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An attempt is made in the following sermons to apply the principles of the Gospel as closely and directly as possible to the ordinary affairs of life. Without, as it is hoped, derogating from the gravity and dignity of the pulpit, or descending to unseemly familiarity, the common duties of society are spoken of in plain terms; and Christians are told without reserve or circumlocution what are the requirements of their respective stations.
Continual observation has taught me that such a style of preaching is more calculated to fix the attention of an audience, and makes a more lasting impression on them, than the vague application which one often hears. And I am convinced that for want of plain language, it frequently happens that a great part of the congregation miss the instruction intended. They are informed perhaps of some Scriptural truth, but at a loss how to use it :-at least they receive no fixed and definite impression to what particular duties it applies.
Hence also the pernicious notion has gained ground, that religion is a separate and independent concern. People go home from Church with a satisfied feeling, that they have performed a duty, rather that an anxiety to carry with them the instruction which they have heard, and to apply it to the amendment of their lives. Instead of bringing Religion to bear on every thought, word and deed, and using it as the only safe guide in the hourly path of duty, they seem to think it an unnecessary and unwelcome intruder, except in what they term “its proper place.” As if every place were not proper for religion !-as if it were “good for us to be” in any place without it! As if the Gospel light should not illumine our daily walk, and cast a
glow of holiness over every portion of our conduct! I am not advocating the introduction of religious topics, but insisting on the need of religious principle at all times, and in all places ; of making Religion the basis,-not the ostentatious, but no less the real basis,-of all we do, and say, and think.
With regard to the question of mixing Religion with politics, (if indeed it be possible for them to be separated except in that heart where one at least is altogether a stranger,) I should have thought it a truth self-evident to every Christian that Religion has to do with every thing. Right conduct in politics is as much the effect of Religion, and of that only, as right conduct in every other business in which we can be engaged.
But as this does not seem to be to all persons so self-evident a truth as to myself, I shall enter upon it rather more at length, premising only that the tone of the present publication must not be taken as a sample of the ordinary preaching which I advocate. On the contrary, I
have only been able to find, amongst the labours of ten or twelve years, the few discourses connected with politics which are contained in this volume. It is the introduction of such topics in their turn, amidst the routine of parochial instruction, and on suitable occasions", which I am prepared to justify.
In the first place I would state without reservation, that I conceive the doctrine,
Ву “ suitable occasions" I do not mean when people's minds are agitated. No time can be more unsuitable. The slightest allusion made to politics when a congregation is inflamed by any local or public cause of excitement will give offence and do harm. Even the most affectionate exhortation to good will and charity will be liable to be set down as an unwarrantable interference. But when their minds are calm, we may enter upon these subjects fearlessly and with advantage ; only let it be with due caution not to speak unadvisedly. The occasions to which I allude are the political fasts and festivals of the Church. And still more when the Scripture of the day brings the subject before us. For sermons on social duties, I think the Sundays preceding Advent, when the book of Proverbs is read, the most suitable occasions,