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Volunies, in the year 1788, To these four volumes was prefixed the laconic and characteristic Preface which will be found at page 07. The Sermons contained in these volumes were very incorrectly printed; and as no table of errata was ever published, the errors with which they abound have been either perpetuated in succeeding editions, or superseded by conjectural emendations. In the edition now before the reader, those errors are all carefully expunged, and the true reading of every passage is given on the best possible authority, that of Mr. Wesley himself, from a copy of his Sermons, corrected with his own hand, and now deposited in his library at City-Road, London.* By the aid of this invaluable document, several passages in those interesting and instructive Discourses, which before were scarcely intelligible, are now published in a form worthy of their excellent Author.–To these fifty-five Discourses are added seventeen others, which were also drawn up by Mr. Wesley for insertion in the Arminian Magazine. After appearing in that periodical work, they were reprinted in a small duodecimo volume, bearing the date of 18vo, and forming the ninth volume of Mr. Wesley's Sermons in that convenient size. Some of these were left by their Author in manuscript ; and none of them were revised by him after they had appeared in print.—The eight Discourses, which follow, were copied from Mr. Wesley's Papers after his decease, but never designed by him for publication. Some of these were partly transcribed from other Authors; particularly from Dr. Calamy;t and all the rest, excepting the valuable Sermon translated from the Latin by Dr. Adam Clarke, appear to have been written before Mr. Wesley obtained those correct views of divine truth, which afterwards rendered his ministry so eminently successful; and perhaps ought therefore never to have been committed to the press. They are here reprinted, because, having been already presented to the public, the omission of them would be considered as rendering any edition of Mr. Wesley's Sermons incomplete.The Volume concludes with a Sermon on National Sins and Miseries, preached on a fast-day during the American War, and bearing the date of 1775. It would have been inserted among the other occa. sional sermons at the beginning of the second Volume ; but being extremely scarce, a copy of it could not be procured till a considerable part of the Volume was printed off. In this Volume, therefore, are three Sermons, published by Mr. Wesley, which were never before inserted in any edition of his Works.
To the whole is now added, for the first time, a copious Index ; by which the reader may easily refer to every subject of importance, on which he may wish to ascertain Mr. Wesley's opinions. This
* These corrections in Mr. Wesley's own hand-writing, and here published for the first time, render this Edition of liis Sermons Copyright: It is accordingly entered at Stationers' Hall.
+ See Mr. Wesley's Christian Library, Vol. xxxix. p. 245, and Vol. ii. p. 779, of this Edition of his Sermons.
useful appendage to all books, the contents of which are of a miscellaneous description, has long been regarded as a desideratumn to those incomparable and truly evangelical Discourses. It is annexed to the first volume, as being of more importance than the other; and in that situation it renders the two volumes less unequal in point of size than they otherwise would have been.
It is only needful to add, that in preparing these Volumes for publication, and in conducting them through the press, no exertion has been spared to ensure perfect accuracy. Copies of the most authentic editions of Mr. Wesley's Sermons, printed in his life-time, have been carefully collated throughout; and every effort has been made, to present to the Christian world, what has never been published before, an Edition of Mr. Wesley's Sermons, at once complete and correct.
London, Feb. 8ik, 1825.
The following Sermons contain the substance of what I have been preaching for between eight and nine years last past. * During that time I have frequently spoken in public, on every subject in the ensuing collection : and I am not conscious, that there is any one point of doctrine, on which I am accustomed to speak in public, which is not here, incidentally, if not professedly, laid before every Christian reader. Every serious man, who peruses these, will therefore see in the clearest manner, what these doctrines are, which I embrace and teach, as the essentials of true religion.
2. But I am throughly sensible, these are not proposed in such a manner as some inay expect. Nothing here appears in an elaborate, elegant, or oratorical dress. If it had been my desire or design to write thus, my leisure would not permit. But, in truth, I, at present, designed nothing less; for I now write, as I generally speak, ad populum: to the bulk of mankind, to those who neither relish nor understand the art of speaking; but who, notwithstanding, are competent judges of those truths, which are necessary to present and future happiness. I mention this, that curious readers may spare themselves the labour of seeking for what they will not find.
3. I design plain trutha for plain people: therefore, of set purpose, I abstain from all nice and philosophical speculations ; from all perplexed and intricate reasonings; and, as far as possible, from even the show of learning, unless in sometimes citing the original Scripture. I labour to avoid all words which are not easy to be understood, all which are not used in common life ; and, in particular, those kinds of technical terms that so frequently occur in bodies of divinity,those modes of speaking, which men of reading are intimately acquainted with, but which, to common people, are an unknown tongue. Yet I am not assured, that I do not sometimes slide into them unawares : it is so extremely natural to imagine, that a word which is familiar to ourselves is so to all the world.
4. Nay, my design is, in some sense, to forget all that ever I have read in my life. I mean to speak, in the general, as if I had never read onc author, ancient or modern : (always excepting the inspired.) I am persuaded, that on the one hand, this may be a means of enabling me more clearly to express the sentiments of my heart, while I sinply follow the chain of my own thoughts, without entangling myself with those of other men ; and that, on the other, I shall come
* In the year lili
with fewer weights upon my mind, with less of prejudice and prepossession, either to search for myself, or to deliver to others the naked truths of the Gospel.
5. To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life, as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God : just hovering over the great gulf; till a few moments hence, I am no more seen! I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing, the way to heaven: how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book! O give me that book! At any price, give me the Book of God! I have it : here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri.* Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone : only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read ? Does any thing appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights.-Lord, is it not thy word, “ If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God?” Thou "givest liberally and upbraidest not." Thou hast said, “ If any be willing to do thy will, he shall know.” I am willing to do : Let me know thy will. I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual." I meditate thereon, with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God; and then, the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach.
6. I have accordingly set down in the following 'sermons, what I find in the Bible concerning the way to heaven; with a view to distinguish this way of God, from all those which are the inventions of men. I have endeavoured to describe the true, the scriptural, experimental religion, so as to omit nothing which is a real part thereof, and to add nothing thereto which is not. And herein it is more especially my desire, first, to guard those who are just setting their faces toward heaven, (and who, having little acquaintance with the things of God, are the more liable to be turned out of the way,) from formality, from mere outside religion, which has almost driven heart-religiou out of the world ; and, secondly, to warn those who know the religion of the heart, the faith which worketh by love, lest at any time they make void the law through faith, and so fall back into the snare of the Devil.
7. By the advice, and at the request of some of my friends, I have prefixed to the other sermons contained in this volume, three sermons of my own and one of my Brother's preached before the University of Oxford. My design required some discourses on those heads. And I preferred these before any others, as being a stronger answer than any which can be drawn up now, to those who have frequently asserted, that we have changed our doctrine of late, and do not preach now, what we did some years ago. Any man of understanding may now judge for himself, when he has compared the latter with the former sermons.
*A man of one book.
8. But some may say, I have mistaken the way myself, although I take upon me to teach it to others. It is probable many will think this, and it is very possible that I have. But I trust, whereinsoever I have mistaken, my mind is open to conviction. I sincerely desire to be better informed. say to God and man, What I know not, teach thou me !"
9. Are you persuaded you see more clearly than me? It is not unlikely that you may. Then treat me as you would desire to be treated yourself upon a change of circumstances. Point me out a better way than I have yet known. Show me it is so, by plain proof of Scripture. And if I linger in the path I have been accustomed to tread, and am therefore unwilling to leave it, labour with me a little. take me by the hand, and lead me as I am able to bear. But be not displeased if I entreat you not to beat me down in order to quicken my pace : I can go but feebly and slowly at best ; then, I should not be able to go at all. May I not request of you, further, not to give me hard names in order to bring me into the right way. Suppose I were ever so much in the wrong, I doubt this would not set me right. Rather, it would make me run so much the farther from you, and so get more and more out of the way.
10. Nay, perhaps, if you are angry, so shall I be too ; and then there will be small hopes of finding the truth. If once anger arise, MUTE xaTvos, (as Homer somewhere expresses it,) this smoke will so dim the eyes of my soul, that I shall be able to see nothing clearly. For God's sake, if it be possible to avoid it, let us not provoke one another to wrath. Let us not kindle in each other this tire of hell; much less blow it up into a flame. If we could discern truth by that dreadful light, would it not be loss, rather than gain? For, how far is love, even with many wrong opinions, to be preferred before truth itself without love! We may die without the knowledge of many truths, and yet be carried into Abraham's bosom. But, if we die without love, what will knowledge avail ? Just as much as it avails the Devil and his angels !
The God of Love forbid we should ever make the trial! May he prepare us for the knowledge of all truth, by filling our hearts with all his love, and with all joy and peace in believing'