Imatges de pÓgina
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Tappan Presb. Ass



THE HE following difcourfes I commit to the public with diffidence. There is no fpecies of compofition which it is more difficult to execute well, fo 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 gofpel. Stile is fo much an object of cultivation, in the prefent age, that the moft ferious and interesting truths are no longer well received, unlefs conveyed in an agreeable manner. have endeavored, in this respect, to confult the public tafte, without facrificing to it, however, the plainnefs and gravity of evan


gelic truth. As far as I have been able, I have ftudied to unite the fimplicity that becomes the pulpit, along with a portion of that elegance that is now fo loudly demanded in every kind of writing. The fubje&s of difcourfe I have felected with as much variety as poffible, and have endeavored to adapt to them a correfpondent variety of file.

The French preachers, who flourished at the clofe of the laft, and the commencement of the prefent century, I have, from an early period of life, admired for a certain fervor in their facred eloquence, which the English, too frequently, want. This manner I aimcd, in fome degree, to transfufe into my own. And altho, in prepairing thefe difcourfes for the prefs, and confequently for the clofet, where the mind is ufually in a cool and difpaffionate ftate,I have abated fomewhat of the warmth which I endeavored to fupport in the delivery, yet, in the greater part of

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them, this character will ftill be perceivable.

It is almoft impoffible, in the present period of fociety, and of the progrefs of letters, to treat on any subject in morals or religion that has not been illuftrated, in fome point of view, by fome eminent writer. Altho every writer and speaker, if he has any talents, will be distinguished by a peculiar manner of thought and expreffion, which will give variety and novelty to a subject in his hands; yet, there may fometimes exift an unavoidable coincidence of fentiment between him and others, and, fometimes, 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 inftances of this kind occur in the following difcourfes, I have carefully referred to the authors, as far as my memory has served me. For this I have the example of Arch-bishop Tillotfon, and other diftinguifhed writers in the English language.

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In the greater part of these discourses I have adopted the ordinary mode of divifion. 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 fingle truth, fome fimple principle of religion, as the fubject of difcourfe; and, in the illuftration, to obferve a real but concealed order, not laid down in diftinct propofitions, nor marked by numerical characters. In a warm and pathetic ftrain of addrefs this ftructure of a difcourfe may profitably be chofen; but where inftruction principally is aimed at, the common practice, by diflinct and marked divisions, is, perhaps, to be preferred.

Some readers would have been better pleafed with profound theological difcuffions, and with more copious arguments and illuftrations drawn from the facred fcriptures. I have chofen, however, to adapt myself to a much larger class who can hardly be in

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