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TO THE RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD

JOHN, LORD BISHOP OF ROCHESTER,

DEAN OF THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF WESTMINSTER, AND CLERK OF THE CLOSET TO HIS MAJESTY.

My Lord,

THOUGH the interposal of my Lord of Canterbury’s command for the publication of this mean discourse, may seem so far to determine, as even to take away my choice; yet I must own it to the world, that it is solely and entirely my own inclination, seconded by my obligations to your Lord ship, that makes this, that was so lately an humble attendant upon your Lordship’s consecration, now ambitious to consecrate itself with your Lordship’s name. It was my honour to have lived in the same college with your Lordship, and now to belong to the same cathedral, where at present you credit the church as much by your government, as you did the school formerly by your wit. Your Lordship even then grew up into a constant superiority above others; and all your after-greatness seems but a paraphrase upon those promising beginnings: for whatsoever you are, or shall be, 121has been but an easy prognostic from what you were. It is your Lordship’s unhappiness to be cast upon an age in which the church is in its wane; and if you do not those glorious things that our English prelates did two or three hundred years since, it is not because your Lordship is at all less than they, but because the times are worse. Witness those magnificent buildings in Christ Church in Oxford, be gun and carried on by your Lordship; when by your place you governed, and by your wisdom increased the treasure of that college: and, which must eternally set your fame above the reach of envy and detraction, these great structures you attempted at a time when you returned poor and bare, to a college as bare, after a long persecution, and before you had laid so much as one stone in the repairs of your own fortunes: by which incomparably high and generous undertaking, you have shewn the world how fit a person you were to build upon Wolsey’s foundation: a prelate whose great designs you imitate, and whose mind you equal. Briefly, that Christ Church stands so high above ground, and that the church of Westminster lies not flat upon it, is your Lordship’s commendation. And therefore your Lord ship is not behindhand with the church, paying it as much credit and support, as you receive from it; for you owe your promotion to your merit, and, I am sure, your merit to yourself. All men court you, not so much because a great person, as a public good. For, as a friend, there is none so hearty, so nobly warm and active to make good all the offices of that endearing relation; as a patron, none more able to oblige and reward your dependents, and, which is the crowning ornament of power, none more willing. And lastly, as a diocesan, you are like even to outdo yourself in all other capacities; and, in a word, to exemplify and realize every word of the following discourse: which is here most humbly and gratefully presented to your Lordship, by

Your Lordship’s

most obliged servant,

ROBERT SOUTH.

From St. James’s,
Dec. 3, 1666.

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