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THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
WITH TWO SERMONS AND TWO LETTERS
ON THE NATURE AND NECESSITY OF ABSOLUTION.
BY JOSEPH BINGHAM,
RECTOR OF HAVANT.
REPRINTED FROM THE ORIGINAL EDITION,
WITH AN ENLARGED ANALYTICAL INDEX.
HENRY G. BOHN, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
THE AUTHOR'S DEDICATIONS.
TO THE RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD,
JONATHAN, LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER,
AND PRELATE OF THE MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER.
[PUBLISHED WITH VOL. I. OF THE ORIGINAL EDITION.)
My Lord, Having once determined with myself to make these collections public, I needed no long time to consider to whom I should first address and present them. They are, my Lord, the first-fruits of my labour under your Lordship’s government and inspection; and I was willing to think, and do presume I did not think amiss, that your Lordship had a sort of title to the first-fruits of any of your clergy's labour ; especially if the subject, on which they were employed, was suitable to their calling, and had any direct tendency to promote Christian knowledge in the world. The subject of the present discourse, being an essay upon the ancient usages and customs of the primitive church, and a particular account of the state of her clergy, is such as, being considered barely in its own nature, I know cannot but be approved by a person of your Lordship's character; whose care is concerned not only in preserving the purity of the primitive faith, but also in reviving the spirit of the ancient discipline and primitive practice: and were the management any ways answerable to the greatness of the subject, that would doubly recommend it to your Lordship’s favour; since apples of gold are something the more beautiful for being set in pictures of silver. But I am sensible the subject is too sublime and copious, too nice and difficult, to have justice done it from any single hand, much less from mine : all, therefore, I can pretend to hope for from your Lordship is, that your candour and goodness will make just allowances for the failings, which your sagacity and quickness will easily perceive to be in this performance. I am not, I confess, without hopes, that as well the abstruseness and difficulty of the subject itself, as my own difficult circumstances, under which I was forced to labour, for want of proper assistance of abundance of books, may be some apology for the defects of the work: and if I can but so far obtain your Lordship’s good opinion, as to be thought to have designed well; as I am already conscious of my own good intentions to consecrate all my labours to the public service of the church; that will inspire me with fresh vigour, notwithstanding these difficulties, to proceed with cheerfulness and alacrity in the remaining parts of this work, which are yet behind, and which I shall be the more willing to set aboạt, if I can perceive that it has your Lordshịp's approbation. The countenance and encouragement of such a judge may perhaps kave a more universal iniluence, to excite the zeal of many others, who have greater abilities to serve the church and I know not how better to congratulate your Lordship upon your happy accession to the episcopal throne of tăis diocese, than by wishing you the blessing and satisfaction of such a clergy; whose learning and industry, and piety and religion, influenced by the wisdom of your conduct, and animated by the example of your real and perseverance, even to imprisonment in times of greatest difficulty, may so qualify them to discharge every office of their function, as may make your diocese one of the shining glories of the present church, and a provoking example to the future: which is the hearty prayer and desire of,