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gold, and a piece of silver, or a lamb, to bring also my offering, the signification of my joy. For though. it be but two books, which, like the widow's two mites, make up but a contemptible sum; yet because it is all I have, your Majesty may be pleased to accept and so much the rather, because it is also an expression of that part of the duty of my calling which hath fallen to my share. For your Majesty, like the king in the Gospel, hath been in a far country, and some of your citizens sent after you, and said, "Nolumus hunc regnare ";" but God hath caused you to return and reign: and if your Majesty should by that example call us to render an account of our talents, I can only say, that amongst those many excellent persons who have greatly improved theirs, I was willing to negotiate and to labour. What fruit will from hence accrue to souls is wholly in the hands of God: but this semination and culture were much wanted in the reformed churches. For though in all things else the goodness of God hath made us to abound, and our cup to run over; yet our labours have been hitherto unemployed in the description of the rules of conscience and casuistical theology. In which because I have made some attempt, if the production be not unworthy, I am sure it is not improper to lay it at the feet of your Majesty. For your Majesty being by God appointed "custos utriusque
tabulæ," since, like Moses, you are from God descended to us with the two tables of the law in your hand, and that you will best govern by the arguments and compulsory of conscience, and this alone is the greatest firmament of obedience; whatsoever can be the measure of conscience "est res fisci," is part of your own propriety, and enters into the exchequer.
Be pleased therefore, gracious Sir, to accept this instance of my duty to God, to your Majesty, and to your great charge, the church of England. There are in it many things intended for the service, but nothing to deserve any of these great interests. Those cases that concern the power and offices of ecclesiastical superiors and supreme, were (though in another manner) long since done by the incomparable Mr. Hooker", and the learned Archbishop of Spalato: but their labours were unhappily lost, and never saw the light. And though I cannot attain to the strength of these champions of David and guardians of the temple; yet since their portion of work is fallen into my hand, I have heartily endeavoured to supply that loss; though with no other event, but as charitable passengers by their little, but wellmeaning, alms repair the breaches of his fortune, who was greatly undone by the war or fire. But therefore I humbly beg your Majesty's pardon in all things where my weaknesses make me to despair of your
d Lib. 7, 8. of Eccles. Polity. * Lib. 8. de Rep. Eccles.
more gracious acceptance: and here I am therefore to be confident, because your mercy is, as your Majesty, this day in her exaltation, felt by all your subjects; and therefore humbly to be hoped for by
Most dutiful and most obedient Subject,
THE reformation of religion in the western churches hath been so violently, so laboriously, so universally, opposed by evil spirits and evil men, by wilfulness and ignorance, by prejudice and interest, by error and partiality; and itself also hath been done so imperfectly in some places, and so unskilfully in some others, because the thick and long-incumbent darkness had made it impossible to behold the whole light in all its splendour; that it was found to be work enough for the ministers of religion to convince the gainsayers, to oppose their witty arts by the advantageous representment of wise truths, so to keep the people from their temptations. But since there were not found many able to do this but such which had other cures to attend, the conduct of souls in their public and private charges, and the consequent necessity of preaching and catechising, visiting the sick, and their public daily offices; it was the less wonder that in the reformed churches there hath been so great a scarcity of books of conscience: though it was not to be denied but the careless and needless neglect of receiving private confessions hath been too great a cause of our not providing materials apt for so pious and useful a ministration. But besides this, it is certain that there was a necessity of labouring to other purposes than formerly: and this necessity was present and urgent; and the hearts and heads of men ran to quench that fire, and left the government of the house more loosely, till they could discern whether the house would be burnt or no by the flames of contention which then brake out: only this duty was supplied by excellent preachings, by private conferences, by admonitions and answers given when some more pious and religious persons came to confessions, and as they were upon particular occasions required and invited. But for any public provisions of books of casuistical theology,