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gift once given, cannot be revoked, and therefore
though it were before in his choice, not to give
himselfe unto thee : yet the deed of gift being
once made, he cannot bee taken from thee, nei-
ther can the donor dispose of his gift without the
possessor's privitie. And sith this is a rule in
the law of nature, thou mayest imagine it a
breach of equitie, and an impeachment of thy


right, to convey hiraselfe away without thy con-

But to this I will answer thee with thine owne
ground. For if he be thine by being- given thee
once, thou art his by as many gifts, as dayes,
and therefore hee being absolute owner of thee,
is likewise full owner of whatsoever is thine :
and consequently because he is thine, he is also
his owne and so nothing liable unto thee, for
taking hiraselfe from thee.

Yea, but he is my Lord (sayest thou) and in
this respect, bound to keepe mee, at the least
bound not to kill mee : and sith killing is nothing
but a severing of life from the body, hee being
the chiefe life both of my soule and body, cannot


possibly goe from mee, but hee must with a dou-
ble death kill mee. And therefore he being my
Lord, and bound to protect his servant, it is
against all lawes that I should bee thus for-

But, O cruell tongue, why pleadest thou thus
against him, whose case I feare mee is so piti-
full, that it might rather move all tongues to
plead for him, being peradventure in their hands,
whose unmerciful! hearts make themselves mer-
ry with his miserie, and build the triumphs of
their impious victory upon the dolefull mines of
his disgraced glory ? And now (O griefe) be-
cause I know not where hee is, I cannot imagine


how to helpe, for they have taken him away,
and I know not where they have put him.

Alas, Mary, why doest thou consume thyselfe
with these cares ? His father knoweth, and hee
will helpe him. The angels know, and they wiU
guard him. His owne soule knoweth, and that
will assist him. And what need then is there,
that thou silly woman shouldest know it, that
canst no way profit him ? But I feele in what
veine thy pulse beateth, and by thy desire
I discover thy disease. Though both heaven
and earth did know it, and the whole world had
notice of it, yet except thou also wert made pri-
vie unto it, thy woes would bee as great, and
thy teares as many. That others see the sunne,


doth not lighten thy darknesse, neither can
others' eating- satisfie thy hunger. The more
there bee that know of him, the greater is thy
sorrow, that among so many thou art not thought
worthy to bee one. And the more there bee that
may helpe him, the more it grieveth thee that
thy poore helpe is not accepted among them.
Though thy knowledge needeth not, thy love
doth desire it, and though it availe not, thy de-
sire will seeke it. If all know it, thou wouldest
know it with all : if no other, thou wouldest
know it alone ; and from whomsoever it bee
concealed, it must bee no secret to thee. Though
the knowledge would discomfort thee, yet know


it thou wilt, yea, though it would kill thee, thou
couldest not forbeare it.

Thy Lord to thy love is like drinke to the
thirstie, which if they cannot have, they die for
drought, being long without it they pine away
with longing. And as men in extremitie of
thirst are still dreaming of fountaines, Brookes,
and springs, being never able to have other
thought, or to utter other word but of drinke and
moisture : so lovers, in the vehemencie of their
passion, can neither thinke nor speake but of
that they love, and if that bee once missing,
every part is both an eye to watch, and an eare
to listen, what hope or newes may bee had. If
it bee good, they die till they heare it, though


bad, yet they cannot live without it. Of the good,
they hope that it is the very best ; and of the
evill, they feare it to bee the worst : and yet
though never so good, they pine till it bee told,
and be it never so evill, they are importunate to
know it. And when they once know it, they can
neither beare the joy nor brooke the sorrow, but
as well the one as the other is enough to kill

And this, O Mary, I guess to be the cause
why the angels would not tell thee thy Lord's
estate. For if it had beene to thy liking, thou
wouldest have died for joy, if otherwise, thou
wouldest have sunk downe for sorrow. And
therefore they leave this newes for him to deli-


ver, whose word if it give thee a wound, is also
a salve to cure it, though never so deadly.

But alas, afflicted soule, why doth it so deep-
ly grieve thee, that thou knowest not where he
is ? Thou canst not better him if hee be well,
thou canst as little succour him if hee be ill : and
sith thou fearest that hee is rather ill than well,
why shouldest thou know it, so to end thy hopes
in mishap, and thy great feares in farre greater
sorrowes ? Alas, to aske thee why, is in a man-
ner to aske one halfe starved why hee is hun-
grie. For as thy Lord is the food of thy
thoughts, the releefe of thy wishes, the only
repast of all thy desires : so is thy love a con-
tiuuall hunger, and his absense unto thee an ex-


trerae famine. And therefore no marvell though
thou art so greedie to heare, yea to devoure any,
be it never so bitter notice of him, sith thy hun-
ger is most violent, and nothing but hee able to
content it. And albeit the hearing of his harmes
should worke the same in thy minde, that un-
wholesome meat worketh in a sick stomacke :
yet if it once concerne him that thou lovest, thy
hungry love could not temper itselfe from it,
though after with many wringing gripes, it did
a long and unpleasant penance.

But why doth thy sorrow quest so much upon the

place where hee is ? were it not enough for thee to

know who had him, but that thou must also know

in what place hee is bestowed ? A worse place



than a grave no man will offer, and many a farre
better mansion will allow: and therefore thou
mayest boldly thinke, that wheresoever hee be,
he is in a place fitter for him than where hee
was. Thy sister Martha confessed him to bee the
Sonne of God, and with her confession agreed
thy beleefe. And what place more convenient
for the Sonne, than to bee with his Father, the
businesse, for which he hath beene so long from
him, being now fully finished ? If he be the
Messias, as thou diddest once beleeve, it was
said of him, That he should ascend on high, and
leade our captivitie captive. And what is this
height, but heaven? what our captivity but
death ? Death therefore is become his captive,


and it is like that with the spoiles thereof, he is
ascended in triumph to eternall life.

But if thou canst not lift thy mindo to so fa-
vourable a beleefe, yet raayest thou very well
suppose that hee is in Paradise. For if hee
came to repaire Adam's mines, and to bee the
common parent of our redemption, as Adam was
of our originall infection : reason seemeth to re-
quire, that having endured all his life the penal-
tie of Adam's exile, hee should after death re-
enter possession of that inheritance which Adam
lost : that the same place that was the nest
where sinne was first hatched, may bee now the
child-bed of grace and mercie. And if sorrow
at the crosse did not make thee as deafe, as at


the tombe it maketh thee forgetfull, thou didest
in confirmation hereof heare hiraselfe say to one
of the theeves, that the same day hee should bee
with him in Paradise. And if it bee reason that
no shadow should bee more priviledged than the
body, no figure in more account than the figured
truth, why shouldest thou beleeve that Elias and
Enoch have beene in Paradise these many ages
and that hee whom they but as types resembled,
should bee excluded from thence ? Hee excelled
them in life, surpassed them in miracles, hee was
farre beyond them in dignitie : why then should
not his place bee farre above, or at the least
equall with theirs, sith their prerogatives were
so farre inferiour unto his ?


And yet if the basenesse and miserie of his
passion have laid him so low in thy conceit, that
thou thinkest paradise too high a place to bee like-
ly to have him : the very lowest roorae that any
reason can assign him, cannot be meaner than
the bosome of Abraham. And sith God in his
life did so often acknowledge him for his Sonne,
it seemeth the slenderest preheminence that hee
can give him above other men, that being his
holy one, hee should not in his body see corrup-
tion, but bee free among the dead, reposing both
in body and soule, where other Saints are in
soule only. Let mot therefore the place where
hee is, trouble thee, sith it cannot bee worse


than his grave, and infinite conjectures make
probability that it cannot but be better.

But suppose that liee were yet remaining on
earth, and taken by others out of his tombe,
what would it availe thee to know where hee
were ? If hee bee with such as love and honour
him, they will bee as wary to keepe him, as they
are loth hee should bee lost : and therefore will
either often change, or never confesse the place,
knowing secresie to be the surest locke to defend
so great a treasure. If those have taken him,
that malice and maligne him, thou mayest well
judge him past thy recoverie, when hee is once
in possession of so cruell owners.

Thou wouldest haply make sale of thy living-.


and seeke him by ransome. But it is not likely
they would sell him to be honoured, that bought
him to be murthered.

If price would not serve, thou wouldest fall
to prayer. But how can prayer soften such flin-
tie hearts ? And if they scorned so many teares
offered for his life, as little will they regard thy
intreaty for his corse.

If neither price nor prayer would prevaile,
thou wouldest attempt it by force. But alas ! sil-
ly souldier, thy armes are too weake to manag-e
weapons, and the issue of thy assault, would be
the losse of thyselfe.

If no other way would helpe, thou wouldest
purloine him by stealth, and thinke thyselfe hap-


pie in contriving such a theft. O Marie, thou
art deceived, for malice will have many lockes :
and to steale him from a theefe, that could
steal e him from the watch, requireth more cun-
ning in the art, than thy want of practice can
affoord thee.

Yet if these bee the causes that thou inquirest
of the place, thou shewest the force of thy rare
affection, and deservest the laurell of a perfect

But to feele more of their sweetnesse, I will
pound these spices, and dwell a while in the pe-
ruse of thy resolute fervour.

And first, can thy love enrich thee when thy
goods are gone, or a dead corse repay the value


of thy ransome ? Because he had neither bed to
bee born in, nor grave to bee buried in, wilt
thou therefore rather bee poore with him, than
rich without him ?

Againe, if thou hadst to sue to some cruell
Scribe or Pharisee, that is, to an heart boyling
in rancor, with an heart burning- in love, for
a thing of him above all things detested, of thee
above all things desired : as his enemies to whom
thou suest, and his friend for whom thou intreat-
est, canst thou thinke it possible for this sute to
speed? Could thy love repaire thee from his
rage, or such a tyrant stoope to a woman's
teares ?

Thirdly, if thy Lord might be recovered by


violence, art thou so armed in compleat love,
that thou thinkest it sufficient harnesse? or
doth thy love endue thee with such a Judith's
spirit, or lend thee such Sampson's locks, that
thou canst breake open huge gates, or foyle
whole armies ? Is thy love so sure a field, that
no blow can breake it, or so sharpe a dint, that
no force can withstand it ? Can it thus alter sex,
change nature, and exceed all art ?

But of all other courses wouldest thou adven-
ture a theft to obtaine thy desire ? A good deed
must bee well done, and a worke of mercy with-
out breach of justice. It were a sinne to steale
profane treasure, but to steale an anointed pro-
phet, can bee no lesse than sacrilege. And what


greater staine to thy Lord, to his doctrine,
and to thyselfe, than to see thee his Disciple
publikely executed for an open theft ?

O Mary, unlesse thy love have better warrant
than common sense, I can hardly see how such
designements can be approved.

Approved (saith shee) I would to God the exe-
cution were as easie as the proofe, and I should
not long bewaile my unfortunate losse.

To others it seemeth ill to preferre love before
riches, but to love it seemeth worse to preferre
any thing before itselfe. Clothe him with plates
of silver that shivereth for cold, or fill his purse
with treasure that pineth with hunger, and see
whether the plates will warme him, or the trea-


sure feed him, No, no, hee will give us all his
plates for a woollen garment, and all his money
lor a meale's meat Every supply fitteth not with
every need, and the love of so sweet a Lord hath
no correspondence in worldly wealth. Without
him I were poore, though Empresse of the
world. With him I were rich though I had no-
thing else. They that have most are accounted
richest, and they thought to have most, that
have all they desire : and therefore as in him
alone is the uttermost of my desires, so hee alone
is the summe of all my substance. It were too
happie an exchange to have God for goods, and
too rich a povertie to enjoy the only treasure of
the world. If I were so fortunate a beggar, I


would disdaine Solomon's wealth, and my love
being so highly enriched my life should never
complaine of want.

And if all I am worth would not reach to his
ransome, what should hinder to seeke him by in-
treaty ? Though I were to sue to the greatest
tyrant, yet the equity of my sute is more than
halfe a grant. If many drops soften the hardest
stones, why should not many teares supple the
most stony hearts ? What anger so fiery that
may not be quenched with eye-water, sith a
weeping supply ant rebateth the edge of more
than a lyon's fury ? My sute itselfe would sue
for mee, and so dolefull a course would quicken
pity in the most iron hearts.


But suppose that by touching a rankled sore,
my touch should anger it, and my petition at the
first incense him that heard it : he would per-
case revile me in words, and then his owne in-
jury would recoyle with remorse, and be unto me
a patron to proceed in my request. And if hee
should accompany his words with blowes, and
his blowes with wounds, it may bee my stripes
would smart in his guilty minde, and his con-
science bleed in my bleeding wounds, and my
innocent blood so entender his adamant heart,
that his owne inward feelings would plead my
cause, and peradventure obtaine my sute.

But if through extremity of spite he should
happen to kill me, his offence might easily re-


dound to my felicity. For hee would bee as care-
full to hide whom hee had unjustly murthered,
as him whom he had feloniously stolen : and so
it is like that he would hide me in the same place
where hee had laid my Lord. And as hee hated us
both for one cause, him for challenging, and mee
for acknowledging that hee was the Messias :
so would he use us both after one manner. And
thus what comfort my body wanted, my soule
should enjoy, in seeing a part of myselfe partner
of ray master's misery : with whom to be mise-
rable, I reckon an higher fortune, than without
him to bee most happy.

And if no other meane would serve to recover
him but force, I see no reason why it might not


very well become me. None will barre me from
defending my life, which the least worme in the
right nature hath leave to preserve. And sith
hee is to mee so deare a life, that without him all
life is death, nature authoriseth my feeble forces
to imploy their uttermost in so necessary an

Necessity addeth ability, and love doubleth
necessity, and it often happeneth that nature
armed with love, and pressed with need, exceed-
eth itselfe in might, and surmounteth all hope
in successe. And as the equity of the cause
doth breathe courage into the defenders, making
them more willing to fight, and the lesse unwil-
ling to die : so guilty consciences are ever mo-

rous, still starting with sudden frights, and afraid
of their owne suspitions, ready to yeeld before
the assault, upon distresse of their cause, and
despaire of their defence. Sith therefore to res-
cue an innocent, to recover a right, and to re-
dresse so deepe a wrong-, is so just a quarrell :
nature will enable mee, love encourage race,
grace confirme mee, and the judge of all justice
tight in ray behalfe.

And if it seeme unfitting to ray sex in talke,
much more in practice to deale with raateriall af-
faires : yet when such a cause happeneth as ne-
ver had patterne, such effects must follow as are
without example. There was never any body of
a God but one, neither such a body stolne but


how, never such a stealth unrevenged but this.
Sitli therfore the angels neglect it, and men for-
get, O ludith, lend mee thy prowesse, for I am
bound to regard it.

But suppose that my force were unable to
winne him by an open enterprise, what scruple
should keepe mee from seeking him by secret
meanes ? yea, and by plaine stealth, it will bee
thought a sinne, and condemned for a theft. O
sweet shine, why was not I the first that did
commit thee ? why did I suffer any other sinner
to prevent me ? For stealing from God his ho-
nour, I was called a sinner, and under that title
was spread my infamie : But for stealing God
from a false owner, I was not worthy to bee cal-


ied a sinner, because it had beene too high a
glory. If this bee so great a sinne, and so hein-
ous a theft, let others make choice of what titles
they will, but for my part I would refuse to bee
an angell, I would not wish to bee a saint, I
would never bee esteemed either just or true,
and I should be best contented, if I might but
live and die such a sinner, and be condemned for
such a theft. When I heard my Lord make so
comfortable a promise to the theefe upon the
crosse, that hee should that day bee with him in
paradise, I had halfe an envie at that theefe's
good fortune, and wished myselfe in the theefe's
place, so I might have enjoyed the fruit of his
promise. *


But if I could bee so happy a theefe, as to
commit this theft, if that wish had taken effect,
I would now unwish it againe, and scorne to bee
any other theefe than myselfe, sith my booty
could make me happier than any other theefe's
felicity. And what though my felony should bee
called in question, in what respect should I need
to feare ? They would say, that I loved him too
well ; but that were soone disproved, sith where
the worthinesse is infinite, no love can bee

They would object that I stole another's
goods : and as for that, many sure titles of my
interest would averre him to be mine ; and his
dead corse would rather speake, than witnesses


should faile to depose so certaine a truth. And
it" I had not a speciall right unto him, what
should move mee to venture my life for him ?
No, no, if I were so happy a felon, I should
feare no temporall arraignment : I should rather
feare that the angels would cite me to my an-
swer, for preventing them in the theft, sith not
the highest seraphin in Heaven, but would
deeme it a higher stile than his owne, to bee
the theefe that had committed so glorious a rob-

But alas, thus stand I now devising what I
would doe, if I knew any thing of him, and in the
meane time I neither know who hath him, nor
where they have bestowed him, and still I am


forced to dwell in this answer, that they have ta-
ken away my Lord and I know not where they
have put him.

While Marie thus lost herselfe in a labyrinth
of doubts, watering her words with teares, and
warming them with sighs, seeing the angels with
a kinde of reverence rise, as though they had
done honour to one behind her : She turned
backe, and she saw Jesus standing^ but that it
was Jesus she knew not.

O Marie, is it possible that thou hast forgot-
ten Jesus ? Faith hath written him in thy un-
derstanding, love in thy will, both feare and hope
in thy memory : and how can all these registers
bee so cancelled, that so plainely seeing, thou


shouldest not know the contents ? For him only
thou tirest thy feet, thou bendest thy knees,
thou wringest thy hands. For him thy heart
throbbeth, thy breast sigheth, thy tongue com-
plaineth. For him thine eye weepeth, thy
thought sorroweth, thy whole body fainteth,
and thy soule languisheth. In surarae, there is
no part in thee, but is busie about him, and not-
withstanding all this, hast thou now forgotten
him ? His countenance avoucheth it, his voyce
assureth it, his wounds witnesse it, thine owne
eyes behold it, and doest thou not yet beleeve
that this is Jesus ? Are thy sharpe seeing eyes
become so weake sighted, that they are dazzled
with the Sunne, and blinded with the light ?


But there is such a shower of teares betweene
thee and him, and thine eyes are so dimmed
with weeping for him, that though thou seest
the shape of a man, yet thou canst not discerne
him. Thy eares also are still so possessed with
the dolefull eccho of his last speeches, which
want of breath made him utter in a dying voyce,
that the force and loudnesse of his living words,
maketh thee imagine it the voice of a stranger :
and therefore as he seemeth unto thee so like a
stranger, hee asketh this question of thee, O
woman ! why weepest thou, whom seckest thou 9

O desire of the heart, and only joy of her
soule, why demandest thou why shee weepeth ?
or for whom shee seeketh ? But a while since


shec saw thee, her only hope, hanging on a tree,
with thy head full of thornes, thy eies full of
teares, thy eares full of blasphemies, thy mouth
full of gall, thy whole person mangled and disfi-
gured, and dost thou aske her why shee weep-
eth ? Scarce three dayes passed, shee beheld
thy armes and legges racked with violent pulls,
thy hands and feet bored with nayles, thy side
wounded with a speare, thy whole body torne
with stripes, and goared in blood, and doest
thou, her only griefe, aske her why shee weep-
eth ? Shee beheld thee upon the crosse with
many teares, and most lamentable cries, yeeld-
ing up her ghost, that is, thy owne ghost, and
alas, askest thou why shee weepeth ? And now


to make up her misery, having but one hope
alive, which was, that for a small releefe of her
other afflictions, shee might have anointed thy
body, that hope is also dead, since thy body is
removed, and shee now standeth hopelesse of all
helpe, and demandest thou why she weepeth,
and for whom she seeketh? Full well thou
knowest, that thee only she desireth, thee only
she loveth, all things beside thee shee contem-
neth, and canst thou finde in thy heart to aske
her whom shee seeketh ? To what end, O sweet
Lord, doest thou thus suspend her longings, pro-
long her desires, and martyr her with these te-
dious delayes ? Thou only art the forteresse of
her faint faith, the ankor of her wavering hope,


the very center of her vehement love : to thee
she trusteth, upon thee she relieth, and of her-
selfe she wholly despaireth, Shee is so earnest
in seeking thee, that she can neither seeke nor
thinke any other thing : and all her wits are so
busied in musing upon thee, that they draw all
attention from her senses, wherewith they should
discerne thee.

Being therefore so attentive to that shee think-
eth, what marvell though she marke not whom
shee seeth ? and sith thou hast so perfect no-
tice of her thought, and shee so little power to
discover thee by sense, why demandest thou
for whom shee seeketh, or why shee weepeth ?
Dost thou looke that shee should answer, For


thee I seeke, or for thee I weepe ? unlesse thou
wilt unbend her thoughts, that her eyes may
fully see thee : or while thou wilt be concealed,
dost thou expect that shee should bee able to
know thee ?

But, O Marie, not without cause doth hee
aske thee this question. Thou wouldest have him
alive, and yet thou weepest because thou dost
not finde him dead. Thou art sorry that he is not
here, and for this very cause thou shouldest ra-
ther bee glad. For if hee were dead, it is most
likely hee should be here : but not being here,
it is a signe that hee is alive. He rejoyceth to
bee out of his grave, and thou weepest because
hee is not in it. Hee will not lie any where,


and thou sorrowest for not knowing where hee
lyeth. Alas, why bewailest thou his glory, and

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Online LibraryRobert Southwell[Marie Magdalen's funerall teares for the death of our Saviour → online text (page 4 of 6)