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Most of those truths of experimental and practical Christianity, (the only Christianity that will afford any one comfort at a dying hour,) to which I have believed myself to be called of God to bear Testimony, and which, in conjunction with my Brethren, I have been labouring, for upwards of thirty years, to propagate in most parts of Great Britain, are here explained and enforced accord. ing to the best ability God hath given me. The end I have had in view, in writing and publisha ing these Sermons, is the same that I have pursued thro' the whole course of my Ministry, and that is simply and only to glorify God in the Reformation and Salvation of my fellow-creatures. 1 have therefore not studied elegance of style, or the oratorical ornaments of speech, because, if I could have attained to this excellency, and have spared the time which this kind of composition would have cost me, I had no reason to suppose that it would either have recommended thefe Sermons to such, as it was probable, would peruse them, or have given the truths contained in them a greater influence on their minds. But I have endeavoured to write, exactly as I always wilh to preach, in a plain, clear, and intelligible manner; and with such a proper arrangement of the matter, and such a connexion of the parts of each discourse, as seemed best calculated to assist the conceptions and memories of my Readers. I have studied also to write with some degree of force and energy, especially in the applicatory part of each
Sermon. How far I have succeeded, muft be left to the public to judge. I am, however, not without hope, that as I am conscious I have written, as I trust I generally speak, from the heart, so that fome part at least of these plain and unadorned Discourses will reach the hearts of those Readers, that receive the Truth as it is in Jesus, with attentive and unprejudiced minds, and in a fpirit of prayer.
This laft obfervation is of vast importance. For, if as St. Paul declares, “ The natural man difcerneth not the things of God, nor can he know them, because they are fpiritually discerned;"_if, “ The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God," it is not to be fupposed that these truths of fpiritual and experimental religion, which are here declared, will be either difcerned or relished, by those who do not fincerely and fervently pray for “ the Spirit of wisdom and revelation," any more than by thofe who do not endeavour to diveft their minds of prejudice, and to consider seriously what is advanced. This therefore, I cannot but most earnestly recommend to all my Readers.
I must also advife them rather to read these Discourses, in the order in which they are here placed, than in any other. For, altho' they were neither written, nor first published in this order, yet I believe they will be read with most advantage according to it; as each preceding Sermon will thus, in general, prepare the mind to under
stand and relish the following, and cach following Sermon will illustrate and confirm the preceding.
I had intended to include in this Volume, all the Sermons I have published, but found that this would swell the size of the book too much. - I have therefore omitted such as have appeared in our Magazine, or have been published in single Sermons, within the last six or eight years ; intending, if it please God to preserve my life and health a little longer, to prepare for the Press a second Volume ; which, if the Conference judge proper, may hereafter be presented to our Societies, and the public at large. But this design is, yet but in embryo. And I know not what a few years, or even days may bring forth. Altho', I thank God, my health and strength are yet as firm as ever for labouring in the Lord's Vineyard, yet I know the shades of the evening are coming fast upon me, and I too am following those of my Fathers and Brethren that have gone before me to “ the house appointed for all living.” May I be enabled to do honour to my profession in this last stage of my Christian course, as they in general have done in theirs ; and may I experience those fupports and confolations in my last moments, which they were favoured with, in their dying chambers, and may I find my everlasting lot with these Saints and Servants of the Most High! Amen!
New-Chapel, City-Road, London,
Jan, 26, 1802.