Now, as to Faith which is the intertayner & quickner of Religion (as I have else said) It is a sure persuasion and apprehension of the promises of God, applying them to your soule: and therefore may it justlie be called, The golden chaine that linketh the faithful soule to Christ: And because it groweth not in our garden, but is the free gifte of God (as PAULL sayth) [Phillip. 1.29.] It must be nourished by praier, which is no thing else but A frendly talking with god.
Use oft to pray when ye ar quietest, e-
specially in your bed: for publik praier serveth more for example (for the most part) then for any particuler comfort to the supplicant. In your praier, be nether over strange with God (like the ignorant common sort, that prayeth nothing but out of bookes) nor yet over-homely with him (like som of our vain proud puritanes, that thinke they rule him upon their fingers.) The former way will breede an uncouth coldness in you towards him: the other wil breed in you a contempt of him: but in your praier to God, speak with al reverence, for if a subject wil not speak but reverently to a king, much les should any flesh presume to crak with God as with his companion.
Crave in your prayer, not onelie thinges spiritual but corporall, whiles things
of greater, and whiles of lesse consequence, that yee may laye up in store his grant of these things for confirmation of your faith: and to be an arles-pennie unto you of his love. Praie, as ye finde your heart moveth you pro renata: but see that yee sute no unlawfull thinges, as revenge, luste, or such like: for that prayer can not come of faith, and prayer without faith is sinne (as Paull saith) [Rom. 14.23.] Whe ye obteyne your prayer, thank him joyfully therefore; if otherwaise, beare patientlie, preassing to win him with importunitie as the Widdow did Christ [Mat. 15.22]: and if notwithstanding thereof yee bee not heard, assure your selfe God fore-seeth that which ye aske is not for your weal: and learne in time so to enterprete all the adversitites that God shall sende unto
you, so shall ye in the middest of them not only be armed with patience, but joyfully lift up your eyes from the present trouble, to the happie end that God will turne it to: and when ye finde it once so fall out by proofe, arme your selfe with the experience thereof against the next trouble, assuring your selfe (although ye cannot in time of the showre see through the cloud, yet) in the ende, ye will finde God sent it for your weill, as ye found in the former.
And as for consience (which I called the conserver of Religion) It is nothing els but the light of knowledge that God hath planted in man; which choppeth him with a feeling that hee hath done wrong, when ever he committeth any sinne: & surely, althou this conscience be a greate torture to the
wicked, yet it is as a great comfort to the goodlie, if wee will consider it rightlie. For have we not a greate advantage that have within our selves while wee live here, a count booke and Inventarie of all the crymes that wee will be accused of, either at the houre of our death, or at the greate daye of judgement; which when wee please (yea if wee forget) it will choppe, and remember us to looke upon, that while wee have leasure and are here, we may remember to amende, and so at the daye of our tryall, compeere with new & white garments washen in the blood of the Lambe (as Saint JOHN sayeth) [Rev. 7.14] Above all then (my Sonne) labour, to keepe sounde this conscience which manie prattle of, but over-fewe feele: especiallye be carefull to keepe it
free from two diseases, which it useth oft to bee infected with, to witte, Leaprosie, and Superstition: the former is the mother of Atheisme: the other of Heresies. By a Leaprouse conscience, I meane; a cauterized conscience (as PAULL calleth it) [I. Tim. 4.2.] being become senselesse of sinne, through sleeping in a carelesse securitie, as King DAVIDS was, after his murther [murder] and adulterie, aye while he was wakened by the prophet NATHANS similitude [2 Sam. 12.1]. And for superstition, the word it selfe is plaine ynough, being vocabulum artis.
As for a Preservative against this Leaprosie, remember ever once in the foure and twentie houres, either in the night, or when yee are at greatest quiet, to call your selfe to accounte of
all your laste dayes actiones, either wherein ye have committed thinges ye should not, or omitted the thinges ye should doe, either in your Christiane or kinglie calling: & in that account, let not your selfe be smotthed over with that flattering [filautia greek characters], (which is over kindlie a sicknes to al mankinde) but censure your selfe as sharplie as if yee were your owne enemie: For if yee judge your selfe, ye shall not be judged (as PAULL sayth:) [I. Cor. 11.31] and syne according to your censure, reforme your actions as far as ye may; eschewing ever wilfully & willingly to contrare your conscience: for a small sinne wilfullie committed, with a deliberate resolution to breake the bridle of conscience therein, if far greevouser before God, then a greater sinne committed in a
suddaine passion, when conscience is a sleepe. Remember therefore in al your actions of the great account that yee are one daie to make: in all the dayes of your life ever learning to die, and living every daye as it were youre last;Omnem crede diem tibi diluxiffe fupremum.
And therefore I would not have you to praye with the Papistes, to be preserved from suddaine death, but that God would give you grace to live, as yee may everie houre of your life be ready for death: so shall yee atteyne to the vertue of true Fortitiude, never being affraide for the horror of death, come when hee list: and especiallie, beware to offend your conscience with use of swearing or lying (suppose but in the mowes): for
oathes are but an use, and a sinne clothed with no delite nor gaine, and therefore the more inexcusable before God: and lying commeth also much of a vyle use by bannishing shame: therefore beware even to denie the trueth, which is a sort of lye that may best be eschewewd by a person of your rank: for if any thing be speered at you that yee think not meete to reveale, if yee saie, that question is not pertinent for them to speere, who dare examine you further? & using this answere whiles both in true & false things that will be speered at you, these misnurtured people will never be the wiser thereof.
And for keeping your conscience sound from that siknes of Superstition, which is called Morbus animi, yee muste neither laye the safetie of your conscience
upon the credit of your owne conceits, nor yet of other mens humours, how great Doctors of Divinity that ever they be: but ye must only ground it upon the express Scripture: for conscience not grounded upon sure knowledge, is either an ignorant fantasie, or an arrogante glaikerie. Beware therefore in this case with two extreamities: the' one, to beleeve (with the Papistes) The Churches authoritie, better nor your own knowledge: th' other, to leane (with the Anabaptists) to your own conceites & dreamed revelations.
But learne wisely to discerne betwixt poyntes of salvation and indifferent thinges, betwixt substance and ceremonies; & betwixt the expresse commandemente and will of God in his word, & the invention or ordinance of man;
since al that is necessarie for salvation is contayned in the Scripture: for in anything that is expresly commanded or prohibited in the booke of God, ye cannot be over precise even in the least thing, counting every sin (not according to the light estimation and common use of it in the world) but as the book of God counteth of it: but as for all other things not contayned in the scripture, spare not to use or alter them as the necessitie of the time shall require. And when any of the spiritual office-bearers in the Church, speaketh unto you any thing that is wel warranted by the worde, reverence and obeye them as the Heraulds of the most high God: but (if passing that bounds) they would urge you to embrace anye of their fantasies in place of Gods word, or
would colour their particulars with a pretended zeale, acknowledge them for vaine people passing the boundes of their calling; and (according to your office) gravely and with aurthoritie redact them in ordour againe.
To conclude then, both this purpose of Conscience, and the first part of this booke; Keep God sparinglie in your mouth, but aboundantlie in your hart. Be precise in effect, but sociall in shew. Kyth more by your deeds nor by your wordes the love of vertue and hatred of vice: and delite more to be godlie and vertuous in deed, nor to be thought and called so; expecting more for your praise and rewarde in heaven nor heere: and apply to all your outward actions Christes commande, to
give almes secretly: so shall ye on the one parte be inwardly garnished with true Christian humilitie, not outwardly (with the proud Pharisie) glorying in your godlinesse: but saying (as Christ commandeth us all) when we have done all that we can, Invtiles fervi fumus [Luke 17.10.]: and on the other parte, yee shall eschew outwardly before the world, the suspicioun of filthie proude hypocrisie and deceitfull dissimulation.
Finis: The First Booke of Basilicon Doron
Back to the beginning of the First Book of Basilicon Doron by James I
King James VI & I Page
Basilicon Doron, King James, 1599. Printed by The Scolar Press Limited, 1969.