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Dedication to WILLIAM III.

KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND IRELAND,

Defender of the Faith, the Pious, the Auspicious, the August, Hereditary Stadtholder of the United Provinces, Commander-in-Chief of their Armies and Fleets, the Father of his Country.

D. C. Q.

HERMAN WITSIUS.

WERE none permitted to approach your Majesty with any other address but what was adorned with elegance of language, and the beauties of rhetoric, or with such as Pliny the consul, lavishing all his eloquence, pleased the ears of Trajan; a Dutchman, unaccustomed to

familiar access to kings, and ashamed on the first opening of his mouth, who bewrays his ignorance of the world, and unacquainted with the methods of courts, might well despair of access. But as the God, to whose ministry I was so early devoted, is pleased, not so much with the accuracy of the address of his worshippers, as with the innocence and holiness of their lives, and has a greater regard for him who brings to his temple a pure and sincere heart, than with those, who present the most studied form of words; in like manner your Majesty, who is the most lively image of the supreme Being upon earth, most of all prefers to the gaudy pomp of the most elaborate speech, the candour of an ingenuous breast, recommending itself by no manner of arts.

The wisest of kings has taught us in his Proverbs, that there is a certain penetration in kings. This, if ever conspicuous in any king, since the beginning of the human race, does certainly in a peculiar manner, display itself in your Majesty; who, with an incredible, nay, almost a divine sagacity, penetrates into the inmost recesses, and most secret springs of the human breast, as scarce to be imposed upon by any kind of flattery.

These considerations have greatly emboldened me to address your royal person, entirely relying on your goodness, that you will grant me the same favour now you are king, which formerly you did when you was prince. For though, in point of eloquence, I be inferior to many in the learned world, nay, in respect of merit, to many of my fellow citizens, especially those of my own rank, yet I know of none, either in Holland or your British dominions, to whom I ought to yield in point of duty, submission, and veneration for your Majesty. Believe me, Royal Sir, such is my attachment to every thing that concerns your person, that I think myself so interested in all your deliberations, designs, and actions, that in my public and private prayers, I duly recommend them all to God; being well assured, that all your desires and councils solely aim at the welfare of your country, whose guardian, and of the church, whose defender you are.

Wherever you fight for our security, commanding as a general, or acting as a soldier, you expose your person, not only to the wicked stratagems and treachery of your enemies, but also to their swords, and other weapons of war; yet thither, though perhaps a mean attendant, I follow you, not in body, but in mind, and trembling at every explosion of greater or smaller machines, as if close by your side, ardently pray, that heaven may propitiously avert every disaster from so valuable a life. And whenever I behold you returned in safety, from so many dangers, or rather deaths, I think words then fail me, fail the whole Protestant church, fail all Europe in confederacy, duly to celebrate that divine providence, which exposed you so often to such extraordinary perils, in order to display to the world your bravery, your constancy, your uninterrupted composure of mind, never ruffled by any storms of adversity; but which also so soon rescued you, in order to exchange our solicitude for your person, into joyful acclamations for your safety, and shew your very enemies, what a favourite of heaven you are.

Surely I shall never forget that day on which the river Boyne in Ireland had like to be distinguished by your fall, though, by the blessing of God, it was ennobled by your victory:

for while, according to your wonted attention and care, you went to take a nearer view of the enemyís camp, a cannon ball, leveled at your person, happened to graze your shoulder; a wound, which gave matter of greater joy to your enemies, of apprehension to your own people, than of real harm to yourself; a wound, which taught us you was a man, but a man above the common rank of mankind, a man dear to heaven: a wound, in fine, which, however great, prevented not your performing all the parts of a brave general, nor suffered you to take repose to your own person till you had procured it for others. O! the wisdom and goodness of propitious heaven! O! a day forever memorable in our calendar! How near were your enemies to exult with solid joy, who now, deceived by the false reports of your death, made themselves ridiculous to the world by a theatrical and unmanly shew of indiscreet rejoicing? Great Prince, with these eyes I saw, in these hands I held, to these lips I applied that military tunick, whose wide rent testified the greatness of your wound. Those precious spoils I saw purpled with your blood, and I mixed my affectionate tears with the royal gore.

Lately again, your Majesty gave new matter to our anxiety in the battle of Landen. Being prevailed with by no entreaties of your British or Belgic nobility, to pay a greater regard to your valuable life, on which all our safety depends, nor satisfied to have done the part of a general, by drawing up your army in battle array, animating them to the fight, darting every where your watchful eyes, commending the brave, chiding the dastardly, calling back to the charge by promises, by threats, by example, those that gave ground; your Majesty set a pattern to all, and required nothing from your soldiers but what yourself performed before them; being well acquainted, how to blend the general and the fellow-soldier, without derogating from the dignity of the former. And then, where clouds of smoke intercepted not the view, they saw you rushing through fire and sword, and amidst the enemy, turning aside their sacrilegious points with your drawn sword from your sacred side. But further, that day gave us an illustrious proof of the divine favour towards your person: for while, lavish of your own safety, all your attention is employed in ours, or, (if I may be allowed to speak out; and why should I not, where every virtuous liberty is allowable?) while, for our safety you hazard your own life, by exposing yourself to the cannon of the enemy, it was not your prudence, in which, in other respects, you may vie with Ibe Fabii and the Scipios; but, as others would say, your good fortune, or, what I reckon a more religious way of speaking, Godís own hand, that interposed between your royal breast and the fatal ball, and suffered it only to violate your military coat, and make a slight contusion on your side, to withdraw you from slaughter, and delivered our hearts from grief had it been possible for us to survive to grieve your fall. Surely all our wishes unite to purchase your life at the expence of our own, and if it could be done to take from our own days to add to yours. For what true-born Dutchman does not glow with the warmest affection for a prince, whom God, by conferring all manner of accomplishments, has rendered the delight of mankind? Who, like an auspicious star has shined on the world, deeply plunged and sunk in darkness. Who, in a word, from the ashes of his father, is providentially come forth to light, as the genuine phoenix of our days, and appears to be born only for the welfare of his country.

When the Netherlands were trodden under foot, distressed, and just on the brink of ruin, then heaven appointed you to relieve, to deliver them, and repel their calamities. The distressed

republic flies for refuge to your bosom, being only sure to find an asylum there. Your British subjects also, being almost ruined by the wicked designs of their kings, had long ago been chained, enslaved, and become the prey of lawless tyranny, had not your Majesty hastened to relieve them, while spreading out their suppliant hands towards you, nay, and to relieve them with that resolution, prudence and constancy, and with that success which their annals shall declare, to the amazement of posterity, who will hardly believe it. That expedition shall stand transmitted through ages, which was laid with incredible secrecy, notwithstanding so many piercing and watchful eyes, and undertaken with that resolution, in the winter and end of the year, amidst so many fearful dangers of a tempestuous ocean, did preserve and maintain to the Queen of Islands, her liberty, her laws, her religion, and whatever is valuable and dear to generous breasts. And is it to be wondered, that Britain, thus rescued under God, by your Majestyís aid, now destitute of a ruler, her ill-advised king James being expelled, not by your Majesty, nor by the people of England, but by the stings of his own conscience; neither forced away, but voluntarily flying, should gratefully submit to her preserver and deliverer? Indeed to your Majesty, together with your most religious consort, Mary Augusta, by right of succession, the sceptre of the vacant kingdom devolved. And even in those circumstances, your Majesty had declined accepting it, though offered by both houses of parliament, had any besides yourself, and faithful consort, been found worthy to govern Britain, and capable to settle her distracted state, to maintain her liberty, and quash the efforts of envy. So that, not the pleasure and happiness of that station, but the thorns and difficulties thereof: neither your ambition, but the public necessity, constrained you to take the reins of government. Of this can there be a more evident proof, than that, when settled on the throne of your kingdoms, you never suffered a day nor an hour, to pass undistinguished by cares becoming a prince; and managed with incomparable diligence, both at home and abroad, whatever makes for the security of the public good? Against private rivals of your happiness, who were unacquainted with your character, you adhered closely to your own virtue alone, and made use of oblivion, as the most certain remedy against injuries, instead of that revenge, which, if you pleased, was in your own power to take. Against the public disturbers of the peace of Europe, you protect, not so much yourself, as your people, by armies, fleets and confederacies, and, which renders you most of all formidable to your enemies, by your innate prudence and magnanimity. And did not words, equal to your merit, fail me, as it gives me singular pleasure to speak of it, your piety above all things ought to be celebrated, whereby you readily and with justice, ascribe all the honour and success you are favoured with, to the goodness of the supreme Being, and are ready, gratefully to lay down your sceptre at the feet of him who, encircled with the rainbow, sits on his heavenly throne: while you govern with no other view, but that Jehovah may reign, and Jesus rule throughout all your dominions: whose empire you promote and enlarge, not as others do, in support of their superstition and cruelty, by imprisonment, exile and stripes, and every engine of torture, the gibbet and fire; not by depopulating countries, not by the terror and dreadful blasphemies of dragoons, but by meekness, and by the demonstration of the truth to every conscience; and by what is most of all prevalent, your own example; never offering any violence to the consciences of those who differ in religious sentiments from yourself. But, in fine, what language can set off, as it ought to be, that sacred solicitude you discovered at your very accession to the throne? That your subjects, laying aside their disputes about some

points of Christian worship and ecclesiastical government, might unite with the most desirable harmony of minds, in brotherly fellowship, and uniformity of prayers and praises to God. I own, indeed, that I very much doubt whether ever this can be attained by any mortal, amidst the innate blindness and obstinacy that are in the minds of men. But if there be any means to bring this about, your Majesty seems to be the only person, by whose authority, wisdom and moderation, such a happy coalition of different sentiments may be effected. May that day, which is the ardent prayer of so many pious persons, at length appear, when all names of distinction being taken out of the way, and buried in everlasting oblivion, the whole Christian world, from the rising to the setting sun, may with one heart and one mouth, worship and praise one God, and, as it is in the prophecy of Zechariah, Jehovah may be one, and his name one in all the earth! As this certainly ought to be the earnest prayer of all Christians, in an especial manner it ought to be the endeavour of those to whom Jesus, the king, both of truth and peace, has committed the office of preaching the gospel.

And as I rejoice in being one of their number, so I imagine, I ought always to behave in such a glorious ministry of so great a king, so that, while I attempt to set up the light of truth in the minds of men, I at the same time ought to inflame their hearts with the fire of love. To stain the tongue with bitterness, to dip the pen in gall, to screen passion under a zeal for religion, to bring strange fire to Godís altar, and under pretext, of maintaining the truth, to attempt what is unlawful for the ministers of peace; I judged to be so contrary to the spirit of Christianity, that if I did not religiously guard against these things, I should certainly account myself not only an unprofitable, but also a perfidious servant, and not escape the punishment due to those who betray the cause of the Lord. I was willing to give some specimen of this disposition in those books which were formerly published concerning the Economy of Godís Covenants with men, and which I now, with all due submission and veneration, offer to lay at your Majestyís feet.

What I may have contributed towards clearing up the truth, with respect to the controversies at this day, and what towards cementing a peace, interrupted by the violent designs of others; with what moderation I may have treated every particular subject, by what means I may have lessened, removed and decided controversies, which others have multiplied without end, always consistently with the faith once delivered to the saints, I would leave to the judgment of your divines, such as your Majesty has of very distinguished characters, both in England and Holland.

Suffer me solemnly to declare this one thing, that it has been my sincere and utmost endeavour, to form my hearers, both by doctrine and example, not to litigious disputations, but to the evident knowledge of the most sacred truth, to the upright and sincere piety of ancient and apostolic Christianity, and to the constant practice of that sacred peace, which the dying Jesus both bequeathed to, and purchased for his people; and I have the pleasing hope, that those who come from under my instructions, not only the natives of Holland, but those of your kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, of whom there is not a few here,

who will bring the same spirit and temper to the churches to be committed to their charge, shall, under your Majestyís government, remarkably enlarge the kingdom of Christ.

Accept therefore, Royal Sir, with your wonted goodness accept this pledge and token of a heart sincerely devoted to your Majesty; and vouchsafe a place among your friends to him, who, next to the Great and Blessed God, would not choose to belong to any other. But, at the same time, accept the most ardent prayers sent from the bottom of my heart. May that God, at whose footstool you daily fall down as a suppliant, may that God, who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, make you always happy at home, successful abroad, ever august, the guardian of justice, the maintainer of liberty, the defender of religion, the author of concord, the consolation of the oppressed, the umpire of the whole Christian world, and, at last, crown your Majesty his own vicegerent, with the glory of his everlasting kingdom.

Utrecht,

Oct. 15th, 1693.

 

 

 

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