The first Chapter, Of an humble confession of sinnes to the glorie of God.
WHEN I consider, in the be∣thinking of mine euil and wretched former life, mine obstinate, stonie, and vntractable heart, to haue so much exceeded in euilnesse, that it hath not onelie neglected, yea con∣temned, & despised Gods holie pre∣cepts and commandements: but also imbraced, receiued, and esteemed vaine, foolish, and feined trifles, I am partlie by the hate I owe to sinne, who hath reigned in me, and partlie by the loue I owe to all Christians, whom I am content to edifie, euen with the example of mine owne shame, forced and con∣strained with my hart and words, to confesse and de∣clare to the world, how ingrate, negligent, vnkind, and stubborne I haue beene to God my Creator: and how beneficiall, mercifull, and gentle he hath been alwaies to me his creature, being such a miserable and wret∣ched sinner.
Trulie I haue taken no little small thing vpon me, first to set foorth my whole stubbornesse, and contempt Page 38 in words, the which is incomprehensible in thought (as it is in the 12. Psalme) Who vnderstandeth his faults? Next this, to declare the excellent benefi∣cence, mercie, and goodnesse of God, which is infinite, and vnmeasurable. Neither can all the words of An∣gels, and men, make relation thereof, as apperteineth to his most high goodnesse. Who is he that is not for∣ced to confesse the same, if he consider what he hath re∣ceiued of God, & doth dailie receiue? Yea, if men would not acknowledge and confesse the same, the stones would crie it out. Trulie I am constrained and forced to speake and write thereof, to mine owne confusion and shame; but to the glorie and praise of God. For he, as a louing father, of most abundant and high good∣nesse, hath heaped vpon me innumerable benefits: and I contrarie, haue heaped manifold sinnes, despising that which was good, holie, pleasant, and acceptable in his sight, and choosing that which was delicious, pleasant, and acceptable in my sight.
And no maruell it was that I so did. For I would not learne to knowe the Lord, and his waies; but lo∣ued darknesse better than light, yea darknesse seemed to me light. I embraced ignorance, as perfect know∣ledge; and knowledge seemed to me superfluous and vaine. I regarded little Gods word, but gaue my selfe to vanities, and shadowes of the world. I forsooke him in whom is all truth; and followed the vaine foolish imaginations of my hart. I would haue couered my sinnes with the pretence of holinesse: I called super∣stition godlie meaning, and true holinesse errour. The Lord did speake manie pleasant and sweet words vnto me, and I would not heare: he called me diuerslie, but through frowardnesse I would not answere.
Mine euils and miseries be so manie, and so great, that they can accuse me euen to my face. Oh how mi∣serablie and wretchedlie am I confounded, when for Page 39 the multitude and greatnesse of my sinnes I am com∣pelled to accuse my selfe! Was it not a maruellous vnkindnesse, when God did speake to me, and also call me, that I would not answere him? What man so called would not haue heard? Or what man hearing, would not haue answered? If an earthlie Prince had spoken, either called, I suppose there be none but would willinglie haue done both. Now therefore, what a wretch and caitife am I, that when the Prince of princes, the King of kings, did speake manie pleasant and gentle words vnto me, and also called me so manie and sundrie times, that they can not be numbred: and yet, notwithstanding these great signes and tokens of loue, I would not come vnto him, but hid my selfe out of his sight, seeking manie crooked and biwaies, wher∣in I walked so long, that I had cleane lost his sight? And no maruell or woonder. For I had a blind guide called Ignorance, who dimmed so mine eies, that I could neuer perfectlie get anie sight of the faire, good∣lie, streight, and right waies of his doctrine: but con∣tinuallie trauelled vncomfortablie, in foule, wicked, crooked, and peruerse waies. Yea, and bicause they were so much haunted of manie, I could not thinke, but that I walked in the perfect and right waie, ha∣uing more regard to the number of the walkers, than to the order of the walking: beleeuing also most assu∣redly, with companie to haue walked to heauen, wher∣as I am most sure they would haue brought me down to hell.
I forsooke the spirituall honouring of the true liuing God, and worshipped visible idols, and images made of mens hands, beleeuing by them to haue gotten hea∣uen: yea, to saie the truth, I made a great idole of my selfe. For I loued my selfe better than God. And cer∣tainlie, looke how manie things are loued, or preferred in our harts before God, so manie are taken and estee∣med Page 40 for idols, and false gods. Alas, how haue I viola∣ted this holie, pure, and most high precept and com∣mandment of the loue of God? Which precept bindeth me to loue him with my whole hart, mind, force, strength and vnderstanding. And I, like vnto an euill, wicked, and disobedient child, haue giuen my will, po∣wer, and senses to the contrarie: making almost of e∣uerie earthlie and carnall thing a god.
Furthermore, the bloud of Christ was not reputed by me, sufficient for to wash me from the filth of my sinnes; neither such waies as he had appointed by his word: but I sought for such riffraffe, as the Bi∣shop of Rome hath planted in his tyrannie and king∣dome, trusting with great confidence, by the vertue and holinesse of them, to receiue full remission of my sinnes. And so I did, as much as was in me, obfuscate and darken the great benefit of Christes passion; than the which no thought can conceiue anie thing of more value. There cannot be done so great an iniurie and displeasure to almightie God our father, as to tread vnder foote Christ, his onlie begotten and welbeloued sonne. All other sinnes in the world, gathered together in one, be not so heinous, and detestable in the sight of God. And no wonder. For in Christ crucified, God doth shewe himselfe most noble and glorious, euen an al∣mightie God, and most louing father, in his onlie deare and chosen blessed sonne.
And therefore I count my selfe one of the most wic∣ked and miserable sinners in the world, bicause I haue beene so much contrarie to Christ my sauiour. Saint Paule desired to knowe nothing but Christ crucified, after he had beene rapt into the third heauen, where he heard such secrets as were not conuenient & meete to vtter to men: but counted all his works and doings as nothing, to win Christ. And I, most presumptu∣ouslie thinking nothing of Christ crucified, went about Page 41 to set foorth mine owne righteousnesse, saieng with the proud Pharisie: Good Lord I thanke thee, I am not like other men; I am none adulterer, nor fornicator: and so foorth, with such like words of vaine glorie, ex∣tolling my selfe, and despising others, working as an hired seruant for wages, or else for reward: and not as a louing child, onlie for verie loue, without respect of wages or reward, as I ought to haue done. Neither did I consider, how beneficiall a father I had, who did shew me his charitie and mercie of his owne meere grace and goodnesse, that when I was most his eni∣mie, he sent his onlie begotten and welbeloued sonne into this world of wretchednesse and miserie, to suffer most cruell and sharpe death for my redemption. But my hart was so stonie and hard, that this great bene∣fit was neuer trulie and liuelie printed in my hart, al∣though with my words it was oft rehearsed, thinking my selfe to be sufficientlie instructed in the same, and being in deede in blinde ignorance: and yet I stoode so well in mine owne iudgement and opinion, that I thought it vaine to seeke the increase of my knowledge therein.
Paule calleth Christ the wisdome of God; and euen the same Christ was to me foolishnesse. My pride and blindnesse deceiued me, and the hardnesse of my hart withstoode the groning of truth within it. Such were the fruits of my carnall and humane reasons, to haue rotten ignorance in price for ripe & seasonable know∣ledge: such also is the malice and wickednesse that possesseth the harts of men: such is the wisdome and pleasing of the flesh. I professed Christ in my baptisme, when I began to liue: but I swarued from him after baptisme, in continuance of my liuing; euen as the heathen which neuer had begun.
Christ was innocent and void of all sinne; and I wallowed in filthie sinne, and was free from no sinne. Page 42 Christ was obedient vnto his father, euen to the death of the crosse; and I disobedient and most stubborne, e∣uen to the confusion of truth. Christ was meeke and humble in hart, and I most proud and vaine-glorious. Christ despised the world, with all the vanities therof; and I make it my God, because of the vanities. Christ came to serue his brethren; and I coueted to rule ouer them. Christ despised worldlie honour; and I much delighted to attaine the same. Christ loued the base and simple things of the world; and I esteemed the most faire and pleasant things. Christ loued pouertie; and I wealth. Christ was gentle and mercifull to the poore; and I hard-harted and vngentle. Christ praied for his enimies; and I hated mine. Christ reioiced in the conuersion of sinners; and I was not greeued to see their reuersion to sinne. By this declaration, all creatures may perceiue, how far I was from Christ, and without Christ; yea how contrarie to Christ, al∣though I bare the name of a Christian. Insomuch that if anie man had said I had beene without Christ, I would haue stiffelie denied and withstoode the same: and yet in deede I neither knew Christ, nor wherefore he came.
As concerning the effect and purpose of his com∣ming, I had a certaine vaine and blind knowledge, both cold and dead, which may be had with all sinne: as doth plainelie appeare by this my confession and open declaration.