Unto the ryghte honorable the nobilitie and ientlemen of Englande: Willyam Rethe wissheth peace, with constancye of mynde.

THe man / that is borne of a woman (as sayeth holye Iob▪ Iob. 14.) hathe but a very shorte tyme to lyue, his dayes beinge re [...]lete mith manye miseries, whiche thinge certayn Heathen men (belyke) well consi­dered, as Seneca, who very pre­telye compareth this worlde to a waye,Seneca. ful furnished with hid thi­stles, wherethorow a man hadde nede to be well ware how he wā ­dre, [Page] least he pricke him self: & also that deathe is the fynisher of all heuines and sorowe. And in lyke maner Pithagoras. [...]tha. Death (sayeth he) is rather to be desired then despised, for it chaungeth vs frome this worlde of vnclēnes & shame to the worlde of worshippe: from this transitorie lyfe, too the lyfe euerlastinge: from the worlde of follye and vanities, to the worlde of wisedom, reason and trueth: & from this world of payn, trauell, and miserie, to the world of rest & consolacion &c. But if aswell ho­lye write, as all prophane histo­ries, had with silēce passed ouer this knowen and assured trueth [...] I thinke that these dreadful days and miserable cōflictes, whiche we fele presently, mighte be allo­wed for a sufficient testimonye. And yet to beholde the course of thinges, both past and presentlye [Page] a workinge, it moueth me oft ty­mes to muse, when I se the strāge diuersitie of estates, howe that in sundry respectes, the one maye be accompted very pleasante & easye in comparison of the other.

As, if we consider the vnquiet, restles, & slydinge estate of those in high auctoritie (who yet semeth to haue most felicitie) and then the happy, quiete, & peaceable estate of them, who (for the basse esti­macion they bee in) semeth of all men to be moste vnfortunate. And euen thys is thesame, whiche soo oft tymes maketh me to thyncke, (sadly sittinge some tyme alone) Howe well at ease they be, which haue drawen too them selfes the luckye lot of contentatiō of mynd in the myddest of their porest po­uertie, and how vnhappely ye resi­due runne, who, beinge in lowe degree, will trauell to be in hygh [Page] auctoritie, in seking wherof they rather procure their ill hap, by obtayning their desire, then wāting their welthes, by remayninge as they were.

But now at the laste when I saw no ende of climming vp, and in suche number also, yt they daily fall doune by ruthfull heapes, ta­king vnrecouerable fals to their vtter vndowing: And besides all this to the farther increase of my admiracion, that other by seinge their present harme can not auoid their slippery steppes to prolong their owne prosperitie, but wil­fully (as it were) to tumble doun the tree after theym: And yet I speake nothing of that, how by secret shuldring, ech pussheth other, I wot not howe, from his place, but so daungerously, as I mai sai in secrete, it passeth playinge in pastyme: but now to make reher­sed [Page] me, and not that I thoughte ye dowinge therof to be so exquisite, but because suche profit thereby vnto me insuede, that me semeth I must nedes confesse it.

But now, callinge to remem­braunce what trauell and studye some of your honoures and wor­shippes haue taken in the waygh­tie affayers of the realme of Eng­lande, when you were thoughte mete too beare rule, howe so euer thinges happened now and then to succede: I thinke thesame of euery faythfull subiecte thus yet to be considered, as lamentynge the yll with hope of redresse, so for those good thinges, by youre trauels then enioyed, our humble thankes still to remayne, though, thorow the tyrannye of tyrantes, the benefit be withdrawen.

For as frendship, beinge com­mendable in men of equalitie, is [Page] yet more laudable in the honora­ble or worshipful, that can be con­tented to extende thesame too the simple poore man: Euen so he (vpon whome suche frendship is bestowed) not to expresse by such ways as he is able, his faithful & thankefull harte, thesame man, if my iudgemente fayle not, dealeth not onely vnnaturally, but deser­ueth, as he is well worthy, too be sharpely reprehended.

In consideraciō wherof it mai please your honors and worships to vnderstand, yt I haue thought it a parte of my duetye, too offre vnto you this simple seyng glasse folowinge, in the which (I wene) maye be discerned, both the estate of the mightie and meane man, what a hudge heappe of endles troubles alwayes accompanieth the one: and the great quietnes yt is lost by leauing the other. Of ye [Page] whiche, albeit youre honoures & worshippes can not be ignorant, that haue ben dayely trauelers as well in other mens matters as in youre owne: yet in my minde, the effectes therof be not, neither can be so apparante alwayes too me­morie, but that in as dymme and course a glasse, as here is exhibited, ther may be somwhat espied▪ whiche otherwyse mighte haue bene buryed in the depe doungeō pit of extreame obliuion.

But as touching the premisses, it woulde here bee noted, that I haue not spoken it to the deroga­cion of common auctoritie, ney­ther would I thereby discourage (if my wordes were of power to perswade) anye man, that were ordinarely called to beare rule, se­ynge I must nedes confesse the­same too bee of suche force by thee infallyble prouydence [Page] of God, as the publike weale mai in no wise wante, onely then my meaninge is of suche as seeke more their owne glorie, profit and commoditie, then too be faithfull ministers and godly gouernours in that hygh dignitie, whereunto they aspire.

[...]ōpeius a [...]ble Ro­ [...]ayne.It is written, that Pompeius was wonte to saye of hym selfe, yt he neuer came to office bearing in Rome, but that he obtayned it sooner then for hys own parte he loked for, and that he euer gaue vp thesame agayne before other men wisshed it. A report without all doubte, worthye great prayse. Oh that oure rulers and officers of England coulde iustly boast so muche of them self [...]: it is to be feared, a very fewe are they, whiche dare attempte that enterprice, as well for that their gredie couete­ousnes, and vaine glorious ambi­cion, [Page] as also the multitudes mur­muring for their cruell oppression woulde testefie agaynst them.

But many thinges were here to be spoken more mete to aūswer the requeste of so lamentable a tyme, then thys whiche doeth but aggrauate our sorow: to wete that as God plaged the people of the olde tyme, with pestilence, famin, sworde, captiuitie and bondage, takinge awaye their godly kinges and magistrates, & placinge wic­ked, vngodly tyrantes and straun­gers in their romes, as oft as they either resisted hys truethe, or ha­uinge it liued not accordinglye: Euen so, how as soone as they re­pented vnfaynedly, cōfessed their synnes earnestly, prayed purely, and amended their lyues effectu­ally, God vnladed them and deli­uered them of suche greuous pu­nishmentes, as they deseruinglye [Page] susteyned, and to this might haue ben added, how hotely the Lorde in like maner hath begonne to kendell his wrath, [...]he bowe [...]ring is [...], y dar­ [...] fle a [...]se, they [...]ill paye [...]me short [...]. and bent his bow (nay, let me mēde it) hath already shote doune his persinge, sharpe poynted dartes vpon oure coūtry of England, and moste iustly for that we haue both so horribly abused his truthe, and obstinately re­sisted thesame, despised his pro­phetes the preachers therof, who for the space of these .6. or .7. yea­res haue in their true preachings prophesied of these monstruous plagues too be at hande,Reade the [...]. &. 6. chap [...] Esay. as a re­warde due for synne, whiche be­ginneth to nyppe in dede, I praye God it be not to our endles cōfu­sion. But who then beleued theyr preachinges? did we not thinke their wordes madnesse? for who regarded them? yea, did wee not think them to be out of their wit­tes? [Page] or at last could abide them? did not all laugh them to skorne? how did you noble mē rage & fūe againste them, layinge sedicion to their charges, when thei cried out against your sensualitie & op­pressiō: but could ye meaner sorte of mē speak wel of thē, when thei rebuked their rebelliō? as for your cruell cleargie, their tyrāny in all ages, in tormēting the mē of god, might suffice to testifie how hotli they loued them, if their presente wodenesse were absente too de­clare it.

But here the extremitie of time so enforsinge me, I must suddēly stryke sayle & come too an ancker (while a worde or two be spokē) trusting, (for as much as I entēd not to say any thing, but by ye way of exhortacion) my shippe shal not be driuē against the rocks, though she ride in rough water.

[Page]Hathe your vnthankefulnesse ben so great towardes the almightie God (O ye noble men of Englande) that thesame thing, whiche is so appara [...]t and manifeste in ye eyes of al indifferent men, should be hid from you? I meane youre dolorous destruction. Could not the soundinge blaste, [...]arke wel [...]hat nota­ [...]le tale in [...]ayster [...]ornes epistle, & then [...]aste youre [...]ccomptes what certē [...]ie ye haue of youre heads, if proud pre­lacie pros­per. that Horne latelye blewe in your eares, open your eyes, thei being both so nyre neyghbours?

Can neither the notable admo­nitions of so many godly men, as haue bothe spoken & written vnto you, nor yet presente experience, cause you to haue vnderstāding? oh to what cruell vengeance hath God reserued you? belike ye ether trust to youre stronge stedes and mightie men, or els to the curtesie of your churlishe church men: but how litle he lye ye hadde in youre horses and harnes [...]e men, I trow [Page] ye haue not yet forgottē, when ye thought to had wonders.

And if ye think, by your dissemblinge or makinge fayre wether with proude priesthood, to spēd your dayes in quietnesse, ye may chaunce also to be disceaued.No, no they know well ino­ugh, ye d [...] but disse [...] ble wt thē and there [...]fore &c. Cal to your mindes how their prede­cessors (whiche mighte not bee thought able to matche with these in maliciousnesse) handled youre noble auncetours. Reade you the dolfull storie of S. Ihon. Old ca­stle, the worthy L. Cobham, by ye vilanous handelynge of whome you may partely se their charitie. Yea,If scripti [...] seme bitte [...] vnto you yt is able too saue youre souls: read [...] you yet ye aunciente [...]ories for [...]fegarde [...] your [...], which [...] ny [...]er y [...] & block [...] ye thīk [...], but oh ye [...] coulde [...] it. but what saye you too their trayterous handelinge of good kyng Ihon, when as they not con­tented most violentlye to pull the croune frō his head (what though he were their anoynted kyng) but also at the length, miserablye did poison him? I doubt not, but that [Page] the monke, which poysoned hym self to bring yt to passe, shal shortli haue his yearly masses, songe for his soule at Swyneshead abbay, when the lādes is restored again, as that and ye rest must be shortly what promises soeuer be made to the cōtrarie: for such promises are commonly made more to way the tyme thē to be kept, as partly you in England doo knowe by presēt experience. & here after may feale peraduenture to your payne. But to the purpose, if these iolie cham­pions of the church durst do thys to a kyng,The clergy [...]n times past were [...]ut of the [...]euelles [...]ourt, but [...]ow they ye of hys preuy counsayle. and in those dayes whē as iniquitie was not at the prime, what will these do vnto you (beīg but subiectes) in whome iniquitie doeth so abounde, that by whole running ryuers it floweth ouer.

If these and such lyke things, beinge pas [...], be not sufficient too teache you, at the least by thinges [Page] present weye thinges to come. If that bedlem, bishop Bōner of Lō ­dō, be neither ashamed nor affra­yed, without all lawe or ordre too beare him, so to torment that sely poore man, Thomas Weuer,Thom [...] Weuer, dwellyn [...] w [...]thoute Bisshop [...] gate. be­cause he would not consent to his deuilishe doctrine: what will that dreadfull deuouring deuell doe, y wilful Winchester with his adheren [...]es, nowe, when as they haue established laws, to outbeare thē.

I am afrayed,In de [...] they beg [...] pretelye. A fable. the fable of Eso­pes Fox and Gote will shortly be verified. The Fox and the Gote descended both in to a depe pitie, from whence they coulde not get forthe agayne, the Fox beinge a craftie and subtil beaste, ye know (as the mooste parte of the clear­gie be) desyreth the Gote that he might step vp vpō his backe, & so to get out of ye pit, promisinge the Gote y he wil draw him out after him, [Page] [...]he fox, by this craft escaping the daunger, was required by ye Gote to performe his promis. But saith the Fox: Ah Gote, Gote, if thou haddest had so much witte in thy headde as thou haste heyre in thy bearde, thou wouldeste not haue gone doune, excepte thou haddest knowen howe too haue gotten vp agayne.

Nowe that the two foted Fox is escaped out of the pyt, and that you noble men of England haue (with the Gote) set bothe backe & shulders too his liftinge vp, it is most euident: for the filthe of his tayle and fete hath all to be stay­ned your clothes. There remay­neth now of your part to clayme ye Foxes promis, that he maye draw you out of that daūgerous gulffe where into ye be fallē: but thincke you ye shall not fynde the Fox stil a Fox in his aunswer? I went so. [Page] Ye shall then fynde that your pu­nishing and inprisoninge of good men for the Foxes pleasure, shall litle helpe you, in the tormentyng of whome, as ye esteme them and make them youre slaues, that of late dayes ye semed with touth & nayle to defend and fauor: euē so do you therein showe your selfes vyle slaues and bonde mē in dede, and that vnto such as are more vi­ler then vilenesse it self,who w [...] haue th [...]ghte th [...] haute c [...]rage of [...] no [...]litie, [...] so witti [...] haue [...] slaues, [...] ye [...] and [...] Pope of Rome. euen to a sorte of proude prelates and bau­die beastes, who, to murder god­des people, haue made you theyr hangemen, and haue appoynted you, as opē baudes, to cloke & de­fende bothe their spirituall & car­nall whoredom.

O mercifull God, what tolle­rable thing, in those bloude thir­stie Balamites, hath moued your honours thus to abase your selfs vnder thē, not only to ye destructiō [Page] of youre persons, but also of all your posteritie. Were there in thē rayning, either the constancie of Camillus, [...]millus [...] suche [...] to hys [...]itrey, yt [...] gift threat [...]d cause [...] work [...] [...]nst it. or ye humanitie of Pla­to, the chastitie of Pithagoras, or the grauitie of Cato, the tempe­rance of Socrates, or the fortitu­de of Scipio, there were yet som appearāce, that their vertues pro­uoked you: but they nowe beinge clene out of gonneshot, frome the smell of the least veritie that can be named, and then in crueltie surmounting conquerours far pas­singe Nero, [...] of [...] noble [...] ye [...] youre [...] sha­meles not a [...]med [...] in woodnesse and wrathe equall to Aiax, in dronc­kennes and lecherie comparable to Heliogabalus, and in pryde & presumption felowe like to Luci­fer: what cā be otherwise thought of youre vnnaturall doynges, but that it either proceadeth of a chyldishe feare (whiche of all in­firmities shoulde haue bene far­dest [Page] of from you, that haue bene the rulers of so noble a realme) or els (if that were not the cause) then the old prouerbe to be fulfil­led, whiche is, that one wicked will to the deuell, too haue the o­thers companye, frome whome God for his mercies sake (if you be not caste awayes) saue and de­fende you.

Wherefore, repente, O ye noble men of Englande, repente, imbrace agayne the truthe, but be constant in the same, and laboure nowe another whyle by youre well doinge too qualifie that ru­mour, whiche youre inconstancie hathe caused in forrayne Real­mes to be spread, to the great dis­honour, both of you and your coū trye, in that you are cōpared (you haue set forrayn realmes a worke to wōder at your dasterdli doing) [Page] too smoth worne wethercockes y wayteth on the wynd, the reward wherof is not only worldli sham, but farther then that, to receyue ye rewarde which is due vnto ypo­crites in the lake, that burneth wt brimstone and fyre, where ye shal finde darknesse in steade of light, hungring in thirste, and thirsting in payne, [...]he [...] of [...] yt bee [...] cold. clothed with colde, yet flaming in heate, euermore dieng, but still tastinge life, wisshinge to dye, but may not obtayne: too bee shorte, youre dwellinge place shal be where as is for euermore wringinge of handes, and gnasshinge of tethe &c.

But now I holde it more then tyme to return wher I was afore. Were not the poore preachers of the veritie (for speakīg the truth) abhorred in manner of all, & belo­ued all moste of none? And nowe for publishing of thesame truthe [Page] too be tormented somwhat worse then theues and murtherers? alas [...]ou miserable Ieremies, for euē so was he handled of the wicked priestes of his time,Iere. [...] as the .26. of his prophesie doeth notablye de­clare. I thinke verelye, the dread­full dayes draweth on a pase, that as Ieremi sat pitifully, beholding the miserable desolatiō that came vpon the Iewes, for their stub­borne infidelitie and murthering of goddes Prophetes: Euen so you that by goddes prouidence shall eskape the cruell slaughter, nowe put in practise, shall behold Englād, and saye with him: alas, howe lieth that lande soo waste, whiche some time was ful of peo­ple: how is she becom like a wid­dow, that was some time ye flour of all nations? howe is she nowe broughte vnder tribute, whiche some tyme ruled all landes &c. [Page] But me thinks I heare one busye speaking alreadi, and saieth: Sir, from whence came you? are ye a Prophet? how know you yt these thinges shall happen?

Forsouthe Sir saye I, by thys I am more then halfe assuredlye perswaded. I fynde, that as God is eternall, euerlasting, al­mightie, and immutable, so is he a God that hath no respect of per­sons, who vseth his iustice vniuersallye vpon all wilfull offenders. But in the olde tyme he distroied them, that fell from his worde to [...] Idolatrie, and we now commit [...]e thesame offence more horribly then euer they did: ther­fore he will also distroye vs (for I wene repentaunce be paste) so that the alteration of states, the mutabilitie of fortune, the wofull fall of nobilitie, the ruthefull ry­synge of proude prelacie, and cō ­sequently [Page] the vtter subuersion of the realme of Englande is farre awaye lesse too bee marueled at then lamented.Engla [...] of [...] must [...] to dest [...]tion.

But of these things farder too intreate in such sort, as should sa­tisfie your honorable expectatiōs, as I must nedes cōfesse my imperfectiō therin, & yt there wholy wā ­teth in me such dexterity of know­lege & lerning as should accōplish thesame: Euē so, (praised be god) there be workes ynough for such purposes, which for ye excellēcy of them (as I haue harde the godlye lerned report) can not lightlye be amended, & amonge sundry one in especiall I cōmend to all troubled cōsciēces, intitled ye spiritual & precious perle, set forth by the righte Christian and godly gouernoure (vnder our most noble and excel­lent prince,The [...] whiche [...] to me [...] bringe of [...] me to [...] the [...] to all [...]. then beinge) the good duke of Somerset.

[Page]The boke, without all doubte, wil bring to the studious readers therof suche singuler comforte in their aduersitie, as farre passeth ye value cōtayned in the title therof.

And as I wishe this to ye cōfort of all the godly afflicted, as a so­ueraygne and presente remedie, which number I trust be not few in these mourning days of sorow and anguishe (consideringe howe goddes gusshinge oute wrathe is poured forthe for synne:) so do I hartely beseche all such, as be not yet resolued, concerninge the vsurped auctoritie of the B. of R. of supersticious ceremonies, of vn­lawfull vowes▪ of the wicked law and decrees of men, and that the scriptures of God is onely able & sufficient to teach the true church of Christ, as touchinge their saluation &c. to reade a boke, made and set forthe by Stephen Gardener, [Page] now the vnworthie Chanceloure of Englande,De [...] obediēt [...] [...] into ye E [...]glish [...] intituled de Vera obediētia, in the which boke (put­tinge a parte his treason towar­des the Quene, in makinge her a bastarde) is contayned suche no­table argumentes, for probation of the trueth, clene contrarye too that detestable & execrable doc­trine, whiche he against his owne conscience maliciously mayntay­neth, as is strōg ynough (though there come no better helpe) too beate doune too the grounde all his sandie and wilfull buyldin­ges, whereby all indifferent men maye se, as in a moste clere glasse, the very liuely Image of our dis­sembling papistes, howe thei,A [...] note, to know ye [...]perous [...]neratiō [...] papiste be­ynge cousynne Iarmanes to Paules wether cock, can turne as the wynde turneth for aduaun­tage.

[Page]¶ The eternall & almightie God of heauen, for his mercies sake, mollifie your harts, and open youre eyes that you mai se the perilous pathe of perdiciō, in the whiche you nowe wan­der astraye, and geue you grace vnfaynedlye to repente, that ye receyue not ye pu­nishmente, which is due vnto youre desertes. Amen.

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