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.

A meditation to be vsed after the receiuing of the holie Communion, to stirre vs vp through the consideration and knowledge of so great a benefit, to giue God thanks therefore, and to be gratefull for his goodnesse.

BLesse the Lord O my soule, and all mine entrailes laud his most holie name. Forget not O my soule the infinite mercies and continuall be∣nefits receiued of his most liberall hand; amongst the which, well maist thou reckon that which hath been this daie giuen thee, that so in∣finite Page  602 a Maiestie should vouchsafe to visite thee, to en∣ter into thy homelie habitation, and with surpassing clemencie, wholie to giue himselfe to thee in this most maruellous Sacrament.

O thou incomprehensible God, no lesse pitifull than puissant, what shall I saie, seeing the depth of thy bot∣tomlesse mercies hath vouchsafed to impart it selfe to the depth of mine vnspekable miseries! What thanks can I yeeld thee for so great kindnesse and loue, who wot right well, that if all the members and muscles of my bodie were turned into tongues, yet could I not condignelie thanke thee for the least of all thy benefits. How much lesse able shall I then be with one tongue to laud and thanke thee for this present gift, being of so great and inestimable a value?

If Elizabeth the mother of the fore-runner Saint Iohn Baptist, being visited of the most sacred virgin Marie thy mother, when she perceiued thy presence, illuminated with the holie Ghost, was so astonished thereat, as she cried out alowd, and said; Whence haue I this, that the mother of my Lord dooth come to me? How much more iustlie am I to be astonished, and to crie out; Whence haue I this, that the onlie sonne of that most blessed virgin, euen my Lord himselfe, and Lord of all Angels, heauen and earth, and of all the creatures of the world, hath visited me, entred into me, honoured me, fostered me, and filled me in this most woorthie Sacrament? Whence haue I this, that a Lord so high, so puissant, so woorthie of all worship, hath vouchsafed to come vnto mee a most wretched worme; to me the most heinous sinner of all sinners; to me that haue so manie times offended him, to me that with my lewdnesse and abhominations haue so oft banished and expelled him out of me?

Woorthilie did the holie Prophets Iob and Da∣uid, woonder at thy diuine clemencie, at what time Page  603 they said; What is man that thou so magnifiest him? What is the sonne of man that thus thou visitest him? But much greater reason haue we most wret∣ched caitifs to saie the same in these our daies; What is man that thou hast thus extolled him: as for man, to make thy selfe man, and to giue thy selfe in foode to man, wherewith he may euerie daie be visited and re∣freshed? And albeit all men may maruell at this thy diuine clemencie vsed towards man: much more yet may I maruell, which of all men am the basest and vn∣woorthiest.

If Dauid, when king Saule would haue chosen him for his sonne in lawe, reputed himselfe vnwoor∣thie, and said; What am I, or what is my life, or my fathers linage, that I should be a sonne in lawe to a king? How much more cause haue I now to saie the same; seeing the King of all kings hath admitted mee to so high a dignitie? What am I: or what is my fa∣thers offspring? What other am I, than a vessell of corruption, a sacke of doong; and filth ingendred of a most vile & stinking matter, touching my flesh, which ere long shall yeeld food to woormes: and am concer∣ning my soule all soiled with sinne, fraught with igno∣rance and forgetfulnesse, with manie mo defects, and wicked inclinations?

What other is my life than a vanitie, a puffe of wind, a smoke, and shadowe that quicklie vanisheth, a confusion and disorder, a continuall exercise of sinne and transgressions of thy commandements? Such hath my life, mine exercises, and mine inclinations beene; such also is my father Adams offspring, and all his ancient familie; sith all that descend of him are ge∣nerallie borne thus blemished, thus bent, and all like children of a traitour, as he was adiudged to suffer death.

Wherefore, O most puissant Prince, and dreadfull Page  604 King aboue all kings, thou knowing me and my life to haue been such, & much woorse than I either knowe or can imagine, hast vouchsafed to receiue me; not for a sonne in lawe, but for thine owne child, and as a yoon∣ger one right tenderlie beloued. For such are fathers accustomed most of all to cherish; as now thou hast cherished and fed me with this Angels bread, wherein is found all sauour, and all diuine delight.

S. Luke reporteth, how one of those ghests, that were at table with thee in a prince of the Pharisies house, should saie; Blessed are those that shall eate the bread of life in the kingdome of heauen: but much more happie am I, if I can knowe it, and gather fruit out of it, which in this life rate the bread, wherein is the selfe-same God spirituallie by faith conteined; and therewith receiue a pledge to eate him in his euerla∣sting kingdome. Happie eke are all those that shall dis∣pose themselues to repaire to this most gratious ban∣ket, wherein are found all sweet tasts and sauours, all riches and renowme, and all the things that happilie be to be desired.

Yea, what is it that man may long for, that is not here offered him? If he desire delights and pleasures; here be the sincerest, the choisest, & the sweetest. If he wish for wealth; behold here the treasure that inrich∣eth both heauen and earth. If state and souereigntie be sought for, behold here the highest dignities that can be possiblie atchieued. Sith by meanes of this most venerable sacrament the soule is vnited to God, and resteth associated, and reuerenced with quires of Angels that assist about it.

Wherefore, O ye blind beguiled children of Adam, what other pleasure & profit doo you prowle for? Why doo you (as Esaie saith) spend your monie; and not vp∣on bread? Why imploie you your trauell. and not in this that may satiate and content you? Why loose you Page  605 such satietie, such sweetnesse, and such treasure, as is here conteined in this gift? Doo not thou so, O my soule, doo not thou so; be not thou henceforth anie more blind; see thou seeke not anie carnall contentations, hauing meanes to be a partaker of this meere spiri∣tuall and celestiall delight.

Take no more taste and pleasure in the food of death (whereof thou earst didst feed) hauing this bread of life giuen and granted vnto thee. Regard not the pomps, and most vaine vanities of this world; seeing thou maiest enioie in this Sacrament the true happinesse, and good things, which in the world cannot possiblie be atteined. Imbrace and keepe this treasure, which sufficeth to make thee trulie happie; possesse this good, which exceedeth all good; content and quiet thy selfe in this repose, which may abundantlie satiate thy desire: and be not ingratefull to this thy benefactor; but yeeld him hartie thanks, as well for this, as all other bene∣fits heretofore, from the beginning bestowed vpon thee.

Howbeit, my gratious and mercifull Lord, how can I yeeld thee woorthie thanks; the debt I owe thee be∣ing so great, and mine abilitie to discharge the same so small? With all my hart, and with all my might, and power, I thanke thine infinite liberalitie, for hauing created me to thine owne likenesse and similitude, and for hauing for my conseruation created likewise so great varietie of other creatures: and much more doo I laud & blesse thee, for that with thy pretious death and bloud-shed thou hast redeemed me: ye a O Lord & now I doo with all my bowels and powers of my body & soule thanke thee, blesse thee, & adore thee, for hauing left vs this he auenlie and most woorthie Sacrament; and for giuing me miserable wretch, the grace eftsoons to receiue it, that eftsoones I may thereby be made partaker of the fruit of thy redemption.

Page  606 And bicause these my thanks and praises be slender, weake, and vnwoorthie of such gifts as I haue recei∣ued: I beseech thy sweet sonne Iesus Christ, to supplie my want. Here vouchsafe to sound perpetuall peales of praises for me; euerlastinglie to adore thee for mee: to reuerence thee for me, and to offer the continuall sa∣crifice of thanks-giuing for me. And yet for that, all that I can doo is finite, & is not correspondent to the value of the benefit I haue this daie receiued, being infinite. Those most holie and gratefull thanks, which thou Lord Iesu gauest to thy Father, minding to grant vs this so inestunable a gift, euen those same, which are infinite, doo I offer both to him and thee to∣gether. For verelie beleeue I, that for this cause didst thou yeeld them; that so incomparable a gift should not be destitute of condigne graces, and thanks. And now doo I humblie beseech thee, of thy most bonntifull clemencie, that seeing it hath pleased thee to satiate and honour me with thy most worthie presence in this venerable and redoubted Sacrament; thou wilt also vouchsafe to grant me thy grace to be alwaies grate∣full, and to answere woorthilie to this most happie vi∣sitation.

This hath alwaies beene thy woont, my Sauiour and Redeemer; that where through thy goodnes thou hast vouchsafed to enter, there hast thou departed of thy blessings most abundantlie; heaping grace vpon grace; and mercie vpon mercie. Thou enteredst into Matthew the Publicans house; and from a Publi∣can thou madest him thy Disciple, & an Apostle. Thou enteredst into Zacheus house; when by and by he was changed from his old custome: and health was giuen to all his houshold. Thou enteredst into Sunon Pe∣ters house, & drauest awaie the ague from his wiues mother; leauing hir whole and comforted. Eft soones didst thou enter into Martha & good Marie Magda∣lens Page  607 house; and what tongue can tell the spirituall ri∣ches thou gauest to that house; and the ineffable gra∣ces thou endowedst those two sisters with▪ Finallie, the figure of this Sacrament, to wit, the arke of the old Testament, because it entred into Obed Edoms house, was cause that thy blessings were powred vpon him, and all his, paieng plentifullie for the harborough that in that house was offered thee.

Wherefore, O most sweet and welcome ghest, see∣ing through thy goodnesse thou hast vouchsafed this daie to enter into my poore cottage, send downe with∣all thy holie blessings thereon; by meanes whereof, I may woorthilie answer vnto this thine incomparable mercie. Cleanse and fine this house, Lord, from all the filth thou seest in it. Repaire and doo some cost on it, least it decaie and fall to ruine; driue out the darke∣nesse in it, with the glistering beames of thy light; a∣dorne and decke it vp with the vertues and graces of the holie Ghost; that being thus cleansed, repaired, adorned, and illuminated, it may please thee to dwell therein, and neuer to depart. Tarrie still with me, O Lord, my comforter; the night draweth nigh, & with∣out thee shall I remaine in darkenesse, and so be sore endangered. O therefore, I saie, tarrie thou still with me, and depart not from this lodging. Thou hast affir∣med, O eternall truth, how thy whole delight is to dwell with the children of men, and how thou standest knocking at the doore, ready to euter and sup with such as shall open, and let thee in. Behold how I haue gi∣uen thee free entrance into me; and thou of thy good∣nesse hast admitted me to the sweet supper of thy most sacred bodie. Abandon me not therfore my souereigne Lord, ne depart thou from me; drawe me after thee; knit and tie me fast to thee; yea drawe me quite out of my selfe, sith I am much better in thee, than in me. In thee I liue, in me I die; in thee I remaine firme and Page  608 constant, in me I decaie and come to naught.

Renew me therefore, O my sanctifier, and through loue transforme me into thee, & grant me so to liue in thee, as that I onlie liue to thee, I onlie loue thee, I onlie delight in thee, that thou be mine onlie ioie, mine onlie comfort, mine onlie foode, wherewith my soule may in such sort be refreshed, as that all other meats seeme loathsome and vnsauorie to it. This onlie haue I chosen, this onlie shall suffice me, with this alone will I liue contented, satisfied, and happie; vntill the desired daie come, when I shall feed of thee in another forme, and enioie thee continuallie in the companie of all the elect and blessed Saincts of the celestiall court, where with the Father and the holie Ghost, thou liuest and reig∣nest euerlastinglie,

Amen.