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giving; and contain likewise a very powerful persuasive to the practice of them. The three following were preached upon three solemn occasions: the first of them upon the 29th of May, 1676, the anniversary of His Majesty's happy restoration: the second upon the fifth of November, 1675, in commemoration of our great deliverance from the Powder Treason, both in the year of his Vice-Chancellorship: the third at the consecration of the Bishop of Man, (afterwards Lord Bishop of St Asaph) his uncle; in which he pleads for the due respect and revenue of the Clergy with so much modesty, and yet with so great force of reason and eloquence, that the whole profession may justly think themselves for ever indebted to him.
Some of these twelve Sermons were the very first that he made; by which we may judge with what preparation and furniture he entered upon this sacred employment. The first of them was preached at St Mary's in Cambridge, June 30, 1661, and was, I think, the first that he ever preached. Those two excellent Sermons of thanksgiving were, as I am informed, the next. The fourth in order was the first that he preached before the King's Majesty. In the placing of them
. as they now stand, I had very little regard to the order of time, but rather to some small reason taken from the subject matter of them, not worth the mentioning; any reason almost being good enough in a matter so indifferent, and where none is necessary.
The next ten Sermons are thought fit to be put together, because of their affinity to one another, all
of them relating to the same argument, and tending to reform the several vices of the tongue. The last two of them indeed against pragmaticalness and meddling in the affairs of others, do not so properly belong to this subject; but considering that this vice is chiefly managed by the tongue, and is almost ever attended with some irregularity and indiscretion of speech, they are not altogether so foreign and unsuitable to it. And never were discourses of this kind more necessary than in this wicked and perverse generation; wherein the vices here reprehended are so very rife, and out of the abundant impiety of men's hearts there proceeds so much evil speaking of all kinds, in atheistical discourses, and blasphemous raillery, and profane swearing; and when censoriousness, detraction and slander are scarce accounted faults, even with those who would seem to be most strict in other parts and duties of Religion.
The author of them, as he was exemplary in all manner of conversation, so especially in this part of it, being of all men I ever had the happiness to know, the clearest of this common guilt, and most free from offending in word; coming as near as is possible for human frailty to do, to the perfect idea of St James his perfect man.
So that in these excellent Discourses of his he hath only transcribed his own practice. All the rules which he hath given he most religiously observed himself, and was very uneasy when at any time he saw them transgressed by others in his company.
There is one thing in them needs excuse, namely, that several things which are more briefly and summarily said in the first of these Sermons about evil speaking are repeated in some of the following Discourses: which because it could not well be avoided, but either by wholly leaving out the first Sermon, or very much mangling some of the rest, will, it is hoped, for that reason be easily pardoned.
The eight following Sermons are likewise sorted together, because they explain and enforce the two great commandments of the law, the love of God, and of our neighbour.
The two next were published by himself, and only those two. The first of them, about the Duty and Reward of Bounty to the Poor, was preached at the Spital, and published at the desire of the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen. This was received with universal approbation; and perhaps there is nothing extant in Divinity more perfect in its kind: it seems to have exhausted the whole argument, and to have left no consideration belonging to it untouched. The other, on the Passion of our blessed Saviour, was the last he preached, but one; and, I think, the occasion of his death, by a cold he then got, which, in all probability, was the cause of the fever of which he died, to our unspeakable loss. This he sent to the press himself,
, but did not live to see it published.
The next part of this Volume is a brief Explication of the Lord's Prayer, the Decalogue, and the Doctrine of the Sacraments. It were to be wished that the
Creed also had been explained by him in the same manner; but that he hath handled in a larger way, in a great many excellent Sermons upon the several articles of it, wherein he hath not only explained and confirmed the great doctrines of our religion, but likewise shewn what influence every article of our faith ought to have upon our practice. Which Discourses make the second Volume of his works.
The last part of this first Volume is his learned Treatise of the Pope's Supremacy, to which, because there is prefixed a Preface giving a short account, I need not here to say anything farther of it.
Besides these, the Author hath left many other excellent Sermons, upon several important and useful subjects in Divinity: besides a great many learned Lectures and Treatises in the Mathematics; and divers excellent Orations and Poems, all in Latin. All which may, God willing, in convenient time be communicated to the public, to the great advantage and furtherance of religion and learning.
In the mean time, I heartily recommend these Sermons which are already published to thy serious perusal; and shall only say this of them, that as they want no other kind of excellency, so particularly they are animated throughout with so genuine a spirit of true piety and goodness, that he must either be a perfectly good, or prodigiously bad man, that can read them over without being the better for them.