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Right Hon. and Right Rev. Father in God, HENRY, LORD
BISHOP OF LONDON, one of her Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council.
ever my mean labours were a blessing to the people of my charge, I with them, and they with me, have abundant cause to bless Almighty God for your Lordship, who was the immediate instrument of my coming amongst them.
And we jointly lie under superadded obligations to your Lordship, for repeated instances of respect to this poor town in general, and to myself in particular, in an allowance for one to assist the minister of this place, in that great work which is here daily incumbent upon him.
I think myself therefore obliged, both in duty and gratitude, to give your Lordship an account how I have spent my time here, (especially since I have had help by your Lordship's particular favour;) which has been employed, as I could redeem it, in an endeavour to render the reading of the New Testament profitable and delightful to my people, both in their families and private apartments.
In which undertaking my care has been, to be as clear and particular as I could, with an eye to the benefit of the plain and unlearned reader; and have suited things, as far as their nature would bear, and my skill would reach, to the most ordinary capacities and vulgar apprehensions.
And whatever the success may be, I hope I shall receive the reward of an honest endeavour from Him, who estimates our pains, not by their events, which are not in our power, but by their natural tendencies, and our sincere intentions.
My Lord, controversies are here industriously declined, as inconsistent with my chief design; yet not so as knowingly to betray any text, or wilfully to deliver up truth' into the hands of its avowed enemies, whether Papists or Socinians.
Against the contagious corruptions of the former, and the more refined subtilties, yet no less pernicious errors, of the latter, the clergy of this diocese have been happily antidoted by your Lordship, at your frequent conferences with them. And the great freedom and condescension with which your Lordship is pleased at such times to treat us, doth at once invite and oblige us also, upon all occasions, publicly and gratefully to acknowledge it.
Yea, to your lordship's lasting honour, and everlasting comfort, be it spoken, that not only your own clergy, but these three nations, are inexpressibly indebted, for your Lordship's pious care, in instructing in the holy principles of our established religion, the glorious Queen MARY of immortal memory, and her illustrious sister our most august Queen ANNE, when your Lordship had the honour to wait upon them in their tender years from whence her Majesty has been so zealous to run all hazards for its pre
servation ever since.
May heaven long, very long, continue your Lordship an ornament to the church, an honour to the English nobility, a patron of refugees for the sake of religion, a pattern of sincere piety towards God, and of the most extensive charity to all mankind: and after many holy and happy days here on earth, crown your Lordship with the rewards of a glorious immortality. So prayeth, in great sincerity,
Your Lordship's much obliged and most obedient Servant,
To the Right Honourable, CHARLES, Lord FITZWALTER.
The like pious care has been taken for your Lordship's religious education, by one of the wisest of women, and the best of mothers that the age has afforded: and that your Lordship's improvement in knowledge and sincere piety, may answer the prayers, the tears, the endeavours, of such an endearing parent, who prefers your Lordship's temporal happiness abundantly before her own; I take leave to put a part of the inspired Writings into your Lordship's hand, with an endeavour of mine, to render the reading of them both profitable and delightful to your Lordship.
Whilst others consume their precious hours in plays and romances, and such like corrupting and effeminating trash, which the superfœtation of the stage furnishes the nation with, to the scandal of our holy religion, and the grief of all good men ; debasing the minds, and debauching the manners, of so many amongst us; that your Lordship (and others of your noble order with you) may taste such incomparable delight and sweetness in, and experience such invaluable benefit and advantage by, reading the history of your blessed Redeemer's life and actions, and may thereby be transformed into his holy likeness here on earth, and spend an eternity in the rapturous contemplation and ravishing fruition of him in heaven, is the fervent prayer of,
Your Honour's faithfully devoted Servant and Chaplain,
To FAMILY GOVERNORS, particularly those of my Charge.
S religion did always consist in an imitation of God, and in resemblance of those excellences which shine forth in the best and most perfect Being, so we may imitate him now with much more ease and greater advantage, since his Son was manifest in the flesh, and dwelt amongst us: for he was pleased to become man, on purpose to show us how we might become like to God, by a daily imitation of his holiness. And it is most certain, that God our Father will never own any of us for his children, unless he sees upon us the air and features, the impresses and resemblance, of Christ our elder Brother.
This consideration has induced me to set the example of the holy Jesus before myself and you, in these plain practical Notes upon the holy Evangelists, which contain remarks upon the history of our Saviour's life, doctrine, and miracles, and of his death, resurrection, and ascension: to the intent that the temper of our minds, and the actions of our lives, may be a lively transcript of the mind and life of our blessed Redeemer that we may admire and imitate his unspotted purity, his condescending humility, his fervent charity, his patience under sufferings and reproaches, his readiness to forgive injuries, and his entire resignation to the Divine will in all conditions of life whatsoever that so following our Lord and Master in all the steps of an imitable virtue, and setting his example continually before us, we may be daily correcting and reforming our lives by that glorious pattern; for without present likeness to him, we have no grounds to hope that we shall hereafter live with him.
A true compassion to your souls, and a fervent desire to further their salvation, from the press as well as from the pulpit, has put me upon redeeming time for this work. I must acknowledge, my constant preaching thrice a week unto you, (besides occasionals,) and visiting as often a populous and scattered parish from house to house amongst you, (which I have always accounted a most important part of my duty,)
would allow me but little, too little, time for such a work as this, which I heartily wish had fallen upon the shoulders of some that had more leisure, and greater abilities, for writing on this noble and lofty subject, which even to eternity can never be exhausted. But thus much I can truly say, that earnestly imploring Divine assistance, I have done what I could; my work has been my recreation, and the Lord accept and succeed it.
And I have this observation to ground my hope of acceptance and success upon, that Almighty God has in all ages rendered those labours of his servants, (how mean soever in themselves,) most acceptable and useful, which have been employed in the profitable explication of any part of the holy Scriptures: as if He, who imprinted such a majesty upon the text, delighted also to reflect an honour upon the interpreters thereof. My design in preparing and giving these Notes into your hands, is to oblige you to read a part of the Holy Scriptures in your families every day and to invite you thereunto, the sacred text is here at large recited, and controversies declined.
And I do most affectionately request you not to suffer the holy Word of God, which is in all your hands, to lie by you as a neglected book; but daily to read it in and to your families, with a simplicity of mind to be directed and instructed by it.
All the return I desire from you for this my labour of love, is, your living in a daily imitation of that grand pattern of holiness and obedience which is here set before you, and in every page recommended to you; and that we may continue to strive together in our prayers one with and one for another, for that grace which may enable us to the faithful discharge of our respective duties towards God, towards each other, and all mankind. And that the happy union and unanimity which hath hitherto been amongst us, may continue and increase still with us, to the glory of God, the honour of our holy religion, the present benefit and comfort, and the eternal joy and rejoicing, both of minister and people, in the day of the Lord Jesus: which, as it is the fervent prayer, so it shall be the constant endeavour, of your unworthy minister, whose highest ambition it is to serve you in faith and fellowship of the gospel, whilst I am
A PRAYER before the Reading of the Holy Scriptures.
ALMIGHTY God and merciful Father, who hast appointed thy Word to be a light to our feet, and a lamp unto our paths, and caused all holy scripture to be written for our learning: Grant us the assistance of thy Holy Spirit, that we may in such wise read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy Holy Word we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.
And seeing of thy tender love to mankind thou hast given thy dear and only Son, to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life, give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive this his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, coer one God, world without end. Amen.