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TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

The Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London.

Right honourable,

WHEN I consider how impossible it is for a person of my condition to produce, and consequently how imprudent to attempt, any thing in proportion either to the ampleness of the body you represent, or of the places you bear, I should be kept from venturing so poor a piece, designed to live but an hour, in so lasting a publication; did not what your civility calls a request, your greatness render a command. The truth is, in things not unlawful, great persons cannot be properly said to request; because, all things considered, they must not be denied. To me it was honour enough to have your audience, enjoyment enough to behold your happy change, and to see the same city, the metropolis of loyalty and of the kingdom, to behold the glory of English churches reformed, that is, delivered from the reformers; and to find at least the service of the church repaired, though not the building; to see St. Paul’s delivered from beasts here, as well as St. Paul at Ephesus; and to view the church thronged only with troops of auditors, not of horse. This I could fully have acquiesced in, and received 29a large personal reward in my particular share of the public joy; but since you are farther pleased, I will not say by your judgment to approve, but by your acceptance to encourage the raw endeavours of a young divine, I shall take it for an opportunity, not as others in their sage prudence use to do, to quote three or four texts of scripture, and to tell you how you are to rule the city out of a concordance; no, I bring not instructions, but what much bet ter befits both you and myself, your commendations. For I look upon your city as the great and magnificent stage of business, and by consequence the best place of improvement; for from the school we go to the university, but from the universities to London. And therefore as in your city meetings you must be esteemed the most considerable body of the nation; so, met in the church, I look upon you as an auditory fit to be waited on, as you are, by both universities. And when I remember how instrumental you have been to recover this universal settlement, and to retrieve the old spirit of loyalty to kings, (as an ancient testimony of which you bear not the sword in vain;) I seem in a manner deputed from Oxford, not so much a preacher to supply a course, as orator to present her thanks. As for the ensuing discourse, which (lest I chance to be traduced for a plagiary by him who has played the thief) I think fit to tell the world by the way, was one of those that by a worthy hand were stolen from me in the king’s chapel, and are still detained; and to which now accidentally published by your honour’s order, your patronage must give both value and protection. You will find me in it not to have pitched upon any subject, that men’s guilt, and the consequent of guilt, their concernment might render liable to exception; nor to have rubbed up the memory of what some heretofore in the city did, which more and better now detest, and therefore expiate: but my subject is inoffensive, harmless, and innocent as the state of innocence itself, and (I hope) suitable to the present design and genius of this nation; which is, or should be, to return to that innocence, ich it lost long since the fall. Briefly, my business is, by 30describing what man was in his first estate, to upbraid him with what he is in his present: between whom, innocent and fallen, (that in a word I may suit the subject to the place of my discourse,) there is as great an unlikeness, as between St. Paul’s a cathedral, and St. Paul’s a stable. But I must not forestall myself, nor transcribe the work into the dedication. I shall now only desire you to accept the issue of your own requests; the gratification of which I have here consulted so much before my own reputation; while like the poor widow I endeavour to shew my officiousness by an offering, though I betray my poverty by the measure; not so much caring, though I appear neither preacher nor scholar, (which terms we have been taught upon good reason to distinguish,) so I may in this but shew myself

Your honour’s

very humble servant,

ROBERT SOUTH.

Worcester-House,
Nov. 24, 1662.

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