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WAY OF SALVATION
À SERIES OF DISCOURSES.
PUBLISHED BY PARRY AND M'MILLAN,
(SUCCESSORS TO A, HART, LATE CAREY AND HART.)
LONDON: KNIGHT AND SON.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and
for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Printed by T. K. & P. G. Collins
THERE are two classes of Sermons. One is composed of those which enter into the permanent literature of a nation, and which take their rank with its most pure and elevated writings, as enduring monuments of argument and of style. The English language is, perhaps, more rich in this species of literature than any other. For lucid statement; for profound argument; for richness of imagination; for copiousness of illustration; for beauty of style; for just views of morals,--the sermons of Barrow, and Tillotson, and Jeremy Taylor, and South, have taken their place with the best classical writings in our language.
The other class is composed of those which are of a less exalted and permanent character, and which are adapted to meet only a local or a temporary, though it may be a very important purpose. They are addressed mainly to the passing age. They are adapted to meet some peculiar state of public opinion, or some prevailing phase of error. They are designed to illustrate the doctrines and duties of religion in the language and style of that age. They, perhaps, have some temporary and local advantage from the name of the author, or from the relations which he sustains to a particular congregation. They accomplish an important purpose on a limited scale, and then pass away, with much of the literature of past ages, to be recalled and remembered The volume of Sermons now submitted to the public does not aspire to the dignity of the former class, nor is there any hope or expectation that it will occupy that elevated rank. All the hopes cherished in respect to it will be accomplished, if it has a place of temporary usefulness among the other class of sermons referred to, and if it may be made a means, to any extent, of meeting the wants of any portion of the passing generation.
This work has been prepared at the suggestion and the request of the English publishers. As it seemed desirable that there should be some unity of design which might be expressed by an appropriate title," THE WAY OF SALVATION" has been selected as indicating, in the main, the purpose and character of the volume; and though not properly a treatise on that subject, yet it will be found, I trust, that all the Sermons have a bearing more or less direct upon the theme, and that each one will help to remove some obstacle, to explain some difficulty, or to throw some light on the points on which one inquiring how man can be saved, might desire information.
The volume is not an argument for the truth of revelation, nor is it designed formally to meet the objections of infidels, the difficulties of honest sceptics, or the sneers of cávillers. The man whom I have had in my eye in the preparation of the discourses—as I have usually had in my preaching on these and kindred topics—is not he who disbelieves because he chooses to do so; nor he who prefers to be a sceptic; nor the mere caviller, who, because he can laugh at death and the judgment, seeks to satisfy his conscience that it is right to do so; nor he who desires to find difficulties in religion because he is unwilling to submit to its claims and its restraints:--but I have had in, my eye a class of minds, much larger than is generally supposed to exist, which see real difficulties in religion which they would not be unwilling to have explained. They are minds so constituted that they see the difficulties in believing as well as the facilities for it--the things which tend to hinder it, as well as those which tend to promote it. In all communities there are probably many of this class of minds. They should not be regarded as confirmed in infidelity, and still less as disposed to cavil; but they see real difficulties in Christianity and in the plan of salvation, and they would be gratified, not offended, to find a rational solution of them. It is in vain to deny that there are such difficulties; and though he who has a mind so constituted as never to have seen them may be regarded as in some respects in a very enviable situation, yet he greatly errs in regard to human nature, and greatly underrates the magnitude of the subject of religion, who supposes that to all contemplative minds, even to candid minds, the subject appears to be free from perplexity and doubt. A perceived difficulty in the doctrines of religion-a difficulty so great as to lead to weighty and perplexing doubts-is not always proof of a depraved heart.
I may be permitted to remark, perhaps, as explaining the general character of the Sermons in this volume, that from the native tendencies of my own mind, from my early cherished habits of thought, and from my early reading, I have had this class of minds more frequently in my eye, in preaching, than any other. It has not been by avowedly meeting the arguments and difficulties of such minds; it has not been by a formal defence of the doctrines of Christianity against the objections of infidels ; it has not been by an open reply to the objections of sceptics or cavillers, but as a secret guide to my line of argument and thought, that I have had such minds almost constantly before me. My