The seuenth Chapter, Of the trust the soule hath in the merits of hir Re∣deemer, against the dread of hell and desperation.
SIth then that death is so pleasant to me, that it pleaseth me more than it feareth me; then ought I to feare nothing, but onlie the right iudgement of GOD. My sinnes with his iust ballance shall be wei∣ed, and all that I haue done, openlie shall be shewed: my thoughts and words shall be better knowne, than they were written in a roll. Wherefore I may not thinke, that charitie would offend iustice and truth. For certaine it is, whosoeuer liueth vnfaithfullie, shall be punished in euerlasting paine. For God is iust, and his iudgement righteous, and all that he doth is per∣fect in all things. What am I then, considering mine owne righteousnesse? A wretch and poore creature.
I knowe that all the works of iust men, are so full of imperfection, that afore God, they are more filthie than mire, or other vilenesse. What will it be then, concerning the sins which I haue committed, where∣of I feele the burden importable? I can nothing else saie, but that I haue woon by them damnation. Is this the end? Shall despaire then be the comfort of my great ignorance? Alas my God, no? For the inuisi∣ble faith causeth me to beleeue, that all things, which are impossible to man, are possible vnto thee; so that thou doo conuert my worke, which is nothing, into some good worke of thine in me, which is speciallie faith. Then my Lord, who shall condemne me? Or what Iudge will damne me? Sith that thou, which art my Iudge, art also my father, my spouse, and my refuge. Alas, what father? Such as doth neuer con∣demne his child: but alwaies doth excuse and defend Page 28 him.
Then I perceiue to haue none other excuser, but Iesus Christ, which is my spouse, and my redeemer, whose death hath restored me my lost inheritance. For he made himselfe my man of lawe, shewing his so wor∣thie merits afore his father, wherewith my great debt is so aboundantlie recompensed, that in iudge∣ment it is nothing. O redeemer, here is a great loue: I find but few such men of lawe. O sweete Iesus, it is to thee that I am a debtor, yet doest thou both praie and speake for me. And moreouer, when thou doest see that I am poore, with the aboundance of thy goods thou do∣est paie my debts. O incomprehensible sea of all good∣nesse! O my deare father, doest thou vouchsafe to be my Iudge, not willing the death of a sinner? O Iesus Christ crucifier and sauiour of the soule, friend aboue all friends: thou being my man of law, didst excuse and speake for me, where thou couldst iustlie haue accused mee.
I feare no more therefore the crueltie of mine eni∣mie, for the lawe by thee is satisfied for all: the paiment is so made by my sweete spouse, that the lawe can aske nothing of me, but it is paid by him. For as I beleeue, that he hath taken all my sinnes vpon him, and hath giuen me in place of them his owne goodes in aboun∣dance: so, O my Sauiour, thou presenting thy ver∣tues, doest content the lawe. And when she will re∣proch me of my sinnes, thou doest shew hir how wil∣linglie, in thine owne flesh, thou hast taken the dis∣charge of them, through the coniunction of our mari∣age. Also vpon the Crosse, through thy passion, thou hast made satisfaction for it. Morouer, thine onlie cha∣ritie hath giuen me this, that thou hast for me deser∣ued. Therefore, seeing thy merite to be mine, the lawe can aske nothing of me. Now then will I feare no more the iudgement, but with desire, more than with Page 29 perforce, I will tarrie the time that I shall see my Iudge, and heare a iust iudgement of him.
I knowe that thy iudgement is iust, and that there is no fault therein, though mine infidelitie is woorthie to suffer the cruelnesse of hell. For if I do onlie consi∣der my deseruing, yet I can see nothing in it that can keepe me from the fire of hell. For true it is, that the torment of hell was prepared for the Diuell and his children. So if anie man haue set his minde, to be like to the Diuell, by sensuall appetite, then ought he, as the Diuell, to be paid with a like reward. But if a man through contemplation of the soule, do hold of thee, his Angell of counsell, vertue, and perfection, he is sure to obtaine heauen, which is a place of thy deseruing for him: then shall the wicked be punished, with the same punishment, which they ought to haue, to whom they haue ioined themselues. For sith they folowed Satan, they must enioie such place as is for him, and his An∣gels prepared.
Now I, considering the diuersitie of both the sorts, am little comforted in spirit by this. For I cannot de∣nie, but that I am more like the Diuell, than the An∣gell of light: wherefore I feare and tremble. For as the Angell is pure and perfect, so am I vnpure and vnperfect, and am nothing like vnto him. But thus I confesse, that to the other I am so like in my dooings, and so accustomed in his waies, that of his paine and torment I ought to be partaker. For the cruell sinne which hath bound me in hell, is so great, and his force so strong, that it letteth nothing to come from it, nei∣ther feareth it the contrarie assault. But he, whose force lieth in this kind of strength, knoweth not how his strength goeth awaie, when a stronger than he commeth in place.
I could neuer yet see, that anie man by merite, or paines taking, could euer yet vanquish that hell, saue Page 30 onlie he, which did the great assault through his vn∣speakable charitie, when he humbled himselfe to the crosse, whereby he hath vanquished and ouercome his enimie, and robbed hell of his power: so that now, it hath no more force and strength to keepe that soule, which putteth hir trust in God. Then beleeuing in the great strength that my sauiour hath, I do not set by hell and sinne. For sinne can haue no hold of me, vnles it be to shew how my God is mercifull, strong, migh∣tie, and a puissant vanquisher of all the euils within my hart. If by sinnes forgiuenesse, is the glorie of my most louing sauiour: then ought I also to beleeue, that my glorie is increased by his loue, and that I am plan∣ted and graffed in him.
His honour onlie doth honour all his, and his riches doo replenish euerie one with his goods. Then death, hell, and sinne are ouercome by him. O gluttonous hell! where is thy defence? Thou cruell villaine sinne, where is thy tyrannous power? O Death! where is thy sting, and victorie, which are so much spoken of? In¦stead of death, thou death giuest me life, and so doest thou contrarie to thy will. Also, thou sinne couetest to drawe each creature to damnation. Thou giuest me a ladder, to reach thereby that godlie Citie Ierusalem: yet wouldst thou of thy cursed nature, that mine eter∣nall maker should loose his creature: but through his loue and grace, the sorie remembrance of thine vncom∣linesse, doth cause hir by repentance againe to come, and submit hir selfe vnto God, whose inestimable good∣nesse causeth thee to loose thy whole labour, which thou takest in hand. For the number that thou pretendest to haue, thou shalt not haue, because that the comfor∣table shadowe of Christ his passion, is such a mightie protection to the soule, that he needeth neither to doubt death, sinne, nor hell. Is there anie thing then, that can pull me backe, if God be willing, through the Page 31 gift of faith to drawe me to him? I meane such a faith, as we must needes haue, to obtaine the high graces from aboue: and also such a faith, as through charitie doth ioine the humble seruant to his maker. Now I being ioined vnto him, ought to haue no feare of tra∣uell, paine, nor sorowe. For whosoeuer doth willinglie suffer anie maner of death, paine, or sorowe, for the truth, as Christ did, he shall feele in such torment, great comfort & consolation for his soule: knowing all this, I my self am weake, yet with God I am right strong.
Through his comfort I may do all things, and his loue is so constant, and permanent, that it varieth not for anie worldlie thing. Who can then withdrawe me from his grace? Surelie the great height of heauen, the depth of hell, the breadth of the whole earth, nei∣ther death, nor sinne, which dailie doth warre against me, can separate me one minute from the great loue and charitie, that my heauenlie father, through Iesus Christ, hath vnto me. His goodnesse is such, that he lo∣ueth me, which hath not all times loued him; and if I now loue hun, then shall I feele his loue increase in me. But because my loue is not a worthie loue to him, I desire his loue to be mine, which I feele such as it were mine owne: his desire is to loue, and his loue in∣flameth my hart with a heauenlie loue.
And through such loue, he findeth himselfe, that his owne deede yeeldeth him well content, and not my loue or strength: thus contenting himselfe, his loue doth more increase in me, than I can of him desire.