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ON SUBJECTS CONNECTED WITH THB
CORRUPTION, REVIVAL, AND FUTURE INFLUENCE
“ As the few and obscure prophecies concerning Christ's first
coming were for setting up the Christian religion, which all nations have since corrupted; so the many and clear prophecies concerning the things to be done at Christ's second coming, are not only for predicting, but also for effecting, a recovery and re-establishment of the long-lost truth, and setting up a kingdom wherein dwells righteousness.”
Sir Isaac Newton. " For me, I have determined to lay up as the best treasure and
solace of a good old age, if God vouchsafe it me, the honest liberty of free speech from my youth, where I shall think it available in so dear a concernment as the Church's good.”
LONDON: Printed by George Smallfield, Hackney ; SOLD BY R. HUNTER, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD, AND D. EATON, 187 HIGH HOLBORN.
The following Course of Lectures was delivered at the Unitarian Chapel, in Parliament Court, Artillery Lane, Bishopsgate Street, during the months of November and December, 1818, and is published in compliance with the desire, expressed in the most earnest and flattering manner, of the Congregation which regularly assembles in that place, and of many other persons by whom it was attended.
But for such a requisition as scarcely left room for hesitation, these Lectures would certainly not have been given to the world. The critical reader who may think it worth while to prove that they confer no credit as a literary composition, will make no unanticipated discovery to the Author; the events to which they relate are far too vast to be accelerated or retarded by the efforts of obscure individuals, even though highly gifted with those powers of influencing the opinions of others which he is conscious of possessing, if at all, oply in a very inferior degree; nor can Unitarian Dissenters supply the absence of nobler motives in the advocates of their cause by conferring rewards which enrich the garland of the victors in theological contests, and even gild over the tarnished and battered armour of the vanquished. The members of my Congregation did me the honour to think that the publication of the Lectures would be gratifying and instructive to them; to gratify them affords me pleasure; to aid their improvement, so far as I am able, is my duty; and therefore they are published.
The leading design of the Course is laid open in the commencement of the first Lecture. It embraces subjects which it is neither customary nor proper frequently to discuss in the pulpit, but which are sufficiently important to justify their occasional introduction. The present state of the Christian world makes it sometimes a duty to buckle on the harness of controversy; though it is far more pleasant, and more directly useful, to beat the swords and spears of theological warfare into the ploughshares and pruning-hooks of moral cultivation.
The Lectures were composed for the pulpit, not for the press, and are, as to manner, so much more adapted for the former than for the latter, that every reader of taste will be frequently displeased, perhaps disgusted, unless he will, in imagination, become a hearer. To transmute
their substance from the one form into the other, would have demanded more labour than the occasion required, or than the materials were worth; and after all, might have proved a vain attempt to assimilate them to a different species of composition, for the excellence of a Sermon is in the Author's opinion at least) widely different from that of an Essay. The former is to be heard, the latter to be read; the one is heard once, the other may be repeatedly perused; the one passes rapidly, with attention sometimes fixed, and sometimes flagging; while the eye and mind may dwell at pleasure on the different parts of the other, and contemplate their mutual adaptation and dependence, and their combination into an harmonious whole. To attempt to bestow on one the qualities which constitute excellence in the other, is like substituting the minute correctness and high finish of the cabinet painting for the daubing of the dramatic scene, where their existence would only be perceived by a diminution of the intended effect. Controversial sermons are, I apprehend, merely Speeches to set people thinking; and this notion will account for the appearance of what many will deem faults in the following Lectures, which I was not solicitous to avoid or expunge. This object has been kept constantly in view, and every thing sacrificed to it, save truth and charity. All minds have key-notes, to touch