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That it was the intention of the Author to follow his Series of Discourses on the Principal Parables of our Lord, after the lapse of a suitable interval, with a similar Series on his Principal Miracles, he has no hesitation in avowing.
At the same time he may be permitted to add, that that intention was more promptly executed, in consequence both of the favourable manner in which his former work was received, and of the special suggestion of an experienced clerical friend, who has long occupied an important station of extensive usefulness; and who, after perusing the Discourses on the Parables, strongly urged him to enter upon the additional work which he has at length completed, and which he now ventures to lay before the public.
His great object has been, to render the Discourses contained in this Volume, as instructive and practical as he could. He is prepared to expect, indeed, that, in some instances, the length of narrative will be thought tedious. This he has found to be an inconvenience which he could not altogether obviate ; but, at the same time, he has endeavoured, and, he trusts, not entirely without success,--to relieve the tedium of protracted detail, by the occasional introduction of a practical remark, a solemn appeal to the conscience, or a devout and earnést aspiration ;while a more direct improvement of each subject has · been attempted in the concluding portion of the Discourse in which it has been treated.
He has sometimes thought that less scope has been afforded for variety, in this than in his former Series ; and perhaps it will be found that, in some instances, a similarity of subjects has occasioned a considerable resemblance, or even a sameness, of inference, and deduction. As the Discourses, however, will probably, for the most part, be perused at sufficient intervals, this circumstance will not, perhaps, be thought a material objection.
With the 'sentiments which have recently been advanced, and in some parts eagerly espoused, on the subject of miraculous powers, as though they were still continued in the Christian Church, and ready to be exercised by the followers of our Lord, under the influence of a vigorous faith,--the Author has nothing more to do, than solemnly to deprecate them. To the following observations from one of the continuators of Poole's Annotations on Matt. xxi. 21, 22, which he may be permitted here to introduce,-he can most cordially subscribe. ,
" I see no reason to discourse of a faith of mira“cles, as different from other faith ; which only “ thus differed, that the disciples (the Apostles I " mean) had, a power given them, and a promise " made to them, that they should be able to work “ miraculous operations, which is not given to other " Christians, serving only the particular occasions " of that time, to give credit to the Gospel. The “ general proposition is true, and shall be made “good to every believer ; that whatsoever good is “ made the matter of a promise (such are all 4 things) shall be given to believing souls, praying “ for them. But there were of old special promises, “not made to the people of God in general, but to "particular persons, for particular ends; we cannot “ expect to do, or obtain such things now. Nothing " is too big for true faith to obtain, but that faith “ must have a promise to lean upon, and it must be " shewed by prayer, as ver. 22.”
While the Author has thought proper to introduce these observations, as bearing upon recent events to which no further allusion is necessary, he begs to remind his readers, that the miracles to which their attention will be directed in the following Discourses are exclusively those of our Lord himself.
In this, as well as in his former Volume, he has had a special view to “ the purposes of domestic reading ;” and has, consequently, made it his endeavour to comprise each Discourse within moderate limits. In the two together, he trusts he may, in some degree, haye met the wishes of those esteemed friends, by whom he has been repeatedly urged to add his portion to the provision already made for the use of pious families, in places where there is not the
opportunity of attending an Evening Service on the Lord's day.
In conclusion, he commends this, as he would all his efforts in the same cause, to the Divine blessing; earnestly praying that the grace of the Holy Spirit may accompany the perusal of these pages, or the hearing of their contents; that they may be subservient to the glory of God, and conducive to the salvation of immortal souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Sheffield, July 14, 1831.
p. 269. 1. 7. for ' existing,' read' exciting.'