Page [unnumbered] THE Conuersion of a most Noble Lady of Fraunce. In Iune last past, 1608. Madame Gratiana, wife to the high and mightie Lord; Claudius, Lord of Tremoille; Duke of Thouars; Peere of Fraunce, and Prince of Talmonde.
A most Christian Epistle, written by her, to the Ladyes of Fraunce, to resolue them in the cause of her Conuersion from Popery, to the profession of Gods Gospell: And aduising them to imitate her Religious example. Truely translated out of French.
AT LONDON, Printed by Thomas Purfoot, for Na∣thaniell Butter, and are to be sold at his shoppe at S. Austens Gate, at the signe of the Pyde Bull. 1608. (∵)
Page [unnumbered] To the right Worshipfull, Sir Iohn Swynnerton Knight, Alderman of London, and true louer of learning. Also to the most vertuous Ladie his wife: All happinesse harti∣ly wisheth.
SIr, I am so bolde, as to present you and your worthy Lady, with a most memo∣rable and iudicious labour of a Ladie▪ lately conuerted from the dimme and grosse errours of superstitious Poperie, to the profession of Gods true Religion and holie Gospell. The reason of her Conuersion, and many palpable abuses, (besides blasphemies and sacri∣ledges) committed in Poperie: Shee hath set downe in an excellent Epist le, and sent the same to her wonted friends and familiars, the Ladies of Fraunce, to encourage them in the imitation of this her godly example. My vnfained loue to your Worship, your louing Ladie, and all yours, I trust shall pleade my pardon for this presumption: In hope whereof, most humblie I commit you all to the hea∣uenlie protection.
To those mis-led Ladies and Gen∣tlewomen of England, whome seducing Se∣minaries and Popish Priests haue too much preuailed withall, to the great danger of their soules, if they continue still in blindnes.
LAdies and Gentlewomen, this Eip∣stle of a most honourable French Ladie and Duchesse, by mee pre∣sents it selfe to your gentle perv∣sing. I would my prayers, or ought else in me, could so farre preuaile with you, as but to reade ouer this her learned labour, in steede of those other abusing Bookes, which your falsly named ghostly Fathers, in secret bestowe on you▪ Then should I haue no doubt, but Gods good spirit speaking by this Lady to you, would open both your eyes and vnderstan∣ding, to let you see the great danger of your enemies seducing, and call you home in time to the sheepefolde of faith, euen by her vertuous and religious example, that hath soworthily led the way before you. The Booke it selfe speakes much better things vnto yee, then any way I am able to doe: therefore to it, and Gods assisting grace in and by it, most humbly I leaue you.Page [unnumbered]
AN EXCELLENT E∣pistle, or exhortatorie Letter, written by Madame Gratiana, wife to the high and mightie Lord, Claudius, Lord of Tremoille, Duke of Thouars▪ Peere of Fraunce, and Prince of Talmond: To all the honorable Ladies of Fraunce.
To resolue them in the cause of her conuersion from Po∣perie, and aduising them to imitate her religi∣ous example.
GRacious and Honorable Ladies,
I am sure it hath amazed some of you not a little, that I haue forsaken the societie, wherein I was woont to meete you, and haue drawen vpon my selfe that disgracefull name of an Huguenot (for so I heare you please to tearme me) and other scandalous imputations wherewith you vpbraide me; all which are to me no meane aduantage. To resolue you therefore (at full) of my departing from your companie, and requiring withall, to forbeare your daily sollicitations to re∣alter me, peruse but this short discourse which I send vnto you, and then I doubt not but in some measure you will rest satisfied.
After God had determined in his good time, to Page [unnumbered] withdrawe me out of the sinck of sinne and idola∣trie,* to incorporate me in the communion of his Sonne, within the bosome of his sanctified Church, the refuge for all them that desire saluation, (and where I wish, and desire in soule, that I could em∣brace you all:) After (I say) God had thus disposed of my absolute conuersion, notwithstanding my many reuoltes and back▪slidings, by your Letters, wherewith I was continually laboured, and other meanes of no small moment; I fell vpon my knees, and as the blessed Virgin Marie said in her Song, at that heauenly salutation brought her by the Angell Gabriell, euen so I spake to my God in my soule:*Be it Lord vnto me, according to thy word.
And calling to remembraunce, that in the last conference we had together, you stoode vpon cer∣taine points of Religion, wherewith you pressed me very narrowly, and I could not then so readily answere you: I entreate yee to receiue therein sa∣tisfaction from me now, and to perswade your selues withall, that it is Gods cause I take vpon me * (a weake woman) to defend, and he will thorowly strengthen me against all resistaunces. And since it hath pleased him to vse my poore seruice if not (in this cleare light of his Gospell) to aduaunce the same as I could wish, yet at least (like a willing la∣bourer) to bring stones and rubble to supply the building: you shall perceiue what knowledge his grace hath confirmed in me, which I wish were as liberallie engrasted into you, that our harts being Page [unnumbered] enflamed with the desire of his glorie, we might all be of one minde in our Lord sesus, expecting his comming to enlarge and release vs.
Pardon me then (most Honorable and worthy Ladies) if I make plaine and lay open to you, I will not say the simple abuses: but the wicked, supersti∣tious and blasphemous I dolatries, which are daily practised and vsed in your Romaine Church, only thereby to ouerthrowe, the true seruice and wor∣ship of the euerliuing God. And alb eit the number of these iniuries are infinite, sufficient to fill a verie large and great volume, and whereof some of you haue (in priuate) tolde me your mislike: yet at this time, according to my promise in our last consulta∣tion: I will deale with the very cheefest abuse of all, euen that which is intruded by Sathans instigation, into the most excellent and principall seruice of God, by you (and by my selfe heeretofore) tearmed the Masse. Perswading my selfe, that when I haue (as it were with my finger) pointed at the blasphe∣mies, idolatrie and manifest sacriledges therein committed:* you will suffer your eyes to be no longer blinded, with the pompe and exteriour de∣uotion of such deceiuers; but rather that you will awaken your better iudgements, and looke into the impietie and prophanation, which lies masked vnder so hideous a Monster. And I will shape mycourse and methode,* by euerie abuse in his suc∣cinct place and ranck, and according as the na∣ture of so weake an Epistle will best beare it.
Page [unnumbered] They teach you, that in the Masse, Priests doe daily sacrifice, and offer vp the bodie of our Lord Iesus Christ, to God the Father: to deface and ex∣piate, not only the sinnes of the Priest that makes the offring, but likewise of the people, who are his assistants at the celebration of the Masse. Now we say, that this is a very great outrage and wronge, done to our Lord Iesus Christ, and to his true sa∣crifice. First of all, in transferring to mortall men, or communicating to them, the dignitie of his su∣preme Priesthood;* we woonder by what autho∣ritie or allowance this should be done? For the whole bodie of the Scripture declareth plainly to vs: That he is the eternall sacrificer, according to the order of Melchizedeck,* yea, and that in such sort, As he is the only Priest of that order, and permitteth not the receipt of successors or Vicars. For, as concerning the sacrificers of the Law, there were made many to succeede one after another: Because they were not suffered to endure, by the reason of death. But this man (saith the Apostle to the Hebrewes) be∣cause he endureth for euer, hath an euerlasting Priest∣hood.* Which needed not daily (as those high Priests under the Law, to enter the holy places yearely with other bloud) first for his owne sinnes, and then for the peoples: Otherwise, it had bin needfull for him to haue suf∣fered many times, since the foundation of the world. But now in the consummation of the world, hath he appeared once, to put away sinne, by the sacrifice of himselfe. Being both the Page [unnumbered] offering sacrificer, & the sacrifice offered for sinne, according to the nature of this holy sacrifice of the new Testament, that the Sacrifice and Sacrificer should be both one.
* To Iesus Christ then only appertaineth the ho∣nor, to be the Sacrificer of the new couenant: and they doe him intollerable outrage, to appoint him any Successors or Suffragans, in regard the Apostle saith: There is one euerlasting Sacrificer, which neuer ceaseth, and passeth not from one to another.* Nor can this honor be attributed to any other, but only he that is called of God, as Aaron was. So likewise Christ tooke not to himselfe this honor, to be made the high Priest: but he glorified him, that saide vnto him: Thou art my Sonne, this day begate I thee.* And as in the former place: Thou art an euerlasting sacrifi∣cer, after the order of Melchisedeck.
It is not I (Ladies) that haue spoken all this, but Gods infallibe word the sacred Scripture.* And now if the Priests of the Papacie, would haue vs to acknowledge them for sacrificers: let them shew vs, how the charge to sacrifice Iesus Christ, is giuen them by God in the holy Scriptures, and then we will lend a better eare to them. But this is not the proposition only, that Christ Iesus is the sole sacrifi∣cer of the new couenant: but there remaines a far greater matter. For his sacrifice neither can or ought to be iterated or performed againe, nor can it be by any other: because he offered himselfe once for all and it appertaineth to no man whatso∣euer,*Page [unnumbered] to make the like offering as he hath done. Neither could he, as of himselfe, offer himselfe a∣gaine, for then he must haue suffered and died a∣gaine, as I haue prooued before by the Apostle. And the offering which he made of himselfe, was once only, and that sacrifice is of perpetuall effica∣cie, for the clearing and wiping away of our sinnes. Whereupon the same Apostle saith, We are sanctifi∣ed, euen by the offering of the bodie of Iesus Christ once made. And by one sole oblation, which he once only offered, hath he consecrated for euer them that are to be sanctified.* And since he hath purchased for vs the remission of our sinnes: there remaineth no more oblations to be made for sinne, but his blood only is sufficient: whereby he is entred into the holy places, hauing obtained euerlasting redemp∣tion for vs And we haue daily libertie likewise, by the blood of Iesus, to enter into the holy places: in regard that he is the eternall sacrificer, to saue all such as he shall present to God, liuing there as their continuall intercessor. In all which alleadged pla∣ces, the Apostle makes no mention at all, of any new oblation, or continual offering the bodie of Christ, by the hands of men.*
Who will not say then, that this is blasphemie, not only in transferring to mortall men the dignitie of the eternall Priesthood of Iesus Christ, who ne∣uer resigned his office to any other; but likewise to reiterate and renew his sacrifice daily, as if the efficacie of the sacrifice, which himselfe once of∣fered Page [unnumbered] vpon the Crosse, were not sufficient to en∣dure, and for our reconciliation to God? What shall we also thinke of this saying of the Apostle: If*when we were enemies, we were reconcilea to God by the death of his Sonne: much more being reconciled, we shall be saued by his life. That is to say, because he is daily aliue, to intercede in our behalfe, and procure vs grace and fauour, as hath bin before declared. Or, as he elsewhere saith: In regard he appeareth* now for vs before the face of God, to wit, in the powerfull vertue of his sacrifice, to communicate the same to all beleeuers: There is therefore no neede, of any new sacrifice or reiteration there∣of.
Vnderstand, good Ladies, that I doe not tie my selfe, to note euery particular which is condem∣ned,* thorow the whole passage of the Masle, which is very thicke sowen with blasphemies, from the beginning to the end: therein I should tier both my selfe and you. As for example, should I speake of the Priests entraunce to the Altar, wherein (you knowe) I vtter no lye. First, the Priest confesseth* himselfe, not only to God, but likewise both to he Saints and she Saints, not so much as naming Iesus Christ. Then afterward, in the beginning of their Canon, and before he goes to any consecration, he* saith, That he offers that Sacrifice to God (to wit, the bread and wine, which are vpon the Altar, and as yet not consecrated) first of all, for the Catho∣lique Church, next, for the redemption of all their Page [unnumbered] souls, that are assistant at the Masse. O deare Ladies, what a blasphemie is this? O, that it should euer be receiued among Christians; Or that a sinfull man should presume to say: That he offers an oblation of bread & wine to God, and for there demption of soules. Nay, admit that it were the bodie & blood of Iesus Christ: yet (deare soules) you see it mani∣festly prooued vnto you alreadie, that it is not now at this day to be offred againe, neither can it, by the Apostles testimonie alreadie rehearsed.
I passe ouer also manyp rayers ful of iniquitie, as well before, as after the consecration. As in the Me∣mento,* when the Priest requireth the fauour of God, by the merits and intercession of Saints: As if the sacrisice of Iesus Christ, which they say they preferre in the formost place, were not sufficient to impetrate such grace of God.
Then after consecration, they commit a sinne, whereof by no meanes (I thinke) they can excuse* themselues. For the Priest prayeth to God, that the oblation which he offereth (to wit, the bodie and the bloud of Iesus Christ, according to the verie words vsed by the Priest) may be caried by the hands of his holy Angell, into the high Altar before Iesus Christ. As if Iesus Christ himselfe had forsa∣ken Heauen, & stood in neede to be caried thither againe, and by the hands of an Angell. O, honorable Ladies, what a blasphemie is this, against him that hath all power subiected vnder his feete, and sitteth for euer at the right hand of God his Page [unnumbered] Father?
* Also in the Priests Memento for the dead, he prayeth for them, (that alreadie are sleeping in the very height of peace) that God would giue them a place of peace & refreshing. But to what purpose is this? when the parties are possessed of such a peacefull place alreadie, why should they mooue any such place afterward in vaine?
There are many other things (louing Madames) the collection whereof would be very tedious vn∣to you, and which you may see very learnedly confuted, ech point by point, in the Booke which I shewed you at our last meeting, called the Anato∣mie*of the Masse, printed for your more easie vnder∣standing▪ in our owne language, more then thirtie yeares since, and neuer (all this while) answered by the contrarie side.
But come we now to the especiall point, con∣cerning the confidente and peruerse opinion, (wherein I my selfe haue sinned too often, and which you hold as no meane Article of faith,) That the Masse is a worke meritorious, to cancell all* our sinnes; Ex epere operato, as themselues vse to say. Which is as much to say▪ as that by the vertue of that worke, the labour is performed, without making mention of his faith and repentaunce, for whom the Masse is sayd, and is therein assisted. Heereby you may perceiue (good Ladies) that the efficacie of the death of Iesus Christ (whereof by true faith we are all made pertakers) is now attri∣buted Page [unnumbered] to a work done by man: yea, & may as wel be* applied to the dead, as the liuing. By which means, the Sacraments shall but profit them only, which communicated in true saith and repentaunce. But then this cannot be spoken thus of them that are deceased, and departed out of this world: because they haue no more communion with the liuing, whereby to participate of their Sacraments.
As for the Sacrifice of Iesus Christ, that is (saith* the Apostle) through faith in his bloud, which makes vs partakers of the propitiation thereby obtained. Now the dead can haue neither faith nor repen∣taunce, but are gone as they placed before the end* of their faith, either for the saluation of their soules, or to be punished in hell, for their incredulitie.
Iouerslip a great many blasphemies, which de∣serue ech one to be seuerally spoken of: For you haue tolde me, that some things you giue credit to, and others you doe not, especially any thing which you conceite to be damnable. But you be∣ing heerein gouerned only by your Priests opini∣ons, you hang your selues on their sleeues, and are neuer the neerer, when you shall come to make your account. And your excuse, concerning* those prayers which they sing or say in their Masse, that they are in Latine, and you vnderstand them not, but beleeue them to be good and holy▪ Trust me (worthy Ladies) it is idle and friuolous, for you ought to vnderstand them, and may if you will, thereby to examine and trie the spirits, whether Page [unnumbered] they be of God or no. You haue them published in printed bookes, and so haue had for many yeares together: And the Scriptures themselues remaine for your further instruction, which though they forbid you the reading of them, yet be you rulde* by him, that saith, Search the Scriptures, it is they that doe beare true witnes of me.
But leauing all other, there is one most signall and apparant, and such a blasphemie, whereof I knowe you are almost daily partakers, being pre∣sent at Masse. For both common opinion and in∣tention,* as well of the Priest himselfe, as the per∣sons there in place, doe run in this current: That it is an absolute sacrifice which is there performed by him, wherein all remission of sins is to be sought for, and all prosperitie, as well of the bodie as of the soule. For they auouch it, to be the selfe same sacri∣fice of Iesus Christ, which they but renew againe, to receiue a further fruite thereby, and so they rei∣terate the same as often, as they doe either sing or say Masse, euen according as it was done vnder the Lawe. But what saith the blessed Apostle to this? The law hauing the shadow of good things to come, & not*the very image of the things; can neuer with those sa∣crifices, which they offer yeere by yeere continually, san∣ctifie the commers thereunto. And it is imposisible, that the bloud of Bulles and Goates should take away sinnes. For would they not then haue ceased to haue bin offered, because that the offerers once purged, should haue had no more conscience of sins? This is then the reason, wher∣forePage [unnumbered]euery Priest appeareth daily sacrificing, & oft times offereth one manner of thing, which can neuer take a∣way sinnes. But this man, after he had offered one sacri∣fice for sinne, sitteth for euer at the right hand of God. And wherefore one sacrifice only? Because (saith he in the verse following) that by that alone sacrifice, he hath consecrated for euer them that be sanctified.
There is nothing (deare Ladies) more cleare and* euident, then these words of the holy Apostle, to manifest openly: That the sacrifice of Iesus Christ, whereby we were once for all redeemed and san∣ctified, cannot, neither ought to be reiterated or renewed. Therefore in Poperie, when they doe enterprise, to reiterate, or renew, or continue the same (for they make vse of all these seueral tearmes) is it any thing else, but a meere renouncing of that only sacrifice, remaining fresh, in full strength and vigour, which Christ once offred vpon his Crosse, to sanctifie all beleeuers? And the fruite heereof is daily presented to vs, in the preaching of the Gospell, and we reeeiue the same by a true & san∣ctified faith, in him only. For to this end was the sacred ministerie of Gods word instituted by God himselfe in his Church: and not for any nouell or∣der of sacrifices, as your (soules heauie enemies) doe make you to beleeue.
* I knowe (honorable Ladies) and haue had such particular interest in some of you, during the time of our often conuersing in this manner together: that (in hart) you are far off from these grosse pro∣phanations, Page [unnumbered] and haue assured me (in soule) you doe much greeue thereat. Let me then perswade you, not to come in such places, where the Sonne of God is so highly iniuried, be not led by their out∣ward appearaunce of deuotion, which serues but to beguile and abuse the simple. Euen as is vsed in our ceremonie of meeting, and manner of court∣ship in the streetes or else where: a good looke is giuen, or an affable conge allowed, when falshood and trechery lurketh oftentimes in the hart. Make not then your faire selues guiltie, of such foule and polluted behauiour, nor be you present where Christs name is misprised, erecting another Altar, against the Altar of his Crosse, and renewing his sacrifice, by substitution of a newe one: as if his were but a yeare old, or like to the sacrifices of brut beastes, lame or imperfect; Or as if the means which he hath ordained, for the application there∣of (as the preaching of the Gospell, and administra∣tion of his instituted Sacraments) were insufficient* to conuay their vertue vnto vs. For this is the fairest fruite of their pretended sacrifice, that the reite∣ration and daily renewing thereof, is branded with the marke of insufficiencie and imperfection, as you heare the Apostle to auouch the same: when he speakes of the sacrifices of the old Lawe, which* were performed often.
True it is, that they would faine ground their sacrifice vpon Gods word: but (good Ladies) marke in what manner I beseech you, and be Iud∣ges Page [unnumbered] your selues, for the case is very cleare. Behold (say they) Iesus Christ making his Supper with his* Apostles, said: Doe this in remembraunce of me. Doe, that is as much to say, according to their glosse; as make or performe this sacrifice▪ because that Christ had said before; This is my bodie which is giuen for you. But if it pleased them to read all, they should better perceiue the words and meaning of our Sa∣uiour, which indeed are nothing lesse, then agree∣ing with their glossing.
The Euangelists doe record vnto vs, that our Lord Iesus hauing taken bread, and giuen thankes; *brake it, and said to his Disciples: Take, cate, this is my bodie which is giuen for you, doe this in the remem∣braunce of me. And how doe this? why no other∣wise, but euen to doe it in the same manner, that is to say: To take the bread, and distribute it among them to be eaten, for no other mention is made there, either of offering, or of sacrificing. For you see (sweete Ladies) that Christ himselfe vsed no o∣ther words, but Take, and eate. And the holy Apo∣stle Saint Paule doth sufficiently shewe vs, that of these words, doe this, there is no other vnderstan∣ding to be made but that which hath bin declared alreadie. For in speaking of the wine at the same* Supper, he reciteth likewise the same words spo∣ken* by our Lord Iesus Christ: Doe this alwayes and as oftentimes as you shall drinke, in remembraunce of me. Which importeth as much, as if he had said: Al∣wayes, or as oft entimes as you shall drinke of this Page [unnumbered] wine in this Sacrament: Drinke it, in remembrance of me, that this may be in remembraunce of my Death, or continue as a memoriall thereof. Which manner or phrase of speaking, the Apostle himselfe adioyneth in the following verse. For alwayes, or as*oftentimes, as you shall eate of this bread, and drinke of this Cuppe: you shall shewe the Lords death vntill he come.
* Consider now, good Ladies I beseech you, that these are none of our glosses, but the very expresse text it selfe, where you see manifestly by Saint Paules owne exposition: what thing it is the Lord would haue vs to doe concerning as well the peo∣ple, as the Pastour. For the commandement, Doe this, directeth it selfe to all the faithfull, to wit: That we should eate this bread of the Sacrament, and drinke the wine, in remembraunce of his death and passion. According as the words doe signifie themselues, when he spake of his bodie, which is broken and giuen for you, and likewise of his bloud, which is shed or dispersed for you. All which he spake, hauing regard to that which soone after should ensue: His bodie was to be deliuered ouer to death, and his bloud to be shed vpon the Crosse, for vs poore, wreched and miserable sinners.
And the reason why he spake so of the time pre∣sent, which is giuen, which is shed: is the common Latine verssion or translation, allowed by the Counsell of Trente; expressing thereby the time to come, which shall be giuen, which shall be s•…ed, then Page [unnumbered] which, nothing can be more manifest, honored Ladies, if it pleased you but to open your owne¦eies. For then you should perceiue, that there Christ made on mention of offering. And if they would presse these words, which is giuen, to con∣clude thereby, that euen then when Iesus made* his Supper, he offered vp his bodie in sacrifice: Of necessitie, and by the selfe same reason, they must also conclude these words, my bloud which is shed; that euen then he did shed his bloud, which can∣not be, neither could be, for his bloud was not shed but vpon the Crosse.
Good Madames, entreat the very learnedst of your Romaine Sacrificers, to shew vs but one place in the Scripture, where it is commaunded vs, to sacrifice Iesus Christ againe. For the place rehear∣sed,* maketh not any iote for them, and they know likewise well enough, that the Greeke word Poi∣ein, vsed by the Euangelists, reciting the words of our Lord and Sauiour, and Saint Paule after them: Also the word in the Siriack tongue Habad, which our Lord himselfe vsed, could neuer be vnder∣stood to Sacrifice, or Offer.
Goe we on then, to some other proprieties of the Masse. I come now to the Idolatrie, which we* find in the second part of the Masse, to wit, at the Sacrament, and that is in this. They propose or hold vp a piece of bread to the people, to be ado∣red and worshipped by them for God saying: That there is the blessed bodie of our Sauiour, hidden Page [unnumbered] vnder the accidents of bread, although it doe not appeare to be so, and the faithfull can discerne but bread only. To prooue their idolatrie in this point, I will goe no whither else, but to the direct insti∣tution of the Supper, according as our Lord him∣selfe did institute it, which they altogether de∣praue, only to confirme and establish their Idoll: wherein, gentle Ladies, I craue not only your pa∣tience, but also your dilligent regard.
* Behold how Iesus Christ promiseth vs, that we shall be partakers of his bodie, and of his bloud, At all times, or as oftentimes, as we shall celebrate this misterie, according as he did celebrate the same with his Apostles. In distributing the bread, he said, Take, eate, this is my bodie which is given for you; doe this in remembrance of me. Likewise in deli∣uering the wine, he said: Drinke you all of this, for this is my bloud. &c. where we may discerne, that he putteth the commaundement in the first place,* in saying to vs, that we shall take, eate, and drinke. Then he annexeth the promise, wherein he testifi∣eth vnto vs, that that which we eate, is his bodie, and that which we drinke is his bloud. To enjoy then the effect and benefit of this promise, it be∣hooueth, that the faithfull doe take and eate the bread, & drinke the wine which is giuen to them. In briefe, there is the communion of many faith∣full, in doing that, which Iesus Christ representing to the whole Church, did performe in this first Supper: For that which Iesus Christ said to his A∣postles; Page [unnumbered]*Take, eate, drink ye all of this: he spake the ve∣ry same to all the faithfull, euen to the ending of the world: As that which he adioyneth, sufficiently declareth; My body which is giuen for you; My bloude which is shed for you, so is his bodie giuen, and his bloud shed for the faithfull.
Hence then ensueth, that to all the faithfull, ap∣pertaineth the commaundement of taking, eating* and drinking: because he made the promise gene∣rally to all▪ and not only to the Apostles & Ministers of the Church▪ And we may see this testified by the Apostle Saint Paule, speaking at large vpon this misterie, these are his words. For we that are many,*are one bread and one bodie: because we all are parta∣kers of one bread. Wherefore (Ladies) it appeareth plainly that the bodie of Iesus Christ, and the com∣munion of his bloud likewise, are not to be giuen to vs in this Sacrament: but when many faithfull shall communicate together, according as Christ* deliuered vs an example, with his Apostles. Take a∣way then the communion, which Iesus Christ him∣selfe hath ordained, he being the heauenly Lord, Maister and Author of this holy Sacrament: And then the promise there unto annexed, touching his body & bloud, which he hath giuen for all faithfull communicants; hath no place at all, but is vtterly* voide, For it remaineth no longer a Sacrament, nor as he ordained it, because the right vse of the Sacrament consisteth heerein: that the faithfull should communicate together, according as he Page [unnumbered] hath commanded, saying, Take, eate, drinke yee. &c. this must be done vpon necessitie, if you would haue it to be a Sacrament, or the same which Iesus Christ hath instituted; namely, the communion of many faithfull assistants, to eate and drinke all to∣gether in this blessed banquet, for this is the es∣sence of the Sacrament, as you may discerne very apparantly.
* Let vs now come to see, what is done in the Masse. Surely (good Ladies) it is so farre off from being any communion: as it may be rather tear∣med, a kind of excommunication. For both you and I know, and so do all else, that know what the Masse is, that the Priest separates himselfe from all therest of the assemblie, to eate and drinke (by him selfe alone) the bread and wine which he hath con∣secrated a part: and how doth he consecrate them? Insted of consecration, which ought to be* done, by preaching and publishing openly and aloude, the promises of our Lord and Sauiour, di∣rected, not to the bread and to the wine, which are proposed but as signes vnto vs: But to the faithfull persons, assisting the communion, & present there to communicate▪ Iesus Christ being he that (euen then) consecrates the bread & wine▪ to make them Sacraments of his bodie and bloud (by his heauen∣ly Priesthood which yet ceaseth not) and when this misterie is celebrated according to his institu∣tion.
But the Priest deales quite contrarie, for he as Page [unnumbered]* if he were affraid to be heard of the people, makes his consecration, by blowing or breathing vpon the bread, and wine, and mutters or mumbles very softly and low, all the words of his institution. As if it could please the Lord of truth and life, to haue his word murmured out of a dead mouth (as it were) in celebrating his sanctified misteries, of whose truth (by this behauiour) there iustly may* arise some doubt or question. Or as if it were of∣fence to him, that stands in feare of no power whatsoeuer: to haue them pronounced with the loudest voyce, to be heard and vnderstood of all.
In the Gospel, the vertue, nature, and vse of Bap∣tisme, are expressed clearely and openly. Iesus Christ, making his Supper, did not mutter in any lowe voyce, either vpon the bread or wine, to de∣uine* or coniure therinto his bodie and bloud. But he pronounced aloude, and euidently to his A∣postles: That he gaue them there his body and his bloud, exhorting them to perseuere in the selfe same kinde of action, at all times, or as often as they should meete to reiterate the same, The remem∣brance of his death and passion. Euen as if he had beene then certainely assured, that no vtilitie or benefit could be had by Sacraments: except what∣soeuer was represented to the eye, might bee de∣clared and warranted by the word of God. For o∣therwise, it were to abuse the people in a fond kind of deuotion; to make a shew of ceremonies Page [unnumbered] before them, and neuer to deliuer or declare what* they signifie, and what coherence or agreement they haue with truth.
Therefore, when publike declaration is made of such mysteries, with a chearefull predication to edifie the hearers, entring into their vnderstand∣ing, and winning impression in their hearts, by as∣sured perswasion of the promises accomplishment; Briefely, when the grace of Iesus Christ is pro∣nounced vnto vs, and his promises exposed: Euen then, and in that instant, doth his glorious power descend, to performe the worke, and then is the true consecration acted indeed. Hereupon Saint Augustine saith very well; That the word of conse∣cration,*is the word of faith preached: And that word conioyned with the terrene outward signe, maketh the same a sacrament; Adding presently after, I meane the word of faith, which we preach.
What consecration then is there in the Masse, when insteed of all this, namely, exposing to the people the recited promises, and declaring aloud the words of our Sauiours institution: it is done in a manner of secret coniuration, and so are the* words whispered, which behauiour is more pro∣per to charmers, then to be vsed in such a holy and diuine Sacrament. What shall wee then thinke of them, when they dare forsake the rule of their Lord and Maister, to follow their owne fantasies?
* Seing then it is so, and that in the Masse there is neither any lawfull consecration, nor (as them∣selues Page [unnumbered] cannot deny) any such Communion as Iesus Christ hath ordained (for one alone doth both eate and drinke, and that is the priest, and one man alone cannot make a Communion): It followeth then (deere Ladyes) and very necessarily that the body of Iesus Christ is not in the Masse, where the Priest communicateth by himselfe. And therefore the bread, which he makes to bee adored then, euen as if it were the body indeed of our Lord: is no such matter, but remaineth still very bread, euen as it was before his consecration, being neyther more or lesse, then as if it were in any other place, out of the Churches assembly, and the Priests, and whosoeuer (for his owne pleasure) should speake the very same words of their institution, vpon any other piece of bread.
And although they perswade themselues, that they haue and do hold in their hands, the very bo∣dy* of Iesus Christ vnder the bread, or in the bread, and therefore make the people to worship it; yet it is most certaine, that there is nothing else but an Idoll, and which (without any reason they make a meere imagination of. For the promise, wherein Iesus Christ offered vnto vs his body and bloud, vnder the signes of bread and wine: appertaineth to none else (as hath beene already prooued) but onely vnto the faithfull, that receiue the same by faith, in the lawfull communion of the Euchariste, celebrating the mysterie, according to the man∣ner, as our heauenly Maister did ordaine it. Wher∣fore, Page [unnumbered] they which imagine, to haue any other thing then common bread, without the lawful vse of our Lords Supper: are but abused, and beleeue meere* dreames, as it can be no otherwise, because they faile of the promise. For seeing that Iesus Christ pro∣mised vs, to giue vs his body in the Sacrament, when the faithfull should communicate together after his institution: we may not be so vain or idle-headed, as to seeke it elsewhere, or according to our fantasies.
Let such men therfore be admonished, that they cannot excuse themselues of idolatry, both before God and men: when they are made to worshippe* (as if God himselfe were substantially present) a round cake of bread, which is lifted vp to be seen, aboue the shoulders of the Priest, and (with excee∣ding great deuotion) to be reuerenced and adored of all there present.
But Ladies, I haue held ye somewhat long in this point, because it is of such maine importance, yet perswading my selfe to haue said sufficient, albeit not halfe so much as I could: I will proceed to discouer another wicked Idolatry, which they* procure the poore people to commit▪ euen with∣out so much as thinking theron▪ And that is, wher∣as in their Masse▪ they should obserue the commu∣nion in that kinde as our Lord Iesus Christ did first institute it by inniting the people to communicate with the Preist, they fly from his example, and in∣deed, (once a yeare) they are contented to doe so, Page [unnumbered] and that is at Easter, for then the people shall bee* permitted to communicate, and yet it is but of one moitie onely of the Sacrament, wherein likewise they intermingle many fond inuentions, yea, and all the accustomed superstitions of their ordinarie Masses, without expounding, or declaring any part of the mistery to the people.
According to the institution of our Lord in the Sacrament, they should inuite the people, and breaking the body of Christ, after his example, it should be truely giuen to the faithfull Communi∣cants, according to the promise of our Sauiour. Notwithstanding all this, they will obserue their owne deuised manner, wherein they can no way* exempt themselues from being Idolaters, and ma∣king the people to commit Idolatry, in their gi∣uing worship to the bare signe. The reason is, be∣cause Iesus Christ in the Sacrament, gaue his bodie to be lookte vpon with our soules eyes, and not to be superstitiously adored in the bread, which is no more but the outward signe, and (by faith) to bee eaten to euerlasting life. For (worthy Ladyes)* Christ did not say, looke vpon this bread, then take, eate, and worship it: but he simply said, Take, eate, this is my body.
Therefore whereas the Sacrament should bee a helpe, to list vp the vnderstanding, of the faithfull vnto heauen, where Christ Iesus is, and no where else, as concerning his true body, & (from thence) giues himselfe in powerfull vertue, to enioy and Page [unnumbered] possesse the soules of the faithfull, vnder those formes by himselfe assigned: your Romanists doe abuse the Supper very vildlie, and take it in a quite* contrary nature, for they are onely pleas'de, with looking vpon the bare signe and worshiping it, ta∣king the thing it selfe, for that which is meerely signified thereby, answerable to their doctrine of Transubstantiation, meerely forged, against the true nature of all Sacraments.
They seeke not to eleuate mens vnderstandings, to the place where Christ sitteth at the right hande of his Father, but to lift vp their eies to their God∣like Idoll. Whereas Christ (without all doubt) in instituting this Sacrament, neuer addressed his pro∣mise* to the bread and wine simply, thereby to make them become his body and bloud, as hath beene before declared: But to the faithfull communi∣cants, and so thereby to assure them, that he would giue them the true participation and communion of his body, answerable to that which the blessed Apostle S. Paule saith, he being a most faithfull ex∣positor of this misterie. The Cup of blessing which we blesse, is it not the Communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we breake, is it not the Communion of the bodie of Christ?*
Me thinkes (honorable Ladies) these words should resolue you, that Christ hath comprised nothing else vnder these signes and elements of bread and wine, but what was behoouefull for the faithfull communicants, to whom the plaine signi∣fication Page [unnumbered] directeth it selfe, and whereof true faith dooth make them partakers, to vnice themselues spiritually (with a meruailous efficacy) into the glo∣rious body of our Lord Iesus Christ, to participate (in the end) of all his benefits, and deriue from him life and immortality.
* In these fewe words, vertuous Ladies, you may behold both what we teach and beleeue, that our feeding on Christ, is by faith onely, that is: in be∣leeuing the words of our Sauiour, in the vse of the Sacrament; wherby we are drawne much neerer to him, and more stricktly vnited and incorpora∣ted (euen by the incomprehensible vertue of his spirit,) to communicate and partake of all the be∣nefits of his death, and to be renewed by him, and nourished vnto euerlasting life: vntill such time, as he shall put vs into full possession, that is, at the departure of our soules from this world, and when our bodyes shall arise againe, at the day of our ge∣nerall resurrection.
* This is the fruit which we make account of, and are perswaded to gather out of this Sacrament, and wherevnto faith serues vs as the onely instrument: Euen as with hand, eyes, and mouth, to beholde, take, and eate Iesus Christ, without any need of his forsaking the heauens, or of his reall appearance vnder the formes of bread and wine, and so to communicate himselfe vnto vs. Wherefore, to go and adore the signe, as if the signe onely were Ie∣sus Christ himselfe: Or that hee should descend Page [unnumbered] downe from heauen, and be newely formed; for one of these twoo must needs ensue by their tran∣substantiation, which we mayntaine to be flat Ido∣latry.
* Neuerthelesse, we are taught in Scripture, that Iesus Christ ought to be adored in the Sacrament, and we doe dayly and religiously worshippe him: as being most especially present in the holy action, euen in our spirits and faith, to vnite vs vnto him, and to impart his blessings to vs; when the Supper is celebrated according to his institution, and wee endeuour to haue it so stil continued and ministred among vs. But the manner of our worshippe and adoration, is, in hauing our soules eleuated vp to heauen, and thither true faith is our onely con∣duct, there to behold him as our soueraigne assu∣rance. We looke not for him in the naked elemēts* of bread and wine: for there we haue no comman∣dement to honour him, but wee rather choose to worship him according as we ought, and that is in spirit and truth.
Iudge now good Madames, where reason aby∣deth most, on your side, or ours, and whether your Priests commit not manifest Idolatry in their acti∣ons: when they receiue and admit the people to the communion of a Sacrament, which neuer was ordained by Iesus Christ. May not wee then well and truely say, that they haue no communion at all, but what is of their owne inuentions? And that which they carry about the streets, going in a so∣lemne Page [unnumbered]* Procession, is but a round Cake, being clo∣sed vp in a Boxe, or Pixe▪ which they cause to be a∣dored with great veneration.
It remaineth now, that wee come to the third propertie, which I haue obserued in the Masse,* to wit, Sacriledge: which already hath beene sufficiently discoursed in our former proceeding, and yet we will note a fewe obseruations more. This holy and diuine Sacrament, was instituted to make a Communion of the faithfull, in the body and bloud of our blessed Lord, and by celebrating it commonly, in remembrance of his death and passion. But Noble Ladyes, your Priests doe con∣uert* all to a contrary end, not onely in that which they doe in the sacrifice; but in meere robbery and stealth beside. For they take from the people, the Communion in chiefe, yea, that which is the prin∣cipall fruite of this Sacrament, restraining it to the Priests onely: And the people there present, are made no more but silly spectatours, of that which the Priest doth alone by himselfe, without knowing, or vnderstanding what hee saith or doth.
* I know you will answere me, as (God forgiue me for it) I my selfe haue often done, that the priest, beeing the publike Minister, doth communicate in the names and behalfes, of all that are present at his Masse. Why then let me (faire Ladyes) mooue this question: Where is any such commandement throughout the whole booke of God, that wee Page [unnumbered] should see the Priest to haue one Supper for him∣selfe first, & then at his leasure, to communicate an∣other to vs? •urely, as we cannot liue by that which* another eateth, but of and by that which wee our selues doe eate: Euen so, as needfull is it for vs, that wee should communicate in this holy and diuine Sacrament, to liue in the true life of Iesus Christ, who hath giuen himselfe therein to vs; Not that any other there should receiue it for vs, but that wee ought and should receiue it our selues, there∣by to haue Christ make his dwelling in vs.
* Alas, good Ladyes, let vs not seeke to bee wiser then our Lord and Maister, for if wee doe, it is but in vaine. And well you know, that hee neuer saide; Behold the Priest or Minister of the Church, bee eateth and drinketh for you, and I haue so appointed it: But hee spake plainely, without any sophistication, and said: Take, eate, drinke you all of this. And after him, his faithfull Seruant Saint Paul, writing to the children (by adoption) among the Corinthians, said: Wee are many partakers of one and the same bread. And* againe, Let euery man eate of this bread, and drinke of this cup. The countersaite pretence then, which* they doe alleadge, can no way couer or maske their sacriledge: because the commaundement is precisely to all faithfull people, to take, eate, and drincke in this holy Supper.
*And Saint Chrysostome hath spoken very well to this purpose. Wee are no longer (saith hee) vnder the olde Law, where the Priest did eate his portion, and the Page [unnumbered] people had the rest. But here, one body is giuen to all, and likewise one cup: And what soeuer is in the Eucharist Sacrament, is common as well to the people as the Priest.
And, gratious Ladyes, desire them but to satisfie you in this one particular poynt, namely, that if they beleeue, or giue any credit to the Canons of their owne Popes, they cannot then but confesse* and acknowledge their sacriledge, for these bee their owne words: All they that are present at the Masse, and communicate not, confesse themselues to bee excommunicated. For their Canons further say, That*the consecration being ended, all are to communicate, or else they are depriued of entring into the Church. For so did the Apostles set downe the ordinance, and wee hold the same in the holy Romaine Church.
Moreouer, in the Canons that beare the title, By*the Apostles, it is thus ordained. That all they, which continue in the Church to the end of Mosse, and doe not receiue the Sacrament: ought to be corrected as pertur∣bers and disquieters of the Church. According to that which was ordained in the Counsell of Antioche; That all they which entred into the Church, should be∣haue themselues well, and heare the Sermon; and if they abstained from the Sacrament: they ought to bee ex∣communicated, vntill they had bin sufficiently chastised*for that vice. And therefore Saint Chrisostome, in his Homilies vpon the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Ephe∣sians, doth reproue them very sharpely, that in his time would be present in the assembly at the Com∣munion, Page [unnumbered] and yet not communicate. What say you* to this, sweete Ladyes, when you see how many are present with your selues, at their daily Masses, and yet none of you are suffered to communicate, but the Priest himselfe onely?
Besides all this, the prayers which they yet vse to say in their Masse, do likewise very sufficiently con∣uince them: for when the Church retained her wonted puritie, the people were then receiued to the Communion, and behold what their prayers then contained, and yet doe.
* Lord thou hast filled and satisfied thy familie, with thy holy giftes, to wit, the Sacrament. And another speaks thus. We being filled and satisfied with the sacri∣fice of thy pretious body & most holy bloud, &c. And a∣nother. We pray thee lord, that these things may be car∣ryed by the hands of thy holy▪ Angell, vnto thy high Al∣tar, (speaking of the oblations of the faithfull, in re∣ceiuing the bread and wine vsed in the Sacrament) To the end, that all others as well as wee, that shall re∣ceiue the participation of the Altar, in the blessed body, and holy bloud of thy Sonne, may be filled with all happy benedictions.
These are the very true words (dere Ladies) vsed in their prayers, wherein if you will not credit me, I desire you to reade them your selues, for your further satisfaction. And doubtlesse, they would neuer haue spoken in this manner, if the Priest one∣ly had then communicated, as now a dayes you see he doth. Otherwise, it had beene to say one Page [unnumbered]* thing, and performe the contrary, as you may per∣ceiue hath happened since: for now they haue vt∣terly depriued the people of the Communion. Tell me then, I intreate yee, is it not a mockery of God and of the people, to tell them, that they are perta∣kers in those giftes of the Altar, and yet (all the while) to giue them iustnothing at all?
In like manner they haue prouided, that the people shall vnderstand nothing that they say, for* they speake to them in a strange language: but this is most certaine, and I desire you Sister Ladyes, to obserue it, that the prayers before mentioned, doe remaine yet in the Canon of their Masse, to con∣demne them of impudence, both before God and men. So that if a more learned iudgement, then my weake womans capacitie, should search into the originall of this euill: it would be found out (as in∣deed it is very likely) that their enioyning and con∣straining the people, to confesse and declare their sinnes to the Priest, was purposely intended, be∣fore their admission to receiue the Sacrament.
* And this doe they also, without any ordenance of God, who commaundeth vs, to confesse and declare our sinnes to him, and require pardon▪ as hee promiseth to giue the same to all that are true∣ly repentant, assuring and certifying vs thereof, yea, sealing it in our soules and consciences, by his owne word in his Gospell, when hee is preached vnto vs, and when we beleeue effectually; where∣vpon, and in regard whereof, the mynisterie of the Page [unnumbered] Gospell is thus tearmed by the Apostle: He hath gi∣uen*vs the ministery of reconciliation.
The people then finding the burden of sinne to be very heauy, as indeed it is, were vainely perswa∣ded to make a particular numeration of their sins,* to the Priest or minister of the Church: which growing to a liberty and licence by little and little, by ignorance and malice in their Pastours, the course thereof was not cut off, as it ought to haue been. But yet the people then were thereby gran∣ted this benefite, that they might communicate in the Sacrament once a yeare, or twise, or thrise for them of greatest deuotion, but all the residue of the people, must leaue the Priest alone at the Al∣tare, there to communicate by himselfe.
* And thus one errour grewe to beget another, when once they began to decline from the direct pathes of perfection, and since then, they haue made a custome of assembling the people together (but not inuiting them to the Communion) onely to heare their Masses sayd or sung in diuers angles of their Temples, for which they are not ashamed (and Ladyes I am sure you know it perfectly) to demand a price or valuation for ech seuer all Masse, a thing most horrible, and the like neuer heard of. Thus the Communion of the Sacrament, is not onely violently taken from the people, but the* Sacrament it selfe (by this meanes) is made no ac∣count of. For wheras both Priest and people ought to meete together in one place, there to heare to∣gether) Page [unnumbered] the declaration of his bitter death and pas∣sion, and to participate (in common) in the Sacra∣ment of this vnion▪ O deere Ladyes, I cannot speake it without teares, or you heare it without much hearts griefe, if you were as you should bee; That that diuine place, I say, should now bee be∣come a meere faire or maket▪ to traffique and mer∣chandise those sacred blessings, which God out of his owne bountie made a liberail gift of, and freely bestowed vpon all his faithfull seruaunts, to their singular comforte and endlesse consola∣tion.
* But not to wander too farre from mine inten∣ded purpose, I come now to another most manifest sacriledge, committed likewise in the Masse, to wit, that in those Masses, where they doe admit the people to the Communion, eyther at the feast of Easter, or when they command a generall com∣municating: They then defraud the people of one part of the Sacrament, namely, the Cup. Oh what an audacious insolence is this? Iesus Christ distri∣buted the wine, as well as the bread, when hee made his Supper with his Apostles, and spake hee not to make publike notice thereof, when giuing them the Cup, hee said: Drinke you all of this? And after him, the Apostle left the very same instructi∣on,* to the Church of Corinth. Let eoh man (saith hee) prooue and examine himselfe; and so let him eate of this Bread, and drinke of this Cup.
But your Romaine disciples, vnder the shad∣dow Page [unnumbered] of some supposed inconueniences, (imagined onely by themselues, as if they would seeme to bee wiser than the Maister) haue ordayned, that the people shall communicate but vnder one kind, and that is of the bread only. Is not this an enormous sacriledge,* to separate them a sunder which God hath ioyned together, yea, and by his own expresse institution? But let them be well assured, that the Authoures and fauourers of a crime so haynous, shall one daye yeeld a most strickt account there∣fore.
* True it is, that they alleadge their Concomitan∣cy, in excuse of this matter, (a woord expresly for∣ged, whereby to maintaine their sacriledge) and herein they seeme to auouch, that the bloud keeps company with the body, and therefore is alwayes with the body. But when wee answere them, that Iesus Christ knewe this Concomitancy as well as they: and yet notwithstanding, he did not forbeare, to distribute both the signes of Wine and Bread; what reply they then? Why then they further in∣ferre in answere (which indeed can carry it selfe for no answere at all)* It was Iesus Christs will, that in his Supper wee should consider his bloud sepa∣rate, or apart from his bodye, and that wee should represent before our eyes his death, euen as his blood was spilt and shed: And therefore in giuing the Cuppe, he sayth: Drinke you all of this; For this is my bloude of the newe Testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sinnes.*
Page [unnumbered] Now, such Concomitance of the body, and of* the bloud, cannot agree or consent with the death of Iesus Christ (because, to bee both in the body, & to bee shed out of the body, are contrary things) wherfore, it necessarily ensueth, that that can haue no place in the Sacrament, which bringeth vs di∣rectly to the confideration of the death of Iesus Christ, & guides vs not to the effusion of his bloud. It behooueth then, that wee haue the effusion or streaming forth of his precious bloud, euen as if it were present before our eyes, if wee would ce∣lebrate the Sacrament according as Iesus Christ did ordaine it, because (aboue all) it doth most as∣sure vs in the Sacrament, that our sinnes are for∣giuen vs in his bloud, which is our cleansing and* washing. But if these reasons may gaine no place with you, faire Ladyes, nor them that are both* your aduersaries and ours, who (for the most part) build onely vpon traditions: At least yet, will them to allow the Canons of their Popes, which doe manifestly condemne them in this poynt▪ and for a president, behold what is said in one of the Canons* of the Pope Gelasius: Wee haue vnderstood, that there are some, who taking only a portion of the blessed body, do abstaine from the Cup of his precious bloud. And because it is not knowne, vpon what superstition they doe this: we will that they shall receiue the Sacraments together, or that they abstaine and bee barde wholy from them both. For diuision or separation in so sanctified a miste∣rie, cannot be committed without very great Sacriledge.
Page [unnumbered] Another Canon speaketh thus. You are with vs*in the Challice, Wee take this altogether, wee doe drink together, for we live together. And another. The priesls which serue at the Eucharist, shall distribute the bloud of our Lord to the people there, (for so he calleth the Sacrament of the bloud.) Whether can they now betake themselues, to seeke for purgation of sacri∣ledge, being thus therein condemned by their owne Popes?
Now honourable and renowned Ladyes, by these grosse and most absurde abuses, which I haue beene so bold as to lay open to you, in this Po∣pish kinde of seruice, called the Masse, filled full with notorious blasphemies, Idolatries, and sacri∣ledges, as I haue in some weake measure shewen vnto you, and in the order as they are rancked: you may guesse what a many more there are beside, which would aske a larger repetition, then this poore Epistle of mine at this time can permit mee. Let me put the case to your owne iudgement,* whether the Masse may be thought to be any law∣full Communion in your Church, or no? Surely, were it but in regard of these alleaged abuses, (wher of there wants not store besides) me thinkes you should abstaine from partaking with such ab∣hominations: Considering, that in shaking hands with such foule deformed sinnes, you pollute your soules with all impieties, and by your publike pro∣fession of them, you consent and adhere to all their blasphemies, albeit you are vtterly ignorant of Page [unnumbered] them. For heere they meete in a full crowde toge∣ther,* and to all of them, you cry your selues guilty, when you seeke no way to escape out of sinfull So∣dome, though the flames flye daily and flashe into your faces.
And I am well assured, that some of you are of my minde, in many of these recited abuses concer∣ning the Masse, though (as I haue done) you will not yet openly expresse it, yea, and haue in priuate confessed to mee, that your Priests of Romaine pol∣lution, doe grosely sinne in infinite superstitions, which they colour vnder cloudes of deuotion and* sanctitie, vsing such Apish carriage and gesticula∣tions, both in the celebration of the Masse, and their friuolous preachings, as are no way conue∣nable with their profession, that are to entreate on the misteries of God. And yet in whatsoeuer they doe or say, both you, and the people doe solemnely assist them as spectatours onely, but no vnderstan∣ders, and such are the greater part of the assemblie at Masse. And because they shall not see into their iugling collusions, they can find both their eares, eyes, and other sences busied, with musicke, sin∣ging, and ensensing, with diuers other gestures, which deliuer some appearance of religious deuo∣tion, onely thereby to beguile and retaine simple* people. And where is all this done? but euen in the Church, where God is to bee worshipped in spirit and truth, and where hee hath ordained the holie assemblie of his Seruants, to edifie & nourish Page [unnumbered] all faithfull soules, in common and publike praying together, according as euerie one may well vnder∣stand, by faithfull expounding and interpreting the word of god, concerning those misteries which he hath established in his Church: To the end, that euerie faithfull man and woman, maye there re∣ceiue effectuall fruit, both for the guyding of their liues in christian conuersation, and consolation of their soules here and in heauen.
* Into which Church of God, swept cleane and purged from all corrupt pollutions, and reformed by the rules of his heauenly prescriptions: Honora∣rable Ladyes, I haue at length found the happy en∣trance, where euery dilligent Pastour & Preacher, doe there paynefull and laborious endeuours, to expound & deliuer Gods word purely to the peo∣ple. And that they may easily vnderstand what is sayde vnto them, both for the edification of their faith, and further instruction in all piety, and wher∣of I myselfe (to my no little comfort) haue found* a most plentifull encrease among Gods seruaunts, into whose fellowshippe, I hartilie wish that you were all combined.
Moreouer, among vs, there is not so much as one sillable profered, either in publike praier, or explaining gods word, but it is heard, vnderstood,* and most affectuously embraced. For nothing is here vttered, which hath not his firme fundati∣on, on the expresse text of sacred Scripture, or what is thence truelie and vnpartiallie deriued ne∣cessarilie Page [unnumbered] cohering and agreeing therewith: with∣out any repugnancie to the Articles of the A∣postles Creede, or the direct meaning of the Scriptures. For if any of our Pastours shall pre∣sume to doe otherwise, hee is grieuously cen∣sured, and reprooued according to good orders established, for preseruation of sound doctrine, and preuention of intruding mens vaine imagina∣tions.
* As concerning the Sacraments, of Baptisme and the Lords Supper (for Gods institution al∣lowing no more, wee leaue your other fiue, viz. Confirmation, Penance, Extreame vnction, Orders, and Matrimonie, to your Romaine Si∣nagogue, where they were first deuised.) And these other before named, I say, are administred in the same kinde and nature, as they were who∣lie receiued from our Lord and Maister: with∣out addition of any thing to their wordes, or cut∣ting off any part of their ordinance. And intelli∣gence is publikely deliuered to the people, of the end, efficacie, and vtilitie of them, farre from those vngodly courses practised among you. Nor is there any other consecration here vsed, but holy and deuout pravers, in the presence of God and his* heanenly assembly: The Pastor declaring openly, (and not in any muttering or coniuring manner) what is then done, and how it stands with the wordes and ordinaunce of our Lord Iesus Christ; proposing and deliuering the same so audibly, that Page [unnumbered] it may bee heard of the whole Congregation, and so conueniently in all poyntes applyed, that much godly benefite commeth thereby to the assembled soules at the Sacraments. Where Ie∣sus Christ doubtlesse doth sanctifie the Table, and the Bread and Wine there decently pre∣sent, to make them the Sacraments of his body and bloud, when the forme is thus obserued after his owne institution.
* To this Communion of the Lords holie Sup∣per, all the people present (after exhortation, to prepare their comming thither, in true repen∣tance and firme faith in Gods promises) are freely and verie louingly admitted. And none are exclu∣ded from this heauenly Banquet, but such as are notoriously knowne for prophane people, of wic∣ked and vild life, or rebellious to all good or∣ders and Discipline established by authoritie, and the Reuerend Fathers of the Church, whose care and diligence for the good thereof, at all times and seasons is very great and painefull. And (Noble Ladyes) the Bread and Wine, in all re∣uerend manner, as our Lord appoynted it, is round about distributed to euery assistant, with∣out impayring the least iote of the institution. There is no request made, that those things may* bee carryed thence by an Angell, and presented vpon the high Altar: Our soules doe assure vs, by a liuely faith, that Iesus Christ is in heauen, sitting at the glorious right hand of his Father, Page [unnumbered] and all the Communicants in our Christian assem∣bly, are so instructed and resolued, and to hea∣uen doe they eleuate both their eyes and minds, contemplating their Lord and Sauiour there, and hoping to partake of eternall life there with him, whereof the present action is a sure pledge and earnest pennie. Thus doe wee pronounce Christes death and passion, thus doe wee ac∣knowledge the effusion and shedding of his bloude, whereof the Bread broken, and Wine deliuered in the Cuppe or Challice (for wee are not Ceremonious of eyther word, because (in Gods feare) eyther of them is to vs indifferent) remaineth to vs as a perfect remembraunce, and the fruites thereof (wee hope) doe continue a∣mong vs, and so (with thankfulnesse) we all receiue his benefits.
And worthie Ladyes, because (it may bee) you would gladly know, what other obseruatiōs there are in Gods Church, which induced my conuer∣sion,* and in time may draw others: As a verie young Scholler, scarcely yet well intred, I will set yee downe a briefe summarie, of so many, as my weake memorie, and the breuitie of time will permit me.
* Here is no inuocation vpon any Saints, no, not vpon the blessed Virgin Marie: yet both of her, and all other Gods chosen Saintes, wee hold that reuerend estimation, which wee are commaunded to doe. The adoration and worship Page [unnumbered] here vsed, is to the onely euerliuing and eternall God, and according as hee hath manifested him∣selfe in his word, to wit: the Father, the Sonne and the sanctified Spirit, or holy Ghost. One onely and true God, in these three persons or Hy∣postasis, in whose name likewise all heere are bap∣tised.
* Here are no other Images admitted into our Temples, but that onely which our great God hath consecrated to himselse, for his owne pecu∣culiar vse, and to remaine for euer. And that is the Preaching of the Gospell, with the true vse of the Sacraments instituted by him: whereby wee discerne the nature of God, and his good will towards vs, more liuely and better figured in the whole Mysteryes of our Redemption, then they can bee described in a million of wod∣den or carued Images, or in any other matter whatsoeuer.
* Neyther is there recourse made to any other intercession, for obtaining Gods fauour vnto vs, but to Iesus Christes intercession onely, hee be∣ing our alone Mediatour and Aduocate. And hee* is likewise the onely reconciliation for our sinnes, and wee present none other but him to God, in all our prayers eyther priuate or publike. Nor is heere acknowledged any other purgation or Purgatorie, but onely the bloud of the selfe same Iesus Christ: Thus are wee cleansed, by vndoub∣ted faith in him, accompanyed with true and vnfai∣ned Page [unnumbered] repentance, and that is to bee done in this life onely, which is the time both for beleeuing, and of well doing.
* In like manner, heere is no confession made of any other oblation, sacrifice or satisfaction, wher∣by to abolish, deface and wipe out our sinnes: but that alone, which Iesus Christ made once for all, vpon the tree of his Crosse to GOD his Father. Nor doe wee heere hold it expedient or needefull, that there should bee any superstiti∣ous countenaunce, renewing or dayly reiterati∣on thereof: In regarde, that hee neuer gaue a∣ny such charge to any mortall man. For wee are assured, that his owne sacrifice is daily fresh, and in full efficacy, to obtaine grace for vs, remissi∣on of our sinnes, and life euerlasting. For though* hee dyed once for vs poore wretched sinners, he liueth yet againe at this day, and for euer, and sit∣teth at the right hand of God his father, to make continuall intercession for vs.
* As for the order of Confession, which is here obserued, and none other else acknowledged in this Church, it is in this manner. When wee as∣semble and meete together, wee make a publike and solemne confession of our sinnes to God: who giueth vs also true absolution of them, by his h•∣ly Gospell, when wee (being heartily repentant) receiue by faith his vndoubted promises, accor∣ding as they are davlie (for that purpose) preached and deliuered vnto vs, by the Pastors and ministers Page [unnumbered] of Gods Church, being congregated in our Eccle∣siasticall assemblyes.
* In breefe (honourable Ladyes) heere is ney∣ther taught, or beleeued, any other meanes for our saluation; then that which God himselfe hath reuealed in his holie woord. And that is, to embrace and receiue in a sanctified fayth, Working by loue; the graces and mercies of God* offered and presented to vs in Iesus Christ, by the Gospell: The preaching wereof wee re∣ceiue, and giue attention vnto with all reue∣rence, as beeing that onely doctryne, which is able to saue our soules. And wee are perswa∣ded, that to turne aside (how little soeuer it bee) from Iesus Christes omnisufficient sacrifice, to our owne workes, satisfactions, deseruings, or the merites of Saints and their sufferings, or any other meanes whatsoeuer, to confide, or put any hope at all therein of our saluation: were flatly to forsake the cheefe corner stone, and to build vpon another foundation, then God him∣selfe hath layde. For there is not any other name under Heauen, whereby wee can or shall bee saued, but the alone name of Iesus Christ. For bee was de∣liuered to death for our sinnes, and is risen agayne for our iustification;* there cannot bee (then) sal∣uation in another. If this doctrine bee hereti¦call, as your Romaine Iesuites, and Priests sticke not to proclayme it: *they must then pronounce the holy Apostle Saint Paule to bee an hereticke; Page [unnumbered] Saint Peter and all the rest of the Apostles, to bee Heretikes, who preached the very same, and haue left it so to vs in their owne writings, where∣of God himselfe will one day be the Iudge.
* Censure now, discreete and well-iudging La∣dyes, if the singlenesse, and pure simplicitie of this approoued doctrine, maintained poynt by poynt, and warranted by the word of God, (whereun∣to it hath alwayes submitted it selfe, and dare a∣uouch her true title in the face of any Coun∣sell:) doe deserue those slaunders and calumnia∣tions, which the Diuell by his blasphemous brood, doth daylie belch foorth against it. And in the other Scale of your vnpartiall opinion, (hold∣ing an euen hand to poyze the weight, and an vpright soule, to conceiue the worth of both rightly) consider the now Romish Religion, the practises, blasphemies, and abuses therein com∣mitted, and then let God direct and order your verdict.
* For I will not so wrong the hope I haue of you, rashly to forethink, that you will be oueraw∣ed with pompe of Ceremonies, thunder cracks of curses, the case and hollow closure for mon∣strous impieties: Neyther that you will bee scru∣pulous of spirit, as to let the spacious spreading title of their Church, without any truth or equitie to warrant it, altogether sway you in your opini∣on.* For the Church of Christ sets not forth her selfe to sale by the luster and pompe of exteriour Page [unnumbered] ornament, or by antiquitie or such like allegati∣ons; No, nor by continued succession of Popes and Prelates, whereof you heare what daily boast they make. But her glory and triumph is, in the puritie of doctrine, which is as the onely soule of the Church, and in the sincere administration of the Sacraments, all consonant and agreeing, with the voyce of her great sheepheard and Bishop of our soules, our Lord Iesus Christ. And hee faith;*That his sheepe do know his voyce, and they will not listen or follow a stranger. This (Ladyes) is the true touch∣stone of iudgement, whereby to discerne Golde from corrupted mettall, to know the true Church from the false: And not by Crosses by Miters, Car∣dinals, bonnets, or height of Steeples.
That Reuerend and worthy Bishop of Thouars, who hauing forsaken the Sinagogue of Sathans, and (by his great learning and industrious paines) discouered such a hideous heape of abhomina∣tions, vsed and maintained in the church of Rome: hee, next vnto Gods good spirit (which was the principall and onely motiue) was the secondary meanes of my conuersion, as (God haue the glo∣ry for it) hee hath preuailed with diuers other* Lords and Ladyes beside, and in time may prooue to shake the proude Empyre of the Pope. His lear∣ned labours so lately printed, wherein hee opens all the pack of paradoxicall Poperie, against Bellar∣mine, and all the Romaine faction of Iesuites, con∣uincing them by their owne arguments and wri∣ting: Page [unnumbered] I am bold (worthy Ladies) to send you with this Epistle. And where I comfarre too short of such sufficiencie as in such a cause as this is requi∣red: peruse his paines for your further satisfacti∣on, being printed in your owne natiue tongue for your better apprehension, and so plainely set downe, as it cannot but bee easily vnderstood of you.
Thus haue I, noble Ladyes, both briefely, and as the nature of an Epistle would permit me, de∣clared the grosse absurdities and abuses in the Masse, the blasphemies, Idolatries, and sacriledges therein committed, that God in his good time may open your eyes, and let you see the way out of that brutish Babylon. I haue also (in a meane measure) shewed you the order and gouerne∣ment of our reformed Church, as well for the Mi∣nisterie and doctrine thereof, as also for the neere affinitie and true forme, which therein is conti∣nually vsed and obserued, with the example of the chiefe Schoole-maister Iesus Christ himselfe, and confirmed by his blessed Apostles: As if it would please God to rancke you with vs, the truth should make more manifest to you.
* For heere is nothing done palliated, or in secret conspiring, to betray poore peoples opinions, and deceiue their soules: All our actions are openly exposed euen to the apparant view of God and men, yea, euen in all things, that concerne the or∣der and policie of Gods▪Church. Heere, women Page [unnumbered] and the weakest capacities, may vnderstand what∣soeuer is done or said: for here is no strange Lan∣guage vsed among vs. And S. Paul saith: Strange*tongues are for a signe, not to them that beleeue, but vnto Infidels that beleeuenot.
* I confesse, honorable Ladyes▪ that my discourse hath extended it selfe beyond the purposed limita∣tion: but indeed, the merit of the subiect handled; may pleade my pardon one way, and the endeared affection I beare to you, with desire of your con∣uersion (for your soules sauing health) I trust will safely support me the other way. If God haue cho∣sen me as his meanest instrument, to worke but the very least measure of your better instruction: his name haue the glory, and his powerfull word the deserued praise, which carries much more weight and efficacy, then mens smoothest eloquence, or the very subtillest arguments produced to the contrary: whether it bee of antiquitie, or vniuer∣salitie, of Counsels, of Traditions, or whatsoeuer else. If now (this day) you will listen to his voyce, and not harden your hearts; If you be not care∣lesse of his gift, by me his vnworthy seruant of∣fred vnto you; If you close not vp your eyes, a∣gainst the cleare light that shineth euery where; If you quench not the spirit, which God him∣selfe hath kindled in you: All will redound to your endlesse consolation, and you bee renow∣med to future posterities. Feare therefore (deare Ladyes) this heauie threat of the diuine wisdome.
From Thouarsthis 1. of Iune. 1608.