To the most vertuous Ladie and Christian Prin∣cesse, Queene ELIZABETH, grace and peace from God the Father through Christ Iesus our Sauiour.
THE King of eternall glo∣rie, who hath thus loued Eng∣land in setting your Highnesse on the throne of his maiestie to execute iustice and iudge∣ment, to instruct his people in Iacob, and to feed his inheri∣tance in Israel, be blessed and magnified therefore for euer and euer, Amen.
This long and blessed peace wherin we your loiall subiects doo presentlie liue (most no∣ble QVEENE) euerie man sitting vnder his vine and fig-tree throughout all your do∣minions, dooth giue iust occa∣sion to the godlie to bee no lesse thankfull to God, and to your Maiestie, than free harted and studious to benefit his church and their countrie, by offering in the temple, some gold, some siluer, some one thing, some another, according to the measure of those graces, which God the giuer of all good things hath bestowed vpon them, or by his spirit hath incouraged & made them willing to further the worke of the Lord. Which mooued me also among the rest (although of all other the meanest, & in euerie respect the vnwoorthiest) to offer some thing, wherin I might bring profit to that mysticall bodie, wherof I trust I am a member. And persuading my selfe, I could not better employ my labour to the good of the church, nor present your High∣nesse the mightie defender thereof, with anie thing of greater price and estima∣tion in this world, than (after a sort) with that wherewith God the King of kings acknowledgeth himselfe to be so highlie pleased and glorified both of Prince and people (praise and inuocation I meane) whereby in this life we obteine at his hand all things needfull for our bodies, and in the life to come euerlasting ioie, rest, and comfort both of bodie and soule: I haue vndertaken in the name and feare of God, loue of his church, obedience of your Maiestie, and hartie Page [unnumbered] good will of my countrie, out of the admirable monuments of your owne Ho∣nourable works, and some other noble Queenes, famous Ladies, and vertuous Gentlewomen of our time, and former ages, to addresse and make readie these seuen Lamps of your perpetuall virginitie, to remaine vnto women as one en∣tire and goodlie monument of praier, precepts, and examples meet for medita∣tion, instruction, and imitation to all posteritie. And now in most dutifull maner commending and appropriating so diuine exercises of the church, vnto your Maiestie the most naturall mother and noble nursse thereof; the cause of a vir∣gine to a Virgine, the works of Queenes to a Queene; your owne praiers to your selfe (to whom indeed the particular interest and due praise and honour thereof iustlie belongeth) I here prostrate on my knees, in most humble maner meekelie beseech your excellent Maiestie, gratiouslie of your woonted clemen∣cie, to pardon and forgiue this my too rash and bold enterprise; attempted both with bashfulnesse, feare, and trembling: and fauourablie (as in like cases you are accustomed) to accept these your liege subiect his great labors and painfull trauels in good part, which he (not to instruct your Highnesse (of whose notable learning I am not able to speake) but onelie for a monument of the hartie loue he beareth both to the church his deere mother, and to your Maiestie his dread Souereigne) hath in a godlie zeale and conscience, bestowed to the good and profit of his countrie. That (by your Graces good liking and princelie approba∣tion) they may be both patronized against the wicked, and practised of the god∣lie. And so manie (by that means) with due reuerence and great honour to so ho∣nourable works, may receiue these lamps as from your bountifull hand to in∣lighten them by your good industrie in all vertue: and to prepare them by your holie example, like wise virgins to perseuerance in all good works of the spirit. And that therein manie may often looke and labour mightilie for your High∣nesse as they are bound, in feruent praier; and manie mo thanks, I saie, be giuen of manie faithfull harts on your Maiesties behalfe for the benefit of such and so manie needfull and readie helps, ministred and afoorded by your painfull hand and princelie affabilitie to your euerlasting comfort and renowme, the praise of God, and glorie of his deerest sonne Iesus Christ your sweet spouse. Whom now for a conclusion as I began, I most entirelie beseech, that as of his owne good will he first loued his church my deere mother, and gaue himselfe freelie for hir to sanctifie and clense hir in the most holie fountaine of water, through the word to make hir vnto himselfe a beautifull virgine, and glorious spouse with∣out spot or wrinkle, that she should be holie, pure, perfect, and without blame before him: so he will vouchsafe in like mercie, still both to cherish, defend, and maintaine the same in his continuall grace, religion, and holinesse, that she may yet bring foorth more fruit in hir age, and members, to his glorie: and also as your spirituall spouse to set your Maiestie (a most woorthie and mightie gouer∣nor of the same) euer as a seale vpon his hart, to tie you fast as a signet or brace∣let vpon his arme, to beare you still in his owne bosome, to set his eie ouer you continuallie for your health, wealth, and prosperitie, to bend his desires al∣waies towards you, to doo you good; that so your Highnesse may be kept in his continuall grace, peace, and fauour long to reigne ouer vs: and also defended and preserued euermore from all bodilie and ghostlie perils and enimies, to your euerlasting comfort, and the reioice of all christian harts. Finallie, the Lord blesse your Maiestie euen out of Sion with all his heauenlie gifts and spi∣rituall graces, that hauing the principall & heroicall spirit of your holie father Page [unnumbered] good king Dauid, doubled (yea trebled) in your noble and princelie hart, you may as in numbers of yeeres beyond manie ages, so in singular pietie and godli∣nes far surmount & excell your most noble progenitors: that the remembrance of you our good Iosias, may to all posterities be like the composition of the most pretious perfume of the Apothecarie, and as sweet as honie in all mouthes, and as harmonicall musicke at a banket of wine; that in you our zealous Hezechias, I saie, we may still remaine in happie peace, and haue an hiding place from the wind, and a refuge from storms and tempests, and riuers of waters to quench our thirst, and temperate shadowes to shrowd vs from parching heate in a drie land: so shall the harts of manie thousand virgins in England and else-where, be ioifull and thankfull to God and your Maiestie; so shall the daughters of Ie∣rusalem sing ioifullie the sweet songs of Sion in their owne land, with great tri∣umph to their celestial King, reigning on high ouer all; yea so shal all your faith∣full and louing subiects, I saie, in all humble obedience and dutifull seruice both towards God, your Maiestie, and their countrie, resound by all possible meanes to all posterities your most excellent and woorthie praises, vntill the comming of our Lord and Sauiour Iesus Christ: to whom with the Father and the holie Ghost be all empire, honor, dominion and praise, now and for euer,
Your Maiesties humble, faithfull, and obedient subiect, THOMAS BENTLEY.