Page images

Divine Institution, Necessity, Sacredness, and Separation of the Office Ministerial. The subjects which engaged his attention in these Sermons are, « The Spirit of Grace,” “ The “ descending and entailed Curse cut off," * The invalidity of a late or death-bed Re“pentance,” « The Deceitfulness of the « Heart,” « The Faith and Patience of the “ Saints," “ The Mercy of the Divine Judg. “ ments," “ Growth in Grace, Growth in “ Sin,” “ The foolish Exchange,” “ Christ“ian Prudence,” “ Christian Simplicity," and " The Miracles of the Divine Mercy.

· These he dedicated to the Earl of Carbery in an Epistle, which for the allusions to his private intercourse in that Nobleman's family, as well as admirable remarks. contained in it requires insertion in this place. Still dwelling upon the memory of his amiable patroness, he thus addresses him:

“I now present your lordship a copy of “ those Sermons, the publication of which was

Office Ministerial.” At the end of the volume the printer apologises for any mistakes that may be made in the letter-press, on account of "the absence of the au. * thor, and his inconvenient distance from London."., '


« was first designed by the appetites of that “ • hunger and thirst of righteousness,' which “ made your dear lady (that rare soul) so dear “ to God, that he was pleased speedily to “ satisfy her, by carrying her from our shallow “ and impure cisterns, to drink' out of the “ fountains of our Saviour. I shall but prick “ your tender eye, if I shall remind your “ Lordship how diligent a hearer, how careful “ a recorder, how prudent an observer, how « sedulous a practiser of holy discourses she “ was; and that therefore it was, that what “ did slide through her ear, she was desirous “ to place before her eye, that by those win“ dows they might enter in and dwell in her “ heart : but because by this truth I shall do “ advantage to the following Discourses, give s me leave to fancy that this.:Book is derived “ upon your Lordship almost in the nature of « a legacy from her, whose every thing was “ dearer to your Lordship than your own eyes ; “ and that what she was pleased to believe apt “to minister to her devotions, and the religion * of 'her pious and discerning soul, may also “ be allowed a place in your closet, and a « portion of your retirement, and a lodging in “your thoughts, that they may encourage “ and instruct your practice, and promote

" that interest which is, and ought to be, « dearer to you than all those blessings and "separations with which God hath remarked " your family and person.

“ My Lord, I confess the publication of “ these Sermons can so little serve the ends of “ my reputation, that I am therefore pleased « the rather to do it, because I cannot at all “ be tempted, in so doing, to minister to any a thing of vanity. Sermons may please when “they first strike the ear, and yet appear flat

and ignorant when they are offered to the “ eye, and to an understanding that can con“ sider at leisure. I remember that a young “ Gentleman of Athens, being to answer for « his life, hired an orator to make his defence, « and it pleased him well at his first reading, " but when the young man by often reading “it, that he might recite it publicly by heart, “;began to grow weary and displeased with it, “the orator bade him consider that the “ judges and the people were to hear it but “ once, and then it was likely they at that “ first instant might be as well pleased as “he. This hath often represented to my « mind the condition and fortune of Sermons, «and that I now part with the advantage they

« had in their delivery ; but have sufficiently 6 answered myself in that, and am at rest “ perfectly in my thoughts as to that par“ ticular, if I can in any degree serve the “ interest of souls, and (which is next to that) “ obey the piety, and record the memory of “ that dear saint, whose name and whose soul “ is blessed : for in both these ministeries I 66 doubt not but your Lordship will be pleased, “and account as if I had done some service to “ yourself: your religion makes me sure of “ the first, and your piety puts the latter past “ my fears. However, I suppose, in the “ whole account of this affair, this publication “may be esteemed but like preaching to a “ numerous auditory; which if I had done, “ it would have been called either duty or 6 charity, and therefore will not now so readily “ be censured for vanity, if I make use of all “ the ways I can to minister to the good of “souls. But because my intentions are fair in " themselves, and I hope are acceptable to God, “and will be fairly expounded by your Lord« ship (whom for so great reason I so much « value) I shall not trouble you or the world " with an apology for this so free publishing “ my weaknesses : I can better secure my " reputation, by telling men how they ought

* to entertain Sermons ; for if they that read

or hear do their duty aright, the preacher so shall soon be secured of his fame, and un6 touched by censure.

« PreviousContinue »