« AnteriorContinuar »
THE Author of this volume has so fre
- quently experienced the candour of the public, that he would not harbour a fear of
its being shewn to him on the present occa- sion; though he now addresses it in a form of publication, that is common and trite.
But destitute as this species of composition may be of the recommendation of novelty ; it can plead in its favour a great intereft derived from the nature of the subjects discussed, a congruity with the office of a preacher suftained by the author for many years, and a tendency to extend through a wider circle, and to perpetuate, when his tongue is silent in the grave, the usefulness of that character. The fincere and zealous minister may, laudably, wish to speak, even when dead, to his surviving friends, whom it was his pleasure as , well as his duty to address from the pulpit; and to leave with their children a memorial of the mutual respect and affection which subsisted between their parents and himself.
With these views the following Sermons are offered from the press. In the selection of them the author has been governed by a regard to the singularity of the subjects, in connection with their importance and practical tendency.
He is so well known to differ from many of his fellow Christians in his ideas of the Christian doctrine, that the denomination under which he has classed some of the difcourses cannot mislead any person. But though he does not apply the term, evangelical, in the sense in which it is exclusively claimed by a large number in the present day, yet he thinks it truly belongs to those difcourses, the leading design of which is to unfold and improve the character of Jesus of Nazareth, as a messenger, of mercy, the
Messiah, the minister of reconciliation, the : fent of God, exalted to be a Prince and Sa
viour, to execute the counsels of love, and to effect a scheme of salvation. These are topics strictly “ evangelical,” according to the ori. ginal sense of the word, which fignifies good news or glad tidings ;* and the primitive application of it to that joyful news which was announced to the world, when it was preached, that “ the kingdom of heaven was " at hand, and that Jesus of Nazareth was the “ CHRIST, and was risen from the dead.”
Some of the discourses, if not all, the author hopes, will be deemed suited to the use of families, and level to the capacity and apprehension of the least informed members of a christian household. He fears, indeed, that the practice of our pious forefathers, of reading fermons, or religious treatises, to their families, on the evening of the Lord's day, is now much laid aside. He cannot but express, under this apprehension, his surprise and grief, that the heads of families do not feel the obligation to avail themselves of their influence, and of the leisure of that day, to render to their servants the best assistance in their power to attain christian knowledge and virtue. The master of his family, who calls his domestics around him to read to them a serious, impressive, and instructive sermon, and closes the service with prayer, prevents the evening being lost in levity and thoughtless dissipation ; employs an useful means of correcting in them a desultory turn of mind; leads them to consider religious reading as a duty; arrests their attention to divine things by his example; and commands respect to himself by appearing under the characters of the instructor, it may be said, of the preacher, and priest, in his own house. He rows, I would add, feed which, in different proportions, will produce a harvest. He renders an effectual service to the cause of religion, and a most essential benefit to his domestic circle. Many, in the present day, have derived a seriousness of spirit, and received an early and indelible sense of religion, from the exercises of
* It may be submitted to the confideration of those who appropriate to their own strain of preaching the term “evan“gelical,” with what propriety gloomy pictures of hereditary depravity, and awful representations of divine anger and jus. tice, inexorable without a satisfaction, and, as it is often said, an infinite satisfaction, can come under the defçription of . “glad tidings."
this nature, in which they were, in their younger years, parties.
The second, fifth, and fixth sermons have been separately published some years ago, but had only a limited circulation. The approbation with which they were favoured, and the peculiar nature and importance of the subjects, induce the author to lay them again before the public.
If his feeble endeavours to promote the cause of christian truth, piety, and virtue, should be in any degree successful, he will be truly sensible of the candour of his readers ; and will owe humble and fervent thanks to the providence of God, to whose favour and blessing all the praise and glory of talents and success are due.
Birmingham, Dec. 10, 1809.