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The Sermons in this volume, although mostly preached before a peculiar congregation, will yet be found to relate to many questions of universal interest, and to contain views not adapted, in many instances, to one age more than to another. They embrace most of the great points of a Christian life : and they will be followed, I hope, in a few weeks, by another volume, of which the particular object will be the Illustration of the Scriptures; either by explaining certain passages or portions of the Sacred Volume, or by stating some general rules of interpretation which may apply to the whole of it.
Meantime, it would be affectation, were I to dissemble my knowledge that these volumes will be received in many quarters with a strong prejudice against them. I cannot regret this as far as regards the followers of a party ; to such, be the party what it may, I cannot wish to write acceptably. But for those who are not tied to any party, who love truth and goodness for their own sakes, and who are willing to think for themselves, I should greatly grieve if they were to be prevented by any prejudice from reading fairly and confidently what they will find in these volumes. Above all, let no sincere Christian be disturbed by the fear of finding any thing in them low in principle or in feeling, any thing deserving the name of latitudinarian. He will find in them every Christian truth and every Christian virtue enforced with no qualifying or hesitating spirit. He will find no argument used which the writer did not himself believe
; no disproof of any statement suppressed
which was within the writer's own knowledge. The only latitudinarianism to be met with in these Sermons, is of a kind of which St. Paul has set the example. I have earnestly laboured to destroy that unchristian superstition, which, as a necessary consequence of its straining at the gnat, for ever swallows the camel. I have wished to inculcate Christian unity, the unity of the spirit ; and therefore have condemned that craving for unity of opinion and of form by which the true unity is rendered impossible. I have endeavoured to assert the authority of Law, which Fanaticism and Jacobinism are alike combining to destroy. I have upheld one standard and one authority in all moral points ; namely, the law of God; and one standard and one authority in all points of form and order; namely, the law of man: the first of these infallible and eternal; the second fallible and changeable; but both having an absolute claim in their respective departments to the implicit obedience of individuals.
It would also give me much concern if, because it is my fortune to oppose the stream of party opinion, I should be regarded as one who followed merely my own individual notions, ignorant or careless of the wisdom and experience of other men, whether past or present.
It would be, indeed, a strong presumption against any man's understanding, if he did not venerate and listen to the wisdom of those great men whom God has raised up at different times as the intellectual lights of the world.
But it has been my comfort to think, that all these, so far as I have been able to study them, have received for many years the constant tribute of my admiration ; that my mind has never been suffered to want their guidance and their instruction. And if in any principle, or in the application of any principle when the circumstances were similar, I should be found to differ from these really great authorities, it would be to me as much a matter of surprise as of regret. Unhappily these great