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“Here, by the permission of Heaven, hell broke loose on this protestant city, from the malicious hearts of barbarous Papists, by the hand of their agent, Hubert, who confessed, and on the ruins of this place declared his fact, for which he was banged, viz. :—That he here began the dreadful fire, which is described and perpetuated on and by the neighbouring pillar. Erected 1680, in the mayorality of Sir Patience Ward, knight."
The Lord hath his way in the Whirlwind, and in the
Storm, and the Clouds are the dust of his Feet.—Nah. i. 3.
Printed for G. Sawbridge, in Little Britain, and Sold by
E. Nutt, near Stationer's Hall. MDCCIV.
PREACHING of sermons is speaking to a few of mankind: printing of books is talking to the whole world. The parson prescribes himself, and addresses to the particular auditory with the appelation of My brethren; but he that prints a book, ought to preface it with a Noverint Universi, Know all men by these presents.
The proper inference drawn from this remarkable observation, is, that though he that preaches from the pulpit ought to be careful of his words, that nothing pass from him but with an especial sanction of truth; yet he that prints and publishes to all the world, has a tenfold obligation.
The sermon is a sound of words spoken to the ear, and prepared only for present meditation, and extends no farther than the strength of memory can convey it; a book printed is a record, remaining in every man's possession, always ready to renew its acquaintance with his memory, and always ready to be produced as an authority or voucher to any reports he makes out of it, and conveys its contents for ages to come, to the eternity of mortal time, when the author is forgotten in his grave.
If a sermon be ill grounded, if the preacher imposes upon us, he trespasses on a few; but if a book printed obtrudes a falsehood, if a man tells a lie in print, he abuses mankind, and imposes upon the whole world, he causes our children to tell lies after us, and their children after them, to the end of the world.
This observation I thought good to make by way of preface, to let the world know, that when I go about a work in which I must tell a great many stories, which may in their own nature seem incredible, and in which I must expect a great part of mankind will question the sincerity of the relator; I did not do it without a particular sense upon me of the proper duty of an historian, and the abundant duty laid on him to be very wary what he conveys to posterity.
I cannot be so ignorant of my own intentions, as not to know, that in many cases I shall act the divine, and draw necessary practical inferences from the extraordinary remarkables of this book, and some digressions which I hope may not be altogether useless in this case.
And while I pretend to a thing so solemn, I cannot but premise I should stand convicted of a double imposture, to forge a story, and then preach repentance to the reader from a crime greater than that I would have him repent of: endeavouring by a lie to correct the reader's vices, and sin against truth to bring the reader off from sinning against
Upon this score, though the undertaking be very difficult amongst such an infinite variety of circumstances, to keep exactly within the bounds of truth; yet I have this positive assurance with me, that in all the subsequent relation, if the least mistake happen, it shall not be mine.
If I judge right, 'tis the duty of an historian to set every thing in its own light, and to convey matter of fact upon its legitimate authority, and no other : I mean thus (for I would be as explicit as I can), that where a story is vouched to him with