« FöregåendeFortsätt »
HIGH AND MIGHTY PRINCE, HENRY,
PRINCE OF GREAT BRITAIN, SON AND HEIR APPARENT TO OUR SOVE
REIGN LORD, JAMES, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, &c.
ALL GLORY IN EITHER WORLD,
MOST GRACIOUS PRINCE :
It is not from any conceit of such worth in my labours, that they durst look so high. d lower patronage would have served a higher work. It were well, if ought of mine could be worthy of popular eyes ; or, if I could wring ought from myself, not unworthy of a jue dicicus reader. I know your Highness wants neither presents, nor counsels : presents from strangers, counsels from your teachers ; neither of them matchable by my weakness : only duty herein excuses me from presumption. For, I thought it injustice to devote the fruit of my labour, to uny other hand beside my Master's : which also I knew to be as gracious, as mine is faithful.
Yet, since even good affections cannot warrant too much vileness in gifts to Princes, lest, while my modesty disparages my work, I should hazard the acceptation ; here shall your Grace find variety, not without profit. I hate a Divine, that would but please ; and, withal, think it impossible for a man to profit, that pleaseth not. And if, while my style fureth itself upon others, any spiritual profit shall reflect upon your Highness, how happy am I, who shall ever think, į have lived to purpose, if, by the best of my studies, I shall have done any good office to your soul! Further, which these times account not the least praise, your Grace shall herein perceive a new fashion of discourse, by Epistles ; new to our language, usual to others : and, as novelty is never without some plea of use, more free, more familiar. Thus, we do but talk with our friends by our pen, and express ourselves no whit less easily; somewhat more digestedly.
Whatsoever it is, as it cannot be good enough to deserve that countenance ; so, the countenance of such patronage shall make it worthy of respect from others. The God of Princes protect your person ; perfect your graces ; and give you as much favour in heaven, as you have honoyr on earth. Your Highness' humbly devoted servant,
THE FIRST DECADE.
TO JACOB WADSWORTH,
LATELY REVOLTED, IN SPAIN.
Expostulating for his Departure, and persuading his Return. How unhappily is my style changed! Alas, that to a friend, to a brother, I must write as to an apostate, to an adversary!
Doth this seem harsh? you have turned it, by being turned, yourself. Once, the same walls held us, in one loving society; the same diocese, in one honourable function: now, not one land; and, which I lament, not one Church.
You are gone: we stand, and wonder. For a sheep to stray through simplicity, is both ordinary and lamentable; but, for a shepherd is more rare, more scandalous.
I dare not presume over much, upon an appeal to a blinded conscience. Those, that are newly come from a bright candle into a dark room, are so much more blind, as their light was greater; and the purest ivory turneth, with fire, into the deepest black.
Tell us yet, by your old ingenuity, and by those sparks of good which yet, I hope, lie covered under your cold ashes; tell us, What divided you? Your motives shall once be scanned, before a higher bar: shame not to have the weak eyes of the world see that, which once your undeceivable Judge shall see, and censure. What saw you, what heard you anew, that might offer violence to a resolved mind; and make it either to alter, or suspend? If your reasons be invincible ; inform us, that we may follow you: but if, as they are, slight and feeble; return you to us : return, and think it no shame, to have erred; just shame, to continue erring. What such goodly beauty saw you in that painted, but ill-favoured strumpet, that should thus bewitch you so to forget yourself, and contemn the chaste love of the Spouse of your
Saviour? I saw her, at the same time, in her gayest dress : let my soul never prosper, if I could see any thing worthy to command affection. " I saw; and scorned: you saw; and adored. Would God, your adoration were as far from superstition, as my scorn from impiety! That God judge betwixt us, whether herein erred: yea, let men judge, that are not drunk with those Babylonish dregs.
How long might an indifferent eye look upon the comical and mimic actions, in those your mysteries that should be sacred; your magical exorcisms; your clerical shavings; your uncleanly unctions; your crossings, creepings, censings, sprinklings; your cozening miracles, garish processions, burning of noon-day, christening of bells, marting of pardons, tossing of beads; your superstitious hallowing of candles, wax, ashes, palms, chrism, garments, roses, swords, water, salt; the pontifical solemnities of your great master; and whatever your new mother hath, besides, plausible; before he should see ought, in all these, worthy of any other entertainment, than contempt! Who can but disdain, that these things should procure any wise proselyte?
Cannot your own memory recount those truly religious spirits, which, having sought Rome as resolved Papists, have left the world as holy Martyrs; dying, for the detestation of that, which they came to adore Whence this? They heard, and magnified that; which they now saw, and abhorred. Their fire of zeal brought them to the flames of martyrdom. Their innocent hopes promised them religion; they found nothing but a pretence: promised devotion; and behold idolatry. They saw, hated, suffered, and now reign : while you, wilfully and unbidden, will lose your soul, where others meant to lose, and have found it. Your zeal dies, where theirs began to live: you like to live, where they would but die. They shall comfort us, for you: they shall once stand up, against you. While they would rather die in the heat of that fire, than live in the darkness of their errors; you rather die in the Egyptian darkness of errors, than live in the pleasant light of truth: yea, I fear, rather in another fire, than this light.
Alas! what shall we look for of you? too late repentance, or obstinate error? both miserable: a Spira, or a Staphylus? Your friends, yourself, shall wish you rather unborn, than either.
O thou, which art the Great Shepherd, great in power, great in mercy, which leavest the ninety and nine to reduce one, fetch home, if thy will be, this thy forlorn charge: fetch him home, drive him home to thy fold; though by shame, though by death : let him once recover thy Church, thou him; it is enough.
Our common Mother I know not whetver more pities your loss, or disdains thus to be robbed of a son: not for the need of you; but her own piety, her own love: for, how many troops of better informed souls hath she, every day, returning into her lap; now breathing from their late antichristianism, and embracing her knees upon their own! She laments you: not for that she fears she shall miss you; but, for that she knows you shall want her. See you her tears; and do but pity yourself, as much as she you.
And, from your Mother to descend to your Nurse; Is this the fruit of such education? Was not your youth spent in a society of such comely order, strict government, wise laws, religious care (it was ours: yet, let me praise it, to your shame) as may justly challenge, after all brags, either Rhemes; or Doway; or if your Jesuits have any other den, more cleanly, and more worthy of ostentation. And could you come out fresh and unseasoned, from the midst of those salt waves ? Could all those heavenly showers fall beside you; while you, like a Gideon's fleece, want moisture? Shall none of those divine principles, which your youth seemed to drink in, check you in your new errors?
Alas! how unlike are you to yourself, to your name! Jacob wrestled with an angel; and prevailed: you grapple but with a Jesuit; and yield. Jacob supplanted his brother: an Esau bath supplanted you. Jacob changed his name for a better, by his valiant resistance : you, by your cowardly yielding, have lost your own. Jacob strove with God, for a blessing : I tear to say it, you against him, for a curse; for, no common measure of hatred, nor ordinary opposition, can serve a revolter: either you must be desperately violent, or suspected.
The Mighty One of Israel, for he can do it, raise you, fallen ; return you, wandered; and give you grace, at last, to shame the Devil, to forsake your stepmother, to acknowledge your true parent, to satisfy the world, to save your own soul. "If otherwise; I will say of you, as Jeremiah of his Israelites, if not rather with more indignation, My soul shall weep in secret, for your revolt; and mine eyes shall drop down tears, because one of the Lord's flock is carried away captive.
TO MY LORD AND PATRON, THE LORD DENNY,
BARON OF WALTHAM.
Of the Contempt of the World,
My tongue, my pen, and my heart, are all your servants. When you cannot hear me, through distance; you must see me, in my letters.
You are now in the senate of the kingdom; or, in the concourse of the city; or, perhaps, though more rarely, in the royal face of the court: all of them places, fit for your place. From all these, let me call off your mind to her home above; and, in the midst of business, shew you rest: if I may not rather commend, than admonish; and, beforehand, confess my counsel superfluous, be. cause your holy forwardness bath prevented it. You can afford these, but half of yourself: the better part is better bestowed : your soul is still retired, and reserved. You have learned to vouchsafe these worldly things, use, without affection : and know to