Upon His Majesties calling this last Parliament.
THIS last Parliament I called, not more by others advise, and necessity of My affaires, then by My owne choice and inclination; who have alwaies thought the right way of Parliaments most safe for My Crowne, and best pleasing to My People: and although I was not forgetfull of those sparks, which some mens distempers formerly studied to kindle in Parliaments, (which by forbearing to convene for some yeares, I hoped to have extinguished) yet resolving with My self to give all just satisfaction to modest and sober desires, and to redresse all publique grievances in Church & State; I hoped by My (freedome and their moderation) to prevent all misunderstandings, and miscarriages in this: in which as I feared affaires would meet with some passion and prejudice in other men, so I resolved they should find least of them in My selfe; not doubting, but by the weight of Reason I should counterpoize the over-ballancings of any factions.
I was, indeed, sorry to heare, with what partiality and popular heat Elections were carried in many places; yet hoping that the gravity and discretion of other Gentlemen would allay and fix the CommonsPeople who weren't members of the clergy nor the nobility, or the House of Commons. to a due temperament, (guiding some mens wel-meaning zeale by such rules of moderation as are best both to preserve and restore the health of all States and Kingdomes:) No man was better pleased with the convening of this Parliament, then My self; who knowing best the largenesse of my owne Heart toward My Peoples good and just contentment, pleased My self most in that good and firme understanding, which would hence grow between Me and My people.
All Jealousies being laid aside, My owne and My Childrens Interests gave me many obligations to seek and preserve the love and welfare of my Subjects. The onely temporall blessing that is left to the ambition of just Monarchs, as their greatest honour and safety, next Gods protection; I cared not to lessen My selfe in some things of My wonted PrerogativeA right or privilege exclusive to a particular person or group.; since I knew I could be no loser, if I might gaine but a recompence in My Subjects affections.
I intended not onely to oblige My friends, but Mine enemies also: exceeding even the desires of those, that were factiously discontented, if they did but pretend to any modest and sober sense.
The odium and offences which some mens rigour or remissnesse in Church, and State, had contracted upon My Government, I resolved to have expiated by such Lawes, and regulations for the future, as might not onely rectifie what was amisse in practise, but supply what was defective in the constitutionA body of fundamental principles and established precedents by which a state governs itself; or the composition of something.: no man having a greater zeale to see Religion setled, and preserved in Truth, Unity, and Order, then My selfe; whom it most concernes both in piety, and policy; as knowing, that, No flames of civil dissentions are more dangerous then those which make Religious pretensions the grounds of Factions.
I resolved to reforme, what I should by free and full advice in Parliament be convinced to be amisse; and to grant whatever My Reason & Conscience told Me, was fit to be desired; I wish I had kept My self within those bounds, and not suffered My owne Judgment to have been over-borne in some things, more by others Importunities, than their Arguments; My confidence had lesse betrayed. My selfe, and My Kingdomes, to those advantages, which some men sought for, who wanted nothing but power, and occasion to do mischief.
But our sinnes being ripe, there was no preventing of Gods Justice, from reaping that glory in our Calamities, which we robb'd him of in our Prosperity.
For thou (O Lord) hast made us see, that Resolutions of future Reforming doe not alwaies satisfie thy Justice, nor prevent thy Vengeance for former miscarriages.
Our sinnes have overlaid our hopes; Thou hast taught us to depend on thy mercies to forgive, not on our purpose to amend.
When thou hast vindicated thy glory by thy Judgments, and hast shewed us, how unsafe it is to offend thee, upon presumptions afterwards to please thee; Then I trust thy mercies will restore those blessings to us, which we have so much abused, as to force thee to deprive us of them.
For want of timely repentance of our sinnes, Thou givest us cause to Repent of those Remedies we too late apply.
Yet I doe not Repent of My calling this last Parliament; because, O Lord, I did it with an upright intention, to Thy glory, and My Peoples good.
The miseries which have ensued upon Me and My Kingdomes, are the Just effects of thy displeasure upon us; and may be yet (through thy mercy) preparatives to us of future blessings, and better hearts to enjoy them.
O Lord, though thou hast deprived us of many former comforts; yet grant Me and My people the benefit of our afflictions, and thy chastisements; that thy rod as well as thy staffe may comfort us: Then shall we dare to account them the strokes not of an Enemy, but a Father: when thou givest us those humble affections, that measure of patience in repentance, which becomes thy Children; I shall have no cause to repent the miseries this Parliament hath occasioned, when by them thou hast brought Me and My People, unfeignedly to repent of the sinnes we have committed.
Thy Grace is infinitely better with our sufferings, then our Peace could be with Our sinnes.
O thou soveraigne goodnesse and wisdome, who Over-rulest all our Counsels; over-rule also all our hearts; That the worse things we suffer by thy Justice, the better we may be by thy Mercy.
As our sinnes have turned our Antidotes into Poyson, so let thy Grace turne our Poysons into Antidotes.
As the sins of our Peace disposed us to this unhappy Warre, so let this Warre prepare us for thy blessed Peace.
That although I have but troublesome Kingdoms here, yet I may attaine to that Kingdome of Peace in My Heart, and in thy Heaven, which Christ hath Purchased, and thou wilt give to thy Servant (though a Sinner) for my Saviours sake, Amen.