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TO THE HIGH AND MIGHTY PRINCE, -
HIS HIGHNESS'S UNWORTHY SERVANT, DEDICATES ALL HIS LABOURS, AND WISHES ALL HAPPINESS.
MOST GRACIOUS PRINCE: This work of mine, which, if my hopes and desires fail me not, time may hereafter make great, I have presumed both to dedicate in whole to your Highness, and to parcel out in severals unto subordinate hands. It is no marvel if books have this freedom, when we ourselves can and ought to be all your's, while we are our own and others under you. I dare say, these meditations, how rude soever they may fall from my pen, in regard of their subject are fit for a prince. Here your Highness shall see how the great pattern of princes, the KING OF HEAVEN, hath ever ruled the world ; how his substitutes, earthly kings, have ruled it under him,"and with what success either of glory or ruin. Both your peace and war shall find here holy and great examples. And if history and observation be the best counsellors of your youth, what story can be so wise and faithful as that which God hath written for men, wherein you see both what hath been done, and what should be? What observation so worthy as that which is both raised from God, and directed to him? If the propriety which your Highness justly hath in the Work and Author, may draw your princely eyes and heart the rather to these holy speculations, your servant shall be happier in this favour than in all your outward bounty; as one to whom your spiritual progress deserves to be dearer than his own life ; and whose daily suit is, that God would guide your steps aright in this slippery age, and continue to rejoice all good hearts in the view of your gracious proceedings. Your Highness's humbly devoted servant,
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
THOMAS, EARL OF EXETER, ONE OF HIS MAJESTY'S MOST HONOURABLE PRIVY COUNCIL,
ALL GRACE AND HAPPINESS.
RIGHT HONOURABLE: I KNEW I could not bestow my thoughts better than upon God's own History, so full of edification and delight: which I have in such sort endeavoured to do, that I shall give occasion to my reader of some meditations, which perhaps he would have missed. Every help in this kind deserves to be precious. I present the first part to your Honour, wherein you shall see the world both made and smothered again: Man in the glory of his creation, and the shame of his fall : Paradise at once made and lost : The first man killing his seed, the second his brother. If in these I shall give light to the thoughts of my reader, let him with me give the praise to Him from whom that light shone forth to me. To whose grace and pro. tection I humbly commend your Lordship, as
Pour Honour's unfeignedly devoted
What can I see, O God, in thy creation, but miracles of wolle ders ? Thou madest something of nothing, and of that something, all things. Thou, which wast without a beginning, gavest a bea ginning to time, and to the world in time. It is the praise of us men, if when we have matter, we can give fashion: thou gavest a being to the matter, without form ; thou gavęst a form to that matter, and a glory to that form. If we can but finish a slight and im
perfect matter according to a former pattern, it is the height of our skill : but to begin that which never was, whereof there was no example, whereto there was no inclination, wherein there was no possibility of that which it should be, is proper only to such power as thine; the infinite power of an infinite creator: with us, not so much as a thought can arise without some matter ; but here with thee, all matter arises from nothing. How easy is it for thee to repair all out of something, which couldest thus fetch all out of nothing! Wherein can we now distrust thee, that hast proved thyself thus omnipotent? Behold: to have made the least clod of nothing, is more above wonder, than to multiply a world; but now the matter doth not more praise thy power, than the form thy wisdom: what beauty is here! what order! what order in working, what beauty in the work !
Thou mightest have made all the world perfect in an instant, but thou wouldest not. That will, which caused thee to create, is reason enough why thou didst thus create. How should we deliberate in our actions, which are so subject to imperfection! since it pleased thine infinite perfection, not out of need, to take leisure. Neither did thy wisdom herein proceed in time only, but in degrees : at first thou madest nothing absolute; first, thou madest things which should have being without life; then, those which should have life and being ; lastly, those which have being, life, reason : so we ourselves in the ordinary course of generation, first live the life of vegetation, then of sense, of reason afterwards. That instant wherein the heaven and the earth were created in their rude matter, there was neither day nor light, but presently thou madest both light and day. While we have this example of thine, how vainly do we hope to be perfect at once! It is well for us, if through many degrees we can rise to our consummation.
But, alas! what was the very heaven itself without light? how confused ! how formless ! like to a goodly body without a soul, like a soul without theę. Thou art light, and in thee is no darkness. Oh how incomprehensibly glorious is the light that is in thee, since one glimpse of this created light, gave so lively a glory to all thy workmanship! This, even the brute creatures can behold; that, not the very angels. That shines forth only to the other supreme world of immortality, this to the basest part of thy creation. There is one cause of our darkness on earth, and of the utter darkness in hell; the restraint of thy light. Shine thou, O God, into the vast corners of my soul, and in thy light I shall see light.
But whence, () God, was that first light? The sun was not made till the fourth day; light, the first. If man had been, he might have seen all lightsome; but whence it had come he could not have seen ; as in some great pond, we see the banks full, we see not the springs from whence that water riseth. Thou madest the sun, madest the light without the sun, before the sun, that so light might depend upon thee, and not upon thy creature. Thy power will not be limited to means. It was easy to thee to make a hea-'
ven without a sun, light without a heaven, day without a sun, time without a day : it is good reason thou shouldest be the lord of thine own works. All means serve thee: why do we weak wretches distrust thee, in the want of those means, which thou canst either cominand, or forbear? How plainly wouldst thou teach us, that we creatures need not one another, so long as we have thee! One day we shall have light again without the sun. Thou shalt be our sun; thy presence shall be our light: light is sown for the righ. teous. The sun and light is but for the world below itself; thine only for above. Thou givest this light to the sun, which the sun gives to the world : that light, which thou shalt once give us, shall make us shine like the sun in glory.
Now this light which for three days was thus dispersed through the whole heavens, it pleased thee at last to gather and unite into one body of the sun. The whole heaven was our sun, before the sun was created : but now one star must be the treasury of light to the heaven and earth. How thou lovest the union and reduction of all things of one kind to their own head and centre ! So the waters must by thy command be gathered into one place, the sea; so the upper waters must be severed by these airy limits from the lower: so heavy substances hasten downward, and light mount up; so the general light of the first days must be called into the compass of one sun; so thou wilt once gather thine elect, from all coasts of heaven, to the participation of one glory. Why do we abide our thoughts and affections scattered from thee, from thy saints, from thine anointed? Oh let this light, which thou hast now spread abroad in the hearts of all thine, once meet in thee: we are as thy heavens in this their first imperfection; be thou our sun, unto which our light may be gathered.
Yet this light was by thee interchanged with darkness, which thou mightest as easily have commanded to be perpetual. The continuance, even of the best things, cloyeth and wearieth : there is nothing but thyself, wherein there is not satiety. So pleasing is the vicissitude of things, that the intercourse even of those occurrents which in their own nature are less worthy, gives more contentment, than the unaltered estate of better. The day dies into night, and rises into the morning again, that we might not expect any stability here below, but in perpetual successions : it is always day with thee above; the night savoureth only of mortality : why are we not here spiritually as we shall be hereafter? Since thou hast made us children of the light, and of the day, teach us to walk ever in the light of thy presence, not in the darkness of error and unbelief. · Now in this thine enlightened frame, how fitly, how wisely are all the parts disposed, that the method of the creation might answer the matter, and the form both! Behold all purity above ; below, the dregs and lees of all. The higher I go, the more perfection; each element superior to other, not more in place than dignity; that by these stairs of ascending perfection, our thoughts might climb unto the top of all glory, and might know thine imperial