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WHOSOEVER shall judge it worth his time to peruse the following discourse, (if it meets with any such,) he is desired to take notice, that it was penned and prepared to have been preached at Westminster abbey, at a solemn meeting of such as had been bred at Westminster school. But the death of king Charles II. happening in the mean time, the design of this solemnity fell to the ground together with him, and was never resumed since; though what the reason of this might be, I neither know, nor ever thought it worth while to inquire: it being abundantly enough for me, that I can with great truth affirm, that I never offered myself to this service, nor so much as thought of appearing in a post so manifestly above me; but that a very great person1515   The lord Jefferys. (whose word was then law, as well as his profession) was pleased mero motu (to speak in the prerogative style, as best suiting so commanding a genius) to put this task upon me, as well as afterwards to supersede the performance of it: the much kinder act this of the two, I must confess, and that in more respects than one, as saving me the trouble of delivering, and at the same time blushing at so mean a discourse, and the congregation also the greater, of hearing it. But what further cause there was or might be of so much uncertainty in this whole proceeding, I cannot tell, unless possibly, that what his lordship as chief justice had determined, he thought fit as chancellor to reverse.


Nevertheless, out of an earnest (and I hope very justifiable) desire, partly to pass a due encomium (or such an one at least as I am able) upon so noble a seat of the Muses as this renowned school has been always accounted hitherto, and partly to own the obligation and debt lying upon me to the place of my education, I have here at length presumed to publish it. So that although neither at the time appointed for that solemn meeting, nor ever since, have I had any opportunity given me to preach this sermon myself, yet, how that it is printed, possibly some other may condescend to do it, as before in several such cases the like has been too well known to have been done.

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