Watts - Houston-Packer Collection BX5207.W3 S4x 1805 v.2

PREFACE.* I AM bound to give thanks to God always, for the acceptance that, my sermons have found among the more pious and religious part of nman- kind. As it hath been the chief design of my ministry to explain the common and most important things of our religion, to the understanding of every christian, and to impress the most necessary duties of it on the spirit andconscience, so when lam solicited to make my labours yet more public, J would repeat the same work; I would fain give my readers the clearest conceptions of someof the great articles of christianity, and draw out the plain principles of truth which are in the head, to a powerful and holy influence over the heart and life. These discourses have but a little hope to gratify those curious minds, who turn over the leaves superficially to search if there be ,any new disco- veries in them, anal being disappointed, lay down the bookwith disdain : My chief intent was to entertain and assist those humble christians, who converse in secrét with God and their own souls. And since it is the custom of many persons to read a sermon in the eveningof the Lord's-day, aspart of their family-worship, I was desirous also to suit the'sermons which I publish to such a pious service. Now when the discourses which are rehearsed in families have much of criticism and speculation in them, or long and difficult trains of reasoning, every one may observe, what a negligent air sits impon the faces of the hearers, what a drowsyattention is given to this religious exercise, and the greatest part of the household finds very little improvement. I grant, it is sometimes necessary to preach, and print such discourses whichare more critical and laborious in exposition of difficult texts, and which, by artificial trains of argument, may penetrate deep into the hid- den things of God, and " bring forth things new as well as old." But I am content to wave the honour of such performances in the more general . course of my labours, whether of the pulpit or the press, and chiefly to pursue those methods which more directly tend to the edification of the bulk of mankind in the knowledgeof Christ and in practical godliness. Weare too often ready to judge that to be the best sermon, which has many strange thoughts in it, many fine hints, and some grand and polite sentiments. But a christian in his best temper of mindwill say, "That is a good sermonwhich brings my heart nearer to God, which makes the grace of Christ sweet to my soul, and the. commands 'of Christ easy and delightful: That is an excellent discourse indeed which enables me to mortify some unruly sin, to vanquish a strong temptation, and weans me from all the enticements of this lower world ; that which bears me up aboveall the disquietudes of life, which fits me for the hour of death, and makes me ready and desirous to appear before Christ Jesus my Lord." if In. the fifthedition the three volumes in 12mo. were reduced into two in 8vo. and theprefaces abridged and united by the author.