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THESE Sermons, again offered to the public, stand in no need of any recommendation, having their praise already in the Churches; and for any to attempt it, would be doing a real injury to the worthy Authors, who are already well known by their useful labours. However, the Editor of the present edition begs leave to observe, for the information of such of the purchasers, in this country, as may not be so thoroughly acquainted with them, That among the many excellent treatises, written by divines of distinguished merit, either in this or our neighbouring kingdom, on the peculiar doctrines of Christiani. ty, it has been justly observed, that none of them contain an illustration and defence of so many of the essential articles of the Christian system, as these volumes now handsomely printed, chiefly designed for the benefit of this nation, and known by the name of LIME-STREET SERMONS.
The occasion of composing these discourses, arose from a number of Gentlemen in London, firmly attached to the interest of our Divine Redeemer, and filled with a fervent zeal for the purity of the doctrines of revelation, taking into their consideration, that many evangelical truths, of the last importance, were not only secretly undermined, but violently opposed in their day, by subtle adversaries to the Gospel scheme; and, accordingly, they judged it proper to set up a public Lecture, that a course of Sermons might be preached in DEFENCE of sundry cardinal doctrines, then so openly impugned.
This laudable proposal met with the most hearty approbation from the lovers of the truth as it is in Jesus. According,
cannot be got for any money; and a second-hand copy of them has often cost Twelve Shillings.
On all these accounts, it is hoped this neat edition will meet with suitable encouragement from the friends of truth; especially from those who have often wished, that an edition of them were published at a moderate price. And if this meets with a favourable reception from the public, it will readily induce the Editor to republish, in handsome volumes, the labours of some other authors of distinguished abilities, in our neighbour. ing nation, which cannot now be bad, but at a very advanced price.
When doctrines of pure revelation are opposed, it is the duty of all who believe them, to appear in their defence: and this is really engaging in a noble cause; it is standing up for the honour of the great God, against those who set their imperfect reason, and proud conceits, above infinite wisdom. To strive for the faith once delivered to the saints, is most necessary, when it meets with the contradiction of sinners. As error never raged with greater violence than it does in our unhappy times, and as lukewarmness never discovered itself more, than in the present day of darkness, it never could be more expedient than now, to plead for the glorious gospel of the blessed God. The sufficiency of the light of nature is warmly contended for, by such as do not profess to reject revelation; and most of the doctrines of scripture have been given up, one after another, by some who yet declare that the Bible is their religion. It is therefore now time, if ever, for those who see no reason to renounce the old Protestant doctrines, the glory of the Reformation, to bear their testimony against the errors of the day, and to stand up for the great truths, which have been handed to them by their fathers, and which they have embraced, not merely because they have received them from the worthies who have gone before them, but because, after strict and impartial examination, they find that these, and no other, are the doctrines revealed in scripture.
Near two years since, some Gentlemen, who, it is hoped, have a true zeal, and a hearty concern, for the interest of Christ, judged it proper to set up a Lecture, for one winter and spring season, that a course of Sermons might be preached, in defence of several truths, which they reckoned to be of the last importance, and which are, in our time, violently opposed. Nine Ministers, who were chosen for this work, cheerfully undertook it. When this course was finished, it was the unanimous desire of the Gentlemen, that they would print their Sermons; with which request they have complied, hoping to do some service, if it is only by establishing wavering minds in the great doctrines which are now matter of contest.
These Discourses we now submit to the candid per. usal of serious and judicious persons. We have not entered upon the direct proof of the truth of our holy religion, because it was not our design to engage with proper Deists, but with erroneous professors of Christianity. The great doctrines of the blessed trinity, and of the Person of Christ, we have not meddled with; seeing several of us have treated largely upon them before, and our labours are in many hands. Some thoughts which we had not time to deliver from the pulpit, we have taken the liberty to add. The bodily indispositions of some of our number, which ended in death, as to one,t who was a real credit to the cause, have occasioned a much greater delay in publishing this work, than was apprehended, when it was first put to the press, which is nearly a year since. .
• This Lecture was begun at the Meeting in Lime-street, where the Rev. Mr. Bragge statedly preaches, on November 12th, 1730, and was continued weekly, till April 8th, 1731.
+ The Rev. Mr. John Hurrion.
We can each of us say, as to ourselves, that we have advanced nothing but what we believe to be true, and agreeable to scripture. If any, with meekness, gravity, and impartiality, shall think fit to object against what we have laid down, we hope we shall be enabled, by the Holy Spirit, to plead for the things of God; being desirous of nothing more than to establish the truth as it is in Jesus. But if any should pursue us with rancour and reviling, with banter and grimace, we shall pass by such treatment with pity and silence. Or, should they, who shall be disposed to animadvert upon what we have delivered, in the following Sermons, charge upon us the sentiments of particular persons, we shall leave those concerned to vindicate their own tenets.
We recommend the whole of what we have done to the blessing of that good Master, for whose glory we plead, and whose battles we fight. And we would humbly hope, that our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, the word of whose patience we desire to keep, and in defence of which we now appear, will make our endeavours to be of real service, to establish pious persons in the belief of the doctrines in dispute, and to furnish them with some weapons, to repel the attacks of gainsayers.