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tance. For let it be observed, that the education of our public seminaries, against which I do not mean to object, is certainly inadequate to form men, before they have graduated, for competent theologians, and ministers of the everlasting gospel : they must have further, and fuller, and more particular assistance.
2. There is nothing, as a circumstance, which at this day gives the ministers among the dissenters so great an advantage, in the same towns and neighbourhoods, over the clergy, even if not equal in abilities and knowledge, but far superior; as the partiality of the common people, when used to it, to extemporaneous addresses, above reading sermons. It is I own unreasonable, provided what is delivered be well written and well read. It is also a temptation, a strong temptation, to many to attempt extemporaneous preaching, for the sake of popularity, who are not competent to it, and have not duly sought the competency. Yet the common people are the bulk of the nation : publick opinion, in such a land as this, commonly prevails at length against every thing : and, if all the ministers in the establishment, without exception, must read sermons, while most of the dissenters, in part at least extemporise, and, it must be owned, some of them very ably, and others plausibly; will this in 'a course of years have no effect on public opinion ? I own I am astonished that they, who can see danger to the church where no danger is, cannot perceive that there is considerable danger from this quarter.
Circumstances also may arise, when the improvement of an unforeseen event, to which the med sermon had no reference, nay, perhaps was on a widely distant subject, and a variety of other occurrences, render the ability of speaking without a written preparation, highly valuable, even to those who generally write and read their sermons; and must give a decided superiority, in many situations, to those who possess it.-All that I plead for is, that preaching without a written sermon should not be indiscriminately and disdainfully proscribed.
It must not indeed be denied, that some of that company, called “the evangelical clergy,' preach in an extemporaneous manner, without having previously studied, and laboured to acquire the proper competency : and a few, without much meditation on the text which they have selected, before they preach on it. In this, and in other respects, the manner in which some perform their ministerial duties, may be injudicious and indecorous ; nay, perhaps this may be thought to be the case with us all : but surely the state of our parishes and congregations, if carefully and impartially investigated, even as to the peaceable, moral, and benevolent conduct of the people, one among another, and to all men, must demonstrate that it is not 'mischievous in the extreme?' It must be supposed that those who censure us, from the pulpit, or from the press, or in a more authoritative manner, are not acquainted with the style and manner of our preaching, whether extem
poraneous effusions,' or written sermons, except by report; and how uncertain that is all men know. They seldom honour with their presence the churches or chapels in which we officiate : and,
if they do not hear for themselves, they must hear with other men's ears; and, in fact, by the representations of our avowed opponents, most of whom themselves know little except by report. Our superiors can have no adequate way. therefore, of judging concerning our preaching, except by our printed works : unless they will confront the testimony of our accusers, with that of our friends and favourers, of whom we have a few, at least, whose learning, talent, and judgment, and above all whose strict veracity, need not shrink from a comparison with those of our most eminent opponents, or any set of men whatever. If by sufficient evidence it can be proved, that any, called ' evangelical divines, conduct their ministrations in a manner 'mischievous in the extreme;' or indeed deliver from the pulpit doctrines discordant with those of our authorized books, no exemptions are here claimed : let them be rebuked, and censured, or suspended from their office, and even from their benefices, if the crime deserve it. But let not the whole company, marked out by a designation bestowed by others, with or without their own consent, be brought in guilty, for the faults of some individuals, and on ex-parte evidence.
There are, however, among the clergy in the established church, other doctrines, and practices, and indecorous, nay most disgraceful methods of officiating, which are indisputably 'mischievous
in the extreme;' and which call for the impartial animadversion of our bishops, at least, equally with any thing among the evangelical clergy. The word practice, as used by his Lordship, may per
haps refer to something quite distinct from the style of our preaching, or the manner of our officiating in the place of worship. Nor can it be denied, that in this multifarious body, as well as among others, there have been individuals, whose practices have been indeed mischievous in the
extreme,' to the general cause of truth and holiness. But, wherever heretical tenets or immoral practices are found, the common cause of our holy religion would be exceedingly promoted by a temperate and impartial exercise of that authority, with which our superiors are invested, as the bishops, the OVERSEERS, of this part of that “ church of God, which he hath purchased with “ his own blood.”I.
1. It is one thing to trust to the goodness of
God, as declared in scripture, for the effectual 'assistance of the Holy Spirit; and another to assert, that from our own intrinsic merit we have a right to divine favour here, and to reward hereafter. The “ promise of the life that now
is, and of that which is to come,” the means of 'grace, and the hope of glory, we owe solely to the undeserved mercy of God, through the merits and mediation of his blessed Son. It is not ' possible for man, with reference to the original 'connexion between the creature and his Creator, to have any merit towards God; for, whatever powers and qualifications he possesses, he has received them all from God; and God has a right to every exertion which man can make. But
God has been pleased to enter into a covenant with man, subsequent to the rules and directions (which he gave him at his creation, and to pro'mise certain privileges and blessings upon the * performance of certain conditions. This new
dispensation, so far from being the consequence * of any right conduct in man, is founded in his misconduct, the first intimation of future redemption being given immediately after the fall, at the moment God was denouncing punishment ' upon the disobedience of Adam.' It is to be ac' knowledged in all its parts as entirely gratuitous,
as proceeding solely from the free mercy of God; ‘ and our performance of the required conditions “is not to be considered as constituting any merit 'in us, or conferring any right to reward, independent of his promises. If the conditional
offer of spiritual aid in this world, and of eternal “happiness in the next, had not been made, the
same conduct in us, supposing that possible, would have given no claim to favour or reward from God here or hereafter, a right to any re
compense from God being absolutely impossible. 'I am here speaking upon the ground of strict `justice, and upon no other ground can the ab
straçt question of merit be argued. The ques' tion becomes of a totally different nature, where
promises, arising solely from kindness and mercy, * are concerned. We know that “ he who hath
promised is faithful;" and therefore we rely upon “his promises, without feeling that we had any ' reason to expect them.'!