London: Printed for T. Vere and Nathe, 1652. First edition. Modern paper wrappers. Internally complete, collating , 76 and including the diagram and engraving of the solar eclipse. Title pages shaved with loss of date at footer; paper loss to lower corner of pages 15-16 and upper corners of pages 49-54 with no loss of text. Rare in trade and at institutions, the present work does not appear in the modern auction record and ESTC records only 11 copies (5 of these in North America). It is the only copy currently on the market.
The execution of Charles I in 1649 was considered by millenarian Puritans as the end of the fourth monarchy as described in the Book of Daniel. By 1652, the arrival of a total solar eclipse known as Black Monday was further viewed as the heralding of a new world order and the second coming of Christ. Herbalist and astronomer Nicholas Culpeper examines Daniel's prophecies against his own readings of the skies; and he opened his tract with Daniel 2. 21-22. "He changeth the times and the seasons, he removeth Kings, he setteth up Kings...he revealeth the deep and secret things." After explaining to readers the scientific nature of an eclipse, Culpeper draws a correspondence between the sun's role in the solar system and a monarch's role in a realm. In this sense, "an Eclipse of the Sun is a taking away of both light and vertue of the Sun from a particular people, by the interpolation of the body of the Moon," and it is a symbol of the unfolding stages of God's plan. Culpeper predicts earthquakes, pestilence, and "strange massacres, desperate tumults, fire and sword" will sweep across Europe, leading to the fall of unfaithful nations. Though he is pessimistic about how many of his readers will heed his words, he encourages the Puritan faithful to trust in God and grace to preserve them. Thus he concludes his book with Ecclesiastes 12. 13-14: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing."
ESTC R2956. (Item #3462)