The first Chapter, Of the soules slauerie by sinne: and redemption by Christ his passion.
WHere is the hell, full of trauel, paine, mischiefe, and tor∣ment? Where is the pit of cursed∣nesse, out of which doth spring all des∣peration? Is there any hel so profound, that is sufficient to punish ye tenth part of my sinnes, which in number are so manie, that the in∣finit swarme of them so shadoweth my darkened sen∣ses, that I can not account them, neither yet well see them? And I so farre am entred among them, that I haue no power to obteine the true knowledge of the deepe dangers of them. I perfectlie feele also, that the roote of sinne is so graffed in me, that in my selfe I find none other effect, but all is, either branch, leafe, or fruit that it bringeth foorth in me.
And if I looke for better, a branch therof shadoweth mine eies: and in my mouth doth fall, when I would speake, the bitter fruit of cursed sinne. If my spirit be stirred to harken, then the noise of hir leaues stoppeth mine eares, and filleth my nostrils with the smell of Page 2 hir flowers. Behold now therefore how in paines my soule, a slaue, and prisoner without light, or comfort, li∣eth crieng and weeping, hauing hir feete bound with the chaine of concupiscence, and hir armes fast tied thorough euill vse. Who then hath power to helpe or remedie it? Not I: neither haue I power to crie for succour. And as I can perceiue, there is no helpe of hope for me, but by the speciall grace of God, which of my selfe I can not deserue, but by Christ his onelie sonne, whose brightnesse giueth light to my darknesse: whose power examining my fault, breaketh the vaile of ignorance, and giueth mee cleare vnderstanding what thing abideth in mee, where I am, and where∣fore I labour.
He it is, whom I haue offended: he it is, to whom I did obeie so seldome: wherefore it is conuenient that my pride be suppressed. With weeping hart and so∣rowfull sighs, I humblie therefore confesse that I am much lesse than nothing. Before my birth, mire; after a dunghill, hauing a bodie prompt to all euill, not wil∣ling other studie: subiect to care, sorowe and paine, short of life, the end vncertaine, and vnder sin by Adam sold, and by the lawe condemned. For of my selfe, I ne∣uer had yet the power to obserue one onelie comman∣dement of God, the force of sinne was such in me, and therefore is my sinne no whit the lesse to be hidden: and the more I cloaked and dissembled my sinne out∣wardlie, the more it increased within my hart. For what God would, that could I not will: and what hee would not, I oft times desired to performe: which thing doth constraine mee by importable sorowe, in this wearie and raging life, to wish the end of this miserable bodie, through a desired death.
Who shall he then be, that shall deliuer, or recouer anie good for me? Alas, it can be no mortall man. For his power and strength is not such as can deliuer me. Page 3 Who then? The onlie grace of the almightie GOD, who neuer is slacke to helpe the penitent with his mercie. Oh what a maister is that, which without de∣seruing will shew his mercie on sinners! I serued him slothfullie, and without ceasing offended him euerie daie: yet is he not slacke in helping me.
He doth see the euill that I haue, what and how much it is, and that I of my selfe can doo nothing that is good: but with hart & bodie so inclined I am to the contrarie, that I feele no strength in me, vnlesse it be to doo euill. Yet doth he not tarie till I humblie praie him, or that seeing my hell and damnation, I doo crie vpon him: but his spirit whurling in my hart, grea∣ter than I can declare, asketh for mee a gift, whereof the vertue is vnknowne to my little power.
And this the same vnknowne gift or whurling in my hart, doth bring mee a new desire, shewing the good that I haue lost by my sinne, and giuen me againe tho∣rough his grace and bountie, that which hath ouer∣come all sinne.
O my Lord, what grace and goodnesse is this, which doth put out so manie sinnes? Now may I see that thou art full of all godlie loue, to make me of a sinner, thy seruant and child. Alas, my God, I did not seeke thee, but fled and ran awaie from thee: and here be∣neath, thou camest downe to mee, which am nothing but a woorme of the earth all naked. What doo I saie? A woorme? Naie, woorse than a woorme, full of pride, deceit, malice, and treason. The promise which my friends made when I was baptised, is such, that I al∣waies, thorough faith in thy passion, should feele the mortification of my flesh, and dwell alwaies with thee in the crosse, where thou wast fast nailed as I beleeue, and yeelded death dead, as I also should yeeld all sinne.
This haue I oftentimes vntied, taken downe, and set at large; I haue broken, denied, and falsified my Page 4 promise, and through pride I haue lifted vp my will in such maner, that through sloth, my dutie towards thee was forgotten, and that much more is, as well the profit, or value, which I had of thee in the daie of my baptisme, as also thy sauing loue and promises fo∣lowing, I haue all alike neglected? What shall I saie more? Albeit that oftentimes thou perceiuing mee wretched, and vnhappie, hast giuen me so manie war∣nings in faith and sacraments, admonishing mee by preachings, and comforted mee by the receiuing of thy blessed bodie and sacred bloud, promising by the same to put me in the number of them that now are ador∣ned with perfect innocencie: yet haue I all these high benefits throwne into forgetfulnesse.
Oftentimes, O Lord, haue I with thee broken co∣uenant, & partlie for that my poore soule was too much fed with the euill bread or damnable doctrine of hypo∣crites, I despised such succour and ghostlie physicke in Gods word, as would haue helped mee, if I had beene willing to looke for it: yet knew I at that time no tea∣cher conuenient. For there is neither man, Saint, nor Angel, that can without thy spirit change the hart of a sinner. Alas, good Iesus, thou beholding my blind∣nesse, and that at my neede I could haue no succour of men, didst open the waie of my saluation. O how great is thy goodnesse, and how inestimable the sweetenesse which thou hast shewed therein! Is there anie father so naturall to the daughter, or brother to the sister, which would euer haue done as thou hast done? For thou camest downe into hel to succour my soule, where against thy will shee was, intending to haue perished, bicause she did not loue thee.
Alas, sweet Lord, thou hast loued hir, yea euen to the verie outshedding of thy most pretious bloud. O cha∣ritie feruent and incomparable! Nothing slacke art thou in loue, that so louedst euerie sinner, yea and also Page 5 thine enimies, not onelie in forgiuing their offences, but also in giuing thy selfe for their saluation, libertie, and deliuerance to the death, crosse, trauell, paine, and sufferance. When I cast in mind what should be the occasion of thy loue towards mee, I can see nothing else but a loue woonderfull, which moueth thee to giue me that, which I can not deserue. Then as far foorth as I can see, I ought to giue no thanks for my salua∣tion, but onlie to thee my Lord Iesu, to whom I owe the praise thereof, as to him which is my Sauior and Creator.