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Bustical Religion





IN Mr. Foster's "Life and Correspondence" (Vol. i. p. 410) the reader will find an account of the circumstances which led to the preparation of most of the Discourses contained in these volumes. After Mr. Foster's final relinquishment of stated services as a preacher, and his removal in 1821 to Stapleton, where he spent the rest of his life, several of his friends and ardent admirers formed a plan, which happily fell in with his own views, of a course of Lectures to be delivered by him once a fortnight. It was anticipated (and correctly, as the event proved) that many individuals, of various religious communities, would gladly embrace the opportunity of listening to those original illustrations of the most momentous truths which a mind of so high an order would present, and that on cultivated young persons especially a very salutary influence would be exerted. With such an audience Mr. Foster felt at liberty to take a wider range of subjects than in addressing an ordinary congregation, the majority of whom would require the familiar and reiterated presentation of the most obvious topics. In writing to a friend he described this engagement as being "much the kind of thing he could have wished;" but added that the labour of preparing a single discourse


was scarcely less than that necessary for five or six sermons in the ordinary routine of a preacher's life. He had, however, a view to the ultimate publication of the Lectures, for in the same letter he says, "If I shall have competent health for the required labour of composition, I may probably try to put a selection of these Discourses into the shape of a printed volume or more, in the course of time." To this intention it is probably owing that these volumes stand less in need than most posthumous publications of the author's final revision, and that so little has been left for editorial superintendence beyond the distribution of the sentences into paragraphs. Some notion may be formed of what Mr. Foster's severe, not to say fastidious, elaboration would have effected from the Lecture (xlii.) " On Access to God," which he actually prepared for the press at the request of the Committee of the Religious Tract Society.

In the present edition, the order of time in the arrangement has been more strictly observed than before, and a few Discourses have been added which, though not belonging to the series of Lectures, are marked by similar excellencies of elevated thought and striking illustration. It is with a melancholy satisfaction that the Editor presents them to the public, as being in all probability the last that have been left in such a state of completeness as a due regard to Mr. Foster's memory would exact to justify their appearance.


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