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THE MOST REVEREND
LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY,
PRIMATE OF ALL ENGLAND,
IN HUMBLE TESTIMONY OF RESPECT
FOR THE FIRMNESS, MODERATION, AND EMINENT ABILITY,
WITH WHICH, IN TIMES OF REPROACH AND DANGER,
HE HAS MAINTAINED
THE DIGNITY OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
AS A NATIONAL INSTITUTION,
WHILE HIS VIRTUES ILLUSTRATE ITS EXCELLENCE
AS A SPIRITUAL SOCIETY,
THIS VOLUME IS INSCRIBED,
HIS GRACE'S MOST SINCERE
AND DEVOTED SERVANT,
SAMUEL JAMES ALLEN.
THE subject of the Lectures now submitted to the public, was suggested by a persevering course of attack on the Established Church carried on in the author's immediate neighbourhood; and by his observation that in consequence of the almost exclusive direction of pulpit instruction to the essentials of faith and practice, many conscientious attendants on the services of the Church were but imperfectly acquainted with the principles on which its distinguishing regulations depend, and therefore but ill prepared to detect the fallacies employed to detach them from its cause.
His situation and engagements allowed of little resort to books, and after the controversies of the last two centuries, the subject can to a student, have little freshness of interest; but some new points there are, in the line of attack or defence at present occupied between the church and dissent; on others, the revival of old sophistries requires the reproduction of old refutations; and, as a persuasion that what had satisfied his own mind might also be of use to his neighbours, induced him at first to give utterance to the results of his own reading and observation, the expression of a like persuasion on the part of those who heard him, has now induced him to allow them the chance of a somewhat wider circulation.
Had he met, at the commencement of his course, with several familiar works on this argument now in general and deserved estimation, both determinations might have been prevented, and neither the public nor the author perhaps have had cause for regret: but almost every one who thinks at all has his own mode of thinking, which may possibly throw additional light on some part of a proposition however frequently held up to view by others; and every one has his own range of influence, within which it becomes him to do what he can however humbly and imperfectly, for the promotion of good and the prevention of evil.
He is conscious of no fondness for controversy; and has the earliest and closest connexions with members of the dissenting body; but it has not been his habit to consider the temperate discussion of an important point of difference, as necessarily involving the slightest diminution of friendly and affectionate feeling; and at all events, the
course taken by the ostensible leaders of that body, has but the more and more convinced him during the progress of his inquiries, that the present is no time for silence and quiescence, on the part of any one who values the interests, or even the existence, of the Church of England.
Most of the following Lectures were delivered at St. Peter's Church, Blackburn, on the Thursday evenings during Lent, 1833, or those immediately subsequent.
The subject was resumed before the University of Cambridge, in consequence of the author's appointment as afternoon preacher at St. Mary's, on the Sundays in January, 1834, and the substance of the first, fourth, seventh, and eleventh Lectures, was there delivered; but considerable alterations have been requisite both in matter and arrangement, in order to their publication as parts of a continuous course.
No apology, it is hoped, is needed, for copious extracts in the notes from works already in extensive circulation, the illustration of the argument as a whole, by the concentration of such detached evidence, being the author's immediate object.