« ForrigeFortsett »
PRE FAC E.
L AVING been prevented, for a time, 11 by the discharge of a laborious, but highly honourable office, from performing the more immediate duties of my profeffion, I was yet desirous, that I inight not seem to lose the clergyman in the magistrate, of still continuing to do something towards promoting the great end and purpose of life. And though the frequent returns of business gave little hopes of composing fresh discourses, it's intervals, I thought, might fuffice to digest and publish some, which had been already composed.
This form of publication is generally supposed less advantageous, at present, than any other. But it may be questioned, whether the supposition does justice to the age, when we consider only the respect which has fo recently been paid to the sermons of VOL. I.
the learned and elegant Dr. BLAIR. And greater respect cannot be paid them, than they deserve.
The multitude of old sermons affords no argument against the publication of new ones ; since new ones will be read, when oid ones are neglected; and almost all mankind are, in this respect, Athenians.
Besides, there is a taste in moral and religious, as well as in other compositions, which varies in different ages, and may very lawfully and innocently be indulged. Thoufands received instruction and confolation formerly from sermons, which would not now be endured. The preachers of them served their generation, and are blesfed for evermore. But because provision was made for the wants of the last century in one way, there is no reason why it should not be made for the wants of this, in another. The next will behold a set of writers
of a fashion suited to it, when our discourses fhall, in their turn, be antiquated and forgotten among men; though, if any good be wrought by them in this their day, our hope is, with that of faithful Nehemiah, that our God will remember us concerning them!
But as the productions of every author, who adds to the number, are expected to contain something new, either in matter, or manner, it will naturally be asked, what are my pretensions ? I will beg leave to deliver my sentiments on the subject in the words of the excellent and amiable FENELON, extracted from the last of his most admirable Dialogues on the Eloquence of the Pulpit.
“I would have a preacher explain the “ whole plan of religion, and unfold every “ part of it in the most intelligible manner, “ by Thewing the origin and establishment, “ the tradition and connection of it's prinss ciples, it's facraments and institutions.
“ For every thing in Scripture is con“ nected; and this connection is, perhaps, “ the most extraordinary and wonderful “ thing to be seen in the facred writings.
" An audience of persons, who had heard “ the chief points of the Mosaic history * and law well explained, would be able “ to receive far more benefit from an ex“ plication of the truths of the Gospel, than “ the generality of Christians are now.
« Preachers speak every day to the peo“ ple, of the Scriptures, the Church, the « Patriarchs, the Law, the Gospel ; of Sa« crifice, of Mofes, and Aaron, and Mel“ chisedek; of Christ, the Prophets, and “ Apostles : but there is not sufficient care “ taken to instruct men in the meaning of “ these things, and the characters of these “ holy persons.
: “ This way of having recourse to the “ first foundations of religion, would be fo