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Custom seems to have rendered it almost necessary, for an Author never to appear before the Publick without a Preface; in which something, if not concerning himself, yet concerning his work is looked for, as a respect due to his readers. Yet Rosseau says, it is a part of the book never read, unless by women and children. The Author however indulges a hope that this is not very extensively true; since, in writing the following introductory remarks, he certainly intended, as will appear from their length, something more than a ceremonious conformity to example.
The design of this Series of Lectures was to diversify a little the ordinary course of ministerial instruction—to excite and secure attention by a degree of allowable novelty and curiosityand to bring together various things pertaining to the same subject; so that they might aid each other in illustration and improvement, by their arrangement and union.
But why publish them? The writer is aware what an abundance of religious works is perpetually issuing from the press : and he would not wonder, if some should think that he has too often appeared before the publick already. Yet he trusts an author is not necessarily supposed to say to his readers, "Now attend only to me.” Surely many publications may be serviceable for different purposes, and in different degrees; and a writer may be allowed to conclude, that the production of his pen may obtain a measure of welcome and useful attention—without the vanity of supposing that it is superior to every other, or the folly of expecting that it is to supersede any other. If too the author be a publick teacher, and has met with acceptance, it is natural to suppose that he will secure a considerable number of connexions more immediately his own, and who will be rather partial to the writer, for the sake of the preacher. Such was the case
here. In two or three days after this Course of Lectures was finished, a large number of copies was called and subscribed for by those who had heard them. Many of these applicants were persons whose opinion and desire would have had weight with any one who knew them; while all of them had claims upon the Preacher, as stated, or occasional parts of his audience. The Author can truly say that he yielded to publish with a reluctance which only an ascertained earnestness could have overcome. Yet he is now glad, especially with regard to his own audience, that the importunity was expressed, and has been complied with. For near thirty-five years he has been labouring to serve his present charge, in the unity of the Spirit, and in the bond of peace, and he hopes he may add, in righteousness of life: and though he commenced his connexion young, yet such a period strikes far into the brevity of human life, and calls upon him to think, and feel, and act, with increasing seriousness and diligence, knowing that the night cometh wherein no man can work; and to be concerned that after his decease, his people may be able to have the things he has spoken always in remembrance. The work, therefore, as a brief epitome of his preaching, will serve as a kind of ministerial legacy to be perused, particularly by the younger members of his church and congregation, when the clods of the valley will be sweet about him; and by which, though dead, he may yet speak—perhaps, in some cases, to more purpose than while living. The work may tend to correct some pious mistakes both on the right hand, and on the left. It contains many of the Author's views on important subjects after considerable experience and observation. For such remarks his station has been favourable, and his opportunities numerous; especially from the variety and latitude of his religious intercourse. This has never been confined to Christians of his own denomination. He has not suffered prejudice so to magnify, what his convictions might have led him to consider *the mistakes or imperfections of any who differ from him, as to make him overlook their excellencies as individuals or communities; or to prevent his mingling with them in company, and cooperating with them in services; or to deprive him of that pleasure and profit which he knows may be derived from those who cannot frame to pronounce exactly the Shibboleth of a spiritual tribe. He has always preferred to study religion, not in its ab