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TO THE READER.
I think it necessary to inform my reader, that Dr. Gauden (the late Bishop of Worcester) hath also lately wrote and published the life of Mr. Hooker. And though this be not writ by design to oppose what he hath truly written; yet I am put upon a necessity to say, that in it there be many material mistakes and more omissions. I conceive some of his mistakes did proceed from a belief in Mr. Thomas Fuller, who had too hastily published what he hath since most ingenuously retracted. And for the Bishop's omissions, I suppose his more weighty business and want of time made him pass over many things without that due examination, which my better leisure, my diligence, and my accidental advantages, have made known unto me.
And now, for myself, I can say, I hope, or rather know, there are no material mistakes in what I here present to you that shall become my reader. Little things that I have received by tradition (to which there may be too much and too little faith given) I will not at this distance of time undertake to justify; for, though I have used great diligence, and compared relations and circumstances, and probable results and expressions : yet I shall not impose my belief upon my reader; I shall rather leave him at liberty: but, if there shall appear any material omission, I desire every lover of truth and the memory of Mr. Hooker, that it may be made known unto me. And to incline him to it, I here promise
to acknowledge and rectify any such mistake in a second impression, which the Printer says he hopes for; and by this means my weak but faithful endeavours may
become a better monument, and in some degree more worthy the memory
of this venerable man.
I confess, that when I consider the great learning and virtue of Mr. Hooker, and what satisfaction and advantages many eminent scholars and admirers of him have had by his labours; I do not a little wonder that in sixty years no man did undertake to tell posterity of the excellences of his life and learning; and the accidents of both; and sometimes wonder more at myself, that I have been persuaded to it; and indeed I do not easily pronounce my own pardon, nor expect that my reader shall, unless my Întroduction shall prove my apology, to which I refer him.
I have been persuaded, by a friend whom I reverence, and ought to obey, to write the Life of Richard Hooker, the happy author of five_ (if not more) of the eight learned books of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. And though I have undertaken it, yet it hath been with some unwillingness ; because I foresee that it must prove to me, and especially at this time of my age, a work of much labour to inquire, consider, research, and determine what is needful to be known concerning him. For I knew him not in his life, and must therefore not only look back to his death, (now sixty-four years past,) but almost fifty years beyond that, even to his childhood and youth, and gather thence such observations and prognostics, as may at least adorn, if not prove necessary for the completing of what Í have undertaken.
This trouble I foresee, and foresee also that it is impossible to escape censures; against which I will not hope my well-meaning and diligence can protect me, (for I consider the age in which I live,) and shall 'therefore but intreat of my reader a suspension of his censures, till I have made known unto him some reasons, which I myself would now gladly believe do make me in some measure fit for this undertaking: and if these reasons shall not acquit me from all censures, they may at least abate of their severity, and this is all I can probably hope for.--My reasons follow.
About forty years past (for I am now past the seventy of my age) I began a happy affinity with William Cranmer, (now with God,) grand nephew unto the great Archbishop of that name; a family of noted prudence and resolution; with him and two of his sisters I had an entire and free friendship: one of them was the wife of Dr. Spencer, a bosom-friend and sometime com-pupil with Mr. Hooker in Corpus Christi College in Oxford, and after President of the same.
I name them here, for that I shall have occasion to mention them in the following discourse: as also George Cranmer, their brother, of whose useful abilities my reader may have a more authentic testimony than my pen can purchase for him, by that of our learned Camden and others.
This William Cranmer and his two fore-named sisters had some affinity, and a most familiar friendship, with Mr. Hooker, and had had some part of their education with him in his house, when he was parson of Bishop's Born, near Canterbury; in which city their good father then lived. They had, I say, a part of their education with him, as myself since that time a happy cohabitation with them; and having some years before read part of Mr. Hooker's works with great liking and satisfaction, my affection to them made me a diligent inquisitor into many things that concerned him; as, namely, of his person, his nature, the management of his time, his wife, bis family, and the fortune of him and his;which inquiry hath given me much advantage in the knowledge of what is now under my consideration, and intended for the satisfaction of my reader.
I had also a friendship with the Reverend Dr. Usher, the late learned Archbishop of Armagh; and with Dr. Morton, the late learned and charitable Bishop of Durham; as also the learned John Hales, of Eton College; and with them also (who loved the very name of Mr. Hooker) I have had many
discourses concerning him; and from them, and many others that have now put off mortality, I might have had more informations, if I could then have admitted a thought of any fitness for what by persuasion I have now undertaken. But though that full harvest be irrecoverably lost, yet my memory hath preserved some gleanings, and my diligence made such additions to them, as I hope will prove useful to the completing of what I intend: in the discovery of which I shall be faithful, and with this assurance put a period to my introduction.