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ALTHOUGH the title affixed to this volume of Lectures be sufficient to express the use for which they are principally designed, it may not be unnecessary to explain the motives which induced their publication. It was not a love of novelty in divinity; for, as our Lord hath said, No man having drank old wine straightway desireth new; for, he saith, the old is better. Nor was it from a wish to court the applause of the learned; for I have studied that simplicity of style which best suits the mixed capacities usually found in domestic circles. But, my aim is to be useful in promoting the moral interest of families, by disseminating some of the most important truths of the Gospel, in an agreeable variety, without regard to those perplexing controversies too prevalent among professors of Christianity. I have also in view, the assistance of congregations and societies in the country, who are frequently destitute of stated Ministers; presuming this volume, in the hand of a good reader, may be the means of securing the attendance of the people, and promoting their instruction. From a pretty general acquaintance with mankind, I am confident that the respectability of any community depends on the virtue of the families of which it is composed. I am equally confident, that domestic life is capable of producing very great sources of disquietude, or of enjoying a very high degree of happiness. That the Gospel of Christ is calculated to correct improper habits, and afford consolation under sufferings, and that it enjoins duties productive of good order and real pleasure, is disputed by none who are acquainted with its divine precepts. For these reasons I have con. structed my Lectures in that form, and under that title, which I presumed would be best calculated to make their way into Christian families of different denominations; and, under the benediction of the Almighty, contribute, in some small degree, to the valuable fund of personal and social improvement. Infallibility is not the prerogative of man. I know, , as an excellent writer has observed, " there will be inaccuracies in theology while men preach, and errors in governments while men rule.” This, however,
should make us set the higher value upon the pure word of God: I, therefore, freely acknowledge how much I need the forbearance of my heavenly Father, and the candour of my readers in this publication. Still it is a duty which I owe to the same Almighty Being and to my own conscience, in this prefatory Address, to declare, I am now passing the meridian of life, and by numberless incitements, am called to anticipate death and eternity. Time is. short, truth is divine and inestimably precious. Under these impressions, the following Lectures were composed, and are now made public. And in the construction of them I solemnly declare I have not introduced a single sentence but what, from deliberate thought, I firmly hope bears the impress of the Gospel, and is calculated to destroy vice, promote the purest virtue, and aid the real Christian in his life and walk of faith.
In humility I copy the example of St. Peter, who wrote his Epistles with the view that his sentiments might be kept in veneration after his death; and would hope that some of my dearest connections, both in America and in Europe, by these Lectures,
after my decease, may be able to have those things in rememberance, which they have for so many years, and, I trust, not altogether in vain, heard from my lips. As the success of every truth.we preach, and every truth we write, wholly depends upon the influence of the ETERNAL SPIRIT, I close this Address, sincerely praying the Most High GOD will vouchsafe to bless what shall be found in this volume calculated for the conversion of sinners, the instruction of Christians, and the glory of his own adored name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
New-York, August 18, 1806.