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DEDICATION.

TO

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, Esq.

MY DEAR AND HONOURED FRIEND, UNKNOWN as you are, in the true character either of your mind or of your heart, to the greater part of your countrymen, and misrepresented as your works have been, by those who have the ear of the vulgar, it will seem wonderful to many that I should make choice of you, from the circle of my friends, to dedicate to you these beginnings of my thoughts upon the most important subject of these or times. And when I state the reason to be, that you have been more profitable to my faith in orthodox doctrine, to my spiritual understanding of the Word of God, and to my right conception of the Christian Church, than any or all of the men with whom I have entertained

any

friendship and conversation, it will perhaps still more astonish the mind, and stagger the belief, of those who have adopted, as once I did myself, the misrepresentations which are purchased for a hire and vended for a price, concerning your. character and works. You have only to shut your ear to what they ignorantly say of you, and earnestly to meditate the deep thoughts with which you are instinct, and give them a suitable body and form that they may live, then silently commit them to the good sense of ages yet to come, in order to be ranked hereafter amongst the most gifted sages and greatest benefactors of your country. Enjoy and occupy the quiet which, after many trials, the providence of God hath bestowed upon you, in the bosom of your friends; and may you be spared until you have made known the multitude of your thoughts, unto those who at present value, or shall hereafter arise to value, their worth.

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I have partaken so much high intellectual enjoyment from being admitted into the close and familiar intercourse with which you have

honoured me, and your many conversations concerning the revelations of the Christian faith have been so profitable to me in every sense, as a student and a preacher of the Gospel, as a spiritual man and a Christian pastor, and your high intelligence and great learning have at all times so kindly stooped to my ignorance and inexperience, that not merely with the affection of friend to friend, and the honour due from youth to experienced age, but with the gratitude of a disciple to a wise and generous teacher, of an anxious inquirer to the good man who hath helped him in the way of truth, I do now presume to offer you the first-fruits of my mind since it received a new impulse towards truth, and a new insight into its depths, from listening to your discourse. Accept them in good part, and be assured that however insignificant in themselves, they are the offering of a heart which loves your heart, and of a mind which looks up with reverence to your mind.

EDWARD IRVING.

PREFACE.

HAVING been requested by the LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY to preach upon the occasion of their last anniversary, I willingly complied, without much thought of what I was undertaking; but when I came to reflect upon the sacredness and importance of the cause given into my hands, and the dignity of the audience before which I had to discourse, it seemed to my conscience that I had undertaken a duty full of peril and responsibility, for which I ought to prepare myself with every preparation of the mind and of the spirit. To this end, retiring into the quiet and peaceful country, among a society of men devoted to every good and charitable work, I searched the Scriptures in secret; and in their pious companies conversed of the convictions which were secretly brought to my mind concerning the Missionary work. And thus, not without much prayer to God and self-devotion, I meditated those things which I delivered in public

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