London: Printed by S.I. [Susan Islip] & M.H. [Mary Hearne], 1648. Folio. [viii], 103, 114-118, 129-178, 189-306, 367-444 (Ff3 misbound between Ff4 and Ff5), [iv], 111,  pp., including index (complet. FIRST FOLIO EDITION. Title in red and black with woodcut device, separate title for second part which lists Thomas Taylor as author and is dated 1642, woodcut initials and headpieces. Contemporary calf, worn, spine repaired; repair made in lower right corner of title, minor staining especially to first third of the text. Inscription in an early hand (“Richard”) crossed out. Item #17499
Rare first printing of the first folio edition; fourth edition overall. A variant printed later in 1648 spelled out the names of Susan Islip and Mary Hearne. The theatre of God’s judgements is essentially an anthology of anecdotes. The stories adhere to a central theme of divine vengenance against those who break the ten commandments. Similarly, the second part deals with the punishment of those who commit the seven deadly sins. Beard included tales from a wide range sources like classical authors, other clergymen, and medieval writers that were found in Chassanion’s edition. Beard also added more than three-hundred narratives of his own and continued to add anecdotes from current sermons, tracts, and pamphlets in his later editions.
Beard (c. 1568–1632) was a virulently anti-Catholic clergyman, teacher, and author. Once a tutor to Oliver Cromwell, he also wrote theological plas and numerous pamphlets denouncing the church of Rome in the early seventeenth century. This particular work is a loose adaptation and translation of Jean Chassanion’s Histoires memorables des grans et merveilleux jugements et punitions de Dieu (1586). The first edition of Beard’s interpretation of the French minister’s book was printed in 1597. Two more editions appeared in 1612 and 1631 with more contemporary material added. In this present copy, printed posthumously, a second author was added (Thomas Taylor) but according to the DNB there is no evidence of the two men collaborating.