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WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, Esq.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR THE COUNTY OF YORK,
AS A SLIGHT MEMORIAL
OF LONG AND AFFECTIONATE FRIENDSHIP;
AND AS AN ATTEMPT TO PROMOTE
THE FRUIT OF SCRIPTURAL FAITH,
THAT MORALITY WHICH,
IN PUBLIC LIFE AND IN PRIVATE,
IT HAS BEEN HIS HABITUAL
AND EARNEST DESIRE
TO PRACTICE AND TO DIFFUSE;
THE FOLLOWING SERMONS
I describe the present volume as principally designed to illustrate and to enforce Christian morality; the same design, I may hope, will have been rendered manifest throughout the two volumes already before the public, by a continual application of doctrine to conduct, and by the discussion in separate discourses of various individual duties, and of various individual sins. There are reasons, however, which have recommended the prosecution of that purpose in the present form.
Of late years it has been loudly asserted, that, among clergymen who have shewed themselves very earnest in doctrinal points, adequate regard has not been evinced to moral instruction. The charge has, perhaps, been urged with the greatest vehemence by persons, who have employed little trouble in examining into its truth.
In many cases it has been groundless; in many, exaggerated. In some instances there has been reason,
I fear, for a degree of complaint ; and in more, a colourable pretext for the imputation. I believe that some preachers, shocked on beholding examples, real or supposed, of congregations starving on mere morality substituted for the bread of life; eager to lay broad and deep the foundations of the gospel; and ultimately apprehensive lest their own hearers should suspect them of reverting towards legality; have not given to morals, as fruits of Faith, the station and the amplitude to which they have a scriptural claim. Anxious lest others should mistake, or lest they should themselves be deemed to mistake, the branch for the root: not satisfied with proclaiming to the branch, as they were bound habitually to proclaim, Thou bearest not the root, but the root thee: they have shrunk from the needful office of tracing the ramifications. They have not left morality out of their discourses. But they have kept it too much in the background. They have noticed it shortly, generally, incidentally : in a manner which, while perhaps they were eminent as private patterns of moral duties, might not sufficiently guard an unwary hearer against a reduced estimate of practical holiness, nor exempt themselves from the suspicion of undervaluing moral obedience. We are conti