Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
To the High and Mighty Monarch James
By Joseph Hall (15741656)
Prefatory Letter to Contemplations
To the High and Mighty Monarch Our dear and dread Sovereign Lord JAMES, By the good Providence of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, the most worthy and most able Defender of the Faith, and most Gracious Patron of the Church: all peace and happiness.
MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGNI cannot so over-love this issue of my own brain, as to hold it worthy of your Majestys judicious eyes: much less of the highest patronage under heaven: yet now, my very duty hath bidden me look so high, and tells me it would be no less than injurious, if I should not lay down my work, where I owe my service; and that I should offend, if I presume not. Besides; whither should the rivers run, but into the sea? It is to your Majesty (under the Highest) that we owe both these sweet opportunities of good, and all the good fruits of these happy opportunities: if we should not, therefore, freely offer to your Majesty some præmetial1 handfuls of that crop, whereof you may challenge the whole harvest, how could we be but shamelessly unthankful? I cannot praise my present, otherwise than by the truth of that heart from which it proceedeth: only this I may say, that seldom any man hath offered to your royal hands a greater bundle of his own thoughts (some whereof, as it must needs fall out amongst so many, have been confessed profitable), nor perhaps more variety of discourse. For here shall your Majesty find morality, like a good handmaid, waiting on divinity; and divinity, like some great lady, every day in several dresses; speculation interchanged with experience; positive theology with polemical; textual with discursory; popular with scholastical.
I cannot dissemble my joy to have done this little good; and if it be the comfort and honour of your unworthy servant, that the God of heaven hath vouchsafed to use his hand in the least service of His Church; how can it be but your crown and rejoicing, that the same God hath set apart your Majesty, as a glorious instrument of such an universal good to the whole Christian world? It was a mad conceit of that old Heresiarch, which might justly take his name from madness, than an huge giant bears up the earth with his shoulder; which he changes every thirtieth year for ease; and, with the removal, causes an earthquake. If by the device he had meant only an emblem of kings (as our ancient mythologists, under their Saint George, and Christopher, have described the Christian soldier and good pastor), he had not done amiss: for surely, the burden of the whole world lies on the shoulders of sovereign authority; and it is no marvel if the earth quake in the change. As kings are to the world, so are good kings to the Church. None can be so blind, or curious, as not to grant, that the whole Church of God upon earth rests herself principally (next to her stay above) upon your Majestys royal supportation: you may truly say with David, Ego sustineo columnas ejus. What wonder is it, then, if our tongues and pens bless you; if we be ambitious of all occasions, that may testify our cheerful gratulations of this happiness to your Highness, and ours in you? Which, our humble prayers unto Him, by whom kings reign, shall labour to continue, till both the earth and heavens be truly changed.The unworthiest of your Majestys servants,