« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
REVISED AND CORRECTED
SERMONS AND OTHER WRITINGS.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to
Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1834, by Whitmore & BuckinghAM AND H. MANsfield, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of Connecticut.
PRESS OF Whitmore & BuckinghAM. stEReoryped by F. F. Ripley, New York.
Foh most men, the worth and influence of a book, other things being equal, is greatly modified by their estimation of its author. The circumstance of a personal acquaintance with, or knowledge of a man, especially when it combines itself with our most venerable and holy remembrances, imparts a lifelike freshness and reality to his recorded doings and sayings, the effect of which, when contrasted with the same things done and said by a person alien and unknown to us, may be fairly illustrated by the comparative power of oral and written discourse. No individual, in these latter days, has so identified himself with the growth and spread of practical religion, in England and America, as Whitefield. Divines and theologians there have been, and still are, not a few of far greater depth, acuteness and comprehension. They are burning and shining lights, and revolve with no rival or secondary glory in their appointed spheres. They have done well, and to them be awarded all due honor and praise. Whitefield cannot and would not measure strength with them here. It was appointed to him to PREAch ; and before a crowd of drowsy worldlings, be to him the honor of having no equal or rival in the service of his Master. To compare Whitefield with Edwards is impossible and absurd. It is like comparing Sir Isaac Newton with Milton, as intellectual giants, or the air with the earth, as the conditions of animal existence. Like his Master, “who had a mountain for his pulpit, and the heavens for his sounding-board; and who when his gospel was refused by the Jews, sent his servants into the high-ways and hedges;” he imprisoned not his voice within the bounds of ecclesiastical limitation, but going forth into a temple not made with hands, he bore the glad tidings of the gospel as far as the air would reverberate them, to as many of those speaking his vernacular tongue as the measure of his health, strength, and years would allow. Probably no one since Luther and Calvin has been such a chosen vessel for bearing the errands of mercy to the multitude; no one has been so gifted with an almost inherent aptitude for converting his very adversities and afflictions into instruments, without which the very end which they were intended to frustrate would have been far less successfully accomplished. In this country especially, his name will be af. fectionately and reverently reverted to, as having struck an almost miraculous life into a lethargic church, and as having put to shame the contemptuous indifference of unbelievers. Under God, he changed our steril religious wastes into verdant, heavenly pastures, and sowed on good ground those seeds of practical piety, whose fruits yet bless and ennoble us in the institutions and habits that have been handed down to us from the religion of the last generation. More than any other he is sacredly embalmed in the religious remembrances of this people. No apology, it is presumed, is needed, now that his life and writings are out of the market, and out of print, for publishing the present volume. The religious wants of our people demand it. And few books are so inwoven with those endearing affections and interests that lead to an earnest and profitable perusal. The volume consists of a Memoir, and some of his published productions. So far as is known, no edition of his Memoirs has been published since the year 1812, when two editions appeared simultaneously; one, the original, unaltered narrative of Dr. Gillies, in New Haven; the other, the same narrative revised and considerably amplified by Mr. Seymour, in Philadelphia. The original work of Dr. Gillies is, for the most part, a mere compilation. It consists of bare details of incidents, so disposed as seldom to point us to those individual peculiarities in which they had their origin, or bear along with themselves the distinct features and lineaments of Whitefield's character. The style too, is dry and careless. It contains, however, the facts which must be the basis of all other Memoirs of this wonderful man. Mr. Seymour essentially improved it, by remodelling, to a great extent, the phraseology; by incorporating many newly discovered facts, anecdotes, and accounts of several active contemporary characters, tending to variegate the narrative, and throw light upon Whitefield's course; and finally, by many of his own reflections and suggestions, giving method to the whole work, and prominence and distinctness to the noticeable traits in Whitefield. In this latter respect, however, it remained too deficient and feeble: and in this view—the only end for which biography is desirable, it is believed that the present edition considerably surpasses all that have preceded it. The chapters at the beginning and close of the Memoirs will be found to be in the main new, and to elucidate his character beyond any former editions. In order to enhance the value of the book, and not his own reputation, the Editor has not scrupled to appropriate and imbody in the narrative, whatever came to his knowledge within the brief time allotted to him for the revisal, calculated to illustrate the character of its subject. He has frequently incorporated matter from other books, sometimes slightly modified, and sometimes altogether unchanged, as seemed most conducive to his purpose. To Southey's Life of Wesley, this volume is especially indebted. This general acknowledgment, he trusts, is sufficient, and
is inserted here on account of a reluctance to break the contiguity of the nar-