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Most of the following Discourses were printed in newspapers, or otherwise, at the time of their delivery. They are now published in a volume at the very urgent request of an individual, who until lately was a constant frequenter of the Theatre; and whose attention was first seriously directed to the demoralizing influence which the play-house exerts over those who attend its exhibitions, by the Sermon preached in September last. He was not present at the delivery of that Sermon ;--but he may be permitted to say that he sat down to its perusal with an anxious wish fully to understand the arguments of a Minister who had been so uniform and devoted in his opposition to Theatrical Entertainments; and who had persevered, through evil report and good report, in publicly exposing what appeared to be the prevailing errors and vices of the system.
Formerly, this individual had thought Mr. Best wrong.–Now he thinks him right.-And the same independence of mind which at first induced him to decline adopting what he considered to be unfounded prejudices, has taught
him that he must now exert an equal fearlessness, in rejecting his own preconceived and mistaken notions. As a proof that he was anxious for the diffusion of views which had operated so powerfully on his own mind, he directed a thousand copies of the Discourse, which had been the means of his own conviction, to be printed and gratuitously circulated by those who were favourable to its doctrines ;-and he imagined that an important service would be rendered to the cause of morality and religion, if he could obtain
permission from Mr. BEST to publish the whole series.
After a good deal of consideration on the part of the Author, this permission has been granted. Mr. BEST, however, is no further concerned in this publication than by supplying the matter and revising the proofs, which he very kindly consented to do, in order that accuracy might be insured.
In bringing forward these Discourses, the humble individual, who has been instrumental in their publication, would ask for them that candid perusal which he is persuaded was the means of dissipating the delusion under which his own mind had long laboured ;--and he sincerely hopes, and firmly believes, that if a calm, correct, and dispassionate view of this important subject be taken, it will lead to a total renunciation of pleasures, in the enjoyment of which the
mind is deluded and dissipated—the moral feelings perverted and blunted, and the whole man rendered incapable of performing aright those high and important duties, the fulfilment of which alone distinguishes man as having a due sense of the relation in which he stands to his God and Saviour as a rational, moral, and responsible being
Sheffield, March 3, 1831.