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THERE is no book, at least where the author's name is not itself a sufficient recommendation, which more needs a Preface to introduce it, than a book of Sermons a Who has not observed the indifference, with which such a work is often taken up, its
pages turned cursorily over, a sentence glanced at here and there, and then the volume returned to its place, and left, till a fresh visitant gives
• It may perhaps be well to mention, that the following Sermons are very nearly such as they were when delivered. The only alterations, besides those which are merely verbal, are the insertion of the three consecutive paragraphs at pp. 49, 50, in Sermon II, and the transfer of one or two passages, which seemed less strictly proper to the subjects, from the text to the notes. There may also be an occasional sentence which was omitted at the time of delivery. In some instances the Author's friends will recognize their own suggestions in the quotations cited in the notes. These passages will be to him memorials of an intercourse from which he has derived both pleasure and advantage, and which he trusts he shall remember with thankfulness to the end of his life.
a like momentary interruption to its slumbers ? Of other works, the very title-pages may set curiosity on edge; but a collection of Sermons promises nothing that has not been a hundred times repeated.
It seems desirable, therefore, that, in a volume of this description, there should be stated at the outset, and with as little delay as possible, the leading points to which it is sought to draw attention.
If the following Sermons were to be classed according to the importance of their several subjects,—their importance, at least, in so far as they bear directly upon individual practice, —the author feels deeply, that the foremost place should be assigned to the two first. And yet, had all been on subjects, which are as frequently handled, he should scarcely have ventured upon making them public. He that would arouse men's attention on matters which are continually brought before them, gravely important though those matters may be, had need speak with more than ordinary force.
The two Sermons alluded to are closely connected with each other. They may, in fact, be considered as parts of one whole. The Christian's life is a life of trial. Suffering, in one shape or other, is its portion. And yet, it is furnished with its special consolations, and supplied with its special helps. Of its consolations, a well-assured hope, through union with Christ, of eternal glory, and, of its helps, prayer, as an instrument of drawing down the gracious assistance of God's Holy Spirit, are the chief. These are the points most prominently brought forward. If what is here said shall be so highly honoured of God, as to be made the means of inducing a single person to count more thoughtfully than he has hitherto done the cost of the warfare in which he is engaged, and of encouraging him to set forward more hopefully and more cheerfully upon his
way, and, above all, if it shall be rendered instrumental in leading any one to place a higher value upon prayer, and to devote himself with greater earnestness and diligence and constancy to that blessed employment, the labour bestowed will be amply repaid. May God grant, that what the author has endeavoured to recommend to others, he may himself exemplify and experience, and that increasingly, to the last day of his life!
Between the third and fourth Sermons also there is a close connexion.
Of the former, it is the object to urge the claims, which our Church has to the obedience of her children in matters of Order; and to shew, by the example of the Rechabites, as well as by the reason of the case, that adherence to her laws in these respects, if it were generally observed, would prove, under God, an effectual means of her confirmation and preservation.
There are some circumstances, in the times
| The author feels himself bound to acknowledge, that his first definite views on the subject of the Church's authority, were communicated to him through the medium of the Tract, “ On the benefits of the system of Fasting enjoined by our Church.” Tracts for the Times, No. 18. He was not aware, till a reference to that Tract, after a considerable interval, drew his attention to the circumstance, how largely some of its leading principles had unconsciously mingled with his thoughts. The allusion to private plans, in pp. ix. x. and in the third of the following Sermons, he distinctly traces to it; and perhaps there are other passages, which he is not able distinctly to particularize, which yet are the fruit, so to speak, of seed there sown. The writer, however, to whom he is more immediately indebted, is Hooker. The sixth section in particular of the Preface to the Ecclesiastical Polity was, he believes, the basis of the third and fourth of the following Sermons.