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CONTAINING THE SUBSTANCE OF
PREACHED IN THE
PARISH CHURCH OF DEBENH AM,
OCTOBER 13th, 1822,
AFTER A PUBLIC NOTICE
GIVEN ON THE
Preceding Lord's Day to take leave of the People,
AND SECEDE FROM THE
ESTABLISHED CHURCH ;
FORMED INTO ONE CONTINUED ADDRESS,
With Large Additions.
BY WILLIAM HURN.
"HE that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the
"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but
PUBLISHED BY LONGMAN AND CO. PATERNOSTER ROW; B. T. HOLDSWORTH,
MAY BE HAD OF ALL BOOKSELLERS.
THE following work derives its origin from two discourses preached in the Parish Church of Debenham with the avowed design of taking leave of the people, and seceding from the National Church. The subjects are treated here with considerable enlargement, and several new ones are introduced. On some I have dwelt the longer, because I felt a more than ordinary interest in them, and because the necessity of the times seemed to call for it: I allude particularly to what I have said on antinomianism, on the Christian education of children, and on the divisions of the visible Church.
The occasion on which those discourses were delivered was one of those events which we call the great trials of life. They happen, in one shape, or other, to all men, as they pass through a world remarkable chiefly for the wickedness of its inhabitants, and for its changeable and transitory nature. On that trying event I have no intention to enlarge here; but feel constrained to offer my thanks thus publicly to Almighty God for his great goodness, and rich mercy and grace in supporting and carrying me through it; and to assure others, that his promise to them that believe is like himself faithful and unchangeable. He has said, As thy days, so shall thy strength be:* and so I have found it. Trials of this magnitude prepare the heart to say, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.+
Should an apology be thought requisite for the extraordinary length of a composition which appears in the form of a single discourse, I would suggest, that it may be read in detached parts, and the subjects chosen from the Table of Reference, by those who find it more convenient to do so. By this plan the formality and common place attending a series of sermons are avoided, while the pulpit mode of address, which I suppose to be generally most acceptable, is preserved. For the sermon style, by a direct appeal to the heart and conscience on the
behalf of divine truth, is more likely to excite and engage attention than formal discussions in the third person, the effects of which are commonly as faint and undiscerniblé as the persons introduced are imaginary and unknown.
To such as are disposed to ask, why I think of printing at all, when the press already teems with religious publications? I answer, that one man has his gift and sphere of action in this way, and another in that. I feel it a duty to be occupying with my talent so long as my Lord and Master is pleased to spare me here, and to give me ability. He directs us to cast our bread upon the waters, with a promise, that we shall find it after many days. In the morning he bids us sow our seed, and in the evening withhold not our hand, for we know not whether shall prosper, either this, or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. When so many every where are still unconverted, ignorant of what Christianity really is, and strangers to the happiness and glory of man, it is surely not a time to slacken our hands, but rather to repent of our tardiness, and employ every exertion in our power, if by any means we may save some.† ́ I praise God, that of his infinite condescension and mercy he has conferred spiritual blessings on the souls of men by the truth he has enabled me to declare in former publications. This has been told me from time to time. And why? I consider it designed to render me humble and thankful, to increase my hope and confidence in God, and to encourage me to labour more in the same way. By this expedient I may, when absent, still feed that part of my late congregation, who are indeed the sheep of Christ, whose spiritual welfare and progress are the desire of my heart, and whose earnest affection, and the many tears some of them shed, will never, while memory remains, be forgotten by their unworthy pastor.
But I feel that I am a debtor also to others, who are personally unknown to me. Though I cannot reach them with my voice, I can address them, and they may hear, by means of the press. Alas what numbers are there, who are still ignorant and out of the way, who know no birth but that by which they were children of wrath, who are walking in the broad road to destruction insensible of their danger, and have not a true friend at hand to warn them of it, and to shew them the way to escape. Flattery is the order of the day; the main-spring that gives