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AND SOLD BY DEIGHTONS AND NICHOLSONS, CAMBRIDGE;
The author of the following Sermons thinks it may be right to preface them by a few explanatory remarks, now that he has been induced to lay them before the public.
It was originally far from bis intention to enter upon controversy in the course of Sermons, which he had the honour of being appointed to preach lately before the University, but, on hearing the discourses of the first of the Select Preachers of the present year, it appeared to him that they ought not to pass entirely unnoticed; and, as he understood the matter was not likely to be taken up in a higher quarter, * he himself resolved to offer some observations on certain doctrines, for the support of which those discourses were composed. He is not ignorant in what a difficult and delicate situation he has placed himself by undertaking to comment on writings, which have not been published ; but, as he is conscious of no wilful in. tention to misrepresent, so has he good rcason to believe that in the present instance no charges can be brought against him on that score. The truth is, he was so forcibly struck with many passages of those sermons, that he could not forbear taking the earliest opportunity, after he heard them, of expressing their sense, and, (as nearly as he could,) their words, in writing, and it is on those cotemporary notes that he has grounded all his remarks, which relate to the Rev. C. Simeon.
* To prevent the allusion contained in this sentence from being misunderstood, (which it probably may be out of the University,) it may be right to add, that the Margaret Professor of Divinity, (now Bishop of Landaft,) was to preach before the University during the following month, and that the author had been informed he did not intend to make any remarks on Mr. Simeon's sermons.
The circumstance, then, just mentioned first suggested to the author the subject of the ensuing sermons, but their design is of a much more general nature than to combat the sentiments of any single individual, however respectable in himself, or however powerful in his influence over others. They contain an examination of the principal discriminating opinions of that large class of the members of our Church, who profess to hold the doctrines of the Gospel in a greater degree of purity than the rest of their brethren; the tenets, commonly called evangelical, are here submitted to the tests of reason and of Scripture.
The chief motive, which engaged the author in his present bold, and, perhaps hazardous, enterprize, is explained in the last of his sermons; which are now published in compliance with the wishes of some of those, with a particular view to whose benefit they were written. The few alterations, which have been made in them since they were preached, are, for the most part, merely verbal; but one sentence has been wholly omitted, because it comprized a quotation, which the author has since seen reason to think that he had not applied in the exact sense, which its context seems to impose upon it.
Should this publication be the means of producing others in confutation of the principles advanced in it, the author considers himself under no obligation to reply to them, for he has acted merely on the defensive side; nor has he either leisure or inclination for such an indefinite kind of employment as literary, and especially, theological controversy. At the same time, however, that he pledges himself to nothing, he, of course, reserves to himself the right of vindicating his sentiments, if he should feel the disposition, and have the opportunity, of exercising it.
Trinity College, Cambridge.
May 24th, 1816.
Whoever would desire to be nourished to eternal life by the sincere milk of the word of God, must approach the sacred fountain, from which it flows, with the spirit of a new-born babe; when he takes into his hand the holy volume he must dismiss from his heart all its favourite prepossessions, and look up to heaven for light and knowledge with the single-mindedness of the converted apostle, when, regardless of his own inclinations, he made the earnest enquiry, “Lord, what wilt 66 thou have me to do ?”* To a neglect of these necessary precautions for perusing the Scriptures with advantage, is to be attributed, in a great degree, that diversity of opinion on religious subjects which has so long disturbed and distracted the Church of Christ, and has set at variance, not only the different constituent members of the catholic Church, but also the different individuals of particular Churches. And happy
* Acts 9. vi.