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On the confederation-On the finançes-On the appointmerit of plenipotentiaries-On the convention with General Burgoyne. On the transportation of Dr. C- Defence in the synod of Glasgow. The addresses or letters entitled, On the proposed market in General Washington's camp-Address to General Washington On the affairs of the United States On the contest between Great Britain and America.
Whatever praise or blame the publication of the pieces here specified may be thought to deferve, the editor takes to himself. They would, probably, have perished in obfcurity, if his exertions had not been used in bringing them to light. He has to lament that the lectures on Divinity, and a number of the sermons and speeches, as well as some of the essays and letters, are unfinished. For the lectures and fermons, however, he thinks that no apology will be thought necefsary ; and for the rest he can only say, that the parts which are given appeared to him fo valuable, as to be worth preserving, though the whole could not be obtained. Some. times they cast light on the transactions of congress, or on the history of the revolutionary war of our country : fome. times they serve to exhibit the peculiar character and genius of the author, or to make known fome circumstance of his life which will afford gratification to his friends : and sometimes they contain a few ponderous or fplendid thoughts, which, like fragments of golden ore, are precious, though they are found detached from the mine. It is hoped that not much will be observed, that even suspicion itself will impute merely to a desire of swelling the volumes ; and the Dr's manner is so striking in all, that no one acquainted with it will doubt that the whole hạs proceeded from his pen.
In the former edition the following note was prefixed to the lectures on Moral Philosophy:
" In justice to the memory of Dr. WITHERSPOON, it
ought to be stated that he did not intend these lectures for “ the press, and that he once compelled a printer who, with, “out his knowledge, had undertaken to publish them, to de“ fist from the design, by threatening a prosecution as the
consequence of persisting in it. The Dr's lectures on “ morals, notwithstanding they assume the form of regular “ discourses, were in fact, viewed by himself as little more " than a fyllabus or compend, on which he might enlarge " before a class at the times of recitation ; and not intending is that they should go further, or be otherwise considered, " he took freely and without acknowledgment from writers ” of character, such ideas, and perhaps expressions, as he is found suited to his purpose. But though these causes “ would not permit the Dr. himself to give to the public " these sketches of moral philofophy, it is believed that they u ought not to operate so powerfully on those into whose " hands his papers have fallen since his death. Many of his “ pupils whófé eminence in literature and distinction in fo. “ ciety give weight to their opinions, have thought that " these lectures, with all their imperfections, contain one of " the best and most perfpicuous exhibitions of the radical “ principles of the fiience on which they treat that has ever “ been made, and they have very importunately demanded " their publication in this edition of his works : Nor is it " conceived that a compliance with this demand, after the " explanation here given can do any injury to the Dr's repu“ tation. And to the writer of this note it does not feem a “ fufficient reason that a very valuable work thould be con“ligned to oblivion, because it is in some measure incom“ plete, or because it is partly a selection from authors to 66 whom a distinct reference cannot now be made.”
It may be remarked that the lectures on Eloquence and Divinity, though equally compendious with those on Moral Philosophy, do not seem to need any acknowledgment in regard to the liberty taken of borrowing from other authors. They are in a remarkable degree original. It may, perhaps, be proper to state, what is known to hundreds, that the lectures on Eloquence were written exactly as they now appear before Blair's lectures on the same subject were ever in print. DR. WITHERSPOON has been heard to declare explicitly, that no communication whatever took place between him and Dr. BLAIR, relative to the topics which they have both discussed; and the correspondence which appears in their leading ideas, he used to remark, was a striking proof of the lasting effect produced by imbibing the same principles and studying under the fane masters in early life.
The editor has only to state farther, that he most sincerely regrets that no more of the manuscript sermons of Dr. WiTHERSPOON can be obtained. Of many excellent discourses which le has been heard to deliver, not a trace can now be found. Ther were probably committed to the flames through miltake, with a large collection of his papers which be ordered to be burned a little before his death.
THE following Treatises were originally published at different times, and some of them on particular occasions ; but the attentive reader will easily perceive one leading design running through the whole. The author hath long been of opinion, that the great decay of religion in all parts of this kingdom, is chiefly owing to a departure from the truth as it is in Jesus, from those doctrines which chiefly constitute the substance of the gospel. It may perhaps be justly imputed to other general causes in part, and in some measure to less universal causes in particular places ; but as all moral action must arise from principle, otherwise it ought not to be called by that name, the immediate and most powerful cause of degeneracy in practice, must always be a corruption in principle.
I am sensible that many will be ready to cry out on this occasion, « Such notions arise from narrowness of mind and uncharitable 6 sentiments.” I answer, that it is surprising to think how easily the fashionable or cant phrases of the age, will pass among superficial thinkers and readers, without the least atteniion either to their meaning, or to the evidence on which they are founded.
Thus at present, if a man shall write or speak against certain principles, and stile them pernicious, it will be thought a sufficient vindication of them to make a beaten common-place encomium on liberty of conscience and freedom of enquiry. Blessed be God, this great and sacred privilege is well secured to us in this nation : But pray, is it not mine as well as yours? And is it not the very exercise of this liberty for every man to endeavor to support those principles which appear to him to be founded on Reason and Scripture, as well as to attack, without scruple, every thing which he believes to be contrary to either.
Let it also be observed, that if freedom of inquiry be a blessing at all, it can be so for no other reason than the excellence and salutary influence of real truth, when it can be discovered. If truth and error are equally safe, nothing can be more foolish than for a man to waste his time in endeavoring to distinguish the one from the other. What a view does it give us of the weakness of human nature, that the same persons so frequently hold inconsistent prin. ciples? How many will say the strongest things in favor of an impartial search after truth, and with the very same breath tell you, " It is of no consequence at all, either for time or eternity, whe. $ther you hold one opinion or another,”.
REV. JOHN WITHERSPOON, D. D. L. L. D.
LATE PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE AT PRINCETON,
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED
An Account of the Author's Life, in a Sermon occasioned
by his Death,
BY THE REV. DR. JOHN RODGERS,
OF NEW YORK.
IN FOUR VOLUMES.-Vol. I.
SECOND EDITION, REVISED AND CORRECTED.
Printed and Published by William W. WOODWARD),
No. 52, South Second Street.
[Copy Right Secured.]