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.
Meditations upon Death, after the Votes of Non-Addresses and His MAJESTIES closer Imprisonment In Carisbrooke-Castle.
AS I have leisure enough, so I have cause more than enough, to meditate upon, and prepare for My Death: for I know, there are but few steps between the Prisons and Graves of Princes.
It is Gods indulgence, which gives Me the space, but Mans cruelty, that gives Me the sad occasions for these thoughts.
For, besides the common burthen of mortality, which lies upon Me, as a Man; I now bear the heavy load of other mens ambitions, fears, jealousies, and cruell passions, whose envy or enmity against Me makes their owne lifes seem deadly to them, while I enjoy any part of Mine.
I thank God, My prosperity made Me not wholly a Stranger to the contemplations of mortality:
Those are never unseasonable, since this is alwaies uncertaine: Death being an eclipse, which oft happeneth as well in clear, as cloudy daies.
But My now long and sharp adversity hath so reconciled in Me those naturall Antipathies between Life and Death, which are in all men, that I thank God, the common terrors of it are dispelled; and the speciall horrour of it, as to My particular, much allayed: for, although My death at present may justly be represented to Me with all those terrible aggravations, which the policy of cruell and implacable enemies can put upon it, (affaires being drawn to the very dregs of malice) yet I blesse God, I can look upon all those stings, as unpoysonous, though sharp; since My Redeemer hath either pulled them out, or given Me the antidote of his Death against them; which as to the immaturity, unjustice, shame, scorne, and cruelty of it exceeded, whatever I can feare.
Indeed, I never did find so much, the life of Religion, the feast of a good Conscience, and the brazen wall of a judicious integrity and constancy, as since I came to these closer conflicts with the thoughts of Death.
I am not so old, as to be weary of life; nor (I hope) so bad, as to be either afraid to die, or ashamed to live: true, I am so afflicted, as might make Me sometime even desire to die; if I did not consider, That it is the greatest glory of a Christians life to die daily, in conquering by a lively faith, and patient hopes of a better life, those partiall and quotidian deaths, which kill us (as it were) by piece-meales, and make us overlive our owne fates; while We are deprived of health, honour, liberty, power, credit, safety, or estate; and those other comforts of dearest relations, which are as the life of our lives.
Though, as a KING, I think My self to live in nothing temporall so much, as in the love and goodwill of My People; for which, as I have suffered many deaths, so I hope I am not in that point as yet wholly dead: notwithstanding, My Enemies have used all the poyson of falsity and violence of hostility to destroy, first the love and Loyalty, which is in My Subjects; and then all that content of life in Me, which from these I chiefly enjoyed.
Indeed, they have left Me but little of life, and only the husk and shell (as it were) which their further malice and cruelty can take from Me; having bereaved Me of all those worldly comforts, for which life it self seems desirable to men.
But, O My Soule! think not that life too long, or tedious, wherein God gives thee any opportunities, if not to doe, yet to suffer with such Christian patience and magnanimity in a good Cause, as are the greatest honour of our lives, and the best improvement of our deaths.
I know that in point of true Christian valour, it argues pusillanimity to desire to die out of wearinesse of life; and a want of that heroick greatnesse of spirit which becomes a Christian in the patient and generous sustaining those afflictions, which as shadows necessarily attend us, while we are in this body; and which are lessened or enlarged as the Sun of our prosperity moves higher, or lower: whose totall absence is best recompensed with the Dew of Heaven.
The assaults of affliction may be terrible, like Sampson's Lyon, but they yeild much sweetnesse to those, that dare to encounter and overcome them; who know how to overlive the witherings of their Gourds without discontent or peevishnesse, while they may yet converse with God.
That I must die as a Man, is certain; that I may die a King, by the hands of My own Subjects, a violent, sodain, and barbarous death; in the strength of My years; in the midst of My Kingdoms; My Friendsand loving Subjects being helplesse Spectators; My Enemies insolent Revilers and Triumphers over Me, living, dying, and dead, is so probable in humane reason, that God hath taught me not to hope otherwise, as to mans cruelty; however, I despaire not of Gods infinite mercy.
I know My Life is the object of the Devils & wicked mens malice; but yet under Gods sole custody & disposall: Whom I do not think to flatter for longer life by seeming prepared to die; but I humbly desire to depend upon him, & to submit to his will both in life & death, in what order soever he is pleased to lay them out to Me. I confesse it is not easie for Me to contend with those many horrours of death, wherewith God suffers Me to be tempted; which are equally horrid, either in the suddennesse of a barbarous Assasination: or in those greater formalities, whereby My Enemies (being more solemnly cruell) will, it may be, seeke to adde (as those did, who Crucified Christ) the mockery of Justice, to the cruelty of Malice: That I may be destroyed, as with greater pomp and artifice, so with lesse pity, it will be but a necessary policy to make My death appeare as an act of Justice, done by Subjects upon their Soveraigne; who know that no Law of God or Man invests them with any power of Judicature without Me, much lesse against Me: and who, being sworn and bound by all that is sacred before God and Man, to endeavour My preservation, must pretend Justice to cover their Perjury.
It is, indeed, a sad fate for any man to have his Enemies to be Accusers, Parties, and Judges; but most desperate, when this is acted by the insolence of Subjects against their Soveraigne; wherein those, who have had the chiefest hand, and are most guilty of contriving the publique Troubles, must by shedding My bloud seem to wash their own hands of that innocent bloud, whereof they are now most evidently guilty before God and man; and I believe in their owne consciences too, while they carried on unreasonable demands, first by Tumults, after by Armies. Nothing makes meane spirits more cowardly-cruell in managing their usurped power against their lawfull Superiours, than this, the Guilt of their unjust Usurpation; notwithstanding, those specious and popular pretensions of Justice against Delinquents, applied onely to disguise at first the monstrousnesse of their designes, who despaired, indeed, of possessing the power and profits of the Vineyard, till the Heire, whose right it is, be cast out and slaine.
With them, My greatest fault must be, that I would not either destroy My selfe with the Church and State by My Word, or not suffer them to doe it unresisted by the Sword; whose covetous ambition no Concessions of Mine could ever yet, either satisfie, or abate.
Nor is it likely they will ever think, that Kingdome of brambles, which some men seek to erect (at once, weak, sharp, and fruitlesse, either to God or man) is like to thrive till watered with the Royall bloud of those, whose right the Kingdome is.
Well, Gods will be done, I doubt not but my Innocency will find him both My Protectour, and My Advocate, who is My onely Judge, whom I owne as King of Kings, not onely for the eminency of his power and majesty above them; but also for that singular care and protection, which he hath over them: who knows them to be exposed to as many dangers (being the greatest Patrones of Law, Justice, Order, and Religion on earth) as there be either Men or Devils, which love confusion.
Nor will he suffer those men long to prosper in their Babel, who build it with the bones and cement it with the bloud of their Kings.
I am confident they will find Avengers of My death among themselves: the injuries I have sustained from them shall be first punished by them, who agreed in nothing so much as in opposing Me.
Their impatience to beare the loud cry of My bloud, shall make them think no way better to expiate it, than by shedding theirs, who with them, most thirsted after Mine.
The sad confusions following My destruction, are already presaged and confirmed to Me by those I have lived to see since My troubles; in which, God alone (who onely could) hath many waies pleaded My cause; not suffering them to go unpunished, whose confederacy in sinne was their onely security; who have cause to feare that God will both further divide, and by mutuall vengeance, afterward destroy them.
My greatest conquest of Death is from the power and love of Christ, who hath swallow'd up death in the victory of his Resurrection, and the glory of his Ascension.
My next comfort is, that he gives Me not onely the honour to imitate his example in suffering for right-eousnesse sake, (though obscured by the foulest charges of Tyranny and Injustice) but also, that charity, which is the noblest revenge upon, and victory over My Destroyers: By which, I thank God, I can both forgive them, and pray for them, that God would not impute My bloud to them further then to convince them, what need they have of Christs bloud to wash their soules from the guilt of shedding Mine.
At present, the will of My Enemies seems to be their onely rule, their power the measure, and their successe the Exactor, of what they please to call Justice; while they flatter themselves with the fancy of their owne safety by My danger, and the security of their lives designes by My Death: forgetting, that as the greatest temptations to sinne are wrapped up in seeming prosperities, so the severest vengeances of God are then most accomplished, when men are suffered to compleat their wicked purposes.
I blesse God, I pray not so much, that this bitter cup of a violent death may passe from Me, as that of his wrath may passe from all those, whose hands by deserting Me, are sprinkled, or by acting and consenting to My death are embrued with My bloud.
The will of God hath confined, and concluded Mine; I shall have the pleasure of dying, without any pleasure of desired vengeance.
This I think becomes a Christian toward his Enemies, and a King toward his Subjects.
They cannot deprive Me of more than I am content to lose, when God sees fit by their hands to take it from me; whose mercy I believe, will more then infinitely recompence what ever by mans injustice he is pleased to deprive me of.
The glory attending my death will farre surpasse all I could enjoy, or conceive in life.
I shall not want the heavy and envied Crownes of this world, when my God hath mercifully crowned and consummated his graces with glory; and exchanged the shadows of my earthly Kingdomes among men, for the substance of that heavenly kingdome with himself.
For the censures of the world; I know the sharp and necessary tyranny of my Destroyers will sufficiently confute the calumnies of tyranny against me; I am perswaded I am happy in the judicious love of the ablest and best of my Subjects, who doe not onely pity and pray for me, but would be content even to die with me, or for me.
These know, how to excuse my failings, as a man, and yet to retaine, and pay their duty to me as their King; there being no religious necessity binding any Subjects by pretending to punish, infinitely to exceed, the faults and errours of their Princes; especially there, where more then sufficient satisfaction hath been made to the publike; the enjoyment of which, private ambitions have hitherto frustrated.
Others, I believe, of softer tempers, and lesse advantaged by my ruine, doe already feel sharp convictions, and some remorse in their consciences; where they cannot but see the proportions of their evill dealings against me in the measure of Gods retaliations upon them, who cannot hope long to enjoy their owne thumbs and toes, having under pretence of paring others nailes been so cruell as to cut off their chiefest strength.
The punishment of the more insolent and obstinate may be like that of Korah & his Complices (at once mutining against both Prince & Priest) in such a method of divine justice, as is not ordinary; the earth of the lowest and meanest people opening upon them, and swallowing them up in a just disdaine of their ill-gotten and worse-used Authority: upon whose support and strength they chiefly depended for their building and establishing their designes against Me, the Church, and State.
My chiefest comfort in death consists in my peace, which I trust, is made with God; before whose exact Tribunal I shall not feare to appeare, as to the Cause, so long disputed by the Sword, between me and my causlesse Enemies: where I doubt not, but his righteous judgment will confute their fallacy, who from worldly successe (rather like Sophisters, than sound Christians) draw those popular conclusions for Gods approbation of their actions; whose wise providence (we know) oft permits many events, wch his revealed Word (the onely cleare, safe and fixed rule of good actions and good consciences) in no sort approves.
I am confident the Justice of my Cause, and clearness of My Conscience before God & toward my people will carry me, as much above them in Gods decision, as their successes have lifted them above me in the Vulgar opinion: who consider not, that many times those undertakings of men are lifted up to Heaven in the prosperity and applause of the world, whose rise is from Hell, as to the injuriousnesse and oppression of the designe. The prosperous winds which oft fill the sayles of Pirats, doth not justifie their piracy and rapine.
I look upon it with infinite more content and quiet of Soule, to have been worsted in my enforced contestation for, and vindication of the Laws of the Land, the freedome and honour of Parliaments, the rights of my Crown, the just liberty of my Subjects, and the true Christian Religion in its Doctrine, Government and due encouragements, then if I had, with the greatest advantages of successe, overborne them all; as some men have now evidently done, whatever designes they at first pretended.
The prayers and patience of my Friends and loving Subjects will contribute much to the sweetning of this bitter cup, which I doubt not but I shall more cheerfully take, and drink as from Gods hand (if it must be so) than they can give it to me, whose hands are unjustly and barbarously lifted up against me.
And, as to the last event, I may seem to owe more to my Enemies, than my Friends; while those will put a period to the sinnes and sorrows attending this miserable life; wherewith these desire, I might still contend.
I shall be more than Conquerour through Christ enabling me; for whom I have hitherto suffered: as he is the Authour of Truth, Order, and Peace; for all which, I have been forced to contend against Errour, Faction, and confusion.
If I must suffer a violent death, with my Saviour, it is but mortality crowned with martyrdome: where the debt of death, which I owe for sinne to nature, shall be raised, as a gift of faith and patience offered to God.
Which I humbly beseech him mercifully to accept; and although death be the wages of my owne sinne, as from God, and the effect of others sinnes, as men, both against God and me; yet as I hope my own sinnes are so remitted, that they shall be no ingredients to imbitter the cup of my death, so I desire God to pardon their sins, who are most guilty of my destruction.
The Trophees of my charity will be more glorious and durable over them, than their ill-managed victories over me.
Though their sin be prosperous, yet they had need to be penitent, that they may be pardoned: Both which, I pray God they may obtain; that my tem-porall death unjustly inflicted by them, may not be revenged by Gods just inflicting eternall death upon them: for I look upon the temporall destruction of the greatest King, as farre lesse deprecable, than the eternall damnation of the meanest Subject.
Nor do I wish other, than the safe bringing of the ship to shore, when they have cast me overboard; though it be very strange, that Mariners can find no other means to appease the storme, themselves have raised, but by drowning their Pilot.
I thank God, my Enemies cruelty cannot prevent my preparation; whose malice in this I shall defeat, that they shall not have the satisfaction to have destroyed my Soul with my Body; of whose salvation, while some of them have themselves seemed, and taught others to despaire, they have only discover'd this, that they do not much desire it.
Whose uncharitable and cruell Restraints, denying me even the assistance of any of my Chaplains, hath rather enlarged, than any way obstructed my accesse to the Throne of Heaven.
Where thou dwellest, O King of Kings; who fillest Heaven and Earth, who art the fountaine of eternall life, in whom is no shadow of death.
Thou O God art both the just Afflicter of death upon us, and the mercifull Saviour of us in it, and from it.
Yea, it is better for us to be dead to our selves, and live in thee; than by living in our selves to be deprived of thee.
O make the many bitter aggravations of My death as a Man, and a King, the opportunities and advantages of thy speciall graces and comforts in My Soule, as a Christian.
If thou Lord wilt be with Me, I shall neither feare nor feel any evill, though I walke through the valley of the shadow of death.
To contend with death is the worke of a weake and mortall man; to overcome it, is the grace of thee alone, who art the Almighty and immortall God.
O My Saviour, who knowest what it is to die with Me, as a Man; make Me to know what it is to passe through death to life with thee My God.
Though I die, yet I know, that thou my Redeemer livest for ever: though thou slayest Me, yet thou hast incouraged me to trust in thee for eternall life.
O withdraw not thy favour from me, which is better than life.
O be not farre from me, for I know not how neer a violent and cruell death is to me.
As thy Omniscience, O God, discovers, so thy Omnipotence can defeat the designes of those who have, or shall conspire my destruction.
O shew me the goodnesse of thy will, through the wickednesse of theirs.
Thou givest me leave as a man to pray, that this cup may passe from me; but thou hast taught Me as a Christian by the example of Christ to adde, not My will, but thine be done.
Yea Lord, let»our wills be one, by wholly resolving mine into thine: let not the desire of life in me be so great, as that of doing or suffering thy will in either life or death.
As I believe thou hast forgiven all the errours of my life, so I hope thou wilt save me from the terrours of my death.
Make me content to leave the worlds nothing, that I may come really to enjoy all in thee, who hast made Christ unto me in life, gaine; and in death, advantage.
Though my Destroyers forget their duty to thee and me, yet doe not thou, O Lord, forget to be mercifull to them.
For, what profit is there in my bloud, or in their gaining my Kingdomes, if they lose their owne Soules?
Such as have not onely resisted my just Power, but wholly usurped and turned it against my self, though they may deserve, yet let them not receive to themselves damnation.
Thou madest thy Sonne a Saviour to many, that Crucified Him, while at once he suffered violently by them, and yet willingly for them.
O let the voice of his bloud be heard for My Murtherers, louder than the cry of mine against them.
Prepare them for thy mercy by due convictions of their sinne, and let them not at once deceive and damne their owne Soules by fallacious pretensions of Justice in destroying me, while the conscience of their unjust usurpation of power against me, chiefly tempts them to use all extremities against me.
O Lord, thou knowest I have found their mercies to me as very false, so very cruell; who pretending to preserve me, have meditated nothing but my ruine.
O deale not with them as bloud-thirsty and deceitfull men; but overcome their cruelty with thy compassion and my charity.
And when thou makest inquisition for My bloud, O sprinkle their polluted, yet penitent Soules with the bloud of thy Sonne, that thy destroying Angel may passe over them.
Though they think my Kingdomes on earth too
little to entertaine at once both them and me, yet let the capacious Kingdome of thy infinite mercy at last receive both me and my enemies.
When being reconciled to thee in the bloud of the same Redeemer, we shall live farre above these ambitious desires, which beget such mortall enmities.
When their hands shall be heaviest, and cruellest upon me, O let me fall into the armes of thy tender and eternall mercies.
That what is cut off of my life in this miserable moment, may be repaied in thy ever-blessed eternity.
Lord, let thy Servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen thy salvation.
Vota dabunt, quae bella negarunt.