Page images

compassyon of theyr maysters, that they refused not to suffre the deth with them. How harde are our hertes, how stony, how flynty, if we relent not with pyte and compassyon, herynge so lamentable a complaynt of our late souerayne, and herynge him so pyteously crye, sayenge, O Domine libera animam meam, O my lorde delyver my soule! Let us help hym at the lest with our prayers, besechynge almyghty God, for his infynyte mercy, to delyver his soule and to pardon it. And, or we procede ony ferder of our psalme, let us here devoutly and affectually saye for his soule, and all crysten soules, every of us one paternoster.

The thyrde parte of this psalme entreateth, of comforte, which is conteyned in iv poyntes; fyrst that almyghty God is mercyfull; seconde, that he hath taken hym into his custody; thyrde, that he hath delyvered hym from al evylles; fourth, that hens forwarde he shall contynue in the gracious favoure of Almyghty God. For the fyrst, it foloweth Misericors dominus et justus, et deus noster miseretur; That is to saye, the Lorde is mercyfull and ryghtwyse, and our god wyll have pyte. Who is this lorde that is mercyfull and ryghtwyse? Who but our Savyour cryst Jhesu, whiche of his infynyte mercy came into this worlde to dye for synners? Christus Jesus venit in hunc mundum salvos facere peccatores. Why than sayth he Et justus, that he is ryghtwyse also; that rather sholde make agenst the synner, than for hym. Nay forsothe. The prophete and kynge Davyd brought in this worde, for

hymselfe, and not agenst hym. Two ways it maketh for the synner; one, by reason of promyse made thrugh out all scrypture, unto the penytent that wyll utterly forsak his synne. Our Lorde that is moost faste of his promyse, wyll pardon the synner soo repentynge hymselfe, and soo truly retournynge; whiche thynge saynt John playnly wytnesseth in his fyrst epystle, Si confiteamur peccata nostra, fidelis et justus est ut remittat nobis peccata nostra, et emundet nos ab omni iniquitate. That is to saye, If we wyll knowlege our synnes, the Lorde is faythfull and juste in his promyse to forgyve all our synnes, and make us clene from all wyckednes. This is one waye. An other waye also it may make, and that is this. Our Savyour Jhesu is justus, for he is innocent and gyltles; and therfore he is a convenyent means, a sufficyent vocate for us, before the face of his fader; accordynge to the wordes of the same saynt John, Si quis peccaverit, advocatum habemus apud patrem, Jesum Christum justum, et ipse est propiciatio pro peccatis, non pro nostris tantum, sed et totius mundi. That is to saye, If ony of us have synned, let us not dispayre; for we have an advocate for us before God, our Savyour, whiche is juste, and without synne; and he shall be a meane for our synnes, not for ours all onely, but for all the worlde's. Who may be thought a more convenyent vocate for synners than he that never dyd synne; than he that suffycyently hath payed for the raunsome of synne, his owne moost precyous blode and paynfull and bytter deth; than he that is the sone of Almyghty

[ocr errors]

God; and that before his owne fader? But peraventure his fader is harde, and straunge, and wyll not be moved. Nay forsothe; for rather the contrary he is full pyteous, and full redy to have mercy. And therfore it followeth, Et Deus noster miseretur, and our God wyll have pyte and mercy. For the whiche, Saynt Austyn sayth in his boke de penetentia. Quæcunque necessitas peccatorem ad penitentiam cogit, neque quantitas criminis, nec brevitas temporis, nec enormitas sceleris, nec hore extremitas, si pura fuerit voluntatis mutatio, excludit a venia. That is to saye, what necessyte soever compell the synner to repentaunce, neyther the gretnes of his synne, nor yet the shortnesse of tyme, nor the enormyte of his trespasse, ne yet the uttermost houre of his lyfe shall exclude hym from pardon, yf so be that his wyll be clearly chaunged and tourned to God. This is then one grete comforte that our late kyng and soverayne maye have, and all tho that bere hym true fayth and servyce. The seconde comforte, that he was taken into the custodye of our Lorde, foloweth in the next verse; Custodiens parvulos dominus; humiliatus sum, et liberavit me. Who that is in thraldome of synne, is in full shrewed custody; and yf he wolde be at liberte, he must do as these prysoners doo that som tyme undermyne the walles, and crepe under them out at a strayte and narowe hole. And so they escape out of the custody of prysone, and come to theyr lyberte. In lyke wyse the synner must doo; he must undermyne the stronge walles of synne by true humblynge and low

ynge of hymselfe, and make hymselfe lytell, to the entent he may crepe out at the narowe hole from the daunger of synne, and soo come unto the lyberte of grace. For the whiche our Savyour sayd, Nisi conversi fueritis, et efficiamini sicut parvuli. One lesse ye be chaunged, and be made lytell, ye can not enter to lyberte. Saynt Anthony sawe by revelacyon that all the worlde was full of snares, and he asked this questyon. Blessyd Lorde, sayd he, who shall passe these daungers? It was answered hym, Sola humilitas, Onely humbleness and lowlynesse. The kynge Achab of whome scrypture sayth that he dyde more dyspleasure unto God than all the kynges of Israhell that were before his tyme, he dyde so grete ydolatry, he slewe so many prophetes, notwithstondynge so many wonderfull tokens and myracles that were shewed unto hym, yet at the last when the prophete Hely came to hym in message, and thretened hym sore in the name of God, he began to repente hym, and to humble hymselfe in the syght of God; for the whiche, incontynent almighty God sayd unto the prophete Hely, Nonne vidisti humiliatum Achab coram me? quoniam igitur humiliatus est mei causa, non inducam malum in diebus ejus. That is to say, Dyde thou not se Achab humbled before me? I tell the for that he by cause of me dyde so humble hymselfe, I shall not doo that evyll that I purposed in his tyme to have done. O synguler goodnesse and gentylnes of almyghty God! O mervaylous redynesse of hym unto pyte and mercy! Soo soone as the synner can humble and make lytell

hymselfe, soo soone he setteth hym at liberte and taketh hym into his custodye and tuicyon. Therfore gretely we may be gretely comforted in our late kynge and soverayne, whiche soo moche humbled hymselfe before his deth; humbled hym unto God; humbled hym unto his confessour; humbled hym unto penaunce; humbled hym unto the sacrament of the auter, and to the other sacramentes; humbled hym unto the crucifyxe; and with a more humblenes and pacyence toke this sekenesse and every thynge in it, than ever he dyd before, to the mervayle of all that were aboute hym. Wherfore he now may saye to our and his comforte, Custodiens parvulos Dominus, humiliatus sum, et liberavit me, That is to saye, our Lord taketh into his custodye the lytell and humble persones, I was humbled and he set me at lyberte. The thyrde comforte is, that he is now at rest, and the myseryes of this worlde hath escaped. What is in this lyfe but myserable vanyte? So he dooth wytnesse that therof had experyence at the full, he that had moost haboundaunce of all worldly pleasures, I ment the kynge Salomon, whiche sayd, Vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas; quid habet hoc amplius de labore suo, qui laborat sub sole? that is to saye, vanyte of vanytees, and all is but vanyte! what hath ony man more of all his labour and besynes under the sonne? A my Lordes and maysters! that have this worldly wysdome, that study and enploy your wyttes to cast and compasse this world, what have ye of all this besynes at the last, but a lytell vanyte? The spyder craftely spynneth her

« PreviousContinue »