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der; yea, more proper to it. Turn over those holy leaves, which you have too much neglected, and now smart for neglecting : you shall find murderers among those, that are shut out from the presence of God: you shall find the prince of that darkness, in the highest style of his mischief, termed a man-slayer. Alas, how fearful a case is this, that you have herein resembled him, for whom Topheth was prepared of old; and, imitating him in his action, have endangered yourself to partake of his torment !
Oh, that you could but see, what you have done, what you have deserved; that your heart could bleed enough within you, for the blood your hands have shed ! that, as you have followed Satan, our common enemy, in sinning; so you could defy him, in repenting! that your tears could disappoint his hopes of your damnation! What a happy unhappiness shall this be to your sad friends, that your better part yet liveth! that, from an ignominious place, your soul is received to glory! Nothing can effect this, but your repentance : and that can do it. Fear not to look into that horror, which should attend your sin : and be now as severe to yourself, as you have been cruel to another.
Think not to extenuate your offence, with the vain titles of manhood: what praise is this, that you were a valiant murderer? Strike your own breast, as Moses did his Rock; and bring down rivers of tears, to wash away your bloodshed. Do not so much fear your judgment, as abhor your sin; yea, yourself for it: and, with strong cries, lift up your guilty hands to that God, whom you offended; and say, Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, Ó Lord.
Let me tell you : as, without repentance, there is no hope; so, with it, there is no condemnation." True penitence is strong, and can grapple with the greatest sin; yea, with all the powers of hell. What if your hands be red with blood ? behold, the blood of your Saviour shall wash away yours. If you can bathe yourself in that, your scarlet soul shall be as white as snow. This course alone shall make your cross the way to the paradise of God. This plaister can heal all the sores of the soul, if never so desperate. Only, take heed that your heart be deep enough pierced, ere you lay it on; else, under a seeming skin of dissimulation, your soul shall fester to death. Yet joy us with your true sorrow, whom you have grieved with your offence; and, at once, comfort your friends, and save your soul.
TO MR. JOHN MOLE,
OF A LONG TIME NOW PRISONER UNDER THE INQUISITION AT ROME.
E.rciting him to his wonted Constancy; and encouraging him to
Martyrdom. What passage can these lines hope to find, into that your strait and curious thraldom? Yet, who would not adventure the loss of this pains for him, which is ready to lose himself for Christ? What do we not owe to you, which have thus given yourself for the common faith? Blessed be the Name of that God, who hath singled you out for his champion, and made you invincible. How famous are your bonds ! how glorious your constancy! Oh, that out of your close obscurity, you could but see the honour of your suffering; the affections of God's Saints; and, in some, a holy envy at your distressed happiness.
Those walls cannot hide you. No man is attended with so many eyes, from earth and heaven. The Church, your Mother, beholds you; not with more compassion, than joy : neither can it be said, how she, at once, pities your misery, and rejoices in your patience. The blessed Angels look upon you with gratulation and applause: the Adversaries, with an angry sorrow, to see themselves overcome by their captive; their obstinate cruelty overmatched, with humble resolution, and faithful perseverance. Your Saviour sees you, from above; not as a mere spectator, but as a patient with you, in you, for you: yea, as an agent in your endurance and victory; giving new courage with the one hand, and holding out a crown with the other. Whom would not these sights encourage ?
Who now can pity your solitariness? The hearts of all good men are with you. Neither can that place be but full of angels, which is the continual object of so many prayers: yea, the God of Heaven was never so near you, as now you are removed from men. Let me speak a bold, but true word : It is as possible for him to be absent from his heaven, as from the prisons of his Saints. The glorified spirits, above, sing to him : the persecuted souls, below, suffer for him, and cry to him : he is magnified, in both; present, with both; the faith of the one, is as pleasing to him, as the triumph of the other.
Nothing obligeth us men so much, as smarting for us. Words of defence are worthy of thanks; but pain is esteemed above recompence. How do we kiss the wounds, which are taken for our sakes; and profess that we would hate ourselves, if we did not love those, that dare bleed for us! How much more shall the God of Mercies be sensible of your sorrows, and crown your patience! to whom, you may truly sing that ditty of the Prophet, Surely, for thy sake am I slain continually, and am counted as a sheep for the slaughter.
What need I to stir up your constancy, which hath already amazed and wearied your persecutors ? No suspicion shall drive me hereto; but rather the thirst of your praise. He, that exhorts to persist in well-doing, while he persuades, commendeth. Whither should I rather send you, than to the sight of your own Christian fortitude? which neither prayers nor threats have been able to shake. Here stand, on the one hand, liberty, promotion, pleasure, life, and, which easily exceeds all these, the dear respect of wife and children, whom your only resolution shall make widow and orphans; these, with smiles and vows and tears, seem to importune you: on the other hand, bondage, solitude, horror, death, and the most lingering of all miseries, ruin of posterity ; these, with frowns and menaces, labour to affright you: betwixt both, you have stood unmoved; fixing your eyes either right forward upon the cause of your suffering, or upwards upon the crown of your reward.
It is a happy thing, when our own actions may be either examples, or arguments of good. These blessed proceedings call you on to your perfection : the reward of good beginnings prosecuted, is doubled; neglected, is lost. How vain are those temptations, which would make you a loser of all this praise, this recompence! Go on, therefore, happily: keep your eyes where they are; and your heart cannot be, but where it is, and where it ought.
Look, still, for what you suffer ; and for whom : for the truth; for Christ.
What can be so precious as truth? Not life itself. All earthly things are not so vile to life, as life, to truth: life is momentary ; truth, eternal : life is ours; the truth, God's: O happy purchase, to give our life for the truth!
What can we suffer too much for Christ? He hath given our life to us: he hath given his own life for us. What great thing is it, if he require what he hath given us; if ours, for his ? yea, rather, if he call for what he hath lent us? yet not to bereave, but to change it; giving us gold for clay, glory for our corruption. Behold that Saviour of yours weeping, and bleeding, and dying for you: alas ! our souls are too strait for his sorrows: we can be made but pain for him; he was made sin for us : we sustain, for him, but the impotent anger of men; he struggled with the infinite wrath of his father, for us. Oh, who can endure enough for him, that hath passed through death and hell for his soul? Think this, and you shall resolve, with David, I will be yet more vile for the Lord.
The worst of the despight of men, is but death; and that, if they inflict not, a disease will; or, if not that, age. Here is no imposition of that, which would not be; but a hastening of that, which will be; a hastening, to your gain.
For, behold, their violence shall turn your necessity into virtue and profit. Nature hath made you mortal: none but an enemy can make you a martyr. You must die, though they will not: you cannot die for Christ, but by them. How could they else devise to make you happy? since the giver of both lives hath said, He, that shall lose his life for my sake, shall save it. Lo, this alone is lost with keeping, and gained by loss.
Say, you were freed, upon the safest conditions; and returning: as how welcome should that news be; more to yours, than to yourself! Perhaps, death may meet you in the way; perhaps, overtake you at home: neither place nor time can promise immunity, from the common destiny of men. Those, that may abridge your hours, cannot lengthen them; and, while they last, cannot secure them from vexation: yea, themselves shall follow you into their dust, and cannot avoid what they can inflict : deathi shall equally tyrannize by them, and over them. So, their favours are but fruitless, their malice gainful: for it shall change your prison into heaven, your fetters into a crown, your jailers to angels, your misery into glory.
Look up to your future estate, and rejoice in the present. Behold, the tree of life, the hidden manna, the sceptre of power, the morning-star, the white garment, the new name, the crown and throne of heaven, are addressed for you. Overcome, and enjoy them. O glorious condition of martyrs! whom conformity in death hath made like their Saviour in blessedness; whose honour is to attend him for ever, whom they have joyed to imitate. What are these, which are arrayed in long white robes; and whence came they? These are, says that heavenly Elder, they, which came out of great tribulation ; and washed their long robes ; and have made their robes while, in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are in the presence of the throne of God; and serve him, day and night, in his temple: and he, that sitteth on the throne, will dwell among them; and govern them; and lead them unto the lively fountains of waters; and God shall wipe all tears from their eyes.
All the elect have seals in their foreheads; but martyrs have palms in their hands. All the elect have white robes: martyrs, both white and long; white, for their glory; long, for the largeness of their glory: once, red with their own blood; now, white with the blood of the Lamb: there is nothing in our blood, but weak obedience; nothing, but merit, in the Lamb's blood. Behold, his merit makes our obedience glorious. You do but sprinkle his feet with your blood : lo, he washes your long white robes, with his. Every drop of your blood is answered with a stream of his; and every drop of his is worth rivers of ours.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints : precious, in prevention; precious, in acceptation; precious, in remuneration. Oh, give willingly that, which you cannot keep; that you may receive, what you cannot lose. The way is steep; but now you breathe, towards the top. Let not the want of some few steps lose you an eternal rest. Put to the strength of your own faith. The prayers of God's Saints shall further your pace; and that gracious hand, that sustains heaven and earth, shall uphold, and sweetly draw you up to your glory. Go on to credit the Gospel with your perseverance; and shew the false-hearted clients of that Roman-Court, that the Truth yields real and hearty professors, such as dare no less smart, than speak for her.
Without the walls of your restraint, where can you look beside encouragements of suffering? Behold, in this, how much you are happier, than your many predecessors: those have found friends, or wives, or children, the most dangerous of all tempters : suggestions of weakness, when they come masked with love, are more powerful to hurt : But you, all your many friends, in the valour of their Christian love, wish rather a blessed Martyr, than a living and prosperous Revolter. Yea, your dear wife, worthy of this honour to be the wife of a Martyr, prefers your faith, to her affection; and, in a courage beyond her sex, contemns the worst misery of your loss: professing she would redeem your life with hers; but that she would not redeem it with your yieldance: and, while she looks upon those many pawns of your chaste love, your hopeful children, wishes rather to see them fatherless, than their father unfaithful. The greatest part of your sufferings are hers : she bears them, with a cheerful resolution: she divides with you, in your sorrows, in your patience; she shall not be divided, in your glory. For us, we shall accompany you, with our prayers ; and follow you, with our thankful commemorations : vowing to write your name in red letters, in the Kalendars of our hearts; and to register it, in the monuments of perpetual records, as an example to all posterity. The memorial of the just shall be blessed.
TO ALL READERS.
Containing Rules of good Advice for our Christian and Civil Carriage, I GRANT, brevity, where it is neither obscure nor defective, is very pleasing ; even to the daintiest judgments. No marvel, therefore, if most men desire much good counsel in a narrow room: as some affect to have great personages drawn in little tablets; or, as we see worlds of countries described in the compass of small maps. Neither do I unwillingly yield to follow them: for, both the powers of good advice are the stronger, when they are thus united; and brevity makes counsel more portable for memory, and readier