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'HE Author of this volume has fo frequently experienced the candour of the public, that he would not harbour a fear of its being fhewn to him on the present occafion; though he now addresses it in a form of publication, that is common and trite.
But destitute as this fpecies of compofition may be of the recommendation of novelty; it can plead in its favour a great interest derived from the nature of the fubjects difcuffed, 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 filent in the grave, the usefulness of that character. The fincere and zealous minifter may, laudably,
wish to speak, even when dead, to his furviving friends, whom it was his pleasure as well as his duty to addrefs from the pulpit; and to leave with their children a memorial of the mutual respect and affection which fubfifted 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 fingularity of the subjects, in connection with their importance and practical tendency.
He is fo well known to differ from many of his fellow Chriftians in his ideas of the Christian doctrine, that the denomination under which he has claffed fome of the difcourses cannot mislead any person. But though he does not apply the term, evangelical, in the fense in which it is exclusively claimed by a large number in the present day, yet he thinks it truly belongs to thofe difcourfes, the leading defign of which is to unfold and improve the character of JESUS of Nazareth, as a meffenger, of mercy, the Meffiah, the minifter of reconciliation, the fent of God, exalted to be a Prince and Sa
viour, to execute the counfels of love, and to effect a scheme of falvation. These are topics ftrictly "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 rifen from the dead."
Some of the difcourfes, if not all, the author hopes, will be deemed fuited to the use of families, and level to the capacity and apprehenfion of the leaft informed members of a christian household. He fears, indeed, that the practice of our pious forefathers, of reading sermons, or religious treatifes, to their families, on the evening of the Lord's day, is now much laid afide. He cannot but express, under this apprehenfion, his surprise and grief,
* It may be fubmitted to the confideration of those who appropriate to their own ftrain of preaching the term " evan"gelical," with what propriety gloomy pictures of hereditary depravity, and awful representations of divine anger and juftice, inexorable without a fatisfaction, and, as it is often faid, an ́infinite fatisfaction, can come under the description of "glad tidings."
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 fervants the best affiftance in their power to attain chriftian knowledge and virtue. The master of his family, who calls his domestics around him to read to them a ferious, impreffive, and inftructive fermon, and closes the service with prayer, prevents the evening being loft in levity and thoughtless diffipation; employs an useful means of correcting in them a defultory turn of mind; leads them to confider religious reading as a duty; arrefts their attention to divine things by his example; and commands refpect to himself by appearing under the characters of the instructor, it may be said, of the preacher, and priest, in his own house. He fows, 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 effential benefit to his domeftic circle. Many, in the prefent day, have derived a feriousness of spirit, and received an early and indelible fenfe of religion, from the exercises of
this nature, in which they were, in their younger years, parties.
The fecond, fifth, and fixth fermons have been separately published fome years ago, but had only a limited circulation. The approbation with which they were favoured, and the peculiar nature and importance of the fubjects, induce the author to lay them again before the public.
If his feeble endeavours to promote the cause of christian truth, piety, and virtue, fhould be in any degree fuccefsful, he will be truly fenfible of the candour of his readers ; and will owe humble and fervent thanks to the providence of GoD, to whose favour and bleffing all the praise and glory of talents and fuccefs are due.
Birmingham, Dec. 10, 1809.