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THE following discourses I commit to
I the public with diffidence. There is no species of composition which it is more difficult to execute well, so as, at once, to edify and please—to give the grace of novelty to old and trite truths--and to add the decent and lawful embellishments of art to the fimplicity of the gospel. Stile is so much an object of cultivation, in the present age, that the most serious and interesting truths are no longer well received, unless conveyed in an agreeable manner. I have endeavored, in this respect, to consult the public taste, without sacrificing to it, however, the plainness and gravity of evangelic truth. As far as I have been able, I have studied to unite the simplicity that becomes the pulpit, along with a portion of that elegance that is now so loudly demanded in every kind of writing. The subjects of discourse I have selected with as much variety as poffible, and have endeavored to adapi to them a correspondent variety of slile.
The French preachers, who flourished at the clofe of the last, and the commencement of the present century, I have, from an early period of lise, admired for a certain fervor in their sacred eloquence, which the English, too frequently, want. This manner I aimcd, in some degree, to transfuse into my own. And altho, in prepairing these discourses for the press, and consequently for the closet, where the mind is usually in a cool and dispassionate state, I have abated somewhat of the warmth which I endeavored to support in the delivery, yet, in the greater part of character will still be per
them, this ceivable.
It is almost impossible, in the present period of society, and of the progress of letters, to treat on any subject in morals or religion that has not been illustrated, in some point of view, by some eminent writer. Altho every writer and speaker, if he has any talents, will be distinguished by a peculiar manner of thought and expression, which will give variety and novelty to a subject in his hands ; yet, there may sometimes exist an unavoidable coincidence of sentiment between him and others, and, sometimes, another may have so happily hit off an idea that he would not wish to change it, because it cannot be changed but with disadvantage. Where a few instances of this kind occur in the following discourses, I have carefully referred to the authors, as far as my memory has served me. For this I have the example of Arch-bishop Tillotson, and other distinguished writers in the English language.
In the greater part of these discourses I have adopted the ordinary mode of division. In that on Death, however, I have followed the idea of the celebrated Arch-bishop of Cambray in his dialogues on eloquence, in which he recommends to a preacher to take fome single truth, some simple principle of religion, as the subject of discourse ; and, in the illustration, to observe a real but concealed order, not laid down in distinct propositions, nor marked by numerical characters. In a warm and pathetic strain of address this stru&ture of a discourse may profitably be chosen ; but where instruction principally is aimed at, the common practice, by distinct and marked divisions, is, perhaps, to be preferred.
Some readers would have been better pleafed with profound theological discussions, and with more copious arguments and illustrations drawn from the sacred scriptures. I have chosen, however, to adapt myself to a much larger class who can hardly be in