A godlie praier to be said in time of anie common plague, priuate affliction or trouble.
OEternall and euerliuing God, the Father of all consolation & comfort, vouchsafe of thine infinite loue and kindnesse to strengthen mee with thy heauenlie grace, patiently to beare and with meekenesse to suffer this crosse of affliction and trouble, which thou hast laid vpon me for the vse of sinne and iniquitie. I knowe, O gratious and louing Father, that my deserts are such as woorthilie haue prouoked thee to displeasure. The burden of my sinnes are intollerable, for the which I must acknowledge, and earnestlie from the bottome of my hart confesse, that iustlie thou hast corrected and visited me; yet not in the fulnesse of thy furie, but according to thy father∣lie loue and kindnesse. And albeit thy rod lie heauie vp∣on my shoulders; yet in this time of thy correction I Page 181 am comforted greatlie, knowing assuredlie that thou correctest and simitest where thou louest: thou woun∣dest, and healest againe: thou throwest downe to hell, and liftest vp againe to heauen: such and so great is thine omnipotencie, that thou rulest aboue the firma∣ment, in earth, flouds, and the lowermost parts of hell.
In heauen the Angels, Archangels, the soules of thy Saints, the blessed companie of Martyrs giue thee praise, glorie and veneration. The sun, the moone, and glistering stars, ech one of them in their course and qualitie shew themselues obedient vnto thy will. In earth the beasts of the field, and the seelie feathered foules of the aire in their order seeme to set foorth thy glorie and praise. In the deepe waters the fishes of the sea are readie to obserue thy will, and in their maner they as thy creatures giue thee due honour and reue∣rence. But among these, man, whom thou by thy di∣uine will and pleasure hast indued with reason, and in his creation, concerning the inward man, hadst fashio∣ned him to thy similitude and likenesse, is now most prone and willing to be (by the ministers of darknesse) seduced and carried awaie from vertue to vice; from godlinesse to all impietie; from obedience to wilfull breach and contempt of thy precepts: so that diligence is banished by negligence. And such is the power of our flesh, that our eies, which should haue their chie∣fest contemplation and delight in perusing and rea∣ding thy glorious and sacred Gospel (wherein we may behold thee crucified and slaine, O sweetest Sauiour Christ Iesus, perfect God and perfect man, by whose innocent death & bloudie passion, attonement is made betwixt thy Father and vs) are so dazeled with the dimme and darke mists of Sathan, that they are oc∣cupied in the beholding of mundane and transitorie pleasures; all which in effect vanish and weare awaie, euen as the flower that either is parched by the force Page 182 of Phoebus radiant beames, or by Winters stormes and horie frosts consumed.
Our eares, which thou hast giuen to vs to heare, and vnderstand the sacred and diuine mysteries con∣teined in thy holie lawe, are made deafe of purpose; so that they glorie more in fables and lothsome leasings, than they conceiue delight in the zealous predication of thine Euangelicall and heauenlie doctrine. Our harts are hardened like the Adamant; so that for the greatest part they can not brooke thy testimonies: they continuallie lust and desire to be satisfied with worldlie wealth, honour and dignitie. And who beholdeth not in these daies, what cruell conflict and bloudie fight there is betwixt good conscience and filthie auarice, the roote of all mischiefe and euill? Naie, who seeth not in this age, plaine dealing murthered by deceit and faithlesse fraud? Who now beholdeth not true meaning strangled by forged flatterie and loathsome leasings? The bowels of compassion and pitie are shut vp by violent oppression and tyrannie.
Our feete are willing to tread the paths of pride, fornication and vncleannesse. Our hands are readie to offer wrong and iniurie to the innocent: yea and in fine, whatsoeuer thou hast giuen vnto vs to spread and set foorth thy glorie and honour, is by sinne so corrup∣ted, that we make the members of our bodies (which by grace and of pure loue are ingraffed in the bodie of Christ, the rich and great shepheard of our soules) the verie members of Sathan. So that of set purpose our transgression abounding, we flie from Christ the rocke and strong piller of our saluation; and run head-long to death and vtter destruction of bodie and soule. Yet like a louing God and mercifull Father, thou cal∣lest vs home againe by thy word, wherin not onlie thy mercies, but also thy terrible threats are thundered foorth against vs, for our impenitencie. But when nei∣ther Page 183 thy manifold mercies, freelie of thine abundant goodnesse offered vnto vs in Iesus Christ, can mooue nor stir vs to handfast contrition; neither yet thy ter∣rible comminations and thretnings can reclame nor call vs backe from the dangerous puddle of our sins: then thou sendest forth thy plagues and punishments; as pestilence, famine & bloudie sword, intending there∣by to driue vs to amendment of life, and to acknow∣ledge thine omnipotencie.
But when thou beholdest our true repentant harts, our sobs and sighing teares powred foorth before the throne of thy diuine Maiestie; thou withdrawest from vs the terror of thine indignation and vengeance; the rod of thy correction is laid aside; thy displeasure iust∣lie conceiued against vs for the continuall exercise of sinne, is vtterlie forgotten; and by the intercession of thy sonne Iesus Christ, that sitteth on thy right hand, in glorie permanent and euerlasting, like a louing Fa∣ther, and most mercifull God; the siluered scepter of peace is offered vnto vs, with all other thy gratious benefits; that thine anger is conuerted to clemencie; thy displeasure is turned to louing kindnesse; and in fine, thine indignation is so calmed by thine abundant grace and mercie; that like a louing and gentle Fa∣ther, thine armes are stretched foorth, ioifullie to em∣brace and receiue vs to thy fauour againe. All this I knowe to be most certaine and true. For when, or at what tune soeuer we shall appeare before the gates of mercie, and by the meanes and power of a constant and liuelie faith knocke therat; thou art redie to open vnto vs; not for anie of our deserts; but for the merits of Iesus Christ, the fulnesse of thy diuine miseration, compassion and pitie. And whensoeuer we shall call vpon thee, with lowlinesse and meekenesse of our harts and minds, bewailing wofullie our heinous offences committed against thee; thine eares are most atten∣tiue Page 184 to heare, & willinglie doest grant vs our petitions.
Wherefore, O most gratious and louing father, we come vnto thee with sorowfull and contrite harts, be∣seeching thee for the loue of thine annointed sonne Ie∣sus Christ our Messias, Sauiour, and Redeemer, to behold and looke vpon vs with the eies of compassion and pitie. And albeit we haue worthilie deserued this thy plague and punishment, yet respect thou not our deseruings, least in thy furie and indignation we be confounded & perish. Haue an eie rather to thy sonne Iesus Christ, behold his bloudie wounds, which yet are fresh and greene, and neuer stint bleeding. Thinke vpon the bitter and painefull torments that he suffe∣red for vs vpon the crosse, in whose name we beseech thee fauourablie to looke vpon our infirmities, merci∣fullie to heare our praiers and petitions offered vnto thee, and gratiouslie for the glorie of thy name sake, to take and withdrawe from vs this thy heauie rod of correction, which our sinfull liues, and contempt of thy precepts haue heaped heauilie on our neckes.
Giue vs patience to suffer whatsoeuer it shall please thee to laie vpon vs. Giue vs grace alwaie to call and crie vpon thy holie and blessed name, and faithfullie with teares to saie vnto thee continuallie: Spare vs good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy pretious bloud, neither yet good Lord be thou angrie with vs for euer. Graunt this O mercifull fa∣ther, for the loue of thy onlie sonne Iesus Christ, to whome with thee and the holie Ghost, be all honour, glorie and praise ascribed foreuer,