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In submitting this volume to publick inspection, my motives appear in the body of the discourses, and to them the reader is referred, instead of being solicited to wade through a tedious preamble. Had I consulted mere literary reputation, their publication would have been delayed. My parochial and academical duties have made such large demands upon my time, that, the composition of each discourse, I was unable to devote more than the labour of a single day, and the whole have been committed to the press with no alterations, and very few additions. I do not present them as faultless specimens of style. In this aspect, neither do I challenge the severity of criticism, nor do I deprecate it. As no man is compelled to become an author, if he will write, let him be prepared to meet the consequences. It is better, that he should receive a little wholesome chastisement, than that his works should contribute in any degree to vitiate the publick taste. The writer makes no humiliating appeals to the sympathy or forbearance of reader or critick.
It was at the suggestion of a highly valued friend, that the sermons upon the Church were prepared, and their delivery was accompanied with repeated requests for publication. I have complied. With what judgment, time will show. It has not been with reluctance. A mind, unstable as water, may well sit down and count the cost, attending the utterance of dubious speculations; but he must be the veriest coward, who is afraid to preach and to publish what he solemnly believes to be true, lest, for combating the errours, he should be obliged to endure the censures, of the many. I know not, that the present discourses will be deemed worthy of a reply. Care however has been taken to notify me, in a formal manner, that
such was the intention. Be it so. When a temperate answer appears, I hope to embark, in the subsequent discussion, with benevolent and charitable feelings. I know, that I shall do it, in all the confidence of a certain faith, that the leading facts and arguments, presented in this volume, are utterly incapable of being refuted. Every thing plausible, that can be alleged in opposition, is perfectly familiar to my mind; and I have no difficulty in pledging myself to its exposure, wherever reason is permitted to triumph over prejudice, and religion over party. I only ask of my worthy Christian brethren of other denominations ; those, whom I esteem for their piety, I only ask, that they raise not the shout of victory, until the battle is won.
The miscellaneous discourses have been selected in haste, from a large number, written at different periods. I am apprehensive, that the choice of subjects may not have been as judicious as my friends could wish ; but such as they are, let them be considered the humble offering of my head and heart, in the glorious cause of Christ. If a favourable opinion should be formed of them, by the publick, they will, with the divine permission, be followed by others, embracing more extended views of Christian faith and practice.
LEXINGTON, Ky. October 29, 1828.
TO THE SECOND EDITION.
The first publication of these discourses was intended as an experiment or effort, to ascertain how far the publick could become interested on subjects, usually considered subordinate in value, and dry in detail. To invite perusal, the popular style was adopted, and no greater space occupied with authorities, than was indispensable to a clear and comprehensive view of the argument maintained. I am satisfied with their reception. It far exceeds the most flattering anticipations, I could have ventured to indulge. From many of the bishops, and other clergy, commendatory letters have been received, which have repaid me a thousand fold, for the anxieties inseparable from a first attempt to win the approbation of an enlightened community.
But entertaining, as I do, the firm belief that God's own institutions must be better adapted, than those of men, to promote vital religion, and accelerate the triumph of the Redeemer's kingdom, it has afforded me the livelier satisfaction to possess abundant evidence, that these sermons have been instrumental in reclaiming large numbers from the ranks of schism, and bringing them within the benign influence of the bride, chosen by Christ himself, and therefore most worthy of all acceptation. I need not name a distinguished convert. His elaborate array of facts, the result of intense and unwearied application, has given him an elevated station among the champions of truth, and furnished the Church with a vindication of her apostolick ministry, that will only be successfully answered, when the bible has ceased to be regarded, as the revelation of the divine will.
Although the whole of the original preface has been re
printed, it will be perceived that the miscellaneous discourses have been omitted, in the present volume. The object has been to diminish the price, and render the work more generally accessible,
Additions, amounting altogether to about twelve pages, have been introduced in different places. Of these, I beg leave to direct the reader's attention to the conclusive proof of Timothy's apostleship, derived from the first epistle to the Thessalonians. It was discovered, by me, a few weeks after the former publication, and care was taken to make it publick ; but my reading has not enabled me to detect its previous use, in any of the discussions, to which episcopacy has given rise. A similar remark applies to the testimony from Jerome, adduced on the eighty second page, and clearly falsifying numerous misrepresentations of that father. The original follows, and in addition to the expression, .by little and little,' the yet stronger phrase, in process of time,' is evidently brought within the age of the Apostles, called by our Saviour in person; • PAULATIM, TEMPORE PROCEDENTE, et alii ab his, quos Dominus elegerat, ordinati sunt Apostoli : sicut ille ad Philippenses sermo declarat, dicens, necessarium existimavi Epaphroditurn, Apostolum vestrum, mittere ad vos.'
It only remains for me, to implore the divine blessing on my humble labours. Grant me, gracious God, so to understand and preach thy true and lively word, that I may, by thy mercy, not only gain converts to thy Church on earth, but “joint heirs with Christ’ to thy kingdom of everlasting glory.
BURLINGTON, Vr. July 10, 1832.
Page 12, dissention should be dissension.
65, for Curch read Church. “ 227, the quotation, assigned to Mason, must be placed to the account of Coles. See his discourse on God's sovereignty, page 311.