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OF A KINGS CHRISTIAN DVETIE TOWARDS GOD.As he cannot be thought worthy to rule and command others, that cannot rule and dantone his owne proper affections and vnreasonable appetites, so can hee not be thought worthie to gouerne a Christian people, knowing and fearing God, that in his owne person and heart, feareth not and loueth not the Diuine Maiestie. Neither can anything in his gouernment succeed well with him, (deuise and labour as he list) as comming from a filthie spring, if his person be vnsanctified: for (as that royal Prophet saith) Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vaine that build it: except the Lord keepe the City, the keepers watch it in vaine1: in respect the blessing of God hath onely power to giue the successe thereunto: and as Paul saith, he planteth, Apollos watereth; but it is God onely that giueth the in- crease.2 Therefore (my Sonne) first of all things, learne to know and loue that God, whom-to ye haue a double obligation; first, for that he made you a man; and next, for that he made you a little GOD to sit on his Throne, and rule ouer other men. Remember, that as in dignitie hee hath erected you aboue others, so ought ye in thankfulnesse towards him, goe as farre beyond all others. A moate in an- others eye, is a beame into yours: a blemish in another, is a leprouse byle into you: and a veniall sinne (as the Papifts call it) in another, is a great crime into you. Thinke not therefore, that the highnesse of your dignitie, diminisheth your faults (much lesse giueth you a licence to sinne) but by the contrary your fault shall be aggrauated, according to the height of your dignitie; any sinne that ye commit, not being a single sinne procuring but the fall of one; but being an ex- emplare sinne, and therefore drawing with it the whole multitude to be guiltie of the same. Remember then, that this glistering worldly glorie of Kings, is giuen them by God, to teach them to preasse so to glister and shine before their people, in all workes of sanctification and righteousnesse, that their persons as bright lampes of godlinesse and vertue, may, going in and out before their people, giue light to all their steps. Remember also, that by the right knowledge, and feare of God (which is the beginning of Wisedome,3 as Salomon saith) ye shall know all the things necessarie for the discharge of your duetie, both as a Christian, and as a King; seeing in him, as in a mirrour, the course of all earthly things, whereof hee is the spring and onely moouer. Now, the onely way to bring you to this knowledge, is diligently to reade his word, and earnestly to pray for the right vnderstanding thereof. Search the Scriptures, sayth Christ, for they beare testimonie of me: 4 and, the whole Scripture, saith Paul, is giuen by inspiration of God, and is profitable to teach, to conuince, to correct, and to instruct in righteousnesse; that the man of God may be absolute, being made perfite vnto all good workes.5 And most properly of any other, belong- eth the reading thereof vnto Kings, since in that part of Scripture, where the godly Kings are first made mention of, that were ordained to rule ouer the people of God, there is an expresse and most notable exhortation and commandement giuen them, to reade and meditate in the Law of God.6 I ioyne to this, the carefull hearing of the doctrine with attendance and reuerence: for, faith commeth by hearing,7 sayeth the same Apostle. But aboue all, beware ye wrest not the word to your owne appetite, as ouer many doe, making it like a bell to sound as ye please to interprete: but by the contrary, frame all your affections, to follow precisely the rule there set downe. The whole Scripture chiefly containeth two things: a command, and a pro- hibition, to doe such things, and to abstaine from the contrary. Obey in both; neither thinke it enough to abstaine from euill, and do no good; nor thinke not that if yee doe many good things, it may serve you for a cloake to mixe euill turnes therewith. And as in these two points, the whole Scripture principally consisteth, so in two degrees standeth the whole seruice of God by man: interiour, or vpward; exteriour, or downward: the first, by prayer in faith towards God; the next, by workes flowing therefra before the world: which is nothing else, but the exercise of Religion towards God, and of equitie towards your neighbour. As for the particular points of Religion, I need not to dilate them; I am no hypocrite, follow my footsteps, and your owne present education therein. I thanke God, I was neuer ashamed to giue account of my profession, howsoeuer the malicious lying tongues of some haue traduced me: and if my conscience had not resolued me, that all my Religion presently professed by me and my king- dome, was grounded vpon the plaine words of the Scripture, without the which all points of Religion are superfluous, as any thing contrary to the same is abomi- nation, I had neuer outwardly auowed it, for pleasure or awe of any flesh. And as for the points of equitie towards your neighbour (because that will fall in properly, vpon the second part concerning a Kings office) I leaue it to the owne roume. For the first part then of mans seruice to his God, which is Religion, that is, the worship of God according to his reuealed will, it is wholly grounded vpon the Scripture, as I haue alreadie said, quickened by faith, and conserued by con- science: For the Scripture, I haue now spoken of it in generall, but that yee may the more readily make choice of any part thereof, for your instruction or comfort, remember shortly this methode. The whole Scripture is dyted by Gods Spirit, thereby, as by his liuely word, to instruct and rule the whole Church militant to the and of the world: It is composed of two parts, the Olde and New Testament: The ground of the former is the Lawe, which sheweth our sinne, and containeth iustice: the ground of the other is Christ, who pardoning sinne containeth grace. The summe of the Law is the tenne Commandements, more largely delated in the bookes of Moses, in- terpreted and applied by the Prophets; and by the histories, are the examples shewed of obedience or disobedience thereto, and what praemium or pæna was accordingly giuen by God: But because no man was able to keepe the Law, nor any part thereof, it pleased God of his infinite wisedome and goodnesse, to incar- nate his only Sonne in our nature, for satisfaction of his iustice in his suffering for vs; that since we could not be saued by doing, we might at least, bee saued by beleeuing. The ground therefore of the word of grace, is contained in the foure histories of the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascention of Christ: The larger interpre- tation and vse thereof, is contained in the Epistles of the Apostles: and the practise in the faithfull or vnfaithfull, with the historie of the infancie and first progresse of the Church is contained in their Actes. Would ye then know your sinne by the Lawe ? reade the bookes of Moses con- taining it. Would ye haue a commentarie thereupon ? Reade the Prophets, and likewise the bookes of the Prouerbes and Ecclesiastes, written by that great pat- terne of wisedome Salomon, which will not only serue you for instruction, how to walke in the obedience of the Lawe of God, but is also so full of golden sentences, and morall precepts, in all things that can concerne your conuersation in the world, as among all the prophane Philosophers and Poets, ye shall not finde so rich a storehouse of precepts of naturall wisedome, agreeing with the will and diuine wisedome of God. Would ye see how good men are rewarded, and wicked punished ? looke the historicall parts of these same bookes of Moses, together with the histories of Ioshua, the Iudges, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Iob: but especially the bookes of the Kings and Chronicles, wherewith ye ought to bee familiarly acquainted: for there shall yee see your selfe, as in a myrrour, in the catalogue either of the good or the euill Kings. Would yee know the doctrine, life, and death of our Sauiour Christ ? reade the Euangelists. Would ye bee more particularly trained vp in his Schoole ? meditate vpon the Epistles of the Apostles. And would ye be acquainted with the practises of that doctrine in the persons of the primitiue Church ? Cast vp the Apostles Actes. And as to the Apocryphe bookes, I omit them, because I am no Papist, as I said before; and indeed some of them are no wayes like the dyte- ment of the Spirit of God. But when ye reade the Scripture, reade it with a sanctified and chaste heart: admire reuerently such obscure places as ye vnderstand not, blaming onely your owne capacitie: read with delight the plaine places, and studie carefully to vnder- stand those that are somewhat difficile: preasse to bee a good textuarie; for the Scripture is euer the best interpreter of it selfe; but preasse not curiously to seeke out farther then is contained therein; for that were ouer vnmannerly a presump- tion, to striue to bee further vpon Gods secrets, then he hath will ye be; for what hee thought needfull for vs to know, that hath he reuealed there: And delyte most in reading such parts of the Scripture, as may best serue for your instruction in your calling; reiecting foolish curiosities vpon genealogies and contentions, which are but vaine, and profite not,8 as Paul saith. Now, as to Faith, which is the nourisher and quickner of Religion, as I haue alreadie said, It is a sure perswasion and apprehension of the promises of God, applying them to your soule: and therefore may it iustly be called, the golden chaine that linketh the faithfull soule to Christ: And because it groweth not in our garden, but is the free gift of God,9 as the same Apostle saith, it must be nourished by prayer, Which is nothing else, but a friendly talking with God. As for teaching you the forme of your prayers, the Psalmes of Dauid are the meetest schoole-master that ye can be acquainted with (next the prayer of our Sauiour, which is the onely rule of prayer) whereout of, as of most rich and pure fountaines, ye may learne all forme of prayer necessarie for your comfort at all occasions: And so much the fitter are they for you, then for the common sort, in respect the composer thereof was a King: and therefore best behoued to know a Kings wants, and what things were meetest to be required by a King at Gods hand for remedie thereof. Vse often to pray when ye are quietest, especially forget it not in your bed how oft soeuer ye doe it at other times: for publike prayer serueth as much for example, as for any particular comfort to the supplicant. In your prayer, bee neither ouer strange with God, like the ignorant common sort, that prayeth nothing but out of bookes, nor yet ouer homely with him, like some of the vaine Pharisaicall puritanes, that thinke they rule him vpon their fingers: The former way will breede an vncouth coldnesse in you.towards him, the other will breede in you a contempt of him. But in your prayer to God speake with all reuerence: for if a subiect will not speake but reuerently to a King, much lesse should any flesh presume to talke with God as with his companion. Craue in your prayer, not onely things spirituall, but also things temporall, sometimes of greater, and sometimes of lesse consequence; that yee may lay vp in store his grant of these things, for confirmation of your faith, and to be an arles-peny vnto you of his loue. Pray, as yee finde your heart moueth you, pro re nata: but see that yee sute no vnlawfull things, as reuenge, lust, or such like: for that prayer can not come of faith: and whatsoeuer is done without faith, is sinne,10 as the Apostle saith. When ye obtaine your prayer, thanke him ioyfully therefore: if otherwaies, beare patiently, preassing to winne him with importunitie, as the widow did the vnrighteous Iudge: and if notwithstanding thereof yee be not heard, assure your selfe, God foreseeth that which yee aske is not for your weale: and learne in time, so to interprete all the aduersities that God shall send vnto you; so shall yee in the middest of them, not onely be armed with patience, but ioyfully lift vp your eyes from the present trouble, to the happie end that God will turne it to. And when ye finde it once so fall out by proofe, arme your selfe with the experience thereof against the next trouble, assuring your selfe, though yee cannot in time of the showre see through the cloude, yet in the end shall ye find, God sent if for your weale, as ye found in the former. And as for conscience, which I called the conseruer of Religion, It is nothing else, but the light of knowledge that God hath planted in man, which euer watch- ing ouer all his actions, as it beareth him a ioyfull testimonie when he does right, so choppeth it him with a feeling that hee hath done wrong, when euer he commit- teth any sinne. And surely, although this conscience be a great torture to the wicked, yet is it as great a comfort to the godly, if we will consider it rightly. For haue wee not a great aduantage, that haue within our selues while wee liue here, a Count-booke and Inuentarie of all the crimes that wee shall bee accused of, either at the houre of our death, or at the Great day of Iudgement; which when wee please (yea though we forget) will chop, and remember vs to looke vpon it; that while we haue leasure and are here, we may remember to amend; and so at the day of our triall, compeare with new and white garments washed in the blood of the Lambe,11 as S. Iohn saith. Aboue all them, my Sonne, labour to keepe sound this conscience, which many prattle of, but ouer few feele: especially be carefull to keepe it free from two diseases, wherewith it vseth oft to be infected; to wit, Leaprosie, and Superstition; the former is the mother of Atheisme, the other of Heresies. By a leaprouse conscience, I meane a cauterized conscience,12 as Paul calleth it, being become senselesse of sinne, through sleeping in a carelesse securitie as King Dauids was after his murther and adulterie, euer til he was wakened by the Prophet Nathans similitude. And by superstition, I meane, when one re- straines himselfe to any other rule in the seruice of God, then is warranted by the word, the onely trew square of Gods seruice ? As for a preseruatiue against this Leaprosie, remember euer once in the foure and twentie houres, either in the night, or when yee are at greatest quiet, to call your selfe to account of all your last dayes actions, either wherein ye haue com- mitted things yee should not, or omitted the things ye should doe, either in your Christian or Kingly calling: and in that account, let not your selfe be smoothed ouer with that flattering φιλαυτία, which is ouerkindly a sicknesse to all mankind: but censure your selfe as sharply, as if ye were your owne enemie: For if ye iudge your selfe, ye shall not be iudged,13 as the Apostle saith: and then according to your censure, reforme your actions as farre as yee may, eschewing euer wilfully and wittingly to contrare your conscience: For a small sinne wilfully committed, with a deliberate resolution to breake the bridle of conscience therein, is farre more grieuous before God, then a greater sinne committed in a suddaine passion, when conscience is asleepe. Remember therefore in all your actions, of the great ac- count that yee are one day to make: in all the dayes of your life, euer learning to die, and liuing euery day as it were you last; Omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremum.14 And therefore, I would not haue you to pray with the Papists, to be preserued from suddaine death, but that God would giue you grace so to liue, as ye may euery houre of your life be ready for death: so shall ye attaine to the vertue of trew fortitude, neuer being afraid for the horrour of death, come when he list: And especially, beware to offend your conscience with vse of swearing or lying, suppose but in iest; for othes are but an vse, and a sinne cloathed with no delight nor gaine, and therefore the more inexcusable euen in the sight of men: and lying commeth also much of a vile vse, which banisheth shame: Therefore beware euen to deny the trewth, which is a sort of lie, that may best be eschewed by a person of your ranke. For if any thing be asked at you that yee thinke not meete to reueale, if yee say, that question is not pertinent for them to aske, who dare ex- amine you further ? and vsing sometimes this answere both in trew and false things that shall be asked at you, such vnmanerly people will neuer be the wiser thereof. And for keeping your conscience sound from that sickenesse of superstition, yee must neither lay the safetie of your conscience vpon the credit of your owne conceits, nor yet of other mens humors, how great doctors of Diuinitie that euer they be; but yee must onely ground it vpon the expresse Scripture: for conscience not grounded vpon sure knowledge, is either an ignorant fantasie, or an arrogant vanitie. Beware therefore in this case with two extremities: the one, to beleeue with the Papists; the Churches authority, better then your owne knowledge; the other, to leane with the Anabaptists, to your owne conceits and dreamed reue- lations. But learne wisely to discerne betwixt points of saluation and indifferent things, betwixt substance and ceremonies; and betwixt the expresse commandement and will of God in his word, and the inuention or ordinance of man; since all that is necessarie for saluation is contained in the Scripture: For in any thing that is expressely commanded or prohibited in the booke of God, ye cannot be ouer precise, euen in the least thing; counting euery sinne, not according to the light estimation and common vse of it in the world, but as the booke of God counteth of it. But as for all other things not contained in the scripture, spare not to vse or alter them, as the necessitie of the time shall require. And when any of the spirituall office-bearers in the Church, speake vnto you any thing that is well war- ranted by the word, reuerence and obey them as the heraulds of the most high God: but, if passing that bounds, they vrge you to embrace any of their fantasies in the place of Gods word, or would colour their particulars with a pretended zeal, acknowledge them for no other then vaine men, exceeding the bounds of their calling; and according to your office, grauely and with authoritie redact them in order againe. To conclude then, both this purpose of conscience, and the first part of this booke, keepe God more sparingly in your mouth, but abundantly in your heart: be precise in effect, but sociall in shew: kythe more by your deeds then by your wordes, the loue of vertue and hatred of vice: and delight more to be godly and vertuous indeed, then to be thought and called so; expecting more for your praise and reward in heauen, then heere: and apply to all your outward actions Christs command, to pray and giue your almes secretly: So shal ye on the one part be inwardly garnished with trew Christian humilitie, not outwardly (with the proud Pharisie) glorying in your godlinesse; but saying, as Christ commandeth vs all, when we haue done all that we can, Inutiles serui sumus: 15 And on the other part, yee shall eschew outwardly before the world, the suspition of filthie proude hypo- crisie, and deceitfull dissimulation.
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