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RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD,
LORD BISHOP OF LONDON,
AND ONE OF HIS MAJESTY'S MOST HONOURABLE PRIVY
My LORD, THAT I presume to lay these papers at your Lordship's feet, is not because I imagine they deserve, but because I am conscious they need so great a patronage. Not but that, were the discourses they contain as great and meritorious as their argument, they might safely shelter themselves under their own deserts, and challenge homage, instead of begging protection : but, though I have done my best endeavour to treat this great theme suitably to its own native majesty, yet I am very sensible it hath not escaped the too common fate of all such sublime and excellent subjects, which is, to be fouled and sullied by coarse handling. But my lot falling in this unhappy age, wherein the best church and religion in the world are in such apparent danger of being crucified, like their blessed Author, between those two thieves, (and both, alas! impenitent ones,) superstition and enthusiasm, I thought myself obliged not to sit still, as an unconcerned spectator of the tragedy, but in my little sphere, and according to my poor ability, to endeavour its prevention : and considering that the most effectual means the Romanists have used to subvert this church, which they so much envy, and all the reformations do so much admire and depend on, hath been to divide her own children from her, and arm them against her, by starting new opinions among them, and engaging their zeal (which was wont to be employed to better purposes) in hot disputes about the modes and circumstances of her worship: I thought a discourse of the Christian life, which is the proper sphere of Christian zeal, might be a good expedient to take men off from those dangerous contentions which were kindled, and are fed and blown, by such as design our common ruin. For sure, did our people throughly understand what it is to be Christians indeed, and how much duty that implies, they could never find so much leisure as they do to quarrel and wrangle about trifles.