The monument of matrones conteining seuen seuerall lamps of virginitie, or distinct treatises; whereof the first fiue concerne praier and meditation: the other two last, precepts and examples, as the woorthie works partlie of men, partlie of women; compiled for the necessarie vse of both sexes out of the sacred Scriptures, and other approoued authors, by Thomas Bentley of Graies Inne student.
Bentley, Thomas, student of Gray's Inn., Abergavenny, Frances Nevill, Lady, d. 1576., Marguerite, Queen, consort of Henry II, King of Navarre, 1492-1549. Miroir de l'âme pécheresse. English & French., Catharine Parr, Queen, consort of Henry VIII, King of England, 1512-1548. Lamentacion of a sinner., Tyrwhit, Elizabeth, Morning and evening prayers., Catharine Parr, Queen, consort of Henry VIII, King of England, 1512-1548. Prayers or meditacions.

The eight Chapter, Of the incomprehensible loue of Christ to the sin∣full soule: and benefits that come of a true faith.

O True louer, the fountaine or welspring of all charitie, and onlie purse of the heauenlie trea∣sure! Ought I to thinke, or dare I saie what Page  32 thou art? May I write, or can anie mortall man com∣prehend thy goodnesse, or loue? And if thou print in mans hart, can he expresse it? No surelie. For the capa∣citie of man cannot comprehend the vnmeasurable goodnesses which are in thee. For naturall reason doth shew vs, how there is no comparison betweene an e∣ternall and a mortall thing: but when through loue the mortall is ioined with the eternall, the mortall thing is so filled with the eternall, that it cannot find the end thereof: for it hath more good thereby, than it can conteine or hold. Therfore doth man thinke, which hath one sparke of the loue of God, that he hath all the world therewith: euen as we see the Sunne, with one onlie sparke of his light, doth blinde the eie, and yet doth he withhold from it his great light. If then you should aske the eie, what it hath seene, he would saie, that it hath beholden the whole brightnes of the same. Neuerthelesse, he is so content, that it seemeth vnto him as though he had so much light as the Sunne conteineth, which if he had more than the said sparke, he were not able to suffer it. Euen so the soule, which through faith doth feele one sparke of the loue of God, doth finde therewith the heate so great and maruel∣lous, so sweet and delicious, that it is impossible to hit to declare what thing the same loue is. For the little thereof, that she hath felt, doth yeeld hir mind satisfied, and yet desiring more, where of she hath ynough: thus doth she liue, languishing and sighing in hir selfe.

The hart that doth feele that he hath receiued too much, hath conceiued such a desire in this too much, that he alwaies desireth to receiue the thing which he cannot haue, neither is he worthie to receiue it. He knoweth not the good that he hath alreadie to be vn∣speakable, yet would he haue more of that, where of he cannot skill: trulie he cannot feele or thinke the good which is in him. Then lieth it not in my power, to tell Page  33 what thing the loue of God is, sith I haue no know∣ledge of the feruentnesse thereof. He that thinketh to haue all this loue within his hart, can not trulie de∣clare what thing it is: happie is he therefore which hath such aboundance of this loue, that he may saie, My God, I haue ynough of it.

He which hath this loue within him, dare not much boast thereof, least in much speaking he do loose it, vn∣lesse he do it, to edifie his neighbour to saluation. The impossiblitie then of the declaration of this loue, shall make me hold my peace. For there is no sainct so per∣fect, if he will speake of the loue of the high God, of his goodnes, sweetnes, graces, and of all things else, which pertaine to him, but looking a lowe, shall find him∣selfe vnworthy, and so stop his mouth. I then, a worme of the earth, lesse than nothing, ought to cease, and not to speake of the incomparable highnesse of this loue: yet were it too much vnkindnesse to be noted in me, if I had written nothing, hauing that done vnto me, which would satisfie a much better wit than mine is. For hee that would hide the goodnesse of God, so good a mai∣ster, should commit a sin worthie to be punished with euerlasting paine.

Therefore come O happie Paule, which hast tasted so much of the same sweet honnie, beeing blind for the space of three daies, and rapt vp into the third heaven, and satisfie (I beseech thee) mine ignorance, and tell me what in such vision thou hast seene? Harken then what he saith. O the vnspeakable highnes of the aboundant riches or treasure, both of the wisdome and know∣ledge of God! How incomprehensible are his iudge∣ments, and how vnsearchable are his waies vnto our weake wits? O holie Paule, thy words cause me much to maruell, that thou hauing knowledge, and so hea∣uenlie secrets, wouldest speake no further in them. At the least yet tell thou me, what thing I may hope to Page  34 haue, throgh such godlie loue, as grace hath wrought in me; and I will giue eare vnto thy words: neither hath the eie seene, nor yet the eare heard, neither yet hath it euer entred into the hart of man, what GOD hath prepared for them that loue him. O blessed Paul, all this yet that thou hast said, is for none other pur∣pose, but to prouoke me earnestlie to loue, willing me by thy words to thinke, that thou canst none other∣wise declare of it, and so giue mine hart to patience, and hope of that thing, which neuer man yet could see, or yet deserue, although manie through loue haue died.

O excellent gift of faith, whereof so much good com∣meth, that it causeth man to possesse the things which he can not comprehend! For faith, ioined with truth, bringeth foorth hope, whereby perfect charitie is en∣gendred: and charitie is God, as witnesseth the Apo∣stle. If we haue charitie, then haue we also God there∣with, and then is God in vs, and we in him; and all this commeth of the benefit of faith. For he dwelleth in all men, which haue true faith. Thus haue we a greater treasure than we can tell of, nor yet anie man expresse vnto vs.

Now to conclude, sith that so great an Apostle, as is S. Paule, will speake no further of God, and his ine∣stimable loue; I will (according to his righteous ex∣ample and doctrine) hold my peace and be still, follow∣ing neuerthelesse his teachings. Notwithstanding, though herein I acknowledge my selfe but earth and dust, yet may I not faile to yeeld thanks to mine eter∣nall, and liuing God, for such great graces and bene∣fits, as it hath pleased him to giue me. Unto that euerlasting King of heauen, immortall, inuisible, incomprehensible, mightie and wise, onlie to him be all honour, praise, glorie, mag∣nificence and loue, for euer and euer: