Letters of Master John Bradford, written on Various Occasions *

Letter 1. To the City of London *

Letter 2. To the University and Town of Cambridge *

Letter 3. To Lancashire and Cheshire *

Letter 4. To the Town of Walden *

Letter 5. A comfortable letter of Master Bradford to his mother, a godly matron, dwelling in Manchester, and to his brethren and sisters, and others of his friends there *

Letter 6. To my loving brethren, B. C. - etc., their wives, and whole families, J. Bradford *

Letter 7. To my dearly beloved in Christ, Erkinalde Rawlins and his wife *

Letter 8. To Mistress A. Warcup *

Letter 9. To mine own dear brother, Master Laurence Saunders, prisoner in the Marshalsea *

Letter 10. Another Letter to Master Laurence Saunders *

Letter 11. To my dear fathers, D. Cranmer, D. Ridley, D. Latimer, prisoners in Oxford for the testimony of the Lord Jesus and his holy gospel *

Letter 12. To my dear fathers, D. Cranmer, D. Ridley, and D. Latimer *

Letter 13. To the Right Honourable Lord Russell, (afterwards Earl of Bedford), being then in trouble for the verity of God's gospel. *

Letter 14. To Master Warcup and his wife, Mistress Wilkinson, and others of his godly friends, with their families *

Letter 15. To Sir James Hales, Knt., then prisoner in the Compter in Bread Street *

Letter 16. To my very dear friend in the Lord, Doctor Hill, Physician *

Letter 17. To Mistress M. H., a godly gentlewoman, comforting her in that common heaviness and godly sorrow, which the feeling and sense of sin works in God's children *

Letter 18. Another letter, full of godly comfort, written to the same person *

Letter 19. To my well beloved in the Lord, W. P. *

Letter 20. A Letter which he wrote to a faithful woman in her heaviness and trouble, most comfortable for all those to read that are afflicted and broken-hearted for their sins *

Letter 21. To my good Lady Vane *

Letter 22. Another Letter to Lady Vane *

Letter 23. To my dear friends and brethren, R. and E., with their wives and families *

Letter 24. To Mistress Wilkinson *

Letter 25. Another letter, written to certain godly persons, encouraging them to prepare themselves with patience for the cross *

Letter 26. An admonition to certain professors of the gospel, to beware they fall not from it, in consenting to the Roman religion, by the example of halting and double-faced gospellers *

Letter 27. To my good brother, John Careless, Prisoner in the King's Bench *

Letter 28. To Master John Hall and his wife, prisoner in Newgate, for the testimony of the gospel *

Letter 29. To Mistress Hall, prisoner in Newgate, and ready to make answer before her adversaries *

Letter 30. To a woman that desired to knew his mind, whether she, refraining from the mass, might be present at the popish matins, or not *

Letter 31. To the worshipful, and, in God, my most dear friend, the Lady Cane *

Letter 32. To my dear brother in the Lord, Master Richard Hopkins, and his wife, dwelling in Coventry, and other my faithful brethren and sisters, professors of God's holy gospel there and thereabouts *

Letter 33. A letter to Master Richard Hopkins, then sheriff of Coventry, and prisoner in the Fleet, for the faithful and constant confessing of God's holy gospel *

Letter 34. To my good sister, Mistress Elizabeth Brown *

Letter 35. To a friend of his, instructing him how he could answer his adversaries *

Letter 36. To certain godly men, whom he exhort to be patient under the cross, and constant in the true doctrine which they had professed *

Letter 37. To my dear friend and brother in the Lord, Master George Eaton *

Letter 38. Another letter to Master George Eaton *

Letter 39. Another letter to Mistress Ann Warcup *

Letter 40. To a certain godly gentlewoman, troubled and afflicted by her friends for not coning to the mans *

Letter 41. To One by whom he had received much comfort and relief in his trouble and imprisonment *

Letter 42. To a faithful friend and his wife, resolving their doubt why they ought not to go to auricular confession *

Letter 43. A letter to N. and his wife *

Letter 44. To my good brother Augustine Berneher *

Letter 45. To mine own good Augustine *

Letter 46. A letter of Master Bradford, describing a comparison between the old man and the new, &c. *

Letter 47. A letter written to his mother as a farewell, when he thought he should have suffered shortly after *

Letter 48. Another letter to his mother, as his last farewell unto her in this world, a little before he was burned *

Letter 49. A letter sent with a supplication to Queen Mary, her council, and the whole parliament. *

Letter 50. To certain of his friends, N. Sheterden and R. Cole *

Letter 51. To Mistress J. Warrington, a faithful woman, and fearing God, whom he exhorts to be patient under the cross, and not to fear death *

Letter 52. To my good friend in God, Master Humphrey Hales *

Letter 53. Another letter to Master Humphrey Hales and his wife *

Letter 54. To Master Shalcrosse and his wife, dwelling in Lancashire *

Letter 55. To my good friends in the Lord, Master R. and his wife *

Letter 54. To the worshipful Sir William Fitzwilliams, then being knight marshal of the King's Bench *

Letter 57. To my good brother, Master Coker, at Maldon, in Essex *

Letter 58. To mine own good brother, Master John Philpot, prisoner in the King's Bench *

Letter 59. To my good brother, R. Cole *

Letter 55. To Mistress Brown *

Letter 61. To certain godly men, reliever and helpers of him and others, in their imprisonment *

Letter 62. Another letter to the Lord Russell *

Letter 63. To his godly friends, G. and N., encouraging them to prepare themselves to the cross, and patiently to endure afflictions for God's cause and his holy gospel *

Letter. 69. To my dearly beloved in the Lord, Mrs. W. and Mrs. W. *

Letter 65. To my good sister, M. H. *

Letter 66. A letter concerning freewill, to certain men who were then prisoner with him in the King's Bench *

Letter 67. To certain men not rightly persuaded in the most true, comfortable, and necessary doctrine of God's holy election and predestination *

Letter 68. To Trewe and Abingdon, with other of their company, teachers and maintainers of the error of Man's Freewill *

Letter 69. To Trewe and Abingdon, with other of their company, teachers and maintainers of the error of Man's Freewill *

Letter 70. To the Lady Vane *

Letter 71. To Mistress Wilkinson *

Letter 72 To Father Traces, minister of Blackley, begging his prayers, and lamenting his own sinful condition *

Letter 73. Another letter to Father Traves *

Letter 74. Another letter of John Bradford to sir Thomas Hall, and Father Traves, of Blackley *

Letter 75. Another letter to Father Traves *

Letter 76. Another letter of Master Bradford to Father Traves *

Letter 77. Another letter of Master Bradford to Father Traves *

Letter 78. Another letter to Father Graves. *

Letter 79. Another letter to Father Traves *

Letter 80. Another letter to Father Traves *

Letter 81. Another letter to Father Traves *

Letter 82. Another letter to Father Traves *

Letter 83. To a faithful and dear friend of his, treating of this place of St. Paul to the Romans: "The fervent desire of the creature waiteth when the children of God shall be delivered." (Rom. viii.) *



Letters of Master John Bradford, written on Various Occasions

Master John Bradford, a faithful Minister and pillar of Christ's Church, by whose great labours and diligence in preaching and planting the sincerity of the gospel, by whose most godly and innocent life, and by whose long and painful imprisonments for the maintenance of the truth, the Kingdom of God was not a little advanced; who also at last most valiantly and cheerfully gave his blood for the same, on the first day of July, in the year of our Lord 1555.

[After the time that Bradford was condemned and sent to the Compter, it was purposed by his adversaries that he should be had to Manchester, where he was born, and there be burned. Whereupon he wrote to the City of London, thinking to take his last farewell of them in this letter. Fox.]


Letter 1. To the City of London

To all that profess the gospel and the true doctrine of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in the city of London. John Bradford, a most unworthy servant of the Lord, now not only in prison, but also excommunicated and condemned to be burned, for the same true doctrine, wishes mercy, grace, and peace, with increase of all godly knowledge and piety, from God the father of mercy, through the merits of our alone and all-sufficient Redeemer Jesus Christ, by the operation of the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.

My dearly beloved brethren in our Saviour Christ. Although the time I have to live is very little, for I look hourly when I shall be conveyed into Lancashire, there to be burned, and, by the providence of God, to render my life where I first received it, by the same providence. And although the charge is great to keep me from all things whereby I might signify any thing to the world of my state; yet having, as now I have, pen and ink, through God's working, notwithstanding the power of Satan and his soldiers, I thought good to write a short confession of my faith, and thereto join a little exhortation unto you all, to live according to your profession.

First, my faith. I do confess, and pray all the whole congregation of Christ to bear witness with me of the same, that I believe constantly, through the gift and goodness of God, for faith is only God's gift, all the twelve articles of the symbol or creed, commonly attributed to the apostles. This my faith I would gladly particularly declare and expound, to confirm and comfort the simple. But, alas! by starts and stealth I write in the manner that I write, and therefore I shall desire you all to take this brevity in good part. And this faith I hold, not because of the creed itself, but because of the word of God, which teaches and confirms every article accordingly. This word of God, written by the prophets and apostles, and contained in the canonical books of the holy Bible, I do believe to contain plentifully all things necessary to salvation, so that nothing, as necessary to salvation, ought to be added thereto. And therefore neither the Church of Christ, nor any of his congregations, ought to be burdened with any other doctrine, that that which here-out has its foundation and ground. In testimony of this faith, I render and give my life, being condemned, as well for not acknowledging the antichrist of Rome to be Christ's vice-general and supreme head of the catholic and universal church, here or elsewhere upon earth. As for denying the horrible and idolatrous doctrine of transubstantiation, and Christ's real, corporeal, and carnal presence in his supper, under the forms and accidents, (or appearance,) of bread and wine.

To believe that Christ our Saviour is the head of his Church, and that kings in their realms are the supreme powers, to whom every soul owes obedience. And to believe that in the supper of Christ is a true and very presence of whole Christ, God and man, to the faith of the receiver, but not to the stander by and looker upon, even as it is a true and very presence of bread and wine to the senses of men; to believe this, I say, will not serve. And therefore as a heretic I am condemned, and shall be burned. Whereof I ask God heartily for mercy that I do no more rejoice than I do, having so great cause, as to be an instrument wherein it may please my dear Lord God and Saviour to suffer.

For albeit my manifold sins, even since I came into prison, have deserved at the hands of God, not only temporal fire, but also eternal fire in hell, much more my former sinful life, which the Lord pardon for Christ's sake, as I know he of his mercy has done, and that he never will lay my iniquities to my charge, to condemnation. So great is his goodness, praised therefore be his holy name! Although, I say, my manifold and grievous late sins have deserved most justly all that man or devil can do unto me. And therefore I confess that the Lord is just, and that his judgements are true and deserved on my behalf. Yet, the bishops and prelates do not persecute them in me, but Christ himself, his word, his truth, and religion. And therefore I have great cause, yea, most great cause, to rejoice that ever I was born, and hitherto kept of the Lord. That by my death, which is deserved for my sins, it pleases the heavenly Father to glorify his name, to testify his truth, to confirm his verity, to oppugn his adversities. O good God and merciful Father! Forgive my great unthankfulness, especially herein.

And you, my dearly beloved, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, I humbly and heartily in his bowels and blood do now, for my last farewell in this present life, beseech you and every one of you, that you will consider this work of the Lord accordingly. First by me be admonished to beware of hypocrisy and carnal security. Profess not the gospel with tongue and lips only, but in heart and verity. Frame and fashion your lives accordingly. Beware that God's name be not evil spoken of, and the gospel still less regarded by your conversation. God forgive me, that I have not so heartily professed it as I should have done, but have sought myself much therein. The gospel is a new doctrine to the old man. It is new wine. And therefore it cannot be put in old bottles, without more hurt than good to the bottles. If we will talk with the Lord, we must put off our shoes and carnal affections. If we will hear the voice of the Lord, we must wash our garments and be holy. If we will be Christ's disciples, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ. We cannot serve two masters. If we will seek Christ's kingdom, we must seek for the righteousness thereof. To the petition, Let thy kingdom come, we must join, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. If we will not be doers of the word, but hearers of it only, we sorely deceive ourselves. If we hear the gospel, and love it not, we declare ourselves to be but fools, and builders upon the sand. The Lord's spirit hates feigning. Deceitfulness the Lord abhors. If we come to him we must beware that we come not with a double heart. For them may chance that God will answer us according to the block which is in our heart, and so we shall deceive ourselves and others.

See that we couple a good conscience to faith, lest we make a shipwreck. To the Lord we must come with fear and reverence. If we will be gospellers, we must be Christ's. If we be Christ's, we must crucify our flesh with the lusts and concupiscences thereof. If we will be under grace, sin must not bear rule in us. We may not come to the Lord, and draw night unto him with our lips, and leave our hearts elsewhere, lest the Lord's wrath wax hot, and he take from us the good yet remaining. In no case can the kingdom of Christ approach unto them that repent not. Therefore, my dearly beloved, let us repent and be heartily sorry that we have so carnally, so hypocritically, so covetously, so vain-gloriously professed the gospel. For all these I confess of myself, to the glory of God, that he may cover my offences in the day of judgement. Let the anger and plagues of God most justly fallen upon us, be applied to every one of our deserts, that from the bottom of our hearts every one of us may say, It is I, Lord, that have sinned against thee; it is my hypocrisy, my vain-glory, my covetousness, uncleanness, carnality, security, idleness, unthankfulness, self-love, and such like, which have deserved the taking away of our good king (King Edward VI, editor), of thy word, and true religion, of thy good ministers by exile, imprisonment, and death. It is my wickedness that causes success, and increase of authority, and peace to thy enemies. Oh, be merciful, be merciful unto us. Turn to us again, O Lord of hosts, and turn us unto thee. Correct us, but not in thy fury, lest we be consumed in thine anger. Chastise us not in thy wrathful displeasure. Reprove us not, but in the midst of thine anger remember thy mercy. For if thou mark what is done amiss, who shall be able to abide it? But with thee is mercifulness, that thou might be worshipped. Oh then be merciful unto us, that we may truly worship thee. Help us, for the glory of thy name. Be merciful unto our sins, for they are great. Oh, heal us, and help us for thine honour. Let not the wicked people say, Where is their God, etc.

On this sort, my right dearly beloved, let us heartily bewail our sins, repent us of our former evil live, heartily and earnestly purpose to amend our lives in all things, continually watching in prayer; diligently and reverently attend, hear, and read the holy Scriptures, and labour after our vocation to amend our brethren. Let us reprove the works of darkness. Let us flee from all idolatry. Let us abhor the antichristian and Romish rotten service, detest the popish mass, renounce their Romish god, prepare ourselves to the cross, be obedient to all that are in authority, in all things that are not against God, and his word; answering with the apostles, It is more meet to obey God than men. Howbeit, never for any thing resist, or rise against the magistrates. Avenge not yourselves, but commit your cause to the Lord, to whom vengeance belongs, and he in his time will reward is. If you feel in yourselves a hope, and trust in God that he never will tempt you above that which he will make you able to bear, be assured the Lord will be true to you. And you shall be able to bear all brunts. But if you want this hope, flee and get you hence, rather than, by your tarrying, God's name should be dishonoured.

In sum, cast your care upon the Lord, knowing for most certain, that he is careful for you. With him are all the hairs of your head numbered, so that not one of them shall perish without his good pleasure and will. Much more, then, nothing shall happen to your bodies, which shall not be profitable, however for a time it seems otherwise to your senses. Hang on the providence of God, not only when you have means to help you, but also when you have no means, yea, when all means are against you. Give him this honour, which, of all other things, he most chiefly requires at your hands; namely, believe that you are his children through Christ, that he is your Father and God through him, that he loves you, pardons you all your offences. He is with you in trouble, and will be with you for ever. When you fall, he will put his hand under. You shall not lie still. Before you call upon him he hears you. He will finally bring you out of evil, and deliver you to his eternal joy. Doubt not, my beloved, herein, doubt not, I say. God your Father will do this for you, not for respect of yourselves, but for respect of Christ your captain, your pastor, your keeper; out of whose hands none shall be able to catch you. In him be quiet, and often consider your dignity; namely, how that you are God's children, the saints of God, citizens of heaven, temples of the Holy Ghost, the thrones of God, members of Christ, and lords over all.

Therefore be ashamed to think, speak, or do anything that should be unseemly for God's children, God's saints, Christ's members, etc. Marvel not though the devil and the world hate you, though you are persecuted here, for the servant is not above his master. Covet not earthly riches. Fear not the power of man. Love not this world, nor the things that are in this world. But long for the coming of the Lord Jesus, at which time your bodies shall be made like unto his glorious body. When he appears you shall be like unto him. When your life shall thus be revealed, then shall you appear with him in glory.

In the mean season live in hope thereof. Let the life you lead be in the faith of the Son of God. For the just does live by faith, which faith flees from evil, and follows the word of God as a lantern to her feet and a light to her steps. Her eyes are above, where Christ is. She beholds not the things present, but rather things to come. She glories in affliction. She knows that the affliction of this life are not to be compared to the glory that God will reveal to us and in us. Of this glory God grants us here a lively taste. Then shall we run after the scent it sends forth. It will make us valiant men to take to us the kingdom of God, whither the Lord of mercy bring us in his good time, through Christ our Lord, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one God, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

My dearly beloved, I would gladly have given here my body to be burned, for the confirmation of the true doctrine I have taught here unto you; but that my country must have it. Therefore I pray you, take in good part this signification of my goodwill towards every of you. Impute the want herein to time and trouble. Pardon me my offensive and negligent behaviour when I was among you. With me repent and labour to amend. Continue in the truth which I have truly taught unto you by preaching in all places where I have come. God's name therefore be praised. Confess Christ when you are called, whatsoever comes thereof. And the God of peace be with us all. Amen. This 11th of February, anno 1555.

Your brother in bonds for the Lord's sake,

John Bradford.


Letter 2. To the University and Town of Cambridge

To all that love the Lord Jesus and his true doctrine in the university and town of Cambridge, John Bradford, a most unworthy servant of the Lord, now not only imprisoned, but also condemned for the same true doctrine, wishes grace, peace, and mercy, with increase of all godliness from God, the Father of all mercy, through the bloody passion of our only Saviour Jesus Christ, by the lively working of the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.

Although I look hourly when I should be had to the stake (my dearly beloved in the Lord), and although the charge over me is great and strait; yet having, by the providence of God, secretly pen and ink, I could not but signify unto you something of my solicitude which I have for you and for every one of you in the Lord, though not as I would, yet as I may. You have so often and openly heard the truth disputed and preached, especially in this matter wherein I am condemned, that it is needless to do any more than to put you in remembrance of the same. But hitherto you have not heard it confirmed, and as it were sealed up, as now you do and shall hear by me, that is, by my death and burning. For albeit I have deserved eternal death and hell fire through my uncleanness, hypocrisy, avarice, vainglory, idleness, unthankfulness, and carnality, whereof I accuse myself, to my confusion before the world, that before God, through Christ, I might find mercy, as my assured hope is that I shall. Albeit, I have deserved much more than this affliction and fire prepared for me. Yet, my dearly beloved, it is not for these, or any of these things, wherefore the prelates persecute me, but for God's verity and truth. Yea, even Christ himself is the only cause and thing whereof I am now condemned, and shall be burned as a heretic, because I will not grant the antichrist of Rome to be Christ's vice-general and supreme head of the church here, and everywhere upon the earth, by God's ordinance; and because I will not grant such corporeal, real, and carnal presence of Christ's body and blood in the sacrament as does transubstantiate the substance of bread and wine, and is received by the wicked, yea, even by dogs and mice. Also I am excommunicated, and counted as a dead member of Christ's Church, as a rotten branch, and therefore shall be cast into the fire.

Therefore you ought heartily to rejoice with me, and to give thanks for me that God, the eternal Father, has vouchsafed our mother (the University of Cambridge, editor) to bring up any child in whom it would please him to magnify his holy name as he does, and I hope, for his mercy and truth's sake, will do in my and by me. Oh! what such benefit upon earth can there be as that I, which deserved death by reason of my sins, should be delivered for a demonstration, a testimony, and confirmation of God's verity and truth! You, my mother, the University, have not only had the truth of God's word plainly manifested unto you, by reading, disputing, and preaching publicly and privately, but now to make thee altogether excuseless, and, as it were, almost to sin against the Holy Ghost, if you put to your helping hand with the Romish rout to suppress the verify and set out the contrary, you have my life and blood as a seal to confirm you, if you will be confirmed, or else to confound you, and bear witness against you, if you will take part with the prelates and clergy, which now fill up the measures of their fathers which slew the prophets and apostles, that all the righteous blood, from Abel to Bradford, shed upon earth, may be required at their hands.

Of this therefore I thought good before my death, as time and liberty would suffer me, for the love and duty I bear unto you, to admonish you, good mother, and my sister the town, that you would call to mind from whence you are fallen, and study to do the first works. You know, if you will, these matters of the Romish supremacy, and the antichristian transubstantiation, whereby Christ's supper is overthrown, his priesthood annulled, his sacrifice frustrated, the ministry of his word unplaced, repentance repelled, faith fainted, godliness extinguished, the mass maintained, idolatry supported, and all impiety cherished. You know, I say, if you will, that these opinions are not only besides God's word, but even directly against it. And therefore to take part with them is to take part against God, against whom you cannot prevail.

Therefore, for the tender mercy of Christ, in his bowels and blood I beseech you to take Christ's eye-salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see what you do and have done in admitting, as I hear you have admitted, yea alas! authorised, and by consent confirmed, the Romish rotten rags, which once you utterly expelled. Oh! be not a dog returned to his vomit. Be not the washed sow returned to her wallowing in the mire. Beware, lest Satan enter in with seven other spirits, and then your last state shall be worse than the first. It had been better you had never known the truth, than after knowledge to run from it. Ah! woe to this world and the things therein, which has now so wrought with you. Oh! that ever this dirt of the devil should daub up the eyes of the realm. If you be light and shine, all the body shall fare the better. But if your light be darkness, alas! how great will the darkness be! What is man, whose breath is in his nostrils, that you should thus be afraid of him!

Oh! what is honour and life here! Bubbles. What is glory in this world but shame? Why are you afraid to carry Christ's cross? Will you come into his kingdom, and not drink of his cup? Do you not know Rome to be Babylon? Do you not know, that as the old Babylon had the children of Judah in captivity, so has this Rome the true Judah, that is, the confessors of Christ? Do you not know, tat as destruction happened unto it, so shall it do unto this? And suppose you that God will not deliver his people, now when the time is come, as he did then? Has not God commanded his people to come out from her, and will you give example to the whole realm to run unto her? Have you forgotten the woe that Christ threatens to offence-givers? Will you not remember that it were better that a millstone were hanged about your neck, and you thrown into the sea, than that you should offend the little ones?

And alas! how have you offended! Yea, and how doe you still offend! Will you consider things according to the outward show? Was not the synagogue more seemly and like to the true church than the simple flock of Christ's disciples? Has not the harlot of Babylon more costly array, and rich apparel, externally to set forth herself, than the homely housewife of Christ? Where is the beauty of the King's daughter, the church of Christ? Without or within? Does not David say within? Oh! remember, that as they are happy which are not offended at Christ, so are they happy which are not offended at his poor church. Can the pope and his prelates mean honestly, which make so much of the wife and so little of the husband? The church they magnify, but Christ they contemn. If this church were a honest woman, (that is, Christ's wife, ) except they would make much of her husband, Christ and his word, she would not be made much of by them.

When Christ and his apostles were upon earth, who seemed more likely to be the true church, they or the prelates, bishops, and synagogue? If a man should have followed custom, unity, antiquity, or the more part, would not Christ and his company have been cast out of the doors? Therefore Christ bade them to search the scriptures. And, good mother, shall the servant be above his master? Shall we look for other entertainment at the hands of the world than Christ and his dear disciples found? Who was taken in Noah's time for the church, poor Noah and his family, or others? Who was taken for God's church in Sodom, Lot, or others? And does not Christ say, As it was then, so shall it be now towards the coming of the Son of Man? What means Christ when he says, Iniquity shall have the upper hand? Does not he say that charity shall wax cold? And who sees not a wonderful great lack of charity in those which would now be taken for Christ's church? All that truly fear God in this realm can tell more of this than I can write.

Therefore, dear mother, receive some admonition of one of your poor children, now going to be burned for the testimony of Jesus. Come again to God's truth. Come out of Babylon. Confess Christ and his true doctrine. Repent that which is past. Make amends by declaring your repentance by the fruits. Remember the readings and the preachings of God's prophet, and true preacher, Martin Bucer. Call to mind the threatenings of God, now something seen by the children Leaver and others. Let the exile of Leaver, Pilkington, Grindall, Haddon, Horne, Scory, Ponet, etc. something awake you. Let the imprisonment of your dear sons, Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, move you. Consider the martyrdom of Rogers, Saunders, Taylor. And now cast not away the poor admonition of me, going to be burned also, and to receive the like crown of glory with my fellows. Take to heart God's calling by us. Be not as Pharaoh was, for then will it happen unto you as it did unto him. What is that? Hardness of heart? And what then? Destruction eternally, both of body and soul. Ah! therefore, good mother, awake, awake, repent, repent, bustle yourself, and make haste to turn to the Lord, for else it shall be more easy for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgement than for you. Oh! harden not your hearts; oh! stop not your ears today in hearing God's voice, though it be by me a most unworthy messenger. Oh! fear the Lord, for his anger is begun to kindle. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the tree.

You know I prophesied truly to you before the sweating sickness came on you, what would come if you repented not your carnal gospelling. And now I tell you, before I depart hence, that the ears of men will tingle to hear the vengeance of God that will fall upon you all, both town and university, if you repent not, if you leave not your idolatry, if you turn not speedily to the Lord, if you still are ashamed of Christ's truth which you know.

Oh! Perne, repent; oh! Thomson, repent; oh! you doctors, bachelors, and masters, repent! Oh! mayor, aldermen, and town-dwellers, repent, repent, repent, that you may escape the near vengeance of the Lord. Rend your hearts and come apace, calling on the Lord. Let us all say, We have all sinned, we have done wickedly, we have not hearkened to thy voice, o Lord. Deal not with us after our deserts, but be merciful to our iniquities, for they are great. Oh! pardon our offences. In thine anger remember thy mercy. Turn us unto thee, o Lord God of Hosts, for the glory of thy name's sake. Spare us, and be merciful unto us. Let not wicked people say, Where is now their God? Oh! for thine own sake, for thy name's sake, deal mercifully with us. Turn thyself unto us, and us unto thee, and we shall praise thy name for ever.

If in this manner, my dearly beloved, in heart and mouth we come unto our Father, and prostrate ourselves before the throne of his grace, then surely, surely we shall find mercy. Then shall the Lord look graciously upon us, for his mercy's sake in Christ. Then shall we hear him speak peace unto his people. For he is gracious and merciful, of great pity and compassion. He cannot be chiding for ever. His anger cannot last long to be penitent. Though we weep in the morning, yet at night we shall have our sorrow cease. For he is easy to be entreated, and has no pleasure in the death of a sinner. He rather would have our conversion and turning.

Oh! turn now and convert, yet once again I humbly beseech you, and then the kingdom of heaven shall draw night. The eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, nor is the heart of man able to conceive the joys prepared for us, if we repent, amend our lives, and heartily turn to the Lord. But if you repent not, but be as you were, and go on forwards with the wicked, following the fashion of the world, the Lord will lead you on with wicked doers. You shall perish in your wickedness. Your blood will be upon your own heads. Your part shall be with hypocrites, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. You shall be cast from the face of the Lord for ever and ever. Eternal shame, sorrow, woe, and misery, shall be both in body and soul to you, world without end. Oh! therefore, right dear to me in the Lord, turn you, turn you, repent you, repent you, amend, amend your lives, depart from evil, do good, follow peace, and pursue it. Come out from Babylon, cast off the works of darkness, put on Christ, confess his truth, be not ashamed of his gospel, prepare yourselves for the cross, drink of God's cup before it come to the dregs, and then shall I with you, and for you, rejoice in the day of judgement, which is at hand. And therefore prepare yourselves thereto I heartily beseech you. And thus I take my farewell of you in this present life, my own dear hearts in the Lord. The Lord of mercy be with us all, and give us a joyful and sure meeting in his kingdom. Amen. Amen. Out of prison the 11th of February, anno 1555.

Your own in the Lord for ever,

John Bradford.


Letter 3. To Lancashire and Cheshire

To all that profess the name and true religion of our Saviour Jesus Christ, in Lancashire and Cheshire, and especially those abiding in Manchester and thereabout, John Bradford, a most unworthy servant of the Lord, now not only in bonds, but also condemned for the same true religion, wishes mercy and grace, peace and increase of all godliness, from God, the Father of all pity, through the deserts of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the working of the most mighty and lively Spirit, the Comforter, for ever. Amen.

I hear it reported credibly, my dearly beloved in the Lord, that my heavenly Father has thought it good to provide, that, as I have preached his true doctrine and gospel among you by word, so I shall testify and confirm the same by deed, that is, I shall with you leave my life, which, by his providence, I first received there; for in Manchester was I born; for a seal to the doctrine I have taught with you and among you. So that if from henceforth you waver in the same, you have no excuse at all. I know the enemies of Christ which exercise cruelty upon me, (I speak in respect of my offence, which is nothing towards them, I think,) by killing of me among you, to affright you and others, lest they should attempt to teach Christ truly, or believe his doctrine hereafter. But I doubt not that my heavenly Father will, by my death, more confirm you in his truth than ever. And therefore I greatly rejoice to see Satan and his soldiers supplanted in their own wisdom, which is plain foolishness among the truly wise; that is, among such as have heard God's word, and do follow it; for they only are counted wise of the wisdom of God our Saviour. Indeed, if I should simply consider my life, with that which it ought to have been, and as God in his law requires, then could I not but cry as I do, Righteous art thou, o Lord, and all thy judgements are true. For I have much grieved thee, and transgressed thy holy precepts, not only before my professing the gospel, but since also. Yea, since my coming into prison I do not excuse, but accuse myself before God and all his church, that I have grievously offended my Lord God. I have not lived his gospel as I should have done. I have sought myself, and not simply and only his glory and my brethren's commodity. I have been too unthankful, secure, carnal, hypocritical, vainglorious, etc. All which my evils, the Lord of mercy pardon me for his Christ's sake, as I hope and certainly believe he has done for his great mercy in Christ our Redeemer. But when I consider the cause of my condemnation, I cannot but lament that I do no more rejoice than I do, for it is God's verity and truth. So that the condemnation is not a condemnation of Bradford simply, but rather a condemnation of Christ and of his truth. Bradford is nothing else but an instrument, in whom Christ and his doctrine is condemned. And therefore, my dearly beloved, rejoice, rejoice, and give thanks with me and for me, that God ever did vouchsafe so great a benefit to our country as to choose the most unworthy, I mean myself, to be one in whom it would please him to suffer any kind of affliction. Much more this violent kind of death, which I perceive is prepared for me among you for his sake. All glory and praise be given unto God our Father, for his great and exceeding mercy towards me, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

But perchance you will say unto me: "What is the cause for which you are condemned? We hear say, that you deny all presence of Christ in his holy supper, and so make it a bare sign and common bread, and nothing else." My dearly beloved, what is said of me, and what will be said, I cannot tell. It is told me that Pendleton is gone down to preach with you, not as he once recanted, for you all know he has preached contrary to that he was wont to preach before I came among you, but to recant that which he has recanted. How he will speak of me, and report before I come and when I am come, and when I am burned, I care not much. For he that is so uncertain and will speak so often against himself, I cannot think will speak well of me, except it make for his purpose and profit. But of this enough.

Indeed the chief thing which I am condemned for as a heretic, is because I deny that in the sacrament of the altar (which is not Christ's supper, but a plain perverting of it, when used as the Papists now use it,) there is a real, natural, and corporeal presence of Christ's body and blood, under the forms and accidents of bread and wine. That is, because I deny transubstantiation, which is the darling of the devil, and daughter and heir to Antichrist's religion, whereby the mass is maintained, Christ's supper is perverted, his sacrifice and cross imperfected, his priesthood destroyed, the ministry taken away, repentance repelled, and all true godliness abandoned. In the supper of our Lord, or sacrament of Christ's body and blood, I confess and believe, that there is a true and real presence of the whole Christ, God and man, to the faith of the receiver, (but not of the stander by and looker on,) as there is a very true presence of bread and wine to the senses of him that is partaker thereof. This faith, this true doctrine, which consents with the word of God and with the true testimony of Christ's church, which the popish church persecutes, I will not forsake, and therefore am I condemned as a heretic, and shall be burned. But, my dearly beloved, this truth which I have taught, and you have received, I believed and do believe, and therein give my life. And I hope in God it shall never be burned, bound, nor overcome, but shall triumph, have victory and be at liberty, in spite of the head of all God's adversaries. For there is no counsel against the Lord, nor can any device of man be able to defeat the verity, in any other than such as are children of unbelief, which have no love to the truth, and therefore are given up to believe lies. From which plague may the Lord of mercy deliver you and all the realm, my dear hearts in the Lord, I humbly beseech his mercy. Amen.

And to the end you might be delivered from this plague, right dear to me in the Lord, I shall, for my farewell with you for ever in this present life, heartily desire you all, in the bowels and blood of our most merciful Saviour Jesus Christ, to attend unto these things which I now shall shortly write unto you, out of the holy Scriptures of the Lord.

You know that a heavy plague, or rather plagues, of God is fallen upon us, in taking away our good king and true religion, God's true prophets and ministers, etc., and setting over us such as seek not the Lord according to knowledge, those who endeavour God prospers wonderfully for the trial of many, that his people may both better know themselves, and be known. Now the cause hereof is our iniquities and grievous sins. We did not know the time of our visitation. We are unthankful unto God. We condemned the gospel, and carnally abused it to serve our hypocrisy, our vainglory, our viciousness, avarice, idleness, security, etc. Long did the Lord linger and tarry to have showed mercy upon us, but we were ever, the longer the worse. Therefore most justly has God dealt with us, and deals with us, yea, yet we may see that his justice is tempered with much mercy, whereto let us attribute that we are not utterly consumed. For if the Lord should deal with us after our deserts, alas! how could we abide it? In his anger, therefore, seeing he remembers his mercy undeserved, yea, undesired on our behalf, let us take occasion the more speedily to go out to meet him, not with force of arms, for we are not able so to withstand him, much less to prevail against him, but to beseech him to be merciful unto us, and to deal with us according to his wonted mercy.

Let us arise with David, and say, Enter not into judgement with thy servant, o Lord! For in thy sight no flesh living shall be justified. Let us send ambassadors, with the centurion, and say, Lord, we are not worthy to come ourselves unto thee; speak the word, and we shall have peace. Let us penitently, with the publican, look down on the earth, knock our hard hearts to burst them, and cry out, o God! be merciful unto us wretched sinners. Let us, with the lost son, return and say, o Father! we have sinned against heaven and earth, and before thee. We are unworthy to be called thy children. Let us, I say, do thus, that is, heartily repent us of our former evil life, and our past unthankful gospelling. Let us convert and turn to God with our whole hearts, hoping in his great mercy through Christ, and heartily calling upon his holy name. And then undoubtedly we shall find and feel otherwise, than as yet we feel both inwardly and outwardly. Inwardly we shall feel peace of conscience between God and us, which peace passes all understanding. And outwardly we shall feel much mitigation of these miseries, if not an outward taking of them away.

Therefore, my dearly beloved in the Lord, I your poorest brother, now departing to the Lord, as my farewell for this present life, pray you, beseech you, and even from the very bottom of my heart, for all the mercies of God in Christ showed unto you, I most earnestly beg and crave of you out of prison, as often out of your pulpits I have done, that you will repent you, leave your wicked and evil life, be sorry for your offences, and turn to the Lord, whose arms are wide open to receive and embrace you. Whose hand, stretched out to strike to death, stays, that he may show mercy upon you. For he is the Lord of mercy, and God of all comfort. He wills not the death of the sinner, but rather that you should return, convert, and amend. He has no pleasure in the destruction of man. His longsuffering draws to repentance before the time of vengeance and the day of wrath, which is at hand, does come.

Now is the axe laid to the root of the tree, utterly to destroy the impenitent. Now is the fire gone out before the face of the Lord. And who is able to quench it? Oh, therefore, repent you, repent you. It is enough to have lived as we have done. It is enough to have played the wanton gospellers, the proud protestants, hypocritical and false Christians, as, alas! we have done. Now the Lord speaks to us in mercy and grace. Oh! turn before he speak in wrath. Yet is there mercy with the Lord, and plenteous redemption. Yet he has not forgotten to show mercy to them that call upon him. Oh! then call upon him while he may be found, for he is rich in mercy, and plentiful, to all them that call upon him. So that he that calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. If your sins be as red as scarlet, the Lord says, he will make them as white as snow. He has sworn, and never will repent him thereof, that he will never remember our iniquities. But as he is God, faithful and true, so will he be our God, and we shall be his people. His law will he write in our hearts, and engraft in our minds, and never will he have in mind our unrighteousness. Therefore, my dear hearts in the Lord, turn you, turn you to the Lord your Father, to the Lord your Saviour, to the Lord your Comforter. Oh! why do you stop your ears and harden your hearts today, when you hear his voice by me your poorest brother? Oh! forget not how that the Lord has showed himself true, and me his true preacher, by bringing to pass these plagues, which, at my mouth, you often heard of before they came to pass. Especially when I treated of Noah's flood, and when I preached from the twenty-second chapter of St. Matthew's gospel, on St. Stephen's day, the last time that I was with you. And now by me the Lord sends you word, dear countrymen, that if you will go on forward in your impenitence, carnality, hypocrisy, idolatry, covetousness, swearing, gluttony, drunkenness, whoredom, etc., wherewith, alas, alas! our country flows; if, I say, you will not turn and leave off, seeing me now burned among you, to assure you on all sides how God seeks you, and is sorry to do you hurt, to plague you, to destroy you, to take vengeance upon you; oh! your blood will be upon your own heads. You have been warned and warned again by me in preaching, - by me in burning.

As I said therefore, I say again, my dear hearts, and darlings in the Lord, turn you, turn you, repent, repent you. Cease from doing evil. Study to do well. Away with idolatry. Fly the Romish god and service. Leave off from swearing. Cut off carnality. Abandon avarice. Drive away drunkenness. Fly from fornication and flattery, murder and malice. Destroy deceitfulness, and cast away all the works of darkness. Put on piety and godliness. Serve God after his word, and not after custom. Use your tongues to glorify God by prayer, thanksgiving, and confession of his truth, etc. Be spiritual, and by the Spirit mortify carnal affections. Be sober, holy, true, loving, gentle, merciful. And then shall the Lord's wrath cease, not for this our doings' sake, but for his mercy's sake. Go to, therefore. Good countrymen, take this counsel of the Lord by me, and now sent unto you, as the Lord's counsel and not as mine. That in the day of judgement I may rejoice with you and for you, which I heartily desire; and not to be a witness against you. My blood will cry for vengeance against the papists, God's enemies (whom I beseech God, if it be his will, heartily to forgive, yea, even them which put me to death, and are the causers thereof, for they know not what they do). So also will my blood cry for vengeance against you, my dearly beloved in the Lord, if you repent not, amend not, and turn not unto the Lord.

Turn unto the Lord, yet once more, I heartily beseech you, you Manchester, you Aston-under-Line, you Bolton, Bury, Wigan, Liverpool, Mottrin, Stepport, Winsley, Eccles, Prestwich, Middleton, Radcliff, and you city of West-Chester, where I have truly taught and preached the word of God. Turn, I say unto you all, and to all the inhabitants thereabouts, turn unto the Lord our God, and he will turn unto you. He will say unto his angel, "It is enough, put up the sword." And that he do this I humbly beseech his goodness, for the precious blood sake of his dear Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Ah! good brethren, take in good part these my last words unto every one of you. Pardon me my offences and negligences in behaviour among you. The Lord of mercy pardon us all our offences, for our Saviour Jesus Christ's sake. Amen. Out of prison, ready to come to you, the eleventh of February, anno 1555.


Letter 4. To the Town of Walden

To the faithful, and such as profess the true doctrine of our Saviour Jesus Christ, dwelling at Walden, and thereabouts. John Bradford, a most unworthy servant of the Lord, now in bands, and condemned for the same true doctrine, wishes grace, mercy, and peace, with the increase of all godliness, in knowledge and living, from God the Father of all comfort, through the deserts of our alone and full Redeemer Jesus Christ, by the mighty working of the most holy Spirit, the Comforter, for ever. Amen.

When I remember how that, by the providence and grace of God, I have been a man, by whom it has pleased him, through my ministry, to call you to repentance and amendment of life, something effectually, as it seemed, and to sow among you his true doctrine and religion; - lest that by my affliction and the storms now arisen, to try the faithful, and to conform them like to the image of the Son of God, into whose company we are called, you might be faint-hearted - I could not, but out of prison, secretly, for my keepers may not know that I have pen and ink, write unto you a signification of the desire I have, that you should not only be more confirmed in the doctrine I have taught among you, which I take on my death, as I shall answer at the day of doom, I am persuaded to be God's assured, infallible, and plain true. But also that you should, after your vocation, aver the same by confession, profession, and living. I have not taught you, my dearly beloved in the Lord,, fables, tales, or untruths. No, I have taught you the verity, as now by my blood gladly, praised be God, therefore, I seal the same.

Indeed, to confess the truth unto you, and to all the church of Christ, I think of myself, that I have most justly deserved not only this kind, but also all kinds of death, and that eternally, for my hypocrisy, vain-glory, uncleanness, self-love, covetousness, idleness, unthankfulness, and carnal professing of God's holy gospel, living therein not so purely, lovingly, and painfully as I should have done. May the Lord of mercy, for the blood sake of Christ, pardon me, as I hope, yea, certainly believe, he has done for his holy name sake. But, my dearly beloved, you and all the world may see and easily perceive, that the prelates persecute in me another thing than my iniquities, even Christ himself, Christ's verity and truth, because I cannot, dare not, will not, confess transubstantiation, and how that wicked men, yea, that even mice and dogs, eating the sacrament (which they call the sacrament of the altar, thereby overthrowing Christ's holy supper utterly,) do eat Christ's natural and real body born of the virgin Mary.

It is not enough now to believe and confess as God's word teaches, the primitive church believed, and all the catholic and good holy fathers taught, five hundred years at the least after Christ, that, in the supper of the Lord, which the mass overthrows, as it does Christ's priesthood, sacrifice, death, and passion, the ministry of the word, true faith, repentance, and all godliness; - there is whole Christ, God and man, present by grace to the faith of the receivers, but not of the standers-by and lookers-on, as bread and wine is to their senses. Therefore I am condemned, and shall be burned out of hand as a heretic. Wherefore I heartily thank my Lord God, that will and does vouch me worthy to be an instrument, in whom he himself does suffer. For you see my affliction and death is not simply because I have deserved no less, but much more at his hands and justice, but rather because I confess his verity and truth, and am not afraid through his gifts so to do that you also might be confirmed in his truth. Therefore, my dearly beloved I heartily pray you, and so many as unfeignedly love me in God, to give, with me and for me, most hearty thanks to our heavenly Father, through our sweet Saviour Jesus Christ, for this his exceeding great mercy towards me, and you also, that your faith waver not from the doctrine I have taught, and you have received. For what can you desire more to assure your consciences of the verity taught by your preachers than their own lives?

Go to therefore, my dear hearts in the Lord. Waver not in Christ's religion, truly taught you and set forth in king Edward's days. Never shall the enemies be able to burn it, to prison it, and keep it in bonds. Us they may prison, they may bind and burn, as they do, and will do so long as shall please the Lord. But our cause, religion, and doctrine, which we confess, they shall never be able to vanquish and put away. Their idolatry and popish religion shall never be built in the consciences of men that love the truth. As for those that love not God's truth, that have no pleasure to walk in the ways of the Lord, in those, I say, the devil shall prevail, for God will give them strong illusion to believe lies. Therefore, dear brethren and sisters in the Lord, I humbly beseech you and pray you, in the bowels and blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, now I am going to the death for the testimony of Jesus, as oftentimes I have done before, out of your pulpit, that you would love the Lord's truth. Love, I say, to live it, and frame your lives thereafter. Alas! you know the cause of all these plagues which are fallen upon us, and of the success which God's adversaries have daily, that it is for our not living according to God's word.

You know that we were but gospellers in lips, and not in life. We were carnal, full of concupiscence, idle, unthankful, unclean, covetous, arrogant, dissemblers, crafty, subtle, malicious, false, backbiters, etc., and even glutted with God's word. Yea, we loathed it, as the Israelites did the manna in the wilderness. And therefore, as to them the Lord's wrath waxed hot, so it does unto us. So that there is no remedy, but that, for it is better late to turn than never to turn. We confess our faults, even from the bottom of our hearts. And with hearty repentance, which may God work in us all for his mercy's sake, we run unto the Lord our God, who is ready to be entreated, merciful, and sorry for the evil poured out upon us. And we cry unto him with Daniel, saying, We have sinned, we have sinned grievously, o Lord God, against thy majesty. We have heaped iniquity upon iniquity. The measure of our transgressions flows over. So that thy vengeance and wrath are justly fallen upon us, for we are very miserable. We have contemned thy long suffering, we have not hearkened to thy voice; when thou hast called us by thy preachers, we hardened our hearts, and therefore now deserve that thou send thy curse thereupon, to harden our hearts also, that we should henceforth have eyes and see not, ears and hear not, hearts and understand not, lest we should he converted and be saved. Oh! be merciful unto us, spare us, good Lord, and all thy people whom thou hast dearly bought. Let not thine enemies triumph altogether and always against thee, for then will they be puffed up. Look down, and behold the pitiful complaints of the poor. Let the sorrowful sighing of the simple come in thy sight, and be not angry with us for ever. Turn us, o Lord God of hosts, unto thee, turn thou unto us, that thou may be justified in thy sweet sentences, and overcome when thou art judged, as now thou art by our adversaries. For they say, Where is their God? Can God deliver them now? Can their gospel serve them? O Lord! how long, for the glory of thy name, and for thy honour's sake, in the bowels and blood of Jesus Christ, we humbly beseech thee, come and help us, for we are very miserable.

In this manner I say, dearly beloved, let us publicly and privately bewail our sins, but so that hereto we join ceasing from wilfulness and sin of purpose. For else the Lord hears not our prayers, as David says. And in St. John it is written, the impenitent sinners God hears not. How impenitent are they, which purpose not to amend their lives! As for example, not only such as still follow their pleasures in covetousness, uncleanness, and carnality, but those also which for fear of favour of men against their conscience consent to the Romish rags, and resort to the rotten religion, communicating in service and ceremonies with the papist; thereby declaring themselves to love the world more than God, to fear man more than Christ, to dread the loss of temporal things more than of eternal. In whom it is evident the love of God abides not. For he that loves the world has not God's love abiding in him, says St. John. Therefore, my dear hearts, and dear again in the Lord, remember what you have professed, - Christ's religion and name, and the renouncing of the devil, sin, and the world.

Remember, before you learned ABC, your lesson was Christ's cross (note: he refers to the figure of a cross formerly put at the top of the book from which children used to learn their letters). Forget not that Christ will have no disciples, but such as will promise to deny themselves, and take up their cross. Mark, they must take it up, and follow him, and not the multitude, custom, and use. Consider, for God's sake, that if we gather not with Christ, we scatter abroad. What should it profit a man to win the whole world, and lose his own soul? We must not forget that this life is a wilderness, and not a paradise. Here is not our home. We are now in warfare. We must needs fight, or else be taken prisoners. Of all things we have in this life, we shall carry nothing with us. If Christ be our captain, we must follow Him as good soldiers. If we keep company with Him in affliction, we shall be sure of his society in glory. If we forsake not Him, He will never forsake us. If we confess Him, He will confess us. But if we deny Him, He will deny us. I we are ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of us. Wherefore, as He forsook His Father, and heaven, and all things, to come to us, so let us forsake all things to come to Him, being sure and most certain that we shall not lose thereby. Your children shall find and feel and double, yea, treble whatsoever you lose for the Lord's sake. You shall find and feel peace of conscience, and friendship with God, which is worth more than all the goods of the world.

My dearly beloved, therefore, for the Lord's sake, consider these things which I now write unto you of love, for my last farewell for ever in this present life. Turn to the Lord. Repent you of your evil and unthankful life. Declare repentance by the fruits. Take time while you have it. Come to the Lord while He calls you. Run into His lap while His arms are open to embrace you. Seek Him while He may be found. Call upon Him while time is convenient. Forsake and fly from all evil, both in religion, and in the rest of your life and conversation. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and praise God in the day of his visitation. Oh! come again, come again, you strange children, and I will receive you, says the Lord. Convert and turn to me, and I will turn to you. Why will you needs perish? As sure as I live (swears the Lord) I desire not your death. Turn therefore unto Me. Can a woman forget the child of her womb? If she should, yet I will not forget you, says the Lord your God. I am He, I am He, which puts away your sins for My Own sake.

Oh then, dear friends, turn, I say, unto your dearest Father. Cast not these sweet and loving words to the ground and behind you, for the Lord watches over His word to perform it, which He does in two ways. To them that lay it up in their hearts, and believe it, will He pay all, and eternal joy and comfort. But to them that cast it at their backs, and wilfully forget it, to them, I say, will He pour out indignation and eternal shame. Wherefore I heartily yet once more beseech you, and pray you, and every one of you, not to contemn this poor and simple exhortation, which now out of prison I make unto you, or rather the Lord by me. Loath would I to be a witness against you in the last day, as of truth I must, if you repent not, if you love not God's gospel, yea, if you live it not.

Therefore to conclude, repent, love God's gospel, live in it, make it all your conversation. So shall God's name be praised, His plagues mitigates, His people comforted, and His enemies ashamed. Grant all things, Thou gracious Lord God, to every one of us, for Thy dear Son's sake, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. To Whom, Thee and the Holy Ghost, be eternal glory, for ever and ever. Amen. The twelfth of February, anno 1555.

By the bondman of the Lord, etc.

Your afflicted poor brother,

John Bradford.


Letter 5. A comfortable letter of Master Bradford to his mother, a godly matron, dwelling in Manchester, and to his brethren and sisters, and others of his friends there

Our dear and sweet Saviour Jesus Christ, whose prisoner at this present (praised be His name therefore) I am, preserve and keep you, my good mother, with my brothers and sisters, my father John Traves, Thomas Sorrocold, Lawrence and James Bradshaw, with their wives and families, etc., now and for ever, amen!

I am at this present in prison, sure enough for starting to confirm that I have preached unto you. As I am ready, I thank God, with my life and blood to seal the same, if God consider me worthy of that honour. For, good mother and brethren, it is a most special benefit of God to suffer for His name sake and gospel, as now I do. I heartily thank Him for it, and I am sure that with Him I shall be partaker of His glory. As Paul says, If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him. Therefore be not faint-hearted, but rather rejoice, at least for my sake, which now am in the right and high way to heaven. For by many afflictions we must enter the kingdom of heaven. Now God will make known His children. When the wind does not blow, than a man cannot know the wheat from the chaff. But when the blast comes, then the chaff flies away. But the wheat remains, and is so far from being hurt, that by the wind it is cleansed from the chaff, and known to be wheat. Gold, when it is cast into the fire, is the more precious. So are God's children by the cross of affliction. God always begins His judgement at His house. Christ and the apostles were in most misery in the land of Jewry, but yet the whole land smarted for it afterwards. So now God's children are chastised in this world, that they should not be damned with the world. For surely great plagues of God hang over this realm.

You all know that there was never more knowledge of God, and less godly living and true serving of God. It was counted a foolish thing to serve God truly, and earnest prayer was not passed upon. Preaching was but a pastime. The communion was counted too common. Fasting to subdue the flesh was far out of use. Alms were almost nothing. Malice, covetousness, and uncleanness, were common everywhere, with swearing, drunkenness, and idleness. God therefore now is come, as you have heard me preach. And because He will not condemn us with the world, He begins to punish us - as me for my carnal living. For as for my preaching, I am most certain it is and was God's truth, and I trust to give my life for it by God's grace. But because I loved not the gospel truly, but outwardly, therefore He thus punishes me; nay, rather in punishing blesses me. And indeed I thank Him more for this prison than for any parlour, yea, than for any pleasure that ever I had. For in it I find God, my most sweet good God always. The flesh is punished, first to admonish us now to live heartily as we profess. Secondly, to certify the wicked of their just damnation, if they repent not.

Perchance you are weakened as to that which I have preached, because God does not defend it, as you think, but suffers the popish doctrine to come again and prevail. But you must know, good mother, that God by this proves and tries His children and people, whether they will unfeignedly and simply hang on Him and His word. So did He with the Israelites, bringing them into a desert after their coming out of Egypt. Where, I mean in the wilderness, was want of all things in comparison of that which they had in Egypt. Christ, when He came into this world, brought no worldly wealth, nor quietness with Him, but rather war. The world, said He, shall rejoice, but ye shall mourn and weep. But our weeping shall be turned into joy. And therefore, happy are they that mourn and weep, for they shall be comforted. They are marked then with God's mark in their foreheads, and not with the beast's mark, I mean the Pope's shaven crown, who now rejoices with His shavelings. But woe unto them, for they shall be cast down. They shall weep and mourn. The rich glutton had here his joy, and Lazarus sorrow, but afterwards the time was changed. The end of carnal joy is sorrow. Now, let the whoremonger joy with the drunkard, swearer, covetous, malicious, and blind buzzard Sir John (the Romish priests were so styled, editor); for the mass will not bite them, neither make then to blush, as preaching would. Now may they do what they will, come devils to the church, and go devils home, for no man may find fault, and they are glad of this. Now they have their heart's desire, as the Sodomites had when Lot was gone. But what followed? Forsooth, when they cried "Peace, all shall be well", then came God's vengeance, fire and brimstone from heaven, and burnt up every mother's child. Even so, dear mother, will it do to our papists.

Wherefore, fear God, stick to His word, though all the world swerve from it. Die you must, once, and when or how you cannot tell. Die therefore with Christ, suffer for serving Him truly and after His word. for sure may we be, that of all deaths, it is most to be desired to die for God's sake. This is the most safe kind of dying. We cannot doubt but that we shall go to heaven if we die for His name sake. And that you shall die for his name sake, God's word will warrant you, if you stick to that which God by me has taught you. You shall see that I speak as I think. For by God's grace I will drink before you of this cup, if I am put to it.

I doubt not but God will give me His grace, and strengthen me thereto. Pray that He would, and that I refuse it not. I am at a pint, even when my Lord God will, to come to Him. Death nor life, prison nor pleasure, I trust in God, shall be able to separate me from my Lord God and His gospel. In peace, when no persecution was, then you were content and glad to hear me; then you believed me. And will you not do so now, seeing I speak that which I trust by God's grace, if needs be, to verify with my life? Good mother, I write before God to you, as I have preached before Him.

It is God's truth I have taught. It is that same infallible word whereof He said, "Heaven and earth shall pass, but My word shall not pass." The mass and such baggage as the false worshippers of God and enemies of Christ's cross, the papist, have brought in again, to poison the church of God withal, displease God highly, and is abominable in His sight. Happy may he be which for conscience suffers loss of life or goods in disallowing it. Come not at it. If God be God, follow Him. If the mass be god, let them that will, see it, hear or be present at it, and go to the devil with it. What is therein as God ordained? His supper was ordained to be received of us in memorial of His death, for the confirmation of our faith, that His body was broken for us, and His blood shed for pardon of our sins. But in the mass there is no receiving, but the priest keeps all to himself alone. Christ says, Take, eat. No, says the priest, gape, peep. There is a sacrifice, yea, a killing of Christ again as much as they may. There is idolatry in worshipping the outward sign of bread and wine. There is all in Latin. You cannot tell what he says. To conclude, there is nothing as God ordained. Wherefore, my good mother, come not at it.

Oh! some will say, it will be a hindrance to you if you refuse to come to the mass, and to do as others do. But God will further you, be you assured, as you shall one day find, Who has promised to them that suffer hindrance or loss of anything in this world, His great blessing here, and in the world to come life everlasting.

You shall be counted a heretic. But not of others, only of heretics, whose praise is a dispraise.

You are not able to reason against the priests, but God will, so that all of them shall not be able to withstand you. Nobody will do so, but you only. Indeed no matter. For few enter in at the narrow gate which brings to salvation. Howbeit, you shall have with you, I doubt not, father Traves and others of my brothers and sisters, to go with you therein. But if they will not, I, your son in God, I trust, shall not leave you an inch, but go before you. Pray that I may, and give thanks for me. Rejoice in my suffering, for it is for your sakes, to confirm the truth I have taught. Howsoever you do, beware this letter come not abroad but into father Traves' hands. For if it should be known that I have pen and ink in the prison, then would it be worse with me. Therefore keep this letter to yourselves, commending me to God, and His mercy in Christ Jesus. May he make me worthy, for His name sake, to give my life for His gospel and church. Out of the Tower of London, the 6th day of October, 1553.

My name I write not, for causes you know well enough: like the letter never the worse. Command me to all our good brethren and sisters in the Lord. Howsoever you do, be obedient to the higher powers, that is, in no point either in hand or tongue rebel. But rather, if they command that which with good conscience you cannot obey, lay your head on the block, and suffer whatsoever they shall do or say. By patience possess you your souls.


Letter 6. To my loving brethren, B. C. - etc., their wives, and whole families, J. Bradford

I beseech the ever living God to grant you all, my good brethren and sisters, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and the continual sense of His mercy in Christ our Lord, now and for ever. Amen. The world, my brethren, seems to have the upper hand. Iniquity overflows. The truth and verity seem to be oppressed, and they which take part therewith are unjustly treated. And they which love the truth lament to see and hear as they do. The cause of all this is God's anger and mercy. His anger, because we have grievously sinned against Him. His mercy, because He punishes us here, and nurtures us as a father. We have been unthankful for His word. We have contemned His kindness. We have been negligent in prayer. We have been so carnal, covetous, licentious, etc., that we have not hastened to heaven-ward, but rather to hell-ward. We were fallen almost into an open contempt of God, and all His good ordinances. So that of His justice He could no longer forbear, but must make us feel His anger, as now He has done, in taking His word and true service from us, and permitting Satan to serve us with antichristian religion, and that in such a manner, that, if we will not yield to it, and seem to allow it in deed and outward fact, our bodies are likely to be laid in prison, and our goods given we cannot tell to whom.

This we should look upon as a sign of God's anger, procured by our sins, which, my good brethren, every one of us should now call to our memories oftentimes, as particularly as we can, that we may heartily lament them, repent them, hate them, ask earnestly mercy for them, and submit ourselves to bear in this life any kind of punishment which God will lay upon us for them. This we should do in consideration of God's anger at this time. Now His mercy in this time of wrath is seen, and should be seen by us, my dearly beloved, in this respect, that God vouchsafes to punish us in this present life. If He had not punished us, do not you think that we should have continued in the evils we were in? Yes, verily, we should have been worse, and have gone forward in hardening our hearts, by impenitence, and negligence of God, and true godliness. And then, if death had come, should we not have perished, both soul and body, in eternal fire and perdition? Alas! what misery we should have fallen into, if God had suffered us to go forward in our evils! No greater sign of damnation is there, than to lie in evil and sin, unpunished of God, as now the papists, my dearly beloved, are cast into Jezebel's bed of security (Rev. 3), which of all plagues is the most grievous plague that can be. They are bastards, and not sons, for they are not under God's rod of correction.

A great mercy therefore it is that God punishes us. for if He loves us not, He would not punish us. Now He chastises us, that we should not be damned with the world. Now He nurtures us, because He favours us. Now we may think ourselves God's house and children, because He begins His chastising at us. Now he calls us to remember our sins past. Wherefore? That we might repent, and ask mercy. And why? That He might forgive us, pardon us, justify us, and make us His children, and so begin to make us here like Christ, that we might be like unto Him elsewhere, even in heaven, where already we are set by faith with Christ. And at His coming, in very deed we shall enjoy His presence, when our sinful and vile bodies shall be made like to Christ's glorious body, according to the power whereby He is able to make all things subject to Himself.

Therefore, my brethren, let us in respect hereof not lament, but laud God. Let us not be sorry, but be merry; not weep, but rejoice and be glad, that God vouchsafes to offer us His cross, thereby to come to Him to endless joys and comforts. For if we suffer, we shall reign. If we confess Him before men, He will confess us before His Father in heaven. If we are not ashamed of His gospel now, He will not be ashamed of us in the last day, but will be glorified in us, crowning us with crowns of glory and endless felicity. For blessed are they that suffer persecution for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Be glad, says Peter, for the Spirit of God rests upon you. And after you are a little while afflicted, God will comfort, strengthen, and confirm you. And therefore, my good brethren, be not discouraged for cross, for prison, or loss of goods, for confession of Christ's gospel and truth which you have believed, and which was taught amongst you in the days of our late good king, and most holy prince king Edward. This is most certain, if you lose anything for Christ's sake, and for contemning the antichristian service set up again amongst us; -- as you for your parts, even in prison, shall find God's great and rich mercy for passing all worldly wealth; -- so shall your wives and children, in this present life, find and feel God's providence more plentifully than tongue can tell. For He will show merciful kindness on thousands of them that love Him. The good man's seed shall not go a-begging his bread. You are good men, so many as suffer for Christ's sake.

I trust that you all, my dearly beloved, will consider this with yourselves, and in the cross see God's mercy, which is more sweet and to be set by, than life itself, much more than any muck or pelf of this world. This mercy of god should make you merry and cheerful, for the afflictions of this life are not to be compared to the joys of the life prepared for you. You know that the way to heaven is not the wide way of the world, which winds to the devil, but it is a strait way, which few walk in. For few live godly in Christ Jesus. Few regard the life to come. Few remember the day of judgement. Few remember how Christ will deny them before His Father, that deny Him here. Few consider that Christ will be ashamed of them in the last day, which now are ashamed of His truth and true service. Few cast their accounts what will be laid to their charge in the day of vengeance. Few regard the condemnation of their own consciences, in doing that which inwardly they disallow. Few love God better than their goods.

But I trust yet, you are of this few, my dearly beloved. I trust you are of that little flock, which shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. I trust you are the mourners and lamenters, which shall be comforted with comfort that never shall be taken from you, if you now repent your former evils, if now you strive against the evils that re in you, if now you continue to call upon God, if now you defile not your bodies with any idolatrous service, used in the antichristian churches; if you molest not the good Spirit of God, Which is given you as a gage (pledge, editor) of eternal redemption, an Counsellor and Master to lead you into all truth; which good Spirit I beseech the Father of mercy to give to us all, for His dear Son's sake, Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom I commend you all and to the word of His grace, which is able to help you all, and save you all, that believe it, follow it, and serve God thereafter.

And of this I would you were all certain, that all the hairs of your heads are numbered, so that not one of them shall perish, neither shall any man or devil be able to attempt anything, much less to do anything to you, or any of you, before your heavenly Father, Which loves you most tenderly, shall give them leave. And when He has given them leave, they shall go no farther than He will, nor keep you in trouble any longer than He will. Therefore cat on Him all your care, for He is careful for you. Only study to please Him, and to keep your consciences clean, and your bodies pure from the idolatrous service, which now everywhere is used, and God will marvellously and mercifully defend and comfort you; which thing He will do for His holy name's sake in Christ our Lord. Amen.


Letter 7. To my dearly beloved in Christ, Erkinalde Rawlins and his wife

God, our dear and most merciful Father, through Christ, be with you, my good brother and sister, as with his children forever; and in all things so guide you with His Holy Spirit, the Leader of His people, as may be to His glory, and your own everlasting joy and comfort in Him. Amen. Because I have oftentimes received from either of you comfort corporeal, for which I beseech the Lord to make me thankful, and to recompense you both now and eternally, I cannot but go about (Lord, help hereto for Thy mercy's sake!) to write something for your comfort spiritually.

My dearly beloved, look not upon these days and the afflictions of the same here with us, simply as they seem unto you, that is as dismal days, and days of God's vengeance, but rather as lucky days, and days of God's fatherly kindness towards you, and such as you are, that is, towards such as repent their sins and evil life past, and earnestly purpose to amend, walking not after the will of the world, as the most part of men do, for the preservation of their pelf, which, will they, nill they, they shall leave sooner or later, and by whom, or how it shall be used, they know not. Indeed, to such as walk in their wickedness, and wind on with the world, this time is a time of wrath and vengeance; and their beginning of sorrow is but now, because they contemn the physic of their Father, which by this purging time, and cleansing days, would work their weal, which they will not. And because they will not have God's blessing, which both ways he has offered unto them by prosperity and adversity; therefore it shall be kept far enough from them, as, when the sick man will take no kind of physic at the hands of the physician, he is left alone, and so the malady increases, and destroys him at length. To such men indeed, these days are and should he doleful days, and days of woe and weeping, because their damnation draws nigh. But unto such as be penitent, and are desirous to live after the Lord's will, among whom I do not only count you, but, as far as a man may judge, I know you are, unto such I say this time is and should be comfortable. For, first, now your Father chastises you and me for our sins; for the which if he would have destroyed us, then would he have let us alone, and left us to ourselves, not taking to heart his fatherly visitation, which here it pleases him to work at present, because elsewhere he will not remember our transgressions, as Paul writes; he chastises us in this world, lest with the world. we should perish. Therefore, my dear hearts, call to mind your sins, to lament them, and to ask mercy for them in his sight, and withal undoubtedly believe to obtain pardon, and assured forgiveness of the same, for the Lord punishes not twice for one thing.

So that, I say, first we have cause to rejoice for these days, because our Father suffers us not to lie in Jezebel's bed, sleeping in our own sins and security; but is mindful of us, and corrects us as his children, whereby we may be certain that we are not bastards, but children; for he chastises every child whom he receives, so that they which are not partakers of his chastising, or that contemn it, declare themselves to be bastards and not children. But I know you are children who when you are chastised, take it to heart accordingly. And therefore be glad, my dear hearts, as folks knowing certainly, even by these visitations of the Lord, that you are his dear elect children, whose faults your Father may visit with the rod of correction, but his mercy he will never take away from you. Amen.

Secondly, you have cause to rejoice for these days, because they are days of trial, wherein not only you yourselves, but also the world, shall know that you are none of his, but the Lord's dearlings. Before these days came, how many thought of themselves that they had been in God's bosom, and so were thought, and would be thought by the world. But now we see whose they are; for to whom we obey, his servants we are. If we obey the world which God forbid, and hitherto ye have not done it, then are we the world's; but if we obey God, then are we God's; which thing (I mean that you are God's) these days have declared both to you, to me, and to all others that know you, better than ever we knew it; therefore you have no cause to sorrow, but rather to sing, seeing yourselves to be God's babes, and seeing that all God's children do so count you.

What though the world repine thereat? what though he kick? what though he seek to trouble and molest you? My dear hearts, he does but after his kind. He cannot love the Lord, who lives not in the Lord; he that hates the father, cannot bear the child; he cannot mind the servant, that cares not for the master: if you were of the world, the world would love you; you should dwell quietly; there would be no grief, no molestation. If the devil dwelt in you (which the Lord forbid) he would not stir up his servants to besiege your house, to snatch your goods, or suffer his fiends to enter into your hogs; but because Christ dwells in you, as he does by faith, therefore he stirs up his first-begotten son, the world, to seek how to disquiet you, to rob you, to spoil you, to destroy you. And perhaps your dear Father, to try and to make known to you and to the world, that you are destined to another dwelling than here on earth, to another city than man's eyes have seen at any time, has given or will give power to Satan and to the world to take from you the things which he has lent you; and, by taking away, to try your fidelity, obedience, and love towards him; for you may not love them above him, as by giving what you have, and continuing it, he has declared his love towards you.

Satan perchance tells God, as he did of Job, that you love God for your goods' sake. What now then if the Lord, to try you, with Job, shall give Satan power on your goods and body accordingly; should you be dismayed? should you despair? should you be fainthearted? Should you not rather rejoice, as did the apostles, that they were counted worthy to suffer anything for the Lord's sake? Oh! forget not the end that happened to Job, for as it happened unto him, so shall it happen unto you; for God is the same God, and cannot long forget to show mercy to them that look and long for it, as I know you do, and I pray you so to do still; for the Lord loves you, and never can nor will forget to show and pour out his mercy upon you. After a little while that he has afflicted and tried you (says Peter) he will visit, comfort, and confirm you. As unto Jacob, wrestling with the angel, at the length morning came, and the sun arose, so, dear hearts, doubtless it will happen unto you. Howbeit, do you as Job and Jacob did: that is, order and dispose your things, that God has lent you, as you may, and while you have time,ówho knows whether God has not given you power thus long even for that purpose?

Go to, therefore, dispose your goods, prepare yourselves to trial, that either you may stand to it, like God's champions, or else, if you feel such infirmity in yourselves that you are not able, give place to violence, and go where you may with free and safe conscience serve the Lord. (Erkinalde Rawlins and his wife followed this counsel, and fled beyond sea. Editor.) Think not this counsel to come by chance or fortune, but to come from the Lord. Other oracles we may not look for now. As God told Joseph in a dream by an angel, that he should see, so if you feel such infirmity, in yourselves as should turn to God's dishonour, and your own destruction, know that at this present I am as God's angel, to admonish you to take time while you have it, and to see that in no case God's name by you might be dishonoured. Joseph might have objected the omission of his vocation (the loss of his business, editor), as perchance you will do; but, dear hearts, let vocations, and all things else, give place to God's name, and the sanctifying thereof.

This I speak, not as though I would not have you rather to tarry and to stand to it, but I speak it in respect of your infirmity, which if you feel to be so great in you that you are not certain of this hope, that God will never tempt you above your ability, flee and get you hence, and know that thereby God will have you tried, to yourselves and to others. For by it you shall know how to take this world, and that your home here is no home, but that you look for another, and so give occasion to others to love this world less, and perchance to some to doubt of their religion, wherein, though they are earnest, yet would they not lose so much as you do for your religion, which you do confirm to me and others by your giving place to violence.

Last of all, you have cause to rejoice over these our days, because they are days of conformation, in which and by which God our heavenly Father makes us like unto Christ's image here, that we may be like unto him elsewhere. For if we suffer with him, then we shall reign also with him; if we are buried with him, then we shall rise with him again; if we company with him in all troubles and afflictions, then we shall rejoice with him in glory; if we now sow with him in tears, we shall reap with him in gladness; if we confess him before men, he will confess us before his Father in heaven; if we take his part, he will take ours; if we lose aught for his name's sake, he will give us all things for his truth's sake. So that we ought to rejoice and be glad, for it is not given to every one to suffer loss of country, life, goods, house, &c. for the Lord's sake. What can God the Father do more unto us, than to call us into the camp with his Son? what may Christ our Saviour do more for us, than to make us his warriors? what can the Holy Ghost do to us above this, to mark us with the cognisance of the Lord of Hosts?

The cognisance of the Lord stands not in forked caps, tippets, shaven crowns, or such other baggage and antichristian pelf, but in suffering for the Lord's sake. The world shall hate you, says Christ. Lo! there is the cognisance and badge of God's children:óthe world shall hate you. Rejoice, therefore, my dearly beloved; rejoice that God thus vouchsafes to begin to conform you, and to make you like to Christ. By the trial of these days you are occasioned more to repent, more to pray, more to contemn this world, more to desire life everlasting, more to he holy, for to be holy is the end wherefore God afflicts us, and so to come to God's company; which thing, because we cannot do, as long as this body is as it is, therefore by the door of death we must enter, with Christ, into eternal life, and immortality of soul and body which God of his mercy send shortly, for our Saviour Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.


Letter 8. To Mistress A. Warcup

The everlasting peace of Christ be more and more lively felt in your hearts, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, now and for ever. Amen.

Although I know it is not needful to write anything unto you, good sister, being, as I doubt not you are, diligently exercised in reading of the scriptures, in meditating of the same, and in hearty prayer to God for the help of his Holy Spirit for the sense and feeling, especially of the comforts you read in God's sweet book; yet having such opportunity, and knowing not whether hereafter I shall ever have the like, as this bringer can declare, I thought good, in few words, to take my farewell in writing, because otherwise I cannot. And now methinks I have done it: for what else can I, or should I say unto you, my dearly beloved in the Lord, but farewell? Farewell, dear sister, farewell; howbeit, in the Lord, our Lord, I say, farewell! In him shall you fare well, and so much the better, by how much in yourself you fare evil, and shall fare evil.

When I speak of yourself, I mean also this world, this life, and all things properly pertaining to this life: in them you look not for your welfare, and be not dismayed when accordingly you shall not feel it. To the Lord our God, to the Lamb our Christ, which has borne our sins on his back, and is our Mediator for ever, do I send you. In him look for welfare, and that without all wavering, because of his own goodness and truth, which many evils and untruth cannot take away. Not that, therefore, I would have you to flatter yourself in any evil or unbelief; but that I would comfort you, that they should not dismay you. Yours is our Christ, wholly; yours I say he is, with all that ever he has. Is not this welfare, think you? Mountains shall move, and the earth shall fall, before you find it otherwise, say that liar Satan what he list.

Therefore, good sister, farewell, and be merry in the Lord; be merry, I say, for you have good cause. If your welfare, joy, and salvation, hanged upon any other thing than only God's mercy and truth, then might you well be sad, heavy, and stand in doubt; but since it hangs only upon these two, tell Satan he lies, when he would have you to stand in a mammering (hesitating, editor), by causing you to cast your eyes on yourself in some respect, which in this ease should be set on Christ your sweet Saviour only. Indeed, look on yourself, on your faith, on your love, obedience, &c. to wake you up from security, to stir you up to diligence in doing the things appertaining to your vocation. But when you would be at peace with God, and have true consolation in your conscience, altogether look upon the goodness of God in Christ, think on this commandment, which precedes all other, that you must have no other gods but the Lord Jehovah, which is your Lord and God; which he could not be if he did not pardon your sins in very deed. Remember that Christ commands you to call him Father for the same intent. And hereto call to mind all the benefits of God, hitherto showed unto you, and so shall you feel, in very deed, that which I wish unto you and pray you to wish unto me. Farewell, or welfare, in the Lord Jesus; with whom may he grant us shortly to meet, as his children, for his name and mercy's sake, to out eternal welfare. Amen. Amen.

Your own in the Lord,

John Bradford.


Letter 9. To mine own dear brother, Master Laurence Saunders, prisoner in the Marshalsea

My good brother, I beseech our good and gracious Father always to continue his gracious favour and love towards us, and by us, as by instruments of his grace, to work his glory and the confusion of his adversaries. Out of the mouths of infants and babes he will show forth his praise to destroy the enemy, &c.

I have perused your letters for myself, and have read them to others; for answer whereof, if I should write what Doctor Taylor and Master Philpot think, then must I say that they think the salt sent us by your friend (this friend advised them to subscribe to the Papists' articles with this condition, "so far as they were not against Gods word," when in fact they were quite contrary to it, yet shortly after he valiantly suffered death for refusing the same; Letters of the Martyrs,) is unseasonable; and indeed I think they both will declare it heartily, if they should come before men. As for me, if you would know what I think, because I am so sinful, and so defiled, (the Lord knows I lie not,) with maw grievous sins, which I hope are washed away by the blood of Christ our Lord, I neither can nor would be consulted withal, but as a cipher. Howbeit, to tell you how and what I mind, take this: I pray God that in no case I may seek myself, and indeed, I thank God therefore, I purpose it not. That which remains I commit to my Lord God; and I trust in him that he will do according to this: Cast thy care on the Lord, &c. Cast all your care upon him, &c. Reveal unto the Lord thy way, and trust, &c. Whoso trusts in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. I did not, nor do I know, but by your letters, that tomorrow we shall come in the presence of each other. Mine own heart, stick still to, "It shall be given you," &c.; for the Lord is faithful; he will in temptation make a way, that ye may be able to bear it. The Lord knows how to rid out of temptation the godly, &c. Oh! would God I were godly! The Lord knows how to deliver out of temptation such as trust in him, &c. I cannot think that they will offer any kind of indifferent or mean conditions, for if we will not adore "The Beast," we never shall be delivered, but against their will, think I. God our Father and gracious Lord make perfect the good he has begun in us! He will do it, my brother, my dearest brother, whom I have in my heart to live and die with. Oh! if I were with you! Pray for me, mine own heart-root in the Lord.

For ever your own,

John Bradford.


Letter 10. Another Letter to Master Laurence Saunders

God's sweet peace in Christ be with you, my good term brother in the Lord Jesus, and with all your fellow captives.

I was hindered this morning from musing on that which I purposed to have thought on, by reason of you; against whom I saw myself guilty of negligence, even in this point, that I would not writeóI should say that I had not written unto you as yet. Therefore out of hand, I prepared myself to clear myself hereof; not that I will go about to excuse my fault, for that were more to load me; but by asking both God and you pardon, to get it no more laid to my charge. Now when I was thus purposing, and partly doing, there comes one with a letter from you; for which as I have cause to thank God and you, (howbeit not so that you should think I give not the whole to God,) so I see myself more blameworthy for thus long holding my peace. Howbeit, good brother, in this I have given a demonstration to you, to behold my negligence in all other things, and especially in praying for you, and for the church of God; which for my sins and hypocrisy (hypocrisy, indeed!óeven in this writing; God deliver me from it!) have deserved to be punished. God is just, for we have deserved all kind of plagues at his hands; but yet he is merciful, that will on this wise chastise us in this world, that we should not be condemned with the world. He might otherwise have punished us; I mean he might have cast us into prison for other causes, me especially, and not for his gospel and word's sake; praised, therefore, be his name, which vouchsafes us worthy this honour. Ah, good God! forgive us our sins, and work by this thy fatherly correction on usóon me especially, effectually to love thee and thy Christ; and with joyfulness to carry thy cross to the end, through thick and thin. Always set before our eyes, not this gallows on earth, if we stick to thee; but the gallows in hell, if we deny thee, and swerve from that we have professed.

Ah, good brother! if I could always have God, his majesty, mercy, heaven, hell, &c. before mine eyes, then should I be, as Paul writes of Moses, Heb. 11, "He endured, (says he,) as seeing Him who is invisible." Pray for me, as I know you do, and give thanks also; for in the Lord I trust I shall not waver. If I walk by the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear, for thou art with me, O Lord. I think we shall be shortly called forth, for now they have a law, and according to that law we must die, otherwise they will not reason with us, and I think their sheet-anchor will be, to require us to subscribe; the which thing if we do, though with the condition only so far as the thing subscribed to, opposes not against Gods word, yet this will be offensive. Wherefore let us all confess we are no changelings; but are the same we were in religion, and therefore cannot subscribe, except we dissemble both with God, ourselves, and the world. These things I write unto you, dear brother in the Lord: now I will read your epistle. Ah, brother! that I had the practical understanding with you in that Vine, which you describe! Pray the Lord that I may so think indeed. God make me thankful for you! All our fellow-prisoners salute you, and give thanks to God for you. The same do you for us, and pray that, &c.

Your brother in the Lord Jesus, to live and die with you,

John Bradford.


Letter 11. To my dear fathers, D. Cranmer, D. Ridley, D. Latimer, prisoners in Oxford for the testimony of the Lord Jesus and his holy gospel

May Almighty God our heavenly Father more and more kindle our hearts and affections with his love, that our greatest cross may be to be absent from him and strangers from our home, and that we may godly contend more and more to please him. Amen.

As I have always had great cause to praise our dear Father through Christ; so I think I have more and more, in seeing it is more likely that the end of my life which is due for my sin, will be through the exceeding grace of Christ a testimony of God's truth. Thus the Lord deals not with everybody: not that everybody has not deserved more at God's hands than I who have deserved more vengeance than any other, I know, of my time and state, but that by me I hope the Lord will make the riches of his grace to his glory, to be seen more excellent. Therefore I humbly beseech you all, my most dear fathers in God, with me to give thanks for me, and as you do, still to pray for me that the Lord, as for his love's sake in Christ he has begun his good work in me, even so of and for the same his love's sake in Christ he would make it perfect; and make me to continue to the end, as I hope he will, for his mercy and truth endures for ever. As for your parts, since it is commonly thought your staff stands next to the door, you have the more cause to rejoice and be glad, as they which shall come to your fellows under the altar, (Rev. vi.,) to the which society may God bring me also with you, in his mercy, when it shall be his good pleasure. I have received many good things from you me good lord, master, and dear father, N. Ridley, fruits I mean of your godly labours. All which I send unto you again by this bringer: one thing except, which he can tell, I do keep for your further pleasure to be known therein. And herewith I send unto you a little treatise which I have made, that you might peruse the same, and not only you, but also you my other most dear and reverend fathers in the Lord for ever, to give to it your approbation as you may think good. All the prisoners hereabouts in manner have seen it and read it; and therein they agree with me, nay rather with the truth: as they are ready and will be to signify it as they shall see you give them example. The matter may be thought not so necessary as I seem to make it; but yet if you knew the great evil that is likely hereafter to come to posterity by these men, as partly this bringer can signify unto you; surely then could you not but be most willing to put your helping hands hereto. The which that I might more occasion you to perceive, I have sent you a writing of Harry Harte's (this was the chief maintainer of man's free will, and enemy to God's free grace; Letters of the Martyrs) own hand, whereby you may see how Christ's glory and grace is likely to lose much light if your sheep be not something helped by them which love God, and are able to prove that all good is to be attributed only and wholly to God's grace and mercy in Christ without respect of other worthiness than Christ's merits. The effects of salvation they so mingle and confound with the cause, that if it is not seen to, more hurt will come by them than ever came by the papists, inasmuch as their life commends them to the world more than the papists. God is my witness that I write not this, but because I desire Gods glory and the good of his people. In free will they are plain papists, yea Pelagians, and you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. They utterly contemn all learning (this is well known to any who have had to do with them in disputations, or otherwise, for they have utterly rejected and despised the writings and authority of the learned; Letters of the Martyrs). But hereof the bearer will show you more. I complain of it to you as the chief captains of Christ's church here. And truly I must complain of you even unto God in the last day if you will not, as far as you can, help that the truth of doctrine may remain among those that come after, in this point, as you have done respecting the matters expunged by the papists (upon this occasion, M Ridley wrote a learned and godly treatise upon God's election and predestination; Letters of the Martyrs). May God for his mercy in Christ guide you, my most dearly beloved fathers, with his Holy Spirit here and in all other things, as may most tend to his glory and the advantage of the church. Amen.

All here, God be praised for it, prepare themselves willingly to pledge our captain Christ, when he will and how he will. By your good prayers we shall all fare the better, and therefore we all pray you to continue to cry to God for us as we, God willing, do and will remember you. My brethren here with me have thought it their duty to signify that this need is not less than I make it, to prevent the plantations which may take root by these men.

Yours, in the Lord, John Bradford.

Robert Ferrar, Rowland Taylor, John Philpot.


Letter 12. To my dear fathers, D. Cranmer, D. Ridley, and D. Latimer

Jesus Emmanuel. My dear fathers in the Lord, I beseech God our sweet Father, through Christ, to make perfect the good he has begun in us all. Amen.

I had thought that all your staves had stood next the door, but now it is otherwise perceived. Our dear brother Rogers has broken the ice valiantly; and as this day, I think, or tomorrow at the uttermost, hearty Hooper, sincere Saunders, and trusty Taylor, end their course, and receive their crown. The next am I, which hourly look for the porter to open for me the gates after them, to enter into the desired rest. God forgive me mine unthankfulness for this exceeding great mercy, that amongst so many thousands it pleases his mercy to choose me to be one in whom he will suffer. For although it is most true that I justly suffer, for I have been a great hypocrite, and a grievous sinneróthe Lord pardon me! yea, he has done it; he has done it indeed; yet, what evil has he done? Christ, whom the prelates persecute; his verity, which they hate in me, has done no evil, nor deserves death. Therefore ought I most heartily to rejoice of this dignation (being accounted worthy; this is a singular mercy of God to have death, which is a punishment due for sin, turned into a demonstration and testimony of the Lords truth; Letters of the Martyrs), and tender kindness of the Lord towards me, which uses this remedy for my sin, as a testimonial of his testament; to his glory, to my everlasting comfort, to the edifying of his church, and to the overthrowing of antichrist and his kingdom. Oh, what am I, Lord! that thou shouldest thus magnify me, so vile a man and miserable as I always have been? Is this thy wont, to send for such a wretch, and a hypocrite, as I have been, in a fiery chariot, as thou did for Elias? Oh, dear fathers! be thankful for me, and pray for me, that I still may be found worthy in whom the Lord would sanctify his holy name. And for your part, make you ready: for we are but your gentlemen-ushers. The marriage of the Lamb is prepared; come unto the marriage. I now go to leave my flesh there, where I received it. I shall be conveyed thither, as Ignatius was to Rome, by wild beasts (he means that he should be conveyed by the Queen's guard into Lancashire, to be burned as the adversaries had once determined; like as Ignatius was conveyed to Rome by a company of soldiers and cast to the wild beasts; Letters of the Martyrs), by whose evil I hope to be made better; God grant what I ask, if it be his will, it may make them better by me. Amen.

For my farewell, therefore, I write and send this unto you, trusting shortly to see you, where we shall never be separated; in the mean season, I will not cease, as I have done, to commend you to our Father in heaven, and I must heartily pray every one of you, that you would so do by me; you know now I have most need; but faithful is God, which will not suffer us to be tempted above our strength. He never did it hitherto, nor now, and I am assured he never will. Amen. He is on my right hand, therefore I shall not fall. Wherefore my heart shall rejoice; for he shall not leave my soul in hell, neither shall suffer me, his holy one, by his grace in Christ, to see corruption. Out of prison, in haste, looking for the tormentor. The 8th of February, 1555.

John Bradford.


Letter 13. To the Right Honourable Lord Russell, (afterwards Earl of Bedford), being then in trouble for the verity of God's gospel.

The everlasting and most gracious God and Father of our Saviour Jesus Christ, bless your good Lordship with all manner of heavenly blessings, in the same Christ, our only comfort and hope. Amen.

Praised be God our Father, which has vouched you worthy, of faith in his Christ, and of his cross for the same. Magnified be his holy name, who, as he has delivered you from one cross, so he has made you willing, I trust, and ready, to bear another, when he shall see it his time to lay it upon you; for these are the most singular gifts of God, given to few, and to none else but to those few which are most dear in his sight. Faith is reckoned, and worthily, amongst the greatest gifts of God; yea, it is itself the greatest that we may enjoy; for by it, as we are justified, and made God's children, so are we temples and possessors of the Holy Spirit; yea, of Christ also, Eph. 4. and of the Father himself, John, 14: by faith we drive the devil away, l Peter 5; we overcome the world, l John 5; and are already citizens of heaven, and fellows with God's dear saints. But who is able to reckon the riches that this favour brings with her, unto the soul she sits upon? No man or angel. And therefore, as I said, of all God's gifts she may be set at the top, and have the upmost seat. Which if men considered, that she comes alone from God's own mercy-seat by the hearing, not of mass, matins, diriges, or such dross, but of the word of God, in such a tongue as we can and do understand, they would be diligent, and take great heed for doing or seeing any thing which might cast her down, for then they fall also. And they would, with no less care, read and hear God's holy word, joining thereto most earnest and frequent prayer, as well for the more and better understanding, as for the loving, living, and confessing of the same, in spite of the head of the devil, the world, our flesh, reason, goods, possessions, carnal friends, wife, children, and very life, here; though they should pull us back to hearken to their voice and counsel for more quiet sure and longer use of them.

Now, notwithstanding this excellency of faith, since we find the apostle to match therewith, yea, as it were, to prefer suffering persecution for Christ's sake, I think no man will be so foolish as to think otherwise, but that I and all God's children have cause to glorify and praise God, which has vouched you worthy so great a blessing. For though the reason or wisdom of the world think of the cross according to their reach, and according to their present sense, and therefore fly from it, as from a most grievous ignominy and shame; yet God's scholars have learned otherwise to think of the cross, that it is the frame-house in which God frames his children like to his Son Christ; the furnace that fines God's gold; the highway to heaven; the suit and livery (allowances given to servants, editor) that God's servants are served withal; the earnest and beginning of all consolation and glory; for they, I mean God's scholars, as your lord-ship I trust is, enter into God's sanctuary lest their feet slip. They look not, as beasts do, on things present only, but on things to come, and so they have present to faith, the judgment and glorious coming of Christ Jesus; as the wicked now have their worldly wealth, wherein they wallow, and will wallow till they tumble headlong into hell, where are torments terrible and endless. Now they follow the fiend, as the bear does the train of honey, and the sow the swillings, till they are brought into the slaughter-house, and they know that their prosperity has brought them to perdition. Then cry they, "woe, woe! we went the wrong way; we counted these men (I mean such as you are, that for God's sake suffer loss of goods, friends, and life, whom they shall see endued with rich robes of righteousness, crowns of most pure precious gold, and palms of conquest in the goodly glorious palace of the Lamb, where is eternal joy. felicity, &c.); we counted, will they then say, these men but fools and madmen. We took their condition to be but curiosity, but then will it be too late; then the times will be turned, laughing shall be turned into weeping, and weeping into rejoicing." Read Wisdom, ii. iii. iv. v.

Therefore, as I have said before, I have great cause to thank God, which has vouched you worthy of this most bountiful blessing: much more then you have cause, my good Lord, so to be, I mean thankful; for look upon your vocation: I pray you tell me how many noblemen, earls' sons, lords, knights, and men of estimation, has God in this realm of England dealt thus withal? I dare say you think not that you have deserved this. Only God's mercy in his Christ has wrought this in you, as he did in Jeremiah's time, on Ebedmelech; in Ahab's time, on Obadiah; in Christ's time, on Joseph of Arimathea; in the apostles' time, on Sergius Paulus, and the Queen Candace's chamberlain. Only now be thankful and continue; continue, my good Lord, continue to confess Christ. Be not ashamed of him before men, for then he will not be ashamed of you. Now will he try you; stick fast unto him, and he will stick fast by you; he will be with you in trouble, and deliver you. But then you must cry unto him, for so it follows; He cried unto me, and I heard him; I was with him in trouble, &c. Psalm 91.

Remember Lot's wife which looked back. Remember Francis Spira. Remember that none is crowned, but he that strives lawfully. Remember that all you have is at Christ's commandment. Remember he lost more for you, than you can lose for him. Remember you lose not that which is lost for his sake; for you shall find much more here and elsewhere. Remember you shall die; and when and where, and how, you cannot tell. Remember the death of sinners is most terrible. Remember the death of God's saints is most precious in his sight. Remember the multitude goes the wide way, which winds to woe. Remember, the strait gate which leads to glory has but few travellers: remember, Christ bids you strive to enter in thereat. Remember, he that trusts in the Lord shall receive strength to stand against all the assaults of his enemies. Be certain all the hairs of your head are numbered. Be certain your good Father has appointed bounds, over which the devil dares not look. Commit yourself to Him; he is, has been, and will be, your keeper. Cast your care on him, and he will care for you. Let Christ be your scope and mark to aim at; let him be your pattern to work by, let him be your example to follow: give him your heart, and your hand; your mind, and your tongue; your faith, and your feet: and let his word be your candle to go before you, in all matters of religion. Blessed is he that walks not to these popish prayers, nor stands at them, nor sits at them. Glorify God both in soul and body. He that gathers not with Christ, scatters abroad. Use prayer; look for God's help, which is at hand, to them that ask; and hope thereafter assuredly. In which prayer, I heartily desire your Lordship to remember us, who, as we are going with you right gladly, (God therefore be praised,) so we look to go before you, hoping that you will follow, if God so will, according to your daily prayer; Thy will be done on earth, &c. The good Spirit of God always guide your Lordship unto the end. Amen.

Your lordship's own for ever.

John Bradford.


Letter 14. To Master Warcup and his wife, Mistress Wilkinson, and others of his godly friends, with their families

The same peace our Saviour Christ left with his people, which is not without war with the world, Almighty God work plentifully in your hearts now and for ever. Amen.

The time I perceive is come wherein the Lord's ground will be known; I mean, it will now shortly appear who have received God's gospel into their hearts indeed, to the taking of good root therein; for such will not wither, for a little heat or sun-burning, but will stiffly stand and grow on, in spite of the malice of all burning showers and tempests. And for as much as, my beloved in the Lord, I am persuaded of you that you are indeed the children of Godó and God's good ground which grows, and will grow on, by God's grace, bringing forth fruit to God's glory, after your vocations, as occasions shall be offered, burn the sun never so hot; therefore I cannot but so signify unto you, and heartily pray you, and every one of you, accordingly to go on forwards after your master, Christ; not sticking at the foul way and stormy weather, which you are come into, and are like so to do. Being most certain, that the end of your journey shall be pleasant and joyful, in such a perpetual rest and blissfulness, as cannot but swallow up the showers that you now feel, and are soused in, if you often set before your eyes, Paul's counsel in the latter end of the fourth, and beginning of the fifth chapter of the second Epistle to the Corinthians. Read it, I pray you, and remember it often, as a restorative to refresh you, lest you faint in the way.

And besides this, set before you also, that though the weather is foul, and storms grow apace, yet you go not alone, but others your brothers and sisters tread the same path, as St. Peter tells us, and therefore company should cause you to be the more courageous and cheerful. But if you had no company at all to go at present with you, I pray you tell me, if even from the beginning the best of God's friends have found any fairer weather and way to the place whither ye are going, I mean to heaven, than you now find, and are like to do, except you will with the worldlings, which have their portion in this life, tarry still by the way, till the storms be overpass, and then either night will so approach that you cannot travel, or the doors will be barred before ye come, and so you then must lodge without in wonderful evil lodgings. Read Revelation, xxii. Begin at Abel, and come from him to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, the Patriarchs, Moses, David, Daniel, and all the saints of the Old Testament, and tell me whether ever any of them found any fairer way than you now find?

If the Old Testament will not serve, I pray you come to the New, and begin with Mary and Joseph, and come from them to Zechariah, Elizabeth, John Baptist, and every one of the Apostles and Evangelists, and search whether they all found any other way unto the city we travel towards, than by many tribulations.

Besides these, if you call to remembrance the primitive church, you would see many who have cheerfully given their bodies to most grievous torments, rather than they would be stopped in their journey. There is no day in any year, but (I dare say) a thousand at least, with great joy, lost their homes here; and in the city they went unto have found other manner of homes than man's mind is able to conceive.

But if none of these things were soóIf you had no company now to go with you, as you have me, your poor brother and bondman of the Lord, with many others, I trust in God, if you have none other of the fathers, patriarchs, good kings, prophets, apostles, evangelists, martyrs, and other holy saints and children of God, who in their journey to heavenward found, as you now find, and are like to find, if you go on forward, as I trust you will; yet you have your Master and your Captain, Jesus Christ, the dear darling and only begotten and beloved Son of God, in whom was all the Father's pleasure, joy, and delectation; you have him who went before you, no fairer way, but one much fouler into this our city of Jerusalem. I need not, I trust, rehearse what manner of way he found. Begin at his birth, and till you come to his burial, you shall find that every step and stride of his journey was no better, but much worse. than yours is now.

Wherefore my dearly beloved in the Lord, be not so dainty as to look for that at God's hands, your dear Father, which the fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, evangelists, martyrs, saints, and his own Son Jesus Christ, did not find. Hitherto we have had fair way and fair weather also: now because we have loitered by the way, and not made the speed we should have done, our loving God and sweet Father has overcast the weather, and stirred up storms and tempests, that we might with more haste run out our race before night come, and the doors be barred. The devil stands now at every inn-door in his city and country of this world, crying unto us to tarry and lodge in this or that place, till the storms be overpass; not that he would not have us wet to the skin, but that the time might overpass us, to our utter destruction. Therefore beware of his enticements. Cast not your eyes on things that are present, how this man does, and that man does, but cast your eyes on the mark you run at, or else you will lose the game.

You know that he which runs at the mark, does not look on others that stand by, and go this way or that way, but he looks altogether at the mark, and on them that run with him, that those which are behind overtake him not, and that he may overtake them that are before. Even so should we do, leaving off looking on those which will not run the race to heaven's bliss, by the path of persecution with us, and casting our eyes on the end of our race, and on them that go before us, that we may overtake them; and on them which come after us, that we may provoke them to come faster after.

He that shoots, will not cast his eyes in his shooting on them that stand by, or ride by the way, but rather at the mark he shoots at, for else he were likely to win the wrong way! Even so, my dearly beloved, let your eyes be set on the mark you shoot at, even Christ Jesus, who for the joy set before him did joyfully carry his cross, contemning the shame, and therefore he now sits on the right hand of the throne of God. Let us follow him, for this he did, that we should not be fainthearted; for we may be most assured, that if we suffer with him, we shall undoubtedly reign with him; but if we deny him, surely he will deny us. For he that is ashamed of me, says Christ, and of my gospel, in this faithless generation, I will be ashamed of him before the angels of God in heaven. Oh! how heavy a sentence is this to all such as know the mass to be an abominable idol, full of idolatry, blasphemy, and sacrilege, against God and his Christ, as undoubtedly it is, and yet for fear of men, for loss of life or goods, yea, some for advantage or gain, will honest (make it appear, editor) it with their presence, dissembling both with God and man, as their own heart and conscience accuses them! Better it were that such had never known the truth, than thus wittingly, and for fear or favour of man, whose breath is in his nostrils, dissemble it, or rather, as indeed it is, deny it. The end of such is like to be worse than their beginning. Such had need to take heed to the two terrible places to the Hebrews, in the 6th and 10th chapters, lest by so doing they fall therein. Let them beware they play not willy-beguile (do not deceive themselves, editor) with themselves, as some do, I fear me, which go to mass, and because they worship not, nor kneel, nor knock, as others do, but sit still in their pews, therefore they think they rather do good to others than hurt.

But, alas! if these men would look into their own consciences, there should they see they are very dissemblers, and in seeking to deceive others, for by this means the magistrates think them of their sort, they deceive themselves. They think at the elevation-time, all men's eyes are set upon them to mark how they do. They think others, hearing of such men going to mass, do see or inquire of their behaviour there. Oh! if there were in those men that are so present at the mass, either love to God or to their brethren, then would they, for the one or both, openly take God's part, and admonish the people of their idolatry. They fear man more than Him which has power to cast both soul and body into hell fire: they halt on both knees: they serve two masters. God have mercy upon such, and open their eyes with his eye-salve, that they may see that they which take no part with God are against God: and that they which gather not with Christ, do scatter abroad. Oh! that they would read what St. John says will be done to the fearful! The counsel given to the church at Laodicaea is good counsel for such. Rev. iii. xxi.

But to return to you again, dearly beloved: Be not ashamed of God's gospel. It is the power of God to salvation to all those that believe it. Be therefore partakers of the addictions, as God shall make you able, knowing for certain that he will never tempt you farther than he will make you able to bear; and think it no small grace of God to suffer persecution for God's truth; for the Spirit of God rests upon you, and you are happy, as one day you shall see. Read 2 Thessalonians, i.; Hebrews, xii. As the fire hurts not gold, but makes it finer, so shall you be more pure by suffering with Christ. 1 Pet. i. The flail and wind hurts not the wheat, but cleanses it from the chaff; and you, dearly beloved, are God's wheat; fear not therefore the flail; fear not the fanning wind; fear not the mill-stone; fear not the oven: for all these make you more meet for the Lord. Soap, though it is black, soils not the cloth, but rather at length makes it more clean. Because you are God's sheep, prepare yourselves for the slaughter, always knowing that in the sight of the Lord our death shall be precious. The souls under the altar look for us to fill up their number: happy are we if God have so appointed us. However it be, dearly beloved, cast yourselves wholly upon the Lord, with whom all the hairs of your head are numbered, so that not one of them shall perish. Will we, nill we, we must drink God's cup, if he has appointed it for us. Drink it willingly then, and at the first, when it is will, lest peradventure, if we linger, we shall drink at length of the dregs with the wicked, if at the beginning we drink not with his children; for with them his judgment begins; and when he has wrought his will on Mount Sion, then will he visit the nations round about.

Submit yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God. No man shall touch you without his knowledge. When they touch you therefore, know it is for your weal. God thereby will work to make you like unto Christ here, that you maybe also like unto him elsewhere. Acknowledge your unthankfulness and sin, and bless God that corrects you in the world, because you shall not be condemned with the world. He might otherwise correct us, than by making us to suffer for righteousness' sake, but this he does because we are not of the world. Call upon his name, through Christ, for his help, as he commands us. Believe that he is merciful to you, hears you, and helps you. "I am with him in trouble, and will deliver him," says he. Know that God has appointed bounds, over which the devil and all the world shall not pass. If all things seem to be against us, yet say with Job, If he kill me, I will hope in him. Read the 91st Psalm, and pray for me, your poor brother and fellow-sufferer for God's gospel sake, his name therefore be praised: and of his mercy may he make me and you worthy to suffer with good conscience for his name's sake. Die once we must, and when we know not: happy are they to whom God gives to pay nature's debt, I mean, to die for his sake.

Here is not our home: therefore let us accordingly consider things, always having before our eyes the heavenly Jerusalem. Heb. xii.; Rev. xxi. and xxii. Remembering that the way thither is by persecutions; the dear friends of God, how they have gone it after the example of our Saviour Jesus Christ, whose footsteps let us follow, even to the gallows, if God so will, not doubting, but that as he within three days rose again immortal, even so we shall do in our time, that is, when the trump shall blow, and the angel shall shout, and the Son of man shall appear in the clouds, with innumerable saints and angels, in majesty and great glory, then shall the dead arise, and we shall be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord, and so be always with him. Comfort yourselves with these words, and pray for me. From prison. 19 November, 1553.

John Bradford.


Letter 15. To Sir James Hales, Knt., then prisoner in the Compter in Bread Street

The God of mercy, and Father of all comfort, plentifully pour out upon you, and in you, his mercy; and with his consolation comfort and strengthen you to the end, for his and our Christ's sake.

Although, right worshipful sir, many causes might move me to be content with crying for you to your God and my God, that he would give you grace to persevere well, as he has right notably begun, to the great glory of his name, and comfort of all such as fear him; as lack of learning, of familiarity, yea acquaintance, for I think I am unknown to you, both by face and name, and other such-like things might do; yet I cannot content myself, but I presume to scribble something unto you; not that I think my scribbling can do you good, but that I might declare my sympathy, compassion, love, and affection I hear towards your mastership, which is contented, yea desirous with us poor wretches, to confess Christ's gospel in these perilous times and days of trial. O Lord God! how good art thou, which dost thus glean out grapes, I mean children for thyself, and brethren for Christ! Look, good Master Hales, on your vocation; not many judges, not many knights, not many landed men, not many rich men, and wealthy to live as you are, has God chosen to suffer for his sake, as he has now done you. Certainly I dare say you think not so of yourself, as if God were bound to prefer you, or had need of you; but rather attribute this, as all good things, unto his free mercy in Christ. Again, I dare say that you, being a wise man, judge of things wisely; that is, concerning this your cross, you judge of it not after the world and people, nor after the judgment of reason and worldly wisdom, which is foolishness to faith, nor after the present sense, to which it seems not to be joyous but grievous, as Paul writes: but after the word of God, which teaches your cross to be, in respect of yourself, between God and you, God's chastening and your Father's correction, nurture, school, trial, pathway to heaven, glory, and felicity, and the furnace to consume the dross, and mortify the relics of old Adam, which yet remain: yea, even the frame-house to fashion you like to the dearest saints of God here, yea to Christ the Son of God, that you might be like unto him elsewhere.

Now concerning your cross in respect of the world between the world and you, God's word teaches it to be a testimonial of God's truth, of his providence, of his power, of his justice, of his wisdom, of his anger against sin, of his goodness, of his judgment, of your faith and religion, so that by it you are to the world a witness of God, one of his witnesses that he is true. He rules all things, he is just, wise, and at length will judge the world, and cast the wicked into perdition, but the godly he will take and receive unto his eternal habitation. I know you judge of things after faith's estimate, and by the effects or ends of things; and so you see an eternal weight of glory which this cross shall bring unto you, while you look not on things which are seen, but on the things which are not seen. Let the worldlings weigh things, and look upon the affairs of men with their worldly and corporeal eyes, as many did in subscribing the King's last will; and therefore they did that for the which they beshrewed themselves (or were angry with themselves; Sir James Hales refused to assent to King Edward VIth's will, by which the crown was left to Lady Jane Grey, whereby he incurred the displeasure of the Duke of Northomberland, editor). But let us look on things with other manner of eyes, as, God be praised, you did, in not doing that which you were desired and driven at to have done. You then beheld things not as a man, but as a man of God; end so you do now in religion, at the least hitherto you have done, and that you might do so still, I humbly beseech and pray you to say, with David, "Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?" Though you are as a bottle in the smoke, for I hear you want health, yet do not forget the statutes of the Lord; but cry out, "How many are the days of thy servant! when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?'' and be certain the Lord will surely come and not stay: though he tarry, wait for him; for he is but a little while in his anger, but in his favour is life: weeping may abide at evening, but joy comes in the morning. Follow, therefore, Isaiah's counsel: hide thyself for a very little while, until his indignation pass over, which is not so indeed but to our sense; and therefore, in the seven-and-twentieth chapter of Isaiah, God says of his church and people, that as he keeps it night and day, so there is no anger in me, says he.

The mother sometimes beats the child, but yet her heart melts upon it even in the very beating; and therefore she casts the rod into the fire, and colles (embraces, editor) the child, gives it an apple, and dandies it most motherly. And, to say the truth, the love of mothers to their children is but a trace to train up to behold the love of God towards us: and therefore, says he, Can a mother forget the child of her womb? as who should say, No: but if she should so do, yet will I not forget thee, says the Lord of Hosts. Ah! comfortable saying! I will not forget thee, says the Lord. Indeed the children of God think oftentimes that God has forgotten them, and therefore they cry, "Hide not thy face from me; leave me not, O Lord," &c. Whereas in very truth it is not so, but only to their present sense; and therefore David said, "I said, in my agony, I was clean cast away from thy face." But was it so? Nay, verily: read his psalms and you shall see. So he also writes in other places very often, especially in the person of Christ; as when he says, "My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" He says not, Why dost thou forsake me? or Why wilt thou forsake me? but, Why hast thou forsaken me? Where, indeed, God had not left trial, but only it seemed so to his sense, and that this psalm tells us plainly; which psalm I pray you now and then read; it is the twenty-second, and thereto join the thirtieth, and the hundred and sixteenth, with divers others. We read the same in the prophet Isaiah, the fortieth chapter, where he reproves Israel for saying, God had forgotten them; he says, Knows thou not, hast thou not heard, they that trust in the Lord shall renew their strength? And in his four-and-fiftieth chapter, Fear not, &c., for a little while I have forsaken thee, but with great compassion will I gather thee; for a moment in mine anger I hid my face from thee for a little season, but in everlasting mercy have I had compassion on thee, says the Lord thy Redeemer: for this is unto me as the waters of Noah; for, as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with thee, nor rebuke thee: for the mountains shall remove, and hills shall fall down, but my mercy shall not depart from thee; neither shall the covenant of my peace fall away, says the Lord, that has compassion on thee.

But the scriptures are full of such sweet places to them that will bear the wrath of the Lord, and wait for his health and help. As of all temptations this is the greatest, to think that God has forgotten, or will not help us through the pikes, as they say; so of all services of God, this pleases him the best; to hope assuredly on him, and for his help always, who is a helper in tribulations, and more gloriously shows his power, by such as are weak, and feel themselves so: for the weaker we are, the more strong we are in him. Thus the eyes of the Lord are on them that tremble and fear; he will accomplish their desire; he is with them in their trouble; he will deliver them: before they cry, he hears them, as all the scriptures teach us. To the reading whereof, and hearty prayer, I heartily commend you, beseeching Almighty God, that of his eternal mercies he would make perfect the good he has begun in you, and strengthen you to the end, that you might have no less hope, but much more of his help, to your comfort, now against your enemies, than he has already given you against N. for not subscribing to the King's will.

Be certain, be certain, good Master Hales, that your dear Father has numbered all the hairs of your head, so that one of them shall not perish; your name is written in the book of life; therefore cast all your care upon God, who will comfort you with his eternal consolations, and make you able to go through the fire, if need be, which is nothing to be compared to the fire wherein our enemies shall fall, and lie for ever, from which the Lord deliver us, though it be through temporal fire, which must be considered, according to the end and profit that comes after it; so then it shall not much fear us to suffer for our master Christ's cause, which the Lord grant us, for his mercies' sake. Amen. From the King's Bench.

Your humble,

John Bradford.


Letter 16. To my very dear friend in the Lord, Doctor Hill, Physician

The God of mercy and Father of all comfort, at this present and for ever, engraft in your heart the sense of his mercy in Christ, and the continuance of his consolation, which cannot but enable you to carry with joy whatsoever cross he shall lay upon you. Amen.

Hitherto I could have no such liberty as to write unto you, as I think you know; but now, since through God's providence I have no such restraint, I cannot but write something, as well to clear me of this suspicion of unthankfulness towards you, as also to signify my carefulness for you in these perilous days, lest you should wax cold in God's cause, which God forbid, or suffer the light of the Lord once kindled in your heart, to be quenched, and so become as you were before, after the example of the world, and many others, which would have been accounted otherwise in our days, and who still beguile themselves, and still would be so accounted, although by their outward life they declare the contrary, in that they think it enough to keep the heart pure, notwithstanding that the outward man does curry favour. In which doings, they deny God to be jealous, and that he therefore requires the whole man, as well body as soul, being created for immortality and for society with him, and also redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and now sanctified by the Holy Spirit, to be the temple of God, and member of his Son. By their parting the stakes to give God the heart, and the world the body, they deny God to be jealous, for else they would give him both, as the wife would do to her husband, whether he is jealous or not if she be honest; so they play the dissemblers with the church of God, by their acts offending the godly, whom either they provoke to fall with them, or make more careless and conscienceless if they are fallen, and occasion the wicked and obstinate to triumph against God, and the more vehemently to prosecute their malice against such as will not defile themselves in body or soul, with the Romish rags now revived amongst us. Because of this, lest you, my dear master and brother in the Lord, should do as many of our gospellers do, for fear of man whose breath is in his nostrils, and has power only over the body, and not fearing the Lord, who has power both of soul and body, not only temporally, but also eternally,óI could not hut write something unto you, as well because duty deserves it, for I have received of God many benefits by your hands, (for which may he reward you, for I cannot,) as also because charity and love compel me;ónot that I think you have any need, for as I may rather learn of you, so I doubt not but you have hitherto kept yourself upright from halting; but that I might both quiet my conscience from calling upon me about this, and signify unto you my carefulness for your soul, as painfully and often you have done for my body.

Therefore I pray you to call to mind that there are but two masters, two kinds of people, two ways, and two mansion-places: the masters are Christ and Satan; the people are servitors to either of these: the ways are strait and wide; the mansions, heaven and hell. Again, consider that this world is the place of trial of God's people and the devil's servant; for as the one will follow his master, whatsoever comes of it, so will the other. For a time it is hard to discern who pertains to God, and who to the devil: as in the calm and peace it is hard to learn who is a good shipman and warrior, and who is not; but when the storm arises the expert mariner is known, and as in war the good soldier is seen, so in affliction and the cross God's children are easily known from Satan's servants; for then, as the good servant will follow his Master, so the godly will follow their Captain, come what will come: whereas the wicked and hypocrites bid adieu, and desire less of Christ's acquaintance; for which cause the cross is called the probation and trial; because it tries who will go with God, and who will forsake him: and now in England we see how small a company Christ has in comparison of Satan's soldiers. Let no man deceive himself; for he that gathers not with Christ, scatters abroad. No man can serve two masters; the Lord abhors double hearts. The lukewarm, that is, such as are both hot and cold, he spits out of his mouth; none that halt on both knees does God take for his servants. The way of Christ is the strait way, and so strait, that as few find it, and few walk in it, so no man can halt in it, but he must needs go upright: for as the straitness will suffer no reeling to this side or that side; so, if any halt, he is like to fall off the bridge into the pit of eternal perdition.

Strive therefore, good Master Doctor, now you have found it, to enter into it; and if you should be called and pulled back, look not on this side or that side, or behind you, as Lot's wife did, but straight forwards to the end which is set before you, as if it were even now present, though it be to come. Like as you do, and desire your patients to do in your ministrations, to consider the effect that will ensue; whereby the bitterness and loathsomeness of the physic is so overcome, and the painfulness in abiding the working of that which is ministered is so eased, that it makes the patient willingly and joyfully receive that which is to be taken, although it is never so unpleasant. So, I sat set before you the end of this strait way, and then doubtlessóas Paul says, "it shall bring with it an eternal weight of glory," whilst we look not on the thing which is seen, for that is temporal, but on the thing which is not seen, which is eternal. So does the husbandman in ploughing and tilling, set before him the harvest-time; so does the fisher consider the draught of his net, rather than the casting-in; so does the merchant the return of the merchandise; and so should we in these stormy days set before us, not the loss of our goods, liberty, and very life, but the reaping-time, the coming of our Saviour Christ to judgment; the fire that shall burn the wicked and disobedient to God's gospel; the blast of the trump, the exceeding glory prepared for us in heaven eternally; such as the eye has not seen, the ear has nor heard, nor the heart of man can conceive. The more we lose here, the greater joy we shall have there; the more we suffer, the greater triumph; for corruptible dross we shall find incorruptible treasures. for gold, glory; fur silver, solace without end; for riches, robes royal; for earthly houses, eternal palaces; mirth without measure, pleasure without pain, felicity endless. We shall have God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. O happy place! Oh that this day would come! Then shall the end of the wicked be lamentable; then shall they receive the just reward of God's vengeance, then shall they cry, "Woe! woe" that they ever did as they have done! Read Wisdom, ii. iii. iv. v.: read Matthew xxv.: read 1 Corinthians, xv. 2 Corinthians, v.; and by faith (which God increase in us,) consider the thing there set forth: and for your comfort read Hebrews, xi. to see what faith has done; always considering the way to heaven is by many tribulations; and that all they which will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution. You know that this is our alphabet. He that will be my disciple, says Christ, must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me; not this bishop, nor that doctor; not this emperor, nor that king; but me, says Christ; for he that loves father, mother, wife, children, or very life, better than me, is not worthy of me. Remember that same Lord says, He that will save his life shall lose it. Comfort yourself with this, that as the devils had no power over the swine, or over Job's goods, without God's leave, so shall they have none over you. Remember also, that all the hairs of your head are numbered with God. The devil may make one believe he will drown him, as the sea in his surges threatens the land; but as the Lord appointed bounds for the one, over the which he cannot pass, so has he done for the other. On God therefore cast your care; love him and serve him after his word; fear him, trust in God; hope at his hand for all help, and always pray, looking for the cross; and whenever it comes, be assured the Lord is faithful, he will never tempt you further than he will make you able to bear, but in the midst of the temptation will make such a way to escape as shall be most to his glory, and your eternal comfort. God, for his mercy in Christ, with his Holy Spirit endue you, comfort you, shadow you under the wings of his mercy, and as his dear child guide you for evermore; to whose merciful tuition I commit you with my hearty prayer: and I doubt not but you pray for me, and so I beseech you to do still. My brother P. tells me you wish to have the last part at Saint Jerome's works, to have the use thereof for a forts night; I cannot for these three days well spare it, but on Thursday next I will send it you, if God hinder me not, and use me, and what I have, as your own. The Lord for his mercy in Christ, direct our ways to his glory. Out of prison, by yours to command,

John Bradford.


Letter 17. To Mistress M. H., a godly gentlewoman, comforting her in that common heaviness and godly sorrow, which the feeling and sense of sin works in God's children

I humbly and heartily pray the everlasting God, and Father of mercy, to bless and keep your heart and mind in the knowledge and love of his truth, and of his Christ, through the inspiration and working of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Although I have no doubt but that you prosper and go forward daily in the way of godliness, drawing more and more towards perfection, and have no need of anything that I can write; yet because my desire is, that you might be more fervent, and persevere to the end, I could not but write something unto you, beseeching you both often and diligently to call unto your mind as a mean to stir you hereunto, yea, as a thing which God most straitly requires you to believe, that you are beloved of God, and that he is your dear Father, in, through, and for Christ and his death's sake. This love and tender kindness of God towards us in Christ, is abundantly herein declared, in that he has beside the godly work of creation of this world, made us after his image; redeemed us being lost; called us into his church; sealed us with his mark and sign manual of baptism; kept and conserved us all the days of our life; fed, nourished, defended, and most fatherly chastised us; and now has kindled in our hearts the sparkles of his fear, faith, love, and knowledge of his Christ and truth; and therefore we lament, because we lament not more our unthankfulness, our frailness, our diffidence and wavering in things wherein we should be most certain.

All these things we should use as means to confirm our faith of this, that God is our God and Father, and to assure us that he loves us as our Father in Christ. To this end, I say, we should use the things before touched upon, especially since that, of all things, God requires this faith and persuasion of his fatherly goodness, as his chiefest service; for before he asks anything of us, he says, "I am the Lord thy God:" giving himself, and then all he has, to us to be our own. And this he does in respect of himself, of his own mercy and truth, and not in respect of us, for then were grace no grace. In consideration whereof, when he says, "Thou shalt have none other gods but me; thou shalt love me with all thy heart," &c.; though of duty we are bound to accomplish all that he requires, and are culpable and guilty if we do not the same, yet he requires not these things further of us, than to make us abound more in love, and more certain of this his covenant, that he is our Lord and God. In certainty whereof, as he has given this whole world to serve for our need and commodity, so has he given his Son Christ Jesus, and himself in Christ, to be a pledge and gage, whereof the Holy Ghost now and then gives us some taste and sweet smell to our eternal joy.

Therefore, as I said, because God is your Father in Christ, and requires of you straitly to believe it, give yourself to obedience, although you do it not with such feeling as you desire. Faith must first go before, and then feeling will follow. If our imperfection, frailty, and many evils, should be occasions whereby Satan would have us to doubt, let us abhor that suggestion as much as we can, as of all others most pernicious, for so indeed it is; for when we stand in a doubt whether God be our Father, we cannot be thankful to God; we cannot heartily pray or think anything we do acceptable to God, we cannot love our neighbours, and give ourselves to care for them, and do for them as we should do; and therefore Satan is most subtle herein, knowing full well, that if we doubt of God's fatherly eternal mercies towards us through Christ, we cannot please God, or do anything as we should do to man; he continually casts into our memories our imperfections, frailty, falls, and offences, that we should doubt of God's mercy, and favour towards us.

Therefore, my good sister, we must not be sluggish herein; but, as Satan labours to loosen our faith, so must we labour to fasten it, by thinking on the promises and covenant. of God in Christ's blood; namely, that God is our God, with all that ever he has; which covenant depends and hangs upon God's own goodness, mercy, and truth only, and not on our obedience or worthiness in any point, for then should we never be certain. Indeed, God requires of us obedience and worthiness, but not that thereby we might be his children, and he our Father; but because he is our Father and are his children, through his own goodness in Christ, therefore requires he faith and obedience. Now, if we want this obedience and worthiness which he requires, should we doubt whether he be our Father? Nay, that were to make our obedience and worthiness the cause, and so to put Christ out of place, for whose sake God is our Father; but rather because he is our Father, and we feel ourselves to want such things as he requires, we should be stirred up to shame-facedness and blushing, because we are not as we should be, and thereupon should we take occasion to go to our Father in prayer in this manner:

Dear Father, thou of thine own mercy in Jesus Christ hast chosen me to be thy child, and therefore thou wouldst I should be brought into thy church and faithful company of thy children, wherein thou hast kept me hitherto; thy name therefore be praised! Now I see myself to want faith, hope, love, &c. which thy children have, and thou requirest of me; wherefore, though the devil would have me to doubt, yea, utterly to despair of thy fatherly goodness, favour, and mercy, I come to thee as to my merciful Father, through thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and pray thee to help me, good Lord, help me, and give me faith, hope, love, &c.; and grant that thy Holy Spirit may be with me for ever, and more and more assure me that thou art my Father; and that thou madest this merciful covenant with me in respect of thy grace in Christ and for Christ; and not in respect of any my worthiness, is always true to me, &c.

On this sort (I say) you must pray and use your cogitations when Satan would have you to doubt of salvation,ó he does all he can to prevail herein; do you all you can to prevail herein against him;óthough you feel not as you would, yet doubt not, but hope beyond all hope, as Abraham did; for always, as I said, faith goes before feeling. As certain as God is almighty; as certain as God is merciful; as certain as God is true; as certain as Jesus Christ was crucified, is risen, and sits on the right hand of the Father; as certain as this is God's commandment, "I am the Lord thy God, &c.;" so certain ought you to be that God is your Father. As you are bound to have no other gods but him, so are you no less bound to believe that God is your God. What profit should it be to you to believe this to be true; "I am the Lord thy God" for others, if you should not believe that this is true for yourself? The devil believes thus; and whatsoever it is that would move you to doubt, whether God be your God through Christ, that same comes undoubtedly of the devil. Wherefore did God make you, but because he loved you? Might not he have made you blind, dumb, deaf, lame, frantic, &c.? Might not he have made you a Jew, a Turk, a Papist, &c., and why has he not done so? Verily, because he loved you. And why did he love you? What was there in you to move him to love you? Surely nothing moved him to love you, and therefore to make you, and hitherto to keep you, but his own goodness in Christ. Now then, since his goodness in Christ still remains as much as it was, that is, even as great as himself, for it cannot be lessened; how should it be, but that he is your God and Father? Believe this, believe this, my good sister, for God is no changeling, those whom he loves, he loves to the end.

Cast, therefore, yourself wholly upon him, and think, without all wavering, that you are God's child; that you are a citizen of heaven; that you are the daughter of God, the temple of the Holy Ghost, &c. If you are assured hereof, as you ought to be, then shall your conscience be quieted; then shall you lament more and more that you want many things which God loves; then shall you labour to be holy in soul and body; then shall you go about, that God's glory may shine in you in all your words and works; then shall you not be afraid what man can do unto you; then shall you have wisdom to answer your adversaries, as shall serve to their shame and your comfort; then shall you be certain that no man can touch one hair of your head, farther than shall please your good Father for your everlasting joy; then shall you be most certain that God, as your good Father, will be more careful for your children and make better provision for them, if all you have were gone, than you can; then shall you, being assured of God's favour towards you, give over yourself wholly to help and care for others that are in need; then shall you contemn this life, and desire to be at home with your good and sweet Father; then shall you labour to mortify all things that would spot either soul or body. All these things spring out of this certain persuasion and faith, that God is our Father, and that we are his children by Christ Jesus. All things should help our faith herein, but Satan goes about in all things to hinder us.

Therefore let us use earnest and hearty prayer; let us often remember this covenant: "I am the Lord thy God." Let us look upon Christ and his precious blood, shed for the obsignation (sealing, editor) and confirmation of his covenant; let us remember all the free promises of the gospel; let us set before us God's benefits generally, in making this world, in ruling it, in governing it, in calling and keeping his church, &c.; let us set before us God's benefits, particularly how he has made us creatures after his image, how he made us of perfect limbs, forms, beauty, memory, &c.; how he has made us Christians, and given us a right judgment in his religion; how he has, ever since we were born, blessed, kept, nourished, and defended us; how has often beaten, chastised, and fatherly corrected us; how he has spared us, and now spares us, giving us time, space, place, grace. This if you do, and use earnest prayer, and so flee from all things which might wound your conscience, giving yourself to diligence in your vocation, you shall find at length, (which God grant to me with you!) a sure certainty of salvation, without all such doubts as may trouble the peace of conscience, to your eternal joy and comfort. Amen, Amen.

Yours to use in Christ,

John Bradford.


Letter 18. Another letter, full of godly comfort, written to the same person

The good Spirit of God, which guides his children, be with you, my good sister in the Lord, for ever. Amen.

Although, as I am to you, so you are unknown unto me in person; yet to Him, whom we desire to please, we are not only known in person, but also in heart known and thoroughly seen, and therefore, as for his sake you desire, by what you sent to me, it should be perceived in God you bear to me a good will; so that I might be seen in God to bear you the like, I send to you these few words in writing, wishing that in all your doings and speech, yea even in your very thoughts, you would labour to feel, that they are all present and open before the sight of God, be they good or bad. This cogitation being often had in mind, and prayer made to God for the working of his Spirit, thereby, as a mean, you shall at the length feel more comfort and advantage, than any man can know but such as are exercised therein. Howbeit, this is to be added, that in thinking yourself, and all you have and do, are in the sight of God; this, I say, is to be added, that you think his sight is the sight not only of a lord, but rather of a father, which tenders more your infirmities than you can tender the infirmities of any of your children. Yea, when in yourself you see a motherly affection to your little one that is weak, let the same be unto you a trace to train you to see the unspeakable kind affection of God your Father towards you.

And therefore, upon the consideration of your infirmities and natural evils, which continually cleave unto us, take occasion to go to God as your Father through Christ, and lay open your infirmities and evils before his merciful heart, with desire of pardon and help, after his good will and pleasure, but in his time, and not when you will; and by that means he will, not by what way you would. In the mean season, hang on hope of his fatherly goodness, and surely you shall never be ashamed. For if a woman, that is natural, cannot finally forget the child of her womb, be sure God, which is a Father supernatural, cannot, and will not, forget you. Yea, if a woman could be so forgetful, yet God himself says, he will not be so.

This opinion, yea rather certain persuasion, of God your Father through Christ, see that you cherish; and by all means, as well by diligent consideration of his benefits, as of his losing corrections, whether they are inward or outward, see that you nourish it. Know for certain, that as the devil goes about nothing so much as to bring you into doubt whether you are God's child or no, so whatever shall move you to admit that dubitation, be assured the same comes from the devil. If you feel in yourself not only the want of good things, but also plenty of evil, do not therefore doubt whether you are God's child in Christ, or no.

For if you should believe or doubt, for your goodness' or illness' sake, which you feel or feel not, then should you make Christ Jesus, for whose sake only God is your Father either nothing, or else but half Christ.

But rather take occasion from your want of good, and your plenty in evil, to go to God as to your Father; and to pray to him, that inasmuch as he commands you to believe that he is your God and Father, so he would give you his good Spirit, that you might feel the same, and live as his child, to his glory. And cease not, upon such prayers, to look for comfort in God's good time, still hoping the best, and rejecting all dubitation, and all evil works, words, and cogitations, as the Lord shall enable you by his good Spirit and grace, which I beseech him to give unto you, my good sister, for ever. And farther I pray you, that as he has made you to be a helper unto your husband, so you would endeavour yourself therein to show the same, as well in soul as body, and beg grace of God that your endeavour may be effectual to both your comforts in Christ. Amen.

John Bradford.


Letter 19. To my well beloved in the Lord, W. P.

Grace and peace from God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear brother, God most justly has cast me now into a dungeon, but much better than I deserve; wherein I see no man but my keeper, nor can see any except they come to me. Something in the earth my lodging is (a dungeon partly underground, editor), which is an example and memorial of my earthly affections, which God, I trust, will mortify; and of my sepulchre, whereunto I trust my Lord God will bring me in peace, in his good time. In the mean season, may he give me patience, lively hope, and his good Spirit. I pray you, pray for me, for the prayer of the godly, if it be fervent, works much with God: I thank God my common disease troubles me less (this disease was a Rheum, with a feebleness of stomach, wherewith be was much troubled whilst at liberty; Note in Letters of the Martyrs) than when I was abroad, which teaches me the merciful providence of God toward me. Use true and hearty prayer, and you shall perceive God at length will declare himself to see, where now many think he sleeps. Out of the Tower by the Lord s prisoner,

John Bradford.


Letter 20. A Letter which he wrote to a faithful woman in her heaviness and trouble, most comfortable for all those to read that are afflicted and broken-hearted for their sins

Ah my dearly and most dearly beloved in the Lord, how pensive is my heart at present for you, by reason of the fearful judgment of our God, which even now I heard of for truth. May God our good father for his great mercies' sake in Christ have mercy upon us, and comfort you, my dear heart, with his eternal consolation, as I desire to be comforted by him in my greatest need. Amen.

The bearer can tell you the cause why I have not sent to you since the receipt of your letter. Yea, if I had not heard for truth of this heavy chance, you had not heard from me as yet. For I began of late, a piece of work for your comfort, whereof I send you now a part, because my heart is heavy for your sake, and I cannot be quiet till I hear how you do in this cross, wherein I beseech you, my dear sister, to be of good comfort, and to be no more discouraged than David was by Absalom's death; the good Jonathan, by his father Saul's fearful end; Adam by that of Cain; Noah of Ham; Bathsheba by the terrible end of her father or grandfather Achitophel, &c. Not that I utterly condemn and judge your father, for I leave it to God, but because the fact of itself declares God's secret and fearful judgment and justice towards him and all men, and his great mercy towards us, admonishing all the world how he is to be feared, and that Satan does not sleepóand especially warning us his children, how weak and miserable we are of ourselves, and how happy we are in him, who have him to be our father, protector, and keeper, and shall have for ever more, so that no evil shall touch us, further than shall be to our Father's glory and to our everlasting advantage. And therefore let this judgment of God be an occasion to stir us up, to walk more carefully before God, and to cast our whole care unfeignedly upon our dear Father, who neither can, nor will leave us; for his calling and gifts are such that he can never repent of them, Romans, xi.

Whom He loves, he loves to the end; none of his chosen can perish, of which number I know you are, me dearly beloved sister. God increase the faith thereof daily more and more in you: may he give unto you to hang wholly on him, and on his providence and protection. For whoso dwells under the secret and help of the Lord, he shall be quite sure for evermore. He that dwells, I say; for if we are flitters, and not dwellers, as Lot was a flitter from Zoar, where God promised him protection if he had dwelt there still, we shall remove to our loss, as he did to the mountains.

Dwell therefore, that is, trust in the Lord, my dear sister, and that finally, unto the end, and you shall be as Mount Sion. As mountains compass Jerusalem, so does the Lord all his people. How then can he forget you, which are as the apple of his eye, for his dear Son's sake? Ah, dear heart! that I were now but one half hour with you, to be a Simon to help to carry your cross with you. God send you some good Simon to be with you and help you.ó

You complain in your letters of the blindness of your mind, and the he troubles you feel through talk with some. God make you thankful for that which he has given unto you: may he open your eyes to see what and how great benefits you have received; that you may be less covetous, or rather less impatient, for so I fear it should be called, and more thankful. Have you not received at his hands sight to see your blindness, and a desirous and seeking heart, to see where he abides in the midday, as his dear spouse speaks of herself in the Canticles? Oh! Joyce, my good Joyce, what a gift is this! Many have some sight, but I know none that have this sobbing and sighing, none this seeking which you have, but such as he has married unto him in his mercies. You are not content to kiss his feet with the Magdalen, but you would be kissed even with the kisses of his mouth. Cant. i. You would see his face with Moses, forgetting how he bids us seek his face. Psalm xxvii. Yea, and that for ever, Psalm cv. which signifies no such sight as you desire to see in this present life, which would see God now face to face; whereas he cannot be seen but covered under something, yea, something in that which is as you would say, clean contrary to God, - as to see his mercy in his anger. In what appears bringing us to hell, faith sees him bringing us to heaven; in darkness, it beholds brightness; in hiding his face from us, it beholds his cheering countenance. How did Job see God, but as you would say under Satan's cloak? For who cast the fire from heaven upon his goods? Who overthrew his house and stirred up men to take away his cattle, but Satan? And yet Job pierced through all these, and saw God's works, saying, "The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away, etc."

In reading the Psalms, how often do you see that David in the shadow of death, saw God's sweet love! And so, my dearly beloved, I see that you in you darkness and dimness, by faith do see charity and brightness. By faith I say, because faith is of things absent, of things hoped for, of things which I appeal to your conscience, whether you desire not. And can you desire any thing which you know not? And is there any other true knowledge of heavenly things than by faith?

Therefore, my dear heart, be thankful, for (before God I write it) you have great cause. Ah, my Joyce! how happy is the state wherein you are! Verily, you are even in the blessed state of God's children. For they mourn, and do not you so? And that not for worldly weal, but for spiritual riches, faith, hope, charity, etc. Do you not hunger and thirst after righteousness? And I pray you, says not Christ, who cannot lie, that happy are such? How should God wipe away the tears from your eyes in heaven, if now on earth you shed no tears? How could heaven be a place of rest, if you found it on earth? How could you desire to be at home, if in your journey you found no grief? How could you so often call upon God, and talk with him, as I know you do, if your enemy slept all day long? How should you elsewhere be made like unto Christ, I mean in joy, if you sobbed not with him in sorrow? If you will have joy and felicity, you must needs first feel sorrow and misery. If you will go to heaven, you must sail by hell. If you will embrace Christ in his robes, you must not scorn him in his rags. If you will sit at Christ's table in his kingdom, you must first abide with him in his temptation. If you will drink of his cup of glory, forsake not his cup of ignominy.

Can the head cornerstone be rejected, and the more base stones in God's building be esteemed in this world? You are one of his lively stones. Be content therefore to be hewn and snagged at, that you may be made more meet to be joined to your fellows which suffer with you Satan's snatches, the world's wounds, the accusations of conscience, and threats of the flesh, through which they are enforced to cry, Oh! wretches that we are, who shall deliver us? You are of God's corn, fear not therefore the flail, the fan, millstone, nor oven. You are one of Christ's lambs. Look therefore to be fleeced, hailed at, and even slain.

If you were a market sheep, you should go in more fat and grassy pasture. If you were for the fair, you should be stall-fed, and want no meal. But because you are of God's own occupying, therefore you must pasture on the bare common; abiding the storms and tempests that fall. Happy, and twice happy are you, my dear sister, that God now hales whither you would not, that you might come whither you would. Suffer a little, and be still. Let Satan rage against you, let the world cry out, let your conscience accuse you, let the law load you and press you down, yet shall they not prevail, for Christ is Emmanuel, that is, God with us. If God be with us, who can be against us? The Lord is with you; your Father cannot forget you; your spouse loves you. If the waves and surges arise, cry with Peter, "Lord, I perish!" and he will put out his hand and help you. Cast out your anchor of hope, and it will not cease for all the stormy surges, till it take hold on the rock of God's truth and mercy.

Think not that He, who has given you so many things corporally, as foretastes of spiritual and heavenly mercies, and that without your deserts and desire, can deny any spiritual comfort you desire. For if he give to desire, he will give you to have and to enjoy the thing desired. The desire to have and the going about to ask, ought to certify your conscience, that they are his earnest of the thing which if you ask, he will give you; yea, before you ask, and while you are about to ask, he will grant the same, as Isaiah says, to his glory and your eternal consolation. He that spared not his own Son for you, will not and cannot think any thing too good for you, my heartily beloved.

If he had not chosen you, as most certainly he has, he would not have so called you; he would never have justified you; he would never have so glorified you with his gracious gifts, which I know, praised be his name therefore; he would never have so exercised your faith with temptations, as he has done and still does, if he had not chosen you. If he has chosen you as doubtless, dear heart he has done in Christ, for in you I have seen his earnest and before me you could not deny it, I know both where and when; if, I say, he has chosen you, then neither can you, nor ever shall you, perish. For if you fall, he puts under his hand: you shall not lie still, so careful is Christ your keeper over you; never was mother so mindful over her child as he is over you; and has not he always been so?

Speak, woman, when did he finally forget you, and will he now, think you, in your most need do otherwise while you are calling upon him, and desiring to please him? Ah! my Joyce, think you that God is mutable? Is he a changeling? Does not he love to the end them whom he loves? Are not his gifts and callings such that he cannot repent of them? For else, he were no God. If you should perish then he would want poorer; for I am certain his will towards you is not to be doubted. Has not the Spirit, which is the Spirit of truth, told you so? And will you now hearken with Eve to the lying spirit, which would have you, not to despair (no, he goes more craftily to work, howbeit to produce that end if you should give ear unto it, which God forbid;) but to doubt and stand in a mammering (hesitating, editor), and so should you never truly love God, but serve him of servile fear, lest he should cast you off for your unworthiness and unthankfulness; as though your thankfulness or worthiness were any cause with God why he has chosen you, or will finally keep you.

Ah! mine own dear heart, Christ only, Christ only, and his mercy and truth. In him and for him is the cause of your election. This Christ, this mercy, this truth of God, remains for ever, is certain for ever, I say, for ever. If an angel from heaven should tell you the contrary, accursed be he. Your thankfulness and worthiness are fruits and effects of your election, they are no causes; these fruits and effects shall be so much more fruitful and effectual, by how much you waver not.

Therefore, my dearly beloved, arise, and remember from whence you are fallen; you have a Shepherd which neither slumbers nor sleeps; no man nor devil can pull you out of his hand; night and day he commands his angels to keep you. Have you forgotten what I read to you out of the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I can want nothing?" Do you not know that God barred Noah in the ark on the outside, so that he could not get out? So has he done to you, my good sister, so has he done to you. Ten thousand shall fall on your right hand, and twenty thousand on your left hand, yet no evil shall touch you. Say boldly therefore, "Many a time, from my youth up, they have fought against me, but they have not prevailed;" no, nor ever shall prevail; for the Lord is round about his people; and who are the people of God, but such as hope in him? Happy are they that hope in the Lord; and you are one of those, my dear heart; for I am assured you have hoped in the Lord; I have your words to show most manifestly; and I know they were written unfeignedly; I need not say, that even before God you have simply confessed this to me, and that oftentimes no less. And once if you had this hope, as you doubtless had it, though now you feel it not, yet shall you feel it again; for the anger of the Lord lasts but a moment, but his mercy lasts for ever. Tell me, my dear heart, who has so weakened you?ósurely not a persuasion which came from Him that called you. For why should you waver? Why should you waver, and be so heavy-hearted? Whom look you on? On yourself? on your worthiness? on your thankfulness? on that which God requires of you, as faith, hope, love, fear, joy, &c.? Then can you not but waver indeed; for what have you as God requires? Believe you, hope you, love you, &c. as much as you should do? No, no, nor ever can in this life. Ah! my dearly beloved, have you so soon forgotten thaw which should ever be had in memoryónamely, that when you would and should be certain and quiet in conscience, then should your faith burst through all things, that you have in you, or which are in heaven, earth, or hell, until it come to Christ crucified, and the eternal sweet mercies and goodness of God in Christ? Here, here is the resting-place, here is your spouse's bed; creep into it, and in your arms of faith embrace him, bewail your weakness, your unworthiness, your diffidence, &c. and you shall see he will turn to you. What said I you shall see? Nay, I should have said, you shall perceive he will turn to you. You know that Moses, when he went to the mount to talk with God, entered into a dark cloud, and Elias had his face covered when God passed by: both these dear friends of God heard God, but they saw him not; but you would be preferred before them! See now, my dear heart, how covetous you are. Ah! be thankful, be thankful; but, God be praised, your covetousness is Moses' covetousness. Well, with him, you shall be satisfied: but when? Forsooth, when he shall appear. Here is not the time of seeing, but, as it were, in a glass. Isaac was deceived, because he was not content with hearing only.

Therefore, to make an end of these many words, wherewith I fear I trouble you from better exercises:óinasmuch as you are indeed the child of God, elect in Christ before the beginning of all times; inasmuch as you are given to the custody of Christ, as one of God's most precious jewels; inasmuch as Christ is faithful, and thereto has all power, so that you shall never perish, no, one hair of your head shall not be lostóI beseech you, I pray you, I desire you, I crave at your hands, with all my very heart, I ask of you with hand, pen, tongue, and mind, in Christ, through Christ, for Christ, for his name, blood, mercies, power, and truth's sake, my most entirely beloved sister, that you admit no doubting of God's final mercies towards you, howsoever you feel yourself. But complain to God, and crave of him, as of your tender and dear Father, all things, and in that time which shall be most opportune you shall find and feel, far above what your heart, or the heart of any creature can conceive, to your eternal joy. Amen, Amen, Amen.

The good Spirit of God always keep us, as his dear children: may he comfort you, as I desire to be comforted, my dearly beloved, for evermore. Amen.

I break of thus abruptly, because our common prayer-time calls me. The peace of Christ dwell in both our hearts for evermore. Amen.

As to the report of W. P. if it be as you hear, you must prepare to bear it. It is written on heaven's door: Do well, and bear evil. Be content therefore to hear whatsoever the enemy shall imagine to blot you withal. God's Holy Spirit always comfort and keep you. Amen, Amen. This 8th of August, by him that in the Lord desires you as well and as much felicity as to his own heart,

John Bradford.


Letter 21. To my good Lady Vane

(Here follows another letter of his, written to the good Lady Vane, wherein he resolves certain questions which she demanded. This Lady Vane was a special nurse, and a great supporter to her power of the godly saints, which were imprisoned in Queen Mary's time. Unto whom I have divers letters, of Master Whippet, Careless, Fraherne, Thomas Rose, and of others; wherein they render unto her most grateful thanks, for her exceeding goodness towards them, with their singular commendation and testimony also of her Christian seal towards God's addicted prisoners, and to the verity of his gospel She departed at Holhorn, anno 1568, whose and was more like a sleep, than any death; so quietly and meekly she deceased and departed hence in the Lord. Amongst others who wrote unto her, Master Bradford also sent letters to the said Lady. Fox.)

The true sense and sweet feeling of God's eternal mercies in Christ Jesus be ever more and more lively wrought if your heart by the Holy Ghost. Amen.

I most heartily thank you, good Madam, for your comfortable letters; and whereas you wish to be told what were best to be done on your behalf, concerning your three questions it the truth is, that the questions are never well seen nor answered, until the thing whereof they arise is well considered; I mean, until it is seen how great an evil the thing is. If indeed it is once in your heart perceived, upon probable and pithy places, gathered out of God's book, that there never was any thing upon the earth so great and so much an adversary to God's true service; to Christ's death, passion, priesthood, sacrifice, and kingdom; to the ministry of God's word and sacraments; to the church of God, to repentance, faith, and all true godliness of life, as that is whereof the questions arise, (as most assuredly it is so indeed,) then a Christian heart cannot but abhor it, and all things that in any point might seem to allow it, or any thing pertaining to the same, by so much the more as it has the name of God's service.

Again, your Ladyship knows, that as all is to be blanked and avoided, which is followed or fled from in respect of ourselves, or in respect of avoiding Christ's cross; so the end of all our doings should be to God-wards, to his glory, to our neighbours, to edification, and good example, whereof none can be given, by allowing any of the three questions (these questions were concerning the mass, whereof she desired his judgement; Letters of the Martyrs) propounded by you. But because this which I write now is brief, and needs the more consideration or explication, as I doubt not of the one in you, so by God's grace, you shall receive the other from me shortly. For I have already written a little book about it, which I will send unto you, in which you shall have your questions fully answered and satisfied (he means his book called "The hurt of hearing mass"; Letters of the Martyrs), and therefore I omit to write any more hereabout at present; beseeching God, our good Father, to guide you, as his dear child, with his Spirit of wisdom, power; and comfort, unto eternal life, that you may be strong, and rejoice in him, and with his church, to carry Christ's cross, if he shall think it needful, (I Pet. i.;) which is a thing to be desired, wished, and embraced, if we looked on things after the judgment of God's word, and tried them by that touchstone.

If you are accustomed to think on the brevity, vanity, and misery of this life, and on the eternity, truth, and felicity of everlasting life; if you look on things after their ends, and not after their present appearance only; if you use yourself to set God's presence, power, and mercy always before your eyes, to see them as God by every creature desires you should; I doubt not but you shall find such strength and comfort in the Lord, as you shall not be shaken in, with all the power of Satan. God's mercy in Christ be with you, and his good Spirit guide you for ever. Amen.


Letter 22. Another Letter to Lady Vane

As to mine own soul, I wish your Ladyship grace and mercy, from God our dear Father in Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

I thank God that he has eased you something, and mitigated his fatherly correction in us both. I would to God he had done so much in behalf of the grief of the body to you, as he has done to me. For as for the soul, I trust you feel that, which I pray God increase in you; I mean his fatherly love, and grant that I may with you feel the same in such degree as may please him; I will not say as you feel, lest I should seem to ask too much at one time. God often much more plentifully visits with the sense of his mercy them that humble themselves under his mighty hand, and are sore exercised, as you long have been, than others, who to the face of the world have more show and appearance.

Therefore I wish as I do, and that not only for my own advantage, but also that I might lead you to consider the goodness of God, which I by your letters well espy; which is indeed the highway whereby God increases his gifts, and shows his salvation more lively. Psalm 1. and cvii. I have received God's blessing from you, which I have partly distributed unto my three fellow-prisoners, Master Farrar, Master Taylor, Master Philpot; and the residue I will bestow upon four poor souls, which are imprisoned in the common jail for religion also. As for my own part, if I had need I would have served my turn also; but because I had not, nor I thank God have not, I have been and will be your almoner, as I have already advertised you. God reward you, and give you to find it spiritually and corporally. Because I cannot talk with you otherwise, therefore in this manner, as occasion and opportunity serve, I am ready to show my goodwill and desire of your help and furtherance in the Lord unto everlasting life, whereunto God bring us shortly for his mercy's sake. Amen.

Good Madam, be thankful to God, as I hope you are; be earnest in prayer, continue in reading and hearing God's word; and if God's further cross comes, as therein God serves his providence, (for else it shall not come unto you,) so be certain the same shall turn to your eternal joy and comfort. Amen.

John Bradford.


Letter 23. To my dear friends and brethren, R. and E., with their wives and families

(R. and E.: Roydon and Esing. Fox.)

The comfort of Christ, felt commonly by his children in their cross for his sake, may the everlasting God work in both your hearts, my good brethren, and in the hearts of both of your yoke-fellows, especially of good Mary, my good sister in the Lord. Amen.

If I had not heard something of the hazard which you are in for the gospel's sake, if you continue the confession and profession thereof, as I trust you do and will do, and that unto the end, God enabling you, as he will doubtless for his mercy's sake, if you hope in him, (for this binds Him, as David in Christ's person witnesses, Our fathers hoped in thee, and thou deliveredst them, &c. Psalm xxii.,) yet by conjectures, I should suppose, though not so certainly, that the time of your suffering and probation is at hand. For now is the power of darkness fully come upon this realm, most justly for our sins, and abusing the light lent us of the Lord, by setting forth ourselves more than God's glory. It is sent that we might be brought unto the better knowledge of our evils, and so heartily repent, (which God grant us to do,) as also that we might have more feeling and sense of our sweet Saviour Jesus Christ. by humbling and dejecting ourselves, thereby to make us more desirous of him, and him more sweet and pleasant unto us; which may the good Spirit of God work sensibly in all our hearts for God's holy name's sake.

For this cause, I thought it my duty, being now where I have some liberty to write, the Lord be praised, and hearing of you as I hear, to do that which I should have done, if I had heard nothing at all; that is, to desire you to be of good cheer and comfort in the Lord, although in the world you see cause rather to the contrary; and to go on forwards in the way of God, wherein you are entered, considering that the same cannot but so much more and more wax strait to the outward man, by how much you draw nearer to the end of it: even as in the travail of a woman, the nearer she draws to her delivery, the more her pains increase; so it goes with us in the Lord's way, the nearer we draw to our deliverance by death, to eternal felicity.

Example whereof we have, I will not say in the holy prophets and apostles of God, which, when they were young, girded themselves, and went in manner whither they would, but when they waxed old, they went girded of others, whither they would not, concerning the outward man; but I will say, rather and most lively, in our Saviour Jesus Christ, whose life and way was much more painful to him towards the end, than it was at the beginning. And no marvel; for Satan can somewhat abide that a man should begin well, and set forwards; but rather than he should go on to the end, he will do his uttermost and cast out floods to overflow him, before he will suffer that to come to pass

Therefore, we should not now be dismayed at this world, as though some strange thing were happened unto us, since it is but as it was wont to be to the godly; for the devil declares himself after his old manner, for we have professed no less, but to forsake the world and the devil: as God's very enemies; and we learned no less at the first, when we came to God's school, than to deny ourselves, and take up our cross and follow our Master, who leads us no other way than he himself has gone before us. As we should not be dismayed, so we should with patience and joy go forwards, if we set before us the time to come as if present ; like as the wife in her travail does the deliverance of her child; and as the saints of God did, but especially our Saviour and pattern, Jesus Christ; for the apostle says, he set before him the joy and glory to come, and therefore contemned the shame and sorrow of the cross; and if we did so, we should find at length as they found. For who that had a long journey, would grieve to go through a piece of foul way, if he knew that, afterwards, the way should be most pleasant, yea, the journey should be ended, and he most happy at his resting-place? Who would be afraid or loath to leave a little pelf for a little time, if he knew he should shortly after receive most plentiful riches? Who will be unwilling for a little while to forsake his wife, children, or friends, &c. when he knows he shall shortly after be associated unto them inseparably, even after his own heart's desire? Who will but sorry to forsake this life that cannot but be most certain of eternal life? Who loves the shadow better than the body? Who can love this life, but they that regard not the life to come? Who can desire the dross of this world, but such as are ignorant of the treasures of everlasting joy in heaven? I mean, who are afraid to die, but such as hope not to live eternally? Christ has promised pleasures, riches, joy, felicity, and all good things, to them that for his sake lose any thing, or suffer any sorrow. And is he not true? How can he but be true? For guile was never found in his mouth.

Alas! then, why are we so slack and slow, yea, so hard of hear, to believe him, when thus promising us plentifully eternal blissfulness; and why are we so ready to believe the world, promising us many things, and paying us nothing? If we will curry favour now, and halt on both parts, then it promises us peace, quietness, and many other things else. But how does it pay this? Or, if it will pay it, with what quietness of conscience? Or, if so, how long, I pray you? Do not we see before our eyes, men die shamefully, I mean as rebels and other malefactors, which refused to die for God's cause? What way is so sure a way to heaven, as to suffer in Christ's cause? If there is any way on horse-back to heaven, surely this is the way; by many troubles, says the apostle, we must enter into heaven. All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution. For the world cannot love them that are of God; the devil cannot love his enemies; the world will love none but his own; you are Christ's, therefore look for no love here. Should we look for fire to quench our thirst? As soon shall God's true servants find peace and favour in antichrist's regiment. Therefore, my dearly beloved, be stout in the Lord, and in the power of his might; put on you his armour; stand in the liberty of Christ, which you have learned; rejoice that you may be counted worthy to suffer any thing for God's cause; this is not given to all men. Your reward is great in heaven, though in earth you find nothing. The journey is almost past; you are almost in the haven; hale on apace, I beseech you, and merrily hoist up your sails. Cast yourselves on Christ, who cares for you; keep company with him now still to the end; he is faithful, and will never leave you, nor tempt (try, editor) you further than he will make you able to bear; yea, in the midst of the temptation he will make an out-scape. Now pray unto him heartily, be thankful for his favour, rejoice in hope of the health you shall receive, and be mindful of us which are in this vayward (front of a battle, editor); and by God's grace trust in Christ to be made able to break the ice before you, that you, following, may find the way more easy. God grant it may be so. Amen, Amen.

Out of prison by your brother in Christ,

John Bradford.


Letter 24. To Mistress Wilkinson

Almighty God, our most loving Father, increase in your heart, my good mother and dear mistress in the Lord his true knowledge and love in Christ, to the encouraging and comforting of your faith in these stormy days, as is necessary unto us, and profitable, if we persist unto the end; which God grant to us. Amen.

My right dearly beloved, I know not what else to write unto you, than to desire you to be thankful unto the Lord, that amongst the not many of your calling and state, it pleases him to give you his rare blessing; I mean, to keep you from all the filth wherewith our country is horribly defiled. This blessing assuredly is rare, as you see: but now, if he shall bless you with another blessing, which is more rare, I mean to call you forth as a martyr and a witness against this filth, I hope you will become doubly thankful; for commonly we have not a greater token to judge of our election and salvation, next to Christ and faith in him, than the cross, especially when it is so glorious as on this sort to suffer anything, but chiefly loss of this life, which indeed is never found till it be so lostóexcept the grain of wheat fall and is dead, it remains fruitless.

You know that he which was taken up into the third heaven, and knew what he wrote, says that as the corn lives not, except it is dead, and cast into the earth, so truly our bodies. 1 Cor. xv. And therefore the cross should so little fright us, that even death itself should altogether be desired by us, as the tailor which puts off our rags and arrays us with the royal robes of immortality, incorruption and glory. Great shame it should be for us, that all the creatures of God should desire, yea, groan in their kind, for our liberty, and we ourselves loath it, as doubtless we do, if for the sake of the cross, yea, for death itself, we with joy swallow not up all sorrow, that might hinder us from following the Lord's calling, and obeying the Lord's providence; whereby doubtless all crosses, and death itself, comes, and not by hap or chance. In consideration whereof, right dear mother, since this providence stretches itself so unto us, and for us, that even the hairs of our head are numbered with God, and not one of them is to fall to our hurt, surely we declare ourselves very faint in faith, if we receive not such comfort, that we can willingly offer ourselves to the Lord, and cast our whole care upon him, honouring him with this honour, that he is, and ever will be, careful for us, and all we have as for his dear children. Be therefore of good cheer, even in the midst of these miseries, be thankful to the Lord and prepare yourself for a further trial; which if God send you, so do you believe, as I hope, that God therein will help and comfort you, and make you able to bear whatsoever shall happen. And thus much, having this opportunity, I thought good to write, praying God our Father to recompense into your bosom all the good that ever you have done, to me especially, and to many others, both in this time of trouble and always heretofore.

Your own in the Lord,

John Bradford.


Letter 25. Another letter, written to certain godly persons, encouraging them to prepare themselves with patience for the cross

Gracious God, and most merciful Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, thy dearly beloved Son, grant us thy mercy, grace, wisdom, and Holy Spirit, to counsel, comfort, and guide us in all our cogitations, words, and works, to thy glory and our everlasting joy and peace for ever. Amen.

In my last letter you might perceive my conjectures towards you to be no less than now I have learned; but, my dearly beloved, I have learned none other thing, than I have told you before would come to pass, if you cast not away that which I am sure you have learned. I do appeal to both your consciences, whether herein I speak truth, as well of my telling, (though not so often as I might and should, God forgive me,) as also of your learning. Now God will try you, to make others learn by you, that which you have learned by others, and by them which suffered this day (Lady Jane Grey and her husband were beheaded that day; Letters of the Martyrs), you might learn, if you had not already learned, that life and honour are not to be more set by than God's commandment. Notwithstanding all that their ghostly fathers could do, having Doctor Death to take their part, they in no point would consent, or seem to consent, to the popish mass and papistical god, otherwise than they received in the days of our late king, and this their faith they have confessed with their deaths, to their great glory and all our comforts, if we follow them, but to our confusion, if we start back from the same. Wherefore, I beseech you to consider it, as well to praise God for them, as to go the same way with them, if God so will.

Consider not the things of this life, which is a real prison to all God's children, but the things of everlasting life, which is our real home. But to behold this, you must open the eyes of your mind, of faith I should have said, as Moses did, who chose trouble with God's people, rather than the riches of Egypt and Pharaoh's court. Your house, home, and goods, yea life, and all that ever you have, God has given you as love-tokens, to admonish you of his love, and to win your love to him again. Now will he try your love, whether you set more by him, than by his tokens. If you for his tokens' sake, that is, for your home, house, goods, yea life, will go with the world, lest you should lose them, then be assured he will cast your love away with the world, as he cannot but espy it to be a strumpet's love. Remember that he who will save his life shall lose it, if Christ is true; but he who adventures, yea, loses his life for the gospel's sake, the same shall be sure to find it eternally. Do not you know, that the way to salvation is not the broad way, which many run in; but the strait way, which few now walk in?

Before persecution came, men might partly have doubted by the outward state of the world with us, (although by God's word it was plain,) which was the high way, for there were as many that pretended to follow the gospel as popery. But now the sun is risen, and the wind blows, so that the corn which has not taken fast root, cannot and will not abide, therefore you may easily see the strait way, by the small number that pass through it. Who will now adventure their goods and life for Christ's sake, though he gave his life for our sakes? We are now become Gergesites, that would rather lose Christ than our swine. A faithful wife is never tried to be so, but when she rejects and withstands wooers. A faithful Christian is found to be so, when his faith is assaulted

If we are not ableóI mean, if we will not forsake this world for God's glory and the gospel's sake, think you that God will make us able, or give us a will to forsake it for nature's sake? Die you must once, and leave all you have, (God knows how soon and when,) will you, or will you not; and seeing that you must do this, will you not willingly do it now for God's sake?

If you go to mass, and do as the most part do, then you may live at rest and quietly; but if you deny to go to it, then shall you go to prison, lose your goods, leave your children comfortless, yea, lose your life also; but, my dearly beloved, open the eyes of your faith, and see how short a thing this life isóeven a very shadow and smoke. Again, see how intolerable the punishment of hellfire is, and that endless. Last of all, look on the joys incomprehensible, which God has prepared for all those, world without end, who lose either lands or goods for his name's sake. And then reason thus: If we go to mass, which is the greatest enemy that Christ has, though for a little time we shall live in quiet and leave to our children what they may live by hereafter, yet we shall displease God, fall into his hands, which is horrible to hypocrites, and be in hazard of fading from eternal joy into eternal misery, first of soul, and then of body, with the devil and all idolaters.

Again, we shall want peace of conscience, which surmounts all the riches of the world; and for our children, who knows whether God will visit our idolatry on them in this life? Yea, we are in danger of losing our house and goods, as also our lives, through many casualties; and when God is angry with us, he always can send when he will, one mean or another to take all from us, for our sins, and cast us into care, for our own sakes, if we will not come into some little trouble for his sake.

On this sort reason with yourselves, and then doubtless God will work otherwise with you, and in you, than you are aware of. Where now you think yourselves unable to abide persecution, be most assured, that if you purpose not to forsake God, he will make you so able to bear his cross, that you shall rejoice therein. Faithful is God, says Paul, who will not tempt you further than he will make you able to bear, yea, he will give you an outscape in the cross, which shall be to your comfort. Think how great a benefit it is, if God will vouch you worthy of this honour, to suffer loss of anything for his sake. He might justly cast most grievous plagues upon you, and yet now he will correct you with that rod, by which you shall be made like to his Christ, that you may reign with him for ever. Suffer yourselves therefore now to be made like to Christ, for else you shall never be made like unto him. The devil would gladly have you now overthrow that godliness which you have long professed. Oh! how would he triumph, if he could win his purpose! Oh! how would the papists triumph against God's gospel in you! Oh! how would you confirm them in their wicked popery! Oh! how would the poor children of God be discomforted, if you should now go to mass, and other idolatrous service, and do as the world does!

Has God delivered you from the sweating sickness (an infectious distemper by which many thousand persons died in England, in the year 1551; in the space of a few days, nine hundred and sixty persons died in London alone, and it was chiefly fatal to men in the prime of life; see Holinshed's Chronicle), to serve him so? Has God miraculously restored you to health from your grievous agues for such a purpose? Has God given you such blessings in this world, and good things all the days of your life hitherto, and now of equity will you not receive at his hands, and for his sake, some evil? God forbid! I hope better of you. Use prayer, and cast your care upon God; commit your children into his hand; give to God your goods, bodies, and lives, as he has given them, or rather lent them unto you. Say with Job, God has given, and God has taken away: his name be praised for ever. Cast your care upon him, I say, for he is careful for you; and take it amongst the greatest blessings of God, to suffer for his sake; I trust he has kept you hitherto for that end.

And I beseech thee, O merciful Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, that thou wouldst be merciful unto us, comfort us with thy grace, and strengthen us in thy truth, that in heart we may believe, and in tongue boldly confess, thy gospel, to thy glory and our eternal salvation. Amen.

Pray for me, and I by God's grace will do the same for you.

John Bradford.


Letter 26. An admonition to certain professors of the gospel, to beware they fall not from it, in consenting to the Roman religion, by the example of halting and double-faced gospellers

The peace of Christ, which is the true effect of God's gospel when believed, my dearly beloved, be more and more plentifully perceived of you, through the grace of our dear Father, by the mighty working of the Holy Spirit our Comforter. Amen.

Though I have many letters at present to hinder me from writing unto you, yet being desired, I could not but somewhat signify my ready good-will in this behalf, so much as I may, when I cannot so much as I would.

You hear and see how Satan bestirs himself, raging as a roaring lion to devour us. You see and feel partly that storms he has raised up to drown the poor boat of Christ, I mean his church. You see how terribly he trains his soldiers to give a fierce onset on the vayward (the front of God's army, editor) of God's battle. You see how he has received power of God to molest God's children, and to begin at his house. By reason whereof, consider two things; one, the cause as regards us; the other, what will be the sequel on strangers.

For the first, if we are not blind, we cannot but well see, that our sins are the cause of all this misery; our sins, I say, which I would that every one of us should apply to ourselves after the example of Jonah and David, turning over the wallet, that other men's offences might lie behind, and our own before. Not that I would excuse other men, which outwardly have walked much more grossly than many of you have done, but that I would provoke you all, as myself, to more hearty repentance and prayer. Let us more and more increase to know and lamest our doubting of God, of his presence, power, anger, mercy, &c. Let us better feel and hate our self-love, security, negligence, unthankfulness, unbelief, impatience, &c. and then doubtless the cross shall be less painful, yea, it shall be comfortable, and Christ most dear and pleasant; death then shall be desired, as the dispatcher of us out of all misery, and the entrance into eternal felicity and joy unspeakable. Which is so much the more longed for, by how much we feel the serpent's bites wherewith he wounds our heels, that is, our outward Adam and senses. If we had, I say, a lively and true feeling of his poison, we could not but rejoice in our Captain, that has bruised his head, and be desirous to follow his example,óthat is, to give our lives with him, and for him, and to fill up his passions, so that he might conquer and overcome in us and by us, to his glory and the comfort of his children.

Now the second, I mean the sequel, or that which will follow on the strangers (strangers to Christ, editor), my dearly beloved, let us well look upon it. For if so be that God justly permit Satan and his seed to vex and molest Christ and his penitent people; oh! what and how justly may he and will he give power to Satan to treat the reckless and impenitent sinners? If judgment begin thus at God's house what will follow on them that are without, if they repent not? Certainly the dregs of God's cup are reserved for them that is, brimstone, fire, and tempest intolerable. Now are they unwilling to drink of God's cup of afflictions, which he offers them in common with his Son Christ our Lord, lest they should lose their pigs like the Gergesites. They are unwilling to come into the way that brings to heaven, even afflictions; in their hearts they cry, "Let us cast his yoke from us;" they walk two ways, that is, they seek to serve God and Mammon, which is impossible; they will not come nigh the strait way that brings to life. They open their eyes to behold present things only; they judge of religion after reason, and not after God's word; they follow the more part, and not the better; they profess God with their mouths, but in their hearts deny him, or else they would sanctify him by serving him more than men. They part stakes with God, which would have all; giving part to the world, to the Romish rout, and antichristian idolatry now set abroad amongst us publicly; they are willing to have Christ, but none of his cross, which cannot be; they are willing to be counted to live godly in Christ, but they will suffer no persecution; they love this world. whereby the love of God is driven forth from them; they savour of those things that are of men, and not that are of God. To sum up, they love God in their lips, but in their hearts, yea, and in their deeds they deny him, as well by not repenting their past evils, as by continuing in evil still, by doing as the world, the flesh, and the devil wills, and yet still perchance they will pray, or rather prate, "Thy will be done in earth," which means that every one should take up his cross, and follow Christ. But this is a hard saying: Who is able to abide it? Therefore Christ is prayed to depart, lest all the swine be drowned! The devil may have his dwelling again in themselves, rather than in their swine, and therefore to him they shall go, and dwell with him in eternal perdition and damnation, even in hell fire, a torment endless, and above all cogitations incomprehensible, if they repent not.

Wherefore by them, my dearly beloved, be admonished to remember your profession, how that in baptism you made a solemn vow to renounce the devil, the world, &c. You promised to fight under Christ's standard; you learned Christ's cross before you began your A, B. C. Go to then, pay your vow to the Lord; fight like men, and valiant men, under Christ's standard; take up your cross, and follow your master, as your brethren, Master Hooper, Rogers, Taylor, and Saunders have done, and as now your brethren, Master Cranmer, Latimer, Hidley, Farrar, Bradford, Hawkes, &c. are ready to do. The ice is broken before you, therefore be not afraid, but be content to die for the Lord. You have no cause to waver, or doubt of the doctrine thus declared by the blood of the pastors. Remember that Christ says, "He that will save his life, shall lose it." And what should it profit you to win the whole world, (much less a little quietness, your goods, &c.) and to lose your own souls? Render to the Lord what he has lent you, by such means as he would have you render it, and not such as you would. Forget not, Christ's disciples must deny themselves, as well concerning their will, as concerning their wisdom. Have in mind, that as it is no small mercy to believe in the Lord, so it is no small kindness of God towards you to suffer anything, much more death, for the Lord. If they are blessed that die in the Lord, how shall they be that die for the Lord

Oh! what a blessing is it to have the death which is due for our sins, diverted into a demonstration and testimony of the Lord's truth! Oh! that we had a little of Moses' faith, to look upon the end of the cross, to look upon the reward, to see continually with Christ and his people greater riches than the riches of Egypt! Oh! let us pray that God would open our eyes to see his hidden manna, the heavenly Jerusalem, the congregation of the first-born, the melody of the saints, the tabernacle of God dwelling with men, then we should run, and become violent men, and so take the kingdom of heaven, as it were, by force. May God our Father give us for his Christ sake to see a little, what, and how great joy he has prepared for us, and called us unto, and most assuredly gives us for his own goodness and truth's sake. Amen. My dearly beloved, repent, be sober, and watch in prayer; be obedient, and after your vocations, show your obedience to the higher powers in all things that are not against God's wordótherein acknowledge the sovereign power of the Lord; howbeit, so that you are not rebels, or rebellers, for no cause; but since with good conscience you cannot obey, be patient sufferers, and the glory and good Spirit of God shall dwell upon us. I pray you remember us your afflicted brethren, being in the Lord's bonds for the testimony of Christ, and abiding the gracious hour of our dear and most merciful Father. The Lord, for Christ's sake, give us joyful hearts to drink heartily of his sweet cup, which daily we groan and sigh for, lamenting that the time is thus prolonged. The Lord Jesus give us grace to be thankful, and to abide patiently the provident (appointed, editor) hour of his most gracious good will. Amen. Amen. From the Compter in the Poultry.

Yours in Christ,

John Bradford.


Letter 27. To my good brother, John Careless, Prisoner in the King's Bench

The Father of mercy, and God of all comfort, visit us with his eternal consolation, according to his great mercies in Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

My very dear brother, if I report the truth unto you, I cannot but signify that since I came into prison I never received so much consolation as I did by your last letter, the name of God be most heartily praised therefore. But if I report the truth unto you, and as I have begun, speak still the verity, I must confess, that for mine unthankfulness towards you, and especially to God, I have more need of God's merciful tidings, than I had ever heretofore. Ah! that Satan envies us so greatly! Ah! that our Lord would tread his head under our feet shortly! Ah! that I might for ever myself beware, and be a godly example to you and others, to beware of unthankfulness! Good brother Careless, after a lightening (glimpse of spiritual life, editor) we have more need to take heed of being foiled than before. God therefore is to be praised even when he hides, and that for long, a cheerful countenance from us, lest we, being not expert how to use it as we should do, hurt ourselves thereby; so great is our ignorance and corruption. This, my good brother, and right dear to my very heart, I write unto you, as to one whom in the Lord I embrace, and I thank God that you do me in like manner. God our Father more and more give us both his good Spirit, that as by faith we may feel ourselves united unto him in Christ, so by love we may feel ourselves linked in the same Christ, one to another, I to you, and you to me, we to all the children of God, and all the children of God to us. Amen. Amen. Commend me to our good brother Skelthrop (he was formerly a free-will man; Fox), for whom I heartily praise my God, which has given him to see his truth at the length, and to submit to it. I doubt not but he will be so heedful in all his conversation, that his old acquaintance may thereby think themselves astray. Woe and woe again should be unto us, if we by our example should make men to stumble at the truth. Forget not salutations in Christ as you shall think good, to Trewe and his fellows. The Lord has his time I hope for them also, although we perchance think otherwise. A drop makes the stone hollow, not with once, but with often dropping; so if with hearty prayer for them and good example, you still drop upon them as you can, You shall see God's work at length. I beseech God to make perfect all the good he has begun in us all. Amen.

I desire you all to pray for me, the most unworthy prisoner of the Lord.

Your brother,

John Bradford.


Letter 28. To Master John Hall and his wife, prisoner in Newgate, for the testimony of the gospel

Almighty God our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, be with you both, my dearly beloved, as with his dear children for ever, and may he so bless you with his Holy Spirit, that you may rejoice in this your cross which doubtless you suffer for his cause, and gladly take it up to bear it so long as he shall think good. I have heard my good brother and sister, how that God has brought you both into his schoolhouse, whereas you were both purposed by his leave to have played truants, so that thereby you might see his carefulness and love toward you. For if it is a token of a loving and careful father for his children, to prevent the purpose, and disappoint the intent of his children, who purpose to depart a while from the school, for fear of beating, which they would not do if they rightly considered the commodity (advantage, editor) of learning which they might get there; how should you take this work of the Lord preventing your purpose, but as an evident sign of love and fatherly carefulness that he bears towards you! If he had winked at your wills, then would you have escaped beating., I mean the cross; but then should you have lost the commodity of learning that which your Father will now have you to learn and feel, and therefore he has sent to you his cross. He, I say, has brought you where you are; and though your reason and wit tell you, it is by chance or fortune, or otherwise, yet my dearly beloved know for certain, that whatsoever was the mean, God your Father was the worker thereof, and that for your weal, although your old Adam tells you and you feel otherwise; yet I say of truth, that your duty is to think of this cross that, as it is of God's sending, and comes from him, so, although your deserts are otherwise, it is of love and fatherly affection for your weal and commodity's sake.

What advantage is there hereby? you will perchance object. You are now kept in close prison, you will say: your family and children are without good overseers; your substance diminishes by these means; your poverty will approach; and perchance more perils also, yea, and loss of life too. These are no commodities, but discommodities, and that not small ones; so that you would be glad to know what commodity can come to you by this cross, whereby come such great discommodities.

To these things I answer, that indeed it is true what you say of your bodies, families, children, substance, poverty, life, &c.; which if you would consider awhile with inward eyes, as you behold them with outward, perhaps you would find more ease. Do not you now by the inward sense perceive that you must part from all these and all other commodities in the world? Tell me then, have not you this commodity by your cross, to learn to loath and leave the world, and to long for and desire another world, where is perpetuity? You ought of your own head and free-will, to have (according to your profession in baptism) forsaken the world and all earthly things, using the world as though you used it not; your heart being set only upon your treasure in heaven, or else you could never be Christ's true disciples, that is be saved, and be where he is. And think you, my good hearts in the Lord, think you, I say, that it is no commodity to be compelled thereto, by this cross, that you might assuredly enjoy with the Lord endless glory? How now does God, as it were, fatherly admonish you, to remember your former offences concerning these things and all other things, so that repentance and remission might ensue? How does God now compel you to call upon him and to be earnest in prayer! Are these no commodities? Does not the Scripture say, that God corrects us in this world, because we shall not be damned with the world? that God chastens every one whom he loves? that the end of this correction shall be joy and holiness? Does not the Scripture say, that they are happy that suffer for righteousness' sake, as you now do? that the glory and Spirit of God is upon them? that, as you are now made like unto Christ in suffering, so shall you be made like him in reigning? Does not the Scripture say, that you are now going the high and right way to heaven? that your suffering is Christ's suffering? My dearly beloved, what greater commodities than these can a godly heart desire?

Therefore you are commanded to rejoice and be glad when you suffer as you now do: for through the goodness of God great shall be your reward.óWhere? Forsooth, on earth first in your children, for now they are in God's more immediate protection. Never was father so careful for his children, as God is for yours at present. God's blessing, which is worth more than all the world, you leave to your children. Though all you have provided for them should be pulled away, yet God is not poor; he has promised to provide for them most fatherly. "Cast I thy burden upon me," says he, "and I will bear it." Psalm 55. Do you therefore cast them and commend them unto God your Father, and fear not that he will do in your debt. He never was found unfaithful, and he will not now begin with you. The good man's seed shall not go begging bread; for he will show mercy upon thousands of the posterity of them that fear him; therefore as I said, God's reward first upon earth shall be felt by your children even corporally, and so also upon you, if God see it more for your commodity; at least you shall feel it inwardly, by quietness and comfort of conscience; and secondly, after this life, you shall find it so plentifully, as the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, the heart cannot conceive, how great and glorious God's reward will be upon your bodies, much more upon your souls. God open our eyes to see and feel this indeed. Then shall we think the cross, which is a mean hereto, is an advantage: then shall we thank God that he would chastise us: then shall we say with David, Happy am I, that thou hast punished me; for before, I went astray, but now I keep thy laws.

This that we may do indeed, my dearly beloved, let us first know that our cross comes from God: secondly, that it comes from God as a Father, that is, for our weal and good; therefore let us, thirdly, call to mind our sins, and ask pardon, whereto let us, fourthly, look for help certainly at God's hand in his good time: help, I say, such as shall make most to God's glory, and to the comfort and commodity of our souls and bodies eternally. This if we certainly conceive, then will there issue out of us hearty thanksgiving, which God requires as a most precious sacrifice. That we may all through Christ offer this, let us use earnest prayer to our God and dear Father: may he bless us, keep us, and comfort us, under his sweet cross for ever! Amen. Amen.

My dear hearts, if I could any way comfort you, you should be sure thereof, though my life lay thereon; but now I must do as I may, because I cannot as I would. Oh! that it would please our dear Father shortly to bring us where we should never depart, but enjoy continually the blessed fruition of his heavenly presence. Pray, pray; that it may speedily come to passópray. Tomorrow I will send to you to know your state: send me word what are the chief things they charge you with.

From the Compter,

By your brother in the Lord,

John Bradford.


Letter 29. To Mistress Hall, prisoner in Newgate, and ready to make answer before her adversaries

Our most merciful God and Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, be merciful unto us, and make perfect the good he has begun in us, unto the end. Amen.

My dear sister, rejoice in the Lord, rejoice; be glad, I say, be merry and thankful, not only because Christ so commands us, but also because our state wherein we are at present, requires no less, for we are the Lord's witnesses. God the Father has vouchsafed to choose us amongst many, to witness anti testify that Christ his Son is King, and that his word is true. Christ our Saviour, for his love sake towards us, will have us to bear record that he is no usurper or deceiver of the people, but God's Ambassador, Prophet, and Messiah; so that of all dignities upon earth, this is the highest. Greater honour had not his prophets, apostles, or dearest friends, than to bear witness with Christ, as we now do. The world, following, the counsel of their sire Satan, would gladly condemn Christ and verity; but, lo! the Lord has chosen us to be his champions to hinder this. As stout soldiers, therefore, let us stand to our Master, who is with us, and stands on our right hand, so that we shall not be much moved, if we hope and hang on his mercy; for he is so faithful and true, that he will never try us further than he will make us able to bear. Therefore be not careful what you shall answer. For I hear say this day you shall be called forth. The Lord who is true and cannot lie, has promised, and will never fail nor forget it, that you shall have both what and how to answer, so as to make his shameless adversaries ashamed. Hang therefore on this promise of God, who is a helper at a pinch, and a most present remedy to them that hope in him. Never was it heard, nor shall it be, that any hoping in the Lord was put to foil.

Therefore as I said, I say again, dear sister, not only be not careful for your answering, but also be joyful for your cause. Confess Christ, and be not ashamed, and he will confess you, and never be ashamed of you. Though loss of goods and life are likely to ensue, yet, if Christ is true, as he is most true, it is otherwise indeed: for he that loses his life, says he, wins it, but he that saves it, loses it. Our sins have deserved many deaths. Now if God so deal with us that he will make our deserved death a demonstration of his grace, a testimonial of his verity, a confirmation of his people, and an overthrow of his adversaries, how great cause have we to be thankful! Be thankful therefore, good sister; rejoice and be merry in the Lord; be stout in his cause and quarrel, be not faint-hearted, but run out your race, and set your captain, Christ, before your eyes. Behold, how great your reward is! See the great glory and the eternity of felicity prepared for you. Strive and fight lawfully, that you may get the crown. Run to get the game; you are almost at your journey's end; I doubt not but our Father will with us send to you also, us he did to Elijah, a fiery chariot, to convey us into his kingdom. Let us therefore not be dismayed to leave our cloak behind us, that is, our bodies to ashes. God will one day restore them to us like to the body of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, whose coming is now at hand; let us look for it, and lift up our heads, for our redemption draws nigh. Amen, Amen. The Lord of mercy grant us his mercy. Amen. I pray you pray for me, and so desire my brethren which are with you. God's peace be with us all. Amen. Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, then how much more they that die for the Lord.

Your brother in bonds,

John Bradford.


Letter 30. To a woman that desired to knew his mind, whether she, refraining from the mass, might be present at the popish matins, or not

I beseech Almighty God, our heavenly Father, to be merciful unto us, and to increase in you, my good sister, the knowledge and love of his truth, and at this present give me grace so to write to you something of the same, as may make to his glory and our own comfort and confirmation in him, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Whether you may come with safe conscience to the church now, that is, to the service used commonly, in part, as at matins; or at an evensong, or not, is your desire to have me to write something about for your further stay. My dearly beloved, although your benefits towards me perhaps might make you think, that in respect thereof I would bear with that which else were not to be borne withal; yet by God's grace I purpose, simply and without such respect in this matter, to speak to you the truth according to my conscience, as I may be able to stand unto, when I shall come before the Lord.

First, therefore, learn perfectly the first lesson to be learned by all that profess Christ, that isóto deny yourself, and in nothing to seek yourself.

Secondly, learn after this, to begin at the next lesson to it, which isóto seek God in all things you do, or leave undone.

Thirdly, know that you seek God, when in his service you follow his word, and not man's fancies, custom, the multitude, &c., and when with your brother you follow the rule of charity, that is, to do as you would be done by. In these is the sum of all the counsel I can give you, if I admonish you about the service now used, which is not according to God's word, but rather against God's word directly, and in manner wholly: so that your going to the service is a declaration that you have not learned the first lesson, nor ever can learn it so long as you go thither; therefore the second lesson you shall utterly lose, if you do not the seeking of yourself, that isóif for company, custom, father or friend, life or goods, you seem to allow that which God disallows; and that you may perceive this the better, I purpose, by God's grace, briefly to show,

First, the matins and evensong are in a tongue forbidden to be used publicly in a congregation that knows not the tongue. Read how Paul affirms that to pray in an unknown tongue, is against God's commandment. This I think were enough, if nothing else were; for how can God's glory be sought, where his word and commandment are wilfully broken? How can charity (love, editor) to man stand, when charity to God, which is obedience to his word, is overthrown?

Again, both in matins and evensong idolatry is maintained instead of God's service; for there is invocation and prayer made to saints departed this life, which robs God of that glory which he will give to none other. Moreover, this service and the setters forth of it condemn the English service as heresy, thereby falling into God's curse, whim is threatened to all such as call good evil, and evil good whereof they shall be partakers that communicate with them. Besides this, the Latin service is a plain mark of antichrist's catholic synagogue; so that the communicants, and approvers of it, thereby declare themselves to be members of the same synagogue, and so cut off from Christ and his church, whose exterior mark is the true administration of God's word and sacraments.

Furthermore, the example of your going thither to allow the religion of antichrist, as doubtless you do indeed, howsoever in heart you think, occasions the obstinate to be utterly intractable, the weak papist to be more obstinate, the strong gospellers to be sore weakened, and the weak gospellers to be utterly overthrown: which things, how great offences they are, no pen is able to express. All these evils you shall be guilty of, that company with those in religion exteriorly, from whom you are admonished to fly. If Christ be Christ; follow him; gather with him, lest you scatter abroad; serve God, not only in spirit, but also in body. Make not your body, now a member of Christ, a member of antichrist. Come out from among them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing. Confess Christ and his truth, not only in heart, but also in tongue, yea, in very deed, which few gospellers do. Indeed they deny him, and therefore had need to tremble, lest Christ deny them in the last day; which day, if it were set before our eyes often, the pleasures and treasures of this world would be but trifles.

Therefore, good sister, often have it before your eyes, daily set yourself and your doings as before the judgment seat of Christ now, that hereafter you be not called into judgment. Think that it will little profit you to win the whole world, and to lose your own soul. Mark Christ's lessons well, He that will save his life shall lose it; the Father from heaven commands you to hear Christ, and he says, Follow me: this you cannot do, and follow idolatry or idolaters. Flee from such, says the scripture.

May God grant this to you, to me, and to all God's children. Amen. Thus in haste I have accomplished your request. God grant, that as you have done me much good bodily, so this may be a little mean to do you some good spiritually. Amen. If time would serve, I would have written more at large. The 2d of March, anno 1555.

John Bradford.


Letter 31. To the worshipful, and, in God, my most dear friend, the Lady Cane

(Respecting the pope's pretended supremacy.)

May the good Spirit of God our Father be more and more plentifully perceived by your good ladyship, through the mediation and merits of our dear Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Although your benefits towards me have deserved at my hands the service I can do for you, yet; right worshipful and dearly beloved in the Lord. the true fear of God, and love of his truth which I perceive to be in you specially and above all other tangs, bind me hereunto. This bearer has told me that your desire is to have something sent to you, concerning the usurped authority of the supremacy of the bishop of Rome, which is undoubtedly that great antichrist, of whom the apostles do so much admonish us, that you may have something to stay yourself on, and also wherewith to answer the adversaries,

Because you may perchance therein be something opposed. I will briefly set about to satisfy this your desire and so, that I shall, by God's grace, fully set forth the same, to arm you to withstand the assaults of the papists herein, if you mark well, and read over again that which I now write.

The papists place the pope in pre-eminence over the whole church, thereby unplacing Christ, who is the Head of the church, that gives life to the whole body, and by his Spirit enlivens every member of the same. This they do without any scripture. For where they bring in what was spoken to Peter, "Feed my sheep" I would gladly know, whether this was not commanded unto others also? As for that, which perchance they will urge, that Jesus spake to Peter by name, if they had any learning, they would easily perceive that it was not for any such cause as they pretend, but rather by a threefold commandment, to restore to him the honour of an apostle, which he had lost by his threefold denial. And how dare they interpret this word, "My sheep, my lambs" to be the universal church of Christ? A man might easily, by the like reason, prove that Peter himself had resigned that, which Christ had given to him, by exhorting his fellow-pastors to feed the flock of Christ. Is not this pretty stuff - that because Christ says to Peter, "Feed my sheep," therefore he ought to rule the universal and whole church of Christ? If Peter truly writes unto others, that they should do the like, that is, feed Christ's flock, either he transfers to them his right and authority committed to him, or else he participates or communicates with them in it; so that foolishly they endeavour to establish that which has no ground. Peter indeed was a shepherd at the sheep, but such a one as bestowed his labour on them so far, as he could stretch himself by his ministry. But the papists prate, that he had full power over all churches; wherein they may learn better from Paul, for else he had done unjustly in denying him the superior place. Howbeit, whoever yet read that Peter took anything upon him over churches committed unto other men? Was not he sent of the church, and sent of one not having rule over the rest? I grant that he was an excellent instrument of God, and for the excellency of his gifts, whenever they met together, place was commonly given unto him. But what is it to the purpose, to make him ruler and head over all the whole church because he was so over a small congregation?

But be it so that Peter had as much given to him as they affirm; who will grant that Peter had a patrimony given for his heirs? He has left, say the papists, to his successors the selfsame right which he received. Then must his successor be a Satan, for he receives that title from Christ himself! I would gladly have the papists show me one place about succession mentioned in the scriptures. I am sure, that when Paul purposely pointed out the whole administration of the church, he neither makes one head, nor any inheritable primacy, and yet he altogether commends unity. After he has made mention of one God the Father, of one Christ, of one Spirit, of one body of the church, of one faith, and of one baptism, then he describes the mean and manner how unity is to be kept, namely, because unto every pastor grace is given after the measure wherewith Christ has endued them. Where, I pray you, is there any title of fullness of power? When he calls home every one unto a certain measure, why did he not forthwith say one pope? which he could not have forgotten, if it had been as the papists make it.

But let us grant, that perpetuity of the primacy in the church was established in Peter, I would gladly learn why the seat of the primacy should be at Rome rather than elsewhere. Marry (truly, editor), say they, because Peter's chair was at Rome. This is even like to thisóthat because Moses the greatest prophet, and Aaron the first priest, exercised their offices unto their death in the desert, therefore the principal place of the Jewish church should be in the wilderness. But grant them their reason, as if it is good, what should Antioch claim? For Peter's chair was there also; wherein Paul gave him a check, which was unseemly and unmannerly done of Paul, if he would not give place unto his president and better.

No, say the papists, Rome must have this authority, because Peter died there; but what if a man should, by probable conjecture, show that it is but a fable, which is feigned of Peter's bishopric at Rome? Read how Paul salutes very many private persons, when he writes to the Romans. Three years after his epistle was made, he was brought to Rome prisoner. Luke tells, that he was received of the brethren. And yet in all these is no mention at all of Peter, who then by their stories was at Rome;ólikely he was proud, as the pope and prelates are, or else he would have visited Paul! Paul when in prison at Rome, wrote divers epistles, in which he expresses the names of many, who were, in comparison of Peter, but inferior personages; but of Peter he speaks never a word. Surely, if Peter had been there, this silence about him had been suspicious. In the second epistle to Timothy, Paul complains that no man was with him in his defence, but all had left him. If Peter had been then at Rome, as they write, then either Paul had belied him, or Peter had played his Peter's part. (Luke, xxii.) In another place, he blames all that were with him, only Timothy excepted. Therefore we may well doubt whether Peter was at Rome, and bishop there, as they prate; for all this time and long before, they say, that Peter was bishop there.

But I will not stir up coals in this matter. If Rome is the chief seat, because Peter died there, why should not Antioch be the second? Why should not James and John which were taken with Peter so be as pillars; why, I say, should not their seats have honour next to Peter's seat? Is not this preposterous, that Alexandria, where Mark, which was but one of the disciples, was bishop, should be preferred before Ephesus, where John the evangelist taught, and was bishop? And before Jerusalem, where not only James taught, and died bishop; but also Christ Jesus, our Lord and High Priest for ever, whom being Master, I hope honour shall be given to his chair, more than to the chair of his chaplains?

I need to speak nothing, how that Paul tells Peter's apostleship to concern rather circumcision, or the Jews, and therefore properly pertains not to us, neither need I bring in Gregorius the first, which was bishop of Rome about the year of our Lord 600, who plainly in his works wrote, that this title of primacy, and to be head over all churches under Christ, is a title fit and agreeing only to antichrist; and therefore he calls it a profane, a mischievous, and a horrible title. Whom should we believe now, if we will neither believe apostle nor pope?

If I should tell how this name was first given by Phocas, I should be too long; I purpose, God willing, to set it forth at large in a work which I have begun respecting antichrist, if God for his mercy's sake give me life to finish it; at present therefore I shall desire your ladyship to take this in good part. If they will needs have the bishop of Rome to be acknowledged for the head of the church, then will I urge them that they give us a bishop. But they obtrude unto us a butcher rather, or a bite-sheep, than a bishop. They brag of Peter's succession, of Christ's vicaróthis is always in their mouth. But, alas! how can we call him Christ's vicar, that resists Christ, oppugns his verity, persecutes his people, and, like a prelate, prefers himself above God and man? How or wherein do the pope and Christ agree? How does he supply Peter's ministry, who boasts of his succession?

Therefore to begin with this, which I will use at present for a conclusionóif the papists will have the bishop of Rome to be supreme head of the church of Christ on earth, they must, before they attain this, give us a bishop in deed, and not in name; for whosoever he is that will make this the bond of unity, whatsoever the bishop of Rome only be, surely it must needs follow that they teach most wicked defection and departing from Christ.

But of this, if God lend me life, I purpose to speak more at large hereafter. Now will I commit your ladyship unto the tuition of God our Father, and Christ our only Head, Pastor, and Keeper, to whom see that you cleave by true faith, which depends only on the word of God; which if you follow as a lantern to your feet, and a light to your steps, you shall avoid darkness, and the dangerous deeps whereinto the papists are fallen by the just judgment of God, and seek to bring us into the same dungeon with them, that, the blind following the blind, they both may fall into the ditch: out of which may God deliver them according to his good will, and preserve us for his name's sake, that we, being in his light, may continue therein, and walk in it whilst it is day; so shall the night never overpress us, we going from light to light, from virtue to virtue, from faith to faith, from glory to glory, by the governance of God's good Spirit, which God our Father give us all for ever. Amen.

Your brother in bonds, for the testimony of Jesus Christ,

John Bradford.


Letter 32. To my dear brother in the Lord, Master Richard Hopkins, and his wife, dwelling in Coventry, and other my faithful brethren and sisters, professors of God's holy gospel there and thereabouts

The peace which Christ left to his church and to every true member of the same, (John, xiv. from. viii.) may the Holy Spirit, the guide of God's children, so engraft in your heart and in the heart of your good wife, and of all my good brethren and sisters about you, that you may, in respect thereof, unfeignedly contemn all worldly peace, which is contrary to that peace which I speak of, and drives it utterly out of the hearts of all those which would patch them both together. For we cannot serve two mastersóno man can serve God and mammon. (Matt. vi.) Christ's peace cannot be kept with this world's peace: I beseech God therefore of his mercy to give unto you his peace, which passes all understanding, and so keep your hearts and minds, that they may be pure habitations and mansions for the Holy Spirit (Phil. iv.); yea, for the blessed Trinity, who has promised to come and dwell in all them that love Christ, and keep his sayings. (John, xiv.)

My dearly beloved, the time is now come wherein trial is made of men that have professed to love Christ, and would have been counted keepers of his testimonies. But weal away! (alas, editor) not the tenth person perseveres! The more part divide stakes with the papists and protestants, so that they are become mangy mongrels, and infect all that company with them, to their no small peril. For they pretend outwardly popery, going to mass with the papists, and tarrying with them personally at their antichristian and idolatrous service, but with their hearts, say they, and with their spirits they serve the Lord. And so by this melons they save their swine, which they would not lose, I mean their worldly pelf, and they would please the protestants, and be counted by them for gospellers, yea, indeed, would they. But, my own beloved in the Lord, flee from such persons as from men most perilous and pernicious both before God and man; for they are false to both, and true to neither. To the magistrates they are false, pretending one thing, and meaning clean contrary: to God they are most untrue, giving him but a piece, which should have the whole. I would they would to me who made their bodies. Did not God, as well as then spirits and souls? And who keeps both? Does not he still? And, alas! shall not he have the service of the body, but it must be given to serve the new found god of antichrist's invention? Did not Christ buy both our souls and bodies? And wherewith? With any less price than with his precious blood? Ah! wretches then that we are, if we defile either part with the rose coloured harlot of Babylon's filthy mass abomination! It had been better for us never to have been washed, than so to wallow ourselves in the filthy puddle of popery. It had been better never to have known the truth, than thus to betray it. (Rev xviii. 2 Pet. ii. Heb. vi. x. Matt. xii. Luke, xi ) Surely, surely, let such men fear lest their latter end be worse than the beginning. Their own conscience now accuses them before God if they have any conscience, that they are but dissemblers and hypocrites to God and man. For all the cloaks they make, they cannot deny that their going to church and to mass is of self-love; that is, they go thither because they would avoid the cross; they go thither because they would be out of trouble. They seek neither the queen's highness nor her laws, which in this point cannot bind the conscience to obey, because they are contrary to God's laws, which bid us often to flee idolatry and worshipping him after men's devices. They seek neither (I say) the laws, if there were any, nor their brethren advantage, for none comes thereby, neither godliness nor good example, for there can be none found in going to mass, &c. but horrible offences, and woe to them that give themóbut they seek their own selves, their own ease, their escaping the cross, &c. And when they have made all the excuses they can, their own conscience will accuse them of this, that their going to church is only because they seek themselves; for if no trouble would ensue for tarrying away, I appeal to their conscience, would they come thither? Never, I dare say.

Therefore, as I said, they seek themselves, they would not carry the cross; and hereof their own conscience, if they have any conscience, accuses them. Now, if their conscience accuse them at this present, what will it do before the judgment seat of Christ? Who will then excuse it, when Christ shall appear in judgment, and shall begin to be ashamed of them then, which now here are ashamed of him? (Luke, ix. xii. Mark, viii.) Who then, I say, will excuse these mass-gospellers' consciences? Will the queen's highness? She shall then have more to do for herself than without hearty and speedy repentance she can ever be able to answer, though Peter, Paul, Mary, James, John, the pope, and all his prelates, take her part, with all the singing sir Johns (Romish priests, editor) that ever were, are, and shall be. Will the lord chancellor and prelates of the realm excuse themselves there? Nay, nay. They are like then to smart for it so sore, that I would not be in their places for all the whole world. Will the laws of the realm, the nobility, gentlemen, justices of peace, &c. excuse our gospel massmongers' consciences? Nay, God knows they can do little there but quake and fear for the heavy vengeance of God about to fall upon them. Will their goods, lands, and possessions, which they by their dissembling have saved,ówill these serve to excuse them? No, no, God is no merchant, as our mass-priests are. Will masses or trentals and such trash serve? No, verily; the haunten of this gear (thing, editor) shall then be horribly ashamed. Will this catholic church excuse them? Nay, it will, most of all, accuse them; as will all the good fathers, patriarchs, apostles, prophets, martyrs, confessors, and saints, with all the good doctors and good general councils: all these already condemn the mass, and all that ever use it as it is now, being of all idols that ever was, the most abominable and blasphemous to Christ and his priesthood, manhood, and sacrifice; for it makes the priest that says mass, God's fellow, and better than Christ; for the offerer is always better or equivalents to the thing offered. (Heb. v.) If, therefore, the priest takes upon him there to offer up Christ, as they boldly affirm they do, then he must needs be better or equal with Christ. Oh! that they would show but one jot of the scripture of God calling them to this dignity, or of their authority to offer up Christ for the quick and dead, and to apply the benefits and virtue of his death and passion to whom they will! Surely, if this were true, as it is most false and blasphemous, though they prate at their pleasure to the contrary, then it would be no matter at all whether Christ were our friend or no, if the mass-priest were our friend, for they say he can apply Christ's merits to us by his mass if he will, and when he will,ótherefore we need little to care for Christ's friendship. They can make him when they will, and where they will! Lo! here he is, there he is, say they; but believe them not, says Christ, believe them not, believe them not, says he. (Matt. xxiv) For in his human nature and body, which was made of the substance of the virgin's body, and not of bread, in this body I say he is, and sits on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, in heaven, from whence, and not from the pix (the receptacle in which the consecrated wafer or host used be, the papists is kept, editor), shall he come to judge both the quick and the dead. In the mean season, heaven, saith St. Peter, must receive him. (Acts, iii.) And as Paul says, he prays for us, and now is not seen elsewhere, or otherwise seen than by faith there, until he shall be seen as he is, to the salvation of them that look for his coming, which I trust is not far off. For if the day of the Lord drew near in the apostles time, which is now above fifteen hundred years past, it cannot be, I trust, long hence now. I trust our Redeemer's coming is at hand. (Rom. viii. Heb. vii. ix. 1 Thess. v. Luke. xxi.) Then these mass sayers and seers shall shake, and cry to the hills, "Hide us from the fierce wrath of the Lamb," if they repent not in time. (Rev. vi.) Then neither gold nor goods, friendship nor fellowship, lordship nor authority, power nor pleasure, unity nor antiquity, custom nor counsel, doctors' decrees nor any man's devices, will serve. The word which the Lord has spoken, in that day shall judge (John, xii.); the word, I say, of God in that day shall judge. And what says it of idolatry and idolaters? Says it not, Flee from them? And further, that they shall be damned? (1 Cor. vi. x.) Oh! terrible sentence to all massmongers and worshippers of things made with the hands of bakers, carpenters, &c. This word of God knows no more oblations or sacrifices for sin, but one only, which Christ himself offered, never more to be re-offered. (Heb. vii. ix. x.) But in remembrance thereof his supper is to be eaten sacramentally and spiritually according to Christ's institution, which is so perverted now, that there is nothing in it simply according to the judge, I mean, the word of God. It were good for men to agree with their adversary, the word of God, now whilst they are in the way with it, lest if they linger, it should deliver them to the Judge, Christ, who will commit hem to the jailer, and so they shall be cast into prison, and never come out thence till they have paid the uttermost farthingóthat is, never. (Matt. v.)

My dearly beloved, therefore mark the word, hearken to the word; it allows no massing, no such sacrificing nor worshipping of Christ with tapers, candles, copes, canopies, &c. It allows no Latin service, no images in the temples, no praying to dead saints, no praying for the dead. It allows no such dissimulation, as a great many now use outwardly. "If any withdraw himself, my soul," says the Holy Ghost, "shall have no pleasure in him'" (Heb. x.) It allows not the love of this world, which makes men do many things against their consciences, for in them that love the world, the love of Clod abides not (1 John, ii.); it allows not gatherers elsewhere than with Christ, but says that they scatter abroad. It allows no lukewarm gentlemen; but if God be God, then follow him; if Baal and a piece of bread be God, then follow it (Rev. iii. l Kings. xviii.) It allows not faith in the heart that has not confession in the mouth. (Rom. x.) It allows no disciples that will not deny themselves, that will not take up their cross and follow Christ. (Matt. xvi. Mark, viii.) It allows not the seeking of our own ease and advantage. (Phil. ii.) It allows not the more part, but the better part. It allows not unity, except it be in verity. It allows no obedience to any, which cannot be done without disobedience to God. (Rom. xvi.) It allows no church that is not the spouse of Christ, and hearkens not to his voice only. (Eph. v.) It allows no doctor that speaks against it. (John. x.) It allows no general council that follows it (the word) not in all things. (Gal. i.) Lastly, it allows no angel, much more then any men who teach any other thing than Moses, the prophets, Christ Jesus, and his apostles have taught and left us to look upon in the written word of God, the holy books of the Bible, but it curses all that teachónot only contrary, but also any other doctrine. It says that they are fools, unwise, proud, who will not consent unto the sound word and doctrine of Christ and his apostles, and bids and commands us to flee from such. (1 Tim. vi. Matt. vii. Jer. viii.)

Therefore, obey this commandment, company not with them, especially in their church service, but flee from them; for in what consent they to Christ's doctrine? He bids us pray in a tongue to edify; they command the contrarily! (1 Cor. xiv.) He bids us call upon his Father in his name when we pray (Matt. vi.;) they bid us run to Mary, Peter, &c. He bids us use his supper in the remembrance of his death and passion, setting it forth till he come, whereby he shows us that he is not there corporally in the form of bread; therefore says Paul, "Till he come." He wills us to eat of the bread, calling it bread after consecration, and all to drink of that cup, making no exception, so that we do it worthily; that is, take it as the sacrament of his body and blood, broken and shed for our sins, and not as the body itself, and blood itself, without bread, without wine, but as the sacrament of his body and blood, whereby he represents and gives unto our faith and signifies himself wholly unto us, with all the merits and glory of his body and blood. But they forbid utterly the use of the supper to all but their shavelings, except it be once in the year, and then also they take the cup from us, they never preach forth the Lords death but in mocks and moes (absurd sermons, editor): they take away all the sacrament by their transubstantiation, for they take away the elements, and so the sacrament. To be short, they most horribly abuse this holy ordinance of the Lord, by adoration, reservation, oblation, ostentation, &c. In nothing are they contented with the simplicity of God's word; they add to and take from at their pleasure, and therefore the plagues of God will fall upon them at length, and upon all that will take their part. They seek not Christ nor his glory, for you see they have utterly cast away his word, and therefore, as the prophet says, (Jer. viii.,) there is no wisdom in them. They follow the strumpet church of antichrist, which they call the catholic church, whose foundation and pillars is the devil, and his daughter the mass, with his children the pope, and his prelates. (Rev. xviii.) Their laws are craft and cruelty, their weapons are lying and murder, their end and study is their own glory, fame, wealth, rest and possessions. For if a man speak and do nothing against these, though he is a sodomite, an adulterer, an usurer, &c. it matters not, he shall be quiet enough, no man shall trouble him. But if any one speak any thing to God's glory, which cannot stand without the overthrow of man's glory, then shall he be disquieted, imprisoned, and troubled, except he will play mum, and put his finger upon his mouth, although the same is a most quiet and godly man. So that a man may easily see that they are antichrist's church, and sworn soldiers to the pope and his spouse, and not to Christ and his church, for then would they not cast away God's word, then would they no more be adversaries to his glory, which chiefly consists in obedience to his word. Therefore, my dear hearts in the Lord, seem not to allow this or any part of the pelf of this Romish church and synagogue of Satan. Halt not on both knees, for halting will bring you out of the way; but, like valiant champions of the Lord, confess, confess, I say, with your mouth, as occasion serves, and as your vocation requires, the hope and faith you have and feel in your hearts. 1 Kings, xviii. Heb. xii;. Matt. x. xvi. Mark, iii Luke, ix. xiv. 2 Tim. iii. Rom. x. 1 Pet. iii.

But you will say, that to do so is perilous; you shall by that means lose your liberty, your lands, your goods, your friends, your name, your life, &c., and your children shall be left in miserable state, & c. To this answer, my good brethren, that you have professed in baptism to fight under the standard of your captain Christ; and will you now, for peril's sake, leave your Lord? You made a solemn vow that you would forsake the world; and will you be forsworn, and run to embrace it now? You swore and promised to leave all, and follow Christ; and will you now leave him for your father, your mother, your children, your lands, your life, &c.? "He that hates not these," says Christ, "is not worthy of me. He that forsakes not these, and himself also, and takes not up his cross, and follows me, the same shall be none of my disciples." (Matt. x. xvi. xix. Mark, viii. Luke, ix.) Therefore either bid Christ adieu, be forsworn, and run to the devil quickly, or else say as a Christian should say, that wife, children, goods, life, &c. are not too dear unto you in respect of Christ, who is your portion and inheritance. (Acts, xx. Psal. xlix. cxix. Heb. xi. xii.) Let the worldlings, which have no hope of eternal life, fear perils or loss of lands, goods, life, &c. Here is not our home, we are here but pilgrims and strangers; this life is but the desert and wilderness to the land of rest. We look for a city, whose workman is God himself. We are now dwellers in the tents of Cedar. We are now in warfare, in travail, and labour, whereto we were born as the bird to fly. We sorrow and sigh, desiring the dissolution of our bodies, and the putting off corruption, that we might put on incorruption. (Psal. xc. cxx. Job, v. ix. 2 Cor. iv. v.) The way we walk in is strait and narrow, and therefore not easy to our enemy, the corrupt flesh; but yet we must walk on, for if we hearken to our enemy, we shall be served not friendly. Let them walk the wide way that are ruled by their enemies; let us be ruled by our friends, and walk the strait way, whose end is weal, as the other is woe. (Matt. vii. xxv.) The time of our suffering is but short, as the time of their ease is not long; but the time of our rejoicing shall be endless, as the time of their torments shall be everlasting and intolerable. Our breakfast is sharp, but our supper is sweet. The afflictions of this life may not be compared in any part to the glory that shall be revealed unto us. (Rom. viii.) This is certain, if are suffer with Christ, we shall reign with him; if we confess him, he will confess us, and that before his Father in heaven, and all his angels and saints, saying, Come, ye, blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning. (Matt. x. xxv.) There shall be joy, mirth, pleasure, solace, melody, and all kinds of beatitude and felicity, such as the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, nor the heart of man is able to conceive it as it is. (Isa. lxiv.) In respect of this and of the joy set before us, should not we run our race, though it is something rough? (Heb. xii.) Did not Moses do so, the prophets so, Christ so, the apostles so, the martyrs so, and the confessors so? They were satisfied of the sweetness of this, and therefore they contemned all that man and devils could do to them; their souls thirsted after the Lord and his tabernacles, and therefore their lives and goods were not too dear to them. Read Heb. xi. and 2 Mac. vii., and let us go the same way, that is, by many tribulations. Let us labour to enter into the kingdom of heaven; for all that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution. (Acts, xiv. 2 Tim. iii.)

Think therefore that the cross, if it comes for confession of Christ, is no strange thing to God's children, (1 Pet. iv.,) but rather take it as the Lord's medicine, by which he helps our infirmities, and sets forth his glory. Our sins have deserved cross upon cross; now if God gives us to suffer his cross for his truth, and confessing him;óas he by it buries our sin, so he glorifies us, making us like to Christ here, that we may be like unto him elsewhere. For if we are partakers of the affliction, we shall be partakers of the consolation; if we are like in ignominy, we shall be like in glory. (Rom. viii. 2 Cor. i. 1 Cor. xv.) We have great cause to give thanks to God for lending us liberty, lands, goods, wife, children, life, &c. thus long; so that we shall be guilty of ingratitude, except we are cheerful and content, though he shall now come and take the same away. God has given, and God has taken away, says Job; as it pleases the Lord, so be it done. And should not we do this, especially when the Lord takes these away of love; to try us, and prove us, whether we are faithful lovers or not, that is, whether we love him better than his gifts or otherwise? It is a truth of all truths to be laid up in our hearts, that it is not lost which seems to be so for the confession of Christ. Read 2 Kings, iv. In this life your children shall find goods plentiful, and a blessing upon them when you are gone, and all your goods taken away. God is so good, that he helps the young ravens before they can fly, and feeds them when their dams most unkindly have left them; and think you that God which is the God of the widows and fatherless children will not specially have a care for the babes of his dear saints, which die or lose any thing for conscience to him? (Psa. xxxvii. cxlvii. lxviii. lv.) Oh! my dearly beloved, therefore look up with the eyes of faith; consider not things present, but rather things to come; be content now to go whither God shall gird and lead us. Let us now cast ourselves wholly into his hands with our wives, children, and all that ever we have. Let us be sure the hairs of our head are numbered, so that one hair shall not perish without the good will of our dear Father, who has commanded his angels to pitch their tents about us, and in their hands to take and hold us up, that we shall not hurt so much as our foot against a stone. (Matt. x. Psa. xci.) Let us use earnest prayer, let us heartily repent; let us hearken diligently to God's word. Let us keep ourselves pure from all uncleanness, both of spirit and body. Let us flee from all evil, and all appearance of evil. Let us be diligent in our vocation, and in doing good to all men, especially to them that be of the household of faith. Let us live in peace with all men as much as is in us. And the Lord of peace give us his peace, and that for evermore. Amen. (Eph. vi. Luke, xiii. 1 Cor. iv. 1 Thess. v. Matt. xxv. 1 Tim. v. Rom. xii. xvi.) I pray you remember me, your poor afflicted brother, in your hearty prayers to God. This 2nd of September.

John Bradford.


Letter 33. A letter to Master Richard Hopkins, then sheriff of Coventry, and prisoner in the Fleet, for the faithful and constant confessing of God's holy gospel

(Richard Hopkins, whom Master Bradford commends so much in this letter, was sheriff of Coventry, and during the time of his sheriffalty, was accused by certain malignant adversaries, of matters pertaining to religion. What it was, I am not certainly informed, unless it were for sending and lending unto a thief, being then in prison ready to be hanged, a certain English book of scripture for his spiritual comfort.

Whereupon, he being maliciously accused, was sent for and committed to the Fleet, and there kept a long time, not without great peril of his life. And being at length delivered out of prison, following this counsel of M. Bradford, and minding to keep his conscience pure from idolatry, he was driven with his wife and eight young children to quit the realm, and so leaving all other worldly respects, with his great loss and damage he went into Germany where he continued in the city of Basil, till the death of Queen Mary, being like a good Tobias, to his power a friendly helper, and a comfortable reliever of other English exiles, God's holy blessing so working with him, that in those far countries, he neither fell into any great decay, neither any one of all his household during all the time there suffered materially, but so many as he brought out, so many be carried home again, yea and that with advantages, and God's plenty upon him. Fox.)

Dearly beloved in the Lord, I wish unto you, as unto mine own brother, yea, as to mine own heart root, God's mercy, and the feelings of the same plentifully in Christ, our sweet Saviour, who gave himself a ransom for our sins, and a price for our redemption: praised therefore be his holy name for ever and ever! Amen.

I will not excuse myself for not sending unto you hitherto, suffering for the Lord's sake, as you do, to the comfort of me and all that love you in the truth; but rather accuse myself both before God and you, desiring your forgiveness, and that you would with me pray to God for pardon of this my unkind forgetting you, and all my other sins, which I beseech the Lord in his mercy to do away, for his Christ's sake. Amen.

Now I would be glad if I could make amends to you-ward; but because I cannot, I heartily desire you to accept that will, and this which I now write unto you thereafter; I mean, after my will, and not after the deed, to accept and take it. At this present, my dear heart in the Lord, you are in a blessed state, although it seem otherwise to you, or rather unto your odd Adam, which I dare now be so bold as to discern from you, because you would have him not only discerned, but also utterly destroyed. For if God be true, then is his word true.

Now his word pronounces of your state, that it is happy, therefore it must needs be so. To prove this, I think there is no need; for you know that the Holy Ghost says that they are happy which suffer for righteousness' sake, and that God's glory and Spirit rests on those who suffer for conscience to God. Now this you cannot but know, that this your suffering is for righteousness' sake, and for conscience to God-wards, for else you might be out of trouble, even immediately. I know in very deed that you have felt and do feel that your unthankfulness to God, and other sins, witness to you, and that betwixt God and yourself, you have deserved this imprisonment and lack of liberty: and I would that you so would confess unto God in your prayer, with petition for pardon and thanksgiving, for his correcting you here. But you know that the magistrates do not persecute your sins, your unthankfulness, &c. but they persecute in you Christ himself, his righteousness his verity; and therefore happy are you that have found such favour with God your Father, that he accounts you worthy to suffer for his sake in the sight of man: surely you shall rejoice therefore one day with a joy unspeakable in the sight of man also.

You may think yourself born in a blessed time, who have found this grace with God, to be a vessel of honour, to suffer with his saints, yea, with his Son. My beloved, God has not done so with many. The apostle says, Not many noble, not many rich, not many wise in the world has the Lord God chosen. Oh! then what cause have you to rejoice, that, amongst the "not many," he has chosen you to be one! For this cause has God placed you in your office, that you might the more see his special favour and love towards you. It had not been so great a thing for Master Hopkins to have suffered as Master Hopkins, as it is for Master Hopkins to suffer, as Master Sheriff. Oh! happy day, that you were made sheriff, by which, as God in this world promoted you to a more honourable degree, so by suffering in that station he has exalted you in heaven, and in the sight of his church and children, to a much more excellent glory. When was it read that a sheriff of a city suffered for the Lord's sake? Where read we of any sheriff that has been cast into prison for conscience to God-ward? How could God have dealt more lovingly with you, than herein he has done? To the end of the world it shall be written for a memorial to your praise, that Richard Hopkins, Sheriff of Coventry, for conscience to do his office before God, was cast into the Fleet, and there kept prisoner a long time. Happy, and twice happy are you, if for this you may give your life. Never could you have attained to this promotion of this sort, out of that office. How do you preach now, not only to all men, but especially to magistrates in this realm! Who would ever have thought that you should have been the first magistrate, that for Christ's sake should have lost any thing (Bradford means that M. Hopkins was the first magistrate who suffered for the truth in Queen Mary's reign; see Fox). As I said before, therefore, I say again, that your state is happy. Good brother, before God I write the truth unto you, my conscience bearing me witness, that you are in a most happy state with the Lord and before his sight.

Be thankful therefore, rejoice in your trouble, pray for patience, persevere to the end, let patience have her perfect work. If you want this wisdom and power, ask it of God, who will give it to you in his good time; hope still in him, yea, if he should slay you, yet trust in him with Job; and you shall perceive that the end will be that you find him merciful and full of compassion; for he will not break promise with you, which hitherto never did so with any. He is with you in trouble; he hears you calling upon him; yea, before you call, your desires are not only known, but accepted through Christ. If now and then he hide his face from you, it is but to provoke your appetite to make you to long for him the more. This is most true he is coming, and will come, he will not be long; but if for a time he seem to tarry, yet stand you still, and you shall see the wonderful works of the Lord. Oh, beloved! wherefore should you be heavy? Is not Christ Emmanuel, God with us? Shall you not find, that as he is true in saying, "In the world you shall have trouble," so is he in saying, "In me you have comfort?" He not only declares that trouble will come, but also that comfort shall ensue. And what comfort? Such a comfort as the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, nor the heart of man can conceive. Oh, great comfort! who shall have this? Truly, they that suffer for the Lord; and are not you one of them? Yea, verily, are you. Then, as I said, happy, happy, and happy again are you, my dearly beloved in the Lord. You now suffer with the Lord, surely you shall be glorified with him. Call upon God therefore in your trouble, and he will hear you, yea, deliver you in such sort, as shall make most to his and your glory also. And in this calling I heartily pray you to pray for me your fellow in affliction. Now we are both going in the highway to heaven; by many afflictions we must enter in thither, whither God bring us for his mercy's sake. Amen. Amen. Your fellow in affliction,

John Bradford.


Letter 34. To my good sister, Mistress Elizabeth Brown

Good sister, may God our Father make perfect the good he has begun in you unto the end.

I am afraid to write unto you, because you so overcharge yourself at all times, even whenever I do but vend unto you commendations. I would be more bold on you than many others, and therefore you might suspend so great tokens, till I should write unto you of my need; which doubtless I would do if it urged me. Dear sister I see your unfeigned love towards me in God, and have done so long time, which I do recompense with the like, and will do, by God's grace, so long as I live, and therefore I hope not to forget you, but in my poor prayers to have you in remembrance, as I hope you have me. Otherwise I can do you no service, except it is now and then by my writing to hinder you from better exercise, when yet the end of my writing is to excite and stir up your heart to go onwards more earnestly in your well begun enterprise. For you know, none shall be crowned, but such as strive lawfully; and none receive the prize, but those that run to the appointed mark: none shall be saved, but such as persist and continue to the very end.

Therefore, dear sister, remember that we have need of patience, that, when we have done the good will of God, we may receive the promise. Patience end perseverance are the proper marks, whereby God's children are known from counterfeits; they that persevere not were always but hypocrites, many make godly beginnings, yea, their progress seems marvellous, but yet, after all, in the end they fail. These were never of us, says St. John, for if they had been of us, they would have continued unto the very end.

Take courage therefore, mine own beloved in the Lord: as you have well begun, and well gone forward, so persist well and end happily, and then all is yours. Though this he sharp and sour, yet it is not tedious and long. Do all that ever you do simply for God, and as to God; neither unkindness, nor any other thing shall make you leave off from well doing, so long as you may do well. Accustom yourself now to see God continually, that he may be all in all unto you. In good things behold his mercy, and apply it unto yourself. In evil things and plagues behold his judgements, through which learn to fear him. Beware of sin as the serpent of the soul, which spoils us of all ornament and seemly apparel in Gods sight. Let Christ crucified be your book to study, and that both night and day. Mark your vocation, and be diligent in the works thereof. Use hearty and earnest prayer, and that in spirit. In all things give thanks to God our Father through Christ. Labour here to have life everlasting begun in you, for else it will not be enjoyed elsewhere. Set God's judgments often before your eyes, that now examining yourself, you may make diligent suit, and obtain never to come into judgment. Uncover your evils to God, that he may cover them. Beware of this antichristian trash; defile not yourself in soul or body therewith, but accomplish holiness in the fear of God, and bear no yoke with unbelievers. Look for the coming of the Lord, which is at hand; by earnest prayer and godly life, hasten it. God our Father accomplish his good work in you. Amen. Commend me to my good mother, Mistress Wilkinson, to my very dear sister, Mistress Warcup. I shall daily commend you all to God. and I pray you do the like for me.

John Bradford.


Letter 35. To a friend of his, instructing him how he could answer his adversaries

My good brother, may our merciful God and dear Father through Christ, open your eyes effectually to see, and your heart ardently to desire, the everlasting joy which he has prepared for his slaughter-sheep, that is, for such as shrink not from his truth for any such storm's sake. Amen.

When you shall come before the magistrates, to give an answer of the hope which is in you, do it with all reverence and simplicity. And because you may be something affrighted by the power of the magistrates, and the cruelty which they will threaten against you, I wish you to set before you the good father Moses, and follow his example; for he set the invisible God before his eyes of faith, and with them looked upon God and his glorious majesty and power, while with his corporeal eyes he saw Pharaoh and all his fearful terrors. So do you, my dearly belovedólet your inward eyes give such light unto you, that while you know you are before the magistrates, remember much more, that you and they also, are present before the face of God, which will give such wisdom to you, who fear him and seek his praise, as the enemies shall wonder at; and further, he will so order their hearts and doings, that they shall, will they nill they, serve God's providence towards you, (which you cannot avoid though you would,) as shall be most to his glory and your everlasting comfort.

Therefore, my good brother, let your whole study be only to please God; put him always before your eyes, for he is on your right hand, lest you should be moved. He is faithful, and never will suffer you to be tempted above that he will make you able to bear: yea, every hair of your head he has numbered, so that one of them shall not perish without his good will, which cannot but be good unto you, since he is become your Father through Christ. And therefore, as he has given you to believe in him, (God increase his belief in us all,) so he now graciously gives unto you to suffer for his name's sake; which you ought with all thankfulness to receive, since you are made worthy to drink of the selfsame cup, which not only the very sons of God drank of before you, but even the very natural Son of God himself has happily brought you. Oh! may he of his mercy make us thankful to pledge him again. Amen.

Because the chiefest matter they will trouble you, and go about to deceive you with, is the sacrament, not of Christ's body and blood, but of the altar, as they call it, thereby destroying the sacrament, which Christ instituted, I would you noted these two things; first, that the sacrament of the altar, which the priest offers in the mass, and eats privately by himself, is not the sacrament of Christ's body and blood, instituted by him, as Christ's institution, plainly written and set forth in the scriptures, being compared to their using of it, plainly declares.

Again, if they talk with you of Christ's sacrament, instituted by him, asking whether it is Christ's body or not, answer them, that to the eyes of your reason, to your taste, and corporeal senses, it is bread and wine, and therefore the scripture calls it so after the consecration. But that to the eyes, taste, and senses of your faith, which ascends to the right hand of God in heaven, where Christ sits, it is in very deed Christ's body and blood, which spiritually your soul feeds on to everlasting life, in faith and by faith, even as your body now feeds on the sacramental bread and sacramental wine.

By this means, you shall not allow transubstantiation, or any of their popish opinions, and you shall declare the sacrament to be a matter of faith, and not of reason, as the papists make it; for they deny God's omnipotence, since they say Christ is not there, if bread be there. But faith looks on the omnipotence of God joined with his promise, and doubts not but that Christ is able to give what he promises us spiritually by faithóthe bread still remaining in substanceóas well as if the substance of bread were taken away; for Christ says not in any place, "This is no bread." But of this God shall instruct you, if you hang on his promise, and pray for the power and wisdom of his Spirit, which undoubtedly, as you are bound to look for, praying for it, so he has bound himself by his promise to give it; which may he grant unto us both, and to all his people, for his name's sake, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

John Bradford.


Letter 36. To certain godly men, whom he exhort to be patient under the cross, and constant in the true doctrine which they had professed

My dearly beloved in the Lord, as in him I wish you well to fare, so I pray God I and you may continue in his true service, that we may perpetually enjoy the same welfare, here in hope, and in heaven indeed and eternally.

You know this world is not your home, but a pilgrimage, and place wherein God tries his children; and therefore as it knows you not, nor can know you, so I trust you know not it, that is, allow it not, nor in any point seem so to do, although by many you are advised thereto. For this hot sun, which now shines, burns so sorely that the corn, which is sown upon sand and stony ground begins to wither; that is, many who beforetimes were taken for hearty gospellers, begin now, for the fear of afflictions, to relent, yea, to turn to their vomit again thereby declaring, that though they go from amongst us, yet were they never of us, or else they would have still tarried with us; and neither for gain nor loss have left us either in word or deed. As for their hearts, which undoubtedly are double, and therefore in danger of God's curse, we have as much of them with us as the papists have; and more too, by their own judgment; for they play wilybeguile themselves; and think it enough inwardly to favour the truth, though outwardly they curry favour. They say, "What though with my body I do this or that, God knows my heart is whole in him."

Ah, brother! if your heart be whole with God, why do not you confess and declare yourself accordingly, by word and fact? You believe in your heart either that what you say is good or not. If it is good, why are you ashamed of it? If it is evil why do you keep it in your heart? Is not God able to defend you while adventuring yourself for his cause? Or will he not defend his worshippers? Does not the scripture say, that the eyes of the Lord are on them that fear him, and trust in his mercy? And whereto? why truly, to deliver their souls from death, and to feed them in time of hunger.

If this is true, as it is most true, why are we afraid of death, as though God could not comfort or deliver us, or would not, according to his promise? Why are we afraid of the loss of our goods, as though God would leave them that fear him destitute of all good things, and so do, against his most ample promises? Ah! faith, faith, how few feel thee nowadays! Full truly, said Christ, that he should scarcely find faith when he came on earth. For if men believed these promises, they would never do anything outwardly which inwardly they disallow. No example of men, how many soever they are, or how learned soever they are, can prevail in this behalf; for the pattern which we must follow is Christ himself, and not the more numerous company or custom. His word is the lantern to lighten our steps, and not learned men; company and custom are to be considered according to what they allow; learned man are to be listened to and followed according to God's lore and law; for else the greater part go to the devil. Custom causes error and blindness; so learning, if it is not according to the light of God's word, is poison, and learned men are most pernicious. The devil is called daemon, for his cunning, and the children of the world in their generation are much wiser than the children of light; and I know the devil and his darlings have always, for the most part, more helps in this life, than Christ's church and her children. They, the devil and his synagogue I mean, have custom, multitude, unity, antiquity, learning, power, riches, honour, dignity and promotions plenty, as they always have had, and shall have commonly, and for the most part, until Christ's coming, much more than the true church has at present, heretofore has had, or hereafter shall have. For her glory, riches, and honour, are not here; her trial, cross, and warfare, are here.

And therefore, my dear hearts in the Lord, consider these things accordingly: consider what you areónot worldlings, but God's children. Consider where you are, not at home, but in a strange country. Consider among whom you are conversant, even in the midst of your enemies, and of a wicked generation; and then I trust you will not much grieve at affliction, which you cannot be without, being, as you are, God's children, in a strange country, and in the midst of your enemies; except you would leave your Captain, Christ, and follow Satan for the muck of this earth, or for rest and quietness, which he may promise you; and you indeed may think you shall receive it by doing as he would have you to do, but, my dear hearts, he is not able to pay what he promises: peace and war come from God, riches and poverty, wealth and woe. The devil has no power but by God's permission. If then God permit him a little to attack your goods, body, or life; I pray you tell me, what can much hurt you, as Peter says, you being followers of godliness? Think you that God will not remember you in his time, as shall be most to your comfort? Can a woman forget the child of her womb? and if she should, yet will I not forget thee, says the Lord. Look upon Abraham in his exile and misery; look upon Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and the prophets, apostles, and all the godly from the beginning: and, my good brethren, is not God the same God? Is he a changeling? You have heard of the patience of Job, says St. James, and you have seen the end, how that God is merciful, pitiful, and longsuffering; even so I say unto you, that you shall find accordingly, if you are patientóthat is, if you fear him, set his word before you, serve him thereafter; and if when he lay his cross on you, you bear it with patience, which you shall do when you consider it not according to the present sense, but according to the end. Heb. xii. 2 Cor. iv.

Therefore, I heartily beseech you, and out of my bonds, which I suffer for your sake, I pray you, my own dear hearts in the Lord, that you would cleave in heart, and humble obedience, to the doctrine taught you by me, and many others my brethren. For we have taught you no fables, nor tales of men, nor our own fantasies, but the true very word of God, which we are ready to confirm with our lives, God so enabling us, as we trust he will, and by the shedding of our blood, in all patience and humble obedience to the superior powers, to testify and seal up; as well that you might be more certain of the doctrine, as that you might be ready to confess the same before this wicked world; knowing that if we confess Christ, and his truth, before men, he will confess us before his Father in heaven; but if we are ashamed hereof, for loss of life, friends, or goods, he will be ashamed of us before his Father, and his holy angels in heaven.

Therefore take heed, for the Lord's sake; take heed, take heed, and defile not your bodies or souls with this Romish and antichristian religion now set up amongst us again, but come away; come away, as the angel cries, from amongst them, in their idolatrous service, lest you be partakers of their iniquity. Hearken to your preacher, as the Thessalonians (he means the Bereans, editor) did to Paul: that is, compare their sayings with the scriptures; if they are not found according therewith, the morning light shall not shine upon them. Use much and hearty prayer for the spirit of wisdom, knowledge, humbleness, meekness, sobriety, and repentance, which we have great need of, because our sins have thus provoked the Lord's anger against us; but let us bear his anger, and acknowledge our faults with bitter tears and sorrowful sighs, and doubtless he will be merciful to us, after his wonted mercy. The which may he vouchsafe to do for his holy name's sake, in Christ Jesus our Lord; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, glory praise, and everlasting thanks, from this time forth evermore. Amen. Out of prison, by yours in the Lord to command.

John Bradford.


Letter 37. To my dear friend and brother in the Lord, Master George Eaton

Almighty God, our dear Father, give to you daily more and more the knowledge of his truth, and a love and life to the same, for ever in all things, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I should begin with thanksgiving to God, and to you as his steward, for the great benefits I have oftentimes received from you, and specially in this time of my greatest need, far above my expectation. But because thankfulness lies not in words or letters, and because you look not to hear of your well doing from man, I purpose to pass it over with silence, and to give myself at present to that which is more profitable unto you; that is, briefly to labour, as God shall lend me his grace, or at least to show my good will to help you, from God's gift to me, as you by your doing the like from God's gift unto you have already done and so occasioned me greatly hereto. I would gladly have done it heretofore, but I have been discouraged to write unto you, lest hurt might come unto you thereby, which is the only cause why I have not hitherto written, and now would not have done so, but that I stand in doubt whether ever hereafter I shall have liberty to write unto you. And therefore, whilst I may, I thought good to do thus much, to declare unto you, that, I think myself much bound to God for you, and I desire to gratify (recompense, editor) the same, as God shall enable me.

The days are come, and approach more and more, in which trial will be made of such as have unfeignedly read and heard the gospel; for all others will abide no trial but as the world will. But because I have better hope of you, I cannot but pray to God, to confirm you in him, and to beseech you to do the same. I know it will be a dangerous thing indeed to declare that which you have confessed in word and have believed in heart, especially concerning the papistical mass; but notwithstanding, we must not for dangers depart from the truth, except we will depart from God; for inasmuch as God is the truth, and the truth is God, he that departs from the one departs from the other.

Now, I need not tell you, what a thing it is to depart from God, because you know it is no less than a departing from all that is good, and not only so, but also a coupling of yourself to all that is evil. For there is no mean; either we depart from God, and cleave to the devil, or depart from the devil, and cleave to God. Some men there are, who, for fear of danger and loss of that which they must leave, when, where, and to whom they know not, deceive themselves after the just judgment of God, and believe the devil, (because they have no desire to believe God,) by hearkening to Satan's counsel of parting stakes with God, so as to be persuaded that it is not evil, or else no great evil, inwardly in heart to conceal the truth, and outwardly in fact to betray it. And therefore, though they know the mass to be abomination, yet they esteem it but a straw to go to it as the world do. In which the Lord knows they deceive themselves to damnation, and dream as they lust. For surely the body departing from the truth, and so from God, will draw and drown in damnation the soul also; for we shall receive according to that we do in the body, good or bad, and therefore the matter is more to be considered than men make of it, the more it is to be lamented. But I trust (my right dearly beloved) you will consider this with yourself, and call your conscience to account, as God's word makes the charge.

Beware of false auditors, which, making a false charge, can get no quietness of the conscience according to God's word; therefore cast your charge, and there shall you see that no belief of the heart justifies, which has not confession of the mouth to declare the same. No man can serve two masters: he that gathers not with Christ (as no mass-seer [spectator of the mass, editor], unreproving it, does) scatters abroad. God's chosen are such as not only have good hearts, but also kiss not their hand, nor bow their knee to Baal. Christ's disciples are none but such as deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. He that is ashamed of Christ and of his truth in this generation, must look that Christ will be ashamed of him in the day of judgment; he that denies Christ before men, shall be denied before God. Now there are two kinds of denial, yea, three kinds; one in heart, another in word, and the third in deed: in which three kinds all mass-gospellers are so bitten, that all the surgeons in the world can lay no healing plaster thereto, till repentance appear, and draw out the matter of using it, and resorting to the mass; for we should be pure from all spots, not only of the flesh, but also of the spirit.

And our duty is to depart not only from evil, that is, the mass, but also from the appearance of evil; that is, from coming to it. Woe unto them that give offence to the children of God; that is, which occasion by any means any to tarry in the church at mass-time; much more then they which occasion any to come thereto; most of all, they which enforce any thereto. Assuredly, a most heavy vengeance of God hangs upon such. Such as decline to their crookedness, God will lead on with wicked workers, whose portion shall be snares, fire, brimstone, and stormy tempests, (Psa. xi.,) whose palace and home shall be hell-fire and darkness, whose cheer shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, whose song shall be Woe, woe, woe, from which the Lord of mercy deliver us.

My dearly beloved, I write not this as one that thinks not well of you, but as one that would you did well. And therefore, to help you thereto, I write as I write, beseeching God to open your eyes to see the dangers men are in that dissemble with God and man, to the end you do not the like, and also to open your eyes to see the high service you do to God, in adventuring yourself, and what you have, for his sake. Oh! that men's eyes were opened to see that the glory of God rests upon them that suffer any thing for his sake! Oh! that we considered, that it is happiness to suffer any thing for Christ's sake, which have deserved to suffer so much for our sins and iniquities! Oh! that our eyes were opened to see the great reward they shall have in heaven, who suffer the loss of anything for God's sake!

If we knew the cross to be as a purgation most profitable to the soul, as a purifying fire to burn away the dross of our dirtiness and sins, as an oven to bake us in, to be the Lord's bread, as soap to make us white, as a stew (a pool of water, editor), to mundify and cleanse us, as God's framehouse, to make us like to Christ here in suffering, that we may be so in reigning; then should we not so much care for this little short sorrow, which the flesh suffers in it, but rather in consideration of the exceeding endless joy and comfort which will ensue, we should run forwards in our race after the example of our captain Christ, who comfort us all in our distress, and give us the spirit of prayer, therein to watch and pray, that we be not led into temptation, which God grant to us for ever. Amen.

And thus much I thought good to write to you at this present, to declare my carefulness for the well doing of you and all your family, whom I commend with you into the hands and tuition of God our Father. So be it.

Your own in the Lord,

John Bradford.


Letter 38. Another letter to Master George Eaton

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, recompense abundantly into your bosom, my dearly beloved, here and eternally, the good which from him by you I have continually received since my coming into prison; otherwise I never can be able to requite your loving-kindness here, than by praying for you, and, after this life, by witnessing your faithówhich is declared to me by your fruitsówhen we shall come and appear together before the throne of our Saviour Jesus Christ, whither, I thank God, I am even now going; ever looking when officers will come and fulfil the precept of the prelates, whereof, though I cannot complain, because I have justly deserved a hundred thousand deaths at God's hands, by reason of my sins; yet I may and must rejoice, because the prelates do not persecute in me my iniquities, but Christ Jesus and his verity; so that they persecute not me, they hate not me, but they persecute Christ: they hate Christ. And because they can do him no hurt, for he sits in heaven, and laughs them and their devices to scorn, as one day they shall feel, therefore they turn their rage upon his poor sheep, as Herod their father did upon the infants. (Matt. ii.) Great cause therefore have I to rejoice, that my dear Saviour Christ will vouchsafe amongst many, to choose me to be a vessel of grace, to suffer in me, who have deserved so often and justly to suffer for my sins, that I might be most assured I shall be a vessel of honour, in whom he will be glorified.

Therefore, my right dear brother in the Lord, rejoice with me; give thanks for me; and cease not to pray that God for his mercy's sake would make perfect the good he has begun in me. And, as for the doctrine which I have confessed and preached, I do confess unto you in writing, as to the whole world I shortly shall, by God's grace, in suffering, that it is the very true doctrine of Jesus Christ, of his church, of his prophets, apostles, and all good men; so that if an angel should come from heaven and preach otherwise, the same were accursed.

Therefore waver not, dear heart in the Lord, but be confirmed in it; and, as your vocation requires, when God so win, confess it, though it be perilous so to do. The end shall evidently show another manner of pleasure for so doing than tongue can tell. Be diligent in prayer, and watch therein; use reverent reading of God's word; set the shortness of this time before your eyes; and let not the eternity that is to come depart out of your memory. Practise in doing what you learn by reading and hearing: decline from evil, and pursue good: remember them that are in bonds, especially for the Lord's cause, as members of your body and fellow-heirs of grace. Forget not the affliction of Sion, and the oppression of Jerusalem, and God, our Father, shall give you his continual blessing, through Christ our Lord. May he guide us, as his dear children, for ever. Amen. And thus I take my farewell of you, dear brother, for ever in this present life, till we shall meet in eternal bliss, whither may our good God and Father bring us shortly. Amen. God bless all your babes for ever. Amen. Out of prison, this 8th of February.

Your afflicted brother for the Lord's cause,

John Bradford.


Letter 39. Another letter to Mistress Ann Warcup

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for his Christ's sake, increase in us faith, by which we may more and more see what glory and honour is reposed and safely kept in heaven for all them that believe with the heart, and confess Christ and his truth with the mouth. Amen.

My dearly beloved, I remember that once heretofore I wrote unto you a farewell upon conjecture, but now I write my farewell to you in this life,. indeed, upon certain knowledge. My staff stands at the door. I continually look for the sheriff to come for me, and I thank God I am ready for him. Now go I to practise that which I have preached: now am I climbing up the hillóit will cause me to puff and to blow before I come to the cliff. The hill is steep and high, my breath is short, my strength is feeble; pray, therefore, to the Lord for me, that as I have now, through his goodness, even almost come to the top, I may by his grace be strengthened, not to rest till I come where I should be. Oh, loving Lord! put out thy hand, and draw me unto thee; for no man comes but he whom the Father draws. See, my dearly beloved, God's loving mercy; he knows my short breath and great weakness. As he sent a fiery chariot for Elijah, so sends he one for me; for by fire my dross must be purified, that I may be fine gold in his sight! O unthankful wretch that I am! Lord, do thou forgive my unthankfulness. Indeed I confess (right dear to me in the Lord) that my sins have deserved hell fire, much more then this fire. But, lo! so loving is my Lord, that he converts the remedy for my sins, the punishment for my transgressions, into a testimonial of his truth, and a testification of his truth, which the prelates persecute in me, and not my sins; therefore they persecute not me, but Christ in me, who, I doubt not, will take my part unto the very end. Amen.

Oh! that I had a heart so open that it could receive, as I should do, this great benefit and unspeakable dignity, which God my Father offers to me. Now pray for me, my dearly beloved, pray for me, that I may never shrink; I shall never shrink, I hope: I trust in the Lord I shall never shrink; for he that always has taken my part, I am assured will not leave me when I have most need, for his truth and mercy's sake. O Lord help me! Into thy hands I commend me wholly. In the Lord is my trust; I care not what man can do unto me. Amen. My dearly beloved, say you Amen also, and come after, if so God call you. Be not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but keep company with him still. He will never leave you; but, in the midst of temptation, will give you an outscape, to make you able to bear the brunt Use hearty prayer; reverently read and hear God's word; put it in practice; look for the cross; lift up your heads, for your redemption draws nigh; know that the death of God's saints is precious in his sight; be joyful in the Lord; pray for the mitigation of God's heavy displeasure upon our country. God keep us for ever; God bless us with his spiritual blessings in Christ. And thus I bid you farewell for ever in this present life. Pray for me, pray for me. God make perfect his good work begun in me. Amen. Out of prison, the seventh of February. Yours in the Lord,

John Bradford.


Letter 40. To a certain godly gentlewoman, troubled and afflicted by her friends for not coning to the mans

(A certain gentlewoman, being troubled by her father and mother for not coming to mass, sent her servant to visit Master Bradford in prison; who, attending to the woeful case of the gentlewoman, and to the intent partly to confirm her with counsel, and partly to relieve her oppressed mind with some comfort, directed this letter unto her. Fox.)

I wish unto you, right worshipful, and my dearly beloved sister in the Lord, as to myself, the continual grace and comfort of Christ, and of his holy word, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, who strengthens your inward man with the strength of God, that you may continue to the end in the faithful obedience of God's gospel, whereto you are called. Amen.

I perceived by yourself, the last day when you were with me, how that you are in the school-house and trial-parlour of the Lord, which to me is a great comfort, at the least it should be to see the number of God's elect by you increased, who are in that state to which God has not called many, as Paul says; and as it is a comfort to me, so should it be a confirmation unto me, that the Lord, for his faithfulness' sake, will make perfect and finish the good he has begun in you to the end.

If, then, your cross be to me a comfort, or token of your election, and a confirmation of God's continual favour, my dearly beloved, how much more ought it to be so unto you unto whom he has not only given to believe, but also to come into the track of suffering for his sake; and that not commonly of common enemies, but even of your own father, mother, and all your friends; I mean kinsfolk, as you told me. By which, I see Christ's words are true, how he came to give his children such a peace with him; as the devil might not, nor may abide; and therefore stirs up father and mother, sister and brother, rather than it should continue. But, my dear sister, if you cry, with David, to the Lord, and complain to him, how that, for conscience to him, your father and mother have forsaken you, you shall hear him speak in your heart, that he has received you; and by this would have you to see, that he makes you here like to Christ, that elsewhere, in heaven, you might be like unto him. Of this you ought to be most assured, knowing that in time, even when Christ shall appear, you shall be like unto him; for he will make your body, which now you defile not with idolatrous service in going to mass, to be like unto his own glorious and immortal body according to the power whereby he is able to do all things. He will/n confess you before his Father, who do not deny his verity, in word or deed before your Father: be will make you reign with him; who now suffer for him, and with him. He will reward you, with himself and all the glory he has, who now for his sake deny yourself with all that you have; he will not leave you comfortless, that seek no comfort but at his hand. Though for a little time you are afflicted, yet therein will he comfort and strengthen you; and at the length make you to be joyful with him, in such joy as is infinite and endless. He will wipe all the tears from your eyes; he will embrace you as your dear husband; he will, after he has proved: you, crown you with a crown of glory and immortality, such as the heart of man shall never be able to conceive in such sort as it is. He now beholds your steadfastness and striving to do his good will; and shortly he will show you how steadfast he is, and will be ready to do your will after you have fully resigned it to His will.

Pledge Christ in his cup of the cross, and you shall pledge him in the cup of his glory. Desire to drink it before it come to the dregs, whereof the wicked shall drink; and all those who for tear of the cross, and pledging the Lord walk with the wicked, by betraying in fact and deed, that which their heart embraces for verity. Which if you should do, which God forbid, then, my dear mistress and sister in the Lord, you should not only lose all that I have before spoken, and much more infinitely of eternal joy and glory, but also be a castaway, and a partaker of God's most heavy displeasure in hellfire eternally; and so for a little ease, which you cannot tell how long it will last, would lose for ever and ever all ease and comfort. For he that gathers not with me, says Christ, and no mass-gospeller does so, scatters abroad. According to that we do in this body, we shall receive, be it good or bad. If of our words we shall be judged to condemnation or salvation, much more then of our facts and deeds. You cannot be a partaker of God's religion and antichrist's service, whereof the mass is most principal. You cannot be a member of Christ's church, and a member of the pope's church. You must glorify God, not only in soul and heart, but also in body and deed. You may not think that God requires less of you, his wife now, than your husband did of you. If your husband would have both heart and body, shall Christ have less, think you, who has so bitterly and dearly bought it? If your husband could not admit an excuse, that your heart is his only, if your body was not; do you think that Christ will allow your body at mass, although your heart consent not to it?

God esteems his children, not only by their hearts, but by their pure hands and works; and, therefore, in Elijah's time, he counted none to be his servants and people, but such as had not bowed their knees to Baal; as now he does not, in England, account any to be his dearlings, which know the truth in heart, and deny it in their deeds, as our mass-gospellers do.

We ought to desire, above all things, the sanctifying of God's holy name, and the coming of his kingdom; and shall we then see his name blasphemed so horribly as it is at mass, by making it a sacrifice propitiatory, and setting forth a false Christ, of the priests' and bakers' making, to be worshipped as God, and say nothing? The Jews rent their clothes asunder, at seeing or hearing any thing blasphemously done or spoken against God; and shall we come to church where mass is, and be mute? Paul and Barnabas rent their clothes, at seeing the people of Lycaonia offer sacrifice unto them; and shall we see sacrifice and God's service done to an inanimate creature, and be mute? What helps more, or so much, antichrist's kingdom, as does the mass? And what destroys preaching, and the kingdom of Christ upon earth, more than it does? And how can we then say, Let thy kingdom come, and go to mass? How can we pray before God, Thy will be done on earth, when we will do our own will, and the will of our father or friends? How pray we, Deliver us from evil, who, knowing the mass to be evil, come to it?

But why go I to light a candle in the noon-day; that is, to tell you that we may not go to mass, or to the congregation where it is, except it is to reprove it, since all men, in so doing, dissemble both with God and man? And is dissembling now to be allowed? How long will men yet halt on both knees? says God. Halting, says Paul, brings out of the way; that is to say, out of Christ, which is the way; so that he which is not in him, shall wither away, and be cast into hellfire. For Christ will be ashamed of them before his Father, which are now ashamed of his truth before this wicked generation.

Therefore, my good mistress, take good heed, for it had been better for you never to have known the truth, and thereby to have escaped from papistical uncleanness, than now to return to it, making your members, beheld members of righteousness, members of unrighteousness, as you do, if you do but go to the church where mass is. Be pure, therefore, and keep yourself from all filth of the spirit and of the flesh: abstain not only from all evil, but from all appearance of evil.

And so the God of peace shall be with you; the glory of God shall govern you; the Spirit of God shall sanctify you, and be with you for ever, to keep you from all evil, and to comfort you in all your distress and trouble; which is but short, if you consider the eternity you shall enjoy in glory and felicity in the Lord; which undoubtedly you shall not fail, but inherit for ever, if you, as the elect child of God, put your trust in his mercy, call upon his name unfeignedly, and yield not to the wicked world, but stick still against it unto the end. God, for his holy name's sake, which is properly the God of the widows, be your good and dear Father for ever, and help you always, as I myself would be helped at his hands in all things, and especially m this his own cause. Amen, Amen.

John Bradford.


Letter 41. To One by whom he had received much comfort and relief in his trouble and imprisonment

The mercy of God in Christ, peculiar to his children, be evermore felt of you, my dearly beloved in the Lord. Amen.

When I consider with myself the benefits which God has showed unto me by your means, if I had so good and thankful a heart as I would I had, I could not with dry eyes give Him thanks, for certainly they are very many and great; and now, being yet still the Lord's prisoner, I receive from him more benefits by you; for which I think myself so much bound to you, my good brother, although you were but the instrument by whom God wrought and blessed me that I look not to come out of your debt, by any pleasure or service that I shall ever he able to do you in this life. I shall heartily pray unto God, therefore, to requite you the good you have done to me for his sake; for I know that which you have done, you have done simply in respect of God and his word. May he therefore give you daily more and more to be confirmed in his truth and word, and so plentifully pour upon you the riches of his Holy Spirit and heavenly treasures, laid up in store for you, that your corporeal and earthly riches may be used by you as sacraments and significations thereof,óthe more to desire the one, that is, the heavenly, and the less to esteem the other, that is, the earthly. For Satan's solicitation is, so to set before you the earthly, that therein and thereby you should not have access to the consideration of the heavenly; but, like one bewitched, should utterly forget them, and altogether become a lover and worshipper of the earthly mammon, and so fall to covetousness, and a desire to be rich. By that means he desires to bring you into many noisome amp hurtful lusts; as nowadays I hear of many which have utterly forsaken God, and all his heavenly riches, for antichrist's pleasure, and the preserving of their worldly pelf; which they imagine to leave to their posterity, whereof they are uncertain, though they may be most certain they leave to them God's wrath and vengeance, to be sent in his time by visitation, if they in time repent not heartily, and prevent not the same by earnest prayer. Wherein, my good brother, if you are diligent, hearty, and persevere, I am sure God will preserve you from evil, and from yielding yourself to do as the world now does, by allowing in bodily fact in the Romish service, that which the inward cogitation and mind disallows. But if you are cold in prayer, and consider earthly and present things only, then shall you fall into faithless follies, and wound your conscience; from which God evermore preserve you, with your good wife, and your babe Leonard, and all your family, to which I wish the blessing at God, now and for ever, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

I pray you give thanks for me to your old bed-fellow, for his great friendship, for your sake, showed to me when was in the Tower.

john Bradford.


Letter 42. To a faithful friend and his wife, resolving their doubt why they ought not to go to auricular confession

The merciful God, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which loves us as a most dear father, and has towards us the affection of a most tender mother towards her children, so that he can no less think upon usóalthough of ourselves, we be most unworthy, and deserve nothing less, than she can think on her only begotten child in his distress; yea, if she should forget her child, as some unnatural mother will do, yet will he never forget us, although for a time he seem to sleep, that we might have occasion to call loud, and awake him. May this good God keep you, my dear brother Nathanael (Nathanael was not his proper name, but for his godly simplicity and singleness of heart in the way of the Lord, M. Bradford called him so; see Fox), and your good yoke-fellow, my heartily beloved sister in the Lord, in all things, now and for ever, to his glory and your eternal comfort; and also, of his goodness, may he grant you both the feeling of that hope, which undoubtedly he has laid up in store for you both, far surpassing the store and provision, not only which you have made, but all the world is able to make. I trust he has already wrought in you; but I beseech him to increase it more and more, and kindle in you a hearty longing for the enjoying of the same; which if once felt and had indeed, then the means by which we come thereto cannot be so greatly dreaded, as most men dread them; because either they want this feeling altogether, or else, because the sense of this present time, and things therein, are as a mist, to the hiding of those things from our sights lest we should run and embrace them by hearty prayer; the spirit whereof God grant us, and, indeed, we should attain enough in this behalf, if we continued therein.

Respecting auricular confession, wherein you desire my advice for your good yoke-fellow and family, my most dear brother, I am as ready to give it as you to desire it; yea, more glad, forasmuch as half a suspicion was in me, at the least with respect to my dear sister, your wife, of a loathing of my advice, as if too much had been given; where, indeed, I should lament my too little feeding you spiritually, as both out of prison and in prison you have fed me corporally. But as I always thought of her, so I yet think, that she is the child of God, whom God dearly loves, and will, in his good time, to her eternal comfort, give her her heart's desire; in sure feeling, and sensible believing of this, which I would she had often in her mind, namely, that he is her God and Father, through Christ Jesus, our dear Lord and Saviour A greater service to God she cannot give, than to believe this. If Satan say she believes not, let her not answer him, but the Lord; and say, "Yea, Lord, help my unbelief, and increase my poor faith, which Satan says is no faith: make him a liar, Lord as always he has been, is, and shall be." Undoubtedly sooner or later, God will graciously hear her groans, and keep all her tears in his bottle; yea, write them in his book of account, for he is a righteous God and has no pleasure in the death of his creatures. He loves mercy; he will return, and show her his mercy; he will cast all her sins and iniquities into the bottom of the sea; and the longer he tarries, as he does it but to prove her, so the more liberally will he recompense her long looking, which no less pleases him, than it grieves now her outward Adam. For the mortification whereof God uses this cross; and, therefore, if she desire to bear the same, doubtless God will make her able to bear it; and, presuming upon his goodness and strength, let her cast herself wholly upon him; for he is faithful, and will assuredly confirm, and bring to a happy end, that good which he has graciously begun in her. Which I desire him to do for his own glory and name's sake. Amen, Amen.

And now to the matter. Confession auricular, as it was first used and instituted, which was by the way of counsel-asking, I take to be among those traditions which are indifferent, that is, neither unlawful, nor necessarily binding us, except the offence of the weak could not be avoided. But to consider it, as it is now used, I write to you but as, I think, and what my mind is, which follow no further, than good men by God's word allow itóto consider it I say, as it is now used, methinks it is plainly unlawful and wicked, and that for these causes:

First, because they make it a service of God; a thing which pleases God of itself; I will not say meritorious. The bringer of this, my brother, can tell you at large how great an evil this is.

Secondly, because they make it of necessity (necessary for salvation, editor), so that he or she that uses it not, is not considered to be a good Christian.

Thirdly, because it requires of itself an impossibility that is, the numbering and telling of all our sins, which no man perceives, much less can utter.

Fourthly, because it establishes and confirms, at the least allows, praying to saints; Precor Sanctum Mariam (I implore Saint Mary, editor), you must say, or the priest for you.

Fifthly, because it is very injurious to the liberty of the gospel, to affirm which, in example and fact, I take to be a good work, and dear in God's sight.

Sixthly, because, as it is used, it is a note, yea, a very sinew of the popish church; and therefore we should be so far from allowing the same, that we should think ourselves happy to lose any thing in bearing witness there against.

Seventhly, because, instead of counsel, you would receive poison thereat, or, if you refuse it under Sir John's Benedicite (the Romish priest's blessing, editor), you should no less there be wounded in the briers.

Eighthly, because the end and purpose why we go thither is, for the avoiding of the cross, that is, for our own cause, and not for Christ's cause, or for our brethren's advantage; for since they make it so necessary a thing, and a worshipping of God, it cannot but be against Christ, and the freedom of his gospel; and the same thing teaches us, that it is against the advantage of our brethren, which either are weak, or strong, or ignorant, or obstinate. If they are weak, by your resorting to it, they are made more weak; if they are strong, you do what you can to weaken their strength; if they are ignorant, you help to keep them such by your act; if they are obstinate, your resorting to it cannot but rock them asleep in their obstinate error respecting the necessity of this rite and ceremony. These causes recited, show you what I think in this; but my thinking must no further bind you than a man's thought should do, except the same is grounded upon God's word, which binds indeed, as I think it does herein. I doubt not but you, weighing these causes, and especially the two first and the last, if you pray to God for his Spirit to direct you, and thereto ask the advice of this my good brother, and other godly learned men, I doubt not, I say, but you would be guided to do that which is best in God's sight, although in the sight of the world, perhaps, you should be counted foolish and precise. But be at a point with yourselves, as the disciples of Christ, which had forsaken themselves, not to follow your own will, but God's will, as you daily pray in the Lord's prayer.

Be willing to carry the cross of Christ, lest you carry the cross of the world, the flesh, or the devil: one of these crosses you must carry: three of them bring to hell; and therefore the more part go that way, which is a broad way: only the first brings to heaven; and but few go that way, as well because the way is strait, as also because few walk in it. Howbeit, though it is strait, it is but short; and the few are many, if you consider the godly, as the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, and Christ Jesus, with all his guard and train. Think not scorn to come after them which are gone before you, and after them which now go before me, in whose number I trust I am appointed to be one; and I beseech you pray for me, that God would vouch me worthy that honour. Our sins deserve plagues, prisons, and the loss of all that we have, therefore if God removes our sins out of sight, and sends us prison, or loss of goods and living for his name's sake, oh, how happy are we! My dear hearts in he Lord, consider this, and be assured, that he which loses any thing for Christ's sake, the same in his posterity shall find it here and in heaven elsewhere. As for being unable to answer for your faith, it shall be enough to desire them to dispute with your teachers. Faith stands not in disputing; I think few of the unlearned, if it came to disputing, could defend the Godhead of Christ and many other articles. Pray for me. Lack of paper makes this end. Commend me to my good brother H. B. and me good sister, his wife. I pray them to pray for me. I trust by this bearer to hear how you do.

John Bradford.


Letter 43. A letter to N. and his wife

God's mercy in Christ I wish you to feel, my dear brother, with my faithful sister, your wife, now and for ever. Amen.

Having this occasion, I could not but write something as well to put myself in remembrance of my duty toward God for you both, in thankfulness and prayer, as to put you in remembrance of me, and your duty toward God for me, in praying for me, for I dare not say in thankfulness for me. Not that I would have you give no thanks to God for his wonderful great and sweet mercies towards me, and upon me, in Christ his Son, but because I have not deserved it at either of your hands; for you both know right well, at least my conscience accuses me, that I have not only not exhorted and taught you, as both my vocation and your deserts required, to walk worthy of that vocation which God has made you worthy of, and with trembling and fear to work out your salvation; that is, in the fear of God to give yourselves to great vigilance in prayer for the increase of faith, and to a wary circumspection in all your conversation, not only in works sand words, but also in thoughts, because God is a searcher of the heart, and out of the heart comes that which defiles us in God's sight. I have, I say, not only not done this, but also have given you example of negligence in prayer, watching, fasting, talking, and doing; so that woe to me for giving you such offence. Partly for this cause, dear brother and sister, God has cast me and keeps me here, that I might repent and turn to him, and that you might also by his correction of me be more diligent to redress these things and others, if they in your consciences do accuse you.

My dearly beloved, heavy is God's anger fallen upon us all, doleful is this day. Now antichrist has all his power again. Now Christ's gospel is trodden under foot. Now are God's people a derision and prey for the wicked. Now the greatest of all plagues is fallen,óthe want of God's word;óand all these we, yea I alone, have justly deserved. Oh! that as I write, "I alone," I could with David, and with Jonah, in my heart say so! but I do not, I do not; I see not how grievously I have sinned, and how great a misery is fallen upon me for my unthankfulness for God's word, for my hypocrisy in professing, preaching, hearing, and speaking of God's word; for my not praying to God for the continuance of it; for my not living it thoroughly as it requires, &c. I will speak nothing of my manifest evils, for they are known to you well enough.

Dear brother and sister, say the like with me for your own parts, and join your hearts with me, and let us go to our heavenly Father, and for his Christ's sake beseech him to be merciful unto us, and to pardon us. O good Father! it is we that have deserved the taking away of thy word; it is we that have deserved these thy just plagues fallen upon us; we have done amiss, we have dealt unjustly with thy gospel, we have procured thy wrath, and therefore just art thou in punishing us, just art thou in plaguing us, for we are very miserable. But, good Lord, and dear Father of mercy, whose justice is such that thou wilt not punish the poor souls of this realm, which have not yet thus sinned against thee, as we have done, (for many yet never heard thy word,) and whose mercy is so great, that thou wilt put our iniquities out of thy remembrance for Christ's sake, if we repent and believe; grant us, we beseech thee, true repentance and faith, that we, having obtained pardon for our sins, may through thy Christ get deliverance from the tyranny of antichrist, now oppressing us.

O good Father! which hast said, that the sceptre of the wicked should not long lie upon and over the just, lest they put forth their hands to iniquity also, make us just, we pray thee, in Christ's name, and cut asunder the cords of them that hate Sion; let not the wicked people say, Where is their God? Thou, our God, art in heaven, and does whatsoever it pleases thee upon earth.

Oh! that thou wouldst in the mean while, before thou deliverest us, Oh! that, I say, thou wouldst open our eyes to see that all these plagues come from thee; and all others which shall come, whatsoever they are, public or private, they come not by chance nor by fortune, but they come even from thy hand, and that justly and mercifully; justly, because we have and do deserve them, not only by our birth-poison still sticking and working in us, but also by our former evil life past, which by this punishment and all other punishments thou wouldst have us to call to our remembrance, and set before us, that thou might put them from before thee; whereas they stand so long as they are not in our remembrance,óto put them away by repentance.

Mercifully, O Lord God, dost thou punish, in that thou dost not correct to kill, but to amend, that we might repent of our sins, ask mercy, obtain it freely in Christ, and begin to suffer for righteousness' sake; to be part of thy house, whereat thy judgment begins,óto be partakers of the afflictions of thy church and thy Christ, that we might be partakers of the glory of the sameóto weep here, that we might rejoice elsewhereóto be judged in this world, that we might with thy saints judge hereafter the worldóto suffer with Christ, that we might reign with him óto be like to Christ in shame, that we might be like to him in gloryóto receive our evils here, that we might with poor Lazarus find rest elsewhere; rest, I say, and such a rest as the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, nor the heart of man is able to conceive.

Oh! that our eyes were open to see this, that the cross comes from thee to declare thy justice and thy mercy, and that we might see how short a time the time of suffering is; how long a time the time of rejoicing is to them that suffer here; but to them that will not, how long and miserable a time is appointed and prepared; a time without time in eternal woe and perdition, too horrible to be thought upon. From the which keep us, dear Father, and give us more sight in our souls to see this, and that all their dearest children have carried the cross of grievous affliction in this life; in whose company do thou place us, and lay upon us such a cross as thou wilt make us able to bear, to thy glory and our salvation in Christ; for whose sake we pray thee to shorten the days of this our great misery which is fallen upon us most justly; and in the mean season give us patience, repentance, faith, and thy eternal consolation Amen. Amen.

And thus, dear hearts, I have talked (methinks) a little while with you, or rather we have all talked with God. Oh! that God would give us his Spirit of grace and prayer! My dearly beloved, pray for it, as for yourselves so for me, and that God would vouchsafe to make me worthy to suffer with a good conscience for his name's sake. Pray for me, and I shall do the like for you. This 20th of December. I pray you give my commendations to all that love me in the Lord. Be merry in Christ, for one day in heaven we shall meet and rejoice together for evermore Amen.

John Bradford.


Letter 44. To my good brother Augustine Berneher

(Augustine Berneher was a foreigner and an attendant upon Bishop Latimer. He was a faithful minister, and in Queen Mary's reign attended very diligently upon those who were prisoners Or the Lords sake.)

Mine own good Augustine, the Lord of mercy bless thee, my dear brother for ever. I have good hope, that if you come late at night, I shall speak with you, but come as secretly as you can; howbeit, in the mean season, if you can, and as you can, learn what master G. has spoken to Doctor Story and others. The cause of all this trouble, both to my keeper and me (Bradford was at this time fill the Poultry Counter, the keeper of which treated him with a degree of kindness not usually shown to the martyrs, editor) is thought to come by him. It is said, that I shall be burned in Smithfield, and that shortly. The Lord's will be done. Behold, here I am. Lord send me. Ah, mine own dear friend! I am now alone, lest I should make you and others worse. If I should live, I would use the company of God's children more warily than ever I have done. I will bear the Lord's anger, because I have sinned against him. Commend me to my most dear sister, for whom my heart bleeds: the Lord comfort her, and strengthen her unto the end. I think I have taken my leave of her for ever in this life, but in eternal life we shall most surely meet and praise the Lord continually. I have now taken a more certain answer (view, editor) of death than ever I did; and yet not so certain as I think I should do; I am now as a sheep appointed to the slaughter. Ah, my God! the hour is come, glorify thy most unworthy child. I have glorified thee, says this my sweet Father, and I will glorify thee. Amen. Ah, my beloved, praise God for me, and pray for me, for I am His, I hope; I hope he will never forsake me, though I have above all others most deserved it; I am the most singular example of his mercy; praised be his name therefore for ever. Cause Mistress Perpoint to learn of the sheriff, Master Chester, what they purpose to do with me, and know, if you can, whether there is any writ forth for me (issued for his burning, editor). (Psalm ci.) I am like an owl in the house, and as a sparrow alone on the housetop. Ah, my Augustine! how long shall God's enemies thus triumph; I have sent you this of the baptism of children to write out; when this is done, you shall have other things. Pray, pray, mine own dear heart, on whom I am bold. The keeper tells me, that it is death for any to speak with me, but yet I trust that I shall speak with you.

John Bradford.


Letter 45. To mine own good Augustine

Dear brother Augustine, I cannot but be beholden to you in my need, and therefore I write as I do. Come hither (the Poultry Counter, editor) betimes, I pray you, in the morning, and use so to do; for then I think you shall speak with me. Also come late in the evening, and let me know whether in the day time I may send for you. Pray Walsh to steal you in, as I hope he will do. If he bring you in, then shall this which follows not need: but I write this doubting the worst:óFirst, desire my man William to make all things ready for me, for I am persuaded I shall go into Lancashire there to be burned, howbeit they say I must first go to the Fleet. Then desire him to hearken early in the morning whether I am not conveyed away before men be aware. Also I pray you, desire Robert Harrington, who I hope will go with me, to look for that journey. Visit often my dear sister, and although I cannot now write unto her, as I would, (for all things are more strange here, and the case more and more perilous,) yet tell her that I am careful for her, desire her to be of good comfort. God shall give us to meet in his kingdom. In the mean season I will pray for her as my dearest sister. Of truth I never did love her half so well as I now do, and yet I love her not half so well as I would do: she is a true daughter of Abraham. I pray thee heartily be joyful my, good brother, and desire all my friends so to be; for I thank God, I feel a greater benefit than all the bishops in England can take from me. Praise God and pray for me, mine own dear heart in the Lord, whom I hope I shall never forget.

Your poor brother in the Lord,

John Bradford.

To these letters of Mr. Bradford above specified, here is adjoined a letter of the said Bradford, written to certain of his faithful friends, worthy of all Christians to be read wherein is described a lively comparison between the old man and the new, also between the law and the gospel; containing much fruitful matter of divinity necessary for Christian consciences to read and understand. Fox.


Letter 46. A letter of Master Bradford, describing a comparison between the old man and the new, &c.

A man that is regenerate and born of God, and that every one of us be so, our baptism, the sacrament of regeneration, requires under pain of damnation; therefore let every one of us with the virgin Mary say, "Be it unto me, O Lord, according to thy word," according to thy sacrament of baptism, wherein thou hast declared our adoption; and let us lament the doubting hereof in us; striving against it, as we shall be made able of the Lord. A man, I say, that is regenerate, consists of two men, (as it may be said,) namely, of the old man and of the new man. The old man is like a mighty giant, such a one as was Goliath, for his birth is now perfect; but the new man is like unto a little child, such a one as was David, for his birth is not perfect until the day of his general resurrection.

The old man therefore is more strong, lusty, and stirring than the new man, because the birth of the new man is but begun now, and the old man is perfectly born; and as the old man is more stirring, lusty, and stronger than the new man, so is the nature of him quite contrary to the nature of the new man, as the old man is earthly and corrupt with Satan's seed; but the nature of the new man is heavenly, and blessed with the celestial seed of God. So that one man, inasmuch as he is corrupt with the seed of the serpent, is an old man; and inasmuch as he is blessed with the seed of God from above, he is a new man. And inasmuch as he is an old man, he is a sinner and an enemy to God, so inasmuch as he is regenerate, he is righteous and holy, and a friend to God, the seed of God preserving him from sin, so that he cannot sin, as the seed of the serpent wherewith he is corrupt even from his conception inclines him, yea, enforces him to sin, and nothing else but to sinóso that the best part in man before regeneration, in God's sight, is not only an enemy, but enmity itself.

One man therefore, who is regenerate may well be called always just, and always sinful: just in respect of Gods seed, and his regeneration; sinful in respect of Satan's seed, and his first birth. Betwixt these two men therefore there is continual conflict, and most deadly war. The flesh and old man, by reason of his birth that is perfect, often for a time prevails against the new man, which is but a child in comparison, and that in such sort, as not only others, but even the children of God themselves think that they are nothing else but of the old man, and that the Spirit and seed of God are lost and gone away; whereas yet notwithstanding the truth is otherwise. For the Spirit and the seed of God at length appear again, and dispel the clouds which cover the seed of the Son of God from shining, as the clouds in the air do the material sun; so that sometimes a man cannot tell by any sense, whether there is any sun, the clouds and winds so hiding it from our sight. Even so our blindness and corrupt affections often shadow the sight of God's seed in God's children, as though they were plain reprobates; whereof it comes, that they praying according their sense, but not according to the truth, desire of God to give them again his Spirit, as though they had lost it, and he had taken it away; which thing God never does, although he make us to think so for a time; for he always holds his hand under his children in their falls, that they lie not still, as others do which are not regenerate. And this is the difference between God's children, which are regenerate and elect before all time in Christ, and the wicked always, that the elect lie not still continually in sin, as the wicked do, but at length return again by reason of God's seed, which is in them hid as a spark of fire in the ashes; as we may see in Peter, David, Paul, Mary Magdalene, and others. For these, I mean God's children, God has made all things in Christ Jesus, to whom he has given this dignity, that they should be his inheritance and spouse.

This our inheritor Christ Jesus, God with God, light of light, co-eternal and consubstantial with the Father and with the Holy Ghost, to the end that he might become our husband, (because the husband and wife must be one body and flesh,) has taken our nature upon him, communicating with it and by it in his own person, to all us his children, his divine majesty, (as Peter says.) And so he has become flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bones substantially, as we are become flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone spiritually; all that ever we have pertaining to him, yea, even our sins, as all that ever he has pertains unto us, even his whole glory. So that if Satan should summon us to answer for our debts or sins, in that the wife is not sueable, but the husband, we may well bid him enter his action against our husband Christ, and he will make him a sufficient answer.

For this end, I mean, that we might be coupled and married thus to Christ, and so be certain of salvation and at godly peace with God in our consciences, God has given his holy word, which has two parts, as now the children of God do consist of two men; one part of God's word being proper to the old man, and the other part of God's word being proper to the new man. The part properly pertaining to the old man is the law; the part properly pertaining to the new is the gospel.

The law is a doctrine which commands and forbids, requiring doing and avoiding. Under it therefore are contained all precepts, threatenings, promises upon conditions of doing and avoiding, &c. The gospel is a doctrine which always offers and gives; requiring nothing on our behalf, as of worthiness, or as a cause, but as a certificate unto us, and therefore under it are contained all the free and sweet promises of God; as, "I am the Lord thy God, &c."

In those that are of years of discretion, it requires faith, not as a cause, but as an instrument, whereby we ourselves may be certain of our good husband Christ and of his glory; and therefore when the conscience feels itself disquieted for fear of God's judgment against sin, she may in no wise look upon the doctrine pertaining to the old man; but on the doctrine only that pertains to the new man. Not looking in it for that which it requires, that is, faith, because we never believe as we should; but only on what it offers, and what it gives, that is, on God's grace and eternal mercy and peace in Christ. So shall she be quiet when she looks for it altogether out of herself, on God's mercy in Christ Jesus; in whose lap if she lay her head with St. John, then is she happy, and shall find quietness indeed. When she feels herself quiet, then, let her look on the law, and upon such things as it requires, thereby to bridle and keep down the old Adam, to slay that Goliath, from whom she must needs keep the sweet promises. For as the wife will keep herself only for her husband, although in other things she is contented to have fellowship with others, as to speak, sit, eat, drink, go, &c., so our consciences, which are Christ's wives, must needs keep themselves faithful to their husband, and be joyful together. If sin, the law, the devil, or any thing, would creep in, then complain to thy husband Christ, and forthwith thou shalt see him play Phineas's part. (Numb. xxv.) Thus, my dearly beloved I have given you in few words a sum of all the divinity which a Christian conscience cannot want.


Letter 47. A letter written to his mother as a farewell, when he thought he should have suffered shortly after

The Lord of life and Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, bless you and comfort you, my good and dear mother, with his heavenly comfort, consolation, grace, and Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

If I thought that you did not cry daily, yea, almost hourly, unto God the Father, through Jesus Christ, that he would give me his blessing, even the blessing of his children, then would I write more hereabout. But forasmuch as I am certain you are diligent herein, and I beseech you, good mother, to continue so, I think it good to write something, whereby this your crying might be furthered; furthered it will be, if those things which hinder it are taken away; among the which, in that I think my imprisonment is the greatest and chiefest, I will thereabout spend this letter, and that briefly, lest it might increase the hindrance, as my good brother; this bringer, can tell you (he means the danger of more strict imprisonment that might hereby follow; Letters of the Martyrs). You shall know therefore, good mother, that for my body, though it be in a house, out of the which I cannot come when I will, yet as I have conformed my will to God's will. I find herein liberty enough, I thank God; and for my lodging, bedding, meat, drink, godly and learned company, books, and all other necessaries, for my ease, comfort, and commodity, I am in much better case than I could wish; and God's merciful providence here is far above my worthiness. Worthiness? quoth I. Alas! I am worthy of nothing but damnation!

But, beside all this, I find much more advantage for my soul; for God is my Father, I now perceive; through Christ; therefore, in imprisoning me for his gospel, he makes me like to the image of his Son Jesus Christ here, that, when he comes to judgment, I might then be like unto him, as my trust and hope is I shall be. Now he makes me like to his friends the prophets, apostles, the holy martyrs, and confessors. Which of them did not suffer, at the least, imprisonment or banishment for his gospel and word?

Now, mother, how far am I unfit to be compared to them! I (I say) which always have been, and am, so vile a hypocrite and so grievous a sinner. God might have caused me, long before this time, to have been cast into prison as a thief, a blasphemer, an unclean liver, and an heinous offender of the laws of the realm. But, dear mother, his mercy is so great, upon both you, and all that love me, that I am cast into prison as none of these, nor for any such vices, but only for his Christ's sake, for his gospel's sake, for his church's sake, that hereby, I might learn to lament and bewail my ingratitude and sins, and might rejoice in his mercy, be thankful, and look for eternal joy with Christ, for whose sake, (praised be his name for it,) I now suffer, and therefore should be merry and glad. And, indeed, good mother, so I am, as ever I was; yea, never so joyful and glad was I, as now I should be, if I could get you to rejoice with me, to thank God for me, and to pray in this manner: "O good Father! which dost vouchsafe that my son, being a grievous sinner in thy eight, should find this favour with thee, to be one of the Son's captains and men of war, to fight and suffer fur his gospel's sake. I thank thee and pray thee, in Christ's name, that thou wouldst forgive him his sins and unthankfulness, and make perfect in him that good work which thou hast begun; yea, Lord, I pray thee, make him worthy to suffer, not only imprisonment, but even death itself, for thy truth, religion, and gospel's sake. As Hannah did apply, and give her first child, Samuel, unto thee, so do I, dear Father, beseeching thee, for Christ s sake, to accept this my gift, and give my son, John Bradford, grace, always truly to serve thee and thy people, as Samuel did. Amen."

If on this sort (good mother) from your heart you would pray, I should be the most joyful man that ever was; and I am certain the hindrance of your prayer for my imprisonment would be taken away. Good mother, therefore, mark what I have written, and learn this prayer by heart, say it daily; and then I shall be joyful, and you shall rejoice, if you continue, as I trust you do, in God's true religion, even the same I have taught you, and my; father Traves, I trust, will put you in remembrance of My brother Roger, also, I trust, does so daily; go on, therefore, and learn apace. Although the devil cast divers hindrances in the way, God, in whom you trust, will cast them away for his Christ's sake, if you will call upon him; and never will he suffer you to be tempted: above that he will make you able to bear. But how you should do herein, the other letter, which I have written herewith, shall teach you, which I would have none should read till my father Traves have read it; and he will give you, by God's grace, some instructions.

Now, therefore, I will make an end, praying you, good mother, to look for no more letters; for if it were known that I have pen and ink, and did write, then should I want all the aforesaid commodities I have spoken of concerning my body, and be cast into some dungeon in fetters of iron; which thing I know would grieve you; and, therefore, see that these be burned, when this little prayer in it is copied by my brother Roger, for, perchance, your house may be searched for such things when you little think of it; and look for no more, sweet mother, till either God shall deliver me, and send me out, or else you and I shall meet together in heaven, where we shall never part asunder. Amen.

I require you, Elizabeth and Margaret, my sisters, that you fear God; use prayer; love your husbands, be obedient unto them, as God wills you; bring up your children in God's fear, and be good housewives. God bless you both, with both your husbands, my good brethren, to whom, because I now cannot do good, I will pray for them and you. Commend me to my sister Ann, mother Pike, T. Sorocold and his wife, R. Shalcrosse and his wife, R. Bolton, J. Wild, M. Vicar, the parson pottrom, sir Laurence Hall, with all that love, and, I trust, live in the gospel; and God turn sir Thomas's heart. Amen. I will daily pray for him. I need not to set to my nameóyou know it well enough.

Because you should give my letters to father Traves to be burnt, I have written here a prayer for you to learn to pray for me, good mother; and another for all your house, in your evening prayer, to pray with my brother. These prayers are written with my own hand; keep them still, but the letters give to father Traves to burn, and give father Traves a copy of the latter prayer.


Letter 48. Another letter to his mother, as his last farewell unto her in this world, a little before he was burned

God's mercy and peace in Christ, be more and more perceived of us. Amen.

My most dear mother, in the bowels of Christ I heartily pray and beseech you to be thankful for me unto God, who now thus takes me unto himself I die not, my good mother, as a thief, a murderer, an adulterer, &c.; but I die as a witness of Christ, his gospel, and truth, which hitherto I have confessed, I thank God, as well by preaching as by imprisonment; and now, even presently, I shall most willingly confirm the same by fire. I acknowledge that God might most justly take me hence simply for my sins, which are many, great, and grievous; but the Lord, for his mercy in Christ, has pardoned them all, I hope; but now, dear mother, he takes me hence, by this death, as a confessor and witness, that the religion taught by Christ Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles, is God's truth. The prelates do persecute in me Christ, whom they hate, and his truth, which they may not abide, because their works are evil, and may not abide the truth and light, lest men should see their darkness. Therefore, my good and most dear mother, give thanks for me to God, that he has made the fruit of your womb to be a witness of his glory; and attend to the truth, which, I thank God for it, I have truly taught out of the pulpit at Manchester. Use often and continual prayer to God the Father, through Christ; hearken, as you may, to the Scriptures; serve God after his word, and not after custom; beware of the Romish religion in England, defile not yourself with it; carry Christ's cross, as he shall lay it upon your back; forgive them that kill me; pray for them, for they know not what they do; commit my cause to God our Father; be mindful of both your daughters, to help them as you can.

I send all my writings to you, by my brother Roger; do with them as you will, because I cannot as I would. He can tell you more of my mind. I have nothing to give you, or to leave behind me for you; only pray God my Father, for his Christ's sake, to bless you and keep you from evil. May he give you patience; may he make you thankful, for me, and for yourself, that he will take your child to witness his verity; wherein I confess to the whole world that I die and depart this life, in hope of one much better, which I look for at the hands of God my Father through the merits of his dear Son, Jesus Christ. Thus, my dear mother, I take my last farewell of you in this life, beseeching the almighty and eternal Father, by Christ, to grant us to meet in the life to come, where we shall give him continual thanks and praise for ever and ever. Amen. Out of prison, the 24th of June, 1555.

Your son in the Lord,

John Bradford.


Letter 49. A letter sent with a supplication to Queen Mary, her council, and the whole parliament.

A poor subject, persecuted for the confession of Christ's verity, in most humble wise complains unto your Majesty and honours, which verity deserves at your hands to be maintained and defended, as that by which you reign, and have your honours and authorities. Although we that are professors, and, through the grace of God, the constant confessors of the same, are, as it were, the out-sweepings of the world; yet (I say) the verity itself is not unworthy for your ears to hear, for your eyes to see, and for your hands to handle, help, and succour, accordingly as the Lord has made you able, and placed you where you are, for the same purpose. Your Highness and honours ought to know, that there is no innocence in words or deeds, where it is enough, and suffices, only to accuse. It behoves kings, queens, and all that are in authority, to know that, in the administration of their kingdoms, they are God's ministers. It behoves them to know that those are not kings, but plain tyrants, who reign not, that they may serve and set forth God's glory, after true knowledge. And therefore it is required of them that they would be wise, and suffer themselves to be taught to submit themselves to the Lord's discipline and to kiss their Sovereign lest they perish. As all those potentates, with their principalities and dominions cannot long prosper, but perish indeed, if they and their kingdoms be not ruled with the sceptre of God, that is, with his word; which whoso honours not, honours not God; and they that honour not the Lord, the Lord will not honour them, but bring them into contempt; and at length take his own cause, which he has most chiefly committed unto them to care for, into his own hands, and so overthrow them, and set up his truth gloriously; the people, also, perishing with the princes. When the word of prophecy is wanting, much more is suppressed, as it is now in this realm of England, over which the eyes of the Lord are set to destroy it, your Highness, and all your honours, if in time you look not better to your office and duties herein, and not suffer yourselves to be slaves and hangmen to antichrist and his prelates, which have brought your Highness and honours already to let Barabbas loose, and to hang up Christ. As, by the grace and help of God, I shall make apparent, if it would first please your excellent Majesty, and all your honours, to take to heart God's doctrine, which, rather through the malice of the Pharisees, I mean the bishops and prelates, than your consciences, is oppressed; and think not the less of it, for our contemptible and execrable state in the sight of the world; for it (the doctrine I mean) is higher, and of more honour and majesty, than all the whole world. It stands invincible, above all power, being not our doctrine, but the doctrine of the ever-living God, and of his Christ, whom the Father has ordained King, to have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the world. And, truly, so does He, and will he reign, that he will shake all the whole earth with his iron and brazen power, with his golden and silvery brightness, only by the rod of his mouth, to shivers, in such sort as though they were pots of clay, according to that which the prophets write of the magnificence of his kingdom. And thus much for the thing, I mean the doctrine, and your duties, to hearken, to propagate, and defend the same.

But now will our adversaries mainly cry out against us, because no man may be admitted once to whisper against themóthat we pretend falsely the doctrine and word of God; and call us the most wicked contemners of it, and heretics, schismatics, traitors, &c. All which their sayings; how malicious and false they are, though I might refer to that which is written by those men whose works they have condemned, and all that retain any of them publicly by proclamation; yet, here will I enable your Majesty and honours, by this my writing, to see that it is far otherwise than they report of us. May God, our Father, for his holy name's sake, direct my pen to be his instrument to put into your eyes, ears, and hearts, that which may most make to his glory, to the safeguard of your souls and bodies, and preservation of the whole realm. Amen.

John Bradford.


Letter 50. To certain of his friends, N. Sheterden and R. Cole

I wish to you, my good brethren, the same grace of God in Christ, which I wish and pray the Father of mercies to give me, for his holy name's sake. Amen.

Though I have not read your letter myself, because I would not alienate my mind from conceived things, to write of others, yet I have heard the sum of it, that it is of God's election, wherein I will briefly write to you my faith, and how I think it good and meet for a Christian man to wade in it. I believe that man, made after the image of God, did fall from that blessed state, to the condemnation of himself, and all his posterity. I believe that Christ for man, being thus fallen, did oppose himself to the justice of God as a mediator, paying the ransom and price of redemption for Adam and his whole posterity that refuse it not finally. I believe, that all that believe in Christ, I speak of such as are of years of discretion, are partakers of Christ and all his merits. I believe that faith and to believe in Christ (I speak not now of faith that men have by reason of miracles, John, ii. 11, Acts, viii., or by reason unearthly advantages, Matt. xiii., or custom and authority of men, which is commonly seen; for the hearts of them that so believe are not right and simple before God; but I speak of that faith which indeed is the true faith, the justifying and regenerating faith;) I believe, I say, that this faith and belief in Christ is the work and gift of God, given to none other than to those who are the children of God; that is, to those whom God the Father, before the beginning of the world, has predestinated in Christ unto eternal life.

Thus do I wade in predestination in such sort as God has patefied (made plain, editor) and opened it. Though in God it is first, yet to us it is last opened; and therefore I begin with creation, from whence I come to redemption, so to justification, and so to election. On this sort I am sure, that warily and wisely, a man may walk in it easily by the light of God's Spirit, in and by his word, seeing this faith is not to be given to all men, (2 Thess. iii.,) but to such as are born of God, predestinate before the world was made, after the purpose and good will of God; which will we may not call into dispute, but in trembling and fear submit ourselves to it, as to that which can will no otherwise than what is holy, right, and good, how far soever otherwise it may seem to the judgment of reason, which must needs be beaten down to be more careful for God's glory, than for man's salvation, which depends only thereon, as all God's children full well see; for they seek not the glory which comes of men, but the glory which comes of God. (Jer. ix., John v.) They know God to be a God who does on earth, not only mercy, but also judgment, which is justice, and fullest justice, although our foolish reason cannot see it. And in this knowledge they glory and rejoice, though others, through vain curiosity, grudge and murmur there against. Thus I have briefly sent you my mind and meaning concerning this matter; hereafter you shall have (I think) your letter particularly answered by Mr. Philpot, as also if I have time, and you so require it, I will do.

John Bradford.

(For the certainty of this faith search your hearts. If you have it, praise the Lord, or you are happy, and therefore cannot finally perish: for then happiness were not happiness if it could be lost. When you fail, the Lord will put his hand under, that you shall not lie still. But if you feel not this faith, then know that predestination is too high a matter for you to be disputers about, until you have been better scholars in the schoolhouse of repentance and justification, which is the grammar-school wherein we must be conversant and learned before we go to the university of God's most holy predestination and providence. Letters of the Martyrs.)


Letter 51. To Mistress J. Warrington, a faithful woman, and fearing God, whom he exhorts to be patient under the cross, and not to fear death

My dearly beloved, I beseech our merciful Father to comfort your heavy and pensive heart, with his own consolations in Christ; as I am assured, good sister, he will in his good time, which look for with patience, after the example of Job, Elias, Abraham, and all the dear saints of God, which are set forth unto us for patterns of patience. God grant that we may well cut our cloth after them; for God is the same God now, and the end will show that he is a merciful Lord and full of compassion. My dear sister, you shall unfeignedly feel it at the length, though at present it seems otherwise unto your sense; you shall, after you are a little exercised herein, find a quiet fruit of righteousness, (Heb. xii.,) the God of grace, which has called you unto his eternal glory, confirming and strengthening you, who are somewhat afflicted, with your brethren and sisters that are in the world; for you suffer not alone, as I trust you know. It comforts me to read in your letters, that no displeasure of father, mother, husband, children, &c. moves you to be ruled after the counsel of the world; and therefore you desire me not to be afraid for you. Oh! my beloved, what thanks should I give to our God and dear Father, for this his exceeding kindness towards you! His name be magnified for you for ever, his mercy be more and more multiplied unto you, in you, and upon you, for ever and ever. Amen. God make me thankful here for; but you add, that the fear of death now and then moves you a little. Howbeit, you say, that as I have counselled you, you will strive there against. My good Joyce, I take you at your word; keep promise, I pray you, that is, strive against it; and I promise you, in the name of the Lord, that you shall have the victory, which I would wish you to set before your eyes also, and so shall the terror of death trouble you the less. Soldiers going to war set not before their eyes simply the stripe (danger, editor), but rather the victory; and, my good sister, will not you herein follow them? In your travail with child, does not the hope of the babe to be delivered mitigate the malady? Does not the sick, when taking bitter and loathsome physic, set before him the advantage which will ensue? And, my dear sister, will not you learn somewhat by these? Consider what this life is, consider what death is, consider what is prepared for you after death. Concerning this life, you know that it is full of misery, vanity, and woe. It is an exile, and has nothing n it permanent. It is therefore compared to a vapour, to a smoke, to a shadow, yea, to a warfare, a wilderness, a vale of wretchedness, wherein we are compassed on every side with most fierce and fearful enemies; and should we desire to dwell here? Should we desire to live in this loathsome and laborious life? Should we wish to tarry in this wretchedness? Should we take pleasure to remain in this perilous state? Daniel's den is not so dreadful as is this dungeon we dwell in.

Concerning death, to them that are God's dear children, as I know you are one, my tenderly beloved sister, what other thing is it, than the despatcher of all displeasure, the end of all travail, the door of desires, the gate of gladness, the port of paradise, the haven of heaven, the rail of rest and quietness, the entrance to felicity, the beginning of all blissfulness? It is the very bed of down, for the doleful bodies of God's people to rest in, and therefore well compared to a sleep, out of which they shall rise and awake most fresh and lusty to life everlasting. It is a passage to the Father, a chariot to heaven, the Lords messenger, a leader unto Christ, a going to our home, a deliverance from bondage and prison, a dismission from war, a security from all sorrows. and a manumissions from misery. So that the very heathen in some places caused the day of their death to be celebrated with mirth, melody, and minstrels; and should we be dismayed at it? Should we be afraid of it? Should we tremble to hear of it? Should such a friend as it is be unwelcome? Should the foulness of his face frighten us from his good conditions? Should the hardness of his husk hinder us from his sweet kernel? Should the roughness of the tide tie us to them bank and shore, there to be drowned, rather than the desire of our home drive us to go aboard? Should the hardness of the saddle set us to walk, and so to perish by the way, rather than to leap up and endure the same a little, and so to be where we would be?

Concerning that which is prepared for you after death, if I should go about to express it, the more I should so do, the further I should be from it. For the eye has not seen, neither has the ear heard, nor the heart of man is able to conceive in any point the joy, mirth, melody, pleasure, power, wealth, riches, honour, beauty, fellowship, dainties, odours, glory, wisdom, knowledge, treasures security, peace, quietness, and eternal felicity, which you shall have and enjoy, world without end, with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, with the angels and archangels, with the patriarchs and prophets, with the apostles and evangelists, with the martyrs and confessors, and with all the saints of God, in the palace of the Lord in heaven, the kingdom of God, the glory of the Father. Oh! woe to the blindness of our eyes that see not this! Woe to the hardness of our hearts that feel not this! Woe to the deafness of our ears that hear not this as we should do, whereby we might be so far from fearing death, that rather we should wish for it, crying with Simeon, "Now let thine servant depart in peace;" with Paul, "I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ;" with David, "When shall I come and appear before thee!" and again, "Oh! woe is me that my habitation is thus prolonged," &c. (Ps. cxx.) But, alas! dear sister, great is our unbelief; faint indeed is our faith, or else night and day tears should be our bread and drink, while it is said unto us, Where is your God? It is a token of little love to God if we are loath to go unto him when he calls. If my dearest friend of a special favour and tender good will, should send a horse for me to come unto him, should I be displeased thereat? Yea, should I not be willing and glad to come unto him? And, alas! yet if death, the Lord's palfrey, the Lords messenger, should come, I think I should not be so ready, but be fearful as you foresee yourself to be; whereby I doubt not you take occasion to lament the weakness of your faith, and, seeing your need, to prepare for remedy against the time of need, and to beg of God his aid, strength, and comfort against that pinch; which undoubtedly you shall have, and find his promise true, that in an acceptable time he has heard your prayer. Such as I, have no such foresight of death, and therefore are at present less dismayed, which will turn to our greater grief in the plunge, save that for my part, I hope he will never tempt me further than he will make me able to bear. Into his hands I offer myself, beseeching him, for his Christ's sake, to keep me, soul and body, to his kingdom and glory; and to lead me, order me, and dispose me as he will, in all things, in all places, and for ever, that at the length I may come whither I desire, that is, into his own blessed presence and the enjoyment of immortality, with you and his saints. Amen. Thus much I thought good to write unto you at present, to occasion you the less to fear death, which either needs not or boots not (matters not, editor); and therefore even reasonable men, much more spiritual men, labour to strive against the fear of that which they can by no means avoid. But of this hereafter I trust to speak with you mouth to mouth. Now as to my soul, I pray and wish unto you, my most dear sister in the Lord, whose grace guide you, and his mercy embrace you on every side for ever. Amen.


John Bradford.


Letter 52. To my good friend in God, Master Humphrey Hales

As to my dear friend, I wish unto you, gentle Master Hales, health of soul and body, to God's glory and your everlasting comfort. Amen.

Although it is commonly spoken, and as commonly verified, that seldom seen is soon forgotten, yet it is not so commonly seen or experienced amongst those, whose friendship is in God the Father through Christ, as ours is, but in those whose friendship is begun in respect of some earthly advantage. And therefore, lest I should incur this suspicion at your hands, who have so many ways deserved the contrary, I thought it my duty to refresh, if it need refreshing the amity in God, begun betwixt us, which I doubt not shall continue so long as we live, or else I should be sorry. In consideration whereof, being both mindful of my promise made unto you, and careful for your safety, I have caused a place to be provided for your wife's deliverance, where she may so quietly and safely remain, that for the avoiding of the perils and dangers of these days, I see none more convenient. I mean it in Hadley, at Dr. Taylor's house, where I trust there is no peril to you-ward, nor to any that fears or regards any peril that thereby may happen. And herein out of love and good will I am the more familiar and bold to admonish you, not as distrusting you, God forbid, for I think of you as of a very child of God, but as one careful for you; lest you should at length, through the common infirmity of our frail flesh, and the manifold offences given by the world, do exteriorly as the world does; to save your sleeve and maim your arm for ever, as those do, which for the saving of their goods, jeopard goods of body and soul, in the peril of eternal damnation. If I suspected any such thing in you, gentle Master Hales, I then would go about to tell you what this life is, a smoke, a shadow, a vapour, &c.; what the glory of this life is, grass, hay; yea, how full of misery it is, and has more aloes than honey. (Job, ix.) If I suspected your conscience, I would then set before you, on the one part, the judgment of Christ, which shall be most assuredly the terrible sentence to them which are ashamed to confess his gospel, and the eternal woe and misery which they shall be cast into, that will not obey his gospel here; also, on the other part, the most pleasant shout of the angel to summon all men to come before our Captain and Brother, Christ; the collection and catching of us up in the clouds to meet our Master; the eternal joy and felicity which we shall receive that here confess him, here suffer with him, here lose any thing for his sake. If I did in any respect so much as think that you would defile your body in the antichristian service now used, then I would go about to set forth these things more at large. But, as I said before, I say again, because I am as well persuaded of you, my dearly beloved brother, as of any in your profession and state, I cannot but pray God to make perfect the good which he has begun in you, and desire you, as you have begun in God, so to go forward. As your example has done good to many, so cast not all down by a tip. Terrible is that woe which Christ threatens to them by whom offences do come. You know the way to salvation is straiter than men make it; you know the soul is to be considered above all things. Happy is the loss of that bodily life, liberty, and goods, by which spiritual life, freedom, and felicity are purchased. What should it profit a man to win the whole world, and lose his own soul? Who would desire a two years' merry life for an eternal sorrow? as these mass-gospellers do, which after all are uncertain of two years' life, and God knows what wounds their consciences have. Hard is it to recover health to the conscience; and because I am careful for it to you-wards, as to my own brother and dear friend, therefore I write thus. We are in God's power, and not in the power of our enemies; he it is that has all our hairs numbered; before he say Amen (so be it, editor), no man shall once touch you. Into his hands commit yourself, cast your care upon him, have a care to please him, and then he will care to keep you. You know the oath the Athenians made, "I will fight for the defence of religion, both alone and with others;" which saying of the heathen will be to our condemnation, if for his holy word and gospel's sake we dare not adventure the loss of that he has lent us, keeps for us, and can, when he will, take away from us, or us from it. If worldly men dare jeopard a joint (to oppose, editor) with God, rather than they would lose worldly things, as experience teaches, certainly it should be much our shame, who in baptism have vowed and solemnly sworn to forsake the world; if we dare not jeopard a joint with man, rather than lose a good conscience and spiritual treasures. He that will not have God's blessing, it shall be taken from him, says David.

Therefore, my dearly beloved, beware; you are now the temple of the Holy Ghost, defile it not for the Lord's sake, but keep it pure, not only from all uncleanness of the spirit, but also of the flesh, (2 Col vii.) as I trust you will; and cry upon your Father for his strength and aid which I beseech him of his mercy always to give unto you my own good friend, even as I desire for myself. If I could help you in anything, you may be as assured thereof as of your brother. My prayer to God night and day you shall have, that for his holy name's sake he would bless you in all things, and keep you, with my good sister your wife, unto the very end, as his dear elect children. Amen, amen. From my lodging, you know where, this 5th of August, 1554.

By your own to use in the Lord for ever,

John Bradford.


Letter 53. Another letter to Master Humphrey Hales and his wife

The ever living and merciful God, our dear Father through Christ, be with you both, my most dearly and entirely beloved in the Lord, now and for ever. I cannot forbear, but signify unto you both, that my heart is careful and heavy for the cross which is come upon you by the heavy and fearful judgment of God, fallen upon your father justly, for his denying of God for fear of man, and love of those things, which he has left behind him unto you and others. God grant his fate may be so imprinted in the hearts of all men, especially of you both, that his fall may be unto you, I will not say rising, for I trust ye are not fallen, but an establishing in the verity of God whereof whoso is ashamed shall at length feel such shame, as I beseech God keep us all from. Happy are they that mark the judgments of God upon others, and come and increase in repentance (Luke, xiii.,) and fear God's wrath and judgments, which are always like himself, if we follow the steps of them whom he punishes. I need not to tell you the cause of this that has happened unto your father, if it is as I with sorrow have heard. For you know well enough that till he forsook God, gave ear to the serpent's counsel, began to mamber (hesitate about, editor) of the truth, and to frame himself outwardly to do that which his conscience reproved inwardly, for that which he mingled with the love of God, I mean, the love of the world, cannot be in any man without the expulsion of God's loveótill then, I say, God did not depart and leave him to himself, for the example of you, and me, and all others, that we should fear even ourselves and our own hands, more than man and all the powers of the world, if we therefore should do anything which should wound our conscience; the conscience, I tell you, is soon wounded, yea, sooner than we are aware of. The devil uses all kinds of deceit to blind us from seeing that which might wound it; but when the stripe is given, then either he still shuts up our eyes with contempt, for our hardenings, or else opens them to bring us to utter despairing. In your father, as you may see the latter, so in many worldly gospellers you may, if you will, see the other. God might deal with all such, as he has now done with your father; but because the time of his judgment is not yet come, his wisdom has thought good to set your father forth as an example to all men; as he did in the first world Cain; in the second world Ham; in the third age Korah, &c.; in Christ's time Judas; in the apostles' time, Ananias, &c.; although none will heartily consider it, but such as are God's children indeed.

But here in comparing your father thus, my dearly and unfeignedly beloved in the Lord, I must pray you not to be offended, or think that I do determinately judge, (to God I leave all judgment,) but because the fruit to us declares no less, to the admonishing of us all, I trust you will accordingly consider my collation (comparison, editor). For your parts, as I think godly of you both, that indeed you are both the children of God, so I pray you comfort yourselves, as David did, though his son Absalom perished so desperately, and though his father-in-law, Ahithophel, father to Bathsheba, as the Hebrews write, perished so miserably. You know Jonathan was not the worse because his father slew himself, nor Bathsheba because of her father Ahithophel; they were both the children of God, and so I am assured, as man can be, that ye are. As they used God's judgments upon their parents, so do you fear God, and love God the more, and fly from those things which in your father you saw displeased God. Oh! that I were with you but one half hour, not only with you to lament, but also, as God should lend me his grace, to comfort you, who by this judgment tries your patience and faith to the comfort of you both, as you shall find I am assured. My dear hearts in the Lord, if I could by any means comfort you, certainly, if my life lay on it I think you should forthwith perceive it; but because I can do no more than I can, therefore as I can I do; that is, to write and to send this messenger, my good friend and brother, with the same, to learn certainly the truth herein, and the condition of your estate. My other letter was made before I knew of this matter. I pray God this, which I understand by report, may be otherwise, but God's good will be done, who gives us patience and comfort in him. To whom I commend you both, even as heartily as any friends I have, in this life of your estate. From my lodgings, you know where, this 8th of August, 1554.

By your own to use in the Lord for ever,

John Bradford.


Letter 54. To Master Shalcrosse and his wife, dwelling in Lancashire

The peace of conscience in Christ, and through faith, in his blood, which surpasses, and is far better than any worldly riches or joy, and is to be redeemed with the loss of the dearest treasures we have, rather than we should lose it; this peace I wish unto you, good Master Shalcrosse, and unto your yoke-fellow, my good sister in the Lord, now and for ever. Amen.

Although I could not hitherto write unto you, yet as I trust you pray for me, so I have not been forgetful of you in my poor prayers to Almighty God, my dear Father through Christ, to whom I give humble praises, that he has given you grace as yet (for so I hear) to keep yourself undefiled in his service, which far differs frown the Romish rags, revived of late, and justly so for our sins and unthankful use of his true religion and holy ceremonies when once again in place and use amongst us. In token whereof (I mean that I have not been forgetful of you) I thought good now, when I may write, to signify the same, as well to renew our mutual love in God, and care one for another by hearty prayer, as to excite and provoke you both to thankfulness for God's graces hitherto, especially in the point before spoken of, and to be diligent and wary that you continue in the same unto the end; for you know that perseverance in godliness and purity is required of us, and that none shall be crowned, but such as fight lawfully. 2 Tim. ii.

Go on therefore, and fight a good fight stoutly and manfully! that is, as you know God is not to be worshipped and served but according to his written word, and not after unwritten verities (traditions, editor), or the device, fantasy, and pleasure of men or women, behave yourself inwardly in God's sight, and outwardly before your brethren. Seem not to approve by your outward man, that which the inward man detests. It is not enough to believe with the heart, except the mouth and fact confess the same: nor is it enough with the mouth to acknowledge a verity, and by our fact and deed to destroy the same. Paul speaks sometimes of deniers of God, not only with their lips and tongue, but also with their deed and life. Let not the world or the greater part of men be an example to you to follow, or do as they do, in the service of God. Christ says, "Follow me," speaking of himself, who is the pattern and sampler we should set before us, and not the world or the more part, which follow the wide and broad way, whose end leads to perdition and everlasting woe; but rather let the example of such as walk in the narrow and strait way, which brings to endless life, encourage you to walk with them, although the number of them is but few, and the persons of them are utterly contemned with the world and in the world. The world cannot love, nor know the children of God, because it cannot receive the Spirit of God; and therefore as the ape thinks of her young ones, so the world thinks her own birds the fairest, contemning with deadly hate all others that will not follow her judgment. But what says Christ? "Be of good cheer; although the world will persecute you, yet I have overcome the world." O! comfortable sentence! "I have overcome the world." This undoubtedly he means for you and me and all others his childrenóthat he has overcome the world for us; but by what means? Surely, by suffering, contempt, wrong, false reports, and even very shameful and most bitter death. If he went this way, and won the victory this way, as I trust we know he did, let us as his servants whose state ought not to be above our Master's, not be dismayed by contempt, or wrong, or loss of goods, or of life itself; but rather joyfully suffer the same as men, knowing we have better portions in heaven, and that this is the sure way to most victorious victory. For by many tribulations must we enter into the kingdom of heaven, if we will come thither, except for tribulation's sake we desire with ease and worldly quietness to go to hell. You know that Paul says, All that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; wherefore since you are in Christ Jesus I dare say you will continue, though persecution come to you; being assured that it cannot come except God have so decreed: and if he have so decreed, then you cannot but receive it, or else a cross which will be much worse. Therefore take willingly whatever cross the Lord shall offer, and then the Lord will make you able to bear it, and never try you further than he will make you strong enough to bear. Yea, he will number and keep all the hairs of your head, so that one of them shall not perish. But if you refuse God's cross, especially to suffer the loss of any thing for his sake, who gives you all the good that ever you have, and keeps itóif, I say, you refuse, be certain the plagues of God will be poured down, first on your soul and conscience, by hardening your heart, and blinding your mind, either by bringing you into despair, or into a contempt and carnal security; from whence will ensue loss of the dearest things you have, if God love you, or else he will preserve the same to your eternal destruction. I write not this as distrusting your constancy in God's cause, God forbid, for methinks I am assured of your godly zeal, but I do it as I said, that you may be the more heedful, wary, diligent, and earnestly given to call upon the name of God for his help and grace of perseverance, who is more ready to give than we to ask.

I know this kind of writing is madness to the world, foolishness to reason, and sour to the flesh; but to you which are a man of God, and by profession in baptism have forsaken the world, and consider things according to the reach of faith, and have tasted of the good Spirit of God, and of the life to come; by such a one, I say, as I trust you are, this kind of writing is otherwise esteemed. For here you are but a pilgrim, your home is in heaven, your treasures are hoarded where thieves cannot come to steal them; there is your heart, and therefore you can and will say as the philosopher said, when he was robbed of all he had, "I carry all with me." If he being a heathen considered his riches to be the world's, rather than his, how much more should we so do?

Therefore, my dear brother, prepare yourself accordingly, as you have done, and do, I hope. Read the second of Ecclesiastics, see how he counsels them that will serve God, to prepare themselves for temptation. Often set before your eyes the judgment of Christ, his coming in the clouds, and the resurrection, which is now our comfort, especially in afflictions. I write to you none otherwise than I am persuaded, (I thank God,) and I purpose to go before you. I know there is an eternal life; I hope to be partaker of it through Christ; I know this is the way thither, I mean by suffering. I know, if we suffer with him, we shall reign with him; I know that by the cross, he makes us like to Christ here, that we might be like to him elsewhere; therefore I write to you not words only. And hereupon I am the more earnest, to admonish and to pray you to cleave still to the Lord, and his true religion which you have received, and I for my part am sure that I have preached unto you. For the confirmation whereof, as I am in bonds, so I trust in the goodness of God and his power, to give my life in and for the same, that you and others may be certain, and follow as God shall call you and vouch you worthy. Remember, die you must; but when, you know not, and where and how, it is uncertain to you. Again, you must leave behind you all that you have, Or nothing shall go with you but a good or an evil conscience. Moreover, it is hid from you to whom you shall leave your goods; for you may purpose, but God will dispose; therefore if God will have you to die, or to lose your goods for his cause, how much are you bound to bless God? You may be sure that then you cannot perish, for of all ways to heaven, it is the most sure way. God will preserve your goods, so that your children shall find them, although the wicked spoil every piece of them; for the righteous man's seed I have not seen, says David, beg their bread, but God will bless them unto a thousand generations; which I pray God to remember towards your children for his name's sake. Amen.

Thus will I take you to God, and to his holy words which is able to teach you which way to serve God, and to save you if you believe and love it. If I thought it might do you any good, I would send you a book which James Bradshaw already has, to teach you how you should act, especially concerning the mass. I wrote it since my trouble. Commend me to T. Riddlestone, although I fear he has defiled himself in this false service. I would wish he would read that book, and as you shall advertise me, so I will do in sending to him. I shall pray God to illuminate his eyes with his grace. Commend me to sir W. Charlton, who, I trust, has kept himself pure from idolatry. God grant he may so continue. Written in haste, (as it appears,) from the Counter in the Poultry,

By yours in Christ,

John Bradford.


Letter 55. To my good friends in the Lord, Master R. and his wife

My dearly beloved, I heartily commend me unto you in our common Christ, whom I so call, not that I would make him as common things are, that is, nothing set by, but because by him we are brought into communion, and that as with him so with his Father, and as with his Father so with all God's people, if we are his people, as I trust we are. And therefore I write unto you as one careful, but not so much as I should be, for you, as for them whose well doing comforts me, and is profitable to me, and whose evil doing makes me heavy and wounds me.

The days are come in which we cannot but declare what we are, if we are indeed as we should be, and as I trust we areóthat is, if we are Christ's disciples. I mean, we cannot now do as the world does, or say as it says, but as God's church does and says. The world seeks itself, and speaks thereafter; the church of God seeks Christ's glory, and speaks accordingly: the worldlings follow the world, the church children follow their captain Christ; and therefore as they are not known of the world to be as they are, so they are hated, and, if God permit, they are persecuted and slain, which persecution is the true touchstone that separates the true church children from hypocrites, as the wind does the wheat from the chair. And of this, our time and age set very many forth for example, doctrine, and fear, which once were hearty and very zealous, and now are so cold, that they smell nothing of the Spirit; for they are not only afraid to seem to speak with a church child, but also are ashamed, and that not only of them, and so of that which they profess, but also they frame and fashion themselves in all outward behaviour, as in going to church, and hearing mass, so that no man can accuse them for not allowing it or not honouring it as well as the papists, whereas in their hearts they disallow it, and know he same to be nought, at the least they have known it; but halting out of the way may perchance have brought them so far, that now they cannot see the way, they are so far and so long gone astray. For the further and longer a man goes wide of the way; the harder shall it be to recover and see it; and therefore the apostle gives warning thereof, (Heb. xii.) as does Moses, (Deut. xxix.) speaking of men that bless themselves inwardly, while in truth they curse themselves. Read both the chapters, I pray you, and mark the example of Master Hales, who after he consented to seem to allow in outward fact, that which he once knew was evil, was fearfully left of God for our admonition (he refers to Judge Hales, who having been induced to profess popery, was so overcome with remorse and despair that he drowned himself, editor). For albeit, God has not done thus to all that have indeed done that which M. Hales purposed to do, yet in this example he teaches us how fearful a thing it is to wound our conscience, and do anything there against, to offend the godly, and to the comfort of the obstinate.

I write not this to accuse you, or either of you; for as I cannot lightly be persuaded of any such thing of you, so I am assured you hitherto have not done any such thing, for there is yet no great penalty to punish you for not so doing. if you should hare been accused thereof. For he that will do a thing unforced, I cannot hope anything of him, but that he will run apace when he is forced. But of this enough to you, who are to be comforted and exhorted to continue in that pureness of religion which you have, as I think, hitherto received, and by your open, conversation protested. Howbeit, considering how you have heard and read as much as in manner can be spoken herein, (for the scriptures, which of themselves are most perfect herein, you have read and read again,) I think it good to exhort you to use earnest and hearty prayer (as I trust you do,) and then doubtless God will so write what you have read in your hearts, as shall be both comfortable and profitable unto you and others. You shall rejoice in the strait way, which few find, and fewer walk in, but few indeed continue therein to the end. (Matt. vii.) You shall suffer with joy the spoiling of your goods, because the best part of your substance is in heaven. You will set before you the example of Christ, the beginner and ender of your faith, who suffered much more than we can suffer, that we should not be faint-hearted. (Heb. x. xii.) You will rejoice, and greatly, heedful great is your reward in heaven. (Matt. v.) You will be glad that God accounts you worthy to suffer anything for his sake. (Acts iv.) You will set before you the end of this your short cross, and the great glory which will follow the same. (2 Cor. iv.) You will know that it is no small benefit from God to suffer for his sake. (2 Thess. i.) You will know that your sorrow shall be turned to joy. You will know that as God makes you now like to Christ in suffering, so shall you be in reigning; and if you are partakers of affliction, you shall be also of his glory, &c. (Phil. i. John xiv. xvi. Rom. viii.) Lastly, you will know that this is the surest and safest way to heaven, which is called the kingdom of patience. (Rev. i) But because I have written a little treatise hereof, and of the harm of halting with the world in coming to mass, I send them both unto you to peruse and read, and then at your leisure to redeliver them to this bringer, or my man, when I shall send to you for them. In the mean season, I shall as heartily as I can pray to God for you both, my most dear members in the Lord. What said I, as heartily as I can? God forgive me, for I do nothing so well as I might; in that I flatter myself too much; God lay it not to my charge. Indeed I have most cause to pray night and day, and to give thanks night and day for you both. The Lord of mercy in Christ blessed you both, keep you both, and send you both to do as well as I wish for my dearest and best beloved friends and brethren in the Lord. I pray you continue to pray for me, as I doubt not you do, and so give thanks to God for me, for he is good, and his mercy endures for ever. The day will come when we shall meet together, and never part. God send it shortly. Amen.

John Bradford.


Letter 54. To the worshipful Sir William Fitzwilliams, then being knight marshal of the King's Bench

The peace of God proper to his people, the Holy Ghost work daily and deeply in your heart through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I thank my Lord and God, through his Son our Mediator and Saviour, for his mercies and graces given to your mastership; which I beseech his goodness to increase in you continually for your everlasting comfort in him. By his mercies towards you, I mean not in your lands, possessions, offices, natural wisdom, riches, health, form, &c. which indeed are gifts of God given to you of his mercy without your deserts, and therefore he should be daily praised by you for the same, as I doubt not but he is, for else your ingratitude would provoke him to punish you in them and by them, if he love you. But I mean his mercies towards you in the knowledge and love of his truth in religion. Since you amongst the 'not many' of your estate and condition, as St. Paul witnesses, (1 Cor. i.) have received this benefit as a very testimonial of your election in Christ, I would be sorry that you should need any such as I am, to move you to thank fullness; for I am not in a mammering (hesitation, editor) whether you are thankful to God for this great mercy, which is much more to be esteemed than all that ever you have. I humbly beseech God in his Christ to increase the same in you to the very end. And that he might do the same by me in some part, I thought it good and also my bounded duty deeply deserved on your behalf towards me, for the which I beseech the Lord to reward you, to send you this treatise of the doings of Master Ridley at Oxford, concerning his disputation about the sacrament. I know that divers copies have gone abroad, but none of them were as, I know, this is; for I have translated it out of the copy in Latin, which was corrected with his own hand, which came unto me with his consent, and therefore I dare be bold to say that it has not before been seen like this. In reading whereof you shall well see that this I speak is most true, and also that which causes me to suppress commendations of it (the excellency and worthiness thereof I mean,) because I think I cannot speak anything so worthily as undoubtedly these his doings deserve (he refers to the public disputation at Oxford, in April, 1554, whither Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer were sent as prisoners, and compelled to dispute respecting transubstantiation - the account drawn up by Ridley is given in Fox's Acts and Moruments, and shows the able reasonings of the reformers, and the sophistries of their opponents, editor). Unto your mastership I send them, as a token of my duty towards you, thereby to declare, that you deserve much of me, and I would show myself willing to recompense them same if I could; but since I cannot, and since also your doing is simply in respect of God and his cause, I will, according to your expectation, leave the recompense unto him. In the mean season praying him, that of his goodness he would increase the knowledge and love of his truth in you, and strengthen you after your vocation, both to walk purely, and manfully to confess his gospel, if he shall think it needful to call you to that honour; for surely, of all honours, it is the greatest to suffer anything for Christ's sake. Most happy may that man think himself that has anything to lose for his cause. As he shall be sure to find for his own part eternal felicity and honour endless, so shall his posterity even temporally prove this to be most true. I beseech you therefore, right worshipful sir, consider well this matter, and weigh it not as the world and your mother wit (natural understanding, editor) will move you to do, but as the word of God teaches you; there shall you see that this I speak of is matter of much mirth, joy, and glory, though to the world it seem quite contrary. God's good Spirit always guide you to his glory, and give you the spirit of prayer, continually to pray that God may never tempt you further than he will make you able to bear. Amen. Since this copy is not so fair written as I wish and would have I had it, I shall desire you to consider where I am, and how I cannot have things so done as I would, and therefore you have it as may be, when it may not be as I would it were and it should be.

From the King's Bench.

Your humble

John Bradford.


Letter 57. To my good brother, Master Coker, at Maldon, in Essex

Although I have at present both little time and less opportunity to write as I would, yet I thought it better to write something, as I may, than to be entirely silent. For if I should not do so, having so convenient a messenger, as I might incur the suspicion of ingratitude and forgetfulness towards you, and I might not satisfy the desire of this my poor brother and friend, John Searchfield, who comes unto you for help and comfort in this troublesome time. This dare I say, that the man fears God, and for Gods sake, and conscience towards him, sustains both loss and labour. For our common Father's sake therefore in Christ, help him to some hole to hide himself in for a little time, if you may conveniently, and remember, that he that receives one of Christ's little ones, receives Christ, as he himself in the last day will acknowledge, which last day let us often look on and set before us, as the thing which most tends to our comfort. Now we sorrow and sigh to see the sea swell and rage in this manner as it does; and, to confess the truth, we have double cause, as well because we have deserved this sour sauce, by reason of our unthankfulness and many sins (which the Lord pardon,) as because God's glory is trodden under foot. But this comfort we have, that as God our good Father wills not the death of a sinner, so will he order this most to his glory and our joy and comfort, if we repent now, and heartily lament our evils, use earnest, humble, and often, yea, continual prayer, and cast ourselves wholly on him and his goodness, still labouring to loath this life, and longing for the life to come. For we should account this as it is, a very vale of misery, much to be mourned in, because the time of our habitation and our exile herein is prolonged. God grant us his Holy Spirit, to strengthen us in his truth professed, that we may persevere to the end, in the joyful and courageous confessing of his Christ. Amen.

I pray you continue, as I trust you do, to keep both soul and body pure in God's service; strive to enter in at the narrow gate, though you leave your lands and goods behind you. It is not lost which for Christ's sake we leave, but lent to a great usury. Remember that this time is come only to try us. God make us faithful to the end. God keep us always as: his children. Amen.

I pray you commend me to Master Osbourn, and to all our good brethren in the Lord. The peace of Christ be with us all.

Amen. Amen.

Yours in Christ,

John Bradford.

Letter 58. To mine own good brother, Master John Philpot, prisoner in the King's Bench

My dear brother, God our Father he praised for the good he works in you and by you. Even now I have received your loving letters, wherein I see cause to bless God for the wisdom, love, and efficacy he has worked and does work in you and by you. Go on, for God's sake, to seek unity in Christ. If any will go to work dissemblingly, refuse it not; either it shall increase his damnation, or occasion the sooner his conversion. Judas's dissembling turned to the hurt of himself only. If once we come into unity and love, then shall we not respect (examine, editor) one another, neither take things in the worse part. Nothing hinders them more, than that they now hear all that are speak with prejudice (he means certain freewill men, Letters of the Martyrs), where, if unity be had, this prejudice will be taken away, and so then shall they see the truth the sooner. Therefore, mine own dearest brother go on, and bring it to a good end. God our Father be with thee for ever. Amen.

Pray, my good brother, and desire mine own fellow and beloved brother, J. Careless, to do the like. I shall pray for you, both in my prayers with others, and with myself alone, as for my most dear brother upon earth. I will not forget, by God's grace, to write in the behalf of our brethren in necessity. Jesus Christ, our sweet Saviour, be with us all, Emmanuel, for ever. Amen.

Your own in the Lord,

John Bradford.


Letter 59. To my good brother, R. Cole

Mine own good brother, our good and most merciful Father, more and more embrace us in the arms of his mercy, as his loving and own natural children, and give us one to embrace another in the arms of love as true brethren, that with one heart and mind we may praise his holy name in Christ our Saviour; and through the grace of his Spirit may every one fight mightily against sin, and all that is against the kingdom of Christ, whereunto, my beloved, we are called effectually to our everlasting felicity, (I doubt not,) praised be the name of our good God therefore, for ever and ever. Amen.

My own heart in the Lord, desire our brethren that every one would bend himself to bow; let us never break. Love suffers long, and seeks not herself. We all have one Father, we all are brethren. God keep us from dissension. If we cannot agree in all points, either the points perchance are not so necessary, or else by love we shall hereafter be brought to see that which yet is hid. If love appear in all our doings, and we seek one another with a simple and a single eye in God's sight; doubtless all prejudice, whereby we are hindered from seeing manifest things, will be had away, and we shall take things spoken and done in the best part, and so doubtless the name of our Father shall be sanctified in us and by us, as by instruments of grace; and God's kingdom shall increase apace in us and by us also, which may he grant for his mercy's sake. Amen.

Commend me heartily, I pray you, to both those good women; good I call them, because I am persuaded that God will deliver them, especially my good Mary. I will not cease, but even as for myself to pray to God for them and for you, my right dear brother in the Lord. If you were acquainted with M. Robert Harrington, you would find a plain Nathaniel; you should see the worst at the first. I dare say for him, his only desire is to please God, and he is afraid to offend him. Pray for him, and for my good sister, J. H., as I know she does for you. The peace of God be with you, mine own in the Lord.

John Bradford.


Letter 55. To Mistress Brown

Good sister, I beseech God to make perfect the good, he has begun in you unto the very end. Amen.

This life more and more becomes unto us as it should be, that is, a miserable life, a weeping life, a woeful life, and therefore let us long for our happy life, our laughing life, our joyful life, which we shall enjoy, and then have in very deed, when we depart by death out of this dangerous state, wherein we now are, by reason of this sinful flesh which we carry about us. Therefore let us prepare ourselves accordingly, and in misery and sorrow be glad through hope. Now we are dispersed, but we shall be gathered together again there, where we shall never part, but always be together in joy eternal. In hope hereof let us bear with better will our bitter burdens which we do feel, and shall feel in this miserable world: we have cause to thank God, that makes this world a wilderness unto us. If we are patient therein, kiss God's rod, and humble ourselves before God, assuredly we shall come into the most pleasant land of rest; wherefore, good sister, as I said, I say again, be merry with sorrow, rejoice in hope, be patient in trouble, pray in affliction; and, amongst others, I pray you pray heartily for me, that God would forgive me my unthankfulness, not only against you, which is great indeed, but also against all his people, but especially against his Majesty. As I can, I shall commend you unto the tuition of our shepherd Christ, who always keeps us as his lambs, for his holy name's sake. Amen,

Your afflicted brother,

John Bradford.


Letter 61. To certain godly men, reliever and helpers of him and others, in their imprisonment

The peace of Christ, which passes all pleasure and worldly felicity, be daily more and more felt in your heart (my right dearly beloved in the Lord,) by the inward working of the Holy Spirit, the earnest at our inheritance, and guider of God's elect, with the which may God, our dear Father, more and more endue us all unto the end, for his beloved Son's sake, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Praised be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which is a Father of mercy, and a God of all consolation who has blessed you with the knowledge and love of his truth, not only to your own comfort, but also the great ease and comfort of many, which, without the help of God by you hitherto, had been in much more misery. By your relieving the Lord's prisoners, I am brought to see the root whereof the work does spring, even the knowledge and love of God's truth, for which we are in bonds. Which knowledge and love is a blessing of all blessings the greatest, (for it is even eternal life, John xvii.) and I cannot but praise God for you on this respect, that it has pleased him to vouch you worthy of so excellent and singular a benefit, which is more to be esteemed, desired, and cared for, than anything else. The world, for all that ever it has, cannot attain by any means to this blessing, which God our Father has given you freely of his own good will through Christ, even before you were purposed to desire it; therefore, I beseech you all to be thankful with me, and to rejoice in the Lord. For if he has given us such a gift unasked, undesired, yea, unthought upon, how can he deny us any good thing now, which may be necessary for us? Will he, think you, sow his seed in the ground of your hearts, and not keep away the fowls from picking it up? Would he so bestow his seed in you as he has done, if he would not hedge in your hearts, as his field, from common paths, and from the breaking in of beasts to destroy it? Will he be more careless than a good husbandman to weed out the weeds which are in us, lest they should overgrow the corn of his word? Will not he bestow muck and marl upon us, that we may bring forth more fruit? If this be not lacking in a good husbandman alas! why should we think but that the Lord God, a good husbandman, and nothing but good, and only good, how I say, should it be, but that he is most careful to keep his seed already sown in your hearts, by the ministry of us and others his preachers, and that to the bringing forth of just and full fruits? Doubt not, my dearly beloved, but that he who has begun with you will happily make an end with you. He has begun to sow his seed in you, as I dare say you feel; be sure then that all this will follow. First, he will have scarecrows in your hearts, I mean such sparkles of his fear he will drop, yea, he has already dropped into you, that the birds of the air (vain and evil cogitations) shall not be cherished by you, but expelled by crying to the Lord for his help. Secondly, he will make such hedges as shall keep you from by-paths of all evil customs and usages and also preserve you from the poorer of evil and dominion of sin, which would have the upper hand on you. Thirdly, he will doubtless pour such showers upon you to supple you, so weed you, so muck and marl you by temptation and other exercises, that the sunshine of persecution shall do more for the ripening his seed in you than to the withering of it away.

These things, my dearly beloved, the Lord God, which has begun them in you and for you, will continue with you, that in the end you may be brought into his barn, there to rest with him in eternal felicity. For God's sake therefore wait, and look for no less than I have told you at his hands: a greater service you cannot give him. If God keep not the order I have told you; but begin to muck and marl you, to pour his shearers upon you, to nip you with his weeding-tongs, &c., rejoice and be glad that God will do that in you and with you at once, which he has been working in and for others a long time. Now undoubtedly great showers are fallen to supple our hearts, that God's word might enter therein, and take root. Now the Lord goes a weeding, to weed out of us our carnality, security, covetousness, self-love, forgetfulness of God, love of this world. Now the Lord does muck and marl us, loading us with heaps and burdens of crosses, that our hearts might be made good ground to bring forth fruit to God's glory by patience, in suffering inward temptations and griefs, whereof we must complain to the Lord that his scarecrows may drive them forth from us; and also in suffering outward assaults, for which we must cry to our Master for his hedges and defence, which have two parts; the one concerning us, to help and deliver us; and the other concerning our, or rather His obstinate adversaries, to take vengeance upon them, which he will do in his time.

Therefore let us in patience possess our souls, knowing that they which persevere to the end shall be saved. Let us not be weary of well doing, for in our time we shall reap the fruits thereof; but rather, whilst we have time, let us redeem it in doing well to all men, but specially to the household of faith. Which hitherto you have done (the Lord therefore be praised, and in the day of his coming may he recompense you,) and for the rest I hope well; I mean, that you have declared no less by confessing he truth planted in your hearts, by your words and works. After your vocation to the glory of God, I hope you have behaved yourselves godly, not being as too many are nowadays, even mongrels, giving half to God, and half to the world, halting on both knees, going two ways; I mean the mass-gospellers, which are worse than any papists. In this point I hope well of you, my dearly beloved, that you have not contaminated yourselves, that you have both confessed the truth as often as need has required, and also have refrained from coming to church now, where is nothing but idolatrous service. I hope you have glorified God, both in soul and body. I hope you have gathered with Christ, and not scattered abroad. I hope you have drawn no yoke with unbelievers, nor communicated with other men's sins, but have abstained from all appearance of evil, confessing in heart, confessing in tongue, confessing in deed and act, the true knowledge of God, which he has at his great mercy given unto you, not to be as a candle under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, to give light, that men may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

All this I hope of you, my beloved, and also all purity of life and godly conversation, not doubting but in this behalf also you have declared God's verity in your heart, and for the Lord's sake do so still in all points. That is, in your vocations be diligent and righteous, towards yourselves be sober and pure, towards your neighbours be charitable and just, towards God be faithful and thankful, loving and obedient. Use earnest and often hearty prayer; meditate much upon, and often hearken to the word of God. If you are called, give with modesty an account of the hope which is in you. Be not ashamed of God's true service. Allow not that with your presence which is contrary to God's will. Make not the members of Christ's church, that is, yourselves, members of antichrist's church. Be not ashamed of the gospel, or of such as are bound therefore, but rather be partakers thereof, first inwardly by compassion, prayer, &c., then outwardly by giving according to that the Lord has lent you to that end; and, last of all, by suffering with us, if God so will, and if it is needful for you. For, my dearly beloved, be certain that no man can touch you, or lay hands upon you, but by the will of God, which is all good towards you, even as the will of a most dear Father, who cannot always be angry or otherwise use his rod, than only to chastise and correct, not to destroy his children. Again, be certain that no cross shall come unto you before you need it; for God in our physician, and when he sees our souls in peril, he prevents the peril by ministering physic, which is the cross. As therefore for the body we follow the advice of the physicians for the health thereof, thankfully using their counsel, and obeying their precepts; so, for God's sake, let us for our souls, being sick, thankfully receive the heavenly Physician's physic and diet, so shall we wax strong men in God and in his Christ; which I beseech thee, O Holy Spirit, to work in us all. Amen.

My dearly beloved, this I have briefly written unto you, not as one who seeks any gifts, as Paul says (Phil. iv.,) but as one that seeks abundant fruits on your behalf, and to your advantage; for it is better to give than to receive, says Christ by his apostle St. Paul, who testifies, that according to that we sow, so shall we reap. He that sows little, shall reap little; he that sows much, shall reap much. (2 Cor. ix.) Never should we forget, how that the Lord Jesus, being rich, for our sakes became poor that we might be made rich by him. Again, never should we forget that we are dead to sin, and alive to righteousness: therefore should we live wholly unto God, and for Gods and not for ourselves.

In all things therefore we must avoid the seeking of ourselves, as well in doing, as in leaving things undone. If the cross come upon us, then are we happy, for the Spirit of God and the glory of God rest upon us; therefore rejoice (says Christ,) for your reward is great in heaven. (Matt. v.) In this we are made like to Christ here, therefore we shall be so elsewhere, even in eternal joy and endless glory. The highway to heaven, you know, is affliction, so that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution. If we were of the world, the world would love us; but we are not of the world, but bear witness against the world, and therefore the world hates us. But let us rejoice, for our Lord has overcome the world, (John, xv.); he suffered out of the city, bearing our rebuke, says the apostle. Let us then go out of our tents, and bear his rebuke; that is, let us deny ourselves, take up our cross, which is his also, and follow him. (Heb. xiii.) Let us know and esteem this greater riches than all the treasures of the world, as Moses did. Let us know that he who saves his life shall lose it. Let us know that the way to salvation is a strait way, and a way wherein we cannot carry our bags and chests with us. Let us know that no excuse of wife, farmhouse, or children, will excuse us. Let us know that in this case we must be so far from loving father, mother, wife, and children, that we must hate them and our own selves also. (Luke xiv.)

Though this be a hard saying, yet we must not leave our guide for a little foul way; yea, rather we should know indeed, that it is hard only to the flesh, which if she be handled daintily will be imperious. She must be kept under, that the spirit, which is a precious thing in God's sight, may have her advantage. If we should follow the fancy of the flesh, we could not please God. We have made a solemn profession against it in our baptism, as also against the devil and the world; and shall we now look for easy things from our enemies? Shall we not look rather to be hardly entreated of them? Oh! that we considered often, and indeed, what we have professed in baptism, then the cross and we should be well acquainted together. For we are baptised into Christ's death, that is, as to be partakers of the benefit of his death, which is remission of sins, so to be made like thereunto continually by dying to sin.

Oh! that we considered what we are, where we are, whither we are going, who calls us, how he calls us, to what felicity he calls us, whereby he calls us; then, my dear hearts in the Lord, we should say to all worldly persuasions and persuaders, Get behind me, Satan; thou savours not those things that are of God, but the things that are of men. Shall we not drink the cup which our heavenly Father has appointed for us? O Lord God, open thou our eyes, that we may see the hope whereunto thou hast called us. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand. In the favour thou bears to thy people, remember us, visit us with thy saving health, that we may see the good things thou hast prepared for thy elect children, that we may have some sight of thy heavenly Jerusalem, and have some taste of the sweetness of thy house. O dear Father, kindle in us an earnest desire to be with thee in soul and body, to praise thy name for ever, with all thy saints in thy eternal glory. Amen.

John Bradford.


Letter 62. Another letter to the Lord Russell

The eternal mercies of God in his dear Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, be more and more felt and heartily perceived of you, my good Lord, to your endless joy and comfort. Amen.

Because your Lordship looks not for thanks from me for God's benefits ministered by you, and I cannot duly declare in few words what I would do; I will omit the same, praying God, our dear Father, in the day of his retribution to remember it, and in the mean season to assist, counsel, and comfort you, as his child for ever in all things. I doubt not, but that you have that childlike opinion, yea, persuasion of his goodness in Christ towards you, than which blessing (my good Lord,) none greater is given to man upon earth. For assuredly, he that has it is the very child of God, elect before all time in Christ Jesus our Lord, and therefore shall enjoy everlasting felicity; although he is here afflicted and tossed in trouble and temptation for his trial, that when he is found faithful, he may receive the crown of glory.

The only thing that distinguishes the child of God from the wicked is this faith, trust, and hope in God's goodness through Christ, which I trust you have. May God increase it in you, and make you thankful. Certainly, such as enjoy it are happy; and if they are happy, and that happiness is not where any thing is to be desired, they cannot but for ever be most assured of perseverance to salvation. For if they fall, the Lord puts under his hand, that they shall not perish. They are beloved of Christ, who loves them to the very end. May God for his mercy sake in Christ open your eyes more and more to see his sweetness in Christ, to make you secure in him, and to awaken the flesh from her security, to be vigilant and heedful how you may best behave yourself in thankful obedience to God, and careful help and service to his people. So that all your whole life may tend to this, how by example and otherwise you may do good to others, and still confirm his true service and religion by your constancy, wherein if you continue to the end, you shall receive an incorruptible crown of immortal and unspeakable glory, but if because of God's tarrying, which is only to prove you, you relent, which God forbid; thinking it enough to serve God in heart, and in body to do as may make most to your temporal advantage, as many do; then undoubtedly your standing hitherto, (wherefore God's holy name be praised,) shall make much more for the papistical kingdom and the glory thereof, than if you had never done as you have done.

Whereof, my good Lord, be not weary nor unthankful; for with the godly and in the church of God you are and shall be had as a worthy member of Christ, worthy of double honour, because God of his goodness has vouched you worthy, without your deserts. In the one, that is, for lands and possessions, you have many companions, but in the other, my good Lord, you are A per se A (A by itself A, editor), with us for our comfort and joy unspeakable, so long as you continue, as I trust you will do to the end, and to our most heavy sorrow, which God forbid, if you should relent in any point.

Therefore I beseech your Lordship, in the bowels and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ, to persevere and continue to the end. He that has not tried you hitherto above your strength, will continue so to the end. If for a time he hide his face from you, yet he does it but for a moment, to make you cry to him the more heartily; and surely he will hear you, not only when you are crying, but also whilst you are thinking how to cry. He is with you in trouble, and will deliver you. The longer he tarries, the more pleasantly and comfortably he will appear. Only believe and look for his help, and you shall have peace, such peace as the world knows not, nor can know; which may God give us a true feeling of, and then we shall not be grieved with afflictions, but rather rejoice in them, because they are but exercises and trials of faith, to the increase of faith and patience, with many godly virtues, &c.

As concerning the number and charges of us here, which this day I heard your Lordship desired to understand, this is so much as I know, that we are four in number together, whose names this bearer will tell you. The charges of the least is 12s. a week; there are five others, whose charges are not so great, but as tines will themselves; I mean, they pay daily as they take, and that to the uttermost; these were never ministers. I trust there is no urgent need in any of us all, and I think, least in myself, through God my Father's providence, the which I have and do daily wonderfully feel, his name therefore be praised. Other things I would write, but because they may be more safely told by this bringer, I have omitted the same for that purpose. May God of his goodness ever be with you, and keep your Lordship to the very end as his dear child. Amen, Amen.

Your humble to command

John Bradford.


Letter 63. To his godly friends, G. and N., encouraging them to prepare themselves to the cross, and patiently to endure afflictions for God's cause and his holy gospel

The God of all mercies, and the Father of all consolation, show unto you more and more the riches of his mercies in Christ Jesus our Lord, and grant you a lively faith to apprehend and pull unto yourselves the same, to your everlasting comfort. Amen.

Because my mind will not let me rest to think upon, and as it were to see, sore storms like to fall more felly (severely, editor) than any we have yet felt, (I should rather say, you have felt, and are like to feel, if you continue to confess Christianly as you have begun,) thought it my duty to admonish you, that you should not therefore be dismayed, or think it any strange thing. For undoubtedly you, confessing Christ according to the truth taught you, yea, received of you, though trouble come, the same shall be so far from hurting you, that it shall profit you exceedingly, making you thereby like to Him who for your sakes suffered much greater sorrow than all men can sustain. As well that your sorrows and afflictions, whatsoever they are that shall come unto you, should be sanctified in his cross, and that which he suffered; as also that in him you might both have example how to order yourselves in the cross, and how soon, shortly and gloriously, the end of your cross will be. Therefore, I say, be not dismayed that the cross cannot but conform and make us like unto Christ, not simply of itself, but by God's Spirit, which makes it his chief mean thereto. First, in putting us in mind of our corruption received of Adam, the cause of all care. Then by occasioning us to remember as well our most secret sins, as also our more manifest evils, that we thereby might be provoked to repentance, and asking of mercy; which undoubtedly God will give us for his Christ's sake, and thereto also his Holy Spirit to sanctify As, if we ask the same.

Now this Spirit wild not cease more and more both to mortify the old man with his desires, end also to renew: and repair the new man, daily with augmentation and increase; so that at the length we shall be made so like to Christ, that we cannot but be coupled unto him. I mean not by faith, as we now are, but even in deed, leaving here behind us, like Elias, our cloak, the flesh, which one day God will call and quicken again, to be like unto the glorious and immortal body of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; after that it has suffered and slept, as his has done, the afflictions and time which God has already appointed.

My dear brethren and sisters, this is most certain that God has already appointed for you the afflictions and crosses which ye shall suffer, so that they are not in the power, choice, and will of your and his enemies. If you would fly them you cannot, but, will ye, nill ye, needs must you have them. If you will not carry them in the love of God, you shall carry them in his displeasure. Therefore, cast your care on him, which cares for you, and has counted all the hairs of your heads, so that one shall not perish, if you commit yourselves to his ordering; whereas else your heads and bodies, yea souls too, shall perish, if you withdraw yourselves as unwilling to take his cup and drink of it. Not that I would have you thrust yourselves headlong and rashly to take or pull trouble unto you, or that I would not have you use such honest and lawful means as you may, in the fear of God and with good conscience, to avoid the cross, and give place to evil. But I would have you willing to put forth your hand to take it when God offers it in such sort, as that with good conscience ye cannot escape. Then take it, kiss it, and thank God for it, for it is even a very sacrament (or sign, editor) that God loves you; as he says, Whom I love, them I chastise; and if you are not partakers of correction, surely you are not children. But if he once chastise you, and you kiss the rod, verily he will cast the rod into the fire, and embrace you and kiss you, as the mother does her child, when she perceives the child takes the correction in good part. But why do I compare God your Father's love to a mother's, for it far passes it? For, says he, though it be possible that a natural mother should forget the child of her womb, yet will not I forget thee, says the Lord our good God and Father through Christ. Though he seem angry towards evening, yet in the morning we shall find him well pleased, if in Christ we come to him, and cry, Abba, dear Father, help us, and (as thou hast promised) try us not further than thou wilt make us able to bear.

Therefore, my dear hearts in the Lord, be of good comfort, be of good comfort in the Lord; confess him and his truth, and fear not prison, loss of goods, or life. Fear rather that prison, out of which there is no deliverance. Fear rather the loss of those goods which last for ever. Fear rather the loss of the life which is eternal, whereunto you are called, and the way by which God will bring you to it, since you know not certainly whether it will be by prison, fire, halter, &c.; whenever these come, as I said before, let them not dismay you, nor seem strange to you. For no small number of God's children are gone that way, and we are a good company here together, which are ready to follow the same way through God's grace, if God so will. I beseech you make you ready, and go with us, or rather be ready, that when we come we may go with you. The journey is but short, though it is unpleasant to the flesh. Perchance, if we should die in our beds of a corporeal malady, it would be much longer, and also more painful. At the least in God's sight it cannot be so precious and painful as I know this kind of death is, whereto I exhort you to prepare yourselves, mine own dear hearts in the bowels and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ, to whose tuition, grace, governance, and protection, I heartily commend you all, and beseech you that you would do the like unto me in your hearty prayers.

Out of the Tower of London, 1554.

By your own to use in the Lord for ever,

John Bradford


Letter. 69. To my dearly beloved in the Lord, Mrs. W. and Mrs. W.

Almighty God, our dear and most merciful Father, be always with you both my entirely beloved mother and sister in the Lord, and may he for ever keep you as his babes unto his eternal kingdom through Christ our Saviour. Amen.

I purpose not to render thanks to you for God's great goodness towards me by you, because I cannot. Each of you has so heaped benefits upon me, that it were hard for me to reckon the tenth part. He for whose sake you have done it, and all the good you do, one day recompense you after your heart's desire in him! In the mean season I beseech him to reveal unto you more and more the riches of his grace and love in Christ, by whom ye are beloved, and were so before the world was, and doubtless shall be world without end. According to the revelation, and your sense or faith herein, so will you contend (strive for, editor) to all piety and godliness; as St. John says, He that has this hope, will purify himself as Christ is pure. (1 John iii.) For how should it be otherwise, than that if we are certainly persuaded that heaven is ours, and we citizens thereof, then (I say) we should desire the dissolution of our bodies, and death to despatch us, and to do his office upon us.

If we certainly believed we were members of Christ and God's temples, how should we but fly from all impurity and corruptions of the world which comes by concupiscence? If we certainly believed that God indeed of his mercy in Christ is become our Father, since his good will is infinite, and his power according thereto, how could we be afraid of man or devil? How could we doubt of salvation, or any good thing, which might tend to God's glory and our own weal? Now mark whether all things teach us not that we should be certain and sure that we are God's children in Christ. Behold the creation of this world, and the gubernation (government and direction, editor) of the same; do not these teach us that God loves us? And is God's love out of Christ the beloved? Is not his love, as he is, unchangeable? Does not St. John say, that he loves to the end whom he loves? (John xiii.) Therefore I say, the very creatures of God both as to their creation and preservation tell us, that God loves us; that is, that we in Christ are his children and dearlings, although in ourselves and of ourselves we are otherwise, namely, children of wrath. Again, look upon the law of God, and tell me whether it does not require this certainty of you, namely, that you are God's dear children in Christ? Does not God plainly affirm, and say, "I am the Lord thy God?" Does he now charge you to have none other gods but him? How then can you perish, if God be your God? Does not that make God no God? Does not David say, that those people are happy which have the Lord for their God? Ps. cxliv.

Besides this, look on your belief; do you not profess that you believe in God? your Father Almighty, who wants not power to help you, as he wanted no good will in Christ to choose you? Do you not say that you believe remission of sins, resurrection of the body, life everlasting, fellowship with the saints, &c.? But how do you say you believe this, and are not certain thereof? Is not faith a certainty? Is not doubting, against faith? as St. James says. Pray in faith, and doubt not; for he that doubts obtains nothing. When Peter began to doubt, he had like to have been drowned; (Matt. viii.) beware of it therefore.

Moreover, to certify your consciences that you are God's children, and shall never finally perish, through God's goodness in Christ, behold your Head, your Captain, I mean, Christ Jesus. Wherefore came he into this world, but to redeem you, to marry you unto himself, to destroy the works of Satan, to seek and save that which was lost? Wherefore suffered he so great and bitter passions (sufferings, editor)? Did he not do it to take away your sins? Wherefore did he rise from death? Did he not do it to justify you? Wherefore did he ascend into heaven? Did he not do it to take possession there for you, to lead your captivity captive, to prepare and make ready all things for you, to appear before the Father? always praying for you? If these are true, as they are most true? why then stand you in doubt? Do you not thereby deny Christ? Wherefore were you born of Christian parents and in God's church, but because you were God's children by Christ before you were born? For this cause you were baptised; and hitherto the Lord has thus dealt with you, sparing you, correcting you, and blessing you; but why? Verily because you are his children, and shall be for ever through Christ. Tell me, why has God kept you till this time, but that he will for his sake have you, even here, be made like unto Christ, that elsewhere you may be so? Why has he opened your eyes from popery, but because you are his children indeed? When you pray, do you not call him Father? Why then do you doubt of it? Why will you believe the devil more than God your Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost? More than the holy word of God, both in the law and in the gospel, more than all the blessings and castigations of God? Do not all these preach to you and tell you, that you are God's babes through Christ? Therefore, my dearly beloved, believe it, and give not place to the devil, but withstand him strong in faith. Say with the poor man, I believe; Lord, help my unbelief. Say with the apostles, Lord, increase our faith. Mark ix. Luke xvii.

This, mine own hearts in the Lord, I write not that you should live more securely and carnally, doing as the spiders do, which gather poison where bees gather honey, but that, as the elect of God, you might live in all purity, godliness, and peace, which may God increase in us all for his Christ's sake. Amen.

I pray you heartily pray for us, that to the very end we may, as I hope we shall, go vigorously and cheerfully whithersoever our heavenly Father shall bring and lead us. His will, which is always good, be done in earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Your brother in bonds for the testimony of Jesus Christ,

John Bradford.


Letter 65. To my good sister, M. H.

The peace of God, with increase of faith and feeling of his mercy to your comfort in Christ, the Holy Ghost work in your heart now and for ever. Amen.

As it is much to my comfort, that God has given you such a love and zeal to his truth, so I exhort you, my good sister, diligently to labour by continual reading and meditation of God's holy word; and by earnest prayer and other godly exercises to maintain and increase the same, that by the feeling of God's gracious Spirit working in you good fruits as witnesses of your faith, you may grow in strength thereof, and certainty of God's favour and good will towards you. For, above all things, of this I would have you to be most assured, that you are beloved of God, that you are his dear child, and shall be for evermore through Christ, in whom you are by faith, and he in you. Out of this certainty, the cause whereof is God's own goodness, grace, and truth, springs true love, and loving fear, and obedience to God continually and in all things. Where it is, I mean this faith, certainty, and persuasion of God's eternal goodness to you in Christ, there no sins are imputed to you, or laid to your charge, to condemnation, nor shall be, though for correction's sake now and then your heavenly Father visit them fatherly, or rather you, for them. Where it is not, there is nothing that pleases God, be it ever so well done. Labour therefore for this certainty of faith through Christ;ówhenever you doubt, you heap sin upon sin. If Satan, your conscience, or God's law accuse you, confess your fault, and hide it not before the Lord: but when they would infer that because of your sin you are condemned, and cast away; then answer them, that it is only their office to accuse and witness, not to give sentence and judges, it only appertains to God to give judgment. Paul says, It is God that absolves, who then shall condemn us? God himself promises, before he demand any thing of us, that he is our Lord and our God; and are not they happy who have the Lord for their God? Is he God to any whose sins he remits not? Through Christ he is our Father, and therefore we are commanded so to call him; and can there want any fatherly kindness in him towards us, who are his children? No, verily; therefore be sure, and waver not of God's love and favour towards you in Christ. The cause of his love is his own goodness and mercy: this lasting for ever, his love lasts for ever. How can you then but be quiet and happy? Use this to comfort the weak conscience, and not to unbridle the mighty affections of the flesh or old Adam, which must have other meat.

Your own in the Lord,

John Bradford.


Letter 66. A letter concerning freewill, to certain men who were then prisoner with him in the King's Bench

The good Spirit of God, which is the Spirit of truth, and guide to God's children, be with us all and lead us into all truth. Amen.

Hitherto I have often resorted unto you (my friends, as I thought) and by all means sought to do you good even to my own charge and hindrance. But now I see it happens otherwise, and therefore I purpose till I know more than I do, to absent myself from you, but not to withhold my help, and by letters to supply that which by mouth you cannot patiently abide to hear. You report of one to my face, that I am a great slander (offence, editor) to the church of God. This may be understood two ways, by living and doctrine. But as for living, you yourselves (I thank God therefore) gave testimony of me. You therefore mean it is in doctrine. Now since there are many parts of the doctrine of Christ, I conclude that you mean not generally, but in particular points. For you have at different times given your commendation in my behalf as to generalities, both to me face and behind my back, for which I humbly praise my God through Christ. It is in some particulars, therefore that you mean I am a slander which, as far as I know, is only in this respect as concerning youóthat I believe and affirm the salvation of God's children is so certain that they shall assuredly enjoy the same.

You say it depends partly upon our perseverance to the end, and I say it depends only and altogether upon God's grace in Christ, and not upon our perseverance in any point; for then grace would be no grace. You will and do in words deny our perseverance to be any cause, but yet in reality you do otherwise. For if perseverance is not a cause, but God's grace in Christ is the whole and only cause of salvation, then while the cause, that is to say grace, remains, the thing, that is to say salvation, cannot but remain also. Of which thing (salvation) if with the Scriptures you would make perseverance an effect or fruit, you would not be offended at the truth, but you would see, as it says, that the salvation of God's children is so certain that they shall never finally perish, the Lord putting his hand under them, that if they fall they shall not lie still. For whom he loves he leaves not, but loves them unto the end, (John xiii.) so that perseverance is proper to them, and distinguishes them from hypocrites and such as seem to others, and sometimes to themselves also, that they are God's children, which if they once were indeed, then, as St John says, they should not sin the sin unto death, nor should they go out of God's church, but as Paul says, should persevere to the end. 1 John iii. v. ii. Heb. iii.

Now to be God's child is no less in all points above the power of man, than to be man's child is above our own power. But as it passes our ability in all respects to be God's child, by so much this dignity is greater. Again, if once God's child indeed, then God's child for ever. That is, he that is so shall not perish eternally, if God our Father be both of good will infinite, and also of power accordingly; and if the seed of God which remains in his children can keep them from sinning to death, for otherwise they sin, and therefore pray daily, Forgive us our debts (trespasses, editor), and in 1 John iii. Matt. vi. Moreover God's children are under grace and not under the law, and therefore sin shall not condemn them. (Rom. vi.) For where no law is, there is no transgression, (Rom iv.) I mean no transgression to final damnation. For the new covenant of God is, never to remember their sins, but to give them such hearts and minds that, as they naturally lust and labour to do that which is evil, so their inward man being renewed, strives to the contrary, and at length shall prevail, because he that is in them, is stronger than he that is in the world. And St. Paul says, Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect, since God absolves them for Christ's sake, by whom they are kept; so that it is not possible for them to perish on account of their Shepherd who is faithful over God's people. 1 John iv. Rom. viii. John vi. x. Matt. xxiv. Heb. xiii. iii.

Whoso feels in himself this certainty and assurance by the testimony of God's Spirit in deed and in truth, is happy for ever. And as he hopes to be like Christ in his coming, he cannot but desire it and purify himself in all purity, so far will he be from carnal liberty. And as the elect of God, he will endue and clothe himself daily with the apparel of the elect, praying night and day, which is another property of God's children. To this certainty all the creatures of God call us concerning their creation and use. God's first commandment requires this assurance, under pain of condemnation. The gospel of God and all his promisesóthe sacraments and the substance of them, which is Christ Jesus our Saviour, above all things require it of every one that is baptised and brought into God's church.

There is nothing else God so requires of us as thus to be persuaded respecting him, for out of it flows all godliness towards God and man. So that it cannot be but that they take Satan's part, who go about to hinder or bind (restraint and limit, editor) this certainty in themselves and in others. I cannot but, as I have often done before, admonish you that you do this indeed, (however you mean,) that your blood may be upon your own heads if you persevere and do it obstinately and not ignorantly. From which I beseech Almighty God to deliver you. Amen. 1st January.

John Bradford.


Letter 67. To certain men not rightly persuaded in the most true, comfortable, and necessary doctrine of God's holy election and predestination

Grace, mercy, and peace, with increase of all godly knowledge and living from God the eternal Father of all consolation, through the bloody death of our alone and full Redeemer Jesus Christ, by the mighty and lively working and power of the Holy Spirit the Comforter, I wish unto you now and for ever. Amen.

Although I look hourly for officers to come and have me to execution (at the time when this letter was written it was intended that Bradford should have been burned immediately. The truly Christian and sweet spirit it displays, renders it peculiarly worthy of attention, editor, yet I cannot but attempt to write something unto you, my dearly beloved as always you have been, and however you have taken me; to occasion you the more to weigh the things wherein some controversy has been amongst us, especially the article and doctrine of predestination; whereof I have written a little treatise, therein briefly showing my faith, and answering the enormities gathered by some to slander the said necessary and comfortable doctrine. That little piece I commend unto you, as a thing whereof I doubt not to answer to my comfort before the tribunal-seat of Jesus Christ; and therefore I heartily pray you, and every of you, for the tender mercies of God in Christ, that you would not be rash to condemn things unknown; lest God's woe should fall upon you, for calling good evil, and evil good. For the great love of God in Christ, cavil not at things that are well spoken, and construe not things in an evil part when you have occasion otherwise. Do not suppose that any man by affirming predestination, as in that book I have truly set it forth according to God's word and the consent of Christ's church, either seeks carnality, or sets forth matter of desperation: only by the doctrine of it I have taught to myself, and to others, a certainty of salvation; a setting up of Christ only; an exaltation of God's grace, mercy, righteousness, truth, wisdom, power, and glory; and a casting down of man and all his power; that he that glories may glory only, and altogether, and continually, in the Lord.

Man consists of two partsóthe soul and the body; and every man of God has (as a man would say) two men, an outward or old man, and an inward or new man. The devil's drift is to bring the one into carnality, and the other into doubt, and so to cause despair and hatred of God. But God for remedy hereof has ordained his word, which is divided into two parts. The one is a doctrine which demands of us our duty, but gives no power thereto; the other is a doctrine which not so much demands as gives. The former is called the law, which has its promises, conditions, and comminations, or threats accordingly; the other is called the gospel, or rather the free promises, hanging not as conditions on our behalf, but simply on God's verity and mercy, (although they require conditions, but not as hanging thereon,) of which promises the gospel may well be called a publication. The former, that is, the law, with her promises and comminations, tells man what he is, and shows him what he can do. The latter, that is the gospel, and free promises, tens and sets forth Christ, and what mercy at God's hand through Christ is offered and given unto us. The former part serves to keep the old man from carnality and security, and to stir him up to diligence and solicitude: the latter part serves to keep the new and inward man from doubting and despair, and to bring us into an assured certainty and quietness with God through Christ. The old man and the field he rests in may not be sown with any other seed than is agreeable to the former doctrine, (the law;) the new man and the field he rests in may not be sown with any other than is agreeing to the latter doctrine, (the gospel.) By this means man shall be kept from carnality, and from desperation also, and brought into diligence and godly peace of conscience. It is forbidden in the old law to sow two kinds of seed in one field; to wear linsey woolsey garments; or to eat beasts that did not cleave the hoofs. (Deut. xiv. xxii.) God grant us to be wise husbandmen, to sow according as I have said. God grant us to be wise tailors to cut our coats for two men of one whole cloth, as it is declared. God grant us to be clean beasts, to cleave the hoofs accordingly. That is, to give the old man meat proper for the mowers; that is, the law with its appurtenances,ó conditions, promises, and comminations; and to give to the new man the gospel and sweet free promises, as appertains, and then, doubtless, we shall walk in the right highway unto eternal life: that is, in Christ Jesus, the end of the law and the fulfilling of the promises, in whom they are yea and amen.

If this my poor advice is observed, my dear brethren in the Lord, I doubt not but all controversies for predestination, original sin, freewill, &c. shall so cease that there shall be no breach of love nor suspicion amongst us, which God grant, for his mercies' sake. I am persuaded of you, that you fear the Lord, and therefore I love you and have loved you in him, my dear hearts, though you have taken it otherwise, without cause on my part given, so far as I know. Or hitherto I have not suffered any copy of the treatise above specified to go abroad, because I would suppress all occasions, so far as might be. Now am I going before you to my God and your God, to my Father and your Father, to my Christ and your Christ, to my home and your home. I go before, but you shall come after, sooner or later. Howbeit, I could not but, before I go, signify thus much unto you as I have done, that you might see my love, and thereby be occasioned to increase in love, and learn rather to bear than break. My poor and most dear sister to me that ever I had, with whom I leave this letter, I commend up to you all and every of you, beseeching you, and heartily praying you, in the bowels and blood of Jesus Christ, to care for her, us for one which is dear in God's sight, and one which loves you all in God, and has done so, as I can and do bear her witness, although in the point of predestination it has pleased God by my ministry to open unto her his truth. Wherein she is settled, and, I trust in God, confirmed; and if you cannot think with he therein as she does, I heartily pray you, and as I can, in God's behalf charge you, that you molest her not nor disquiet her; but let love abound, and therein contend who can go most before. I commend also unto you my good sister M. C., making for her the like suit unto you all.

Ah! dear hearts, be not faint-hearted for these evil days which are come to try us and purify us, that we may the more be partners of God's holiness; so we shall be better known to ourselves, and to the world. Continue to walk in the fear of the Lordóyou have begun well. Keep yourselves pure, as I hope you do, from this rotten, Romish vea, antichristian religion. Reverently read Gods word, thereto joining prayer, that as in reading you hear God speak unto you, so in praying you may speak unto him. Labour after your callings to help others. As you have done, do still; and I pray God give you grace to continue, as I doubt not but he will, for his goodness' sake. At length we shall meet together in Christ's kingdom, and there never part asunder, but praise the name of our good God and Father, with the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, angels, archangels, and all the saints of God. Oh, joyful place! Oh! place of all places desired!

My brethren, I think myself more happy than you, by how much I am now more near unto it. Elias' chariot I hourly look for to come and catch me up. My cloak, that is, my carcass, I shall leave behind me in ashes, which I doubt not my Lord will raise up and restore to me again in the last day, glorified even like unto his own most glorious body. The portion of the good Spirit which my Father has lent me I wish, yea, double and treble, unto you all. God, the Father of mercy, in the blood of his Christ, give to every of you, my dear hearts in him, his blessing, and pour plentifully upon you his Holder Spirit, that you may increase in an godly knowledge and godliness to your own comfort and the edification of many others. Amen. Yet once more I commend unto you my aforesaid most dear and beloved sister in the Lord, who always be unto her a most loving father, spouse, and pastor. Amen, Amen. Out of prison, (the Compter,) the 16th of February 1554-5.

Your own heart,

John Bradford.


Letter 68. To Trewe and Abingdon, with other of their company, teachers and maintainers of the error of Man's Freewill

(Read 1 Cor. xiii. and compare these spirits with the spirit of humbleness, unity, and love, which here you see in this man of God, doing good even to his adversaries. Letters of the Martyrs.)

Yet once more, beloved in the Lord, before pen and ink are utterly taken from me, as I look it will be this afternoon, I thought good to write unto you, because I stand in doubt whether at any time hereafter I shall see or speak with you, for within this seven-night my Lord Chancellor bade me look for judgment. God knows I lie not, I never bore you malice, nor sought the hindrance of any one of you, but your good, both in soul and body, as when we shall all appear together before God, I am certain you shall then know, though now you doubt it. And of that I am right well assured; for mine own conscience can, and does bear witness with me, that I never defrauded you, or any of you, of the value of one penny, or pennyworth of any thing, but have sought to do you good with that which has been given, not only in common, but also unto me, and to mine own use, discretion, and distribution: therefore disdain not the good will of your lover in God; and in hope that you will not, I have even now sent unto you thirteen shillings and four-pence. If you need as much more you shall have it, or any thing else I have or can do for you. Though in some things we agree not (he means concerning freewill, original sin, predestination, &c. wherein they are plainly Pelagians and Papists, Letters of the Martyrs), yet let love bear away the bell, and let us pray one for another, and be careful one for another, for I hope we all are Christ's. As you hope yourselves to pertain to him, so think of me; and as you are his, so am I yours,

John Bradford.

(At this letter these men were offended, because he said he had hindered himself to further them, as though he had thereby upbraided them, and in displeasure they sent it to him again: whereupon he wrote unto them as follows.)


Letter 69. To Trewe and Abingdon, with other of their company, teachers and maintainers of the error of Man's Freewill

He that seeks not to hinder himself temporally, that he may help his brother who is in more need, the same wants true love; I have done, do, and will (except you refuse it) hinder myself this way, that I may further you, and, indeed, myself also, that way, wherein I desire to be furthered. If I would seek mine own gains temporally, then I could have taken and used many portions of money which have been given me for mine own use. (Though he distributed to them among other prisoners there, not only that which was given in common but also that which was given for his own use, yet they suspected him of evil dealing. Thus do not they in whom the love of God dwells. Letters of the Martyrs.) I never intended to upbraid you, but that which I wrote of mine own hindrance was, that you might see I loved you, and sought your weal, as I do and will he glad to do it continually. The Lord of mercy has forgiven us all, wherefore henceforth let us rather bear than break.

Yours in the Lord,

John Bradford.


Letter 70. To the Lady Vane

Our dear and most meek Father always be with us, for his Christ's sake, and guide us as his children for ever. Amen.

Your comfortable and necessary letters last sent to me, right worshipful and dearly beloved, deserve at my hands, as your other benefits have done, that which I cannot give. May the Lord my God recompense you, as he can and will undoubtedly. Now am I going to my good Father and your Father: now am I going to my Christ and your Christ: now am I going to my home and your home. I go before, but you shall follow: howbeit, when or which way, I know not, the Lord knows. Unto his providence and will commend yourself, for it cannot but come to pass, and there is nothing so good to us as it is. Happy were we that ever we were born, that God might set forth his glory by us, howsoever he does it. Though I am led, as was said to Peter, whither I would not, yet give thanks with me and for me, that it pleases my Father thus to lead me. I have deserved, yea, even since I came into this prison, many a shameful death: such and so great are my ingratitude and sins. But lo, the tender kindness of my Father corrects me as a child and son, making the remedy for my sins an occasion for his glory, a witnessing of his truth, a confirmation of his true religion, heretofore set forth and preached by me; wherein, good madam, persist, and you shall be safe. Be not ashamed of it now, for though it seems to be overcome, yet by suffering it overcomes, that God's wisdom, which is foolishness to the world, and God's power, which is weakness to the reason of man, may triumph and confound that which the world thinks wise and mighty. Now I begin to be Christ's disciple. Now I begin to be fashioned like to my Master in suffering, that I may be so in reigning. Now I for ever take my farewell of you in this life. Now I commend myself into the hands of my Father, by whose providence I came into this world, by whose providence I have been kept in this world, and by whose providence I depart hence. And as his providence is towards me, so doubt you not but it is towards you, though not in such sort exteriorly, yet in such love, solicitude, and carefulness for you interiorly. God, our God, and Father of mercy, for the blood of his Christ, wash away all our sins, comfort hi church, strengthen the weak, convert or confound, as may make most to his glory, his enemies, and be with us Emmanuel for ever. Amen. Amen.

In haste, out of prison, the 5th of February, 1555.

John Bradford.


Letter 71. To Mistress Wilkinson

The Lord of mercy, in Christ his Son our Saviour and only Comforter, be with you all now and for ever. Amen.

Although at present I have little time by reason of this bringer's short departing, and less occasion to write unto you; yet since it has pleased God to offer me more liberty to write than before I had, (as this bearer can report,) I thought good to signify unto you the same with the acknowledging of the receipt of your tokens, for which I neither can nor will go about to flatter you with thanks; for I know you look for none at mine hands, God being the cause, and his word the end wherefore you did so. To him I know you would have me thankful, and I beseech you pray that I may be so, and not only thankful for myself and his benefits towards me, but also thankful for you, to whom God has given to fear his name and love his truth. Which gifts far pass the riches of the world, for they shall perish and be left we know not unto whom; but these gifts of God as they last for ever, so they make the possessors of the same happy. Go on therefore, and pray God to increase them of his goodness, as of his mercy he has begun them in you, and indeed so he will. For to whom he gives the earnest to win, to them he will give the grace of continuing, if we reject not the same, as we do when we are double-hearted, and divide our fear and love, as the Samaritans did, which feared God and also their Adramelech,óloved God's religion and the old customs of their country. If this doubleness come on us, that we fear the world and unite it with the fear of Godó if we love the muck of this earth and couple it with the love of God's religion, then we divide the stakes, then we mar the market, then the Spirit of God will depart, then we play as Ananias and Sapphira did, and sooner or later we shall fall into perdition with them. But, as I said, I think no such thing of you. I think of you as God's dear children, whose hearts are wholly with the Lord. And therefore I write not this as though you were such, but because it is of God's goodness that you are not such, because Satan would have you such, and because man, that were as you are, now are such. Therefore to make you thankful and careful to continue, but so that your care be all cast upon the Lord, is the only cause wherefore I write this, and would write more, but the bringer cannot tarry. And therefore I make an end hastily and abruptly, beseeching Almighty God in our Redeemer Jesus Christ to be with you, and comfort you all with his Holy Spirit.

By your own to use in the Lord for ever,

John Bradford.


Letter 72 To Father Traces, minister of Blackley, begging his prayers, and lamenting his own sinful condition

(The following letters were written by M. Bradford to Father Traves, the minister of Blackley, in Lancashire, his revered friend and spiritual counsellor. They were written before the preceding letters, but it appears best to adopt the arrangement of Fox, and place them here. They present an interesting view of a real follower of Christ, fleeing for refuge to the hope which is set before him; and like Zaccheus, not resting satisfied till he had made restitution for former misdeeds according to the utmost of his ability. This circumstance, to which he frequently alludes, is noticed in the sketch of his life prefixed to these letters.)

Grace and mercy from God the Father, through out Lord Jesus Christ, govern our minds, that sin have not dominion over us. Amen.

Yesterday night, a little before supper, I was asked by a neighbour, my mother's friend, for to go this day to dinner. For that a refusal would have been imputed disdainful stateliness, I unwillingly, but not unadvisedly, yet foolishly granted the same; which I advertise you, as my excuse for not coming this day. And for mine absence yesterday, my vain looking for you to have come with your nearest neighbour, the rather for that I heard him commit to you the survey (examining, editor) of his will, has with some repentance deceived me, though to my hurt and loss, yet to your profit, which else by my coming and troubling you should have been contrary. If you come not hither tomorrow, send me word by the bringer; and if there is no sermon, I will come to you, to have your counsel in such things as I will not now write by letter.

In the mean season, in your communication with God, I pray you have me in remembrance, of all sinners a most negligent, unthankful, and wretched, (oh! that from the bottom of my heart I confessed the same unfeignedly!) that at length I might truly convert and return from these greasy fleshpots of Egypt, to feed with his manna, patiently and assuredly expecting his mercy, joyfully sighing for and bearing the badge of his disciples and servants, the cross. I mean to crucify this lucriferous (covetous, editor) and gluttonous heart, more than most worthy of the rich Epulo's unquenchable thirst (Luke 16, editor), and the gnawing worms of Herod (Acts 12, editor).

This paper, pen, and ink, yea the marble stone weeps, to see my slothful security, and unthankful hardness to so merciful and longsuffering a Lord. I confess it, I confess it, though not tremblingly, humbly, or penitently, yet I confess it, oh! hypocritically I confess it!

Therefore pray,ópray for me, that I may repent, and be turned to God, not despising his wrath, and the death of his Son Jesus Christ, but that I may live in the Spirit and walk in the Spirit, evermore to bewail my carnal security and this self-love, that I may be made a new creature through grace, made meet to receive the new wine of the gospel into a new vessel, purified by faith, wrought by the Spirit of consolation, which may vouch-safe to lead us in all truth and godly living, that we may know God the Father to be in himself the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. To which most blessed Trinity, be all honour and glory for ever. Amen.

From Manchester. In haste, this Thursday in the morning.

Yours as his own,

John Bradford.


Letter 73. Another letter to Father Traves

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father, and Jesus Christ our Lord.

If my heart were not altogether adamantine, your kind letters to me, unkind wretch, would cause me, from the bottom of the same, to confess mine ingratitude towards you; but as I act, so I write; and as I am unable in the one, so am I foolish in the other; in all those unkindnesses, rudeness, &c. whereof you accuse yourself, I am enforced to acknowledge myself most justly condemned. In your letters, as in a glass, I may learn by you, speaking humbly of yourself, to espy my nakedness, which before I thought was clothed with a double garment, but now find only with fig-leaves hypocritically gilded, of which humility wrought in you by the Holy Ghost, be not proud; for what have you that you have not received? But be thankful to the Lord not only therefore, but also for those surges (trials, editor) which you feel now, through the cares accompanying marriage, through education, and bringing up of your children and family; through the cross of the common accustomed manner of living. For through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of heaven; yea, they are the cognizances (marks or badges, editor) of God's election, the instruments which work earnest sighings after eternal life, and therefore to be embraced. Believe me, it is the most excellent gift of God, for a man to demand humble himself, and to feel the crosses of Christ, as crosses. But I, most hypocritical wretch, not worthy that this earth should bear me, am ever giving way to the world, which is my greatest trouble. O Lord, help me and deliver me, for Jesus' sake, anoint mine eyes with ointment, that I may see. Oh give me not over unto a lewd (ignorant, editor) mind and reprobate sense, but awake my sleeping soul, that Christ may shine in me. You know the cross, the fatherly cross, the loving Lord has laid upon me; but I am little or nothing moved therewith. I work therein, yet not I, but God's Spirit, not of a repentant faithful mind, but, I cannot tell how, of a slothful, blind, reckless intent. O Lord! forgive me for saying so, it is thy gift, forgive me my unthankfulness for Jesus' sake; and, as I have blasphemed and dishonoured thy holy name herein, so do thou by thy Holy Spirit glorify by me the same. So be it.

Since my coming to London, I was with M. Latimer, whose counsel is as you shall hear, which I purpose by God's grace to obey; if it be thy will, O Lord, let it be done. He advises me, as I have done, to write to my master, who is in the country, and to show him, that if within a certain time, which I appointed, fourteen days, he does not set about to make restitution, that I will submit myself to my lord protector and the king's majesty's council, to confess the fault, and ask pardon. This life is uncertain and frail, and when time is, it must not be deferred. And what should it profit me to win the whole world, and to lose my own soul? If, as I justly have deserved, I am put to death for it, God's will be done. At the least, slander, reproach, rebuke, loss of worldly friends, loss of living, &c., shall ensue: what then? Lord, thy will be done: thine I am; if death come, welcome be it, if slander, &c., even as thou wilt, Lord, so be it. Only grant me a penitent, loving, obedient heart, and of mere love to go forwards herein, and not to shrink,óto stand, and not to fall, that thy name only may be praised herein. Amen. Pray, pray for me, cry for me; and when you shall hear anything, comfort my mother, to whom, since this bringer has not given me an hour's warning of his departure, I have not only written nothing, but also have thus prated to you, who I think will bear with me as no man else would. For, as God knows, to whose grace I commit you and your wife, with all your children and family, the shortness of time, and this bringer's haste, is the only hindrance why I neither send you spectacles, the price of the paraphrases, nor thanks for your cheese, as by the next that comes I will, God willing, send them to you, and a goodly testament for sir Thomas Hall, which is at the binding. But let it not be known that I have now written to you, for so I have prayed this bringer. God be with us, and pray for me, and abhor not my rude scribbling, which, if it were as well written as it is meant, would deserve pardon. Thus I make an end, imputing to the hastiness of this bringer all blame which you may lay unto me.

From the Temple, this Sunday, immediately after A. Latimer's famous sermon, which this bringer, as he says, did hear.

By your poorest friend,

John Bradford.

It shall not be long, God willing, but you shall both have and hear from me. Keep with you Melancthon's Common-places, for I have another.


Letter 74. Another letter of John Bradford to sir Thomas Hall, and Father Traves, of Blackley

The grace of God, our most merciful Father, keep your mind and soul in Christ Jesus, who alone is our full sufficient Saviour, for in him we are complete,óbeing made through his death, and one only oblation made and offered by himself upon the cross, the children of God, and fellow-heirs with him of the celestial kingdom, which is the free gift of God, and comes not of merits, but of the free grace of God Which is given to none that puts any manner of hope or trust in any other thing, visible or invisible, than in that oblation of sweet savour, which Christ himself offered upon Good Friday, as we call it. Which oblation is always recent and new in the sight of God the Father, and makes intercession for us, for us I mean, which think that only sacrifice then offered is sufficient, as it is, has been, and ever shall be, for all the faithful; by which sacrifice if we believe, we have free pardon of all our sins. To Him therefore, which was both the offerer and offering, be all honour and praise, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, blessed for ever. Amen.

Sir Thomas, my old friend, John Traves, shall declare unto you the occasion of this my long silence towards you, upon the knowledge whereof, I doubt not of your pardon. I have sent unto you an English and Latin Testament, both in one print and volume; the which, though it be not so beautiful without as I could have sent you, yet it is no less beautiful within, and more I think for your profit, and better for your eyes, your eyes, I mean, of the body. For undoubtedly it gives light unto the soul, if she be not dead. Whereof take this for an argument, and a true proof. If your soul is not delighted in it, if your soul do not hunger for it, I mean not for the book, but for the doctrine in the book, surely your soul is sorely sick; for as the body which abhors meat is not well, even so must the soul be; for other meat has she none. Christ, whom you must believe before all men, affirms this to be true in the 4th of Matthew: "Not only in bread, but in every word of God, the soul does live." Mark well, he says, not one or two words, as an epistle or a gospel, but he says, "every word!' Take heed! believe Christ better than any man, be he ever so holy. For he that is of God (John viii.) hears the word of God. Will you have a more plain mark whether you are the elect child of God or no, than this text? Christ says, he that is of God hears the word of God; but we have no other word of God than in the canon of the Bible; and all things written therein, are written for our learning, (says St. Paul,) whereby he proves, that seeing it is a learning, yea, our learning, then we must learn it. Therefore woe be to all them which either persuade men, that there is other doctrine of like authority, or that dissuade men from embracing this wordóthis word of God, or that think this word, especially the New Testament, is not above all other to be loved, to be read, to be chewed. This is the precious stone, which in the gospel Christ says, when a man has found, he sells all that ever he has, and buys it. Mark now how necessary and precious Christ makes that which great learned men think not necessary. May God help them! Christ bade his disciples sell their coats, and buy a sword, which is no other thing than the word of God; for so St. Paul calls it, the sword of the Spirit. Nay, say our learned men, (I lie, they have said so, but now they are ashamed,) fetch fire and burn it. (Bradford wrote this in king Edward the Sixth's reign; in a very few years afterwards, "they fetched fire and burned, not only the word of God, but also the faithful followers of it. Editor.)

This I say, sir Thomas, to the intent, that no ungodly hypocrite should persuade or dissuade you from reading the holy word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Follow St. Paul's lesson: attend to reading it, and let the word of God dwell in you. How much? Plentifully, says he. And to what end? To feed the flock of Christ, even as much as in you is, says Peter, not once a year, or once a quarter, as a strawberry (a trifling matter, or perhaps a dainty, editor), but as much as in you is. This word of God tries all doctrine; for we ought to have our conscience charged with nothing, as touching religion, except the word of God in the canon of the Bible set it out. I mean not only in allegories, but even in plain words: for no other foundation can any man lay besides that which is laid. St Paul says, the groundwork is already laid; even so says he to the Ephesians; we are his workmanship, to do good works, which God has created that we should walk in them. He says not, they were to be made, but that they are made already. What shall we think then of such works as man's wit (wisdom, editor has founded, which yet seem most holy? Let God's word be judge. Read the same, diligently and reverently with prayer, (I mean not the Latin service not understood, but with true hearty prayer,) and mark what the law requires; even that which we cannot giveóthe whole heart, and more if it were possible. But to this end, that we, seeing our abominable uncleanness and inability, might despair in ourselves, trembling at the justice of God and his anger, which we continually procure; and so embrace Christ, in whom God the Father is well pleased: which Christ is the end of the law, to justify all that believe, and continue not in their popish ignorance, justifying themselves, and treading Christ's blood under their feet, denying the Lord that bought them. All such, be they ever so well learned, ever so holy, are nothing but hypocrites and plain antichrists, which may not abide the sword of God's mouth. For when the trumpets of the army blow, I still mean God's word, the high wall of Jericho, the figure of hypocrisy, falls down. Embrace therefore God's holy word, and be not only a reader, but a doer; for your calling requires you to be apt to teach such proud, hypocritical, arrogant babblers, as I am now, which, if I may use this term, defile God's word. God forgive me, and pray you for me, and give God thanks for me, who spares me, which prate of God's holy word thus Lucifer-like, not of a true zeal, but of a foolish bragging. I know not what I do to confess it. So it is. I have sent to you other books, which I pray you read. I have written your name in them. The Holy Ghost keep you, with your brother George, his wife, and children; and with your brother James, &c., sir Lawrence, &c. This 20th of March.

A very painted hypocrite,

John Bradford,

Yours in Christ for ever.

Pray for me, pray for me, give God thanks for me, and take John Traves' help to read this letter, written in haste.

If anything but good be chanced to J. Traves, which God forbid, I pray you burn my letters out of hand.


Letter 75. Another letter to Father Traves

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, with increase of all manner of godly knowledge and living, be with you and all your household, now and ever. Amen.

To excuse this my long silence, within five or six days after my letters written to you by John Moss, it pleased God to send my master hither to London, whom, as I lately had advertised by letters, I moved, you know wherein, and prayed him to discharge the same, or else I would submit myself, &c. Whereunto he answered that if the books would declare it, he would satisfy, &c. I showed the books, whereupon he promised as much as I could ask. But he was herein something more moved than he had cause, God be praised therefore, which of his mere good pleasure wrought it, at times, as I desired to know how and in what time he would discharge us both, he thinking me to be over-curious herein, was not contented, and hearing me allege the uncertainty of time, and the fear of God's justice, (which, O gracious Lord, grant me to feel indeed as much as thou knows good for me,) he answered me, that I was scrupulous, and of a superstitious conscience, (for the natural man perceives not the things which be of God,) and plainly said further, that I should not know when, nor by these words have his head so under my girdle. And when I showed him that, as God witnesses with me, I desired no such thing, he said, that, seeing he promised before the face of God to discharge me, and to pay the thing, there was no godly conscience but ought so to be quieted. And thus at divers and sundry times, moving often to know of him the way and time of discharging the debt, and having no other answers than before, I, doubting worldly wisdom, which causes delays to reign in him with this mammon, (the which, O merciful God, eradicate out of his heart, mind, and all others,) I was something more sharp, and told him, (not of myself indeed, but through thy grace, O Lord,) I would obey God more than man: the which he lightly regarding, as it seemed, I departed and went to M. Latimer to have had him brought me to my lord protector, whose grace then was purposed shortly to take his journey to visit the ports. M. Latimer willed me to stay until his return, which will not be long. In the mean time I bade my bedfellow, my master's son, whom my master had used as his instrument to move me by influence of worldly things, for my master discharged him of his exhibition (deprived him of his allowance, editor), telling him that he could not be able to keep either house or child, for I purposed to undo both him and all his, (untruly thou knows, good Lord,) and bade him take that as a warning, that both he and his brethren should provide for themselves as they could. I bade, I say, my said bedfellow show my master, as of himself, my further purpose, which thing, when he knew it, so moved and alarmed him, that he began something to relent, and then made fair promises, that he would do what I should devise. I devised, but my devices pleased him not: and thus, but not vainly, I trust, (as I now do with you, but I know your gentleness, which ever has borne with me,) I spent the time in which I have been silent to write, nay babble to you. And he, departing out of London before I knew, sent me word by another of his said sons, not so given to the gospel and a good life as my bedfellow, and therefore more to be suspected,óthis other brother, I say, told me, that my master would do all things, if his fame and ability only were preserved: but what shall it profit to gain the whole world, and lose the soul? And by the said brother my master sent me a little billet also, wherein he confessed, that he was contented within twelve months to deliver to my hands the whole money; which billet I, thinking not so good as it might have been, have devised another, and have sent it down to him in the country, with request that he will seal and sign it. For M. Latimer thinks this sufficient; but as yet I hear not of it, and am doubtful of worldly wisdom, which overcame Samson; moved David to slay Uriah; brought wise Solomon to idolatry; and crucified Christ; which also moved me to perpetrate this act, and works in my master's heart, having higher place there than the fear of the Lord. What say I? there yea, verily, with me, it sits in the holy place, (the Lord deliver us.) Doubting, I say, the effect of worldly wisdom, I remain in that same state now for this matter that I was in at my last writing unto you, though in worse for my soul, which is more to be lamented; pray therefore, I beseech you, pray with me, and for me, that I may do so earnestly. And as I then purposed, so I doubt not (grant it, Lord) but that I shall persevere, if in the mean season I shall not hear from my master accordingly. Thus I have, like myself, foolishly but truly, declared unto you, in many babbling words, what, if I had understanding, would have been shortly and briefly comprehended, (arrogant wretch, nay, unthankful of God's working,) my working in this matter, which is and which was the only cause I troubled you not before, (as I now do,) to the intent I might advertise you some certainty in this thing. And though silence had been much better than this foolish prating, yet your fatherly kindness ever towards me, in expecting from you a correction, as I have herein given cause, may, though not to you, yet to me be profitable. In hope whereof, I proceed in requiring you to continue your remembrance of me, a most unkind wretch to God and you, in your prayers with the almighty merciful Lord, that I may more regard his will and pleasure herein, than all honour or shame in this life. But I must confess unto you, that my working in this matter is not of love, as I should do, nor of fear of God's justice; mine unthankfulness, mine unthankfulness, if there were nothing else, has not only deserved, but does deserve more than everlasting damnation: O Lord, be merciful unto me! I do not so repent it as I should do. Why say I so? as though this so were anything. O hypocritical wretch that I am! Alas! father Traves, (let me call you so,) I am hard-hearted, there was never any so obstinate, so unkind, against so loving, so merciful, so gracious, so good, so beneficial a Lord yea, a Father, as I am, wretch and most miserable sinner! This I speak, but not of humility, but of hypocrisy; yet I speak truly; I pray thee, good father, for Christ's sake that I may think it truly, as I write it even of arrogance; óso it is; therefore pray and cry for me. Here are goodly, godly, and learned sermons, which these uncircumcised ears of mine hear at the least thrice a week, which are able (the great loving mercy of God offered to me in them I mean) to burst any man's heart, to relent, to repent, to believe, to love, and to fear that omnipotent gracious Lord. But my adamantine, obstinate, most unkind, ingrate, unthankful heart, hears my Lord, which is the Lord over all lords, vouchsafe so graciously, so lovingly, by so many his instruments to speak, to call, to cry unto me; now by his law, now by his threats, now by his gospel, now by his promises, now by all his creatures, to come, to come even to himself. I hide me with Adam in the garden, I play not Samuel running to Eli, but I play Jonah running to the sea, and there I sleep upon the hatches, which is my greatest trouble, until it please God to anoint mine eyes with eye-salve, until it please him to raise up a tempest, to turn and look upon me, as Luke says he did on Peter. For, O Lord! it is thy gift, and comes of thee, and of thy mere grace; it comes not of man, it comes not of works, to repent, to believe, to fear and to love. Work thou therefore in me, for Jesus Christ's sake, which am thy creature, and most unthankful hypocritical servant; not when I will, not as I will, but when thou wilt, even that which may be most to the glory of thy name. Amen. What should I write? Nay, why do I not pluck these same words and paper in pieces? For I write altogether of hypocrisy and arrogant presumption. I will confess it, (thou wicked spirit, the Lord judge thee,) I will confess it; it is most true, John Traves, I only write it, for it is not I, it is hypocrisy. Knowledge (if I had it) puffs up. O Lord, grant me thy grace, and leave me not to my own judgment and reason. Hypocrisy; arrogance, and obstinate security, environ me, yet I feel them not. The Lord deliver me. Pray, pray for me. Give God thanks for me. O Lord! even thy will be done; unlock this mine heart, thou which hast the key of David, who alone opens, that I may desire to have the desire of the glory of thy name, of repentance, faith, &c. Pray for me, and be thankful for me, O father Traves! and write to me. I desire to see your letters more than any man's living. Let me have them therefore as you may, but your prayer at all times, that God would open my heart to feed and taste of these comfortable places of scripture, which to me are locked: "Remember that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead." This text, as a text of most comfort, (as it is indeed, and when God will I shall feed on it,) Paul sent to Timothy, to be his comfort in all places. For our salvation (this day of resurrection) is nearer now than when we believed; therefore he that endures to the end shall be saved. For he will accomplish the transgression, says Daniel, he will make an end of sin, destroy iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness. For God will come and save us, he will come and will not tarry; and when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we appear, with him, in glory. For he was once offered, that he might bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear without sin unto salvation, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words: O Lord! open mine eyes, which see nothing of the great comforts in these thy most rich words; open mine eyes, good Lord, that I sleep not unto death. Pray for me, and commend me to your wife and all the brethren in Christ with a holy kiss. Thus I make an end, (for it is time you may say,) and I pray you still water (instruct in the truths of the gospel, editor) sir Thomas Hall, unto whom I have sent a fair Testament, both in English and Latin, if this bringer will carry it. And I have herewith sent you a letter, which first peruse and read, and when you have so done, abhor not me, but my wickedness, and pray for me; and as you can see a meet time seal it, and deliver it to sir Nicholas Wolstoncross, by such policy as you can think of, by God's grace, through prayer. I confess unto you, God is my witness, to my knowledge, I never while in the country this winter at any time called it to remembrance; the Lord forgive me. I would by some occasion, if any could be had, before the delivery of the letter, by some story or communication, that he did know that abomination to be sin; for I fear me he thinks it to be no sin. The Lord open our eyes, and forgive us. Amen. The peace of God be with you. Amen. From the Temple, this 22nd of March, 1547-8.

Yours in Christ most bounden,

John Bradford.

I have sent you three pairs of good spectacles, I trow (think, editor), and other such books as have your name written in them, which take in good worth, and pray for me, and give thanks for me.


Letter 76. Another letter of Master Bradford to Father Traves

Grace, mercy, and peace, &c.

My chance is not to have any warning by this bringer of his farewell, so that I am constrained, time compelling me, to write not so much of things (which I will omit) as my desire was. Concerning the great matter you know of, it has pleased God to bring it to this end, that I have a bill of my master's hand, wherein he is bound to pay the sum before Candlemas next coming. This, Master Latimer thinks to be sufficient; therefore I pray you to give that gracious Lord thanks, and thanks, and thanks upon it, for me, a most wretched ungrateful sinner, which have also in other things no less cause to praise God's name; as for that I have and sustain my master's sore displeasure, which has brought me (God I should say through it) unto more contempt of worldly things, through the sequestration (taking-away, editor) of such his business, as formerly I had ado withal. I call it a contempt; well, take the word even as it is hypocritically and vain-gloriously spoken; for which fault, amongst my others innumerable, I trust you remember in your prayers, whereof I have (I would I knew how much) need. There is yet another thing, whereof I will advertise you even to this end, that you might pray, if it be God's will, that as I trust shortly to begin, so he may confirm what be has begun, as (if I am not deceived) I believe it is his working. If the thing that I presume seems by God's Spirit in you, then for the Lord's sake advertise me; for I am given to that disease, the Lord deliver me; I have moved my master therein by letters, to see if I shall have any living of him, as hitherto I have had; but I have thereof no answer, nor, as our natural speech is, any likelihood of any grant. Yet that I have already, I trust will suffice me for three years. You look what my purpose means; I am so long before I come to it; therefore I do it, because my long babbling should be less tedious. Now shall you have it. If God's will be so, (whereunto pray I may be obedient,) I am minded before Midsummer to leave London, to go to my books (to study, editor) at Cambridge, and, if God shall give me grace, to be a minister of his word. Thus you have of a fly an elephant. Well, take it in good part. A tumbling block (roller, editor) gathers no moss, so therefore pray for me. Perchance I do foolishly to forsake so good a living as I have. I will say no more hereof, but pray for me. I trust, as I said, I have sufficient for three years' study, if my master take all from me; and when this is spent, God will send more. I do not write this, that you should think me to be in need of worldly help, and therefore, as the friars were wont, secretly to beg: no; in the Lord's name I require you not to take it so, for I had rather never send letter than I should be herein a cross to you, for sufficient to the day is the evil thereof. We are more set by than many sparrows. But if my mother, or sir Thomas Hall, murmur at it, or be offended with me remedy it with your counsel as you can. Howbeit, as yet I will not write to them of it, until such time as I am going. I am something fickle-minded and inconstant, therefore pray for me, that my hand being put to the plough, (presumptuously spoken,) I look not back. You may gather by my words in this letter the heroical heart which lies in me.

I have sent you a book of Bucer against Winchester, lately translated into English, which I never read, therefore I cannot praise it. And as I call to remembrance, I send you with the other books more than you received, at them least one of them I remember, which is called the Common Places, or the Declaration of the Faith, by Urbanus Rhegius. Ask for it, or send me word in whom the default is you have it not. Hereafter, and that shortly, by God's grace I will send you a work or two, which I have translated into English, so soon as they are printed, which will be before Whitsuntide. Pray for me, good father Traves, and God send you health of soul and body, as I would mine own or any man's living. But yet to warn you of that you know not; in writing your letters to me, you hit me home, and give me that I look for. You are deceived, and so are all that know me. I never came to any point of mortification, therefore a little tickling (praise, editor) sets me afloat. God help me, and give God thanks for me, as all men are most bounden. Thus, when I once begin to write to you, I run on as the priest says matins, for I think I may be bold with you. The Holy Ghost preserve you, your wife, and family, and persevere his grace in you even to the end. I pray you, pray for me, a most (what should I call me) miserable and blasphemous sinner. The peace of God he with us. From the Temple, this 12th of May, 1548.

Sir Thomas Hall has deceived me, but himself most. I desire to speak with him, as this winter I may chance to see him, if I discharge not myself of mine office. Pray for him and for me,

A very hypocrite,

John Bradford.


Letter 77. Another letter of Master Bradford to Father Traves

The perseverance of God's grace, with the knowledge of his good will, increase with you unto the end. To declare myself as I am, a carnal man which understands not the things that are of the Spirit. These my letters though I counterfeit and mix amongst them spiritual words, as the devil did in his temptations to Christ, will declare no less. For I begin with carnal things in effect, and no marvel if I so end; for how can a man gather figs of briers? These words, as they seem, so they are spoken, for a cloak to make you think otherwise; but, Father Traves, you cannot think so evil of me as I am. But to the matter: this present day, by God's grace, I take my journey towards Cambridge, where I pray God, and so earnestly I pray you to pray for me, that I may circumspectly redeem this time which God has appointed (to me unknown) to lend me. For, alas! I have spent the time past most wickedly, for which I must account even for every hair breadth, as they say; for God has not given here time to sin. But if I considered this, as I do nothing less, for custom of sin and pleasing myself has so hardened my heart, I should then come to the feeling of myself; then I should hate sin, which I now love; then I should fear God's wrath, which I now contemn. Then should I cry out, and weep, and continually pray; whereas now I am dry as a stone, as dumb as a nail, as far from praying, as he that never knew any taste of it; which thing once I felt, thanks to the Lord, but now for mine unthankfulness I am almost (but most worthily) deprived. I fear God will take his grace from me, I am so unthankful. Alas! why do I lie, in saying I fear, nay, God grant I may do so, for then should I pray and pray; but seeing I cannot, speak you for me, pray for me, that the Lord would remember his odd compassion towards me, and for his mercy's sake draw me, yea, compel me to serve, to fear, and to love him. Thus may you see how I presume; for my intent was to have been a minister of God's word, to have been his instrument, to call from as I have called to sin; but you see that God punishes my arrogance. Alas! what shall I do? I am an unprofitable and idle member; I thought I should have been therein profitable; but, Physician, heal thyself. How should I, or what should I do? I cannot labour with my hands. Well, I trust God will give me grace and knowledge to translate; I fear me, yea, I distrust me, that I shall never be minister of God's word: yea, if arrogance were not in me, how should I, of all wretches the greatest, think to look to the highest room (place or office, editor) and vocation that is upon earth; wherefore I desire you to pray for me speedily, that God's will may be done in me whether I live or die, so that his name be honoured. My master, that was, has denied me all his beneficence; but I have more than enough for this life, thanks be to God; as this winter I intend, by God's favour to declare more onto you. This book, which I have sent, take it in good part; it is the first, but I trust it shall not be the last God has appointed me to translate (it was called Primitiae or Translations, editor). The prince is very false; I am sorry for it; I pray you, be not offended at my babbling in the prologues, &c.

John Bradford.

I will lie, God willing, this summer at Catherine's Hall, in Cambridge: write to me.


Letter 78. Another letter to Father Graves.

The loving kindness and abundant mercy of God the Father, poured plentifully upon all the faithful, in the blood of that meek lamb Jesus Christ, our only satisfaction and Mediator, through the working of the most Holy Spirit, be increased and perceived in you daily more and more, to the glory of God, &c.

Because I stand both in doubt of the reading and delivery of such letters as I write and send unto you, dearly beloved father Traves, I am constrained to leave off telling you of such griefs and spiritual wants, as, thanks unto the Lord, I unwillingly feel. For the flesh, as you know, loves nothing so much as security, which is, of all enemies, the most perilous, and not a little familiar with me; from which, with vainglory, hypocrisy, &c. and worldliness, the Lord deliver me! I had not thought to have written thus much, but these I cannot keep, but commit them to your prayers. And to the intent I would you should not think any ingratitude in me, as also that I might give you occasion to write to me again, as heretofore I have done, even so do I interrupt and trouble you with my babbling; but yet, having this advantage, that I babble not so much as I wont to do. The cause I have declared which had almost been the cause I had not written at all. I wrote unto you from London, when I came hither; send me word what letters you have received, for from you I have received but two, and both by John Mosse; and in the latter I perceived that the Lord had visited you with sickness, his fatherly rod, whereby he declares his love upon you, and that he cares for you, wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season you are in heaviness, that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perishes, &c (1 Pet. 1;) forasmuch as you are hereunto called, to suffer with Christ, that you may be glorified with him; for this is certain, if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him.

You know that Christ, although the Son of God, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered. Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. And does not patience come of probation? The one you had, so that you were going to school to learn the other, which being learned, what want you? The end of all God's proving is, as Paul says, that you may be partakers of his holiness. Therefore give thanks to God the Father, who has made you meet to partake of the inheritance of the saints in light, &c. For he has afflicted you in the same manner, to renew, support, strengthen, settle you. And the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of tribulation, and that in the proper time, even shortly. For he will not delay, who has promised, yet a little while, and ye shall see me; he will surely come, and will not tarry. Therefore rejoice, that you are partakers of the cross of Christ (says Peter), that when his glory is revealed, you may rejoice with exceeding joy. Oh! how does my will overrun my wit (wisdom, editor). Why, Bradford, whom write you unto? You show yourself. Thus, father Traves, you may see my rashness to rabble out the Scripture without purpose, rhyme, or reason. I will not blot it out, as I thought to have done, for that you shall hereby see my need of your prayer. Well, I look for a watch-word from you. Write, I beseech you, and pray for me, that I may be in something profitable to the Lord's congregation; that I may be no stumbling-block, that they who expect is from me may not be confounded. Send me such counsel as the Lord's Spirit shall move you to study. My desire is in something to be profitable, if it were the Lord's will - to be a minister of the word. Alas! I am unmeet, and my time, yea, the Lord's time, I have hitherto evil, yea, most wickedly misspent it, &c. Thus will I end. The Lord be with you and your wife, to whom have me heartily commended, and to all your children and family; which I beseech the Lord to lighten his countenance over, and grant you his peace. I beseech you to write. Pray for me. This Assumption-day, in Catherine's Hall, in Cambridge,

Yours, with all I have and can,

John Bradford.


Letter 79. Another letter to Father Traves

The plentiful grace of God the Father, through our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ, increase in us daily, to the glory of his name. Amen.

Forasmuch as I have often written to you, good father Traves, and yet have not once heard from you since Pentecost, I cannot now be so bold, either in writing much or often, as I would have been. Howbeit, this I say, that I much marvel that I hear not from you. But not so, for I am so wretched a sinner, that the Lord's Spirit, I am certain, does not move you to write to me; yet for God's sake, pray for me, and in the Lord's name I desire you to give thanks to God for me. And when it may please God to move you, write to me, though it be but two words. And counsel me how to study the word of life, the ministry whereof I desire, if it be the Lord's pleasure, to profess, and that I may do it, both in living and learning, pray for me. My master has entirely disowned me. Those things he at first granted he now refuses to pay, and is become altogether mine enemy. I know not when I shall see you in body, therefore let me hear from you. I write not this, that you should think me in want, or that I am distressed: no, father, the Lord gives me to abound in all things, and will do. I trust I shall shortly have a fellowship here, I am so promised, and therefore I have taken the degree of Master of Arts, which else I could not have attained. If I get a fellowship, I shall not need to be anxious for the morrow, as hereafter I shall more write to you, by God's grace. I pray you write again, and often pray for me. In haste, as appears, this 22nd of October. Let not my mother know how hardly my master deals with me.

A most miserable sinner,

John Bradford.


Letter 80. Another letter to Father Traves

The peace and plenteous mercy of God our heavenly Father, in his Christ, our only Lord and Saviour, be ever increased in you, by the Holy Spirit; who works all things in all men. Amen.

Father Traves, though I might think myself more happy if you would often write unto me; yet because I ought to have respect to your pains, which now that old man cannot so well sustain as it might, I had rather lose my happiness in that behalf, than desire your grief; forasmuch as it can be no happiness unto me, which turns to your pain. Yet because pain is not painful when it is joined with gain I therefore desire you earnestly to pray often for me; for if I shall not be worthy of your prayer, as the Lord who knows all things does right well see, and so my conscience witnesses; yet your good prayer shall return unto your own bosom. And know this, that whoso converts a sinner by prayer, (whether it be by prayer, preaching, or writing letters, &c.) the same has saved a soul. Use therefore, for God's sake I ask it, that pains whereunto is joined profit. I mean prayer to God for me, a miserable and most wretched sinner; and as for the gainless pain as writing to me, use it yet as you may; and surely God, for whose sake you do it, since he will reward a cup of cold water, will in something requite you. And I know certainly, that if you saw what spiritual profit I receive by your letters, I am certain you would not think all your labour lost. For Christ's sake therefore begin again to write unto me and reprove me sharply, for my horrible unthankfulness to God. You know how God has exonerated my laden conscience of the great weighty burden; for so I did write to you, yea, the Lord has in a manner unburdened me of the lesser burden also; for I have an assurance of the payment of the same by Candlemas. Lo! thus you see what a good God the Lord is unto me. O father Traves! give thanks for me, and pray God to forgive me my unthankfulness. But what! should I rehearse the benefits of God towards me? Alas! I cannot, I am too little for all his mercies; yea, I am not only unthankful, but I am too far contumelious against God; for where you know the sun, the moon, and the seven stars forsook me, and would not shine upon me, you know what I mean, (my master and my master's friends,) yet the Lord has given me here in the university as good a living as I would have wished. For I am now a Fellow of Pembroke Hall; for which neither I, nor any other for me, ever made any suit; yea, there was a contention betwixt the Master of Catherine's Hall and the Bishop of Rochester, who is master of Pembroke Hall, which should have me. Thus you may see the Lord's carefulness for me. My fellowship here is worth seven pounds a year, for I have allowed me eighteen pence a week, and as good as thirty-three shillings and four-pence a year in money, besides my chamber, launder, barber, &c.; and I am bound to nothing, but once or twice a year to keep a problem. Thus you see, what a good Lord God is unto me. But, I pray you, what do I now to God for all this? I will not speak of the great mercies he shows upon my soul. Surely, Father Traves, I have clean forgotten God; I am all secure, idle, proud, hardhearted, utterly void of brotherly love; I am envious, and disdain others; I am a very stark hypocrite, not only in my words and works, but even in these my letters to you; I am all sensual, without the true fear of God, another manner of man than I have been since my calling. Alas! father Traves, I write this to put myself in remembrance; but I am without all sense, I only write it. I beseech you! pray for me, which am only in name a Christian; in very deed, a very worldling, and, to say to you the very truth, the most a worldling of all other. (Thus the real follower of Christ will think and speak humbly of himself. Bradford here refers to the inward warfare and to the sinful inclinations of his heart; his outward conduct was exceedingly correct, so that he was called 'Holy John Bradford'. Editor.) I pray you exhort my mother now and then, with my sister Margaret, to fear the Lord. If my mother had not sold the foxes' fur which was in my father's gown, I would she would send it me; she must have your advice in a piece of cloth.

Yours for ever,

John Bradford.


Letter 81. Another letter to Father Traves

The abundant grace and rich mercy of God in Christ, our only Saviour and high Bishop, be increased in your heart, through the lively Worker of all goodness, the Holy Spirit, until the day of the Lord, &c.

I have received your two letters, good father Traves, since I wrote unto you, wherefore, though I would make an excuse, yet truth bids me otherwise; and says, it is better with shame to confess the fault, for therein is, as a man might say, half the deserving of pardon, than to lie without shame. I might have written unto you twice, notwithstanding some business wherein I have been occupied, but yet I have not. Now the cause is, because I would not. And why would I not, but because I could not? I mean, because my canning (wisdom, editor) is taken away by sin, for my sins do forbid goodness unto me. Indeed, if my sinning were of infirmity, there were good hope of recovery of that which I have lost; but seeing, that both willingly and knowingly, I have yielded too much, and do still yield to my infirmities, I justly deserve, that because I have cast away and rejected the word of the Lord behind my back, the Lord should reject me. And because I would not have blessing, I deserve, as David says, that it be taken away from me. I now at length experience that for a man to lose God's favour, is easier when he has received all things abundantly, than when need, or the cross, pinches. Before it pleased God to work the restitution (you know what I mean,) and before it pleased God to provide for me, as he has done, so that I can say nothing where any want is, as pertaining to my body, I was another manner of man than now I am, and yet God's deserts (mercies, editor) have otherwise bound me; but the Scripture is true; "I have advanced my children, and nourished them, but they have contemned me; I have fed them, that they were fat and gross; and they spurned against me." Perchance you will ask me, Wherein? Oh, father Traves! I warrant you, this carnal and not spiritual writing something shows unto you; but in comparison of other things, it is nothing. For where the life of man is such, that either it repairs or amends, as Paul says, the outward man is corrupted (perishes, editor) day by day, and therefore, except the inward man be renewed, the shoe goes awry, every building in Christ grow to a holy temple, as the wicked, on the contrary part, shall proceed to worse. (2 Tim. 3.) I have made a change in going back far otherwise than I think I can persuade you by letters. Whereinówill you say? For the first second, and third, and, to be brief, in all things. As for an example: God's true fear is flown away from me, love to my brethren is exiled from me, faith is utterly takes away. Instead whereof distrust and doubtfulness bear rule also contempt of God's honour, and of my brethren's authority: and instead of true fear, an imaginary fear, according to my brain (fancy, editor) holding the rule. For I extenuate (excuse, editor) sin, and do not consider what a Christian ought to consider in sin that sin being not forgiven, is a thing for which God always casts away his creatures, as the examples not only of Saul, of Judas, of the Israelites (which were beloved indeed and yet for sin are rejected,) but also of others, on whom lately, for my warning, God has showed the same, to admonish me. But it is only my pen which writes this; for the wicked, says Solomon, when they come into the depth of their sins, grow more secure. I am I cannot tell what;óI fear, but it is but blindly, or else I should awake otherwise than I do. I fear that I am entangled of the devil after his desire. Pray for me, that the Lord would give me repentance, that I may escape out of his snares. Alas! the spirit of prayer, which beforetimes I have felt plentifully is taken clean away from me. The Lord be merciful unto me! I am sold under sin; I am the bond-slave of sin; for whom I obey, his servant I am. I am often ashamed to speak; no, I shame not at all, for I have forgotten to blush; I have given over to weep. And truly I obey, I obey, I say, mine own lusts, namely, in eating, in drinking, in jangling, and idleness; I will not speak of vainglory, envy disdain, hypocrisy, desire of estimation, self-love, and who can tell all? Is this the reward thou renderest to God? O Bradford! it is true, yea, too true, thou knows it O Lord, for thy mercy's sake, pardon me. In your letter you touch me home, how that there is no man's heart, but that, considering the ingratitude of this world, this belly-cheer (selfishness, editor), &c. his eyes should gush out tears. The Lord be praised, which works so in you, for it is with me, as with them of whom you complain. Indeed it may be so again, but oh! it is very unlikely, for mine enemies are become old, and are made by custom more than familiar; for they are, as it were, converted into nature in me. Yet I am not grieved therefore, although I cannot persuade myself that God will help me. O Lord, be merciful unto me, for thy Christ's sake. This day I received the Lord's supper, but how I have welcomed him, this night, which I have spent in prodigality, obeying my flesh and belly, so declares, that what to say, or write any more, I know not; sleep weighs down mine eyes, and to pray, I am altogether unapt. All this is come through the occasion of making the bringer of this a supper in my chamber; the Lord pardon me; I trust no more to be so far overseen. But this I write, not that the anger of God, which I have deserved, so makes me to fear, thou knows it, O Lord; but of this, perchance, too much.

For God's sake, pray for me, good father Traves, and write unto me, as your weakness allows,óyour letters do me good. By this which I have now written, you may consider more; touch me therefore home in your letters, and the Lord, I trust, shall and will reward you. If God lend me life, of which I am most unworthy, I will trouble you with my letters more than I have done; but bear with me, I do it not out of any evil will; I take the Lord to judge, there is none whose company and talk I more desire than yours; I speak it before God. Prove my mother's mind how she can bear it; if when I shall come down, I shall show myself another man outwardly, but, alas! feignedly, than I have done before. But when my coming will be, I know not. Indeed two things move me sore, the one for my mother's sake, concerning her better instruction, if the Lord would thereto use me as his instrument; the other is, to talk with you, and to trouble you as I have hitherto ever done, but always to my profit. Pray for me, for I never had so much need. This Sunday at night following St. Andrew's day, at Pembroke Hall.

The most miserable, hard-hearted, unthankful sinner,

John Bradford.


Letter 82. Another letter to Father Traves

The selfsame mercy, grace, and peace, which heretofore I have felt plenteously, though now through mine unthankfulness and wilful obedience to the pleasure of this outward man, I neither feel, neither can be persuaded that I possess; yea, if I shall truly write, I in fact care not for the same, so far am I fallen, (the Lord help me!) the same mercy, &c., I say, I wish unto you as I can, with all increase of godliness; hypocritically with my pen and mouth beseeching you, in your earnest prayers to God, to be an earnest suitor onto God for me, who am fallen into such a security, and even a hardness of heart, that I neither sorrow at my state, nor with any grief or fear of God's rejection write this: before the Lord, which knows the hearts of all men I lie not. Consider, for Christ's sake therefore, good father Traves, my necessity, though I myself do it not; and pray for me, that God cast me not off, as I deserve most justly. For where I ought to have well proceeded in God's school by reason of the time, I confess it to my shame, I am so far gone back, as, alas! if shame were in me, I might be ashamed to write it; but much more to write it, and think it not; such is the reward of unthankfulness. For whereas God wrought the restitution of the great thing you know of; the which benefit should bind me to all obedience, alas! father Traves, I am too unthankful, I find no will in heart, (though by my writing it will be hard to persuade you,) either to be thankful, or to begin a new life, in all things to mortify this outward man, and heartily to be well content to serve the Lord in spirit and verity, and withstand mine affections. Especially my sensuality in meat and drink, wherewith I was troubled at my being with you; but now, through my licentious obeying, I am fallen so that a whole legion of evil spirits possesses me. The Lord, whom I only with mouth call upon my heart still abiding both in hardness and wilfulness, deliver me and help me; and for God's sake, give you hearty thanks for the great benefit of restitution. Pray to the Lord, that at the length I may once return to the obedience of his good will. Amen. I thank you for your cheese, and so does father Latimer, although unknown; for I gave it him, and he said he did never eat better cheese, and so I dare say he did not. I thank him I am as familiar with him as with you; yea, God so moves him towards me, that his desire is to have me come and dwell with him whenever I will, and welcome. This I write yet once more, to occasion you to be thankful for me to the Lord, who by this means shows nothing but most high love to me, and I again a very obstinate rebellion. Pray therefore for me. In haste.

The sinful

John Bradford.


Letter 83. To a faithful and dear friend of his, treating of this place of St. Paul to the Romans: "The fervent desire of the creature waiteth when the children of God shall be delivered." (Rom. viii.)

Grace and peace, with increase of all godliness in Christ, I wish unto you, my dearly beloved

Because this morning I had some knowledge more than I had before, that my life stood in great danger, and that even this week, so far as men might, both by the doings and sayings of such as are in authority concerning me, judge and perceive; I thought good, my right dearly beloved in the Lord, to go about something which might be on my behalf a swan's song, and towards you both a monument of my love, and also a help, or, at the least, an occasion for you to profit in that which I bear you record you most desire,óI mean, everlasting life, and the state thereof. And this will I attempt, referring to the last talk we had betwixt us, when you were here with me. I know you have not forgotten that we talked together of the place of St. Paul to the Romans, chap. viii. concerning the groanings of the creature, and his desire of the revelation of the children of God. You demanded whether this word creature was to be understood of man or no; I told you, that though some took creature there for man, because there is no kind of creature which may not be acknowledged in man; yet, said I, the text itself considered with that which the apostle writes of Christ, (Eph. i Col. i.) as the restorer and reformer of all things that are both in heaven and earth, and with the argument which St. Paul then was considering, enforces a godly mind, to take every prepare there (as also St. Chrysostom and St. Ambrose do) for the whole world, and every creature both heavenly and earthly. I told you all things were made for man, and according to man's state so are they. When man was without sin, and in God's favour, then was no malediction, curse, or corruption; but when man by sin was east out of favour, then was the earth cursed. For the wickedness of the inhabitants, fruitful lands are turned into salt ground; as for their piety, barren countries are made fruitful. (Psal. cvii.) The angels themselves do rejoice over one sinner that repents, thereby giving us notice that after their manner they lament over the impenitent. In reading the prophets you may see how all things depend upon man. When they prophesy any great blessing or plague to come on God's people, they communicate the same both to heaven and earth, and to everything else: as, for example, when the prophets foreshow the overthrow of realms and people, they say that the whole shape of the world shall be moved thereat! Look when Isaiah, how he, when he prophesies the fall of Babylon, says that the stars shall not shine from heaven, the sun shall be darkened in his rising, the moon shall not give her light; and afterwards he says, I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall be moved out of his place (Isaiah, xiii.) But the histories witness, that there are wonderful changes of all creatures, both heavenly and earthly, in the overthrow and destruction of realms and people.

Again, when Isaiah prophesies of the kingdom of Christ, he promises new heavens and a new earth, and that so excellent and new, that the former heavens and earth are to be utterly forgotten, (Isaiah, lxiii.;) whereto the apostle agrees, making Christ the repairer of all things in heaven and earth. (Eph. i. Col. i.) How did both heaven and earth give their service to the Israelites coming forth of Egypt, as well in preserving them, as in destroying their enemies? How did the sun shine longer than it was wont to do, for Joshua to overcome his enemies? How did even the very angels fight for Hezekiah against the Assyrians? Read the 30th of Isaiah, and behold the history of Christ; consider how the angels rejoiced; how a star brought the wise men to Christ; how the angels were ministers unto him in the wilderness; how the devils confessed him. At his death, how did all the whole world show compassion. The sun was darkened, the earth did quake, the rocks clove asunder, the veil of the temple rent asunder. When he arose, both heaven, (for the angels appeared with great heavenly brightness,) and earth, which was moved, did rejoice, the angels were preachers of it. In his ascension also, did not a bright cloud receive him and take him up? Did not the angels testify of his return, when he sent the Holy Ghost, and made his new covenant of grace? Did not all the whole world serve thereto by thunder, smoke, fire, earthquake?

Now how wonderfully they will do their service to Christ coming to judgment, is more plain than I need to rehearse. And inasmuch as we are the members of Christ, he being our head, we may soon see that all things have a certain compassion (or common feeling, editor) with man, and, after their kind, as the apostle writes, look for a deliverance from vanity, which they shall obtain in their restoration. I therefore told you that I take the apostle to mean by every creature simply, even all the whole shape and creatures in the world. He attributes unto them, that they look for the perfection of our salvation, that they are subject to vanity, that they are subject in hope, that they groan and travail, attributing these things unto the senseless creature by translation from man, to signify the society, cognation (relationship, editor), and consent, which all and every creature has with man, that as every and all things were made for man, so by the man Christ, all and everything, both earthly and heavenly, shall be restored.

These things you know in effect I spoke unto you, to stir up both myself and you to a deeper consideration of our blessed state, which now we enjoy in hope, which will never deceive us, and the more to occasion us to desire the full fruition of the same. But I remember, that you were something troubled with some doubtfulness hereabout; therefore I purpose now to write of this more at large, thereby to occasion us, both to see better through the help of God's Spirit what we desire, and which I pray God may grant unto us both, for his mercy's sake. I mean the felicity of his children, and the happy state which one day in very deed we shall fully possess, and both together praise the Lord with all his saints, world without end. Amen, Amen.

This was your doubtówhether St. Paul meant by all creatures simply, (as I have spoken,) that they shall be delivered from corruption into such a state, as shall adorn the freedom of God's children, whether plants, beasts, and other things, having life, shall be restored? If yea, then you would know whether all things that have been, shall be restored also. And after this you will perchance ask in what place they shall be, what they shall do, and so forth. As I think upon this matter, and as I am accustomed to answer such questions coming to me, I will here write for an answer unto you also, not doubting but that you will be satisfied therewith, because I know your heart is satisfied with godly and sufficient answers.

Thus I think all and every creature groans and travails as yet, hoping and looking for my restoration, for they are subject to corruption for my sin's sake; but they all shall be delivered by my Christ from the bondage of corruption when he shall restore us his members. This will I muse on and weigh with myself, that I may duly know both in me and in all other things, the atrocity and bitterness of sin which dwells in me, and so may the more heartily give over myself wholly to the Lord Christ my Saviour, that he may with what cross soever shall please him, slay sin in me, and briny me after his own will and way to newness of life. Whereunto, that I for my part may faithfully and with all my whole heart do my diligence, in mortifying the desires of my flesh, and in labouring to obey the desires of the Spirit to live a life acceptable to him, I beseech him of his grace.

And that I may do this cheerfully, and continue in this purpose and diligence, I will fasten my mind as much as the Lord shall enable me, to consider this my so great happiness whereunto I shall be restored in the resurrection, which resurrection doubtless shall be adorned by the whole of the world being delivered from corruption. These things will I think upon, these things will I pause upon; herein will I, as it were, drown myself, being careless at this point, I mean, as to what parts of the world the Lord Christ will restore with me, or how he will do it or what state or condition he will give it. It is enough, and enough for me, that I and all the world with me shall be much more happy, than now I can by any means conceive.

By reason hereof I will praise and glorify my Lord, and by his grace I will study to please him with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, singing unto him that he both does well, and has done and made all things well: to him be eternal glory for ever. This is my cogitation in this matter, and not mine only, but the cogitation of one who was my father in the Lord (he means that most godly and learned father, Martin Bucer; Letters of the Martyrs, editor); and now I am assured is with the Lord at home, while we yet are from home, by reason of these our corruptible habitacles, wherein we abide the Lord's leisure.

If you would know the reason that moves me to answer as I have done to the aforesaid doubts or questions, it is this. You see that the apostle, in this place to the Romans, speaks of the deliverance of every creature from the bondage of corruption, and that to the beatifying of the glory of God's children. This is so manifest, that no man can well deny it. It is but a simple shift to say that the apostle means in this place by every creature man only; he is not wont to speak on that sort; neither dare I say, that the apostle speaks here hyperbolically or excessively, although some think so.

But, as I said, I say again, that the apostle here simply affirms that there shall be a renovation and deliverance from corruption, not only of man, but also of all and of every part of the whole world; of every part, (I say,) meaning parts indeed, and not such as rather are vices and added for plagues, than for parts. For by reason of sin, many spots and corruptions are come into the world as is all that is hurtful and filthy in the creatures; also all that comes of corruption.

This renovation of all things, the prophets seem to promise, when they promise new heavens and new earth. For a new earth seems to require no less renovation of earthly things, than new heavens do of heavenly things. Both these things the apostle plainly affirms that Christ will restore, even whatsoever are in heaven and in earth. (Col. i.) Therefore methinks it is the duty of a godly mind, to acknowledge, and thereof to glory in the Lord that in our resurrection all things shall be repaired for eternity, as for our sin they were made subject to corruption.

The ancient writers have as it were agreed to this sentence of Peter, (2 Pet. iii.) that the shape of this world shall pass away, through the burning of earthly fire, as it was drowned with the flowing of earthly waters. These are St. Augustine's words, and he further says, "The qualities of the corruptible elements, which agreed with our corruptible bodies, shall utterly be burned with the same worldly conflagration and burning, as I said; but the substance itself, by a marvellous change, shall have those qualities which agree with our bodies; that the world changing into the better, may openly be made fit for man, when resumed in the flesh into the better state." These are his words, whereby it is plain, that this good man believed that the elements should be renewed, but of other things he speaks not, except it be of the sea; by occasion of that which is in the Apocalypse; howbeit, he says that he cannot well tell whether it also shall be changed into the better; adding, "But we read there shall be a new heaven and a new earth." For he understood the place of Isaiah to be concerning the new heaven and new earth; of other things he expresses nothing.

But Thomas Aquinas treats this question more exactly, or rather curiously, affirming the celestial bodies, the elements, and mankind, are to be renewed, but not beasts, plants, &c. And this is his principal reason,óthe renovation of the world shall be for man, therefore such shall be the renovation as shall be conformable to the renovation of man. But the renovation of man shall be from corruption to incorruption, from moving to rest; the things therefore that shall be renewed with man must be brought also to incorruption. Now the celestial bodies and the elements were made for incorruption, the one wholly, and in every part; the other, that is, the elements, though in part they are corruptible, yet concerning the whole they are incorruptible, as man is incorruptible, concerning part, that is, the soul. But beasts, plants, &c. are corruptible, both wholly and in every part, therefore they were not made for incorruption, and so they are not conformable to the renewing, that is, they cannot receive incorruption, and therefore they shall not ye restored.

This reasoning is true so far that it affirms things shall be restored with man, and with him shall be brought to perpetuity, and, as the apostle says, be delivered from the bondage of corruption. Again, this reasoning is true herein also, that man's reason may sooner be persuaded that things now partly incorruptible shall be restored altogether to incorruption. But now to say, that by no means those things may be brought to perpetuity, which now both wholly and partly are temporal and momentary; how can he prove it? For the nature and being of all things depend on the omnipotence of God, who after is own pleasure gives to things which he has made, their being; and all is one to him, to make a thing temporal, and to make it eternal. For he made all things of nothing, and therefore heaven and the celestial bodies have no more of themselves, that they should be perpetual, than those things have that last but a day; wherefore this reasoning of Thomas Aquinas, is not firm, in that it wholly leans to that which now seems and appears in things. Indeed, (as I said,) it has some show or probability that these things shall be renewed to eternity, for the glory of God's children, which now something are partakers of the same.

But now, seeing that both it which they now have, and also shall have, depends upon the beck and pleasure of God, whom has God made of counsel with him, concerning the renovation of the world and of all things, that he can tell what parts of things and what kinds of things God will renew? Yea, even Aristotle acknowledged that physical, or natural knowledge, because it brings reasonings from the disposition and the nature of things, has not full necessity of (authority for, editor) his reasonings, for nature is nothing else than the ordinary and wonted will of God; as a miracle, a portent, or a monster, is the rare and unwonted will of God. We say that the nature of stones and all heavy things is to sink downwards, which is nothing else but the pleasure of God so depelling them and putting them down; for else of themselves nothing is either heavy or light; all would alike be carried downwards or upwards. Who may make God subject to his work? Cannot he that made all things of nothing, give hereafter to the things that he has made, that whereof now in themselves they have no capacity?

These things I therefore rehearse, to the end I might declare, that when we dispute what God will do concerning his works, it is not seemly for us to conclude according to that which seems and appears to us in things, but rather, godliness requires, to refer all things to the will of God. If this will be expressed in holy scripture, then we may simply determine that which we read expressed there. But if it is not so, then ought we freely to confess our ignorance, and not prescribe to God what he ought to do of his works, by that which he has already done. God is of power infinite, and he did not only make all things of nothing, but also will do what pleases him, both in heaven and in earth, as says David.

The aforesaid Thomas Aquinas brings forth also other reasons, but which he himself counts not for invincible . . . . This is a truth, that all things of themselves are nothing, much more then they cannot do anything. Now men may conjecture, that the moving of heaven shall cease, but yet they cannot prove it by the certain word of God. In like manner is his last reasoning of the end of beasts and plants, but which end he knows not. Beasts and plants says he, were made for the mutual sustentation of the life of man; but this life shall cease, therefore shall they also. But here he has no answer, if a man should demand, Who knows whether God has made them for no other end or use?

Seeing therefore these things are as you see, I suppose it pertains not to a godly man, to deny the beasts and plants may be restored; for the apostle here expressly says that every creature which is now subject to vanity shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Since the Holy Ghost affirms this of every creature, by what reason dare a godly mind exempt any part from this deliverance to come? Howbeit, the godly mind will not contend whether every creature shall be renewed; for the Holy Ghost spake of the creature generally, and not particularly; and therefore we may not affirm otherwise, because we must not speak but according to God's word.

Therefore it is the part of a godly man, and of one that hangs in all things upon the word of God, to learn out of this place, that whatsoever corruption, death, or grief he sees in anything, wherever it be,óthat he should ascribe it wholly unto his sins, and thereby provoke himself to true repentance. Now as soon as repentance compels him to go to Christ, let him think thus, "But this my Saviour and my Head Jesus Christ died for my sins, and therewith, as he took away death, so has he taken away all the corruption and labour of all things and will restore them in his time, wherever they are, in heaven or in earth. Now every creature travails and groans with us, but we being restored, they also shall be restored. There shall be new heavens, new earth, and all things new."

I wish that our minds might thus stay in this generality of the renovation of the world, and not curiously search what parts of the world shall be restored, and what shall not, or how all things shall be restored. Much more I would not have them curious or inquisitive of their place where they shall be, of their actions what they shall do, or at their properties and such like. For if to have foreknown these things would have tended to godliness, surely the Holy Ghost would most plainly have told them; for according to Christ's promise, he brings us into all truth: all truth, (I say,) such as the knowledge of would profit us. All the scripture is given to us for this purpose, that the man of God might be made perfect and instructed to all good works; and truly that can be no good work, which we do, except God teach us the same. He has prepared the good works wherein we walk. (Eph. ii.) But the certain and bottomless fountain of good work is, in all things to hang on the beck and pleasure of God, and through our Lord Jesus Christ to look for remission of sins, and life everlasting, and the glory of the resurrection. To the end therefore that we may more fully know our sins, and make more of our redemption from them by Christ, let us set before our eyes death, the hire (wages, editor) of sin, and that not only in ourselves, but also in every creature of the world. Howbeit, let us do this, with the hope of a restoration so ample, and never enough to be marvelled at, which shall even be in all things for our renovation by the Lord Jesus Christ, the renewer of all things whatsoever, in heaven or in earth.

He that with true faith weighs and considers these things, will be, as it were, swallowed up in the admiration of such exceeding great benevolence and love of God, our heavenly Father, that he can never yield to this curiosity of searching what kind of things shall be renewed, and how they shall be renewed, or what state or condition they shall be in when they are renewed. These are the things of the life to come, whereof this foreknowledge is sufficient, that all these things shall be more perfect and happy than the reach of reason is able to look upon for the glory of them; for the eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, nor can it ascend into man's heart, what God has prepared for them that love him.

For concerning our resurrection, what do we know beforehand, but that we shall be most happy? Even so therefore let us not doubt but that there shall be a deliverance of the creature from the servitude of corruption. And let us consider these things so, that we may wholly bend ourselves to put away all the oldness of our flesh, whence indeed come corruption and death, and that we may provoke ourselves to the newness of the spirit, and the life of Christ; wherein all is incorruption, and the true taste of the resurrection, for to this end the Holy Ghost wrote this by the apostle. Let us pray therefore that this Spirit might lead us hereunto, and then we shall understand this place of Paul with profit.

If perchance it troubles you that the apostle speaks not of this deliverance of the creature from corruption in any other place but here, neither does any other holy writer; I would you should think that the mystery of the restoration of Israel, also of antichrist, is not expounded except in the apostle's writings, and that only in one place; yea, the manner of our resurrection is not written but in two places. We ought to know, that whatsoever the apostle has left to us written, are the words of the Lord.

Again, the simplicity of this place, (Rom. viii.) is plain; and thus, my dearly beloved, I have written to you as much as I think is sufficient about this matter, and therefore need not to tarry herein any longer, or spend any more time about the answering of that which is but curiosity. May God our Father now give us his Holy Spirit, to lead us into this and all other necessary truth, so that we may have a lively feeling of eternal life begun in us, that we may become first new, and so look for new heaven and earth, wherein righteousness dwells; which may God impute to us, and begin in us for his Christ's sake. Amen, Amen.

Your own for ever in the Lord,

John Bradford.