The third Chapter, Of the soules infidelitie or apostasie from GOD.
O My sweete Father, my child, my brother, and spouse, with hands ioined, humblie vp∣on my knees I yeeld thee thanks and prai∣ses, that it pleaseth thee to turne thy face towards me, conuerting my hart, and co∣uering me with such grace, that thou doest see no more my euils and sinnes. So well hast thou hidden them, that it seemeth thou hast put them in forgetfulnesse: yea and also they seeme to be forgotten of me, which haue done and committed them. For faith and loue so working in me, causeth me to forget them, wholie put∣ting my trust in thee alone.
Then my Father, in whome lieth vnfeigned loue, whereof can I haue feare in my hart? I confesse that I haue done all the euill that one creature can doo, and that of my selfe I am naught. Also, I haue offended thee, as did the prodigall child, following the foolish trade of the flesh, wherewith I haue prodigallie spent the substance and aboundance of goodes, which thou heere hast giuen me to vse to thy glorie: and for the mis∣pending of them, pouertie hath taken me, and hath withered me awaie, euen as haie, and yeelded my spirit dead for hunger, compelling me to eate the reliefe of swine: but in such meates I found verie little sauour. Then I seeing my life to be so miserable, did returne to thee my father againe, saieng: Alas deere father, I haue sinned against heauen, and before thee, I am therefore no more Worthie to be called thy child. But O bountifull and mercifull father, do thou no worsse to me, than to one of thy houshold seruants. Alas, deere father, what loue and zeale is this, that thou woul∣dest not tarie my comming and praier, but speedilie Page 11 stretching foorth thy hands, receiuedst me, when I did thinke thou wouldest not looke on me: and so receiuing me, in stead to haue punished me, thou didst assure me of my saluation? Where is he then that shall punish me, when my father shall denie him my sinne? There is no Iudge that can condemne me, vnlesse God himselfe will damne me: the want of goodnesse I feare not, for I haue my God for my father: my enimie shall do me no harme, for my father will take all his strength a∣waie from him. If I owe any thing, he shall paie it for me: if I haue deserued death, he as a King shall par∣don me, and deliuer me from prison and death.
But heere is the woorst, what maner of mother haue I beene? For, after that I by faith had receiued the name of a true mother, I became verie rude vnto thee my Sonne: because that after I had conceiued and brought thee foorth, I left reason, and being subiect to my will, not taking heed vnto thee, I fell asleepe, and gaue place to my great enimie, the which, in the night of ignorance, I being asleepe, did steale thee from me craftilie, and in thy place she did put hir child, which was dead, and so I did leese thee, which was a sorow∣full remorse for me. Thus did I loose thee my sonne, by mine owne fault, because I tooke no heed to keepe thee. Sensualitie my neighbour, I beeing in my beastlie sleepe, did steale thee from me, and gaue to me hir child, which had no life in him, named sinne, whome I said I would not haue, but vtterlie did forsake him.
She affirmed, that he was mine owne, but I knew him to be hirs. For as soone as I came to the light of grace, which thou hadst giuen me, then I knewe my glorie to be changed, when I saw the dead child not to be mine. For the same which was aliue, whom she had taken awaie, was my child: so apparant was the change betweene Iesus and sinne. But now heere is a strange thing, this old woman causeth me to keepe Page 12 this dead child, whome she reporteth to be mine, and so will she mainteine. O Salomon, thou true and wise Iudge, thou hast heard this lamentable processe, and ordeined to content the parties, that the child should be diuided in two parts. The false woman agreeth it should be so, but I remembring him to be mine owne sonne, which was aliue, was rather content to leese him, than to see his bodie parted in twaine. For true and perfect loue is neuer content with the one halfe of that it loueth: rather I had therefore to weepe for the whole, than to recouer the one halfe without life. Alas noble Salomon, giue her the child which is a∣liue. For better it is for me to die, than to see my sonne diuided. But my Lord, thou didst better looke to it, than I. For thou seeing the anguish that I did suffer, and how I rather did forsake my right, than to behold such cruelnesse, thou saiedst, This is the true mother, and so caused them to giue me my child againe, for whome before my hart was sorowfull.
O sweete Iesus, thus hast thou proued me, how much I loued thee: yea and when by sinne I had lost thee, yet didst thou returne vnto me. Alas, how gentlie doest thou vouchsafe to come againe to hir, which be∣ing let by sinne, could not keepe thee my sweete child, my sweete sonne, my helper, my nourisher, of whome I am an humble creature? Do not permit that euer I do leaue thee againe, for I do repent the time past.
Now come sensualitie with thy rablement of sinnes, thou hast no power to make me to receiue thy dead child. For my sonne is strong, and will defend me, he shall not permit that thou take him anie more awaie from me, his strength is greater than anie others, therefore may I sleepe and take rest neere him. For all things well considered, he shall keepe me from thine assaults. O sweete rest of the mother, and the sonne to∣gether, my sweete child, my God, onlie vnto thee be the Page 13 honour and praise, for that euerie creature may see, how it hath pleased thee to call me (lesse than no∣thing) a mother: and the more it is strange and hard to be done, the more ought thy goodnesse to haue praise for it. And further, thou hast retained me for thy sister, wherefore I acknowledge my selfe more bound, than to anie other creature.
Now I am sister vnto thee, but so naughtie a sister, that better it were for me that I were without the name, than I to forget the name of adoption in so noble a kindred, and also thy good and brotherlie beha∣uiour towards me. I with pride did rise against thee, and not remembring my faults, but going astraie from thee, did agree with Aaron my brother, being in will to giue iudgement against thy works; and folo∣wing the example of Miriam, priuilie I grudged a∣gainst thee, which thing caused me to haue remorse in my conscience. Alas right bountifull brother, and true Moses, which doest all with goodnesse and iustice, I haue esteemed thy workes to be euen sinne, being so bold to speake euen rashlie, saieng: Wherefore hast thou maried a strange woman? Thou giuest vs a law, and punishment, if we do not fulfill it, and then thou wouldest not be bound to it, forbidding vs the thing which thou thy selfe doest.
For thou forbiddest vs to kill anie man, and thou do∣est kill, and sparest none, of three thousand, which thou commandedst to be slaine. Further, God gaue vs in commandement by thee, that we should not marrie the daughter of a stranger, yet thou tookest thy wife from among them. Alas my deere brother Moses, with a great manie of these words, which I knowe to be foolish, with Aaron and Miriam, which is mine owne wit, I imbraided thee, wherof I repent. For the liuelie voice of God, rebukinglie tooke me vp before I went out of the place. What wouldest thou then of Page 14 my sinne? Thou wouldest not haue me punished, but rather wouldest my saluation and health, in asking for me this great benefit, that it might please God to mi∣tigate his iudgement, the which thing thou couldest not obtaine. Wherefore I became a Lazar, so that all that looked on mee might well saie, I had not beene wise: and for mine vncleannes and leprosie, I was put out from the tents and tabernacles, from among the people, because the sicke should not infect such as were whole. Oh what soule can haue a greater punish∣ment, than to be banished out of the companie of them which are holie in God! But what didst thou my sweet loue and brother, seeing my repentance? Thou proui∣dedst that my penance was soone at an end, and with true loue madest meanes for me, wherevpon I retur∣ned to thee. O what brother would, in stead to punish his foolish sister, so naturallie cleaue vnto hir? For in∣iurie, grudge, and great offence by hir committed, thou giuest hir grace, and loue in recompense. Alas my brother, how exceeding is this thy loue? Much more is it than brotherhoode is bound to giue, to so poore and wretched a woman as I am. I haue done thee euill, and thou giuest me good for it. I am thine, and thou saiest, thou art mine: euen so I am, and euer will. I feare no more the great foolishnesse of Aaron and Miriam, for no man may separate me from thee; and now that we are together, as brother and sister, I care little for all other, for thy land is mine inheri∣tance.
Let vs then keepe, if it please thee, but one houshold, sith it hath pleased thee to humble thy selfe so much, as to ioine thy hart with mine, in making thy selfe a liue∣lie man. I do right hartilie thanke thee, and to thanke thee as I ought, lieth not in my power. Take my mea∣ning then I praie thee, & excuse mine ignorance, seeing I am of so great a kindred as to be thy sister. O my Page 15 God, I haue good cause to loue, to praise, and to serue thee vnfeignedlie, and not to feare, nor desire anie thing saue thee onlie. Keepe me well then I humblie praie thee, for I will aske none other brother nor friend to helpe me. If anie father haue had anie pitie vpon his children; if anie mother haue taken anie care for hir sonne; if anie brother haue hid the sinne of his si∣ster, it is thou.