?

13 But we looke for newe Heauens, and a newe Earth, ac­cordyng to his promise, wherein dwelleth righteousnesse.

14 Wherefore, beloued, seyng that ye looke for suche thin­ges, bee diligent that ye maie bee founde of hym in peace, without spot and blamelesse.

15 And suppose that the long sufferyng of our Lorde is sal­uation, euen as our beloued brother Paule, accordyng to the wisedome giuen vnto hym wrote to you,

16 As one, that in all his Epistles speaketh of these thinges: emong the whiche some thynges are harde to bee vnder­stande, whiche thei that are vnlearned and vnstable, peruert, as thei doe also other Scriptures vnto their owne destructiō.

17 Ye therefore beloued, seeyng ye knowe these thynges before, beware least ye be also plucked awaie with the error of the wicked, and fall from your owne stedfastnesse.

18 But growe in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Sauiour Iesus Christ: to hym bee glorie bothe now and for euermore. Amen.

[Page 155] 1 This secōd Epistle I now write vnto you, beloued, wherwith I stirre vp and warne your pure mindes,

2 To call to remembraunce the wordes, which were tolde before of the holy Prophets, and also the cō ­maundement of vs the Apostles of the Lorde and Sauiour.

IN this Chapter wee are admonished to bee in a readinesse and euery minute of an hower to looke for the last daie. And first S. Peter declareth vnto them how that he hath not written this Epistle to theim purposely and with intent to laye doune vnto them the foundation of Faith (for that had he laied doune very substancially, effectually and sufficiently afore) but to excite and stirre them vp, and to ad­monishe and put them in remembraunce that thei forgett not those thinges whiche thei had afore heard and receiued, but ra­ther that thei should perseuere in that sinceritie of mynde and vnderstandyng, whiche was requisite, fitte, expediente and appertinent vnto true Christianitie. For the office and duetie of all true Preachers is, not onely to teache, but also continu­ally to admonishe and exhort. Because so long as wee bee clad with this fleshe and bloud, wee haue greate neede to haue the Worde of God to dwell plentifully in vs, & to raigne & beare soueraigne authoritie in vs: whereby wee maie resist the mo­tions, suggestions, delites and concupiscences of the Fleshe, and with faithfull constancie valiantly subdue, resist, and striue against the lustes thereof.

3 This first vnderstande, that there shall come in the last dayes, mockers, whiche will walke after their lustes,

4 And saie, Where is the promise of his commyng? for since the fathers dyed, all thynges continue a­like from the beginnyng of the creation.

[Page] THere bee some yet at this daie very waue­ryng and ficklemynded, being caried awaie through certaine reasons sette downe in a Booke, entituled and written of Antichrist, in whiche Booke is declared, that before the latter daie men should fall into suche grosse and Deuilish errour as to denye God, and to mocke & deryde all that thei heare preached of Christe and of Domesdaie. And this saiyng is true, from whence soeuer it was borowed. But it ought not so straictly to bee taken, as though the whole World should fall into suche a generall Apostacie, and so vni­uersally blaspheme God: but that the greater parte and por­tion thereof should fall awaie. For we see it now plainly come to passe, and more and more dailie will it burst out, that when and where the Gospell shall be published and openly preached among men, many wicked shall be wraie themselues, and the inward hartes of many shalbe openly detected, whose wicked­nesse and impietie now secretly lurketh, & is dissimuled. And the number now adaies is not small, that beleeue little or no­thyng of the latter daie, neither thinke that euer it will come.

Of suche mockers and skorners S. Peter here forewar­neth vs, tellyng vs that there should be sundrie whiche would think there were none other life after this, and therfore would passe their daies lewdely, inordinately and accordyng to the deuises of their own sensuall lustes. In deede, at Rome and in Italie, this Prophesie is long ago fulfilled: and thei that come from thence to vs, bryng with them this opinion: that what filthie and wicked life they leade there, the same doe they teach vs, and those Countries where they chaunce to inhabite. But a little before the latter daie, suche maner of men must needes bee, as Christe himself foretolde Matth. xxiiij. As the dayes of Noah were, so likewise shall the commyng of the soonne of man be. For as in the daies before the floud, thei did eate and drinke, marie and giue in mariage, euen vntill the daye that Noah entred into the Arke, and knew nothing till the floud came, and tooke them all awaie: so shall also the commyng [Page 156] of the sonne of man be. And a litle after in the same Chapter: Bee ye readie, for in suche a tyme as ye thinke not, will the sonne of man come. Againe Luc. xxj. As a snare shal that day come vppon all them, that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Againe Luk. xvij. As the Lightening that lighteneth out of the one parte vnder Heauen, shineth vnto the other parte vnder Heauen: so shal the sonne of man be in his daie. That is, it shall come merueilous sodainly and moste vnloo­ked for, when as the Worlde shall liue in moste senselesse se­curitie, and the Woorde of God altogether deryded, and con­temptuously skorned.

This therefore shalbee a signe and a token of the neere ap­prochyng of the latter daie, when as menne shall loosely liue, accordyng to their owne wilfull lustes and pleasures: and whē as thei shall presumptuously aske, Where is now the promise of his commyng? The Worlde hath continued thus long, and euery thyng is in the same case as it hitherto hath been, what straunge thyng shall there now happen? Sainct Peter there­fore forewarneth vs, that we bee not lightly caried awaie with these wicked speeches, but rather knowe that thei bee vndoub­ted signes and tokens, that this daie will come, and that verie shortlie.

5 For this they willingly knowe not, that the hea­uens were of old, and the earth that was of the wa­ter and by the water, by the woorde of God.

6 Wherefore the worlde that then was, perished, o­uerflowed with the water.

THei are suche peruerse and frowarde persones (saieth he) that thei disdaine and grudge to be­stowe any tyme or labor in learnyng the truth: in so muche that with a flearyng disdaine, thei resiste, and can not be brought so muche as euen to reade the Scriptures: Yea, thei are so wilfull and obstinate, that thei will not seeme either to thinke or know, how that the same thyng came to passe also in the olde worlde, when Noah [Page] builte the Arke. Namely, how that the Earth beeyng separa­ted frō the water, was in the beginnyng made by the Woorde of God, and how againe the same Earth was whollie ouerflo­wed and drouned with water: and how that menne liued then so secure and carelesse, that thei looked for no harme to come vnto theim, neither thought of any destruction at hande. And yet sodainly the Floud couered theim all. Of all whiche, these peruerse and froward persones, are willyngly and wilfully ig­norant. The plaine meanyng of his woordes is, as if he should saie: If God then destroied the Worlde with water, and by a terrible example declared, that he was able to droune it vni­uersallie: how muche more will he destroie it now, hauyng so muche and so often in plaine and sundrie wordes, and in so ma­ny seuerall places threatened and promised thesame?

Heauen and Earth had their Beginnyng and Creation by the Woorde of God, thei were not from euerlastyng. And the Waters that rested aboue in the Cloudes, were by a Firma­ment separated from the Waters, whiche were in Seas and Riuers vpō the Earth belowe. So that the Earth which was ouerwhelmed and surrounded with the Deepe, was by the Worde of GOD parted from the Waters, and became drie lande: standyng and beeyng hemmed in by the Waters. And that whiche Moses at large describeth, is by Saint Peter here but lightly touched. By the same Worde of GOD whereby thei were made and created, are all thynges therein preserued and gouerned. For it is not there Nature so to stande, or to re­maine in suche situation: and therefore if God by his vnspeak­able power did not vpholde, preserue, and gouerne theim, all thynges would quickly come to a wrecke and ruine, and bee sonedrenched, couered, and wholly ouerflowed with Water. But mightie is thee Worde, whiche God spake, whē he saied: Lette the waters vnder the heauens bee gathered into one place, and let the drie lande appeare: That it, let the Waters depart aside and giue place, that the drie lande maie bee seen, and that menne maie dwell thereon for otherwise, (as I saied afore) by Nature the water would ouerflowe and couer the [Page 157] whole Earth. Whiche that it so commeth not to passe, is as straunge a miracle as any is, among all the woorkes of God. Now saieth Sainct Peter: These wilfull flouters and stiffe­necked deriders, are so peruerse and incōsiderate, that thei ma­liciously thinke skorne to shewe this honor to the holie Ghost, to reade the Scriptures, and therein to see how God keepeth, preserueth, and gouerneth the worlde within the water wher­by thei might well perceiue and see, that all thynges are in the handes of GOD: and therefore sithe he hath once alreadie de­stroied the world by bringing therevpon the general Deluge, so also when it pleaseth him can he doe vnto vs. For the exam­ple thereof ought so greatly to mooue eche one of vs, that as he then performed that, whiche afore he threatened, so we should now none otherwise think, but that he will surely abide by his woordes, and doe that whiche he hath spoken concernyng vs.

7 But the Heauens and Earth, whiche are now, are kepte by the same Woorde in stoare, and reserued vnto fier, against the daie of Iudgement, and of the destruction of vngodlie menne.

IN the old tyme when God drouned the whole Worlde in the generall Floude, the waters in moste abundaunce gushed out of the Cloudes aboue: spouted out of the bowelles of the Earth belowe, and on euery side suche streames en­creased, that nothyng was now to bee seene but Waters: the Earth accordyng to her Nature, beyng all drouned, and coue­red vnder the Waters. But God promised that hee would ne­uer thence forthe destroie the Worlde with waters any more: makyng a couenaunt and giuyng his Rainbowe in the Clou­des, for a signe thereof, Genes. ix. Therefore he will nexte con­sume and destroye it with Fire: so that there shall then nothing appeare but Fire, as aforetyme there was nothyng seene but water. Hereof also S. Paule ij. Thess. j. When the Lorde Ie­sus shall shewe hymself from heauen with his mightie An­gells, [Page] in flamyng Fier, rendryng vengeance to them that doe not knowe God, and whiche doe not obeye vnto the Gos­pell of our Lorde Iesus Christ. Againe, j. Cor. iij Euery man­nes woorke shalbee made manifest: for the daie shall declare it, because it shalbee reueiled by the Fire. Therefore, when that laste daie shall (like a sodaine flashe of Lightnyng) come vppon vs, all thynges in this Heauen and this Earth, shall in the twincklyng of an eye be consumed to Cinders, and sodain­ly chaunged with Fire, euen as in the tyme of Noah, all thyn­ges were chaunged with the water: and that GOD will not faile in this his threatening & commination: wherof we ought to take his former dealyng for an infallible token, the whiche he hath left vnto vs for a signe.

8 Dearely beloued, bee not ignoraunte of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord, as a thousand yeres, and a thousande yeres, as one daie.

9 The Lorde is not slacke concernyng his promise (as some men counte slacknesse) but is pacient to­ward vs, and would haue no man to perishe, but would all men to come to repentaunce.

10 But the daie of the Lorde will come as a Thiefe in the night, in the whiche the Heauens shall passe a­waie with noyse, and the Elemētes shall melt with heate, and the Earth with the woorkes that are therein, shalbe burnt vp.

IN these woordes S. Peter meeteth with those cauillers (of whom he spake afore) whiche saie, that the Apostles haue foretold many vaine and foolish tales of the latter Daie, and that al thin­ges stande still in the same course and order as thei did before, notwithstandyng so long a space of tyme, since thei foretold and Prophecied thereof. And this place borowed he out of the praier of Moses in the lxxxx. Psalme. A thousand yeres (saieth he) in thy sight are as yesterdaie when it is paste. [Page 158] This is after twoo sortes to bee vnderstoode and taken: One, as it hath respecte and relation to God, the other as it respec­teth Men and the Worlde: Againe, this life is to be considered after one sort, the life to come after an other. This life can not bee the life to come, because into that none can passe, but by Death: that is, till he ceasse from the functions of this mortall life. This present Life, consisteth and is preserued by eatyng, drinkyng, sleapyng, digestyng, &c. all whiche consiste and are doen within the limitation of Houres, Daies, and Yeres. But when thou wilt throughly consider the life to come, thou must quight forget and put out of thy cogitation and remembrance, all the course of this present life, and neuer thinke, to make any conference or comparison, betweene this Life and it: For all thynges in it, are as one Daie, one Houre, one Minute, one Moment.

Seyng therefore, that there is no Dinumeration of tyme with God, it followeth that a thousande yeres with hym, are as one daie: and therefore the first manne Adam is as neere to God, as he that shalbe laste borne, the daie next afore the Gene­rall daie of Iudgement. For God respecteth not tyme, accor­ding as the same is in length, but rather (as it were) aslope: as if a man should behold and looke vpō a verie long Tree, liyng ouerthwarte or aslope afore hym: For so should he with one glaunce of his eye, beholde bothe the endes thereof at once: whiche he could not doe, if he should stande at the one ende, and beholde it long wise. Now, we mortall Creatures can not by our owne reason, beholde and consider the Tyme, but accor­dyng to the length, by numbryng and addyng yere to yere, from Adam till the laste daie. But with God, all thynges are lapped vp as it were in one bundle, and seen with one blushe: What we thinke to de long, the same with hym is shorte, and contrariwise. A man when he dieth, lieth buried in the Earth, and his bodie is consumed into duste, neither knoweth he any thyng: but when he shall arise againe in the laste daie, he shall thinke he hath slept as it were scarcely as houre▪ then shall he see and beholde a greate multitude that liued after hym, of [Page] whom hee knewe nothyng at all. Saincte Peters meanyng therefore is this: The Lorde is not slacke to performe his pro­mise, as these Mockers and Skorners doe thinke that he is, but is pacient and long suffryng: therefore be ye ready against the laste daie, whiche will come sooner then ye looke for: and will sodainly ouertake the wicked Worldlynges, as Saincte Paule saieth: j. Theis v. When thei shall saie, peace and safe­tie, then shall come vppon them sodaine destruction, as the trauaile vpon a woman with child, and ther shall not escape ▪ That daie shall come with suche a noise, and shall so sodainly (as it were a terrible tempest) fall vpon the world, that al thin­ges shalbe consumed in a moment.

11 Seyng therefore that all these thinges must be dis­solued, what maner persons ought ye to be in ho­ly conuersation and godlinesse,

12 Lookyng for, and hastyng vnto the commyng of that daie of God?

SEyng that ye know, that all these thinges shall passe awaie, bothe Heauen, Earth and all thin­ges therein: consider and waigh with your sel­ues with what holinesse of life and godlinesse of conuersation ye ought to stande readie against that daie. For S. Peter so describeth this daie, as that it is e­uen now at hande: against the whiche, wee should not onely be in a readinesse, but also moste ioyfully and gladly expect and looke for the commyng thereof. Yea, he would haue vs with moste willing myndes to goe to meete the Lorde in that daie, as in whiche, wee hope at length to bee clearely ridde and deli­uered from the tyrannie of Sinne, Death and Hell.

12 By the whiche the heauens beyng on fier, shalbee dissolued, & the Elementes shall melt with heate.

13 But we looke for newe Heauens and a new Earth, accordyng to his promise, wherein dwelleth righ­teousnesse.

[Page 159] THE Lord by his Prophetes in sundry places hath promised that he will create newe Heauens and a newe Earth, as Esay. Lxv. Loe, I will create newe Heauens and a newe Earth, and the for­mer shall not be remembred not come into your mynde. A­gaine: Esay xxx. The light of the Moone shalbee as the light of the Sunne, & the light of the Sunne shalbe seuenfold, and like the light of seuen daies. And Christ saith Matth. xiij. that the iust shall shine as the Sunne, in the kingdome of their fa­ther. But how & after what fashion al this shall come to passe, we cā not tell, sauing that it is faithfully promised by him who can not deceiue, that there shalbee newe Heauens and a newe Earth, in which shall dwell no sinne & vncleannesse, but righ­teousnesse and they that bee the children of God, as Paule also Rom. viij. witnesseth. There shalbe nothyng but ioye and per­petuall solace, to wit, the kyngdome of God and all felicitie.

Here he that would bee inquisitiue to knowe, whether the elect and blessed shal at that tyme bee in the Heauens or on the Earth: Truely this place soundeth, that thei shal remaine and dwell on the Earth, so that al, both Heauens and Earth shalbe as one Paradise, wherein God himself will dwell. For he not onely dwelleth in the Heauens, but euery where: and therfore where he is, there shall the elect also bee.

14 Wherefore, beloued, seeyng that ye looke for such thynges, bee diligent that ye maie bee founde of hym in peace, without spot, and blamelesse.

FOrsomuche (saieth he) as ye haue escaped so great mischieues and daungers, and shall come to suche and so great ioyes, this ought not a little to moue you, to contemne and despise all the thinges of the Worlde, and with pacient myndes to suffer what aduersitie soeuer shalbe allotted vnto you: and this is it, that he saieth, ye ought diligently to endeuour yourselues to liue without spot and blame, and after this [...]orce in peace to expect and looke for that daie.

[Page] 15 And suppose that the long suffryng of our Lorde is saluation,

IN that, hee so long spareth you and deferreth his iudgement, and doth not by and by iudge you, think ye it your greate gaine and auaile. He hath cause e­nough to be angrie with you, and euen by and by to take present reuenge vpon you, but suche is his mercie and cle­mencie, yt he spareth you & pardoneth all your transgressions.

15 Euen as our beloued brother Paule, accordyng to the wisedome giuen vnto hym, wrote to you:

16 As one that in all his Epistles speaketh of these thinges: among the whiche, some thinges are hard to bee vnderstande, which they that are vnlearned and vnstable, wrest, as thei do also other Scriptures vnto their owne destruction.

SAinct Peter here giueth expresse testimonie and allowaunce of the sounde doctrine contained in S. Paules Epistles: whiche prooueth that this Epi­stle was written long after the Epistles of Paule. And this is one of those places, whereby a man maie take oc­casion to thinke, that this Epistle was not written by S. Pe­ter: as also an other sentēce a little afore in this present Chap­ter expressed, dooeth insinuate, and purporte: where he saieth, that God would haue no man to perish, but would all men to come to repentaunce. For it seemeth to sauour of a lower spirite, and to carie a meaner grace, then to one inspired with an Apostolicall spirite is vsuall. Yet is it not altogether incre­dible, nor amisse to thinke, this Epistle to bee written by Pe­ter. For seeyng that in this Epistle his purpose and meanyng was, not to write of Faithe, but of Loue and Charitie: be pur­posely abazeth hymself in his Style, as the nature of Chari­tie alwaies is to dooe, to the intent thereby to humble hymself to his Neighbour: as on the other part, Faith alwaies moun­teth [Page 160] and lifteth vp it self to Godwarde.

And this [...] he well see would come to passe, that many light and vnstable Spirites would wrest and wring, inuert and peruert S. Paules wordes in sundrie places: For that, in his Epistles there are some Textes harde to bee vnderstoode▪ as where he saieth, that no man is iustified by workes, but by Faithe onely. Rom. iij. Againe, that the Lawe was giuen to knowe Sinne. Rom. iiij. & vij. And moreouer, Where sinne a­bounded, there grace abounded muche more, Rom. v. and suche like places. For assoone as they heare this, they straight ways breake out into these or ye like speeches [...]f it be thus, we will liue ydlie and merilie, wee will doe to good worke at all, and yet shall wee (neuerthelesse) be saued and iustified: and af­ter this sorte euen nowadaies doe they [...]aise on vs and shame­fullie helpe vs, faiyng: that wee in our Sermons condemne and dispraise good Workes. But wee maie not thinke it any meruaile or straunge thyng, seeyng, thei haue not spared to wrest and misconstrue S. Paules wordes.

17 Ye therefore beloued, seyng ye knowe these thin­ges before, beware, lest ye bee also plucked awaie with the errour of the wicked, and fall from your owne stedfastnesse.

18 But growe in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lorde and Sauiour Iesus Christe: to him bee glorie bothe now and for euermore. Amen.

SEyng therfore ye perfectly know all these thin­ges afore declared, and are certainly giuen to vnderstande that many false Teachers shalbee chopped and foysted in among you to seduce the Worlde, and many froward mockers shal wil­fully mistake and wrest the Scriptures, not beyng willyng to vnderstande them aright, it greatly standeth you vpon, to take good heede to your selues, and moste carefully to beware of them, least with their false and erroneous doctrine thei carie [Page] you awaie from the right Faithe: but looke rather that ye dai­lie encrease in godlinesse and knowledge, that from daie to daie through continuall preachyng and exercise of the Worde of God, ye maie bee more and more confirmed and strengthe­nes.

And here wee are to beholde and note, the greate care that the Apostle had ouer them which had now receiued the Faith: whiche caused hym to write vnto them these twoo Epistles, wherein is largely and plentifully layed doune, al and whatso­euer is expedient and necessarie for a Christian man to know, yea concernyng those thynges also whiche are to come. God graunt vnto vs his grace, that we maie both rightly vnderstand also effectually keepe and obserue the same, to the glorie of his holy and blessed name, and to the comforte and consolation of our own Soules and consciences. Amen.

❧ THE GENERALL Epistle of S. Iude.

IVDE a seruaunt of Iesus Christ, and brother of Iames, to theim whiche are called and sanctified of God the Father, and reserued to Iesus Christ:

2 Mercie vnto you, and peace and loue bee multiplied.

3 Beloued, when I gaue all dili­gence, to write vnto you of the common Saluation, it was needefull for me to write vnto you, to exhorte you, that ye should earnestly contende for the maintenaunce of the Faithe, whiche was once giuen vn­to the Sainctes.

4 For there are certaine men crept in, whiche were before of old ordained to this condemnation: vngodlie men thei are whiche tourne the grace of our God into wantonnesse, and deny God the onely Lorde, and our Lorde Iesus Christ.

5 I will therefore putt you in remembraunce, forasmuche as ye once knewe this, how that the Lorde, after that he had deliuered the people out of Egypt, destroied them afterward whiche beleeued not.

6 The Angelles also whiche kept not their first estate, but lefte their owne habitation, he hath reserued in euerlastyng chaines vnder darkenesse, vnto the Iudgement of the greate daie.

7 As Sodom and Gomorrhe, and the Cities about theim, which in like maner as thei did, cōmitted fornicatiō & follo­wed straūge Flesh, are set forth for an ensample, & suffer the [Page] vengeance of eternall Fier.

8 Likewise notwithstādyng these dreamers also defile the Fleshe, and despise Gouernement, and speake euill of theim that are in aucthoritie.

9 Yet Michaell the Archangell, when he stroue against the Deuill, and disputed aboute the bodie of Moses, durste not blame hym with cursed speakyng, but saieth, The Lorde re­buke thee.

10 But these speake euill of those thynges, whiche thei knowe not: and whatsoeuer thynges thei knowe naturallie, as beastes, whiche are without [...]eason, in those thynges thei corrupt themselues.

11 Wo bee vnto: them for thei haue followed the waie of Cain, and are caste awaie by the deceipt of Balaams wages, and perisheil [...] the gainsaiyng of Core.

12 These are spottes in your feastes of Charitie when thei feast with you, without all feare, feedyng themselues: cloudes thei are without water, caried about of windes: corrup [...]trees and without fruit, [...]wise dead, and plucked vp by the rootes.

13 The late the ragyng waues of the Sea, fomyng out their owne shame: Thei are wand [...]yng Staires, to whom it reser­ued the blacknesse of darkenesse for euer:

14 And Enoch a so the seuenth from Adam, prophesied of suche, saiyng, Behold, the Lorde commeth with thousandes of his Sainctes,

15 To giue Iudgement against all men, and to rebuke all the vngodlie emong them of all their wicked deedes, whiche thei haue vngodlie committed, and of all their cruell spea­kynges, whiche wicked synners haue spoken against hym.

16 These are murmurer [...], complainers, walkyng after their owne lustes: whose mouthes speake proude thynges, hauing mennes persones in admiration, because of avantage.

17 But, ye beloued, remember the woordes whiche were spoken before of the Apostles of our Lorde Iesus Christ,

18 How that thei told you that there should bee mockers in the laste tyme, whiche should walke after their owne vn­godlie [Page 162] lustes.

19 These are makers of sectes, Fleshely, hauyng not the Spirite.

20 But, ye beloued, edifie your selues in your moste holie Faithe, praiyng in the holie Ghoste,

21 And keepe your selues in the loue of God. lookyng for the mercie of our Lorde Iesus Christ, vnto eternall life.

22 And haue compassion of some, in puttyng difference.

23 And other saue with feare, pullyng them out of the fier, and hate euen the Garment spotted by the fleshe.

24 Now, vnto him that is able to keepe you, that ye fal not, and to presente you faultlesse before the presence of his glo­rie with ioye,

25 That is, to God onely wise, our Sauiour, bee glorie, and Maiestie, and Dominion, and Power, bothe now and for e­uer, Amen.

[Page] 1 IVDE a seruaunt of Iesus Christ, and brother of Iames, to them whiche are called and sanctified of God the Father, and reserued to Iesus Christ:

2 Mercie vnto you and peace & loue be multiplied.

THis Epistle is attributed vnto S. Iude the Apostle, brother of Iames the lesse, and Symon: Mark. vj. Luk. vj. Whose mother was Marie the wife of Cleopas, and Sister of the blessed Virgin Marie the mother of Christ: Ioh. xvj. But it ap­peareth not expressely to bee written by that Iude who was the Apostle, because heerein hee speaketh and maketh mention of the Apostles, as though hee were but one of their Disciples, and had written certaine yeares after them. Neither conteineth it any speciall or peculiar matter in it, other then that maie well and fullie bee gathered out of the afore going second Epistle of S. Peter: vnto the which it hath entier reference, and out of which, al his reasons and saiynges are in a maner taken. To conclude, this is nothing els, but an: Epistle directly painetyng and poinctyng out the abuses, fleightes and treacheries of our Papisticall Clergie.

3 Beloued, when I gaue all diligence to write vnto you, of the common saluation, it was needefull for mee to write vnto you to exhorte you, that ye should earnestly contend for the maintenaunce of the faith which was once giuen vnto the Sainctes.

THE effect of his meanyng is this. I could not choose but write vnto you, to admonishe and exhorte you to persist and manfully gooe forwarde in that Faithe, whiche hath now once been preached vnto you. As if he should saie, It is needefull and necessarie that I should put you in re­membraunce, to striue and with al your endeuour to continue and perseuere in the right waie. The cause why it is so neede­full [Page 163] and necessarie, here followeth.

4 For there are certaine men crept in, whiche were before of olde ordained to this condemnation:

THis is the cause why I haue taken in hande to admonish you, to perseuere and continue in that Faith whiche ye haue heard: because euen now there are creepyng in, and alrea­die are entred, certaine false seducers and deceiptfull Preachers, whiche goe about to teache and sowe among you other counterfaite Doctrines, contrarie to those rules of Faith whiche ye haue soundly lear­ned: take ye heede therfore, for they be suche a mischieuous and flye generation, that thei will suttlie and sodainly steale a waye mens consciences, and with their erroneous tromperie seduce and eatie them out of the right waie of truthe, before they can perceiue it or bee a ware of their fetchyng collusions. So saied S. Peter afore. There shalbee among you false teachers &c. And S. Iude here saieth, they were long agoe foreordained to this cōdemnation & iudgement. Which thing is easie for vs to vnderstande, which knowe that no man is iustified by a­ny of his owne Woorkes, but by Faithe onely in Christe: in whom who so assuredly and faithfully beleeueth, and staieth, as vpon his chief buttresse and onely piller of safetie, is made par­taker of al his benefites: & all Christes Workes, by Faith are become his. After this sure groundworke of Faith once layed: all our workes that wee are able to doe, ought to tende to the benefite and commoditie of our Neighbour. What workes so euer are wrought to any other ende then this, are Deuilishe and damnable. Let a man therefore diligentlie take heede how he dealeth, and lette hym direct his woorkes as fruictes of his liuely Faith, to the helpe and benefite of his Neighbour: for al other be odious and abhominable in the sight of God, of which sorte are these vowed Professions, and meriting Woorkes of Massyng Priestes and mumbling Munkes. He therfore that [Page] carieth men from the ankerholde of faithe to the [...]she bables and lowsie Ceremonies of these greasie Votaries, and their woorkes, is a deceiuer and a seducer, and draweth men with them into the like daunger of condemnation.

4 Vngodlymen they are, whiche turne the grace of our God into wantonnesse,

THE preachyng whiche is opened vnto vs of the grace of God, and wherein Christ is set foorth and commended vnto vs, and how hee with all his good benefites is exhibited and freely giuen vnto vs, so that wee are now cleerely freed and deliuered from Sinne, Death, Hell and all miserie: This free grace and gift (I saie) thus offred vnto vs in the Gospell, these seducyng and false deceiptfull Hypocrites dooe abuse, to the maintenaunce of themselues in all lasciuious wantonnesse. That is, they beare themselues bolde vnder the name of Chri­stians, and they b [...]ast and prate muche of the Gospell but they liue so dissolutelie and disorderlie, that they dooe all thynges accordyng to the pitche of their owne wilfull affections and lawlesse lustes, spendyng the tyme in ry [...]t, banquettyng, ca­rowsing and Gluttonie. They vaunt and bragge, saiyng, that thei haue taken vpon them in a spirituall kinde of life, and vtter­ly renoūed the delightes of the seculer state, and worldly dea­lynges: whereas vnder the vizarde of this pretended simplici­tie, thei haue inuaded and raked into their handes (in a maner) all the wealthe, delites and dignities in the Worlde. This is alreadie (saieth Iude) begunne to bee put in practise. For wee reade, that this mischiefe of Bishoppes seeking Lordly autho­ritie, and higher prerogatiue then other Christians, beganne aboue a thousande yeares agoe, whiche thyng in the Epistles of Hierome is euidently to bee seen.

4 And deny GOD the onely Lorde, and our Lorde Iesus Christ.

[Page 164] SO also writeth Sainct Peter in his Christs▪ But that Deniyng (as it is there and here in [...]) is not with the mouthe, (for outwardly in woordes thei confesse that GOD is the Lords) but in their woorkes and dealynges: thei flatly deny the Lorde Christ, not acknowledgyng hym to bee their Lorde, but chalenge rather a Lordinesse and prede­nimation vnto themselues.

For when as thei Preache, that Fastyng, Pilgrimage, buildyng of Abbaies, Chastitie, Obedience, Pouertie, and suche like, is the right high waie to felicitie, thei th [...]re [...] mise­rablie seduce, and drawe men from the truthe, to them wret­ched Workes, vtterly suppressyng, concealyng, and keepyng Christ, doune. Which is no lesse, then if thei should saie: Christ auaileth that nothyng, neither can his woorkes and [...] fires any whitte helpe thee. Thou must needes trust to thy self, and merite Heauen with thyne owne Workes. And thus thei [...] ­ny the Lorde, who hath bought and redeemed vs with his owne precious bloud, as S. Peter afore declared.

5 I will therefore putte you in remembraune, for as muche as ye onto knewe this, how that the Lorde after that he had deliuered the people out of Aegipt destroied them afterward whiche beleeued not.

6 The Angels also whiche kept not their first estate, but left their owne habitation, he hath reserued in euerlastyng chaines vnder darknesse, vnto the iud­gement of the greate daie.

7 As Sodome and Gomorrhe, and the Cities aboute them, whiche in like maner as thei did committed Fornication, and followed strange fleshe, are sett forthe for an ensample, and [...] the vengeaunce of eternall Fier.

HEre he inferreth three seuerall examples, whereof the two last are mētioned why S. Peter. One onely he here addeth more, and [...] it of the children of Isral, whom [Page] God by many wonders brought out of the Lande of Egipt, and who for their vnbelief dyed in the Wildernesse and were destroyed: so that of sixe hundreth thousande men, beside wo­men and children vnder twentie yeares, that came out of E­gipt; there were left no moe but onely twaine. Num. xj. This example he bringeth for an admonition and terrour: as if hee should saie, let those that are called by the name of Christians▪ and vnder colour thereof turne the grace of God into wanton­nesse, take heede and looke well to themselues, least that hap­pen vnto them, whiche light vppon the Israelites. And truely, since the tyme that blind Poperie beganne, and the clere light of the Gospell was couered and restrained from beeing pub­liquely preached, one plague hath still fallen in the necke of an other, whereby GOD hath still from tyme to tyme taken re­uenge of the vnbeleeuers, and giuen them ouer into the very Iawes of Sathan.

8 Likewise notwithstandyng these Dreamers also defile the fleshe,

THese Doctors & Teachers he calleth Dreamers, because that as when one dreameth, he thynketh himself to haue somewhat, and to see many thyn­ges, whiche in truth are but vaine phantasies: and when he awaketh and seeth himself to haue nothyng, then per­ceiueth he all to bee but a dreame, & so maketh he no accoumpt thereof. So, whatsoeuer these iuggling Rabbines and Lordly maisters doe saie, is nothyng but mere dreames: whiche they shall one daie, when their eyes shalbee opened, well finde and know to haue been nothyng at all. And namely, when thei goe about to perswade men that their shauen crounes, their forked Cappes, their wilfull Pouertie, their counterfaite Chastitie, their vowed Obedience, & suche like trashe and guegawes are thinges very acceptable vnto God Herein they merueilouslie blea [...] themselues in their owne imaginations, and thinke themselues to see that, whiche in deede is but false and phanta­sticall, [Page 165] and no better then a very fonde and foolishe dreame: as in truthe, all this their trashe and tromperie is before God no­thyng els but mere dreames and lyes. Therefore, in callyng them Dreamers, he did very wel, and hit them home with their right name, for that, with their dreames they seduce and be­guile bothe themselues and the Worlde.

This vice of liuyng looselie and wantonlie, the Apostles doe peculiarly attribute and ascribe to those whiche bee grea­zed Priestes and marked Baalamites. God long agoe fore­tolde vs, that they should bee a Sect liuyng without Wiues. And Daniell also prophecying of the kyngdome of the Pope, foretolde long agoe, that, their lust should be vpon women, Dan. xj. because he foresawe that thei would be suche, as could not abide to bee linked in lawfull mariage with any women, but burne in lust and wicked concupiscence. And this is one of the outwarde iolie vertues, not muche vnlike to that their o­ther inwarde properties, namely that they are dreamyng Sleepers.

8 And despise gouernemente, and speake euill of thē that are in aucthoritie.

THeir third qualitie is, that thei refuse to bee subiecte to the Temporall Sworde, and Ciuile Magistrate. But wee knowe, and so teache, that so long as wee liue vp­pon Earth, wee are bounde by the Worde of GOD, to yeeld our obedience vnto Magistrates. For the Faithe of Christe doeth not violate, infringe, and disanull externall Pollicie: and therefore it is not lawfull for any man to exempt hymself from his obedience toward them. Wherevpon we see it plainly and consequently prooued, that the Popes Canons and Decrees, touchyng Ecclesiasticall Immunitie, bee nothyng but verie deuises and inuentions of Sathan.

9 Yet Michael the Archangell, whē he stroue against the Deuill, and disputed about the bodie of Moses [Page] durst not blame hym with cursed speakyng, but saied, The Lorde rebuke thee.

THis is one of the places, for the whiche, this Epistle was of the old Fathers not allowed and receiued for Canonicall: because he here alledgeth an example, whiche is not read els where in any place within the whole bodie of the Bible: Namely, that Michaell the Ar­changell contended with the Deuill, about the bodie of Moses. This contention some thinke grewe herevpon, because there are so many notable stories written of Moses, namelie, in the laste of Deuter: where wee reade that the Angell of God bu­ried hym, but that no man knoweth of his Sepulchre where it is vnto this daie. Againe, because the Scripture testifieth of hym, in the same Chapter, that there arose not a Prophete in Israell like vnto Moses, whom the Lorde knewe face to face. &c. Seyng therefore in what greate estimation and reuerence Moses was among the Iewes: some of the Interpreters and Expositors, that write vpon that same laste Chapter of Deut. saie, that Moses was buried by God, and that his Sepulchre was neuer hitherto knowen, or founde by any man. Whiche God did, to the intente the Iewes should bee kept from all oc­casion of committyng Idolatrie, whereinto thei might easily and quickly haue slipped, if thei had had the bodie of so noble and renoumed a Prophete emong theim, as Moses was. Wherevpon thei gather, that this contention (here mentioned by S. Iude) arose: because the Deuill would gladly haue had the bodie of Moses to bee manifestly knowen where it was, to the intent the people might haue had occasion to committe Idolatrie, thereby ministred vnto them. Now, albeit Michael were an Archangell, yet durst be not (saieth S. Iude) rebuke hym with cursed speakyng, and railyng Sentence. But these blasphemous mouthes and peruerse persones, are not asha­med to despise, treade vnder foote, and speake euill of the Po­wers, whiche are ordained by God, and to curse theim to the [Page 166] eight and ninth generation. And whereas thei themselues are nothyng els then wretched Caitifes, and seelie fraile Creatu­res: yet see thei here, that Michael one of the chiefest Angelles, was afraied to curse and raile vpon the Deuill, beyng a moste wicken Spirite: Not daryng to saie any farther, then, The Lorde rebuke thee.

10 But these speake euill of those thinges whiche thei knowe not: and what soeuer thynges thei knowe naturallie, as beastes, whiche are without reason, in those thynges thei corrupt themselues.

THese kinde of persones be cursed speakers, and blasphemous railers, because thei haue skill of nothing but of Excommunicatyng, Accur [...]ng & deliuering ouer to Sathā, not onely Kinges, Princes, Potentates, and Powers, but euen GOD hymself, and his blessed Sainctes: as in the Bull of the Supper of the Lorde is to be seen. Thei knowe not, that their Saluation consisteth in Faithe and Charitie: Thei can not a­bide to haue their Woorkes dispraised, reiected, and condem­ned: Neither will thei suffer any to preache to the people, that wee muste onely looke for our Saluation by the Merites, Death, and Workes of Christ: And therfore thei condemne, Accurse, Reuile, and Blaspheme all true Christian doctrine: wherein thei plainly discouer themselues▪ how vtterly blinde and ignoraunt thei bee. But those thynges whiche thei knowe by their owne naturall vnderstanding, as Trentalles, Masses and suche like Legierdemaine, whiche filleth bothe their pou­ches and their paunches, and bryngeth in store of pelfe, m [...]n [...]y and wealth, thereto thei whollie emploie themselues, and ther­by carie bothe themselues and others into perdition.

11 Woe bee vnto them: for the haue followed the waie of Cain.

[Page] CAin killed his brother for none other cause, but for that his brother was iuster and godlier then hymself: and for that God had more respect and greater delight in his brothers Sacrifice, then he had in his. Therefore the waie of Cain, is to trust in our owne Workes, and to renounce and reiecte those Workes that bee true, and good Workes in deede: Finallie, to murther and slaie all those that walke in the truthe, and in the tight waie. Whiche nature and practise wee see the Papi­stes most earnestly with tooth and naile, daiely to put in vre.

11 And are cast awaie by the deceit of Balaams wages.

THei should bee inwardly hidden with Christ, in an assu­red trust and confidence of Gods diuine grace: but thei licentiously breake out, and actually dispose themselues into sundrie sortes of externall and outward Workes: and doe all thinges for greedinesse of gaine, and pecuniarie reward, to fill their beallies, after the example of the Prophete Balaam, as was declared in the seconde Chapter of the second Epistle of S. Peter aforegoyng.

11 And perishe in the gainsaiyng of Core.

OF the sedicious rebellion of Core, and how he with his wicked confederates, was swallowed into the Earth, wee reade in the fourth Booke of Moses, Chapt. xvj. Moses was appoincted and called of God to this ende, that he should bryng and conducte the people of Israell out of Egypt: and his brother Aaron, to bee the high Priest. This Core beyng also of the same Tribe and Familie and ambielously aspiryng to cary some high aucthoritie, adioy­ned vnto hym twoo hundred and fiftie Captaines, of the beste and moste renoumed emong all the people: with whom he rai­sed vp suche a mutinous faction, and seditious Tumulte, that brought all the companie into an vprore, and welnere caused [Page 167] Moses and Aaron to flee, and giue place to their furie. But Moses fallyng doune vppon his face, praied vnto the Lorde, that hee should not looke vnto their offryng and Sacrifice: and when he had spoken to the people, that thei should se­parate themselues, and departe from the companie of those wicked conspiratours, he saied: Hereby ye shal knowe, whe­ther the Lord hath sent me, or no. If these men dye the com­mon death of all men, or if they bee visited after the visita­tion of all men, the Lorde hath not sent me. But if the Lorde make a newe thyng, and the Earth open her mouthe, and swallowe downe these men quicke into the pitte, then ye shall vnderstande that these men haue blasphemed, and prouoked the Lorde. And assoone as he had made an ende of speakyng all these woordes, euen the grounde claue asun­der thas was vnder them, and the Earth opened her mouthe, and swallowed them vp with their families, and all the men that were with Core, and all their goodes. So thei and al that thei had, went doune aliue into the pitte, and the Earth co­uered them. And there came out a Fier frō the Lorde, whiche consumed the twoo hundred and fiftie men, that had adioy­ned themselues to Core, and offred Incense.

This Example doeth sainct Iude bryng against these our horrible and blasphemous Popelynges: who charge vs to bee the Aucthours of Sedicion and mutinie, when wee preache a­gainst theim: whereas in deede, it is thei that are the causers of all garboile and trouble. For Christ is our Aaron and high Priest: whom onely we ought to heare, and acknowledge for the Bishoppe of our Soules. But that can not the Pope and his greazed Bishoppes abide: for thei aduaunce themselues a­lofte, and chalenge to theim all domination and power: and flatly oppose themselues against Christe. These beeyng alto­gether drouned and buried in Earthly conuersation and plea­sure, and beeyng the verie worlde it self, doeth S. Iude com­pare and resemble to Core and his companions, whom God straungely punished, so that the grounde opened and swallo­wed them vp aliue.

[Page] 12 These are Spottes in your feastes of Charitie whē thei feast with you, without all feare, feedyng them selues: Clouds thei are without water, caried about of windes: corrupt Trees and without fruite, twise dead, and plucked vp by the rootes.

13 Thei are the ragyng waues of the Sea, fomyng out their owne shame: Thei are wand [...]yng Staires, to whom is reserued the blackenesse of darkenesse for euer.

ALL this wee haue alreadie heard largelie dis­coursed in the Epistle of S. Peter. The grea­ter parte of Christendome, hath trained and brought vp their children to the order of Priest­hoode, and for none other cause, but to liue idlie and delicately without any labour of their owne handes, or trouble of preachyng: Voluptuouslie enioiyng and spendyng at their owne ease and pleasure those goodes, whiche poore men painfullie gotte in the sweate of their browes. Thei are among the common people reputed and taken for the wor­thiest Pillers, & (as it were) the Iewelles, and ornamentes of the Christian Congregation: whereas in deede thei be but the Spotts and Wennes of the Common wealth, the Skumme and Filthe of the people, and the detestable vizardes of hy­pocriticall holinesse: thei keepe iolie cheare, and fare moste de­liciously, accordyng to the old Adage or Prouerbe, whiche cal­leth delicate and daintie cates, morselles for a Priest. Finallie thei are without feare and care, verily thinkyng that Sathan hymself is not able to ouerthrowe them. The flocke thei feede nothyng at all, but are rather themselues the rauenous Wol­ues, that deuoure and eate vp the Sheepe. Thei are Cloudes that are caried on high, and swaied alofte in the Aire. For thei haue enstalled themselues in the chiefest places, and beste rou­mes, and carie all the credite and countenance in the Churche: thei ought to teache others, but thei care nothing at al for that: suffryng them to bee caried hither and thither into the Foggie [Page 168] miste of errour and ignoraunce by the Deuill, the professed enemie of mankinde. Thei are also fruitlesse and naked Trees, such as are in the beginning of Winter, bearing neither fruite nor leaues, yet thei occupie a roume as other Trees doe. Thei beare a shewe of the Bishopps of Christ, but thei haue in them no peece nor parte neither of hym, nor yet of his Woordes or Workes, but are dead at the rootes.

They are also ragyng waues of the Sea, that is, euen as the windes in the Sea do tosse and stirre the waues this waie and that waie: so are thei also caried whither soeuer Sathan driueth them. They foame out their owne shame, euen as a pot, that hath a greate heate vnder it: thei are so full of malice, that it runneth ouer at the brim, thei are so nozzeled in spight­fulnesse and crueltie, that their swellyng and cankered sto­mackes can not holde it, but must needes cast vp and vomite out all their beastly filthinesse, and therwith also defile and pol­lute others. They are wandryng Starres, such as they call pla­netes retrograde hauyng their motion backwarde: in like ma­ner these fellowes, whose life and doctrine is nothyng but er­rour, seduce and beguile bothe themselues and all those that followe them. And therefore there is reserued for them, the mist of darkenesse for euer.

In these wordes and examples, Iude hath depaincted and set out our Massyng mates and pollshorne Prelates, who vn­der the name of Christ and of the Churche, doe bring in a Sea of moste lewde and execrable maners: and yet neuerthelesse vnder pretence thereof dooe catche and rake vnto themselues all the wealth of the Worlde, and bryng all mens heades vn­der their girdles.

14 And Enoch also the seuenth from Adam, prophe­cyed of suche, saiyng, Behold the Lorde commeth with thousandes of his Sainctes, to giue iudgment against all men:

[Page] THis place is not any where read in the Scripture: which is an other reason why some of the auncient Fathers would not admitt & receiue this Epistle as canonicall: howbeit this is no sufficient cause, whereby to disallowe or reiect any Booke: for S. Paule also ij. Timot. iij. nameth Iannes and Iambres, two aduersaries of Moses, whose names (notwithstandyng) are not read in the whole Byble beside. Howsoeuer mens iudgements haue béen or bee, we will not presently stande vpon that poinct. But this is true, that God from the beginnyng of the Worlde hath e­uer reueiled his Woorde to some, wherein to the beleeuers grace and saluation is promised, but to the vnbeleeuers, iudge­ment and damnation is threatened, and so it still continued e­uen till the Ascension of Christ: from whiche tyme, the Word of God hath been openly and generally preached ouer all the Worlde. But before the natiuitie of Christ, GOD still chose some to himself whom he vsed as it were a certaine threede, from hande to hande to deliuer the manifestation and publica­tion of his Word: first from Adam to Abrahā: then from him to Dauid, and so to the Virgin Marie, the mother of Christe, and others moe to whom he reueiled and deliuered his truth.

The Gospell therfore was alwaies preached in the world, but neuer so openly as now in these latter daies. After this sorte did this Patriarch Enoch preache and publish the Word of the Lorde: whiche (vndoubtedly) he had learned of his Fa­ther Adam, by influence from the holy Ghost.

For it is recorded of hym in the Scriptures, Gen. v. that he led an vpright and godly life, and therefore was taken vp of God and was no more seen. Wherevppon sprong that fable, that hee should come againe before the daye of Iudgement: whiche thing is not to bee looked for, vnlesse wee will vnder­stand it in this sense, that he shall come againe in spirite: name­lie, for that, his preachyng dooeth fitly iumpe and agree to the tyme next afore the generall Iudgement: as here this present place very truely agreeth thereto: wherein he speaketh so cer­tainly of the laste Daie, as if he had presently seene it with his [Page 169] eyes. The Lorde (saieth he) commeth with thousandes of his Sainctes: that is, with an infinite multitude. For, these words must needes be vnderstood, onely of the last Daie, wherein the Lorde will come to Iudgement with all his Saintes. For when he first came into the Worlde, he came not with many thousandes of his Sainctes, but alone: and that, not to iudge, but to giue Grace.

15 And to rebuke all the vngodlie among them of all their wicked deedes, whiche they haue vngodlie committed,

THis place doth Iude not vnaptly here inferre, directly sounding against false Guides and counterfaite Tea­chers, whiche he knewe in greate swarmes should come a little afore the last Daie: but it seemeth also very aptly to beare this interpretation and signification, that the Lorde at his comming will first destroye and quight ouerthrowe the Pope with al his imperious Pōtificalitie. For, to such a great mischieuous euill there is none other helpe or remedie, for the vtter abolishyng and quite takyng of hym awaie. For so long as the Worlde endureth, there will neither bee ende of hym, neither can there any reformation and amendment in hym be hoped for. And truely, this place can not bee vnderstoode of a­ny other then of our Papistes, who so miserably and lamenta­blie seduce the Worlde. For a more forlorne, desperate and wicked life, then that of the Papistes, can not possiblie be ima­gined: wherein as thei impiously alreadie wallowe, so wil thei still continue worse and worse, pretending (notwithstanding) greate sanctimonie and holinesse vnder the name of Christe, whom thei vse as a cloke to contriue and hide all their villay­nous treacherie. Vnder the name of Papistes wee may vnder­stande both them and all the rable of seducyng Imposters and deceiuers beside, which shal come a little before the last Daie, and all suche as embrace and follow [...] their godlesse impietie. This place therfore that he here alle [...]geth, is to be vnderstood [Page] of the last daie of Iudgement. Wee see, of whom he speciallie meaneth that the saied Iudgement is to be looked for. Wher­vpon wee conclude that our tyrannous Shauelinges and sha­uen. Tyrauntes are with tremblyng expectation reserued sorthe last daie and commyng of the Lorde, whether the same come and approche with speede, or staie yet somewhat longer.

15 And of all their cruell speakynges, whiche wicked synners haue spoken against hym.

IN these wordes he both reprooueth their life, and reprehendeth their saiynges: and it is as much as if he should saie: Thei speake presum­ptuously and malapertly against the Lord, and against his commyng, they bee impudent and tooto arrogant, thei deryde and blaspheme hym, as S. Peter also in his Epistle writeth of them. He speaketh not here, of their life, as it is defiled and deformed with sinnes and iniqui­ties, but as it is giuen ouer and entierly addicted to woorke all impietie. I call that Impietie, when the life is led without Faith, although the outwarde conuersation bee not altogether flagitious and damnable . Euill works be in deede the fruictes of Impietie: but Impietie it self is properly called that life, whiche glittereth outwardly with a gaie shew of hypocriticall workes, whereas the harte is vtterly voyde of Faithe. Suche impious persons (saieth he) the Lord will reproue, because the presumptuous doctrine whiche thei boldly teache, thei stiflie defende and obstinately maintaine: leanyng alwaies to their owne brainsicke glosses and constructions, and not sufferyng themselues to bee conuerted and turned to the truthe: but are harder then the Flint, and will neuer desist from condemnyng and blasphemyng the doctrine of true godlinesse! Here we see, how liuely these wordes of Enoch paint out and describe these kinde of persons that are and should foyst themselues into the Churche towarde the latter ende of the Worlde, whiche vn­doubtly are ye Papistes, as to euery man euidently appeareth.

[Page 170] 16 These are murmurers, complainers, walkyng after their owne lustes: whose mouthes speake proude thynges,

IF a man finde fault with their dealynges, and reproue them as vnlawful and dissonaunt to the Worde of God, he shalbee sure to bryng himself thereby into a pecke of troubles: they will mur­mure, repine and gnashe their teeth at him. As for example: if a man should but leaue out or omit any peece or parte of the Bishoppes ordinarie style and wonted tytle, they straightwaies with open throates crye out, (Contempt and Disobedience.) There is no waie left, to withstand their law­lesse lustes and selfwilled dealinges, for thei bragge that they haue power bothe ouer our bodies & ouer our soules: thei haue gotten into their handes bothe the Swordes: so that they can not bee compelled by Lawe to dooe that is iust and right: and that any man should preache against them, that can thei not at any hand abide. They haue exempted thēselues and all theirs, from all maner of taxe, tribute and imposition, so that no man dare once touche any thing that belongeth vnto them: finallie, thei are growen to that degree of tyrannie, that no man dare presume to preache a worde contrarie to the order of their pee­uish Proceedings. To alledge any Scriptures against them, it is altogether bootelesse: for they saie, that none maie expoūd or enterprete the same, sauing thei themselues. By which mea­nes it is come to passe that in all places and in all thinges they liue as licentiously as thei list. For these saiynges can not bee wrested or applied against vs professours of the true Gospell, for that wee reuerently and dutifully submitt our selues, and yeeld our obedience aswell to the Scriptures, as to the ciuile Power: from bothe whiche, thei wilbe free and not compella­ble by any. Last of al, their Decrees and Cannons be pestered and thwacked full of proude, arrogant, and swellyng wordes, vtterly voyde of all good and godlinesse.

[Page] 16 Hauing mens persones in admiration, because of a vantage.

THis hitteth their natures and dispositions very iumpe, for thei iudge all thinges accordyng to the person. In all the whole Popes. Canons, ye shall not once finde it commaunded, that the Bisshoppe should humble himself beneath the poore Parishe Priest, nor any of the fruictes of a Christian life whatsoeuer. But al thin­ges rather sounde thus. Let the Curate bee vnder the Priest, the Priest vnder the Bisshoppe, the Bisshoppe vnder the Arch­bishoppe, the Archbishoppe vnder the Patriarch, and the Pa­triarch vnder the Pope. Finallie, how euery one should weare his Habite, his Amyse, his Weede and Cowle, after what fa­shion he should clippe his hayre, shaue his crowne, and beard, and make his apparaile, how many Benifices and how many Prebendes he might keepe &c. Thus, thei brought all thinges to certaine externall Ceremonies and traditions of their own makyng, and wholly occupied themselues in mere, childishe, foolish, and friuolous trifles, which thei had in greate accoūpt and estimation: yea thei iudged it no lesse then deadly sinne, if any man should refuse to adore & reuerence these their boyishe toyes. And therefore very well saieth Iude in this place, Thei haue mens persons in admiratiō, for thei lappe vp their lewd and loude lyes in vizardes of hypocrisie, and only admire those gaie shewes that are visiblie obiect to the eye. All this while thei neuer speake woorde, neither knowe any thyng as they should knowe, of Faith, of Charitie, or of the Crosse. And yet the poore vulgare people suffer themselues still to be beesotted with these Popishe Bugges, and thinke themselues to doe ve­ry acceptable seruice to God, in giuing all their Goods, Sub­staunce and Patrimonie to feede these filthie Swine in the Stye of this their lewd sensualitie.

17 But, ye beloued, remember the woordes whiche were spoken before of the Apostles of our Lorde [Page 171] Iesus Christ,

18 How that thei told you that there should be moc­kers in the laste tyme, whiche should walke after their owne vngodlie lustes.

THis place also giueth some occasion to thinke, that this Epistle was not written by Saincte Iude the Apostle, because the Aucthour hereof reckeneth not hymself among the other Apo­stles, but speaketh so of theim, as though thei had preached long before his tyme: whereby it maie well bee thought, that this was rather written by some other godlie man, that had read Sainct Peters Epistle, and out of it culled and gathered these woordes and Sentences. Who these moc­kers bee, wee haue afore declared, and who thei also bee, that walke after their owne lustes: not onely carnall and fleshely lustes, but those rather that sauour of horrible impietie, wher­in thei liue in eche respect, accordyng to their owne inordinate desires: neither reuerencyng the Ciuile Magistrate, nor obei­yng the Worde of God, but liue so loosely and contemptuous­ly, that thei neither obediently acknowledge any externall, nor yet internal Gouernement. Al Lawes aswell Diuine as Hu­maine, thei flatly despise and sette at naught: and so flye in the Aire, in the middle betweene Heauen and Earth, euen as thei are hoised vp and caried aloft by their Maister the Deuill.

19 These are makers of sectes, Fleshely, hauyng not the Spirite.

HEre he alludeth to that, whiche sainct Peter in his Epistle saied, That there should come false Teachers, whiche priuilie should bryng in damnable heresies. These are thei that diso­bediently breake asunder the vnitie of Faithe: and beyng not contented with the common profession, and ge­nerall appellation of Christians, (wherein eche one is to serue [Page] and doe good to his neighbour) thei deuise and inuent certaine newe vpstart Sectes of their owne, wherby thei feigne a false counterfaite seruice to Almightie God. Furthermore thei are Naturall, and fleshly, as brute Beastes, hauyng no more Spi­rite and vnderstandyng, then hath an Horse or an Asse: thei fol­lowe the iudgement of Nature, and are caried awaie with the concupiscence and luste of the Fleshe. Finallie, thei haue not the Worde of GOD, to direct and leade them, how to frame their liues and conuersations.

20 But, ye beloued, edifie your selues in your moste holie Faithe, praiyng in the holie Ghoste,

21 And keepe your selues in the loue of God,

IN these fewe woordes he hath briefly comprehen­ded, the whole summe & effect of all true Christia­nitie. Faith is the grounde worke and foundation, wherevpon wee muste builde: and this buildyng or edifiyng is daiely and howrely, to profite and goe foreward in the knowledge of God, and of our Lorde Iesus Christ: whiche is not doen but by the operation of the holie Ghost. Beeyng in this sort builded, wee are not to dooe any Worke, whereby to purchase and winne to our selues any Merite, or Saluation, but onely to profite and doe good to our neighbours. And here­in must wee haue a moste diligent care, that wee continue and perseuere in true and sincere Loue, without any intermis­sion: not as dooe these foolishe people, whiche staie themselues vpon their owne rotten Workes, and deuise certaine peculiar Sectes, wherewith they drawe awaie and seduce men from brotherly Loue and Charitie.

21 Lookyng forthe mercie of our Lorde Iesus Christ, vnto eternall life.

HEre is Hope taught, and the Crosse commended. For our life ought so to bee framed and ledde, that it should bee nothyng els, then a seruent sighyng and a longyng [Page 172] desire for the life to come. But yet so, that this our desire and longyng muste bee whollie staied vppon the onely mercie of Christe: vnto whom wee muste ardently praie, that it maie please hym, (euen of his owne mercie, and not for any Merite that is in vs) to take and trāslate vs hence into the life to come, where endlesse ioyes for euer abounde.

22 And haue cōpassion of some, in puttyng difference:

23 And other saue with feare, pullyng theim out of the fier:

THis place is somewhat darke and obscure to bee vn­derstanded, but yet this is the true meanyng thereof: Haue ye compassion of some: and saue some. That is, so leade your liues, that it maie euen greeue you at the hart, to see some so miserablie blinded, and wilfully obstinate: Reioyce ye not at their miserie, neither take ye any pleasure or delite in their lamentable miscreauncie. But meddle ye not with their Atheisme, separate your selues from theim, and haue no dea­lyng or companie with them. Other some, whom ye maie pull out of so greate a daunger, saue and deliuer by fearyng theim and holding them backe with godlie seueritie: deale with them courteously and gentlie, euen as God hath dealt with you: not roughly, not ragyngly and sharpely, but mieldely and Chari­tablie. Dooe not with churlishe sternesse terrifie and so spoile theim: but deale with theim, as ye would with those that lye in the Fier: whom ye ought with carefull diligence, wisely to pul out and saue. If thei bee not contented to be pulled out and de­liuered, thei are with gentle meanes and tender mercie to bee borne withall: not (as the Pope and his hereticall Rabbines vse is) to bee burned and spoyled.

23 And hate euen the Garment spotted by the fleshe.

WE haue receiued the holie Ghost by Faith, and there­by are wee purified: but yet neuerthelesse, so long as wee here [...]tie, this rotten sacke of Fleshe and Bloud [Page] still hangeth vpon vs, which is neuer without whose swarmes of euill lustes. And this is that spotted Garment, which while wee here liue, wee ought to laie aside and put of.

24 Now, vnto him that is able to keepe you, that ye fal not, and to presente you faultlesse before the pre­sence of his glorie with ioye.

25 That is, to God onely wise, our Sauiour, be glorie, and Maiestie, and Dominion, and Power, bothe now and for euer, Amen.

THis is the conclusion and end of this Epistle. And thus are the Apostles wont in the ende of their Writynges, Preachynges, Exhortations & Prophecies, to praie, to wishe and to giue thankes. Wee see therefore in these two E­pistles, aswell this of Iude, as that seconde of S. Peter, what a true Christian life is: and how wee maye discerne the sinceritie of that Doctrine which is pure, Catholike, and Christian, from that whiche is corrupt, counter­faite, and altogether Antichristian.


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