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KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND IRELAND,
DEFENDER OF THE FAITH, &c. &c.
Most GRACIOUS AND DREAD SOVEREIGN,
We find it recorded for the everlasting honour of Theodosius the younger, that it was his use too 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 whatsoeverb 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
Socrat. lib. 7. hist. cap. 22. 5 Euthym. Zigaben. in Præfat. Dogmatica Panoplia.
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 added more than ordinary lustre of 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
© Jo. Brereley in his epistle before St. Augustine's Religion. d Job, chap. 29. ver. 11.
God, I trust I may speak it, and without flattery to you) in a well studied divine we would account very commendable, but in such a 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 re. ligion.
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; “ beforec 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
• Acts, chap. 26. ver. 26.