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In the Advent of 1835, I delivered a course of Evening Lectures, in the Royal Sardinian Chapel, Lincoln's-InnFields, upon controversial subjects. It was comprised in seven Lectures, and was honoured by a very numerous attendance. At the approach of Lent, this year, I was desired by the Venerable Prelate, whom the London District has just lost, to undertake another course, in the more spacious Church of St. Mary's, Moorfields, upon the same subjects. It was proposed to confine it to a few lectures upon one topic; that so, no disappointment might ensue, in case my health, or occupations, or a want of interest on the part of the public, should render it expedient to discontinue it. The subject selected was the Rule of Faith, or the authority of the Church, which occupies the first volume of this publication. But, through God's blessing, I found myself able to persevere in my undertaking, though, in the preceding Lent, I had been unequal to reading, in a room, two Lectures of half an hour's duration, in the week:* and, at the same time, I had the consolation of witnessing the patient and edifying attention of a crowded audience, many of whom stood for more than two hours, without betraying any
* The “ Lectures on the Connexion between Science and Revealed Religion," just published.
symptoms of impatience. This endurance, which could only be attributed to the interest felt in the truths of our holy religion, encouraged me to proceed with the less connected subjects, comprised in my
The Lectures were taken down in short-hand ; and it was understood that, upon my return to Rome, they should be prepared for publication. In the meantime, however, before the course was completed, an unauthorised edition began to appear, partly inaccurate, partly imperfect, and devoid of many references and illustrations, which could not be well given in an extemporaneous
delivery. I was urged, as the only effectual means to prevent injury to myself or to my cause, to commence an edition sanctioned by myself.
This I undertook, though still engaged with a more laborious publication, which has caused considerable interruption in the regular issue of the numbers. I have added many notes and details, which I originally intended to reserve for my revision at Rome; and this has been a further cause of delay.
Those who attended the delivery of the Lectures, will observe many changes and additions, which are attributable to different causes. First, to the imperfect state of the short-hand writer's notes, which made it often less laborious for me to write a considerable portion of a Lecture over again, than to correct the copy
Secondly, to the necessity under which I often was in the delivery, of abridging or condensing, or omitting remarks and authorities, from want of time, which in my publication I deemed it right to place at full. Thirdly, to my having occasionally turned back in a Lecture to matter belonging to a preceding one, in consequence of difficulties communicated to me in the interval, or of an afterthought on my part; and such additions I have now transferred to their appropriate places. Fourthly, to my having omitted, in my second course, many views and passages which had appeared to make a sensible impression in my former one. This was done, partly from a desire to preserve a terser and more argumentative manner, partly from the fear of fatiguing an audience, partly composed of the same persons, by repetition. But these passages have been now inserted. .
In spite of these changes or intended improvements, much of the crudeness of unwritten discourses must still pervade these volumes, and many expressions will not present that accuracy which a well meditated and carefully revised composition would have possessed. Had I come to England prepared for such an undertaking, I flatter myself that, with God's grace, much more justice would have been done to the holy and beautiful cause.
I need not say, that in this publication, as in every other that proceeds from my pen, I completely subject
myself to the judgment of the Church, and mean to preserve the strictest adherence to every thing that she teaches. There is one passage on which several of my friends have favoured me with their remarks : from which I conclude that there must be an unintentional ambiguity in the phrase. I allude to Vol. I. p. 60, where the following words occur: “We believe, then, in the first place, that there is no ground-work whatever for faith, except the written word of God.” This expression has been considered inaccurate, as seeming to exclude Church authority, and making the Bible the only rule of faith. But I need hardly observe, that the entire drift of that and the following lectures must satisfy any reader, that such could not be my meaning; for it would be in contradiction to the entire course of my argument. The opening of the paragraph in p. 61, would alone suffice to remove any ambiguity. In fact, it will be obvious that the meaning of my words simply is, that the first step in the order of argument or demonstration, is the Scripture, which contains all the evidence that we require to establish Church authority. Christianity might have existed without the New Testament's being written,-it would not have existed in its present constitution without the Church; but although there would have been ample ground of demonstration for that authority in any case, we now compendiously take it from those sacred records, which preserve the words and actions of our Blessed Redeemer.