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IT would be much to be regretted if ever the
custom of assembling for divine worship after dark, instead of after noon, should generally prevail against the more suitable employment of our sabbath evenings in the exercise of domestic devotion. Such at least is the conclusion to which the author must own that he has arrived, after carefully balancing the advantages and disadvantages of a nocturnal service. And in adapting to the use of families this volume of Discourses, he has designed especially to furnish matter of profitable reading, for those later hours of the Lord's day, which he is convinced are in most cases best spent in the sanctuary of home. With this view he has selected from his parochial sermons such as either for their subject, or the manner of treating it, seemed most fit for reading aloud to an assembled family; slightly altering those passages which were exclusively adapted to a more large or a more mixt congregation. Many expressions - however remain which will indicate that the Sermons were composed for pulpit use. But these may be not unwelcome to the domestic
circle, if they serve, by association, to recal to the mind the same serious and heavenly frame, which it is accustomed to maintain at church.
In this selection the author has also purposely embodied several of those amongst his Sermons, which have been digested from the publications of others. For these he reckons among the best that he has to offer to the public. And he is glad to take an opportunity of remarking to beginners in the ministry, how profitable they would find it, both to themselves and to their congregations, to take often some of the sermons of our many excellent divines for the foundation of their own compositions. In the general diffusion of ability to write, and the general disuse of merely copying a printed sermon, there seems to be risk, that many will write rashly for themselves, who might do better to borrow from their neighbours. There is risk, too, that our hearers may lose the benefit of what has been so well preached by our predecessors, that no man, however able, can put it better. The following references will point to the several sources, from which the contents of this volume have been in some instances derived.
Sermon II. See a sermon on this text by Baxter, published singly, London, 1660. No doubt it is to be found also in his Works.
Amongst these, the Saints' Rest judiciously abridged would form an invaluable manual of edification.
Sermon III. See a treatise entitled The Art of Divine Contentment. By Thomas Watson. Reprinted. Seely. 1829. A most striking tract, in the old style of strong language, but forced conceits.
Sermon XII. See the skeleton of a sermon in p. 35. of Cox's Life of Fletcher. Butterworth. 1822. A most interesting memoir; but rather a Panegyric than a Life.
Sermon XV. See Skelton. Works, IV. p. 300. Dublin. 1770. This will be found a valuable writer as a guide in the composition of sermons.
Sermon XIX. This sermon is designed to convey the benefit of an application of the text, which appears to have been greatly overstrained, in A View of the Scripture Revelations concerning a Future State. By a Country Pastor. Fellows. 1829. Lect. 12.
Sermon XX. See here Skelton, Works, VII. 395. Also Hooker's Discourse on Justification. Works, III. 435. Oxford. 1820. A treatise above all censure; an author above all praise.
In the Appendix also it is to be observed, that the prayers relating to the Cholera, No. II, are merely those put forth by authority, with some alterations which it is hoped will make them
better suited for domestic use. The last prayer in No. III. is taken from one by bishop Wilson. Works, I. 43. No. VII. has been adopted by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; and will be found in their select Prayers for the use of Schools. Catalogue. No. 393. No. VIII. may serve for a help to those masters of families who are accustomed or inclined to read to them from the Scriptures. It is designed to exemplify how any particular event which occurs may be turned to some profitable use, by substituting, for the order of the day, some appropriate passage and remarks.