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SEVERAL IMPORTANT SUBJECTS
RELIGION AND MORALITY:
A PREFACE BY JOSEPH CLARKE, M. A.
JOSEPH CLARKE, M. A.
THE following Discourses require no other recommendation than
what the title-page will give them, by acquainting the world, that they are the works of the late Dr. Daniel Waterland ; a person, whose learning and judgment were equalled by nothing, but his candour and humility. I shall not attempt to draw a character, which, if there were need of any, would require, and hath accordingly had, a more able hand to do justice to the subject. A very ingenious writer a hath already obliged the world with a just and lively description of this great and good man; and amidst all the beauties of oratory, hath kept within the strictest bounds of historical truth. But Dr. Waterland was sufficiently known to his contemporaries ; and his works will deliver him down with honour to posterity: he wants neither marbles nor epitaphs to fence against oblivion : by his learned defences of Christianity, he hath raised himself a perpetual monument ; and hath rendered it needless to have his character drawn by any other pen, from the reputation he hath acquired by his own. I cannot help just mentioning the public stand he made against Arianism, when supported by one, whose great reputation for learning had, both at home and abroad, been justly acknowledged: a cause wherein his adversaries were silenced by the force of his arguments; and that over-forward gentleman, who put our Author's Queries to the press without his consent or knowledge, (Queries sent him in friendly letters, and by way of private correspondence only b,) soon found reason to repent (I do not say he did repent) of his conduct.
a Mr. Seed's Sermon on occasion of the Old Bailey, on Ludgate Hill. death of Dr. Waterland : preached at Vid. Waterland's Preface to his VinTwickenham Chapel, January 4, 1740-1. dication of Christ's Divinity, vol. i. Printed for R. Manby, over-against the
In these, and many other learned tracts upon the most abstruse and difficult points, his notions are so clear, and his expression so happy, that the most abstracted subjects become, in his hands, easy and intelligible ; and his ideas are conveyed to the minds of others, with the same clearness with which he conceived them in his own. These will render his name more lasting, than the greatest titles and preferments would have done : those he affected not, nor was solicitous to have them ; if he had any ambition, it was to deserve them : and it is a greater honour to him, that our most excellent Primate, to whom merit is always the chief recommendation, thought him worthy of them ; than it is to others to be, by the common methods, actually advanced to them. Nor was he less sensible of the great honour done him by the whole body of the Convocation, in choosing him their Prolocutor ; though, for some reasons, he found it proper to decline it.
But his learning and abilities, though great and admirable, I look upon as the least part of his praise. He had, indeed, an excellent head; but he had too, what is infinitely more valuable, an honest mind. The character he himself hath described in one of his sermons is so exactly his own, that it seems to be a transcript only of his own heart : “ He “was a person of great simplicity and integrity, remarkable for his “ honest and upright heart, his frank and open conversation, and for “ his plainness and sincerity in all his dealings. He had no sinister or “selfish views, no deceit nor craftiness in him. His designs were “ all just, fair, and honourable. His conduct equal, clear, and uni“ form. In a word, his tongue, his hand, and his heart, all went “together."
He hath already approved himself to the learned world as a most able writer in critical and metaphysical discourses; and in these now published, he will be found to have acquitted himself with equal honour in practical ones. The following Sermons are truly such : and what the Author's opinion was of such kind of discourses, may be seen in his Preface to the second edition of Mr. Blair's Sermons, vol. iv. “ and secret subterfuges ; and lastly, to enforce them with a becoming
“ When I say practical, let no one be so weak as to take “ that for a diminutive expression ; which is indeed the highest and
brightest commendation that a work can have ; whether we look at the “ intrinsic use and value of it, or at the real difficulties of performing it “ to a degree of exactness, or at the talents requisite for it.
A man “ bred up in the schools, or conversant only with books, may be able " to write systems, or to discuss points, in a clear and accurate manner: “ but that and more is required in an able guide, a complete practical
Divine, who undertakes to bring down the most important truths to “ the level of a popular audience ; to adapt them properly to times,
persons, and circumstances ; to guard them against latent prejudices
p. 419, &c.
earnestness, and with all the prudent ways of insinuation and address. A
person must have some knowledge of men, besides that of books, to succeed well here; and must have a kind of practical sagacity
(which nothing but the grace of God, joined with recollection and “ wise observation, can bring) to be able to represent Christian truths “ to the life, or to any considerable degree of advantage." The Author hath here laid down the necessary qualifications of a practical Divine, and the reader of the following Sermons will find, that he hath given us, in himself, a complete example of one. If some may have looked upon him as a mere scholar, conversant only in the learning of the schools ; they will here find they were mistaken, and that he understood men as well as he did books. It appears, from the following Discourses, that he had a thorough insight into human nature, understood the secret springs and movements of the passions, and the whole anatomy, if I may so speak, of the human mind. His way is always, first, to search out the seat of the disease, and in what passion the latent seeds of it are situated; and then to apply the remedy there with consummate skill, and a masterly hand : they will be found full of sound reasoning, just and proper observations, and excellent rules for the conduct of life. As his great design was the instructing his audience, he chose rather to inform the mind than amuse the imagination, and to be understood rather than admired.
The style is simple and unadorned, but clear and nervous ; and such an unusual plainness runs through the whole, that perhaps it is a kind of style which never yet appeared; but which wants only to appear, in order to be admired and imitated.
But what gave a peculiar force and efficacy to his instructions, was a life answerable to them; while he stood forth a pattern of what he taught, and was himself the character he was recommending to others.
At the end of this volume there are two tracts; I. A Summary View of the Doctrine of Justification ; II. An Inquiry concerning the Antiquity of Infant Communion.
I. The subject of Justification was the occasion of great controversy in the last century. During twenty years' confusion in Church and State, many books were published on this subject by the contending parties; all maintaining their several schemes and hypotheses with equal zeal, and perplexing the plain, natural sense of the inspired writers, with learned sophistry and metaphysical subtleties. Upon this occasion, in order to restore and settle the peace of the