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P R E F A CE.
T HE following Sermons, as to the sub
1 stance (for most of them are considerably abridged) were preached to a public and numerous assembly. And, therefore, an accurate and logical discussion of the several subjects, was not aimed at. They are rather popular discourses ; in which, the Author, though he wished not to treat the politer part of his auditory with disrespect, thought it likewise his duty, fo to adapt his manner to the occasion, as to be intelligible to perfons of weak capacities, and in the lower ranks of life. He conceives himself to be a debtor to every class of his hearers; and that he ought to endeavour to please all men, with a view to their edification; but, farther than this, not to be greatly affected, either by their approbation, or by their censure.
Many of the subjects, are so nearly coincident, that repetitioris could not be always
avoided, without the appearance of affectation. Besides, as it may be expected, that in a large congregation, there are always some persons present for the first time; with respect to these, an observation may be new, though, perhaps, the more stated hearers, may recollect its having been mentioned before. For a similar reason, such repetitions are not improper, in print. Many persons read part of a book, who may not have opportunity, or inclination, to read the whole. Should any one, by opening these sermons at a venture, meet with a passage, which, by a divine blef
wounded spirit, that passage will be exactly in the right page, even though the purport of it should be expressed in several other places. Farther, since we do not always so much stand in need of new information, as to have, what we already know, more effectually impressed upon the mind; there are truths which can scarcely be inculcated too often, at least, until the design, for which they were mentioned once, be effectually answered. Thus, when the strokes of a hammer are often repeated, not one of them can be deemed superfluous; the last, which drives the nail to the head,
being no less necessary, than any of those which preceded it.
From those Readers, whose habits of thinking on religious subjects, are formed by a close attachment to particular systems of divinity, the Author requests a candid construction of what he advances, if he ventures, in some instances, to deviate a little from the more beaten track. If he is, sometimes, constrained to differ from the judgment of wise and good men, who have deserved well of the church of God, he would do it with modesty. Far from depreciating their labours, he would be thankful for the benefit which he hopes he has received from them. It is a great fatisfaction to him, that in all doctrinal points of primary importance, his views are confirmed by the suffrage of writers and ministers eminent for genuine piety, and sound learning; who assisted him in his early enquiries after truth, and at whose feet he is still willing to fit. Yet, remembering that he is authorized and commanded to call no man Master, so as to yield an implicit and unqualified submission to human teachers; while he gladly borrows every help he can, from others, he ventures, likewise, to think for
himself. His leading sentiments concerning the grand peculiarities of the gospel, were formed many years since, when he was in a state of almoit entire seclusion from society; when he had scarcely any religious book, but the Bible, within his reach; and had no knowledge, either of the various names, parties, and opinions, by which, Christians were distinguished and divided, or of the controversies which subsisted among them. He is not conscious, that any very material difference has taken place in his sentiments, since he first became acquainted with the religious world; but, after a long course of experience and observation, he seems to possess them in a different manner. The difficulties, which, for a season, perplexed him, on some points, are either removed, or considerably abated, On the other hand, he now perceives difficulties, that constrain him to lay his hand upon his mouth, in subjects, which, once appeared to him obvious and plain. Thus, if he mistakes not himself, he is less troubled with scepticism, and at the same time, less disposed to be dogmatical, than he formerly was. He feels himself unable to draw the line, with precision, between those essential