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In the publication of modern Sermons, too little attention appears to have been paid to the illiterate classes of the Community. Some attempts indeed have been made to furnish them with Discourses adapted to their capacities ; but without any disparagement to these attempts, it may be safely asserted, that the supply has not been adequate to the demand. The considerate Clergyman can find but few volumes written with such plainness of language, as to allow of his circulating them in his Parish, with the hope of their being generally understood.
This is a defect, which the writer, in common with many other Parochial Ministers, has long felt and deplored ; and which it is his desire and endeavour by the present publication in some measure to remedy. How far he has succeeded in the attempt,
his readers must determine. For his own part he freely confesses, that he has fallen far short of that imaginary standard, which he had proposed to his own mind for imitation.
He is not indeed of opinion, that no word is to be introduced into a Sermon, which is not in itself intelligible to every person who hears it. Such a degree of refinement he scarcely believes to be attainable : nor, if attainable, does he deem it necessary. The general impression of a discourse may be very powerful, though the precise meaning of every word be not distinctly apprehended. If the ideas be simple, and the train of thought level to the understanding, the occasional occurrence of a word or a phrase, somewhat less intelligible, will not so interrupt the sense, as probably even to weaken, much less to destroy, the main effect; while in a very studious endeavour to adapt the style of a discourse to the capacity of the ignorant, there is a danger of becoming insipid or vulgar; and thus of exciting
impatience and disgust in another part of the congregation, whose favourable attention it is equally important to conciliate and secure. On these grounds the Writer has not paid that minute attention to the Phraseology of his Sermons, which the supposed Canon of composition, if rigidly enforced, would require. Where a word or phrase, not strictly level to the lowest capacity, could not have been omitted or changed, without evident injury to the sense or force of a passage, he has suffered it to remain. He trusts, however, that such instances will be found to be rare; and that few places will occur, which the unlearned cannot suffici. ently understand.
As to the Doctrines which characterise this volume, the Writer in a former publication has given a pledge of what may be expected. The same leading doctrines of the Gospel, which he before attempted to elucidate, are those, which in his present work he aims to enforce and disseminate. He then fully believed them to be the Doce
trines of the Bible, and of the Church of England; and he has since found no reason to alter his opinion.
It only remains for him to express his earnest wishes, that the Divine Blessing may attend this humble endeavour, and make it instrumental in glorifying God, and saying souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord !