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Prefatory note to the three following discourses.

In the year 1672, the government of Charles II. began to abate its severity against Dissent. Penal laws against the Nonconformists and Popish recusants were suspended. They were allowed to meet for public worship, on the condition of taking out from government a license to this effect. A large body of Nonconformists availed themselves of the license. Numerous congregations were formed; and, to illustrate the harmony between Presbyterians and Independents on the leading doctrines of the Christian system, a weekly lectureship was established, in which four Presbyterian and two Independent ministers officiated in rotation. The first lectures were Dr Bates, Dr Manton, Dr Owen, Mr Baxter, Mr Collins, and Mr Jenkyn. The lectures were delivered in Pinner’s Hall, an ancient and curious building in Old Broad Street. This lectureship was supported by considerable sums, which were bequeathed for the purpose. A division among the lecturers took place in 1694, occasioned by disputes in regard to the soundness of some opinions of Dr Crisp, whose works had been reprinted in 1690. The one party held these opinions to be Antinomian; the other party, who were called Neonomians, vehemently resented a work by Dr Williams, in refutation of Crisp’s views. In the end, Dr Bates, Mr Howe, Mr Alsop, and Dr Williams withdrew, and established a separate lecture at Salter’s Hall.

These lectures at Pinner’s Hall were only the revival of a similar course of public instruction which had been instituted several years previously, and dropped at the Restoration. Neal, in his History of the Puritans, gives the following account of its origin:— “Most of the citizens of London having some relative or friend in the army of the Earl of Essex, so many bills were sent up to the pulpit every Lord’s day for their preservation, that the ministers had not time to notice them in prayer, or even to read them. It was therefore agreed to set apart an hour at seven o’clock every morning, half of it to be spent in prayer for the welfare of the public, as well as particular cases, and the other in exhortations to the people. Mr Case began it in his church in Milk Street, from whence it was removed to the other distant churches in rotation, — a month at each. A number of the most eminent ministers conducted this service in town, and it was attended by great crowds of people. After the heat of the war was over, it became what was called a Casuistical Lecture, and continued till the Restoration,” According to Palmer’s Nonconformists’ Memorial, most of the lectures were delivered at Cripplegate Church, and some at St Giles’, whilst the lectures in the series against Popery were delivered at Southwark.

The lectures were published in successive volumes, and are very valuable. The first volume was edited by Case, who had been chiefly instrumental in the erection of the lectureship, — it is entitled, “The Morning Exercise Methodized; or, certain chief heads and points of the Christian religion opened and improved, in divers sermons,” etc. The volume bears date 1660. Other four volumes successively appeared in 1661, 1674, 1683, and 1690. To each of the volumes there was a preface by Samuel Annesley, LL.D., who had also given one of the lectures in each course. In 1675, there was published, under the editorial superintendence of the Rev. Nathaniel Vincent, A.M., “The Morning Exercise against Popery; or, the principal errors of the Church of Rome detected and confuted, in a morning lecture preached lately at Southwark.”

It is not so generally known, that, besides the works enumerated above, there were volumes of the same character published at still earlier dates. The titles of them may be given:— “The Morning Exercise at Giles-in-the-Fields, May 1655, printed for Richard Gibbs, in Chancery Lane, near Sergeants’ Inn;” and “The Word of Faith, at Martin’s-in-the-Fields, February 1655, printed for Fran. Tyton, at the Three Daggers, in Fleet Street.”

Dr Owen contributed three sermons to these “Morning Exercises;” — one entitled, “How we may Bring our Hearts to Bear Reproofs,” published in the Supplement to “The Morning Exercise” at Cripplegate, 1674; a second, “The Chamber of Imagery,” etc., in “The Morning Exercise” in 1683; and a third, — which seems to have escaped the notice of Mr Orme, and is not included in Russell’s edition of Owen’s works, — entitled, “The Testimony of the Church is not the Only, nor the Chief Reason of our Believing the Scripture to be the Word of God,” and published in “The Morning Exercise against Popery,” 1675. — Ed.

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