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Book 1; Homily 9

Homily 1.9, Against Fear of Death Book 1; Homily 9

Homilies Appointed to Be Read in Churches

Former Book, Homily ix.


AN EXHORTATION

AGAINST THE FEAR OF DEATH.

The First Part. The Christian is the Very Inheritor

of the Everlasting Kingdom of Heaven.

I

The Christian is the Very Inheritor of the Everlasting Kingdom of Heaven.

Fear not the second death.

Every faithful person conceiveth the manifold benefits.

Death was slain by Christ.

Then shall we also appear with him in glory.

They Have Great Cause to Be Full of Joy that Be Joined to Christ.

The first cause why some do fear death is that they shall lose all their heart's desires.

Death shall join us unto God more perfectly.

A pilgrimage in a strange country.

God's great mercy.

The second cause why some do fear death is sore sickness and grievous pains.

The correcting rod.

To correct our sin or to make us holy.

The Third Cause Why Some Do Fear Death is the Dread of the Miserable State of Eternal Damnation Both of Body and Soul.

Our rich inheritance.

See the glory of God.

Sow in the Spirit.

This painful life or the blessed life to come.

T is not to be marvelled that worldly men do fear to die. For death depriveth them of all worldly honours, riches, and possessions in the fruition whereof the worldly man counteth himself happy so long as he may enjoy them at his own pleasure. And otherwise, if he be dispossessed of the same without hope of recovery, then he can no otherwise think of himself but that he is unhappy because he hath lost his worldly joy and pleasure. Alas thinketh this carnal man, "Shall I now depart forever from all my honours, all my treasure, from my country, friends, riches, possessions, and worldly pleasures which are my joy and heart's delight? Alas, that ever that day should come, when all these I must bid farewell at once and never enjoy any of them after." Wherefore it is not without great cause spoken of the Wise Man, "O death, how bitter and sour is the remembrance of thee to a man that liveth in peace and prosperity in his substance; to a man living at ease, leading his life after his own mind without trouble, and is therewithal well pampered and fed" (Ecclesiasticus 12.1)?

Fear not the second death.

There be other men whom this world doth not so greatly laugh upon, but rather vex and oppress with poverty, sickness, or some other adversity. Yet they do fear death, partly because the flesh abhorreth naturally its own sorrowful dissolution which death doth threaten to them; and partly by reason of sicknesses and painful diseases, which be most strong pangs and agonies in the flesh, and use commonly to come to sick men before death, or at the least accompany death, whensoever it cometh. Although these two causes seem great and weighty to a worldly man, whereupon he is moved to fear death, yet there is another cause much greater than any of these afore rehearsed for which indeed he hath just cause to fear death, and that is the state and condition whereunto at the last end death bringeth all them that have their hearts fixed upon this world without repentance and amendment. This state and condition is called the second death, which unto all such shall ensue after this bodily death. And this is that death which indeed ought to be dreaded and feared, for it is an everlasting loss without remedy of the grace and favour of God and of everlasting joy, pleasure, and felicity. And it is not only the loss for ever of all these eternal pleasures, but also it is the condemnation both of the body and soul without either appellation or hope of redemption unto everlasting pains in hell.

Unto this state death sent the unmerciful and ungodly rich man that Luke speaketh of in his Gospel, who, living in all wealth and pleasure in this world and cherishing himself daily with dainty fare and gorgeous apparel, despised poor Lazarus that lay pitiful at his gate, miserably plagued and full of sores, and also grievously pined with. Both these two were arrested by death which sent Lazarus, the poor miserable man, by angels anon unto Abraham's bosom, a place of rest, pleasure, and consolation; but the unmerciful rich man descended down into hell, and being in torments he cried for comfort, complaining of the intolerable pain that he suffered in that flame of fire, but it was too late hunger (Luke 16.19-31).

So unto this place bodily, death sendeth all them that in this world have their joy and felicity, all them that in this world be unfaithful unto God and uncharitable unto their neighbours, so dying without repentance and hope of God's mercy. Wherefore it is no marvel that the worldly man feareth death, for he hath much more cause so to do than he himself doth consider. Thus we see three causes why worldly men fear death: (1) one, because they shall lose thereby their worldly honours, riches, possessions, and all their heart's desires; (2) another, because of the painful diseases and bitter pangs, which commonly men suffer, either before or at the time of death; (3) but the chief cause above all other is the dread of the miserable state of eternal damnation both of body and soul, which they fear shall follow after their departing from the worldly pleasures of this present life. For these causes be all mortal men which be given to the love of this world, both in fear and state of death through sin as the holy apostle saith, so long as they live here in this world (Hebrews 2.15).

Every faithful person conceiveth the manifold benefits.

But, everlasting thanks be to Almighty God for ever, there is never a one of all these causes, no, nor yet they all together, that can make a true Christian man afraid to die who is the very member of Christ, the temple of the Holy Ghost, the son of God and the very inheritor of the everlasting kingdom of heaven(1 Corinthians 3.16). But plainly contrary he conceiveth great and many causes, undoubtedly grounded upon the infallible and everlasting truth of the word of God, which move him not only to put away the fear of bodily death, but also for the manifold benefits and singular commodities which ensue unto every faithful person by reason of the same to wish, desire, and long heartily for it.

For death shall be to him no death at all, but a very deliverance from death from all pains, cares, and sorrows, miseries, and wretchedness of this world; and the very entry into rest; and a beginning of everlasting joy; a tasting of heavenly pleasures so great that neither tongue is able to express, neither eye to see, nor ear to hear them, no, nor any earthly man's heart to conceive them (1 Corinthians 2.9). So exceeding great benefits they be which God our heavenly Father by his mere mercy and for the love of his Son Jesus Christ, hath laid up in store and prepared for them that humbly submit themselves to God's will and evermore unfeignedly love him from the bottom of their hearts.

Death was slain by Christ.

And we ought to believe that death, being slain by Christ, cannot keep any man that steadfastly trusteth in Christ under his perpetual tyranny and subjection, but that he shall rise from death again unto glory at the last day, appointed by Almighty God, like as Christ our Head did rise again according to God's appointment, the third day. For St. Augustin saith, "The Head going before, the members trust to follow and come after" (Augustin. in Enarrat. in Psal. lxv, § x; Opp. iv, 640 e.).

And St. Paul saith, "If Christ be risen from the dead, we shall rise also from the same" (1 Corinthians 15.20-23). And to comfort all Christian persons herein, holy scripture calleth this bodily death a sleep wherein man's senses be, as it were, taken from him for a season, and yet when he awaketh he is more fresh than he was when he went to bed (John 11.11, 13; Acts 12.60; I Thessalonians 4.13-18). So although we have our souls separated from our bodies for a season, yet at the general resurrection we shall be more fresh, beautiful, and perfect than we be now. For now we be mortal, then shall we be immortal; now infected with divers infirmities, then clearly void of all mortal infirmities; now we be subject to all carnal desires, then we shall be all spiritual, desiring nothing but God's glory and things eternal.

Thus is this bodily death a door or entering unto life and therefore not so much dreadful, if it be rightly considered as it is comfortable; not a mischief, but a remedy for all mischief; no enemy, but a friend; not a cruel tyrant, but a gentle guide; leading us not to mortality, but to immortality; not to sorrow and pain, but to joy and pleasure and that to endure for ever, if it be thankfully taken and accepted as God's messenger and patiently borne of us for Christ's love that suffered most painful death for our love to redeem us from death eternal.

Then shall we also appear with him in glory.

According hereunto St. Paul saith, "Our life is hid with Christ in God; but when our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory" (Colossians 3.3-4). Why then shall we fear to die, considering the manifold and comfortable promises of the Gospel and of holy scriptures? God the Father "hath given us everlasting life", saith St. John "and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life. And this I write," saith St. John "to you that believe in the name of the Son of God that ye may know that ye have everlasting life, and that ye do believe upon the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5.11-14).

And our Saviour Christ saith, "He that believeth in me hath life everlasting, and I will raise him from death to life at the last day" (John 6.40). St. Paul also saith that Christ is ordained and made of God our righteousness, our holiness and redemption to the intent that he which will glory should glory in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1.30-31). St. Paul did contemn and set little by all other things, esteeming them as dung which before he had in very great price, that he might be found in Christ to have everlasting life, true holiness, righteousness, and redemption (Philippians 3.7-11).

Finally, St. Paul maketh a plain argument in this wise: if our heavenly Father would not spare his own natural Son but did give him to death for us, how can it be that with him he should not give us all things (Romans 8.32)? Therefore if we have Christ, then have we with him and by him all good things whatsoever we can in our hearts wish or desire, as victory over death, sin, and hell (1 Corinthians 16.49-57). We have the favour of God, peace with him, holiness, wisdom, justice, power, life, and redemption; we have by him perpetual health, wealth, joy, and bliss everlasting.


THE SECOND PART OF THE SERMON

AGAINST FEAR OF DEATH.

They Have Great Cause to Be Full of Joy that Be Joined to Christ.

I

t hath been heretofore shown you, that there be three causes, wherefore men do commonly fear death. First, the sorrowful departing from worldly goods and pleasures. The second, the fear of the pangs and pains that come with death. The last and principal cause is, the horrible fear of extreme misery and perpetual damnation in time to come. And yet none of these three causes troubleth good men because they stay themselves by true faith, perfect charity, and sure hope of the endless joy and bliss everlasting. All those therefore have great cause to be full of joy that be joined to Christ with true faith, steadfast hope, and perfect charity — and not to fear death nor everlasting damnation.

The first cause why some do fear death is that they shall lose all their heart's desires.

For death cannot deprive them of Jesus Christ, nor can any sin condemn them that are grafted surely in him which is their only joy, treasure, and life (Romans 8.1). Let us repent of our sins, amend our lives, trust in his mercy and satisfaction, and death can neither take him from us, nor us from him. For then, as St. Paul saith, whether we live or die, we be the Lord's own. And again he saith, Christ did die and rose again because he should be Lord both of the dead and quick (Romans 14.8-9).

Death shall join us unto God more perfectly.

Then, if we be the Lord's own when we be dead, it must needs follow that such temporal death not only cannot harm us, but also that it shall be much to our profit and join us unto God more perfectly. And thereof the Christian heart may surely be certified by the infallible or undeceivable truth of holy scripture. "It is God", saith St. Paul "which hath prepared us unto immortality, and the same is he which hath given us an earnest of the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 5.5-8).

Therefore let us be always of good comfort, for we know that so long as we be in the body, we be as it were far from God in a strange country, subject to many perils, walking without perfect sight and knowledge of Almighty God, only seeing him by faith in holy scriptures. But we have a courage and desire rather to be at home with God and our Saviour Christ, far from the body where we may behold his Godhead as he is, face to face, to our everlasting comfort (1 John 3.2; 1 Corinthians 13.12).

A pilgrimage in a strange country.

These be St. Paul's words in effect, whereby we may perceive that the life in this world is resembled and likened to a pilgrimage in a strange country, far from God, and that death, delivering us from our bodies, doth send us straight home into our own country and maketh us to dwell presently with God for ever in everlasting rest and quietness. So that to die is no loss but profit and winning to all true Christian people.

What lost the thief that hanged on the cross with Christ by his bodily death? Yea, how much did he gain by it! Did not our Saviour say unto him, "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23.43)? And Lazarus, that pitiful person that lay before the rich man's gate, pained with sores and pined with hunger: did not death highly profit and promote him, which by the ministry of angels sent him unto Abraham's bosom, a place of rest, joy, and heavenly consolation (Luke 16.19-31)? Let us think none other, good Christian people, but Christ hath prepared and made ready before the same joy and felicity for us that he prepared for Lazarus and the thief.

God's great mercy.

Wherefore, let us stick unto his salvation and gracious redemption and believe his word, serve him from our hearts, love and obey him; and whatsoever we have done heretofore contrary to his most holy will, now let us repent in time and hereafter study to correct our life. And doubt not but we shall find him as merciful unto us as he was either to Lazarus or to the thief, whose examples are written in holy scripture for the comfort of them that be sinners and subject to sorrows, miseries, and calamities in this world that they should not despair in God's mercy, but ever trust thereby to have forgiveness of their sins and life everlasting, as Lazarus and the thief had.

Thus l trust every Christian man perceiveth by the infallible or undeceivable word of God that bodily death cannot harm nor hinder them that truly believe in Christ but contrariwise shall profit and promote the Christian souls, which being truly penitent for their offences, depart hence in perfect charity and in sure trust that God is merciful to them, forgiving their sins for the merits of Jesus Christ his only natural Son.

The second cause why some do fear death is sore sickness and grievous pains.

The second cause why some do fear death is sore sickness and grievous pains which partly come before death and partly accompany or come with death whensoever it cometh. This fear is the fear of the frail flesh and a natural passion belonging unto the nature of a mortal man. But true faith in God's promises and regard of the pains and pang which Christ upon the cross suffered for us miserable sinners, with consideration of the joy and everlasting life to come in heaven, will mitigate those pains and moderate this fear, that it shall never be able to overthrow the hearty desire and gladness, that the Christian soul hath to be separated from this corrupt body, that it may come to the gracious presence of our Saviour Jesus Christ. If we believe steadfastly the Word of God, we shall perceive that such bodily sickness, pangs of death, or whatsoever dolorous pangs we suffer either before or with death be nothing else in Christian men but the rod of our heavenly and loving Father; wherewith he mercifully correcteth us either to try and declare the faith of his patient children that they may be found laudable, glorious, and honourable in his sight when Jesus Christ shall be openly shown to be the Judge of all the world or else to chastise and amend in them whatsoever offendeth his fatherly and gracious goodness, lest they should perish everlastingly.

The correcting rod.

And this his correcting rod is common to all them that be truly his. Therefore let us cast away the burden of sin that lieth so heavy on our necks and return unto God by true penance and amendment of our lives (Hebrews 12.10-11). Let us with patience run this course that is appointed, suffering, for his sake that died for our salvation, all sorrows and pangs of death and death itself joyfully when God sendeth it to us, having our eyes fixed and set fast ever upon the Head and Captain of our faith, Jesus Christ, who considering the joy that he should come unto, cared neither for the shame nor pain of death, but willingly conforming and framing his will to his Father's will, most patiently suffered the most shameful and painful death of the cross, being innocent and harmless. And now therefore he is exalted in heaven and everlastingly sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God the Father (Philippians 11.9).

Let us call to our remembrance therefore the life and joys of heaven that are kept for them that patiently do suffer here with Christ and consider that Christ suffered all his painful passion by sinners and for sinners; and then we shall with patience, and the more easily, suffer such sorrows and pains when they come. Let us not set at light the chastising of the Lord nor grudge at him, nor fall from him when of him we be corrected, for the Lord loveth them whom he doth correct and beateth every one whom he taketh to be his child. What child is that, saith St. Paul, whom the Father loveth, and doth not chastise? If ye be without God's correction, which all his well-beloved and true children have, then be ye but bastards, smally regarded of God and not his true children.

To correct our sin or to make us holy.

Therefore seeing that when we have on earth our carnal fathers to be our correctors, we do fear them and reverently take their correction, shall we not much more be in subjection to God our spiritual Father by whom we shall have everlasting life? And our carnal fathers sometimes correct us even as it pleaseth them without cause; but this Father justly correcteth us either for our sin to the intent we should amend, or for our commodity and wealth to make us thereby partakers of his holiness. Furthermore all correction which God sendeth us in this present time, seemeth to have no joy and comfort but sorrow and pain, yet it bringeth with it a taste of God's mercy and goodness towards them that be so corrected, and a sure hope of God's everlasting consolation in heaven.

If then these sorrows, diseases, and sicknesses, and also death itself, be nothing else but our heavenly Father's rod whereby he certifieth us of his love and gracious favour, whereby he trieth and purifieth us, whereby he giveth unto us holiness, and certifieth us that we be his children and he our merciful Father, shall not we then with all humility as obedient and loving children joyfully kiss our heavenly Father's rod and ever say in our heart with our Saviour Jesus Christ, Father, if this anguish and sorrow which I feel, and death which I see approach, may not pass, but that thy will is that I must suffer them, "Thy will be done" (1 Peter 1.14; Matthew 26.42)?


THE THIRD PART OF THE SERMON

AGAINST FEAR OF DEATH.

The Third Cause Why Some Do Fear Death is the Dread of the

Miserable State of Eternal Damnation

Both of Body and Soul.

I

N this Sermon Against the Fear of Death two causes were declared which commonly move worldly men to be in much fear to die and yet the same do nothing trouble the faithful and good livers when death cometh, but rather give them occasion greatly to rejoice, considering that they shall be delivered from the sorrow and misery of this world and be brought to the great joy and felicity of the life to come.

Now the third and special cause why death indeed is to be feared, is the miserable state of the worldly and ungodly people after their death. But this is no cause at all why the godly and faithful people should fear death, but rather contrariwise their godly conversation in this life and belief in Christ, cleaving continually to his merits, should make them to long sore after that life that remaineth for them undoubtedly after this bodily death. Of this immortal state, after this transitory life where we shall live evermore in the presence of God in joy and rest after victory over all sickness, sorrows, sin, and death, there be many plain places of holy scripture which confirm the weak conscience against the fear of all such dolors, sicknesses, sin, and bodily death to assuage such trembling and ungodly fear and to encourage us with comfort and hope of a blessed state after this life.

Our rich inheritance.

St. Paul wisheth unto the Ephesians that God, the Father of glory, would give unto them the spirit of wisdom and revelation that the eyes of their hearts might have light to know him, and to perceive how great things he had called them unto, and how rich an inheritance he hath prepared after this life for them that pertain unto him (Ephesians 1.17-18). And St. Paul himself declareth the desire of his heart which was to be dissolved and loosed from his body and to be with Christ, which as he said was much better for him, although to them it was more necessary that he should live, which he refused not for their sakes (Philippians 1.23-26). Even like as St. Martin said, "Good Lord, if it be necessary for thy people to do good unto them, I will refuse no labour, but else for mine own self, I beseech thee to take my soul" (Sulpic. Sever. Epist. ad Bassulan de Obitu B. Martini.).

Now the holy fathers of the old Law, and all faithful and righteous men which departed before our Saviour Christ's ascension into heaven, did by death depart from troubles unto rest from the hands of their enemies into the hands of God, from sorrows and sicknesses unto joyful refreshing in Abraham's bosom, a place of all comfort and consolation, as the scriptures do plainly by manifest words testify. The book of Wisdom saith, "that the righteous men's souls be in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed to the eyes of foolish men to die, and their death was counted miserable, and their departing out of this world wretched; but they be in rest" (Wisdom 3.1-3). And another place saith, "that the righteous shall live for ever, and their reward is with the Lord, and their minds be with God, who is above all. Therefore they shall receive a glorious kingdom and a beautiful crown at the Lord's hand" (vv. 15-16). And in another place the same book saith, "The righteous, though he be prevented with sudden death, nevertheless he shall be there where he shall be refreshed" (4.7). Of Abraham's bosom Christ's words be so plain, that a Christian man needeth no more proof of it (Luke 16.22-25).

Now then if this were the state of the holy fathers and righteous men before the coming of our Saviour and before he was glorified, how much more, then, ought all we to have a steadfast faith and a sure hope of this blessed state and condition after our death, seeing that our Saviour now hath performed the whole work of our redemption and is gloriously ascended into heaven to prepare our dwelling-places with him, and said unto his Father, "Father, I will that where I am my servants shall be with me" (John 14.2-3, 17.24, 12.26)). And we know that whatsoever Christ will, his Father will the same. Wherefore it cannot be but if we be his faithful servants, our souls shall be with him after our departure out of this present life.

See the glory of God.

St. Stephen, when he was stoned to death even in the midst of his torments, what was his mind most upon? "When he was full of the Holy Ghost," saith holy scripture "having his eyes lifted up into heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7.55-59). The which truth after he had confessed boldly before the enemies of Christ, they drew him out of the city and there they stoned him. Who cried unto God, saying, "Lord Jesus Christ, take my spirit". And doth not our Saviour say plainly in St. John's Gospel, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life and cometh not into judgment, but shall pass from death to life" (John 5.24)? Shall we not then think that death to be precious, by the which we pass into life?

Therefore it is a true saying of the prophet: "The death of the holy and righteous men is precious in the Lord's sight" (Psalm 116.15). Holy Simeon, after that he had his heart's desire in seeing our Saviour that he ever longed for in all his life, he embraced or took him in his arms and said, "Now, Lord, let me depart in peace, for mine eyes have beholden that Saviour which thou hast prepared for all nations" (Luke 2.28-31). It is truth therefore that the death of the righteous is called peace and the benefit of the Lord. As the Church saith in the name of the righteous departed out of this world, "My soul, turn thee to thy rest, for the Lord hath been good to thee and rewarded thee" (Psalm 114-116.7). And we see by holy scripture and other ancient histories of martyrs that the holy, faithful, and righteous, ever since Christ's ascension or going up, in their death did not doubt but that they went to Christ in spirit, which is our life, health, wealth, and salvation.

John in his holy Revelation saw an hundred and forty and four thousand virgins and innocents, of whom he said, "These follow the Lamb Jesus Christ wheresoever he goeth" (Revelation 14.1-5, 13). And shortly after in the same place he saith, "I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, 'Write, happy and blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. Henceforth surely', saith the Spirit 'they shall rest from their pains and labours; for their works do follow them so that then they shall reap with joy and comfort that which they sowed with labours and pains.'"

Sow in the Spirit.

They that sow in the Spirit, of the Spirit shall reap everlasting life. Let us therefore never be weary of well-doing, for when the time of reaping or reward cometh, we shall reap without any weariness everlasting joy (Galatians 6.8-10). Therefore while we have time, as St. Paul exhorteth us, let us do good to all men, and not lay up our treasure in earth, where rust and moths corrupt it (Matthew 6.19). Which rust, as St. James saith, shall bear witness against us at the great day, condemn us, and shall like most burning fire torment our flesh (James 5.3). Let us beware therefore as we tender our own wealth, that we be not in the number of those miserable, covetous, and wretched men, which St. James biddeth mourn and lament for their greedy gathering and ungodly keeping of goods (James 5.1-4).

Let us be wise in time and learn to follow the wise example of the wicked steward (Luke 16.1-9). Let us so wisely order our goods and possession, committed unto us here by God for a season, that we may truly hear and obey this commandment of our Saviour Christ. I say unto you, saith he, make you friends of the wicked mammon, that they may receive you into everlasting tabernacles or dwellings. Riches be called wicked because the world abuseth them unto all wickedness which are otherwise the good gifts of God and the instruments whereby God's servants do truly serve him in using of the same. He commanded them not to make them rich friends to get high dignities and worldly promotions, to give great gifts to rich men that have no need thereof, but to make them friends of poor and miserable men, unto whom whatsoever they give Christ taketh it as given to himself. And to these friends Christ in the Gospel giveth so great honour and pre-eminence that he saith they shall receive them that do good unto them into everlasting houses. Not that men shall be our rewarders for our well-doing, but that Christ will reward us and take it to be done unto himself whatsoever be done to such friends.

Thus making poor wretches our friends, we make our Saviour Christ our friend, whose members they are, whose misery as he taketh for his own misery; so their relief, succour, and help he taketh for his succour, relief, and help and will as much thank us and reward us for our goodness shown to them as if he himself had received like benefit at our hands. As he witnesseth in the Gospel, saying, "Whatsoever ye have done to any of these simple persons which do believe in me, that have ye done to myself" (Matthew 25.40, 10.42, 13.6).

Therefore let us diligently foresee that our faith and hope, which we have conceived in Almighty God and in our Saviour Christ, wax not faint; and that the love, which we bear in hand to bear to him, wax not cold. But let us study daily and diligently to show ourselves to be the true honourers and lovers of God by keeping of his commandments, by doing of good deeds unto our needy neighbours, relieving by all means that we can their poverty with our abundance and plenty, their ignorance with our wisdom and leaving, and comfort their weakness with our strength and authority, calling all men back from evildoing by godly counsel and good example, persevering still in well-doing so long as we live. So shall we not need to fear death for any of those three causes afore-mentioned, not yet for any other cause that can be imagined.

This painful life or the blessed life to come.

But contrarily, considering the manifold sicknesses, troubles, and sorrows of this present life, the dangers of this perilous pilgrimage, and the great encumbrance which our spirit hath by this sinful flesh and frail body subject to death; considering also the manifold sorrows and dangerous deceits of this world on every side, the intolerable pride, covetousness, and lechery in time of prosperity; the impatient murmuring of them that be worldly in time of adversity which cease not to withdraw and pluck us from God, our Saviour Christ from our life, wealth, or everlasting joy and salvation; considering also the innumerable assaults of our ghostly enemy the devil with all his fiery darts of ambition, pride, lechery, vain-glory, envy, malice, detraction, or backbiting, with other his innumerable deceits, engines, and snares whereby he goeth busily about to catch all men under his dominion, ever like a roaring lion, by all means searching whom he may devour (1 Peter 5.8). The faithful Christian man which considereth all these miseries, perils, and incommodities whereunto he is subject so long as he here liveth upon earth, and on the other part considereth that blessed and comfortable state of the heavenly life to come and the sweet condition of them that depart in the Lord, how they are delivered from the continual encumbrances of their mortal and sinful body from all the malice, crafts, and deceits of this world, from all the assaults of their ghostly enemy the devil to live in peace, rest, and endless quietness to live in the fellowship of innumerable angels and with the congregation of perfect just men as patriarchs, prophets, martyrs, and confessors, and finally unto the presence of Almighty God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12.22-23).

He that doth consider all these things and believeth them assuredly as they are to be believed even from the bottom of his heart, being established in God in this true faith, having a quiet conscience in Christ, a firm hope and assured trust in God's mercy through the merits of Jesu Christ to obtain this quietness, rest, and everlasting joy, shall not only be without fear of bodily death when it cometh, but certainly (as St. Paul did) so shall he gladly according to God's will; and when it pleaseth God to call him out of this life, greatly desire in his heart that he may be rid from all these occasions of evil and live ever to God's pleasure in perfect obedience of his will with our Saviour Jesus Christ (Philippians 1.23). To whose gracious presence the Lord of his infinite mercy and grace bring us to reign with him in life everlasting; to whom, with our heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost be glory in worlds without end. Amen.


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