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and manly address; the fair and undisguised statement of the whole case; an exhibition of the direct moral and spiritual benefits of Christianity; and practical appeals to the conscience and feelings. In a word, his professed principles should be taken for granted, and acted upon; and the historical evidences considered only as the introduction to the claims of Christianity upon his obedience, as a moral and responsible creature.
The real character of the gospel; its remedy for the wants and misery of man; its revelation of a stupendous scheme of redemption by the Son and Spirit of God, ought not to be concealed in such addresses. It is the author's firm opinion that much injury has been unconsciously done to the cause of Christianity, amongst the class of persons to whom he is referring, by complimenting away the peculiarities of revelation; by debating the evidences as a merely intellectual question; by treating as a slight matter the evil of unbelief; and by keeping out of sight the main blessings of redemption, and the temper of mind in which these should be inquired into and received. The author thinks, that secret infidelity will never be effectually checked amongst us, and pure Christianity revived, till the infinite importance of practical religion pervades more apparently the whole manner in which we endeavor to establish our people in the evidences of the gospel.
To avoid, indeed, minute details, to keep on firm and tenable ground, to shun topics really doubtful or unessential, and to connect all our practical addresses with clear historical testimonies--in short, to convince the understanding, whilst we aim at the heart --is the obvious dictate of prudence in every treatise
on the evidences-which the author hopes he has not overlooked.
His object has been to lead the sincere inquirer, step by step, through the chief arguments which establish the truth and importance of Christianity. He begins with the admissions of natural religion. He then proceeds to point out how men act in common life on all similar occasions. He next shows the real force of the accumulated evidences in favor of the Christian faith; and presses home upon the heart the immense obligation of practically obeying truth so far as it is known.
The immediate occasion of preparing this course of Lectures, was the confirmation, by the Lord Bishop of London of a large number of young persons* in the author's parish last spring. These it became his most pleasing duty to instruct and further establish in their Christian profession. To assist him in this, he could find no work exactly of the kind he desired. He wanted a full and popular review of the whole argument. The excellent summary of Bishop Porteus was too brief and too much in the form of an essay for his purpose. He was induced therefore to venture on the hazardous measure of preparing the course, of which the present volume forms the first division. The approbation with which the design was received by his hearers of every class and age, and the circumstance that the bulk of his parishioners were unable to be present when they were preached,† have led him to consent to their publication. The Lectures are, indeed, necessarily better adapted for the closet than the pulpit.
* More than seven hundred.
The church-sittings in the parish could not accommodate more than one TWELFTH of the population.
The author would have composed and delivered the whole of the designed course at once, if his health and other duties had allowed. But finding himself quite exhausted with the effort so far as it has now been carried, and being unwilling to be taken off for a longer time together, from his other pastoral duties, he stopped when he had completed the arguments for the authenticity, credibility, divine authority, and inspiration of the scriptures; reserving the consideration of the internal evidences for another occasion. The uncertainty of that period, and indeed of every thing future, has led him to think that he should be better consulting his duty to his flock by submitting to them the present volume, than by waiting till the second was ready for delivery.
The author need not say to those, who know what are the demands of a parish of above thirty thousand souls, adjoining to the metropolis, upon the time and efforts of a parochial minister, that the ensuing Lectures do not pretend to any thing, properly speaking, new. He has given, indeed, his very best attention to the great subject; but he has been compelled to write off the Lectures rapidly, and amidst numerous interruptions, and to commit them to the press nearly as they were delivered. An important measure, which has occupied a large portion of his time since he came to the benefice-that of building three additional churches, which by the unanimous zeal and liberality of the parish, and the munificent aid of the Parliamentary Commissioners, are now nearly completed-has further prevented him from devoting that leisure to these Lectures which he could have earnestly desired-at the same time that it has formed a strong additional motive for preparing them,
as a first step to the general religious benefit of his esteemed parishioners.
It may be proper to mention, that in the winter of 1819, the author composed and delivered a course of Lectures similar to the present, when he was minister of a parochial chapel in one of the most crowded parts of the metropolis.* This was on a more limited scale than the present. The plan upon which he proceeded was, however, nearly the same, and he was then so earnestly importuned to commit them to the press, that he had made a considerable preparation for doing so, when a state of ill health supervened, which entirely broke up his plan. His papers, however, have very materially assisted him in the present publication. In one respect only an inconvenience has arisen, which he knows not how to remedy, except by the present acknowledgment. His collections being made in short hand, and often without references, he cannot now always recal the names of his authorities. He has done what he could in the notes to refer to the chief of them. He need scarcely say, that the Boyle Lectures, Pascal, Grotius, Huet, Kortholt, Lardner, Stosch, Paley, Michaelis, Less, Warburton, Sherlock, Hurd, Jenkin, Leland, Butler, Porteus, Beattie, Horsley, Van-Mildert, Marsh, Routh, Moncrief, Chalmers, Gregory, have been amongst his principal resources. To these authors it would be most unjust not to add the name of T. Hartwell Horne, who has not only analysed with extraordinary diligence, all the principal writers on the Evidences of Christianity, but has supplied the defects of many of them, by enforcing those moral and religious considerations arising from the intrinsic excellency of
*St. John's, in the parish of St. Andrew, Holborn.
Christianity, and the responsibility of man, which, in the author's judgment, are so unspeakably important.
Several excellent works have been consulted by the author, which have appeared since his abstracts made in 1819. The able Treatises of Sumner, Davison, Erskine, Gurney, Benson, Franks, Faber, Harness, Penrose, Blunt, Milman, Taylor, Keith, and The Monthly Lectures for 1827; to which several French productions may be added, especially the masterly work of M. Frayssinous, have all their several excellencies. If any one of these had precisely met the author's wishes for the instruction of his young parishioners, by stating in a clear and popular manner, the whole argument for Christianity, and applying every part to the conscience, he should have abstained from the present attempt.* But, perhaps, on no. subject may a variety of publications be better excused, than on a question like Christianity, on which all our hopes depend, which is wide and extensive as the nature of man, which requires to be restated according to the circumstances of the passing age, and where each author, by following his own train of thought, may hope to benefit his immediate circle, and possibly contribute something to the general stores of the evidences of our faith.
The author has only further to request his respected-and, he can truly add, much beloved-parishioners, to accept this feeble testimony of his regard, and to pardon the numerous defects of the work, for the sake of the motive which has induced him to take
* If Mr. Sumner's incomparable argument had been extended to the other branches of the subject, and been thrown into the form of Sermons, it would have wholly superseded the present attempt. The same may be said of Mr. Franks' most original and powerful work, and Mr. Gurney's.