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ing that kind of it, which pretends to be afraid of doing too much, and that which fears to do too little. I mean the superstitious pageantry of Rome, and the sordid superstitious meanness of the several sects. Which could not, through the grace of God, fall short of having that happy effect, which is so much her Majesty's earnest desire, and should be the endeavour of us all, our being united at home, nor of putting an end to those divisions, from which alone the Queen's enemies and those of our religion can have any hopes. Such, as if her Majesty's royal pattern and advice can sway any thing with us, we shall think ourselves concerned not to countenance in the least. And surely no man of reason will reject her pious admonition and example, who has either any value for his own and the public good, any loyalty to his Queen, or any honour for the name of God, who is most highly dishonoured by every kind of superstition. Now that all would think of thus behaving themselves, and be admonished by such discourses, was no doubt a very good reason for your desiring in this manner to publish this treatise, and of his complying with that desire, who is
Your assured friend,
and obliged humble servant,
To the most illustrious and most potent Henry the Eighth
of England, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and supreme Head upon earth of the Churches of England and Ireland. John Cheke wisheth much health,
dom to dis
IT is the effect of great ingenuity and judgment, (and Great wisperhaps proceeds not merely from human nature, but from tinguish divine grace,) to be able accurately to separate truth from things. falsehood, and to distinguish between things decent and dishonest: for so great a resemblance is there between the most distant things, and such a seeming agreement between those things that are of natures really differing one from another, that unless the best and most excellent disposition shall be enlightened by learning and supernatural grace, and be cultivated as it were by continual exercise, it will be impossible for things so much entangled and confused to be parted and discerned by it. Craftiness imitates prudence; severity is often taken for justice; boldness has a semblance of valour; stupidity is not easily distinguished from temperance; pride draws to itself the commendation of magnificence; and not only the pretence of holiness, but what is even almost a mere old wives superstition, puts itself off for religion, and for the true worship of God.
be cheated with ap
And as it usually comes to pass, that swollen bodies, Are not to and such as are coloured by art, do exceed the solid bulk and natural colour of bodies; and as those things that pearances. have been tinctured with bull's gall are not far from having a kind of golden lustre; even so, such things as are in their own nature vicious, and, have nothing excellent in them, have nevertheless the figure and appearance of things the most illustrious and magnificent. Concerning which there is a diligent caution to be had: and we should labour with our utmost study, that the one be not taken for the
Religion, what it is.
other; and that those things being quite passed by, that have the express characters of honesty, and the image of truth, we do not totally give ourselves over to catch at the shadows and resemblances of things. Therefore, in the ordering of religion, we ought to be very cautious and circumspect, that we do not through carelessness run headlong into any rash judgments and opinions; and that we yield but so far to the bent of our own genius, as not to turn out of the right way that God has prescribed, without framing new modes of worship for ourselves; or endeavouring to appease God with such things as he has either not commanded to be done, or left not to be enjoined. For if even those things which are of divine prescript are not capable of pleasing God, unless they shall be done as he would have them; what human reason invents, what superstition dictates, what the heat of a man's temper hurries him on to pursue, must needs be much farther from pleasing God, when these things neither have any means of rendering themselves grateful to him, nor, if they had, could they merely of themselves be worthy of the divine care.
But there is nothing that is of so great moment, as to the whole concern of this or a future life, as religion: which instructs us in the right discipline and method of life, and of the worship of God; and does alone comprehend the hopes of a future immortal state. And what is there preferable to this? What thing can come in competition with it? What is there that either in point of advantage, or divinity, or safety, can approach or come up to the least part of it? For that which as soon as we seek after it, is not only found with as much ease as other things; but does, over and above besides itself, draw along with it other good things, that are the greatest, and most abundantly such: shall we not think this chiefly to be laid hold of, and pursue it with our utmost care? For to what other end should we labour with all our might, than that having obtained those things that are greatest and most happy, we ourselves should have a full enjoyment of true and perfect felicity, as constantly and long as may be?
inasmuch as mankind is both naturally inclined to wish after it, and the grace of God does likewise call upon us to embrace it. But the religion which is now proposed by Christ's Christ, and that is manifested to all degrees of men ; which religion. is neither hidden from the good, nor concealed from such as are studious, nor is harsh and difficult to those that follow after it; it is not only most easily sought out, but is even revealed to us. Which being once possessed, what can be wanting, that may seem to any man worthy of being desired, when wanting? what can be present to him, that he shall think greatly deserving to be wished for? For even our Saviour Christ has told us, that religion being first laid hold of, other things will not with much labour be brought in, but will naturally follow of their own accord. Seek ye first, says he, the kingdom of God, and all Matth. these things shall be added unto you. For if he who has given us Christ, will with him likewise give us all things, since in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge; how will he not, who through him hath made secure the way to peace and reconcilement with God, teach us also the way, whereby things less considerable, and of lighter value, may either flow in unto us without labour, or be present without trouble, or be taken from us without sorrow? But if Solomon, upon his request of wisdom and judgment, to enable him to distinguish between right and wrong, had so great an addition of riches, power, and glory bestowed upon him, as none of his ancestors had ever seen, and as did never again shine forth upon any of his posterity; how great things God Almighty will give those, who, in the true and pious worship of him, have given up themselves wholly to seek after him; who have prepared themselves to hear his divine voice, and with their whole will and study to live after it! Certainly it cannot be, but that whatsoever they require upon any occasion, they must have just so much, or what they at present have, be it never so little, yet they require no more; either of which, if they have once arrived to, they are most happy: inasmuch as they are of a quiet and contented mind; and it is a thing indifferent to them,