King James Translators

Letter to the Reader pg 1

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Zeale to promote the common good, whether it be by devising any thing our selves, or revising that which hath bene laboured by others, deserveth certainly much respect and esteeme, but yet findeth but cold intertainment in the world. It is welcommed with suspicion in stead of love, and with emulation in stead of thankes: and if there be any hole left for cavill to enter, (and cavill, if it doe not finde a hole, will make one) it is sure to bee misconstrued, and in danger to be condemned. This will easily be granted by as many as know story, or have any experience. For, was there ever any thing projected, that savoured any way of newnesse or renewing, but the same endured many a storme of gaine-saying, or opposition? A man would thinke that Civilitie, holesome Lawes, learning and eloquence, Synods, and Church-maintenance, (that we speake of no more things of this kinde) should be as safe as a Sanctuary, and ll out of shot, as they say, that no man would lift up the heele, no, nor dogge moove his tongue against the motioners of them. For by the first, we are distinguished from bruit-beasts led with sensualitie: By the second, we are bridled and restrained from outragious behaviour, and from doing of injuries, whether by fraud or by violence: By the third, we are enabled to informe and reforme others, by the light and feeling that we have attained unto our selves: Briefly, by the fourth being brought together to a parle face to face, we sooner compose our differences then by writings, which are endlesse: And lastly, that the Church be sufficiently provided for, is so agreeable to good reason and conscience, that those mothers are holden to be lesse cruell, that kill their children assoone as they are borne, then those noursing fathers and mothers (wheresoever they be) that withdraw from them who hang upon their breasts (and upon whose breasts againe themselves do hang to receive the Spirituall and sincere milke of the word) livelyhood and support fit for their estates. Thus it is apparent, that these things which we speake of, are of most necessary use, and therefore, that none, either without absurditie can speake against them, or without note of wickednesse can spurne against them.

Yet for all that, the learned know that certaine worthy men have bene brought to untimely death for none other fault, but for seeking to reduce their Countrey-men to good order and discipline: and that in some Common-weales it was made a capitall crime, once to motion the making of a new Law for the abrogating of an old, though the same were most pernicious: And that certaine, which would be counted pillars of the State, and paternes of Vertue and Prudence, could not be brought for a long time to give way to good Letters and refined speech, but bare themselves as averse from them, as from rocks or boxes of poison: And fourthly, that hee was no babe, but a great clearke, that gave foorth (and in writing to remaine to posteritie) in passion peradventure, but yet he gave foorth, that hee had not seene any profit to come by any Synode, or meeting of the Clergie, but rather the contrary: And lastly, against Church-maintenance and allowance, in such sort, as the Embassadors and messengers of the great King of Kings should be furnished, it is not unknowen what a fiction or fable (so it is esteemed, and for no better by the reporter himselfe, though superstitious) was devised; Namely, that at such time as the professours and teachers of Christianitie in the Church of Rome, then a true Church, were liberally endowed, a voyce forsooth was heard from heaven, saying; Now is poison poured down into the Church, &c. Thus not only as oft as we speake, as one saith, but also as oft as we do any thing of note or consequence, we subject our selves to every ones censure, and happy is he that is least tossed upon tongues; for utterly to escape the snatch of them it is impossible. If any man conceit, that this is the lot and portion of the meaner sort onely, and that Princes are priviledged by their high estate, he is deceived. As the sword devoureth aswell one as the other, as it is in Samuel; nay as the great Commander charged his souldiers in a certaine battell, to strike at no part of the enemie, but at the face; And as the King of Syria commanded his chiefe Captaines to fight neither with small nor great, save onely against the King of Israel: so it is too true, that Envie striketh most spitefully at the fairest, and at the chiefest. David was a worthy Prince, and no man to be compared to him for his first deedes, and yet for as worthy an acte as ever he did (even for bringing backe the Arke of God in solemnitie) he was scorned and scoffed at by his owne wife. Solomon was greater then David, though not in vertue, yet in power: and by his power and wisdome he built a Temple to the LORD, such a one was the glory of the land of Israel, and the wonder of the whole world. But was that his magnificence liked of by all? We doubt of it. Otherwise, why doe they lay it in his sonnes dish, and call unto him for ll easing of the burden, Make, say they, the grievous servitude of thy father, and his sore yoke, lighter. Belike he had charged them with some levies, and troubled them with some cariages; Hereupon they raise up a tragedie, and wish in their heart the Temple had never bene built. So hard a thing it is to please all, even when we please God best, and doe seeke to approve our selves to every ones conscience.

If wee will descend to later times, wee shall finde many the like examples of such kind, or rather unkind acceptance. The first Romane Emperour did never doe a more pleasing deed to the learned, nor more profitable to posteritie, for conserving the record of times in true supputation; then when he corrected the Calender, and ordered the yeere according to the course of the Sunne: and yet this was imputed to him for noveltie, and arrogancie, and procured to him great obloquie. So the first Christened Emperour (at the leastwise that openly professed the faith himselfe, and allowed others to doe the like) for strengthening the Empire at his great charges, and providing for the Church, as he did, got for his labour the name Pupillus, as who would say, a wastefull Prince, that had neede of a Guardian, or overseer. So the best Christened Emperour, for the love that he bare unto peace, thereby to enrich both himselfe and his subjects, and because he did not seeke warre but find it, was judged to be no man at armes, (though in deed he excelled in feates of chivalrie, and shewed so much when he was provoked) and condemned for giving himselfe to his ease, and to his pleasure. To be short, the most learned Emperour of former times, (at the least, the greatest politician) what thanks had he for cutting off the superfluities of the lawes, and digesting them into some order and method? This, that he hath been blotted by some to bee an Epitomist, that is, one that extinguished worthy whole volumes, to bring his abridgements into request. This is the measure that hath been rendred to excellent Princes in former times, even, Cum benè facerent, malè audire, For their good deedes to be evill spoken of. Neither is there any likelihood, that envie and malignitie died, and were buried with the ancient. No, no, the reproofe of Moses taketh hold of most ages; You are risen up in your fathers stead, an increase of sinfull men. What is that that hath been done? that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the Sunne, saith the wiseman: and S. Steven, As your fathers did, so doe you. This, and more to this purpose, His Majestie that now reigneth (and long, and long may he reigne, and his offspring for ever, Himselfe and children, and childrens children alwayes) knew full well, according to the singular wisdome given unto him by God, and the rare learning and experience that he hath attained unto; namely that whosoever attempteth any thing for the publike (specially if it pertaine to Religion, and to the opening and clearing of the word of God) the same setteth himselfe upon a stage to be glouted upon by every evil eye, yea, he casteth himselfe headlong upon pikes, to be gored by every sharpe tongue. For he that medleth with mens Religion in any part, medleth with their custome, nay, with their freehold; and though they finde no content in that which they have, yet they cannot abide to heare of altering. Notwithstanding his Royall heart was not daunted or discouraged for this or that colour, but stood resolute, as a statue immoveable, and an anvile not easie to be beaten into plates, as one sayth; he knew who had chosen him to be a Souldier, or rather a Captaine, and being assured that the course which he intended made much for the glory of God, & the building up of his Church, he would not suffer it to be broken off for whatsoever speaches or practises. It doth certainely belong unto Kings, yea, it doth specially belong unto them, to have care of Religion, yea, to know it aright, yea, to professe it zealously, yea to promote it to the uttermost of their power. This is their glory before all nations which meane well, and this will bring unto them a farre most excellent weight of glory in the day of the Lord Jesus. For the Scripture saith not in vaine, Them that honor me, I will honor, neither was it a vaine word that Eusebius delivered long agoe, that pietie towards God was the weapon, and the onely weapon that both preserved Constantines person, and avenged him of his enemies. page2right arrow

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