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Eikon Basilike: Ch. 15

Upon the many Jealousies raised, and Scandals cast upon the KING, to stir up the People against Him.

IF I had not My own Innocency, and Gods protection, it were hard for Me to stand out against those stratagems & conflicts of malice, which by Falsities seek to oppresse the Truth; and by Jealousies to supply the defect of Reall causes, which might seem to justifie so unjust Engagements against Me.

And indeed, the worst effects of open Hostility come short of these Designes: for, I can more willingly loose My Crownes, than My Credit; nor are My Kingdomes so deare to Me, as My Reputation and Honour.

Those must have a period with My life; but these may survive to a glorious kind of Immortality, when I am dead & gone: a good name being the embalming of Princes, and a sweet consecrating of them to an Eternity of love and gratitude among Posterity.

Those foule and false aspersions were secret engines at first employed against My peoples love of Me: that undermining their opinion and value of Me, My enemies, and theirs too, might at once blow up their affections, and batter downe their loyaltie.

Wherein yet, I thanke God, the detriment of My Honour is not so afflictive to Me, as the sin and danger of My peoples soules, whose eyes once blinded with such mists of suspicions, they are soone mis-led into the most desperate precipices of actions: wherein they doe not onely, not consider their sin and danger, but glory in their zealous adventures; while I am rendred to them so fit to be destroyed, that many are ambitious to merit the name of My Destroyers; Imagining they then feare God most, when they least honour their King.

I thanke God, I never found but My pity was above My anger; nor have My passions ever so prevailed against Me, as to exclude My most compassionate prayers for them, whom devout errours more than their own malice have betrayed to a most religious Rebellion.

I had the Charity to interpret, that most part of My Subjects fought against My supposed Errours, not My Person; and intended to mend Me, not to end Me: and I hope that God pardoning their Errours, hath so farre accepted and answered their good intentions, that as he hath yet preserved Me, so he hath by these afflictions prepared Me, both to doe him better service, and My people more good, than hitherto I have done.

I doe not more willingly forgive their seductions, which occasioned their loyall injuries, then I am ambitious by all Princely merits to redeem them from their unjust suspicions, and reward them for their good intentions.

I am too conscious to My own Affections toward the generality of My people, to suspect theirs to Me; nor shall the malice of My Enemies ever be able to deprive Me of the comfort, which that confidence gives Me; I shall never gratifie the spightfulnesse of a few with any sinister thoughts of all their Allegiance, whom pious frauds have seduced.

The worst some mens ambition can do, shall never perswade Me, to make so bad interpretations of most of My Subjects actions; who possibly may be Erroneous, but not Hereticall in point of Loyalty.

The sense of the Injuries done to My Subjects is as sharp, as those done to My self; our welfares being inseparable; in this only they suffer more then My self, that they are animated by some seducers to injure at once both themselves and Me.

For this is not enough to the malice of My Enemies, that I be afflicted; but it must be done by such instruments, that My afflictions grieve Me not more, then this doth, that I am afflicted by those, whose prosperity I earnestly desire, and whose seduction I heartily deplore.

If they had been My open and forraigne Enemies, I could have borne it; but they must be My own Subjects, who are next to My Children, dear to Me: and for the restoring of whose tranquillity, I could willingly be the Jonah; if I did not evidently foresee, that by the divided Interests of their and Mine Enemies, as by contrary winds the storm of their miseries would be rather encreased then allayed.

I had rather prevent My peoples ruine then Rule over them; nor am I so ambitious of that Dominion which is but My Right, as of their happinesse; if it could expiate, or countervail such a way of obtaining it, by the highest injuries of Subjects committed against their Soveraign.

Yet I had rather suffer all the miseries of life, and die many deaths, then shamefully to desert, or dishonourably to betray My own just Rights and Sove-raignty; thereby to gratifie the ambition, or justifie the malice of My Enemies; between whose malice, & other mens mistakes, I put as great a difference, as between an ordinary Ague and the Plague; or the Itch of Novelty, and the Leprosie of Disloyalty.

As Liars need have good memories, so Malicious persons need good inventions; that their calumnies may fit every mans fancy; and what their reproaches want of truth, they may make up with number and shew.

My patience (I thank God) will better serve Me to bear, and My charity to forgive, then My leisure to answer the many false Aspersions which some men have cast upon Me.

Did I not more consider My Subjects Satisfaction, then My own Vindication; I should never have given the malice of some men that pleasure, as to see Me take notice of, or remember what they say, or object.

I would leave the Authors to be punished by their own evill manners, and seared Consciences, which will, I believe, in a shorter time then they be aware of, both confute and revenge all those black and false Scandalls, which they have cast on Me; and make the world see, there is as little truth in them, as there was little worth in the broaching of them, or Civility, (I need not say Loyalty) in the not-suppressing of them; whose credit and reputation, even with the people, shall ere long be quite blasted by the breath of that same fornace of popular obloquy, and detraction, which they have studied to heat and inflame to the highest degree of infamy, and wherein they have sought to cast and consume My Name and Honour.

First, nothing gave Me more cause to suspect, and search My own Innocency; then when I observed so many forward to engage against Me, who had made great professions of singular piety; for this gave to vulgar mindes so bad a reflection upon Me, and My Cause, as if it had been impossible to adhere to Me, and not withall part from God; to think or speak well of Me, and not to Blaspheme him; so many were perswaded that these two were utterly inconsistent, to be at once Loyall to Me, and truly Religious toward God.

Not but that I had (I thank God) many with Me, which were both Learned and Religious, (much above that ordinary size, and that vulgar proportion, wherein some men glory so much) who were so well satisfied in the cause of My sufferings, that they chose rather to suffer with Me, then forsake Me.

Nor is it strange that so religious Pretensions as were used against Me, should be to many well-minded men a great temptation to oppose Me; especially, being urged by such popular Preachers, as think it no sin to lie for God, and what they please to call Gods Cause, cursing all that will not curse with them; looking so much at, and crying up the goodnesse of the end propounded, that they consider not the lawfulnesse of the means used, nor the depth of the mischeif, chiefly plotted and intended.

The weakness of these mens judgments must be made up by their clamours and activity.

It was a great part of some mens Religion to scandalize Me and Mine, they thought theirs could not be true, if they cried not downe Mine as false.

I thank God, I have had more triall of his grace, as to the constancy of My Religion in the ProtestantSomeone following the western non-Catholic Christian belief systems inspired by the Protestant Reformation. profession of the Church of England, both abroad, and at home, than ever they are like to have.

Nor doe I know any exception, I am so liable to, in their opinion, as too great a fixednesse in that Religion, whose judicious and solid grounds, both from Scripture, and Antiquity, will not give My Conscience leave to approve or consent to those many dangerous and divided Innovations, which the bold Ignorance of some men would needs obtrude upon Me, and My People.

Contrary to those well tried foundations both of Truth, and Order, which men of far greater Learning, and clearer Zeal, have setled in the Confession and ConstitutionA body of fundamental principles and established precedents by which a state governs itself; or the composition of something. of this Church in England, which many former Parliaments in the most calme, and unpassionate times, have oft confirmed; in which I shall ever, by Gods help, persevere, as believing it hath most of Primitive Truth and Order.

Nor did My using the assistance of some Papists, which were my Subjects, any way fight against My Religion, as some men would needs interpret it: especially those who least of all men cared whom they imployed, or what they said, and did, so they might prevaile.

'Tis strange that so wise men, as they would be esteemed, should not conceive, That differences of perswasion in matters of Religion may easily fall out, where there is the samenesse of duty, Allegiance, and subjection. The first they owne as men, and Christians to God; the second, they owe to Me in Common, as their KING; different professions in point of Religion cannot (any more than in civill Trades) take away the community of relations either to Parents, or to Princes: and where is there such an Oglio or medley of various Religions in the world again, as those men entertain in their service (who find most fault with me) without any scruple, as to the diversity of their Sects and Opinions?

It was, indeed, a foule and indelible shame, for such as would be counted Protestants, to enforce Me, a declared Protestant, their Lord and King, to a necessary use of Papists, or any other, who did but their duty to help Me to defend My self.

Nor did I more than is lawfull for any King, in such exigents to use the aide of any his Subjects.

I am sorry the Papists should have a greater sense of their Allegiance, than many Protestant Professours; who seem to have learned and to practise the worst Principles of the worst Papists.

Indeed, it had been a very impertinent and unseasonable scruple in Me, (and very pleasing no doubt to My Enemies) to have been then disputing the points of different beliefs in My Subjects when I was disputed with by Swords points: and when I needed the help of My Subjects as men, no lesse then their prayers as Christians.

The noise of My Evill Counsellours was another usefull device for those, who were impatient any mens counsels but their owne, should be followed in Church or State; who were so eager in giving Me better counsell that they would not give Me leave to take it with freedome, as a Man; or honour, as a King; making their counsels more like a drench that must be powred downe, than a draught which might be fairly and leisurely dranke, if I liked it.

I will not justifie beyond humane errours and frailties My selfe, or My Counsellours: they might be subject to some miscarriages, yet such as were farre more reparable by second and better thoughts, than those enormious extravagances, wherewith some men have now even wildred, and almost quite lost both Church and State.

The event of things at last will make it evident to My Subjects, that had I followed the worst Counsels, that My worst Counsellours ever had the boldnesse to offer to Me, or My self any inclination to use; I could not so soon have brought both Church and State in three flourishing Kingdomes, to such a Chaos of confusions, and Hell of miseries, as some have done; out of which they cannot, or will not in the midst of their many great advantages, redeeme either Me, or My Subjects.

No even were more willing to complain, than I was to redresse what I saw in Reason was either done or advised amisse; and this I thought I had done, even beyond the expectation of moderate men: who were sorry to see Me prone even to injure My self, out of a Zeal to relieve My Subjects.

But other mens insatiable desire of revenge upon Me, My Court, and My ClergyThe people ordained for religious duties, especially in the Christian Church.; hath wholly beguiled both Church and State, of the benefit of all My, either Retractations, or Concessions; and withall, hath deprived all those (now so zealous Persecutors) both of the comfort and reward of their former pretended persecutions, wherein they so much gloried among the vulgar; and which, indeed, a truly humble Christian will so highly prize, as rather not be relieved, then be revenged, so as to be bereaved of that Crown of Christian Patience, which attends humble and injured sufferers.

Another artifice used to withdraw My peoples affections from Me, to their designes, was, the noise and ostentation of liberty, which men are not more prone to desire, then unapt to bear in the popular sense; which is to doe what every man liketh best.

If the Divinest liberty be to will what men should, and to do what they so will, according to Reason, Lawes, and Religion; I envie not My Subjects that liberty, which is all I desire to enjoy My self; so farre am I from the desire of oppressing theirs: nor were those Lords and Gentlemen which assisted Me so prodigall of their liberties, as with their Lives and Fortunes to help on the enslaving of themselves and their posterities.

As to Civill Immunities, none but such as desire to drive on their Ambitious and Covetous designes over the ruines of Church and State, Prince, Peeres, and People, will ever desire greater Freedomes then the Lawes allow; whose bounds good men count their Ornament and Protection; others their Menacles and Oppression.

Nor is it just any man should expect the reward and benefit of the Law, who despiseth his rule and direction; losing justly his safety while he seekes an unreasonable liberty.

Time will best informe My Subjects, that those are the best preservers of their true liberties, who allow themselves the least licentiousnesse against, or beyond the Lawes.

They will feel it at last to their cost, that it is impossible those men should be really tender of their fellow-subjects liberties, who have the hardinesse to use their King with so severe restraints; against all Lawes, both Divine and Humane, under which, yet, I will rather perish, then complain to those, who want nothing to compleat their mirth, and triumph, but such musick.

In point of true conscientious tendernesse (attended with humility and meeknesse, not with proud and arrogant activity, which seekes to hatch every egge of different opinion to a Faction or Schisme) I have oft declared, how little I desire My Lawes and Scepter should intrench on Gods Soveraignty, which is the only King of mens Consciences; and yet he hath laid such restraints upon men, as commands them to be subject for Conscience sake, giving no men liberty to break the Law established, further then with meeknesse and patience, they are content to suffer the penalties annexed, rather then perturb the publick Peace.

The truth is, some mens thirst after Novelties, others despair to relieve the necessities of their Fortunes, or satisfie their Ambition, in peaceable times, (distrusting Gods providenceGod or another spiritual entity's protective care and direction., as well as their own merits) were the secret (but principal!) impulsives to these popular Commotions, by which Subjects have been perswaded to expend much of those plentifull Estates they got, and enjoyed under My Government, in peaceable times; which yet must now be blasted with all the odious reproaches, which impotent malice can invent; and My self exposed to all those contempts, which may most diminish the Majesty of a King, and encrease the ungratefull insolencies of My People.

For Mine Honour, I am well assured, that as Mine Innocency is clear before God, in point of any calumnies they object; so My reputation shall like the Sun (after Owles and Bats have had their freedome in the night and darker times) rise and recover it self to such a degree of splendour, as those ferall birds shall be grieved to behold, and unable to bear. For never were any Princes more glorious, than those whom God hath suffer'd to be tried in the fornace of afflictions, by their injurious Subjects.

And who knows but the just and mercifull God will doe Me good, for some mens hard, false, and evill speeches against Me; wherein they speak rather what they wish, than what they believe, or know.

Nor can I suffer so much in point of Honour, by those rude and scandalous Pamphlets (which like fire in great conflagrations, flie up and downe to set all places on like flames) than those men doe, who pretending to so much piety, are so forgetfull of their duty to God and Me: by no way ever vindicating the Majesty of their KING against any of those, who contrary to the precept of God, and precedent of Angels, speaks evill of dignities, and bring railing accusations against these, who are honoured with the name of Gods.

But 'tis no wonder if men not fearing GOD, should not Honour their KING.

They will easily contemne such shadowes of God, who reverence not that Supreme, and adorable Majesty, in comparison of whom all the glory of Men and Angels is but obscurity; yet hath he graven such Characters of divine Authority, and Sacred power upon Kings, as none may without sinne seek to blot them out. Nor shall their black veiles be able to hide the shining of My face, while God gives Me a heart frequently and humbly to converse with him, from whom alone are all the traditions of true glory and majesty.

Thou, O Lord, knowest My reproach, and My dishonour, My Adversaries are all before thee.

My Soule is among Lyons, among them that are set on fire, even the Sons of Men; whose teeth are spears and arrows; their tongue a sharp sword.

Mine enemies reproach Me all the day long, and those that are mad against Me are sworne together.

O My God, how long shall the sonnes of men turne My glory into shame? How long shall they love vanity, and seek after lies?

Thou hast heard the reproaches of wicked men on every side. Hold not thy peace, lest My Enemies prevaile against me, and lay mine Honour in the dust.

Thou, O Lord, shalt destroy them that speak lies; the Lord will abhorre both the bloud-thirsty, and deceitfull men.

Make my righteousnesse to appeare as the light, and mine innocency to shine forth as the Sun at noone day.

Suffer not my silence to betray mine innocence, nor my displeasure, my patience; that after my Saviours example, being reviled, I may not revile againe; and being cursed by them, I may blesse them.

Thou that wouldst not suffer Shimei's tongue to go unpunished; when by thy judgements on David he might seem to justifie his disdainfull reproaches, give me grace to intercede with thy mercy for these my enemies, that the reward of false and lying tongues, even hot burning coals of eternall fire, may not be brought upon them.

Let my prayers, and patience, be as water to coole and quench their tongues, who are already set on fire with the fire of Hell, and tormented with those malicious flames.

Let me be happy to refute, and put to silence their evill-speaking by well-doing; and let them enjoy not the fruit of their lips, but of my prayer for their repentance, and thy pardon.

Teach me Davids patience and Hezekiahs devotion, that I may look to thy mercy through mans malice, and see thy justice in their sin.

Let Sheba's seditious speeches, Rabshekas railing, and Shimeis cursing, provoke, as my humble prayer to thee, so thy renewed blessing toward me.

Though they curse, doe thou blesse, and I shall be blessed; and made a blessing to my people.

That the stone, which some builders refuse, may become the head-stone of the corner.

Looke downe from heaven, and save me, from the reproach of them that would swallow me up.

Hide me in the secret of thy presence, from the pride of man, and keep me from the strife of tongues.