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N submitting the following Lectures to the pelittle new to offer, besides, as far as I can recollect, the choice of the time when they were delivered; never having seen any discourses which were preached particularly at that season, with the single exception perhaps of some LECTURES on the EPISTLES, appointed for the Service of the CHURCH of ENGLAND on the Days of PASSION-WEEK, EASTER EVEN, and EASTER SUNDAY, by DANIEL SANDFORD, D. D. Minister of Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh*; which, as they were composed for, were probably delivered on, those days.
As my design in collecting these Lectures had a more immediate regard to my own parishioners in particular, and then to the inhabitants of the town of Southampton in general, without any idea of their being ever sent to the press; in order to facilitate the work I had undertaken, I not only adopted the thoughts, but frequently borrowed expressions, and even incorporated whole passages from the several authors which lay before me, rather solicitous to prepare an useful, than aspiring to produce an original, work.
The serious attention which had been shown to them, when they were delivered from the pulpit, led me, after I had first preached them in the year
*Now a Bishop in the Scotch Episcopal Church.
1803, to entertain a thought, "that some benefit might arise from the publication of them. I therefore submitted them to the perusal of some of my friends, whose opinion I desired, "Whether, notwithstanding the free use I had made of the works of others, I might, without incurring censure on that account, send them to the press, rather as partly compiled from other writers, than entirely composed by myself."
Their opinion of this humble production in general, and that of one in particular, "That these Lectures promised great usefulness to many in leading on that train of thought and reflection so necessary to us all, whether educated or uneducated, in the awful commemoration of our Saviour's Passion," encouraged me to expose them to the eye of the publick; conscious, at the same time, of the imperfect manner in which they are compiled, yet not without great hope, that they would, in some measure, produce the effect suggested by my valuable friend.
But, on farther consideration, I determined to defer the publication of them, till I had preached them once or twice more in my own Church, which I did in the years 1804 and 1806.
I will not attribute the attendance of very numerous congregations, the three several years that they were delivered, solely to novelty or curiosity; but, as I am, I trust, warranted, rather to a desire in the hearers, corresponding with that of the preacher, to dedicate part of their time to the contemplation of the momentous transactions, which were at that season carried on in completing the design of the coming of JESUS CHRIST into the ‹ world.
Some years ago a book entitled "THE PASSION; or, A DESCRIPTIVE and CRITICAL NARRATIVE of the INCIDENTS, as they occurred EACH DAY OF THE WEEK, in which CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS are
commemorated;" was published by T. KNOWLES, D. D. Prebendary of Ely*. It was from this, that I took the hint for the plan of these Lectures, when a powerful motive, to which I have alluded in the first or introductory Lecture, having first arrested my attention, soon induced me to undertake, and afterwards animated me to finish, what I now with deference offer to the publick.
Besides the two authors abovementioned, when I was arranging these Lectures, I had before me Bingham's Antiquities of the Christian Church; Hammond, Whitby, and Henry on the New Testament, Doddridge's Family Expositor, the present Bishop of London's Lectures on St. Matthew's Gospel, and other valuable books, which it is not necessary to enumerate here; nor have I thought it so, after this general acknowledgement, to make references to them in the course of the Lectures, except occasionally, when there appeared to me a particular reason for so doing.
From the authors, then, whom I have mentioned, and those whom I have not, together with my own observations, these Lectures are compiled, which, as I have already observed, were delivered from the pulpit in the years 1803, 1804, and 1806.
Although the circumstance which gave rise to them has not since returned in this town, yet the propriety of delivering such can never cease: particularly as many persons, notwithstanding the present laxity of religion and morals, are still desirous of preserving a due reverence for the days which precede those, in which the design of our Saviour's coming into the world was completed, which was,
* I recommend this as a very proper book to assist private meditations in the Passion-Week.
+ An attempt was made in the year 1805 to introduce theatrical entertainments into the city of Coventry in the Passion-Week, but was frustrated, if I am rightly informed, by the interference of the clergy.
that he might die for our sins, and rise again for our justification*.
But as I have neither right nor intention, to fix for this season of the year, perpetually and invariably, on myself and my successors, a greater weight of parochial duty, than our Church-establishment requires us to perform; I intimated to my hearers, when I delivered these Lectures last year, that a recurrence of such devotional exercises was not to be expected from me annually; although I had four successive years+ engaged their attention in my Church on the evenings of the Passion-Week. And as a reason more particularly local has since occurred, I have now determined not to repeat my discourses, but to commit them to the eye of the publick; hoping at the same time, that the motive which first induced me to deliver them from the pulpit, will screen me from very severe criticism, now that I commit them to the press; and that, as they were heard with very great attention, they
As the piety of individuals has frequently led some to leave by their wills benefactions for preaching sermons on particular days, though not always marked by any parti cular occurrence, (two or three instances of which there are in this parish) I take the liberty of intimating to such as are so disposed, that they could not fix on a more generally useful season for that purpose, than that which is the subject of our present consideration; when the minds of well-disposed Christians might be led to more intense meditations, and more impediments might be cast in the way, to prevent an infringement of the solemnity of the week by unseasonable amusements.
In the year 1805 I did not intend to open my Church in the evenings of the Passion-Week, as I had the two preceding years; till finding that some of my own parishioners, and also of the other inhabitants of the town, wished it, I complied with their desire: and thinking that these Lectures would not bear a third publick reading so soon, I substituted in their room Bishop Sandford's aforesaid Lectures on the Epistles for that week. I mention this as an acknowledgement to that gentleman of the liberty I took, and of the great satisfaction I received from the perusal of them.