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Prefatory note.

The following discourse was preached after Owen’s return from Ireland. The expedition of Cromwell had been eminently successful in establishing peace, after the massacres and commotions which had long prevailed in that island. Owen, however, had set his heart upon securing for it higher blessings than outward peace, enforced by the conquering sword of the Protector. It is affecting to note the depth of spiritual concern and anxiety he evinces, that Ireland should enjoy the gospel of Christ, as the only cure for its manifold and inveterate disorders. How humbling, that extensive districts of it should have remained to our day substantially under the same wants and necessities which bad a voice so clamant in the ear of Owen! It reads as if the utterance of yesterday, when we find him declaring his heartfelt wish, that “the Irish might enjoy Ireland as long as the moon endureth, so that Jesus Christ might possess the Irish.”

Mr Orme holds, apparently on good grounds, that this sermon was really delivered before the House of Commons, not in February 1649, as the title bears, but in February 1650. The epistle dedicatory to the preceding sermon on” Righteous Zeal,” etc., has the address and date, “Coggeshall, Feb. 28,” (undoubtedly 1649), which is the same day on which, by the title of the present sermon, he was preaching at London. Some allusions in this sermon are thought to indicate that Owen had been in Ireland; and though, in all the editions of it, the year is said to have been 1649, by the present mode of reckoning it would be 1650. We may add, that in the old collections of Owen’s sermons, this one follows the sermon next in the present order, on Heb. xii. 27. On the other hand, Asty affirms that it was preached before Owen went to Ireland, and speaks of it as giving rise to his acquaintance with Cromwell. The allusions to Ireland may not be regarded by some as very decisive on the point; and it is singular that the number of the year should differ from the mode of reckoning common to the dates of the other sermons published by Owen about this time. Since authorities differ, we have given the evidence on both sides, and the sermons appear in the order in which, by the dates and titles, they are said to have been preached. Mr Orme seems to us clearly in the right; and, though the matter is not of much importance, we have, under this view, some record in this discourse of the impressions left on the mind of Owen by his visit to Ireland. On the first occasion on which he ever preached before the House of Commons, he entreated that the destitute parts of England and Wales might be supplied with the gospel; and now on his return from his mission to Dublin, as soon as he has the ear of Parliament, he implores, in fervent terms, that the gospel may be sent to Ireland. The fact bespeaks his own heartfelt sense of its value, and shows how wisely be could turn opportunities to account for the advancement of his Master’s cause. — Ed.

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