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A WORK which the Author published a few Fears since, on the Duties of Church Members, concludes with the following sentence :„“Let us remember, that HUMILITY and LOVE are the necessary fruits of our doctrines, the highest beauty of our character, and the guardian angels of our churches.” To prove and elucidate this sentiment, and to state, at greater length than it was possible for him to do in that treatise, the nature, operations, and importance of CHARITY ; he was induced to enter upon a series of Discourses on the chapter which is the subject of this volume: these Discourses, although, of course, very practical, were heard with much attention, and apparent interest.
Before they were finished, many requests were presented for
their publication; a promise was given to that effect, and the intention announced to the Public. On a further inspection of his notes, the Author saw so littie that was either novel, or on any account worthy to meet the public eye, that he had for two years quite abandoned his intention of printing. Circumstances which need not be mentioned, together with frequent inquiries from his friends after the forthcoming treatise, drew his attention again to the subject a few months since, and revived the original purpose of sending from the press the substance of these plain and practical Discourses, That intention is now executed; with what results, the sovereign grace of Jehovah, to which it is humbly commended, must determine.
The Author offers this volume primarily and chiefly to his own friends, to whom it is dedicated. He has, however, by publishing it, placed it within the reach of the Public, though he can truly say, that he does not expect much interest to be produced by his work, in the minds of many, beyond those who are prepared, by friendship, to value it above its intrinsic merits. One thing is certain, the subject is confessedly important, and it is as plain as it is important. It requires little argument to explain or to defend it; and as for eloquence to recommend and enforce it, the only power that can render it effectual' for practical benefit, is the demonstration of the Spirit: without this aid, a giant in literature could do nothing, and the feeblest effort, by such assistance, may be successful. Too much has not been said, and cannot be said, about the doctrines of the Gospel; but too little may be said, and too little is said and thought, about its spirit. To contribute something towards supplying this deficiency in the treasures of the temple, the Author offers this small volume; and though it be but as the widow's two mites, yet, as it is all he has to give, as it is given willingly, and with a desire to glorify God, he humbly hopes that however it may be despised by those, who he rejoices to know, are so much richer than himself in intellectual and moral affluence, it will not be rejected by him, who, '
more regards the motive than the amount of every offering that is carried to his altar.
The Author can easily suppose, that among many other faults which the scrutinizing eye of criticism will discover in his work, and which its stern voice will condemn, one is the tautologies, of which, in some places it, appears to be guilty. In answer to this, he can only remark, that in the discussion of such a subject, where the parts are divided by such almost imperceptible lines, and softened down so much into each other, he found it very difficult to avoid this repetition, which, after all, is perhaps not always a fault--at least not a capital one.
Edgbaston, April 22, 1828.