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As many persons, and more especially the parishioners and friends of the late Dr. STILLMAN, were particularly desirous of possessing his printed sermons, which could not conveniently be obtained, it was concluded, in order to gratify their wishes, to republish them. But the committee of his church, to whom were referred the sermons for inspection, and who are the editors of this work, were of opinion, that as many of them were merely occasional, and of course had now lost something of their interest, it would be more judicious to select some of the most useful from amongst those already published, and to add a few original ones, which he himself had contemplated for publication, but left in an unfinished state, to complete the volume; adding, at the close, a list of those which, though already printed, are not included in this volume.
It was the usual method of Dr. STILLMAN, to write the principal part of his discourses, but in the application to note only the heads. To some of these have been added a few appropriate scriptural and other passages, by the Rev. Dr. BALDWIN, in order to fill up the chasm.
Those persons who have heard the sermons with approbation, will no doubt peruse them with interest, and it is devoutly to be hoped with lasting advantage. To them, in a more especial manner, their pastor, though dead, yet speaketh. He still exhorts them to aspire after perfect holiness; to
reflect upon neglected opportunities of religious improvement, now forever past; to improve the privileges they at present enjoy; and to continue stedfast in the faith once delivered to the saints.
The character of their Author will be immediately recognized in the following discourses, by all who enjoyed the happiness of sitting under his ministry. To their minds they will so forcibly recall his image, that they can scarcely persuade themselves that he is not still speaking. Animated, however, as is the strain of feeling which runs through them all, they cannot be associated, in the minds of others, with the impressive manner, the persuasive eloquence, and the ardent piety, which greatly increased their value with those who heard and loved the preacher. This consideration, however, it is to be hoped, will not lessen their interest and use with any persons, who are lovers of genuine piety, or disposed to profit by the means it affords. Delicacy forbids the editors to say more. They commit the work to the public, and rest their judgment, where it ought to rest-with them.
Sincerely hoping that it may be the means of strengthening the feeble, of encouraging the timid, of awakening the secure, and of confirming and edifying the saint, they profess themselves the reader's sincere well-wishers, in the fellowship and faith of our common Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
THE AUTHOR'S LIFE.
MEMOIRS of persons, who have been eminent
for their usefulness, or distinguished for their piety, can scarcely fail to excite an interest. All who feel a solicitude for their own moral improvement, or an ardent desire to see others attain to equal eminence, will commonly find in them some new motives and excitements to animation, in running the race that is set before them.
It is with this ardent wish to stimulate others to strive af er things that are excellent, that the editors of the following Discourses republish, with some additions, what on a former occasion has been laid before the public, respecting the character of their author. To gain celebrity to his memory, is the least object of desire. Whilst living he sought most of all the praise of God; and now that he is dead, the applauses of men, could he be conscious of them, would to him be a matter of the smallest moment, and less than the shadow of a shade.
In the biography however of the author, variety should hardly be expected. The incidents of a pastor's life are commonly few, and the sameness of his duties leads to a sameness of employment. Yet to all to whom it is an agreeable exercise to contemplate goodness of heart with sensations of pleasure, and usefulness of life with emotions of approbation, the perusal may be attended with salutary effects.
SAMUEL STILLMAN was born in the city of Philadelphia, of parents respectable for their virtues, and of the religious persuasion of Particular Baptists. At the age of eleven years he was removed with them to Charleston, South Carolina, and there received the rudiments of his education, at an academy under a Mr. Rind. His improvements there were such as presaged his future worth; and he gave early indications of a mind seriously impressed with a sense of religious truth. In one of his manuscripts we find some account of very early religious impressions being made upon his mind. These, however, he observes, were generally of short continuance, until more effectually awakened by a sermon delivered by the late excellent Mr. Hart, when, to borrow his own language, he says, "My mind was again solemnly impressed with a sense of my awful condition as a sinner. This conviction grew stronger and stronger. My condition alarmed me. I saw myself without Christ and without hope. I found that I deserved the wrath to come, and that God would be just to send me to hell. I was now frequently on my knees, pleading for mercy. As a beggar I went, having nothing but guilt, and no plea but mercy." How long he continued in this distressed condition is not particularly stated, but it appears from several passages of scripture, he obtained a degree of hope and comfort, though not entirely satisfied. Not long after, he heard Mr. Hart discourse from Matt. i. 21. "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins." From this sermon he received consolation, and adds, "Christ then became precious to me, yea, all in all. Then I could say of wisdom, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." That I still think was the day of my espousal. Glory be to God, for the riches of his grace to me. Why me, Lord? &c." He was soon after baptized, and received into the church under the pastoral care of Mr. Hart.
After finishing his classical education, he spent one year in the study of divinity with that gentleman. Being called by the church, he preached his first sermon on the
17th of February, 1758; and on the 26th of February, 1759, was ordained in the city of Charleston, South Carolina, to the work of an evangelist.
Immediately afterwards, however, he settled at James Island, a most pleasant situation opposite the city. Soon after he visited the place of his nativity, and on the twenty-third of May, the same year, married Hannah, the daughter of Evin Morgan, Esq. merchant of that place, by whom he afterwards had fourteen children. He also took his degree at the university there, and returned to his society on James Island. But he had not continued above eighteen months with his affectionate and united' people, before a violent attack of a pulmonary complaint, forced his removal to another climate. He accordingly fixed himself with his family at Bordentown," New Jersey, where he supplied two different congregations for the space of two years. His ill health somewhat improved, but by no means restored, determined him at length to visit New England, hoping that the exercise, together with the change of air, might yet further mend his impaired constitution.
On his arrival here, 1763, at the request of the Second Baptist Church, he removed his family to Boston, and after preaching one year as an assistant to the late Rev. Mr. Bound, accepted an invitation to settle with the First Baptist Church, and was installed over it January 9, 1765.
By nature he was endowed with a sprightly genius, a' good capacity, and an uncommon vivacity and quickness' of apprehension. His feelings were peculiarly strong and lively, which imparted energy to whatever he did, and under the influence and control of religious principles, served to increase and diffuse his eminent piety." To this constitutional ardour both of sentiment and action, which led him to enter with his whole soul into every subject which engaged his attention, he united at remarkable delicacy of feeling and sense of propriety, and such sprightliness and affability in conversation, such ease and politeness of manners, and at the same time such a glow of pious zeal and affection, as enabled him to min