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In offering this work to your Grace's patronage, I beg permission to state what occasion there is for such a work, and what I have aimed at in the composition of it.
It is to be regretted, that, whilst the education we receive in our Universities is admirably adapted to lay a good foundation for us to build upon, there is no subsequent instruction given us to fit us for the employment of the ministry. Before men are called to the public exercise of
the medical or legal profession, they have an appropriate line of study assigned them : does
any one expect to succeed in either of those professions, till he has, with much labour and study, qualified himself for the discharge of the duties pertaining to it. But for the service of the Established Church no such preparatory studies are required; nor are any great facilities afforded for the acquisition of that knowledge, which ought to be possessed before we become stated and accredited teachers in the Church of Christ. Even that species of composition which is peculiarly proper for an edifying exposition of God's blessed Word, is never made a subject of specific instruction; or, at least, is never marked out with such clearness as to render the attainment of it easy to persons at their first entrance on their clerical duties. Hence considerable discouragement is felt by the Younger Clergy, and a great temptation is thrown in their way, to avail themselves of the labours of others, instead of striking out at first a path for themselves.
To remedy this defect, as far as was in my power, I have endeavoured to unfold the most important and instructive parts of Holy Writ,
both in the Old and New Testament, avoiding carefully all peculiarities of human systems, and all unprofitable controversies; and I have done this in such a way, as to exemplify what appeared to me the most simple and edifying mode of stating divine truth. Throughout the whole I have laboured to maintain that spirit of moderation which so eminently distinguishes the Established Church, giving to every revealed truth, as far as I was able, its proper place, and that precise measure of consideration which it seemed to occupy in the Inspired Volume. At the same time, every thing has been brought forward with an especial view to its practical improvement, so as to lead the minds of my Younger Brethren to that which
preeminently necessary for them in their public ministrations. This has been my object invariably : and in that view I would hope the Discourses here offered to the Public will prove of some little service to the Church of Christ.
To render them the more useful, I have studied conciseness, compressing into every separate Discourse all that was needful for an elucidation of the subject, and confirming every part of it with such references to Scripture, as should leave no reasonable doubt of its accordance with “ the mind of the Spirit” of God. In every one of the Discourses also I have so clearly marked the method, that the entire scope of the passage may be seen with the glance of an eye; and the Young Minister may be able to prosecute his work with ease according to his own judgment, making no other use of what is contained within the brackets, than to enlarge or confirm his own views of the subject.
These my best endeavours, such as they are, I lay before your Grace for your approbation, and commend to God for his divine blessing, without which they can be of no avail.
MY LORD ARCHBISHOP,
Your Grace's most obliged
And devoted Servant,
King's College, CAMBRIDGE,
May 20, 1833.
P R E F A C E.
NSTRUCTION relative to the Composition of Sermons is
of great importance, not only to Ministers, but, eventually, to the community at large. And it were much to be wished that more regard were paid to this in the education of those who are intended for the ministry. It has sometimes been recommended to the younger Clergy to transcribe printed Sermons for a season, till they shall have attained an ability to compose their own. And it is to be lamented, that this advice has been too strictly followed: for, when they have once formed this habit, they find it very difficult to relinquish it: the transition from copying to composing of Sermons is so great, that they are too often discouraged in their first attempts, and induced, from the difficulty they experience in writing their own Sermons, to rest satisfied in preaching those of others. To remove, as far as possible, these difficulties from young beginners, is the intent of these Skeletons. The directions given in Mr. Claude's Essay on the Composition of a Sermon, which is annexed to these Skeletons, cannot fail of being helpful to every one who will study them with care: but there appears to be something further wanted; something of an intermediate kind, between a didactic Essay like Claude's, and a complete Sermon; something which may simplify the theory, and set it in a practical light.
The following Skeletons are not intended particularly to exemplify Mr. Claude's rules. There are indeed all his different kinds of discussion contained in the Skeletons. But instead of illustrating particular rules, they are all intended rather to
a For this use of the word “Skeleton," see Johnson's Dictionary. VOL. 1.