Saturday, December 22, 2012

Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers in Controversies (John Daillé) - Dedicatory Epistle

The following is the dedicator epistle for Daillé's excellent work on the right use of the fathers. (see the contents post for more background)

Madam: — It is now nearly four years since your son, the late Baron of St. Hermine, acquainted me with what kind of discourse he was usually entertained at court by those who labored to advance the Romish religion, rather to excite his disgust against the Reformed; and told me that the chief argument which they urged against him was Antiquity, and the General Consent of all the Fathers of the first ages of Christianity. Although he himself understood well enough the vanity of this argument of theirs, yet, notwithstanding, for his own fuller satisfaction, he requested that I would discover to him the very depth of this matter. This therefore I did, as minutely as I possibly could, and gave him my judgment at large in this particular. This treatise of mine he was pleased so much to approve, that he conceived some hopes from thence, that it might also haply be of use to others.

Shortly afterwards I put pen to paper, and digested it into the treatise you now see. It having therefore been composed at first for his service, I had resolved also with myself to have dedicated it to his name; purporting, by this small piece of service, to testify to the world the continuation of the affection I bare to his progress in piety. But that deadly blow which snatched him from us in the flower of his age, about two years since, at the famous siege of Boisleduc, having left us nothing of him now, save only the spoils of his mortality, and the memory of his virtue, together with our great sorrow for having enjoyed him here so short a time, I am constrained, Madam, to change my former resolution. I shall therefore content myself with cherishing and preserving, whilst I live, the precious memory of his worth, the excellency of his wit, the soundness of his judgment, the sweetness of his nature, the fairness of his carriage, and those other choice parts, wherewith he was accomplished; but, above all, his singular piety, which clearly shone forth in his words and actions, till the hour of his death.

As for this small treatise, Madam, which was at first conceived and composed for him, I thought I could not, without being guilty of a piece of injustice, present it to any other but yourself: seeing it has pleased God, notwithstanding the common order of nature, to make you heir to him to whom it belonged. This consideration only has emboldened me to present it to your hands; knowing that the nature of this discourse is not so suitable to that sorrow which has of late cast a cloud over your house; it having pleased God, after the death of the son, to deprive you of the father; and to the loss of your children, to add that also of your noble husband. But my desire to avoid being unjust has forced me to be thus uncivilly troublesome: seeing I accounted it a kind of theft, should I have any longer withheld from you that which was your right, by this sad title of inheritance. Be pleased therefore, Madam, to receive this book as a part of the goods of your deceased son; which I now honestly restore, in the view of the whole world, after concealment of it for some time in my study. This name, I know, will oblige you to afford it some place in your closet, which is all that I can at present desire. For as for the reading of it, besides that your exquisite piety (which is built upon infinitely much firmer grounds than these disputes,) has no need at all of it; I know also that your present condition is such, that it would be very troublesome to you. And if you shall chance to desire to spend some hours in the perusal of it, it must be hereafter, when the Lord, by the efficacy of his Spirit, shall have comforted yours, and shall have allayed the violence of your grief; to whom I pour out my most earnest prayers, that he would vouchsafe powerfully to effect the same, and to shed forth his most holy grace upon you and yours; and that he would by his great mercy preserve, long and happily, that which remains of that goodly and blessed family, which he has bestowed upon you.

This, Madam, is one of the most hearty prayers of

Your most humble

And obedient servant,


Paris, August 15, 1631.


TFan notes: As you can see, this letter dedicating the book explains the background of how the book came to be composed. In particular, it shows that the book is the distilling of various conversations that Daillé had with the Baron of St. Hermine, before his untimely death in war. The link to the discussion of the fort he identified and its colorful history is, of course, added by me.

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