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Every author has a style peculiar to himself. Two authors, whose productions, in point of style, are in all respects alike, are rarely to be met with. Novelty is generally pleasing ; and with the exception already noticed, the taste for novelty is, perhaps, in general, more likely to be gratified by a judicious compilation, than by the performances of a single author. It often happens, that the same words, which convey a sentiment, very clearly, to the mind of one reader, are viewed by another as dark, obscure, or unintelligible ; whilst the sentiment thus expressed, if clothed in different language, might appear to both, to be more forcibly delivered. Hence, the diversity of language which a good compilation em. braces, will, it is apprehended, prove better suited to the various tastes, apprehensions, and capacities of miscellaneous readers, than that uniformity of style which is to be expected from a work, all prepared by the same hand. Moreover, as this volume will, in all probability, be principally read by the inhabitants of the Southern States, it may be fairly presumed, that this book will rarely be opened by any one, who will not find in it, the production of some Minister, with whom he is personally acquainted, and for whom, perhaps, he feels a personal attachment.
To the Editor of this volume, and doubtless also to the authors of the Sermons it contains, it is a matter of little concern, what may be said of its contents, by those who may choose to make them a subject of mere critical remark. The great objects the writers had in view, were, in the exercise of their Ministerial office, to instruct and persuade their hearers, to accept of salvation through Jesus Christ, on the terms proposed in the Gospel; and to build up, in their most holy faith, those who had accepted of this salvation ; and the Editor, in collecting the matter contained in this work, and presenting it to the public, was influenced by a desire to promote the same great objects; not by furnishing Sermons professedly better adapted to this end, by their own intrinsic excellence, than those already published; but by supplying the Southern people with a volume of discourses, calculated to interest and benefit them, from the considerations already suggested.
It is due to the authors of these Sermons to state, that, in general, they were written, not for the press, but in the ordinary course of weekly preparation for the pulpit; and, in addition to the statement of this fact, the Editor takes the freedom to remark, that, although there is reason to believe, that, had they been originally designed for the press, their style and composition would be more likely to fulfil the expectations of those who attach special importance to the nicest critical correctness; yet, it is very questionable, whether, in such a form, they would prove more acceptable to plain Christians, or more useful, than in the form in which they now appear.
In selecting from the manuscripts to which the Editor had access, it has been his aim, to contribute to the edification of his readers, by inserting only such discourses as he thought would generally be read, with pleasure and profit, by devout christians of every denomination; and, by carefully excluding every thing, which could have a tendency to give umbrage to any lover of Evangelical
truth. His sincere wishes are, that, in this object, he may not be found to have failed.
To the patrons of this volume, an apology is due, for the delay of its publication, so much beyond the time originally appointed for its appearance. On this subject, it was the sincere wish of the Editor, not to disappoint the expectation of his subscribers; but, in executing his design, he met with difficulties which he had not antici. pated; and the delay arose, not from negligence on his own part, but, from a variety of circumstances beyond his control, which, to the bulk of his readers, it would be of no consequence to detail.
As some of the subscribers will probably recollect, that, in an early printed prospectus of this work, a list was given of the names of some of the Ministers, from whom materials for this book were expected; it is here deemed proper to state, that, although this list was not given without the consent of the Ministers whose names appeared in the prospectus, as contemplated authors of the work; yet, there are some of these Ministers, from whom the Editor has received no manuscripts. This fact is stated, for the single purpose, of establishing the Editor's claim to exemption from the censure of such of his subscribers as may be disappointed, in consequence of not finding here, the productions of certain authors, which they had reason to expect that this volume would contain.
To his brethren in the Ministry, who have generously aided him in the prosecution of this work, both by furnishing him with materials, and by extending their friendly counsel in the selection, he returns his grateful
acknowledgments; and, while he thus thanks them for past favours, he hopes, at the same time, that he does not apply in vain, when he solicits their earnest prayers, together with those of all God's children, that the Father of all mercies, and the God of all grace, may accompany this publication with his divine blessing, and make it effectual to the salvation of many souls.