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EVERY one, who ventures to send a
work out into the world, has some object in view which he wishes to promote, and 'must labour under considerable apprehensions for the success of his endeavours. In the publication of the following Sermons, which were not originally intended for the press, my object is Usefulness; and I cannot but feel, in common with all Authors, an anxiety about the issue of my present undertaking. I do not seek literary fame; for, I am convinced, that I deserve no such distinction. I aspire not to be ranked among those eminent Divines, whose profound learning, and mighty intellects, have stamped upon their works a character, which it falls to the lot of very few to emulate and attain.
Such an ambition, on my part, would be a presumption that would deservedly expose me to ridicule and censure. To have caught the faintest ray from those burning lights is all my pretension. I am but an humble labourer in the vineyard of Christ; but the humblest may be serviceable, may contribute his share of toil to the cultivation of the ground, and the production of the fruit. If the present publication serve to advance the honour of God, and the interests of Christianity; if, not misleading any, it convince an understanding and convert a heart; and if it obtain the praise, the only praise I seek, of being a useful work, my end will be answered, and the best wish of my heart accomplished.
These Sermons were composed and preached principally for the instruction of the inhabitants of St. Margaret's Parish, Westminster; to whom I now more particularly offer them; hoping, that what they have listened to with so much patience, when delivered from the Pulpit, may be a means of further edification to them, when perused in the Closet. Every tribute of respect I can pay, every mark
of gratitude I can show, every exertion for their spiritual welfare I can make, is abundantly due from me to them; for never was greater favour and attention shown to any minister, than they have constantly manifested towards me. I have long felt the obligation, and, I hope, I shall be thought to have discharged it to the utmost of my ability.
Whatever be my future destination, I trust that neither time nor distance will occasion, on my part, a forgetfulness of past kindness, nor diminish my regard for those, whose anxious desire to be instructed in the knowledge of the Gospel, has given energy and facility to my labours, and in whose service I have spent many happy years of my ministry. Should it please Providence to remove me to another charge, the occasional perusal of this Volume may bring to their remembrance their affectionate Lecturer, whose heart, though engaged in other cares and in new connexions, will never, while it retains the power of sensation, cease to own the attachment, which is now its pleasure and its pride.
I cannot close this Preface without returning my warmest acknowledgments to those, who, in their endeavours to serve me in the present undertaking, have evinced a friendship too sincere and gratifying ever to be forgotten, too great and generous ever to be adequately repaid. From my heart I thank them. I have long been attached to them by the bond of affection, and am now drawn more closely to them than ever by the tie of gratitude.