The contrition of a Protestant preacher, converted to be a Catholiqve scholler conteyning certayne meditations vpon the fourth penitentiall psalme, Miserere / composed by Iames Waddesworth, MEDITATION I.
King David Playin a Psaltery
THE FIFTITH PSALME▪ WHICH IS THE FOVRTH PENITENTIALL.
In finem. Psalmus Dauid, cum venit ad eum Nathan propheta, quando intrauit ad Bersabee.
Vnto the end. A Psalme of Dauid, When the Prophet Nathan came vnto him, after he had entred vnto Bersabee.
OF THE OCCASION, AND NVMBER OF this Psalme, by Dauids example to beware of lust. Section. 1.
THE historie and occasion of this Psalme, is related at large in the booke of the Kinges, the summe wherof is rehearsed by the Prophet Nathan in a Parable and complaint vnto Dauid, saying.
1. In this city, ô Dauid, there dwelte two neighbors; a poore man, & a rich:2. Reg. 11. & 12. the riche man had flockes of sheepe and goates; the poore man had only one sheep which he dearly loued. There came strangers to the rich mans house; for whose entertaynmēt he makes no prouision out of his owne flockes, but takes away the poore mans only sheepe: what punishment ô king is due to such an iniurye? Dauid answers in iuste anger: this man deserues to dye. The prophet replyes; thou art this man, ô Dauid, who hauing many, yet tookest away the wife of Vrias, to giue content to thy strange luste: & haste suffred him to be slayne for closer hyding of thy faulte. The king conuinced, acknowledgeth his offence: & as then presently he cryed peccaui, so afterwarde to continue and stirre vp more contrition, he endites this Psalme Miserere.
2. Some interpreters haue obserued that this psalme is (according to the latin accompte) the fiftyth in number,S. Bona [...]. Innocen. 3. Leuit. 25. which in Moyses law was the number of the Iubiley yeare, when inheritances returned to the heyres: slaues were made free: pawnes were released: and a solemne feast of ioye was publiquely celebrated; and so the hebrew [Page 2]worde Iobel signifieth, a beginning: as indeede he that repeates this psalme in true repentance, as he must begin a new life, so he shalbe freed from the slauery of sinne & Satan; restored to the birth-righte of the kingdome of heauen; receiue againe the grace and vertues which he had forfeyted; & after his sorrowe & feare, he shall in the great feast of a good conscience be much comforted with a perpetuall Iubiley.
3. And as the Iewes in the 50. day after their departure out of Egipte receiued the lawe; & the Apostles receyued the holy ghoste in the day of Pentec [...]ste, which is 50. dayes after the resurrection;E [...]od. 19 so if by the lawe we acknowledge our faultes, by the giftes of the holy spirite we shal receiue comfortes, and to such our Lord saith by the prophet I will restore vnto you the yeares which were deuoured by the locuste, the caterpiller, the ruste, & the cankerworme. Verefying it also in this psalme of Iubiley, which penitently pronounced will recompence all the hurtes of our soule,I [...]el. 2. bitten & eaten by those 4. passions of the minde, ioye, sorrowe, hope, & feare, as with caterpiller, cankerworme, S. Ier. ibidlocuste, and ruste. Or the caterpiller is deuouring gluttony: luste is a cankerworme creeping on his belly: the locuste hauing bad wynges & no feete, is pride which will stand on no ground, & yet cannot well flye in the ayre, but downe the winde of flaterye: and may not couetousnes be termed ruste, which fasteneth vpō metalls, and freteth it selfe with superfluous care? Thoughe these gnawe the conscience, and consumme the soule, yet if we be so happy as to come to the Iubiley of this 50. psalme, said & vsed in sincere contrition, we shall haue restored vnto vs all the yeares & losse of time, deuoured by such ruste, locuste, cankerwormes, & caterpillers. And therfore the Churche doth principally vse this psalme, both because of those restoratiue excellencyes,Iuno 3. incog. as also for the memorable example and peculier penitence of the Author, and for the generall aptnes of the wordes and matter, well befitting any sorte of sinner.
4. Some propound this example of Dauid, as a blocke wherat to stumble, which shoulde be their staffe wherby to arise. It is true indeede, he lamenteth in this psalme 3. or. 4. notorious sinnes.Gloss. ord. 1. his iniurious and needles thefte, which Nathan obiected. 2. his adultery with Bersabee, which his idle pleasure occasioned. 3. his seueral subtiltyes,Hugo Cardinae. wherwith he soughte to couer his guiltynes. 4. his vnkind slaughter of Vrias, who was so innocent. But as S. Augustin saith, Let not the fall of the greater be the delighte of the lesser, rather let the fall of the greater be the feare of the lesser: they who haue not yet fallen, S. Aug. in hunc psal.let them heare this, to the end they may arise. As for his soule who aduentureth to committe such thinges as these, because Dauid so offended, he is much more wicked, and sinneth more abominably then Dauid: he sinned of concupiscence, & thou of malice. Let vs rather, imitate his holynes, not followe his wickednes: shoulde we fall with him, O my soule, and not ryse with him; shoulde we loue that in Dauid which he hated in himselfe? Doost thou looke vpon the booke of God to embolden thy selfe to sinne against God? Doost thou note one error in an excellent picture, and learne to paynte that blemish rather then all his other comely portraiture? wilte thou learne sophistry, to forsake logique? wilt thou read Index expurgatorius, to professe all the doubtes & falsehoods which it mentions to be amended, & not to be mainteyned? then feed as well vpon the garbage of fowles, & vpon the gall of beastes, & cast away their carkasses.
5. Dauid after a full dinner and an easie sleep, fittes idle in his prospecte, and takes delighte to feed his eye with gazing about: there his ranging idle lookes were as a quicke spye to marke a beautifull woman: his harte streighte desired to enioye what he sawe; & his will procured to obteyne what he affected. While Saul persecuted him, [Page 3]and he lurked in caues, he neither minded such matters, nor admitted such occasions; but now he becomes remisse & wanton in the prosperity of his kingdome: now he is at leysure to espye Bersabee a farre off (so quick-sighted is concupisc [...]nce:) the woman was far from him, but luste was neere him (so soone doth prosperity breed wanton bloud:) also he rose but newly from his deynty meale and his lazy vndermeale: and as S. Ierom said; A Full belly doth easely froathe vnto luste; so especially if you adde vnnecessary sleepe vnto intemperat dyet, it makes a double payre of bellowes to kindle the fyre of incontinence: the one is the flynte stone; and the other is the steele; & both together strike out sparkes of carnall desyres, which yet may be extinguished, if you adde not a ranging eye as the tynder; vnwary curious lookes will sodenly betraye our vnsetled harte; for if by this gazing view, so stayed a man as Dauid lost himselfe, we haue much more need like Iob to make a couenant with our eyes, not to looke vpon a woman. Wherfore let vs be no gazers at dores, windowes, or galleryes; no gapers in the streetes, no gadders vp and downe markets, in fayres no giggelets, no puritan rolling eyes in churches, nor vse a wanton looke in any place, least as from a basiliske we receiue poison by the eye, which will infecte the harte.
6. Dauid by looking on Bersabee in her bathe, was more inflamed by the beauty of the woman, then he was cooled by the water of the founteyn: and they that pretend only to obserue the diuersityes of features, & the excellencyes of complexions, shall sooner be drawen to fleshly imaginations, then to philosophicall or spiritual considerations. The poets faygne Acteon turned into a stagge, & hunted to death by his owne hounds,Ouid me [...]. lib. 3. because he presumed to looke vpon chaste Diana bathing herselfe in a cleare founteyn; for euen chaste beauty curiously viewed, stirres vp many passions of bawling luste; which like so many dogges will neuer cease to chase to death, euen their owne maister who feedeth them. Spartianus related how one coming out of a dangerous bathe, and harde by seing a number of painted tables hanged on the wall of a temple after the Roman custome, and supposing they had bene all in memorye of their perills escaped in that bathe, he said, I wonder there be no more tables, for he deemed that euery man was bound to haue offred a table, who bathing there had escaped such a danger; so in truthe, whosoeuer vseth to gaze on women or to conuerse with them and is not intangled, surely he is obliged to hang vp a table of a memorable escape. And therfore as in all sinnes, so perticulerly in this our english prouerbe hath good place, he that will no euill doo, must avoyde all thinges which long thertoo: Let vs beware of all amourous wordes, wanton lookes, lighte gestures, lasciuious behauior, immodest attyre, and aboue all flye familiar opportunity and occasion; for as occasion (we say) makes a theefe, so it often makes a harlotte. And S. Bernard affirmed, that to liue among women familiarly, and no way to be defiled by women, is a miracle aboue the power of men: it is more easy to rayse the dead, then in continuall occasions, so to mortifye the liuing: If thou canst not doo the lesser, how darest thou hazarde the greater? especially seing among all sinnes, this is perticulerly called, the sinne of Frayltye, to note herein our greatest weakenes. And shoulde we in this weake frayltye, trust vnto our yeilding strengthe?
OF VVITTY AND PLAINE REPREHENSIONS: & the Authors lamentation of his forme life. Sect. 2.
DAuid repented not, till Nathan came: and Nathan reproued Dauid, thoughe a king: yet not at firste by publishing his faulte, nor by reproching him contumeliously, but with corage & prudence reproouing him discretely. Let kinges, and all men suffer Gods preistes and preachers to reprehend them: for vsualie their Courtyers, or frindes either soothe, or say nothing of their faultes, which seldome are amēded, vntill they be rebuked by theyr enemies, or by some such zealous men; who as they must be without flatery,Concil. Lateran. or feare, so must they admonish with discretion, and with care. It is ars artium, regimen animarum: it is an arte of much skill, to rule soules well: and it is true, God alone can rule the harte, yet he appoyntes Nathan to vse meanes by an honest deceyte.cap. 27. Luc. 20 Math. 21. & 22. Plutar. As our Sauiour catched the scribes and phariseys in their owne answers, so Nathan here did wynde in Dauid by his owne sentence; like many men who vse speeches against others, which are rebounded vpon themselues: as Catulus reprehending Philippus, he alluding to Catulus name (which signifies a whelpe) asked him why he barked; but Catulus answered aptely; because I see a theefe.
2. And a dronken Caluiniste minister with a foule red nose, bragging against a Catholique, that our Sauiour had giuen him the keyes of heauen, as much as to S. Peter, or to the Pope: surely I doubte it, said the Catholique; rather by your nose, I doo suppose, you haue in your custody, the keyes of the buttry. Thus often times arrogant men are confounded in their owne wordes. And so like wise some malitious persecutors of Catholiques haue bene intangled in their owne spitefull diligence: as he who being tolde that in such a chamber was a Preist: called the constables & officers to breake open the doores & to enter with haste, where they found his owne daughter in bed with a brother of the Puritanes. Also Iudges many times condemne small faultes in others that stande at the barre, and will not obserue much iniustice & great crimes in themselues, in their followers, and in some that sitte on the benche: euen as Dauid here woulde haue him dye that tooke the lambe; but he marked not his owne crime, who had defiled a matrone, and slayne a man. As a certain Pirate answered Alexander: that is called in a king, honorable & lawfull victory, which is condemned in me for vnlawfull & base piracy. With such partiality we easily abhorre wickednes in others; and yet by such our owne censures (if we amend not) allmighty God will make vs condemne our selues by our owne mouthes, according to that of our blessed Lady: He hath dispersed the proud, in the minde of his owne harte: and so doubtles he will iudge many offendors by the sentence of their owne wordes. O holy Dauid teach vs by thy example to feare prosperity, to beware of ease and pleasure, to restrayne our eyes, to curbe our thoughtes, & to avoyde all bad occasions: in all our censures first to iudge our selues, or being admonished by others, humbly to confesse our faultes.
3. O my soule, let vs desire Dauid to praye for vs, as in this psalme he doth for himselfe: for if we haue not so great, yet we haue more sinnes then he had; nay, paraduenture none of his, compared to ours, be so bad. O how wicked is the harte of man, & vnserchable! I [...]rē. 17. 1. Ioan. 3.who shall know it? euen thou o lorde, who arte greater then our harte; searching our entralls & prouing our reynes: to thee we refer this iudgment: and fearing our selues to bee far the worse, we humbly & sincerely craue more penitence & more pity. O IESV giue me strength in satisfaction to beare what thou wilte impose, and [Page 5]then impose coorrectiō what our wilte: O sweet Sauiour, thou knowest how absolutely herein I doo resigne my will: O continue me this grace; and teach me more in true penāce, still to begge for more mercy I haue dishonored thee, & scandalized men, for I was a publique preacher of the protestantes false Doctrine, wherin peraduenture by my meanes some haue bene seduced, many hardened, & others offended: I haue profaned thy sacred churches somtime dedicated to thy catholique seruice; and for mine owne body & soule, which should haue bene thy spirituall temples, o how haue they bene polluted? by errors which I supposed to be truthes, by presumption of knowledge when I was in ignorance, by some vices which I reputed vertues, & by many faultes which I neglected.
4. If to affirme this (as I doo penitently) be my shame; let it be O God (as I desire) thy glory. If the worlde, & the diuells, & mine owne conscience doo accuse me, O Father of mercy, I confesse all wherof any of these can justly impeache me: and allso whatsoeuer else thou doost know more in me then I haue cōfessed or can call to minde, in transgressions against thy deuine majesty, in offences against my neighbors, & in many sinnes against my selfe. O wretched and vile sinner that I am! what should such a sinner doo? whither shall I go: shoulde I despayre? No: for that one sinne were greater then all these. What though my sinnes haue bene many & bad according to my religion; & my profession worse, wherby (like the prodigall sonne) I was a Swynehearde, a protestante minister, feeding my selfe & others with the huskes of heresy, Et non satiabar, in which I coulde neuer taste of true comforte, nor obteyne peace vnto my conscience; therfore with him, I will Arise, & go, to my heauenly Father; I am resolued, To arise from sinne & Sectaryes, To go vnto God our Father, by meanes of the Catholique churche our mother, and with this perpetuall purpose I doo say vnto him: Father I haue sinned against heauen & before thee, I am not worthy to be called thy sonne; make me as one of thy hired seruantes.
5. Amongest Protestantes, & against malice, I might wel plead ciuill honesty & morall integrity, wherin I liued among them without reprehension: but in comparison of thy Catholique seruantes & Sayntes, O God, & before thy heauenly purest eyes, I dare not present my former best innocence: here I renounce any plea of passed integrity: I disclayme my wonted profession: I lament & detest my errors & my sinnes. Thou knowest, O lord, I haue acknowledged them vnto my Ghostly Father in confession: I beseech thee to confirme his absolution; and as I doo entreate, so I doo truste, that thou wilte vnbinde in heauen, what he hath vnbound on earthe: O forgiue them for Iesus sake; and so keepe me euer hereafter in thy loue & grace, that I may rather chuse miseryes, disgraces▪ reproches, tormentes, & ten thousand deathes, then at my time to retourne to the like sinnes & errors, or to my former estate. And thou, o blessed Virgin, the mother of our only Sauiour; and all the Angells and Sayntes of heauen, O praye for me, that during my life I may say this psalme with Dauid in true contrition; And so throughe our Lord Iesus obteyning, mercy, at laste I may with him, and all you be admitted into glory.
AN ACT OF CONTRITION.
O My Lord Iesus-Christ very God and Man, my Creatour & Redeemer, thou being whome thou art, and for that I loue thee aboue all thinges, it greiueth me from the bottome of my hart, that I haue offended thy diuine Maiesty. And I firmely purpose neuer to sinne any more; and to fly all occasions of offending thee. And to confesse and fulfill the pennance which shalbe enioyned me for the same. And for loue of thee, I do freely pardon all my enemies. And do offer my life, wordes, and workes in satisfaction for my sinnes. Wherefore I most humbly intreate thee, trusting in thy infinite goodnes and mercy, that by the merits of thy most pretious bloud and passion, thou wouldest pardon me, and giue me grace to amend my life, and to perseuere therin vntill death. Amen.
A PRAYER OF THE AVTHOVR TO OVR BLESSED LADY.
O Most pious Virgin Mary, Mother of God: I desire th [...]e by the great loue thou bearest to thy deare Sonne my Lord & Sauiour Iesus-Christ: That thou wouldest vouchsafe to obtaine for me true sorrow for my sinnes, a perfect keeping of all my Senses, an humble Resignatiō of my selfe, & the exercise all those vertues wherewith thou didst so highly please thy diuine Sonne. I also most humbly request thee to direct my wayes in those pathes which may be most agreable to the will of thy Sonne, & profitable for the saluation of my Soule. Amen, sweet Iesus.