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be also an easy method of imparting it, it will follow, superiority is due to revelation. Nature is a speechless beauty, filently waiting till depraved man shall find leisure and inclination to be instructed by dumb signs, by signs, which even cul. tivated capacities find hard to understand, are not sure at any time they have understood at all, and never know when they have comprehended in the whole. Revelation is really and literally a voice, clear and expressive, speaking at sundry times, and in divers manners.
Shall I call it the mouth of nature? The wisest say, it is the voice of God! It was first delivered in audible sounds by the Creator himself to our first parents, it has been since uttered in his name by prophets, then by his Son, and after him by inspired apostles, and it has been repeated, explained, and enforced by a succession of publick preachers. By it, in all ages and coun: tries, the ignorant have been informed, the indo. lent aroused, the profane placed before a tribunal of justice, and brought to genuine repentance, the penitent led to a throne of mercy, where pardon was proclaimed, the doubtful directed, the wa. vering confirmed, the timid emboldened, the dir. tressed comforted. What school of philosophy has wrought effects so beneficial to mankind as these? As, therefore, we prefer revelation on every other account, so chiefly on this, its mode of tuition is all-sufficient, and at the same time the simpleft and easiest in the world. The things, that you bave heard among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
The argument for revelation, that arises from publick preaching, is defensible in every point of view, and as it regards the bulk of mankind it has
peculiar peculiar energy. Were we to allow, that natural religion was a science of God as perfect as that which revelation poffefses, yet all the benefits of understanding it would be attainable by only such as should have capacity and leisure, accuracy of observation, and justness of reflection. The poor and illiterate, the busy, the dissipated, and the dejected, the sick and the aged, thoughtless till fickness and age overtake them, the vigorous youth, in his career of fancied pleasure, the wretched malefactor, whom a dungeon brings to feel the want of religion; all these, that is to say, the bulk of mankind, are deeply interested in a simple fort of system, which may be understood in a short time, and which, while it provides for the payment of all due honours to natural religion, makes provision also for plucking a criminal from the horrid jaws of yawning destruction. Such a system revelation is. In natural religion, it is the creator giving laws, the judge trying causes, and condemning criminals, and how cold is the confolation, that arises from these conjectures, It is posible he may pardon the guilty, and it is possible I may be the man! In revelation, it is the good shepherd, traversing the wilderness in anxious pursuit of a loft sheep, that hears and knows the shepherd's voice. It is the tender father, all melting with compassion, and powing with tears, calling to the prodigal beggar, his son, to return from penury to felicity, from the company of brutes to the bosom of God. Best of beings! what delight to hear thy voice, even wrapped in the gloom of the darkest thicket, and wilfully buried in the blackness of impenetrable shade!
It will be objected, publick preaching has been perverted : but it will be answered, as long as we have a standard it may be reformed to its original purity. The ark of Jehovah fell of old into the hands of heathens, who, having no dimensions or directions from the first artist, decorated it according to their own superstitious fancies, and in their great wisdom returned it to its owners, as if it had been a trunk of Dagon, accompanied with the glorious images of mice and morbid ulcers. (1)
Thus it has happened to all the ordinances of heaven. Prayer and preaching, baptism and the Lord's supper, have all fallen into the hands of bad men, and they have disguised and disgraced them : but what is reformation, and what is protestantism? do they not include recovery and original purity ? In regard to the pulpir, let us at least try to feparate indelicate human baubles from original workmanship, and to place the ecclesiastical rostrum in that neat fimplicity of finished taste, in which the divine artist first commanded it to be made, Plainness in religion is elegance, and popular perspicuity true magnificence.
The history of the pulpit is curious and entertaining. It has spoken all languages, and in all forts of style. It has partaken of all the customs of the schools, the theatres, and the courts of all the countries, where it has been erected. It has been a feat of wisdom and a sink of nonsense. Ic has been filled by the best and the worst of men. It has proved in some hands a trumpet of sedition,
(1) The Philifines took the ark of God. But the Lord Jinote them with emerods. Ant they sent back the ark of God with five golden mice, and five golden emerods in a cofer. Sam. iv. 5,6.
and in others a source of peace and consolation : but on a fair balance, collected from authentick history, there would appear no proportion between the benefits and the mischiefs, which mankind have derived from it, so much do the advantages of it preponderate ! In a word, evangelical preaching has been, and yet continues to be reputed foolishneis : but real wildom, a wifiom and a power, by which it pleasech God to save the fouls of men (2)
With views of this kind . I speak in the fear of God, who searchetli the heart.) and not to give offence to any, I collected and publiihed the notes in the following essay. Alas! does a modern episcopalian undertake the defence of every absurdity exhibited to the world by every thing called in palt times a bishop! Or ih ill a modern non-conformilt adopt all the weaknesses of every one, who was perfecured out of eitablished communities! All other orders of men examine and reform thenfelves; do men in black alone intend to render impropriety immutable and everlasting! I have exemplified the absurdilies, complained of by Mr. Cla ude, by the works of our ancestors, who are : dead and gone, on purpose to avoid offending. Indeed, this was necessary, for who alive has one pulpit impropriety to quote !
I designed at first to have added to these two a third volume of the fame size, entitled, AN ESSAY TOWARD A HISTORY OF PUBLICK PREACHING. The matter was intended to be distributed into
(2) The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolish. mejs. . . But it pleased God by the foolishness of prea ving 10 save them that believe : becaufe the foolishness of God is wifer than men. 1 Cor. i.
twenty dissertations, containing one with another twenty pages each, and entitled as follows :
1. The necessity of some divine revelation as a ground of divine worship.-II. The revelation given to Adam, compared with other pretended revelations.—III. The patriarchal state of preaching froni Adam to Moses.-IV. The state of preaching from Moses to the captivity.-V. The Itate of preaching during the captivity. - VI. The state of publick tuition, from Ezra's time to the coming of Christ, both in Judea and other provinces. –VII. The state in which Christ placed preaching.–VIII. The pulpit-state during the lives of the apostles.-IX. The state of preaching during the firit three centuries.-X. The state of preaching in the Greek church till the reformation. -XI. A view of the pulpit in the Latin church till the same period.—XII. The state of preaching in Britain, from the most remote antiquity, and in Europe at the time of the reformation. XIII. The condition of publick instruction in England, from the reformation till the death of Charles I.-XIV. The English pulpit during the civil war and the protectorate. ---XV. A view of the pulpit from the accession of Charles II. to the revolution.XVI. The pulpit in foreign churches, and in England, from the revolution to the end of the reign of George II.-XVII. The state of preaching among English, Danish, Popish, and other missionaries abroad, particularly in the East and West Indies.—XVIII. The present state of preaching in England among Roman Catholicks, episcopalians, moravians, methodists, presbyterians, independents, baptists, quakers, &c. XIX. Juftification of those in all parties, who