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own mind has suggested what I have supposed they would suggest; and in meeting difficulties which have occurred to
; me, I have supposed that I have also met those which would occur to them. I cannot here repress the acknowledgment of the debt which, in this respect, I owe to “Butler's Analogy"
a work which has met more difficulties in my own mind, and aided me more in preaching, than any other work of uninspired composition. A careful reader of these Sermons will perceive that, in their preparation, I owe to that great work even much more than can be expressed by such a general acknowledgment.
These remarks may suffice to explain the pervading character of this volume of Sermons. In their general arrangement, they begin with a consideration of the claims of the Bible as a guide on the subject of religion (Sermon 1.), and with an effort to show (Sermon 11.) that the acknowledged obscurities in that book should not deter us from accrediting its claims; with a statement (Sermon 1.) of the claims of Christianity, and an attempt to show (Sermon iv.) that the condition of man could not be benefited by the rejection of Christianity, and that the same difficulties precisely would remain, with no known method whatever of relief. The next object (Sermon v.) is to show that Christianity reveals the true ground of the importance attributed to man in the plan of salvation; that the earth is fitted to be a place of probation (Sermon v1.), and that man is actually on probation (Sermon vir.); and that in religion, as in other things, he should accommodate himself to what are the actual arrangements of the Divine government (Sermon VIII.) The next object is to explain the condition in which the Gospel FINDS man- as an actual state which Christianity did not originate, for which it is not responsible, and which is a simple matter of fact in which all men
are equally interested, whatever system of religion may be true or false (Sermon ix.); a state which naturally prompts to the inquiry what must be done in order to be saved--an inquiry which springs up in the heart of man everywhere, and in reference to which man pants for an answer (Sermon x.) This is followed (Sermons XI.-XIV.) by a description of the struggles of a convicted sinner--and by an attempt to show what is necessary, in the nature of things, to give peace to a mind in that condition. To meet the case, the mind thus anxious is directed to the
of God (Sermon xv.), and the effort is made to show that it is only an atonement for sin that can give permanent peace to the soul conscious of guilt (Sermons XVI., XVII.) The doctrine of Regeneration, or the new birth, is then considered (Sermons XVIII.—XX.); an attempt is made to vindicate and explain the conditions -repentance and faith—which are made necessary to salvation, and to show not only their place in a revealed system of religion, but their relation to the human mind and the circumstances in which man is placed (Sermons XXI.—XXVIII.); and the whole series is closed (Sermons XXIX.-XXXVI.) by a consideration of the nature of justification, or the method by which a sinner may be just with God.
It will be seen that these topics embrace the most material and important inquiries which come before the mind on the question how man may be saved ; and if a correct representation is given of them, they will furnish to an inquirer after truth a just view of the way of salvation.
I commit this volume to the public with the hope that it may be found to be a safe guide on the most momentous inquiry which can come before the human mind. I have abundant occasion for gratitude for the manner in which the volumes that I have published heretofore have been received by the British public, as well as by my own countrymen; and I would hope that this volume may contribute something to the diffusion of the knowledge of the great principles of religious duty and doctrine which it has been the labour of my life to illustrate and defend.