A forme of meditation and praier, verie meete to be vsed dailie of all honsholders in their houses, especiallie in the dangerous and contagious time of the plague.
The Maister & Mistres kneeling with their familie, in some conuenient place of their house well perfumed before with frankincense, or some other wholesome thing; as iuniper, rosemarie, rosewater, and vineger, &c. shall with feruent harts saie, or cause to be said that that followeth. The seruants and familie to euerie petition shall saie Amen.
WE reade in thy holie word, O Lord, what blessings thou hast of thy mercie promised to them that liue obedientlie, according to thy blessed will and commandements. Wee reade also the cursses that thy in∣stice hath pronounced against such as despise thy word, or negligentlie passe not to liue thereafter. And among the rest of thy heauie cursses, thou threatenest by name, the plague and the pestilence, with other noisome and most pain∣full diseases, to such as forsaking thee, worship strange gods, and followe their owne vaine fantasies, in stead of thy sacred ordinances.
We find also, how extreamelie thine owne people, the Iewes, haue oftentimes fealt the performance of Page 483 these thy bitter threatenings, and that for sundrie and diuers offences: bicause they loathed Manna, and were not contented with thy miraculous prouision; but would haue Qualies, and other daintie victuals, to content their luxurious appetites, thou slewest so manie with a sudden and mightie plague, that the place of their buriall was named thereof, and called The graues of lust.
Also, for murmuring against the ministers of thy word, Moses and Aaron, thou destroiedst with a sud∣den plague xiiij. thousand and more; besides those traitors, whom the earth swallowed for their rebelli∣on. And had not Aaron intreated for them, and gone betweene the quicke and the dead, thou wouldest haue consumed them all; as thou wast minded to haue done before, when they despised the plentifull land, which thou hadst promised them; had not Moses staied thy wrath, when thou saiedst, I will strike them with the pe∣stilence, and vtterlie destroie them.
Furthermore, when they had lost thine Ark, through their owne sinnes, and the sinnes of their priests, the keepers therof, after that the Philistines were forced, through thy plaguing hand, religiously to send it home againe; thou strookest with the plague fiftie thousand of the Beth-samites thy people, for rashlie presu∣ming to looke into the same, not hauing thy warrant so to doo.
In the time of King Dauid thou destroiedst three score and ten thousand of thy people, in three daies, with thy wasting plague of pestilence; mooued there∣to by the transgression of Dauid the King, whom for the sinnes of the people thou sufferedst to be tempted, and subdued with a vaine curiositie to number the people.
Also, shortlie after the death of that immaculate Lambe our Sauiour, thou sufferedst the plague to Page 448 reigne among the members of his bodie, the Church of the Corinthians; for not worthilie preparing them∣selues, and for misvsing the Sacrament of the bodie and bloud of our Sauiour Iesus Christ: and manie died thereof, as thine holie Apostle Saint Paule hath taught vs.
Since which time, O Lord, as the Monuments of thy Church, and other Chronicles doo declare, thou hast from time to time so plagued with pestilence, not onelie cities, but also whole countries for these and other like causes, that we may iustlie looke for the com∣ming of our Sauiour; so manie and so horrible pesti∣lences haue beene among vs alreadie.
All which causes, O Lord, for the which thou hast so afflicted thy people, are through the malice of Satan, and our wilfull consenting vnto him, growne so ripe in vs; that were it not for the exceeding greatnes of thy mercie and compassion, we should all presentlie perish, and that woorthilie; so horrible and outragious are our iniquities.
For we loath, not onelie the plentifull prouision of wholesome victuals and apparell, which thou hast gi∣uen vs for our bodies, more abundantlie than to ma∣nie nations; trauelling by all meanes to get where∣with to pamper our flesh with wines, spices, silks, and other vaine, costlie, and delighting things: but the pre∣tious Manna of our soules, thy holie word and Sa∣craments, we can not awaie with; we are so full, that we are glutted therewith.
We so little esteeme the heauenlie kingdome, which our Sauiour hath so deerlie prepared, and kindlie pro∣mised to vs; that we abhor it, and are readie to stone those few that commend it, and exhort vs for our owne good to trauell thitherward: better liking and credi∣ting those false prophets the Epicures, and Atheists, that with their lies discourage vs therefrom.
Page 485 What murmuring and grudging make we against the ministers of thy word, which thou of thine especi∣all goodnesse hast in mercie giuen vs? How despise wee our bishops, preachers, and other ministers of thy ho∣lie Sacraments, whom thou hast commanded vs to reuerence and honour?
Did not we, through our wicked liues, wretchedlie leese the Arke of thy holie word, and the true ministra∣tion of Sacraments, not manie yeeres agone, which the popish Philistines tooke from vs? And now, when thou through thy plagues laid vpon them hast mira∣culouslie sent it againe; see how hold we be with the Beth-samites, vnreuerentlie to receiue it. For manie make of it a gazing-stocke, to serue their eies and tongues; rather than a lawe, to obeie and followe in their liues.
Yea, the knowledge of thy truth, goodnesse, and mer∣cie, breedeth in manie of vs a carelesse securitie, and a contempt of thy holie ordinances. For we presume vp∣on thy mercie and promises; not regarding the condi∣tions, nor anie of thy commandements, which in our baptisme we vowed to obserue. Yea, we make thy Gos∣pell a cloke of our couetousnesse, vnder colour whereof we seeke our owne lucre, and hide all our wicked and filthie practises.
If the Corinthians deserued to be plagued for abu∣sing thy holie Sacraments, how much more are wee woorthie of fierce wrath, that not onelie abuse it; but also abhor & contemne it: bicause it is ministred as it ought? For thou knowest, O Lord, what a sort there are, which bewitched with the diuell, and the Popes doctrine, doo vtterlie abhor Christs holie communion; and sauing for feare of the lawe, would neuer come at it. In what sort these receiue, and how they be prepa∣red, is not vnknowne vnto thee. How rashlie also, and vnaduisedlie, and vnprepared the common multitude Page 486 doo frequent it; partlie appeareth, in that manie of them neuer forgiue old offences, nor reconcile them∣selues, nor in anie thing doo amend their old sinnes and vices.
Seeing then that we, Lord, the common sort and multitude doo thus abound in all kind of wickednesse; how can it be, but that thou of thy iustice, must suffer our magistrates to offend also in somewhat, to the end thou maist iustlie take vengeance of our sinnes?
For these manifold heapes of sinnes and wicked∣nesses, O Lord, thou hast iustlie at this present sent this dangerous pestilence among vs; as thou hast of∣ten and long time threatened by the mouthes of thy faithfull preachers, who continuallie haue called vpon vs, to staie thy wrath, by earnest repentance & amen∣dement of life: but we haue alwaies beene deafer and deafer. The delight in our sinnes not onlie stopped our eares, but also hardened our harts against their har∣tie and friendlie admonitions. And in that we now, O Lord, doo begin to feele and acknowledge our sinnes; it commeth more of thy rigour in plaguing vs, than of anie good inclination of our selues. Mollifie therefore, O Lord, our flintie harts, with the suppling moisture of thy holie spirit. Make vs to reuerence thee, as chil∣dren, for loue of thy mercies; and not to dread thee like slaues, for feare of punishment.
O deere Father, reclaime vs thy lost children. O mercifull Sauiour, pitie vs thy pu∣trified members. O holie Ghost, repaire vs thy de∣caied temples. O holie and glorious Trinitie, haue mercie vpon vs miserable sinners.
Grant vs, O Lord, such true repentance, as may, through the bloud of our Sauiour, blot out the staines of our heinous iniquities. Forgiue vs our Page 487 sinnes, O Lord; forgiue vs our sinnes, for thine infi∣nite mercies sake.
Forgiue vs our blasphemies, idolatries, and periuries. Forget our vaine and outragious oths. As thou hast by thy rigour and plagues, forced vs to ac∣knowledge thee, to be our iust and righteous Lord: so let vs, through thy mercie and forgiuenesse, feele thee to be our mild & louing Father, and giue vs grace for euer hereafter to reuerence this thy glorious name.
Take from vs, O God, the care of worldlie vanities. Make vs content with necessaries. Plucke awaie our harts from delighting in honours, trea∣sures, and pleasures of this life. And ingender in vs a desire to be with thee in thine eternall kingdome. Giue vs, O Lord, such taste and feeling of thine vnspeake a∣ble ioies in heauen, that we may alwaie long therfore, saieng with thine elect; Hasten thy kingdome, O Lord; take vs to thee.
Make vs, O Lord, obedient to thy will re∣uealed in thy holie word. Make vs diligent to walke in thy commandements. Forgiue vs our contempt and murmuring against the magistrates and mini∣sters, whom thou hast in thy mercie appointed: make vs obedient vnto their godlie lawes & doctrine. Saue and preserue, O Lord, thine annointed our QVEENE ELIZABETH: that she, in thy grace and feare, may long reigne amongst vs. Giue peace to all Christian nations. Mooue vs by thy spirit to loue one another, as the members of our bodie; that we may all doo thy will in earth, as it is in heauen.
Dig out of vs, O Lord, the venemous roots of couetousnesse and concupiscence; or else so represse Page 488 them with thy grace, that we may be contented with thy prouision of necessaries: and not to labour, as we doo, with toile, strength, guile, wrong, and oppression to pamper our selues with vaine superfluities. Feed our soules, O Lord, dailie with the true Manna of thy heauenlie word, and with the grace of thy holie Sa∣craments. Giue vs grace continuallie to read, heare, and meditate thy purposes, iudgments, promises, and precepts; not to the end we may curiouslie argue therof, or arrogantlie presume thervpon; but to frame our liues according to thy will, that by keeping thy co∣uenants, we may be sure of thy promises: and so make our election and vocation certaine, through our con∣stant faith, vertuous and godlie liuing.
Confirme vs, O Lord, to the image of our Sauiour. So lighten the lamps of our harts with the fire and burning flames of thy loue, that no enuie, rancor, hatred, or malice doo remaine in vs, to quench it: but that we may gladlie forgiue, whatsoeuer wrong is, or shall be, either maliciouslie or ignorantlie done or said against vs. And here, Lord, in thy presence; for thy Maiestie is euerie where; we forgiue whatsoeuer hath beene, by anie man or woman practised against vs: beseeching thèe, of thy goodnesse likewise to forgiue it. And further, for thy mercies sake; and for our Sa∣uiour Iesus Christs sake, we beseech thee, O deere Fa∣ther, to forgiue vs these horrible and damnable sinnes, which we haue committed against thy Maiestie; for which thou hast now iustlie brought the pestilence and plague vpon vs. Let the ceasing thereof, we beseech thee, certifie vs of thy mercie and remission.
We knowe, O Lord, the weakenesse of our selues; and how readie we are to fall from thee. Suf∣fer not therfore Satan to shew his power and malice Page 489 vpon vs. For we are not able to withstand his assalts. Arme vs, O Lord, alwaies with thy grace; and assist vs with thy holie spirit in all kinds of temptations.
Deliuer vs, O deere father, from all euils, both bodilie and ghostlie. Deliuer, O Lord, from trouble of conscience, all that are snarled in their sins. Deliuer, O Lord, from feare of persecution and tyran∣nie, our brethren and sisters, that are vnder the crosse for profession of thy word. Deliuer, O mercifull father, those that for our sinnes and offences, are alreadie tor∣mented with the rage of pestilence. Recouer those, O Lord, that are alreadie striken; and saue the rest of my houshold, and else-where, from this greeuous infection.
Finallie, O Lord God, which for our innu∣merable sinnes, dooest heere fatherlie correct vs, to the end we should not feele the rigour of thy seueare iudge∣ment, in eternall condemnation: we humblie submit our selues vnto thy grace and pitie; beseeching thee, for our Lord Iesus Christes sake, that although we haue iustlie deserued this plague now laid vpon vs; yet it may please thee, in the multitude of thy mercies, to withdrawe thy rod from vs. Grant, O Lord, true repentance of our sinnes, which (as it did in that good King Ezekias) may deliuer vs from the plague laid vp∣on vs; and cause those that be sicke heere in my house, or otherwhere, to recouer. Or, if thou haue determined to take a number of vs out of the miseries of this pre∣sent euill world, giue vs the comfort of thy holie spirit, that may make vs glad, and willing to come vnto thee. Giue vs grace, O Lord, so to prepare our selues, that we may be readie with the wise virgins, to enter into life with our sauiour Christ, whensoeuer it shall please thee to call vs.
Grant this, O deere father, for Iesus Chri∣stes sake, our onlie Mediator, Aduocate, Lord, Redee∣mer, and Sauiour; to whome, with thee, and the ho∣lie Ghost, be all honor and glorie, world without end: and in whose name we, altogether, with one hart and voice, crie furthermore, and praie vnto thee, as he in his holie word hath taught vs, saieng:
Our Father, &c.