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The result was, that I resolved on discharging my share of these weighty obligations, by giving Lectures on the Gospel of St. Matthew, in my own parish church of St. James, Westminster, every Friday in Lent; which, at the same time that it promoted my principal object, might also draw a little more attention to that holy but too much neglected season, which our Church has very judiciously set apart for the purpose of retirement and recollection, and of giving some little pause and respite to the ceaseless occupations and amusements of a busy and a thoughtless world, I foresaw, however, many difficulties in the undertaking, particularly in drawing together any considerable number of people to a place of public worship, for any length of time, on a common day of the week. But it pleased God to bless the the attempt with a degree of success far beyond every thing I could have expected or imagined. And as I have been assured that several even of those amongst my audience, that disbelieved or doubted the truth of Christianity, were impressed with a more favourable opinion both of its evidences and its doctrines, and with a higher veneration for the sacred writings than they had before entertained, I am willing to flatter myself that similar impressions may possibly be made on some of that description, who may chance to cast their eyes on these pages; and that they may also tend in some degree to confirm the faith and invigorate the good resolutions of many sincere believers in the Gospel. With this hope I now offer them to the world, and particularly to
my more immediate superintendence, and to whom I am desirous to bequeath this (perhaps) last public testimony of my solicitude for their everlasting welfare. And whatever errors, imperfections, or accidental repetitions (arising from the recurrence of the same subjects in the sacred narrative) the critical reader may discover in this work; he will, I trust, be disposed to think them entitled to some degree of indulgence, when he reflects that it was not a very easy task to adapt either the matter or the language of such discourses as these to the various characters, conditions, circumstances, capacities, and wants of all those different ranks of people to whom they were addressed ; and when he is also told, that these Lectures were drawn up at a very advanced period of life, and not in the ease
and tranquillity of literary retirement, but at short broken intervals of time, such as could be stolen from the incessant occupations of an arduous and laborious station, which would not admit of sufficient leisure for profound research
or finished composition.