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ON THE MOST USEFUL STYLE OF PREACHING.
MY DEAR SIR,
We have frequently conversed together on the most useful and effective mode of preaching. We have been agreed on the general principles which have at various times been submitted to the public, by many authors who have treated upon the subject of pulpit eloquence. The only matter of difference in opinion between us, respected the possibility of so preaching the morality of the Gospel, as not to lose sight of its peculiar doctrines; and so enforcing the doctrines, which are peculiar to Christianity, as not to lose sight of the moral and practical inferences to be deduced from them : or in other words, whether an union between the Evangelical and the Anti-evangelical styles of preaching were practicable or advantageous, or likely to be useful to the majority of a Christian congregation. I now beg your acceptance of the following Volume of Sermons, which I submit to you as illustrations of the truth of the proposition which I have repeatedly affirmed in conversation, that as a pious and well-meaning Calvinist, and a pious and well-meaning Arminian, will both unite in subscribing to the Scriptures in general, as well as to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England; because both are written with a view to teach the truth alone, and not to enforce any partial peculiar creed,-so, also, it ought to be with our instructions from the pulpit.
Every clergyman is bound, such was the proposition which I affirmed, so to preach the principles of Christianity, and so to enforce the practical inferences, which may be deduced from those principles, that the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Evangelical and the Anti-evangelical '
hearer, may bestow their approbation on the principles and inferences of the preacher, however they may think that he has not sufficiently insisted upon some points, which are more peculiarly enforced by their favorite systems of theology.
This opinion, especially as the terms in which
it is expressed involve the meaning of the epithets so generally assigned to the two great parties which divide the favor of the reflecting adherents of Christianity in this country, may appear to require explanation. As Clergymen of the Episcopal Church, we profess the same peculiar, as well as more general principles, and we ought so to enforce the same doctrines, that our union as brethren may be more perfect, and the ridicule of the Papist and the Socinian, the Neologist and the Infidel, be no longer so much deserved. While the Church of England is the best bulwark now remaining among mankind, against the pretensions of the infallible Church, which permits no inquiry to investigate the grounds of its decrees-against the pride of reason, which believes no doctrines which it cannot comprehend—and against the presumption and arrogance, which receives no Scriptures, and adheres to no Church-the influence of that establishment is diminished, and the scorn of its enemies is encouraged, by the apparent disunion among its people, and the opposite methods of instruction adopted by its teachers; and great service would be rendered to the Church, and to the world, if some one more competent to the labor than I am, would devote himself to this work -to lessen the divisions, and encrease the union among the advocates of the same doctrines, and the ministers of the same Church.
When I use the words Evangelical, and Antievangelical, I do not adopt them as terms of reproach, but as epithets descriptive of two classes of teachers, which have great influence in society. As a Tory was well defined to be the supporter of the rights of the Crown, without losing sight of the privileges of the people; while the Whig was defined, with no less justice, to have been a supporter of the privileges of the people, without losing sight of the rights of the Crownso would I describe the Evangelical and the Antievangelical parties, by a similar antithesis. The Evangelical is the teacher who insists most upon the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, without losing sight of the moral and practical inferences to be deduced from them - the Antievangelical insists most upon the moral and practical inferences, without losing sight of the doctrines upon which they are founded. The former is rather Calvinistic than Arminian; the latter is rather Arminian than Calvinistic : though