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with we have so many years scattered the counsels and enterprizes of our adversaries; whereby also, we have begun to overthrow the kingdom of antichrist. They also shall provoke Christ to hasten the day of his glorious coming, wherein he shall abolish all rule, authority,
power, and shall put all his enemies under his feet. So be it!
In the fourteenth of Exodus, the Lord speaketh unto Moses at the Red Sea, saying, “Why criest thou unto me?" Yet Moses cried not, but trembled and almost despaired, for he was in great trouble. It seemed that infidelity reigned in him, and not faith. For he saw the people of Israel so compassed and enclosed with the Egyptian host and with the sea, that there was no way whereby they might escape. Here Moses durst not once open his mouth. How then did he cry? We must not judge, therefore, according to the feeling of our own beart, but according to the Word of God, which teachieth us, that the Holy Ghost is given to those that are afflicted, terrified, and ready to despair, to raise them up and to comfort them; that they may not be overcome in their temptations and afflictions, but may overcome them; and yet, not without great terror and troubles.
The Papists dreamed, that holy men had the Holy Ghost in such sort, that they never had nor felt any temptation. They spake of the Holy Ghost, only by speculation and naked knowledge. But Paul saith, that " the strength of Christ is made perfect through our weakness.” Also, that "the Spirit helpeth our infirmities, and maketh intercession for us with unspeakable groanings.” Therefore, we have then most need of the help and comfort of the Holy Ghost, yea, and then he is most ready to help us, when we are most weak and nearest to desperation. If any man suffer affliction with a constant and joyful heart, then hath the Holy Ghost done his office in him. And indeed, he exerciseth his work specially and properly in those which have suffered great terrors and afflictions, and have (as the Psalm saith,) “ approached nigh to the gates of hell.”
As I said of Moses, which saw present death in the waters and on every side whithersoever he turned his face. He was therefore in extreme anguish and desperation, and (no doubt) he felt in his heart a mighty cry of the devil against him; saying, all this people shall this day perish, for they can escape no way; and of this great calamity thou only shalt be found to be the author, because thou hast led them out of Egypt. Besides all this, the people cried out against him, saying, “ Were there no graves in Egypt? Thou hast brought us out that we should die here in the wilderness. Had it not been better for us to have served the Egyptians, than here wretchedly to die in the wilderness ? " (Exod. xiv. 11.) The Holy Ghost was not here in Moses by bare speculation and knowledge only, but truly and effectually; who made intercession for him with unspeakable groaning; so that he sighed unto the Lord and said, “O Lord, at thy commandment have I led forth this people, help us therefore.” This groaning and sighing unto God, the scripture calleth, a “crying.
This matter I have the more largely prosecuted, that I might plainly shew what the office of the Holy Ghost is, and when he specially exerciseth the same. In temptation, therefore, we must put no wise judge thereof according to our own sense and feeling, or by the crying of the law, sin, the devil, &c. If we here follow our own sense, and believe those cryings, we shall think ourselves to be destitute of all help and succour of the Holy Ghost, and utterly cast away from the presence of God. Nay rather, let us remember what Paul saith, “ The Spirit helpeth our infirmities,” &c.: also, it crieth, “ Abba Father ;” that is to say, it uttereth a certain feeble sighing and groaning of the heart (as it seemeth unto us) which, notwithstanding, before God
, is a loud cry and an unspeakable groaning. Wherefore, in the midst of thy temptation and infirmity, cleave only unto Christ, and groan unto him; he giveth the Holy Ghost which crieth, “Abba Father.” And this feeble groaning, is a mighty cry in the ears of God; and so filleth heaven and earth, that God heareth nothing
else ; and moreover, it stoppeth the cries of all other things whatsoever.
Thou must mark also, that Paul saith, that the Spirit maketh intercession for us in our temptation; not with many words, or long prayer, but only with a groaning; which, notwithstanding, cannot be expressed. And that he crieth, not aloud with tears, saying, “ Have mercy on me, O God,” &c. (Ps. li. 1,) but only uttereth a little sound, and a feeble groaning, as, “ Ah Father.” This is but a little word, and yet notwithstanding, it comprehendeth all things. The mouth speaketh not, but the affection of the heart speaketh after this manner. Although I be oppressed with anguish and terror on every side, and seem to be forsaken and utterly cast away from thy presence, yet am I thy child, and thou
my Father for Christ's sake. I am beloved because of the Beloved. Wherefore, this little word“ Father" conceived effectually in the heart, passeth all the eloquence of Demosthenes, Cicero, and of the most eloquent rhetoricians that ever were in the world. This matter is not expressed with words, but with groanings; which groanings cannot be uttered with any words or eloquence, for no tongue can express them.
I have used many words to declare that a Christian must assure himself that he is in the favour of God, and that he hath the crying of the Holy Ghost in his heart
. This have I done, that we may learn to reject and utterly to abandon that devilish opinion of the whole kingdom of the Pope; which taught, “that a man ought to be uncertain, and to stand in doubt of the grace and favour of God towards him.' If this opinion be received, then Christ profiteth nothing. For he that doubteth of God's favour towards him, must needs doubt also of the promises of God; and so, consequently, of the will of God, and of the benefits of Christ ; namely, that he was born, suffered, died, and rose again for us, &c. But there can be no greater blasphemy against God, than to deny his promises, to deny God himself, and to deny Christ
, &c. Wherefore it was not only an extreme madbess, but an horrible impiety, that the monks did so ear
nestly entice the youth, both men and women, to their monasteries, and to their holy orders (as they called them,) as to a most certain state of salvation; and yet, when they had thus done, thev bade them doubt of the grace and favour of God towards them.
Moreover, the Pope called all the world to the obedience of the church of Rome, as to an holy state in the which they might undoubtedly attain salvation ; and yet, after he had brought them under the obedience of the laws, he commanded them to doubt of their salvation. So, the kingdom of antichrist braggeth and vaunteth at the first of the holiness of his orders, his rules, and his laws, and assuredly promiseth everlasting life to such as observe and keep them ; but afterwards, when these miserable men have long afflicted their bodies with watching, fasting, and such like exercises, according to the traditions and ordinances of men, this is all that they gain thereby,—that they are uncertain whether this obedience please God or no! Thus, Satan most horribly dallied in the death and destruction of souls through the popes and therefore is the papacy a slaughter-house of consciences, and the very kingdom of the devil!
Now to establish and confirm this pernicious and cursed error, they alleged the saying of Solomon. “ The just and the wise men are in the hands of God; and yet no man knoweth whether he be worthy of love or hatred,” (Eccles. ix. 1.) Some understand this of that which is to come, and some again of that which is present, but neither of them understand Solomon, who, in that place, meaneth nothing less than that which they dream. Morever, the whole scripture teacheth us, especially, and above all things, that we should not doubt, but assure ourselves, and undoubtedly believe, that God is merciful, loving, and patient; that he is neither a dissembler nor deceiver, but that he is faithful and true, and keepeth his promise, yea, and hath performed, in delivering his only begotten Son to death for our sins, “ that every one that believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Here we cannot doubt but that God is pleased with us, that he loveth us indeed, that the hatred and wrath of God is taken away, seeing he suffered his Son to die for us wretched sinners. Although this matter be set out and often repeated throughout the whole Gospel, yet it profiteth nothing at all
. This one saying of Solomon perversely understood, did more prevail, (especially among the votaries and hypocrites of the straiter religion,) than all the promises and consolations of the whole scripture, yea, than Christ himself. They abused the scripture, therefore, to their own destruction, and were most justly punished for despising the scriptures and rejecting the Gospel
. It is expedient for us to know these things. First, because the Papists vaunt of their holiness as if they had never committed any evil : therefore, they must be convinced by their own abominations wherewith they have filled the whole world, as their own books do witness, whereof there is yet an infinite number. Secondly, that we may be fully certified that we have the pure doctrine of the Gospel; of which, certainly, the Pope cannot glory; in whose kingdom, though all things else were sound and uncorrupt, yet this monstrous doctrine of doubting God's grace and favour, passeth all other monsters. And although it be manifest that the enemies of Christ's Gospel teach uncertain things, because they command that men's consciences should remain in doubt, yet notwithstanding, they condemn and kill us as heretics, because we dissent from them and teach those things which are certain. And this they do with such devilish rage and cruelty, as if they were most assured of their doctrine.
Let us therefore give thanks unto God, that we are delivered from this monstrous doctrine of doubting, and can now assure ourselves, that the Holy Ghost crieth and bringeth forth in our hearts“ unspeakable groanings." And this is our anchor-hold and our foundation. The Gospel commandeth us to behold, not our own good works, our own perfection, but God the Promiser, and Christ the Mediator. Contrariwise, the Pope commandeth us to look, not unto God the Promiser, nor