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The motives which led to the following Publication have been already explained. Having been originally suggested by an old and intimate friend of the author, who, from the most benevolent principle, took upon him the office of Editor, it was expected that he would introduce it with such preliminary observations as he might think proper. But just as the last few sheets were printing off, he was summoned to follow his departed friend; and consequently, the parties most interested in the publication were compelled to look out for similar assistance in another quarter. The task has eventually devolved upon one, who, being very superficially acquainted with the work, (long as he had known and respected the character of the author,) feels but indifferently qualified for the office assigned to him, which he would gladly have seen in other hands. But as little more seems to be necessary than to state what the readers may expect in the volume now presented to them, he trusts that they will be satisfied with his doing this as plainly and briefly as possible.
The late Mr Baylis was for more than forty years the active and conscientious minister of a large parish in GlouCESTER, where he was required to preach twice every Sunday. It was no easy matter to provide a supply for such numerous demands; and when moreover it is considered how large a proportion of his time during the week was devoted to zealous exertions for the spiritual welfare of his flock, it would be unreasonable to expect that all, or even the greater part of the discourses of a clergyman so situated, should be exclusively original compositions. How far all the sermons contained in this volume have a claim to originality, the writer of these paragraphs is by no means prepared to say. But, be this as it may, if the doctrine be sound, and the language perspicuous, the reader may derive as much edification from them, as from works of greater fame for novelty and invention: if indeed these terms are in any degree applicable to a subject in which there is so little scope for either. It is enough to disarm criticism in the most fastidious, to be informed that the author himself had no thought of his discourses ever appearing in print. But if more than one good end be answered by it, and the character of the deceased not committed for distinguished literary qualities to which he never aspired, no blame can surely be attached to the parties concerned in the present publication.
The subjects of the following discourses are interesting and important; and treated more with a view to practical improvement, than idle speculation. There is one on each of the principal Festivals, accompanied with appropriate exhortations to a due observation of them. The doctrine of Justification, and that of the Intermediate State, are discussed in a modest and temperate manner; and the opinions of the author appear to be in perfect harmony with those of the most eminent and judicious Divines of our Church.
We trust in short, that this unpretending Volume will be acceptable to all such persons as are more inclined to serious and devotional reading, than to the mere indulgence of curiosity; that it will be no discreditable appendage to the library of private families; no unwelcome companion to their Sunday evening associations : and as we are persuaded that it contains nothing unsound in doctrine, so it will be found that the arguments in support of a moral and christian course of life, are enforced with the utmost sincerity, zeal, and affection.