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REV. DR. BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE,
PROVOST OF KING'S COLLEGE, AND VICE-CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE;
TOGETHER WITH THE REST OF THE
HEADS OF COLLEGES AND STUDENTS IN DIVINITY
IN THAT FAMOUS UNIVERSITY.
REVEREND and right worthy Gentlemen, Friends, and Brethren in Christ, how either yourselves or others will interpret this Dedication, I am, I confess, no such seer as to be able to foresee; and were the foresight hereof to be bought, I should strain myself very little to make the purchase. I have the witness within me, whose prerogative it is to laugh all jealousies and suggestions of men to scorn, which rise up in opposition to his testimony, clearly assuring me that the oracles consulted by me about this Dedication were neither any undervaluing of you, nor overvaluing of myself, or of the piece here presented unto you, nor any desire of drawing respects from you, either to my person or any thing that is mine; much less any malignity of desire to cause you to drink of my cup, or to bring you under the same cloud of disparagement with me, which the world hath spread round about me. Praise unto his grace, who hath taught me some weak rudiments of his heavenly art of drawing light out of darkness, for mine own use, I have not been for so many years together trampled upon to so little purpose, as to remain yet either ignorant or insensible of mine own vileness, and what element I am nearest allied unto; or so tender and querulous as either to complain of the weight of those who still " go over me as the stones in the street," or to project the sufferings of others in order to my own solace and relief. My long deprivation and want of respects from men is now turned to an athletic habit, somewhat after the manner of those who by long fasting lose their appetites, and withal, either contract or find an ability or contentedness of nature to live with little or no meat afterwards. I can,
(¿v rýš ¿vòvvapoõvrí μe Xpɩ59,* Philip. iv. 13,) from the dunghill whereon I sit, with much contentment and sufficient enjoyment of myself, behold my brethren on thrones round about me.
The prize, then, that I run for in my dedicatory applications unto you is, by the opportunity and advantage hereof, to excite, provoke, and engage, and this, if it may be, beyond and above all reasonableness of pretence to decline the service, those whom I judged the most able, and not the least willing among their brethren, to bless the world, labouring and turmoiling itself under its own vanity and folly, by bringing forth the glorious Creator and ever-blessed Redeemer of it out of their pavilions of darkness into a clear and perfect light, to be beheld, reverenced, and adored in all their glory; to be possessed, enjoyed, delighted in, in all their beauty, sweetness, and desirableness, by the inhabitants of the earth. I know you have no need to be taught; but possibly you may have some need to consider that your gifts, parts, learning, knowledge, wisdom, books, studies, opportunities, pleasant mansions, will all suddenly make company for that which is not, and never turn to any account of true greatness unto you, nor of any interest worthy the lightest thoughts of truly prudent and considering men, unless they shall, by a serious and solemn act of consecration, be consigned over unto, and interested in, that great service of God and men whereby that blessed union between them shall be promoted and advanced, the foundations whereof have been by so high an hand of grace laid in the blood of Jesus Christ. You know the saying of the great Prophet of the world,-" He that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad," Matt. xii. 30. Whatsoever shall not suffer, yea, and offer itself to be taken and carried along by and with Jesus Christ, in that grand and sublime motion wherein he moveth daily, according to the counsel of his Father, in a straight course for the saving of the world, will most certainly be dissipated and shattered all to nothing, by the irresistible dint and force thereof; how much more that which shall stand in his way, obstruct, and oppose him in this his motion! Especially gifts, parts, reason, understanding in men, improved and raised, or under means and opportunities of being improved and raised by study, learning, knowledge, if these do not make one shoulder with Jesus Christ in lifting up the world from the gates of death; much more in case they shall disadvantage and indispose the world to a receiving
* Non est arrogantia, sed fides, prædicare ea quæ accepisti.—Aug.
of those impressions from Christ by which it should or might otherwise be thus lifted up by him, will undoubtedly, above the rate of all other things, abound to the shame, judgment, confusion, and condemnation of men. When men of rich endowments, and worthy abilities of learning and knowledge, shall give their strength in this kind to other studies, contemplations, and inquiries, suffering, in the mean time, the minds and consciences of men to corrupt, putrify, and perish in their sad pollutions through that ignorance, or, which is worse, those disloyal and profane notions and conceptions of God and of Christ which reign, or rather indeed rage, in the midst of them, without taking any compassion on them, by searching out and discovering unto them those most excellent and worthy things of God and Christ, the knowledge whereof would be unto them as a resurrection from death unto life; they do but write their names in the dust, and buy vanity with that worthy price which was put into their hand for a far more honourable purchase. And yet, of the two, they are sons of the greater folly, and prevaricate far more sadly with the dearest and deepest interest, both of themselves and other men, who, by suffering their reasons and judgments to be abused either by sloth and supine oscitancy, or else by sinister and carnal respects otherwise (for there is a far different consideration of those who miscarry at this point, through a mere nescience or human infirmity) bring forth a strange God and a strange Christ unto the world, such as neither the Scriptures, nor reason unbewitched, know or own, and this under the name of the true God indeed, and of the true Christ; yea, and most importunely and imperiously burden and charge the consciences of men with the dread of Divine displeasure and the vengeance of hell-fire, if they refuse to fall down, and bow the knee of their judgments before those images and representations which they set up, as if in all their lineaments and parts they exhibited the true God and the true Christ, according to the truth.
The apostle Paul relates a sad story of a great fire of indignation kindled in the breast of God, and breaking out, in a very formidable manner, upon the heathen, who, as he saith, "knew God," Rom. i. 21, (i. e. had means sufficient to bring them to the knowledge of God,*) and withal "professed themselves wise
* Men under means and opportunities of knowledge are still estimated, and this justly, in their delinquencies, as having knowledge, whether they be actually knowing or no. Comparo Matt. xxv. 44, 45, with Luke xii. 47, 48, &c.