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Works, which appear to be a fair and full Portraiture of his Mind. As to the rest, all that I can at present learn, will lie within a very small Compass
. He was born and bred in Scotland; and was ordained and beneficed in the Epifcopal Church there: But meeting with some Discouragements, under an unsettled State of Affairs, and having a Prospect of difcharging his ministerial Function more usefully elsewhere, he quitted his Prefer+ ments there, and came over into England, some time in the latter End of King Charles the Second's Reign. It was not long before he was taken notice of by the then Bishop of London (Dr. Compton) who prevailed with him to go as Missionary (about the Year 1685) into Virginia: where by his regular Conversation, exemplary Conduct, and unwearied Labours in the Work of the Ministry, he did good Service to Religion, and gain’d to himself a good Report amongst all; So that the fame Bishop Compton, being well apprized of his true and great Worth, made choice of him, about the Year 1689, as his Commissary for Virginia; a very
weighty and creditable Post, the highest Office in the Church there: Which, however, did not take him off from his Paftoral Care, but only render'd him the more shining Example of it, to all the other Clergy within that Colony.
While his Thoughts were wholly intent upon doing good in his Office, he obferved with true Concern, that the Want of Schools, and proper Seminaries for Religion and Learning, was such a Damp upon all great Attempts for the Propagation of the Gospel, that little could be hoped for, without first removing that Obstacle. Therefore he formed a vast Design of erecting and endowing a College in Virginia, at Williamsburgh, the Capital of that Country, for Professors and Students in Academical Learning. In order thereto, he had himself set on foot a voluntary Subscription, amounting to a great Sum: and not content with that, he came over into England, in the Year 1693, to sollicit the Affair at Court. The good Queen (Queen Mary) was so well pleased with the noble Design, that she espoused it with a parti
cular Zeal; and King William also; as soon as he became acquainted with its Use and Excellency, very readily concurred with the Queen in it. Accordingly, a Patent paffed for the Erecting and Endowing a College, called from the Founders, The William and Mary College: And Mr. Blair, who had had the principal Hand in laying, and folliciting, and concerting the Design, was appointed Prefdent of the College. Our Author, it feems, has now been a Minister of the Gospel 58 Years, or thereabouts; a Miffionary 54 Years; Commissary 50 Years ; and President of the College about 46: A faithful Labourer in God's Vineyard, from first to last; an Ornament to his Profession and his several Offices, and now in a good old Age, hourly waiting for (if not, before this, gone to enjoy) the High Prize of his Calling.
As to the Discourses here following, they had the Advantage of being com
a See some Account of this Matter in Bishop Burnet's Hifrory of his own Time, Vol. II. p. 119. And in Dr. Humphreys's Historical Account of the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, p. 9, 10, 11,
posed at a mature Age, after a Course of serious Studies, after much Experience in the Work of the Ministry, after wide and large Observations made upon Men and Things; and, in short, after an iinproved, experimental Knowledge gained in the School of Christ. They had their first Impresion in the Year 1722; drawn into publick Light by the repeated Importunities of several worthy Prelates, and other Clergy of our Church, (who had perused a few of them in Manuscript) and by the particular Encouragement of the then Metropolitan, Archbishop Wake, and of Dr. Robinson then Bishop of London, to whom the Sermons werc dedicated. When that Impression was gone off, and Copies were become very scarce, the Executors of the late Revd Dr. Bray (to whom the Author had previously transferred his Copy-right) thought of a new Impression, and communicated their Design to the worthy Author: Who accordingly, in the Year 1732, revised the Work, corrected the Errata of the Press, added Indexes of Texts and Matters, and prepared a 11ew
Dedication, addressed to The Right Reverend Father in God, EDMUND Lord Bishop of London. How the Edition then intended came to be retarded till this Time, I know not; neither is it of Moment to enquire: It is well that now at laft, the Publick once more enjoys this valuable Treasure of found Divinity, of practical Christianity. But when I say Practical, let no one be so weak as to take that for a diminutive Expression; which is indeed the highest and brightest Commendation that a Work can have; whether we look at the intrinsick Use and Value of it, or at the real Difficulties of performing it to a degree of Exactness, or at the Talents requisite for it. A Man bred up in the Schools, or conversant only with Books, may be able to write Systems, or to discuss Points, in a clear and accurate Manner: But That and more is required in an able Guide, a compleat practical Divine, who undertakes to bring down the most important Truths to the Level of a popular Audience; to adapt them properly to Times, Persons and Circumstances; to guard them against latent