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HIS MOST SACRED MAJESTY,
BY THE GRACE OF GOD
KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND IRELAND,
DEFENDER OF THE FAITH, &c.
Most GRACIOUS AND DREAD SOVEREIGN,
We find it recorded for the everlasting honour of Theodosius the younger, that it was his use 'to reason with his Bishops of the things contained in the holy Scriptures, as if he himself had been one of their order; and of the Emperor Alexius in latter days, that ? whatsoever time he could spare from the public cares of the commonwealth, he did wholly employ in the diligent reading of God's book, and in conferring thereof with worthy men, of whom his court was never empty. How little inferior, or how much superior rather, your Majesty is to either of these in this kind of praise, I need not speak: it is acknowledged even by such as differ from you in the point of religion, as a matter that hath 3 added more than ordinary lustre pf ornament to your Royal estate, that you do not forbear so much as at the time of your bodily repast, to have, for the then like feeding of your intellectual part, your Highness' table surrounded with the attendance and conference of your grave and learned Divines.
What inward joy my heart conceived, as oft as I have had the happiness to be present at such seasons, I forbear to utter : only I will say with Job, that 'the ear which
heard you blessed you ; and the eye which saw you, gave witness to you. But of all other things which I observed, your singular dexterity in detecting the frauds of the Romish Church, and untying the most knotty arguments of the sophisters of that side, was it (I confess) that I admired most, especially where occasion was offered you to utter your skill, not in the word of God alone, but also in the antiquities of the Church; wherein you have attained such a measure of knowledge, as (with honour to God, I trust I may speak it, and without flattery to you) in a well studied Divine we would account very mendable, but in such Monarch as yourself almost incredible. And this is one cause, most gracious Sovereign, beside my general duty, and the many special obligations whereby I am otherwise bound unto your Majesty, which hath emboldened me to entreat your patience at this time, in vouchsafing to be a spectator of this combat, which I am now entered into with a Jesuit, who chargeth us to disallow, many chief Articles, which the Saints and Fathers of the primitive Church did generally hold to be true; and undertaketh to make good, that they of his side do not disagree from that holy Church, either in these, or in any other point of religion.
Now true it is, if a man do only attend unto the bare sound of the word, (as in the question of Merit, for example,) or to the thing in general, without descending into the particular consideration of the true ground thereof, (as in the matter of praying for the dead,) he may easily be induced to believe, that in divers of these controversies the Fathers speak clearly for them and against us: neither is there any one thing that hath won more credit to that religion, or more advanced it in the consciences of simple men, than the conformity that it retaineth in some words and outward observances with the ancient Church of Christ. Whereas, if the thing itself were narrowly looked into, it
would be found that they have only the shell without the kernel, and we the kernel without the shell; they having retained certain words and rites of the ancient Church, but applied them to a new invented doctrine; and we on the other side having relinquished these words and observances, but retained nevertheless the same primitive doctrine, unto which by their first institution they had relation.
The more cause have I to count myself happy, that am to answer of these matters before a king that is able to discern betwixt things that differ, and hath knowledge of all these questions, before whom therefore I may speak boldly ; because I am persuaded that none of these things are hid from him. For it is not of late days that your Majesty hath begun to take these things into your consideration : from a child have you been trained up to this warfare; yea, before you were twenty years of age, the Lord had taught your hands to fight against the man of sin, and your fingers to make battle against his Babel. Whereof your Paraphrase upon the Revelation of St John is a memorable monument left to all posterity; which I can never look upon, but those verses of the poet run always in my mind :
Cæsaribus virtus contigit ante diem ;
Surgit, et ignavæ fert mala damna moræ. Ovid.
Merc. Gallobelgic. Ann. 1623.
5 Acts xxvi. 26.
“? What my religion is, my books do declare, my profession and my behaviour do shew: and I hope in God, I shall never live to be thought otherwise ; sure I shall never deserve it. And for my part I wish that it might be written in marble, and remain to posterity, as a mark upon me, when I shall swerve from my religion : for he that doth dissemble with God, is not to be trusted by man. My Lords, I protest before God, my heart hath bled, when I have heard of the increase of Popery: and God is my judge, it hath been so great a grief unto me, that it hath been like thorns in mine eyes, and pricks in my sides ; so far have I been, and ever shall be, from turning any other way. And, my Lords and Gentlemen, you all shall be my confessors: if I knew any way better than other to hinder the growth of Popery, I would take it: and he cannot be an honest man, who knowing as I do, and being persuaded as I am, would do otherwise.”'
have so long since begun, and happily continued, so go on, most renowned King, and still shew yourself to be a Defender of the faith : fight the Lord's battles courageously, honour him evermore, and advance his truth, that when you have fought this good fight, and finished your course, and kept the faith, you may receive the crown of righteousness, reserved in heaven for you: for the obtaining of which double blessing, both of grace and of glory, together with all outward prosperity and happiness in this life, you shall never want the instant
Your Majesty's most faithful Subject,
and humble Servant,
? His Majesty's Answer to the Petition of the Parliament touching Recusants, April 23, 1621.
82 Tim. iv. 7, 8.
TO THE READER.
It is now about six years, as I gather by the reckoning laid down in the 23rd page of this book, since this following Challenge was brought unto me from a Jesuit; and received that general Answer, which now serveth to make up the first chapter only of this present work. The particular points which were by him but barely named, I meddled not withal at that time; conceiving it to be his part (as in the 31st page is touched) who sustained the person of the assailant, to bring forth his arms, and give the first onset ; and mine, as the defendant, to repel his encounter afterwards. Only I then collected certain materials out of the Scriptures and writings of the Fathers, which I meant to make use of for a second conflict, whensoever our Challenger should be pleased to descend to the handling of the particular articles by him proposed; the truth of every of which he had taken upon him to prove by the express testimonies of the Fathers of the primitive Church, as also by good and certain grounds out of the sacred Scriptures, if the Fathers' authority would not suffice.
Thus this matter lay dead for divers years together ; and so would still have done, but that some of high place in both kingdoms, having been pleased to think far better of that little which I had done than the thing deserved, advised me to go forward, and to deliver the judgment of antiquity touching those particular points in controversy, wherein the Challenger was so confident that the whole current of the Doctors, Pastors and Fathers of the primitive Church did mainly run on his side. Hereupon I gathered my scattered notes together, and as the multitude of my employments would give me leave, now entered into the handling of one point, and then of another; treating of