Or, The King's Book
Edited by Edward Almack
London: A. Moring, Limited, At the De la More Press, 1904.
text from an "advance copy" of the first edition, 1649.
5. Upon His Majesties passing the Bill for the Triennial Parliaments: And after setling this, during the pleasure of the two Houses.
THAT the world might be fully confirmed in My purposes at first, to contribute, what in Justice, Reason, Honour, and Conscience, I could, to the Happy successe of this Parliament, (which had in Me no other designe but the Generall good of My Kingdomes) I willingly passed the BILL for Trienniall Parliaments: which, as gentle and seasonable Physick, might (if well applied) prevent any distempers from getting any head or prevailing; especially, if the remedy proved not a disease beyond all remedy.
I conceived, this Parliament would find worke with convenient recesses for the first three Years; But I did not imagine that some men would thereby have occasioned more worke rather then they found to doe, by undoing so much as they found well done to their hands. Such is some mens activity that they wil needs make worke rather then want it; and chuse to be doing amisse, rather then doe nothing.
When that first Act seemed too scanty to satisfie some mens feares, and compasse publique affaires; I was perswaded to grant that Bill of Sitting during the pleasure of the Houses, which amounted in some mens sense to as much as the perpetuating this Parliament. By this Act of highest confidence, I hoped for ever to shut out, and lock the dore upon all present Jealousies, and future mistakes: I confesse I did not thereby intend to shut My self out of dores, as some men have now requited me.
True, It was an Act unparaldl'd by any of My Predecessours; yet cannot in reason admit of any worse interpretation then this, of an extreame confidence I had, that My Subjects would not make ill use of an Act, by which I declared so much to trust them, as to deny My self in so high a point of My Prerogative.
For good Subjects will never think it just or fit that My condition should be worse by My bettering theirs; Nor indeed would it have been so m the events, if some men had known as well with moderation to use, as with earnestnesse to desire advantages of doing good, or evill.
A continuall Parliament (I thought) would but keep the Common-weale in tune, by preserving Lawes in their due execution and vigour, wherein My interest lies more than any mans, since by those Lawes, My rights as a KING, would be preserved no lesse than My Subjects; which is all I desired. More than the Law gives Me I would not have, and lesse the meanest Subject should not.
Some (as I have heard) gave it out, that I soon repented Me of that selling Act: and many would needs perswade Me, I had cause so to doe; but I could not easily nor suddenly suspect such ingratitude in Men of Honors. That the more I granted them, the lesse I should have, and enjoy with them. I still counted My self undiminished by My largest concessions, if by them I might gaine and confirm the love of My People.
Of which, I doe not yet dispaire, but that God will still blesse Me with increase of it: when Men shall have more leisure, and lesse prejudice; that so with unpassionate representations they may reflect upon those, (as I think) not more princely then friendly contributions, which I granted towards the perpetuating of their happinesse, who are now onely miserable in this, That some mens ambition will not give them leave to enjoy what I intended for their good.
Nor doe I doubt, but that in Gods due time, the Loyal and cleared affections of My people will strive to returne such retributions of Honour, and Love to Me or My Posterity, as may fully compensate both the acts of My confidence and My sufferings for them; which (God knowes) have been neither few, nor small, nor short; occasioned chiefly by a perswasion I had, that I could not grant too much, or distrust too little, to Men, that being professedly My Subjects, pretended singular piety, and religious strictnesse.
The Injury of all Injuries is, That which some men will needs load Me withall; as if I were a wilfull and resolved Occasioner of My owne and My Subjects miseries; while (as they confidently, but (God knows) falsly divulge) I repining at the establishment of this Parliament, endeavoured by force and open hostility to undoe what by My Royall assent I had done. Sure it had argued a very short sight of things, and extreame fatuity of mind in Me, so farre to bind My owne hands at their request, if I had shortly meant to have used a Sword against them. God knows, though I had then a sense of Injuries; yet not such, as to think them worth vindicating by a War: I was not then compelled, as since, to injure My self by their not using favours, with the same candour wherewith they were conferred. The Tumults indeed threatned to abuse all Acts of Grace, and turne them into wantonnesse; but I thought at length their owne feares, whose black arts first raised up those turbulent Spirits would force them to conjure them downe againe.
Nor If I had justly resented any indignities put upon Me, or others, was I then in any capacity to have taken just revenge in an Hostile and Warlike way upon those, whom I knew so well fortified in the love of the meaner sort of the people, that I could not have given My enemies greater, and more desired advantages against Me, then by so unprincely Inconstancy, to have assaulted them with Armes, thereby to scatter them, whom but lately I had solemnly setled by an Act of Parliament.
God knowes I longed for nothing more then that My self, and My Subjects might quietly enjoy the fruits of My many condescendings.
It had been a Course full of sinne, as well as of Hazard, and dishonour for Me to goe about the cutting up of that by the Sword, which I had so lately planted, so much (as I thought) to My Subjects content, and Mine own too, in all probability: If some men had not feared where no fear was, whose security consisted in scaring others.
I thank God I know so well the sincerity and uprightnesse of My owne heart, in passing that great Bill, which exceeded the very thoughts of former times; That although I may seeme lesse a Polititian to men, yet I need no secret distinctions or evasions before God. Nor had I any reservations in My owne Soule, when I passed it; nor repentings after, till I saw that My letting some men go up to the Pinnacle of the Temple, was a temptation to them to cast Me down head-long.
Concluding, that without a miracle, Monarchy it selfe, together with Me, could not but be dashed in pieces, by such a precipitious fall as they intended. Whom God in mercy forgive, and make them see at length, That as many Kingdomes as the Devill shewed our Saviour, and the glory of them, (if they could be at once enjoyed by them) are not worth the gaining, by wayes of sinfull ingratitude and dishonour, which hazards a Soule worth more Worlds then this hath Kingdomes.
But God hath hitherto preserved Me, and made Me to see, That it is no strange thing for men, left to their owne passions, either to doe much evill themselves, or abuse the over-much goodnesse of others, whereof an ungratefull Surfet is the most desperate and incurable disease.
I cannot say properly that I repent of that Act, since I have no reflexions upon it as a sin of my will, though an error of too charitable a judgement: Onely I am sorry other mens eyes should be evill, because mine were good.
To Thee (O my God) doe I still appeale, whose All-discerning Justice sees through all the disguises of mens pretensions, and deceitfull darknesses of their hearts.
Thou gavest me a heart to grant much to My Subjects; and now I need a Heart fitted to suffer much from some of them.
Thy will be done, though never so much to the crossing of ours, even when we hope to doe what might be most comformable to thine and theirs too; who pretended they aimed at nothing else.
Let thy grace teach me wisely to enjoy as well the frustratings, as the fulfillings of My best hopes, and most specious desires.
I see while I thought to allay others feares, I have raised Mine owne; and by selling them, have unsetled My selfe.
Thus have they requited Me evil for good, and hatred for My good will towards them.
O Lord be thou My Pilot in this dark and dangerous storme, which neither admits My returne to the Port whence I set out, nor My making any other, with that safety and honour which I designed. Tis easie for Thee to keep Me safe in the love and confidence of My people; nor is it hard for Thee to preserve Me amidst the unjust hatred and jealousies of too many, which thou has suffered so far to prevaile upon Me, as to be able to pervert and abuse My acts of greatest Indulgence to them, and assurance of them.
But no favours from Me can make others more guilty then My Selfe may be, of misusing those many and great ones, which Thou, O Lord, hast conferred on Me.
I beseech Thee give Me and them such Repentance, as thou wilt accept, and such Grace as we may not abuse.
Make Me so far happy as to make a right use of others abuses, and by their failings of Me, to reflect, with a reforming displeasure, upon My offences against Thee.
So, although by My sins I am by other mens sins deprived of thy temporall blessings, yet I may be happy to enjoy the comfort of thy mercies, which often raise the greatest Sufferers to be the most glorious Saints.