TO THE RIGHT WOR∣shipfull Sir BASSINGBVRNE GAVDY, Knight.
RIght Worsh. hauing beene licensed some yeare agoe (according to the auncient laudable cu∣stome of the Uniuersitie) to interpret S. Pauls Epistles: and then earnestly intreated by M. Perkins his Executor, and others his friends, (which had some interest in me) to supplie that which was defectiue in his Commentarie vpon the Galatians: ouercome at the last by their importunitie, I vnder∣tooke the busines, making triall of my simple facultie in this short Chapter, which I haue here according to my poore talent, finished: Yet not daring to publish it to the view of the world, without pr•mi∣sing somewhat in way of excuse for my boldnes. For if Hirtius or (as others thinke) Oppius, beeing importuned by his friend to continue the Commentaries which Caesar left vnfinished, durst not presume to * make a Supplie, without making first an Apologie for himselfe, for attempting to take in hand so great a taske, seeming therein to com∣pare with him who was incomparable: Iust cause haue I to excuse my selfe for this my bold attempt, in vndertaking to equall him who in the iudgement of all (saue such, as esteeme of Writers by tale and not by touch) is so substantiall, concise, exact, methodicall, that (as it is said of Caesar) he hath discouraged wise men from writing.* But seeing J doe not in the vaine confidence of mine owne sufficiency, or exactnes of the worke, proclaime a chalenge to all mens censures: nor yet take vpon me (as * some haue don in other writers) so to carry the Author along that the Reader shall not perceiue but that he is still reading him, nor know where he endeth, or where I beginne (for that beeing impossible to attaine, were follie to attempt:) but oenly to finish that which otherwise should haue bin imperfect, to satisfie the request of my friēds, & to helpe forward the Lords building, though not as a master builder with hewen stones, or polished Saphirs: yet as Page [unnumbered] a seruer and vnderlabourer as it were with a handfull of rubbish. I hope I shall obtaine (at least) this fauourable construction, to be thought as farre from vanitie herein, as my conscience doth witnesse with me I did it in simplicitie, and without affectation of singularitie. And if it were no presumption in Gillebertus to finish Bernards Sermons vpon the Canticles, nor in Clichtoveus to supplie * foure bookes which were wanting in Cyrils Commentaries vpon Iohn, nor in Wolfius, Reuterus, and other moderne writers, to continue the Commentaries of Martyr, Zanchius, &c. but rather workes wor∣thie great commendation, and deseruing well of the Church of God: I trust it wiil not be imputed to me as a vice, which in others is ac∣counted as a vertue. Further, if I shall seeme to any with the vn∣skilfull limmer to haue ioyned humano capiti, cervicem equinā, in that I exceede as much the other part in prolixitie, as! come short of it in dexteritie, I hope I shall the more easily obtaine pardon, con∣sidering it was my first draught, not hauing taken pensill in hand be∣fore: and seeing the worke which I was to finish was caput Vene∣ris, the faire face of Uen••s, I chose rather (because I could not hit of the iust proportion which J aimed at) to exceede measure a little, then to be defectiue: thinking thereby to sute them the better, seeing beautie or fairenes (to speake more properly) consists only in greatnes, as the Philosopher saith. And some perhaps may think that it falleth * out well, in that I haue giuen it more bodie, because it had lesse spi∣rit. But what others thinke or say (for as in other things, so in this, lookers on will haue their words) it skilleth not, so I may haue the ap∣probation of the godly and well affected Reader: especially your Wor∣shipfull ••tronage, to whome I humbly commend it, as the first fruits of my labours, a simple floure growing in a schollars garden: desiring it may be suffered to grow either in the shadow or sunneshine of your protection, that so of the godly it may be better accepted, and of the caterpiller the lesse touched: (those I meane which will correct the Uerbe before they vnderstand the Nowne, condemning that which they ought rather to commend, at least which they cannot amend.) Uouchsafe therefore Right Worsh. to receiue this poore present, as a pledge of my vnfained loue, and humble dutie: and a testimonie of my thankefulnes to God for his manifold graces of prudence, iustice, sobrietie, meekenes, humilitie, liberalitie, bestowed vpon you, especi∣ally your loue of his truth, and continuall meditation in his word: which was the thing that mooued me, (all by-respects s•t aside) to of∣fer this Commentarie to your view, and to haue it graced with your Page [unnumbered] countenance: that by this meanes I might the more stirre vp and kindle (if it were possible) your loue and liking of the word, by adding fewel to the fire, and oyle to the flame. It is recorded of Theodosius the second, that he writ the New Testament ouer with his owne hand: and of Alphonsus King of Spayne and Naples, that he read the Bible 14 times ouer with the ordinarie Glosse, (the best helpe he had in those daies.) And J doubt not but that you will per∣use this exposition at your leisure, and still continue to reade the holy Scripture as hetherto you haue done, and so be answerable to that which is voiced of you, and to that extraordinarie com∣mendation which your faithfull Pastour hath often giuen of your diligence and dexteritie in that behalfe. Now let me adde this one thing, that though there be not the like efficacie in a dead let∣ter, that is in a liuely voice, yet the bare reading of the Scripture is of great and singular vse, which may appeare by this, that it is so often commanded by pre••pt, & so highly commended by the practise of the Saints; and so straightly forbidden, as by cruel Antiochus, so * by the Romane Antichrist: neither dare I denie but that God hath and doth vse it, not onely as a meanes of edification, but also of wor∣king the conuersion of many of his seruants, as Augustine confesseth * of himselfe, that he was conuerted by reading, that place in Paul Rom. 13. 14. conuerted (I say) not as a heretike onely which is re∣claimed from his erronious opinions, but as a lost sheepe which is re∣duced and brought home from the errour of, his way. Notwithstan∣ding, in reading the Scripture to goe alone is not so safe: a guide therefore is necessarie (as the Eunuch confesseth) which may be as * the Mercurialis statua, to point a man to the right way. And this guide is either the outward, or the inward guide: the outward guide (I speake of reading onely) is a Commentarie, especially such a one as a sanctified spirit hath much breathed vpon: seeing it is the best learning the Theorick of him which is skilfull in the Practicke. The inward guide, is the spirit of Reuelation, which dwelleth onely in a humble, docible, and obedient heart, which whosoeuer bringeth hath apromise that he shall know the truth, Ioh. 7. 17. and vnder∣stand the secrets of God, Psal. 25. 14. and without which the Scrip∣tures are but as a Riddle or a clasped booke. For the full and per∣fect knowledge of the word consisteth (as Epiphanius saith) in vn∣derstanding,* and feeling, that is, not in bare speculation onely swim∣ming in the braine, but in a sensible sauing knowledge sinking into the affections of the heart: and by this latter the comfortable meaning Page [unnumbered] of the Scripture is better vnderstood, then by all the speculations of the most curious Skep••kes: as the sweetnes of honie is better knowne in a moment by him that tasteth it, then by those that spend many houres in the contemplation and discourse of it.
But I forget my selfe very much in taking vpon me to read a le∣cture to such an exercised scholler in the booke of God. Therefore without further insinuation either for pardon for my boldnes, or ac∣ceptance of my paines, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you further, and giue you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. From Emanuel Colledge. August. 13. 1604.
A louer of your Worships vertues, in all dutie to command, RAFE CVDWORTH.