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KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY
BY THE GRACE OF GOD, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE,
AND IRELAND, DEFENDER OF THE FAITH, &c.
MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,
ALTHOUGH I know how little leisure great kings have to read large books, or indeed any, save only God's (the study, belief, and obedience of which are precisely commanded, even to kings (Deut. xvii. 18, 19), and from which, whatever wholly diverts them, will hazard to damn them; there being no affairs of so great importance, as their serving God, and saving their own souls; nor any precepts so wise, just, holy, and safe, as those of the Divine oracles; nor any empire so glorious, as that by which kings, being subject to God's law, have dominion over themselves, and so best deserve and exercise it over their subjects):
Yet having lived to see the wonderful and happy restoration of your Majesty to your rightful kingdoms and of this reformed church to its just rights, primitive order, and pristine constitution, by your Majesty's prudent care and unparalleled bounty, I know not what to present more worthy of your Majesty's acceptance and my duty, than these elaborate and seasonable works of the famous and prudent Mr. Richard Hooker, now augmented, and I hope completed, with the three last books, so much desired, and so long concealed.
The publishing of which volume so entire, and thus presenting it to your Majesty, seem to be a blessing and honour reserved by God's providence, to add a farther lustre to your Majesty's glorious name, and happy reign, whose transcendant favour, justice, merit, and munificence, to the long-afflicted church of England, is a subject no less worthy of admiration than gratitude to all posterity. And of all things (next God's grace) not to be abused or turned into wantonness by any of your Majesty's clergy, wbo are highly obliged, beyond all other subjects, to piety, loyalty, and industry.
I shall need nothing more to ingratiate this incomparable piece to your Majesty's acceptance, and all the English world's, than those high commendations it hath ever had, as from all prudent,
peaceable, and impartial readers, so especially from your Majesty's royal father, who, a few days before he was crowned with wartyrdom, recommended to his dearest children the diligent reading of Mr. Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, even next the Bible; as an excellent means to settle them in the truth of religion, and in the peace of this church, as much Christian, and as well reformed as any under heaven : as if God had reserved this signal honour to be done by the best of kings, and greatest sufferers for this church, to him who was one of the best writers and ablest defenders of it.
To this completed edition, is added such particular accounts as could be got of the Author's person, education, temper, manners, fortunes, life, and death, which are now done with much exactness and proportion : that hereby your Majesty, and all the world, may see what sort of men are fittest for church-work (which, like the building of Solomon's temple, is best carried on with most evenness of judgment, and least noise of passion). Also, what manner of man he was, to whom we all owe this noble work, and durable defence.
Which is indeed at once (as the tongues of eloquent princes are to themselves and their subjects) both a treasury and an armoury, to enrich their friends, and defend them against the church of England : a rare composition of unpassionate reason, and impartial religion; the '
mature product of a judicious scholar, a loyal subject, an humble preacher, and a most eloquent writer: the very abstract and quintessence of laws human and Divine ; a summ
nmary of the grounds, rules, and proportions, of true polity in church and state: upon which clear, solid, and safe foundations, the good order, peace, and government, of this church were anciently settled, and on which, while it stands firm, it will be flourishing: all other popular and specious pretensions being found by late sad experiences, to be as novel and unfit, so factious and fallacious, yea, dangerous and destructive to the peace and prosperity of this church and kingdom, whose inseparable happiness and interests are bound up in monarchy and episcopacy.
The politic and visible managing of both which, God hath now graciously restored and committed to your Majesty's sovereign wisdom and authority, after the many and long tragedies suffered from those club-masters and tub-ministers, who sought not fairly to obtain reformation of what might seem amiss, but violently and wholly to overthrow the ancient and goodly fabric of this church and kingdom. For finding themselves not able in many years to answer this one book, long ago written in defence of the truth, order, government, authority, and liberty (in things indifferent), of this reformed church, agreeable to right reason and true religion (which make this well-tempered piece, a file capable to break the teeth of any that venture to bite it); they conspired at last to betake themselves to arms, to kindle those horrid fires of civil wars, which this wise Author foresaw and foretold in his admira. ble preface would follow those sparks and that smoke which he saw rise in his days: so that from impertinent disputes (seconded with scurrilous pamphlets) they fled to tumults, sedition, rebellion, sacrilege, parricide, yea, regicide; counsels, weapons, and practices, certainly no way becoming the hearts and hands of Christian subjects, nor ever sanctified by Christ for his service, or his church's good.
What now remains, but your Majesty's perfecting and preserving that in this church) which you have with much prudence and tenderness so happily begun and prosecuted, with more zeal than the establishment of your own throne. The still crazy church of England, together with this book (its great and impregnable shield), do farther need, and humbly implore, your Majesty's royal protection under God: nor can your Majesty, by any generous instance and perseverance (most worthy of a Christian king) more express that pious and grateful sense which God and all good men expect from your Majesty, as some retribution for his many miraculous mercies to yourself, than in a wise, speedy, and happy settling, of our religious peace; with the least grievance, and most satisfaction to all your good subjects; sacred order and uniformity being the centre and circumference of our civil tranquillity; sedition naturally rising out of schism, and rebellion out of faction: the only cure and antidote against both, are good laws and canons, first wisely made, with all Christian moderation and seasonable charity ; next, duly executed with justice and impartiality; which sober severity is indeed the greatest charity to the public; whose verity, unity, sanctity, and solemnity, in religious concernments, being once duly established, must not be shaken, or sacrificed to any private varieties and extravagances. Where the internals of doctrine, morality, mysterious and evangelical duties, being (as they are in the church of England) sound and sacred, the externals of decent forms, circumstances, rites, and ceremonies, being subordinate and servient to the main, cannot be either evil or unsafe, neither offensive to God nor good Christians.
For the attaining of which blessed ends of piety and peace, that the sacred sun and shield of the Divine grace and power directing and protecting, may ever shine upon your Majesty's person and family, counsels and power, is the humble prayer
I think it necessary to inform my reader, that Dr. Gauden (the late bishop of Worcester) hath also lately wrote and published the life of Master Hooker. And though this be not writ by design to oppose what he hath truly written; yet I am put upon a necessity to say, that in it there be many material mistakes, and more omissions. I conceive some of his mistakes did proceed from a belief in Master Thomas Fuller, who had too hastily published what he hath since most ingenuously retracted. And for the Bishop's omissions, I suppose his more weighty business, and want of time, made him pass over many things without that due examination, which
better leisure, my diligence, and my accidental advantages, have made known unto me..
And now for myself, I can say, I hope, or rather know, there are no material mistakes in what I here present to you that shall become my reader. Little things that I have received by tradition (to which there may be too much and too little faith given), I will not at this distance of time undertake to justify; for though I have used great diligence, and compared relations and circumstances, and probable results and expressions; yet I shall not impose my belief upon my reader; I shall rather leave him at liberty: but if there shall appear any material omission, I desire every lover of truth and the memory of Master Hooker, that it may be made known unto
And, to incline him to it, I here promise to acknowledge and rectify any such mistake in a second impression, which the printer says he hopes for; and by this means my weak (but faithful) endeavours may become a better monument, and in some degree more worthy the
of this venerable man. I confess, that when I consider the great learning and virtue of Master Hooker, and what satisfaction and advantages many eminent scholars and admirers of him bave had by his labours; I do not a little wonder, that in sixty years no man did undertake to tell posterity of the excellences of his life and learning, and the accidents of both; and sometiines wonder more at myself, that I have been persuaded to it; and, indeed, I do not easily pronounce my own pardon, nor expect that my reader shall, unless my Introduction shall prove my apology, to which I refer him.