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Philadelphia, July 26th, 1799.
DR. WITHERSPOON's character as a writer is so highly and deservedly esteemed by all the friends of Evangeli. cal truth, who have been acquainted with his publications, that it is prefumed to be fuperfluous to folicit their patronage by any commendation of the work now proposed for publication. To those who have not been favoured with the perufal of the Doctor's Sermons and Essays, the subscriber takes the liberty to obferve, that their merit is superior to their praise.
JOHN B. SMITH, Minister of the Third Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, Fuly 30th, 1799. SIR,
IT has given me much pleasure to hear that you are about to publish an edition of the works of the late Dr. WITHERSPOON. I know not how you could do a greater service to the public than by this undertaking; and I sincerely hope you may find it advantageous to yourself. In all the Doctor's tracts there is manifest that closeness and clearness of thought, that acuteness of discernment and accuracy of discrimination, that faculty of separating the matter discussed from every thing extraneous, that constant attention to radical principles, and fyftematic consistency, that lucid order, and that power of presenting his whole subject in the most striking and impressive manner to the mind of the reader, which distinguish the writer of penetration and comprehensive views. His style is uniformly simple and nervous--perfectly intelligible to those who have not had the advantages of education, and yet pleasing to those whose taste is the most cultivated and correct. The Doctor has given specimens of talent as a critic, a fatyrist and a politician, which demonstrate that he might have attained high eminence in each of these characters. But from a sense of duty, as well as from a love to the employment, he devoted himself princi. pally to the discuffion of religious truth; and always with a view to its practical application. His Sermons and Essays on
Various topics in divinity, will be read with pleasure and with profit by serious Christians of all denominations. The pious and eloquent Wilberforce has noticed them with approbation in his late popular book.
If the Doctor's works had been generally read in this country, it would be equally unnecessary and assuming for me to characterize or recommend them. But for ten years past I believe they have not been vended by any American bookseller, and I am informed they are now out of print in Britain. If, therefore, you suppose that my opinion of them will be any tay serviceable to you in their publication, you are at liberty to use what I have here written for that purpose.
Your's fincerely, Mr. WOODWARD.
New-York, August 6th, 1799. DEAR SIR,
IT was with fingular satisfaction I learned you were issuing proposals for printing the works of the late Rev. Dr. WITHERSPOON—those already in print, are justly esteemed by all good judges on both sides of the Atlantic, among the first in our language on the Subjects of which they treat-the addition you contemplate of several Discourses and small Tracts never yet published, will not a little enrich your collection, and render it defervedly acceptable to the Friends of Literature and Piety, of all denominations. Your success in this business will give heart-felt pleasure to
Your Friend and Humble Servant,
JOHN RODGERS. MR. WILLIAM W. WOODWARD,
SECOND AMERICAN EDITION.
In offering to the public this edition of the works of DR. WITHERSPOON, the editor cannot forbear to express his great satisfaction at the liberal and extensive patronage he has received. Without pretending to be less influenced than is usual by a regard to personal emolument, he can still fay with truth, that much of his gratification is derived from confiderations of another and a higher kind. He views it as no inconsiderable proof of the good difpofitions of a great proportion of his countrymen, that in almost every quarter. of the union, there has been fuch a demand for the writings of Dr. WITHERSPOON, as to warrant a second edition of his works within a year after the publication of the first ; that the demand feems to be still increasing; and that men of the first reputation and influence are among his subscribers. In religion, in morals, in taste, and in politics, the principles which the Dr. has inculcated are of the foundest and purest kind; and that these thould be popular, cannot but be confidered as the best cause of felicitation to the country in which the fact is realized.
Animated by the countenance which he has received, the editor has used his best endeavors to free the present edition from the imperfections of the former. The whole has been attentively and separately reviewed by two gentlemen of let. ters, for the purpose of correcting the errors in language, spelling and pointing, which had before escaped attention. No attempt, however, has been made to alter the Dr's phraseology, this being considered as an unjustifiable license, but only to rectify those mistakes which were fairly imputable to inadvertence, or chargeable to the printers who have published his pieces either in this country or in Europe. The business of inspecting the proof sheets the editor has ta. ken wholly on himself, and he trusts that no error of any consequence will be found, though he is sensible that absolute perfection in this particular is scarcely attainable.
In this edition the arrangement of the several tracts is very different from any that has heretofore been made. Discuffions which relate to the same or similar subjects, or which belong to the fame class or denomination of compofition, have generally been kept together. Some of these, it will be observed, were written in an earlier, and some in a later part of the author's life; some in Scotland and some in America ; but it was judged better to put them in an order dictated by the nature of the subject, than in one which should correspond to the various periods at which they were composed." The time and circumstances to which they refer may commonly be learned from their contents.
As the whole of the DR's works are now collected, it iş proper to specify distinctly those that are posthumous : for as no order or intimation was given by himself relative to the publication of any of his pieces after his death, he ought not to be charged either with the inaccuracy of compositions which he did not design for the press, or with finally determining to publish what he might have written with that intention, but afterwards resolved to suppress. It will be remembered then, that in these volumes, the following pieces are posthumous, viz.-The lectures on Moral
Philosophy, Eloquence and Divinity: The fermons entitled, Devotedness to God- The righteous scarcely saved, and the wicked certainly destroyed— The success of the gospel entirely of God— The yoke of Christ, The glory of the Redeemer in the perpetuity of his work“The petitions of the insincere unavailing.–The essays entitled, Observations on the improve'ment of America-Reflections on public affairs-On the cong troversy about independence~On conducting the American controversy-Thoughts on American liberty Memorial and manifesto of the United States- A description of the State of New-Jersey-Aristides-On the Federal City-On the Georgia constitution*--Supplication to the elders of the church of Scotland.--The fpeeches entitled, On the interest of loan office certificates-On the conference proposed by Lord Howe
It is supposed that some of these essays, particularly the three last, may have been published in the news-papers of the day. But his is not certainly kno Copies of them in the Dr's own hand writing, were found among his papers.