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BEING FOR THE
BEGINNING ON ADVENT SUNDAY, AND ENDING ON THE SUNDAY AFTER ASCENSION.
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
AND TRULY NOBLE
RICHARD LORD VAUGHAN,
EARL OF CARBERY, &c.
I HAVE now, by the assistance of God, and the advantages of your many favours, finished a year of sermons; which if, like the first year of our Saviour's preaching, it may be 'annus acceptabilis,'' an acceptable year' to God, and his afflicted handmaid the Church of England, a relief to some of her new necessities, and an institution or assistance to any soul; I shall esteem it among those honours and blessings, with which God uses to reward those good intentions, which himself first puts into our hearts, and then recompenses upon our heads. My Lord, they were first represented to God in the ministries of your family: for this is a blessing, for which your Lordship is to bless God, that your family is, like Gideon's fleece, irriguous with a dew from heaven, when much of the vicinage is dry; for we have cause to remember, that Isaac complained of the
rubbish, and left no beverage for the flocks; and therefore they could give no milk to them that waited upon the flocks, and the flocks could not be gathered, nor fed, nor defended. It was a design of ruin, and had in it the greatest hostility, and so it hath been lately;
Usque adeò turbatur agris. En! ipse capellas
But, my Lord, this is not all: I would fain also complain, that men feel not their greatest evil, and are not sensible of their danger, nor covetous of what they want, nor strive for that which is forbidden them; but that this complaint would suppose an unnatural evil to rule in the hearts of men; for who would have in him so little of a man, as not to be greedy of the word of God, and of holy ordinances, even therefore because they are so hard to have? and this evil, although it can have no excuse, yet it hath a great and a certain cause; for the word of God still creates new appetites, as it satisfies the old; and enlarges the capacity, as it fills the first propensities of the Spirit. For all spiritual blessings are seeds of immortality, and of infinite felicities, they swell up to the comprehensions of eternity; and the desires of the soul can never be wearied, but when they are decayed; as the stomach will be craving every day, unless it be sick and abused. But every man's experience tells him now, that because men have not