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The two volumes now before the reader, it is presumed, contain all the sermons that have ever been published in Mr. Wesley's name, either by himself, or by those persons who had access to his papers
after his decease. In the first volume are comprised all the sermons that were published in four volumes in the duodecimo size, in the year 1771, to which reference is made in the trust deeds of the Methodist chapels, as containing, with Mr. Wesley's Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament, the standard doctrines of the religious connexion, of which that eminent man was the founder. It is to these sermons, that the general preface, which immediately succeeds this advertisement, properly belongs.
The six discourses, which immediately succeed, were published by Mr.Wesley in a separate form, and do not appear to have been embodied. during his life time in any of those collections of sermons with which he favoured the Christian world. Among these discourses will be found two of peculiar interest. One of them relates to the work of God in North America. It bears the date of 1778; but was reprinted about twenty years afterwards, with a few alterations. The other discourse is on the subject of earthquakes. It was first published in 1750 ; in all probability within a few weeks of the memorable eighth day of March in that year, on which the shock of an earthquake was strongly felt in the metropolis of Great Britain, and excited general consternation and alarm. Although this impressive sermon was published ano. nymously, no doubt can be entertained as to its being the production of Mr. Wesley's pen. The sentiments and manner are purely Wesleyan; and it is also advertised for sale, among his other single sermons, in several of Mr. Wesley's old catalogues. Both these sermons have long been extremely rare; and were overlooked by the late editor of Mr. Wesley's works in sixteen octavo volumes.
The first part of the second volume has fifty-five discourses, which first appeared in the Arminian Magazine; they were afterwards revised by Mr. Wesley, and published in four duodecimo volumes, in the year 1788. To these four volumes was prefixed the laconic and characteristic preface of the author, which will be found at the commencement of the secend volume of this present edition. The sermons contained in these volumes were very incorrectly printed; and as no table of emata was ever published, the errors with which they abound have been either perpetuated in succeeding editions, or superseded by con.
jectural emendations. In the edition now before the reader, those errors are all carefully expunged, and the true reading of every passage is given on the best possible authority, that of Mr. Wesley himself, from a copy of his sermons, corrected with his own hand, and now deposited in his library at City Road, London. By the aid of this invaluable document, several passages in those interesting and instructive dis. courses, which before were scarcely intelligible, are now published in a form worthy of their excellent author.—To these fifty-five discourses are added seventeen others, which were also drawn up by Mr. Wesley for insertion in the Arminian Magazine. After appearing in that period. ical work, they were reprinted in a small duodecimo volume, bearing the date of 1800, and forming the ninth volume of Mr. Wesley's ser. mons in that convenient size. Some of these were left by their author in manuscript; and none of them were revised by him after they had appeared in print.—The eight discourses, which follow, were copied from Mr. Wesley's papers after his decease, but never designed by him for publication. Some of these were partly transcribed from other au. thors; particularly from Dr. Calamy; and all the rest, excepting the valuable sermon translated from the Latin by Dr. Adam Clarke, appear to have been written before Mr. Wesley obtained those correct views of Divine truth, which afterwards rendered his ministry so eminently sucó cessful; and perhaps ought therefore never to have been committed to the press. They are here reprinted, because, having been already presented to the public, the omission of them would be considered as rendering any edition of Mr. Wesley's sermons incomplete.
To the whole is now added, for the first time, a copious Index; by which the reader may easily refer to every subject of importance, on which he may wish to ascertain Mr. Wesley's opinions. This useful appendage to all books, the contents of which are of a miscellaneous description, has long been regarded as a desideratum to those incom. parable and truly evangelical discourses. It is annexed to the first volume, as being of more importance than the other.
It is only needful to add, that in preparing these volumes for publica. tion, and in conducting them through the press, no exertion has been spared to ensure perfect accuracy. Copies of the most authentic editions of Mr. Wesley's sermons, printed in his life time, have been carefully collated throughout; and every effort has been made, to pre. sent to the Christian world, what has never been published before, an edition of Mr. Wesley's sermons, at once complete and correct.
THOMAS JACKSON. ondon, Feb. 8th, 1825.
The following Sermons contain the substance of what I have been preaching for between eight and nine years last past.* During that time I have frequently spoken in public, on every subject in the ensu. ing collection : and I am not conscious, that there is any one point of doctrine, on which I am accustomed to speak in public, which is not here, incidentally, if not professedly, laid before every Christian reader. Every serious man, who peruses these, will therefore see in the clear. est manner, what these doctrines are, which I embrace and teach, as the essentials of true religion.
2. But I am throughly sensible, these are not proposed in such a manner as some may expect. Nothing here appears in an elaborate, elegant, or oratorical dress. If it had been my desire or design to write thus, my leisure would not permit. But, in truth, I, at present, designed nothing less ; for I now write, as I generally speak, ad populum : to the bulk of mankind, to those who neither relish nor understand the art of speaking; but who, notwithstanding, are competent judges of those truths, which are necessary to present and future happiness. I mention this, that curious readers may spare themselves the labour of seeking for what they will not find.
3. I design plain truth for plain people: therefore, of set purpose, I abstain from all nice and philosophical speculations; from all perplexed and intricate reasonings; and, as far as possible, from even the show of learning, unless in sometimes citing the original Scripture. I labour to avoid all words which are not easy to be understood, all which are not used in common life; and, in particular, those kinds of technical terms that so frequently occur in bodies of divinity,—those modes of speaking, which men of reading are intimately acquainted with, but which, to common people, are an unknown tongue. Yet I am not assured, that I do not sometimes slide into them unawares: it is so extremely natural to imagine, that a word which is familiar to ourselves is so to all the world.
4. Nay, my design is, in some sense, to forget all that ever I have read in my life. I mean to speak, in the general, as if I had never read one author, ancient or modern : (always excepting the inspired.) I am persuaded, that on the one hand, this may be a means of enabling me more clearly to express the sentiments of my heart, while I simply
* In the year 1747.
follow the chain of my own thoughts, without entangling myself with those of other men; and that, on the other, I shall come with fewer weights upon my mind, with less of prejudice and prepossession either to search for myself, or to deliver to others the naked truths of the Gospel.
5. To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life, as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till a few moments hence, I am no more seen! I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing, the way to heaven : how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end he came from
He hath written it down in a book! Oh give me that book ! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri.* Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone : only God is here. In his presence I open, I read this book; for this end, to find the
to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read ? Does any thing appear dark or intricate ? I lift up my heart to the Father of lights.—Lord, is it not thy word, " If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God ?" Thou "givest liberally and upbraidest not.” Thou hast said, “ If any be willing to do thy will, he shall know.” I am willing to do : let me know thy will. I then search after, and consider parallel passages of Scripture, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual. I meditate thereon, with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God; and then, the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach.
6. I have accordingly set down in the following sermons, what I find in the Bible concerning the way to heaven; with a view to distinguish this way of God, from all those which are the inventions of
I have endeavoured to describe the true, the scriptural, experimental religion, so as to omit nothing which is a real part thereof, and to add nothing thereto which is not. And herein it is more especially my desire, first, to guard those who are just setting their faces towards heaven, (and who, having little acquaintance with the things of God, are the more liable to be turned out of the way,) from formality, from mere outside religion, which has almost driven heart religion out of the world; and, secondly, to warn those who know the religion of the heart, the faith which worketh by love, lest at any time they make void the law through faith, and so fall back into the snare of the devil.
* A man of one book.