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A Commentary on the New Testament
from the Talmud and Hebraica
Exercitations upon the Gospel of St. Mark
Sacred to God and the King,
An altar is here to be erected before the porch;
and thanksgivings to be offered on it,
for this leisure granted to the studies of learning;
for the muses preserved,
for me and mine snatched from imminent ruin,--
To Jehovah the Deliverer,
and to Caesar the Preserver:
To Caesar the things which are Caesar's,
and to God the things which are God's.
Come hither, stranger, [viator], and stand by me, while I am sacrificing; and
when you hear me relating my own story, help my prayers with yours; assist me in this holy
office, and worship the same deities with me.
I sing the mercy of God, and the clemency of the king, by which I was preserved from
suffering shipwreck, when I had been already shipwrecked; and from being driven out of
doors, when I had been already driven out.
This rectory of Great Mundon, which I have now enjoyed for almost twenty years, belongs
to the royal donation and grant, pleno jure, as they use to speak. By which right
two rectors were placed here heretofore by two kings: persons they were of eminent name,
of no ordinary worth, and the like to whom their times produced not many. One was the very
famous George Downham, STD, presented by king James, who was promoted hence, and sent over
to the bishopric of Derry in Ireland. And he leaving it, that excellent person Samuel
Ward, STD, master of Sidney Sussex College, in the university of Cambridge, and also the
most grave and learned professor of the lady Margaret in the same university, was made his
successor by king Charles. Upon his decease I succeeded here; far unequal (alas!) to so
great men: and as unhappy, that I was not admitted by the same right, but by that power
that then, while the wars prevailed, possessed all. The brittleness of this my weak title
lay not concealed; but when the king's majesty, in which we now rejoice, by a happy turn
of Providence returned to his own rights, it was presently discovered; and this rectory
was granted to one who was a suitor for it, by the royal donation.
Thus I and my fortunes are shipwrecked, and my affairs are come to that last extremity,
that nothing now remains for me but to leave my house and these quiet retirements wherein
for so many years I followed my studies with the highest satisfaction and the sweetest
leisure. But another thing there was that stuck more close, namely, that I seemed to see
royal majesty offended with me, and that brow that shined on others with a most sweet
serenity, sad, clouded, bended on me; and certainly to perish under the displeasure of a
king is twice to perish.
Under these straits what should I do? There was no place for hope, when the fatal
instrument was now signed against me: but to despair is to subscribe to one's own
misfortune, is to derogate from the king's mercy, is to submit to certain ruin under
uncertain suspicion. Perhaps the most merciful king is not angry with me at all, for
eagles do not use to be angry with flies. Nor, perhaps, is it too late, nor altogether to
no purpose, to seek after a remedy for my wound, not yet incurable; for as yet the fatal
decree was not gone out without repeal. Perhaps my case is altogether unknown to the best
king, or disguised by some unjust complaint; and it is a comfort that my business lies
before a king, not before a common man.
To the altar, therefore, of his mercy I humbly fly in a lowly supplication, begging and
entreating him to consider my case, to revoke the destructive decree, and to vouchsafe to
continue and establish my station in this place. Take now, O England, a measure of thy
king; and, even from this one example, learn what a prince thou hast to boast of. The
royal father of his country received my supplication cheerfully, complied with my desires,
and granted me his donation,--established it with his great seal, and (which I desire
might be written in letters of gold to last for ever) by a particular, and, as it were,
paternal care, took order that hereafter none, by any means whatsoever, should proceed to
do any thing that tended either to my danger or ruin.
O! how would I commemorate thee, thou best of princes, greatest Charles, how would I
commemorate thee! What praises or what expressions shall I use to celebrate or set forth
so great clemency, commiseration, and goodness? Those are light obligations that speak,
these my obligations stand amazed, are speechless, and swallowed up in admiration. It is
for common men to do benefits that may be expressed in words, it is for Charles to oblige
beyond all that can be spoken.
I will add another thing also, O stranger, which the same mercy and goodness also
added. For when I feared the same fortune in the university as I had felt in the country,
and fled again to the same altar, the royal bounty heard me, granted my petition, ratified
my desires, and confirmed and strengthened my station there also.
To comprise all in a word, which indeed exceeds all words. Although I were an obscure
person and of no note, altogether unworthy and of no merit, wholly unknown to the king's
majesty, and lying possibly under some kind of accusations, (for it wanted not an
accusation that I was put into these places by that authority that I was,) yet twice
within two weeks by the royal favour I obtained his grant, confirmed by his hand, and the
great seal of England. And thus rooted out here he replanted me; and ready to be rooted
out elsewhere he preserved me, rescued me from danger, freed me of my fear: so that now I,
as well as my worthy predecessors, have this to boast of, that I have a king to my patron.
But far be it, far be it, from me, most unworthy man, to boast: all this, most great,
most merciful prince, redounds to your praise alone; and let it do so: rather let England
glory in such a prince, and let the prince glory in such mercy. Triumph, Caesar, triumph
in that brave spirit of yours, as you well may. You are Charles, and you conquer; you
subdue all by pitying, delivering, giving, and forgiving all.
That conquest I shall always acknowledge with all humility and thankfulness: and thou,
little book, and you, trifling sheets, wheresoever ye shall fly, tell this abroad in my
name everywhere, and to every man, that although there be nothing else in you worthy to be
read, yet that this my sincere profession may be read and heard; that, next after the
divine mercy, I owe to the mercy of the king, that I enjoy this sweet leisure for
learning, that I enjoy these quiet retirements, that I enjoy a house, that I enjoy myself.
So, O father of the country, may the Father of mercies reward you sevenfold, and
seventy times sevenfold into your bosom; and may you feel every day the benefit and
sweetness of doing good by the recompenses that are made you by Heaven. Thus may your
mercy ever triumph, and ever reap as the fruit of it the eternal favour of the Divine
mercy. Thus may England be crowned for a long time with her king; and may the king be
crowned for ever with the love of God, with his protection, his blessing, his grace, his
Made these vows, Jan. 1, 1661.
To the Right Reverend Father in Christ, Gilbert,
By the Divine Providence, Lord Bishop of London.
The sacrifice by the law was to be delivered into the hands of the priest, and to be
offered by him: and since your hands, reverend prelate, vouchsafed to offer my petitions,
to the king's majesty, I now become an humble petitioner that those hands would please to
offer also these testimonials of my thanks.
I bring the firstfruits of my replantation which the royal favour indulged me by the
intercession of your honour, when I had been rooted up. For since by that favour I am
restored to these seats, to peace, and my studies, there is nothing I now desire besides,
nothing more than that that most excellent prince may perceive, that he hath not been a
benefactor to an ungrateful person, however unworthy, however obscure: and that your
honour may see that you have not interceded for a forgetful person, howsoever undeserving.
I shall never forget, great sir, with how much kindness and candour your honour
received me in my straits, altogether unknown to you, and whose face you had never before
seen: with how great concern you pleaded my cause before the king's majesty, before the
most honourable the lord chancellor of England, and before the right reverend my diocesan:
how your honour consulted for me, wrote letters, laid stops, that my ruin might not
proceed beyond a possibility of restoration. All which while I reflect upon, which I ever
do, and while, together with that reflection, I consider what ever do, and while, together
with that reflection, I consider what obligation lays upon me on one hand, and my own
meanness on the other; on one hand how unworthy I am of so great favour, and how
altogether unable to make any recompense on the other; what else is left me but to fly
again to the same kindness, humbly imploring it, that as it at first so obligingly
received me, a person unknown and unworthy; so it would now entertain me, known and bound
by so great obligation, and approaching with all the thanks I can give. Those thanks so
due to your honour I have committed to these papers; unlearned indeed they are, and
undressed [impolitis]; but such as carry sincerity with them, though not learning,
thankfulness, though not eloquence. And I have intrusted this charge with them the rather,
because I suppose they may disperse themselves far and near, and perhaps may live to
posterity: and that which I desire of them is, that they would declare to all how indebted
he is to your honour, and to your great humanity, with how great obligations he is bound
to you, and with how grateful a mind and inward affection he professeth all this, and will
acknowledge it for ever, who is,
Your Honour's most obliged servant,
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