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The prohibition, however, was not peremptory: and when, in 1810, the Archdeacon gave a new edition of his friend's invaluable works, he conceived, that, with due respect for the living and deceased,' he might venture to print three sermons. These, accordingly, were admitțed into the second volume ; and have been ranked, by competent judges, among the best practical discourses in our language.
From this publication, the Editor felt an increased interest in the works of Dr. Townson; with which, as separately published, he had long been familiarly acquainted. One very intimate friend, in particular, raised this interest to its height, by frequent references to Dr. Townson's published works, and by wishes often expressed, that his MS. sermons should not, finally, be lost to the world : and from that friend, the wish was imbibed, which has been cherished for nearly twenty years, that, at least, a volume of these discourses, might be given to the public.
But how was this wish to be accomplished ? They who entertained it, were altogether unknown to the possessor of the manuscripts; and, not having any proper channel of introduction, they could not obtrude themselves on his notice. Therefore they were silent. Still, however, the wishi was unabated, by the lapse of years. And
when, in 1824., the Editor, then attending his duty in Parliament, offered to execute any commission for his friend, the answer was: I have but one commission to give ; get tidings, if possible, of Dr. Townson's manuscripts.' It happened, by an extraordinary coincidence, that, the day after receiving this answer, the Editor, for the first time, and quite unexpectedly, found himself in company with the very person, whom he then most wished to see; with the friend of Dr. Townson, and custodee of his papers ; in a word, with Archdeacon Churton. An acquaintance thus commenced, which soon ripened into friendship; and thence grew the confidential trust, which authorizes the appearance of the present volume. This incident may not be uninteresting to the reader ; to the relater, it is matter of humble gratitude.
The Sermons placed in the Editor's hands, were about eighty in number; and it is hoped, that the choice made from among them, will be, in no degree, discreditable to the Author's memory. Some had been frequently transcribed; and, though not actually prepared by Dr. Townson for the press, were so entirely in his best and most finished manner, that no doubt could be entertained, as to their admission into the volume. Others needed those slight corrections, which are generally necessary, to fit the best pulpit discourses for perusal in the closet. No undue liberties, however, have been taken. A few occasional omissions, and verbal substitutions, are the only alterations which have been hazarded ; and, in making these, regard has been had, to the manner, to the spirit, and to the very words, of Dr. Townson's own corrections ; which have been sufficiently numerous and varied, to furnish a full and satisfactory precedent.
Of the Discourses thus prepared, a small private impression was thrown off, and presented to the Editor's friends, and, more particularly, to the admirers of Dr. Townson. Nor can many circumstances be recalled, so grateful, as the spirit in which this small, but precious offering, has been accepted. The Editor has received numerous letters, from some of our most eminent Prelates and Divines, and from laymen not less distinguished, by rank, piety, and learning, expressing their deep gratification, even at this partial re-appearance of the venerated Townson; and their earnest desire, that the public, at large, might be edified and enlightened, by an edition of these invaluable remains.
This wish is now accomplished: in a form, which, the Editor humbly trusts, will meet with general acceptance. And, were he not restrained by delicacy, he would rejoice, in imparting to others, some portion of that enjoyment, which he has himself derived, from the cordial and discriminative approbation, which, after an interval of nearly forty years, this good man's posthumous labours have experienced. One testimony, however, he may freely produce, without intruding on the sacredness of private confidence; and he thinks the reader will feel grateful, for having his attention drawn to the following just and eloquent tribute :
1: The world is 'occasionally refreshed, by the spectacle of persons, whose Christian walk seems, in some sort, to resemble the life of the ancient people of Attica, as described by their own poct; where he speaks of them, as nourished with all sacred and noble wisdom, and expatiating with delight, in the perpetual serenity of their cloudless skies. * Incessant calm and sunshine appears to rest upon the heads, of these blessed, almost sainted, individuals. To all human discernment, their faith, is free from vicissitudes; their hope, is liable to no dim, and disastrous eclipse; and their charity, is like a heavenly dew, which the Holy Spirit is constantly shedding on
their hearts. Their life is sanctity and benevolence; and their end is peace.
• Among this favoured class, may be numbered the Author of this Volume. From the earliest, to the latest hours of his life, he never, for a moment, lost sight of the star, which they who follow, shall surely be brought into the presence of their Saviour: and he appears to have been conducted by it, over a quiet and level country, to the end of his way-faring; where it shed a pure, and peaceful light, over the termination of his labours.
• There is something very soothing and delightful, in the contemplation of such a life. It may, indeed, be more awful and spirit-stirring, to look abroad, upon the raging ocean around us ; where thousands, and tens of thousands, perhaps, are making shipwreck of faith and virtue; while some few dauntless spirits, are winning their way, through the strife of the elements, to the “ haven, where they would be.” But, if we would, for a moment, breathe the orderly, serene, and blissful obedience of the angels, we must seek the dwelling of placid devotion, and of retired beneficence and usefulness; we must watch the manifestations of a soul, in peaceful communion with God. Such scenes are sometimes presented to us, for seasonable and salutary purposes. They