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friend to religion, morality, good order, and good government, and more especially of the ministers of the gospel, to exert every power and every talent with which God had blessed them, in order to counteract the baneful effects of those pestilential writings which every day issued from the press; to give some check to the growing relaxation of public manners; to state plainly and forcibly the evidences of our faith, and the genuine doctrines of our religion, the true principles of submission to our lawful governors, the mode of conduct in every relation of life which the gospel prescribes to us; and to vindicate the truth, dignity, and divine authority of the sacred writings. All this, after much deliberation, I conceived could in no other way be so effectually done as by having recourse to those writings themselves, by going back to the very fountain of truth and holiness, and by drawing from that sacred source the proofs of its own celestial origin, and all the evangelical virtues springing from it, and branching out into the various duties of civil, social, and domestic life.
The result was, that I resolved on discharging my share of these weighty obligations, by giving Lectures on the gospel of St. Matthew, in my own parish church of St. James, Westminster, every Friday in Lent; which, at the same time that it promoted my principal object, might also draw a little more attention to that holy but too much neglected season, which our Church has
very judiciously set apart, for the purpose of retirement and recollection, and of giving some little pause and respite to the ceaseless occupations and amusements of a busy and a thoughtless world. I foresaw, however, many difficulties in the undertaking, particularly in drawing together any considerable number of people to a place of public worship, for any length of time, on a common day of the week. But it pleased God to bless the attempt with a degree of success far beyond every thing I could have expected or imagined. And as I have been assured that several even of those amongst my audience, that disbelieved or doubted the truth of Christianity, were impressed with a more favourable opinion both of its evidences and its doctrines, and with a higher veneration for the sacred writings than they had before entertained, I am willing to flatter myself that similar impressions may possibly be made on some of that description, who may chance to cast their eyes on these pages and that they may also tend in some degree to confirm the faith and invigorate the good resolutions of many sincere believers in the gospel. With this hope I now offer them to the world, and particularly to those whom Providence has placed under my more immediate superintendence, and to whom I am desirous to bequeath this (perhaps) last public testimony of my solicitude for their everlasting welfare. And whatever errors, imperfections, or accidental repetitions (arising from the recurrence of the same subjects in the sacred narb
rative) the critical reader may discover in this work; he will, I trust, be disposed to think them entitled to some degree of indulgence, when he reflects that it was not a very easy task to adapt either the matter or the language of such discourses as these to the various characters, conditions, circumstances, capacities, and wants of all those different ranks of people to whom they were addressed; and when he is also told, that these Lectures were drawn up at a very advanced period of life, and not in the ease and tranquillity of literary retirement, but at short broken intervals of time, such as could be stolen from the incessant occupations of an arduous and laborious station, which would not admit of sufficient leisure for profound research or finished composition.
THIS great and truly pious prelate, whose exemplary conduct, in the station he adorned, may be held up the imitation of future bishops, was born at York, on the 8th of May, 1731. His parents were natives of Virginia, in North America, and both descended from good families. His mother's name was Jennings; she was said to be distantly related to Sarah Jennings, the wife of John Duke of Marlborough: her father, Colonel Jennings, was the first of the family who settled in Virginia, and for some time acted as deputy-governor of the colony. Mr. Porteus, after having been several years at school at York, was placed at Rippon, under Mr. Hyde; and at an earlier age than is usually the case now, was sent to Christ's College, Cambridge, and admitted a Sizar, where he soon distinguished himself by his proficiency in classical learning.
In 1752, he took his Bachelor's degree, and became a successful candidate for one of the gold medals distributed as the reward of classical literature, instituted by the Duke of Newcastle. On the 14th of March, 1753, he was chosen one of the esquire beadles of the university; an office he resigned on the 3rd July,
1755, and that year took the degree of Master of Arts. About this time he was chosen fellow of his college, and became a resident at Cambridge. At the age of twenty-six he took orders, and was ordained deacon at Buckden, in 1757, by Dr. Thomas, then Bishop of Lincoln. On his return to the university in 1759, he was the successful candidate for the Seaton prize. The subject of the poem was " DEATH," which, perhaps, the recent demise of his father had rendered congenial with his feelings. It exhibits proofs that, with due cultivation, he might have claimed the honours due to a genuine poet. In 1762, he was presented to the rectory of Wittersham, in Kent, by Archbishop Secker, who at the same time appointed him one of his domestic chaplains, when he quitted college, to reside at Lambeth.
In March 1764, he was presented by the Archbishop to the rectory of Rucking in Kent, and in October received from the same patron a prebend in the Cathedral Church of Peterborough. On the 13th of May, 1765, he was married by the Archbishop, to Margaret, eldest daughter of Brian Hodgson, Esquire, of Ashbourne in Derbyshire, and in the course of the same year he was presented to the rectory of Hunton. On the 7th July, 1767, the degree of Doctor in Divinity was conferred on him, and in August, on the death of Dr. Denne, he became rector of Lambeth, with which he also held the rectory of Hunton. In August 1768, he lost his patron, Archbishop Secker, who by his will entrusted to him, and his other chaplain Dr. Stinton, the revision and publication of his Lectures on the Catechism, his Manuscript Sermons, &c. This trust was executed in a very satisfactory manner; and, prefixed to the sermons published in 1770, was a very