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Prefatory note.

The following is the first of Owen’s posthumous Sermons. It was preached on the occasion of a fast, December 22, 1681; and was published separately, in 1690, with the subjoined quaint preface by Daniel Burgess. The latter was the son of an excellent Nonconformist minister, Daniel Burgess, who was ejected from Collinburn, Wiltshire, under the Bartholomew Act, 1662. The son was a somewhat eccentric but celebrated and much-respected preacher in London, — a kind of Latimer among the Nonconformists of his time. He died in 1713, and his funeral sermon was preached by Matthew Henry:—

To the Reader — Upon the desire of some interested in the publication of this sermon, I have perused it, and do communicate these my thoughts concerning it.

“There appear unto me in it those two things, which do above all others commend any sermon, or any other book, — namely, most weighty and seasonable argument, with very judicious and methodical management.

“If I am able to judge, the management speaks arma virumque, the man and his furniture; and it is, like its great author, well known to this age, and like to be so unto future ones by his writings, in more than one language. There is a favour due unto all posthumous pieces, — of which sort this is; but there is little need that this piece seems to have of it.

“As for its argument, it is very salvation; and that not merely personal or domestical, but national. This, if any thing, will be acknowledged momentous; and now, if ever, it must be acknowledged seasonable; — now, in this our day, ‘known only to the Lord;’ — nay, now, that it is neither day nor night, as the prophet speaks; — now, that city and country are crying, ‘Watchman, what of the night? watchman, what of the night?’ — now, that the three frightful signs of approaching night are so upon us; I mean, shadows growing long, labourers going apace home, and wild beasts going boldly abroad. ‘Quis talia fando temperet à lachrymis?

“In a word, here is that which will sufficiently recommend itself to all serious readers. It is the complaint of many, that our booksellers’ shops are become heaps of dry sand, in which many a rich stone is lost: but it is known to all, that diamonds will be found out by their own lustre; and I make no great question but so this sermon will be. That it may be so, and may go much abroad, and do good wherever it comes, is the prayer of

“Thy servant in Christ Jesus,

D. Burgess

From my house in Bridges Street, in Covent Garden, Aug. 7, 1690.”

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