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Church, stated generally in the third, is more particularly set forth in the succeeding Discourses: the Church's judgment on the “ necessity of holding the Catholick Faith,” being maintained on the highest authority in the fifth and sixth Discourses, the former of which was preached at the Anniversary meeting of the Charity Schools in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, in 1825, at the request of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, and afterwards published by them with their annual report. In this also have now been made such alterations, as were judged requisite for adapting it to the purpose of a Sermon for general use, rather than of an occasional Discourse.
The seventh and eighth Discourses take up the subject of the ministerial commission, and are engaged first in proving the Divine commission of the Ministers of the national Church, and then in discriminating between the minister's official acts and his personal character, the former being contended to be valid by virtue of his commission, notwithstanding defects in the latter. To these is added an Address, occasionally delivered to candidates for holy orders, containing a brief exposition of the questions put to them by the Church, and of the answers demanded of them. I have been induced to insert this address, though in form and manner varying from the Discourses with which it is connected, partly because I hope that with God's blessing it may on perusal be beneficial to candidates for our sacred profession, as I have some reason to trust that it has been on delivery; and partly because I would fain invite the attention of any lay member of the Church, into whose hands these Discourses may fall, to her anxious care for securing the faithfulness of her ministers.
The four next Discourses relate to the Sacraments of Christ, and other provisions of the Church connected therewith : the tenth and the thirteenth being occupied about the ministration of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, which are treated of rather practically than doctrinally; and the eleventh and twelfth being devoted to the Catechism and Confirmation. Of these the eleventh having been originally composed and several times delivered, for the purpose of recommending Church of England schools on the ground of their giving a Church of England education, as conveyed chiefly by the Church Catechism, the connexion has been thought desirable to be still preserved. And as to the twelfth, I have seen no sufficient reason for taking it out of the form in which it has been used ; namely, not of an ordinary Discourse from the pulpit, but of a special address to Candidates before their Confirmation.
The six following Discourses relate to the
Church's provisions for Divine service. The first of these, namely the fourteenth of the series, gives a general view of her ordinary service, showing its primitive character and its reasonableness. The fifteenth sets forth the primary importance of prayer, the value of a Liturgy, and the excellence of our Book of Common Prayer, as formed on the Apostolical model. In the sixteenth is stated and enforced the office of the people in the publick worship of the Church. This was preached in a parish church of my diocese in 1825; and then published with a special view to its distribution among the members of the Church within my charge. The duty of being present before the beginning of the service is insisted on in the seventeenth. In the eighteenth is sketched the scriptural history of Psalmody, which is followed by some directions for the proper practice of that department of Divine worship. And in the nineteenth an opportunity is taken for placing in a proper light a particular service of the Church, which is rarely used indeed, but, being not well understood, and much calumniated, seems to need explanation; for being properly understood it breathes the genuine spirit of piety and charity, of self humiliation and repentance. I allude to the Commination, which is in truth one of the finest and most unexceptionable compositions in our Book of Com
mon Prayer, and requires only to be rightly apprehended, in order to being approved.
There remain two more Discourses, the subjects of which are the Church's places of worship: in the twentieth, God's peculiar presence in such places is asserted, and some remarks are offered on the conduct which becomes us in consequence thereof. In the twenty-first are contained observations on the practice, which has at all times prevailed among the people of God, of frequenting such places, and on the duty and pleasure of attending them, as resulting from that practice, and from their proper uses. Such are the subjects of the following Dis
Each of them, unless the two first be considered an exception, was composed without any particular reference to the others, and is to be regarded therefore as an independent treatise on its own argument. At the same time connected as they are by a natural bond of relationship, they may perhaps in their present arrangement be not unfitly described as “a Series on the Church and her ministrations." In conclusion, whilst I beseech a blessing on them for the reader's edification, I heartily thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, that IN THE CHURCH, and BY HER MINISTRATIONS, (and why should not the same be said of her venerable Sister, that true part of Christ's body under the Scottish episcopacy ?) the people of this kingdom are possessed of the same means of grace and salvation, which were enjoyed by the members of the primitive Church of Christ under the personal government of his Apostles.