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Philadelphia, July 26th, 1799.
DR. WITHERSPOON's character as a writer is fo highly and defervedly esteemed by all the friends of Evangelical 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 thofe who have not been favoured with the perufal of the Doctor's Sermons and Effays, the fubfcriber takes the liberty to obferve, that their merit is fuperior to their praise.
JOHN B. SMITH, Minister
of the Third Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, July 30th, 1799.
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 fervice to the public than by this undertaking; and I fincerely hope you may find it advantageous to yourself. In all the Doctor's tracts there is manifeft that clofenefs and clearness of thought, that acuteness of difcernment and accuracy of difcrimination, that faculty of feparating the matter difcuffed from every thing extraneous, that constant attention to radical principles, and fyftematic confiftency, that lucid order, and that power of prefenting his whole fubject in the moft ftriking and impreffive manner to the mind of the reader, which diftinguish the writer of penetration and comprehenfive views. His ftyle is uniformly fimple and nervous-perfectly intelligible to those who have not had the advantages of education, and yet pleafing to those whofe tafte is the most cultivated and correct. The Doctor has given fpecimens of talent as a critic, a fatyrift and a politician, which demonftrate that he might have attained high eminence in each of these characters. But from a fenfe of duty, as well as from a love to the employment, he devoted himself principally to the difcuffion of religious truth; and always with a view to its practical application. His Sermons and Effays on
various topics in divinity, will be read with pleasure and with profit by ferious Chriftians 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 unneceffary and affuming for me to characterize or recommend them. But for ten years past I believe they have not been vended by any American bookfeller, and I am informed they are now out of print in Britain. If, therefore, you fuppofe that my opinion of them will be any way serviceable to you in their publication, you are at liberty to ufe what I have here written for that purpose.
New-York, August 6th, 1799.
IT was with fingular fatisfaction I learned you were iffuing propofals for printing the works of the late Rev. Dr. WITHER SPOON-thofe already in print, are juftly esteemed by all good judges on both fides of the Atlantic, among the firft in our language on the Subjects of which they treat-the addition you contemplate of feveral Difcourfes and fmall 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 fuccefs in this bufinefs will give heart-felt pleasure to
Your Friend and Humble Servant,
MR. WILLIAM W. WOODWARD,
IN N offering to the public this edition of the works of DR. WITHERSPOON, the editor cannot forbear to express his great fatisfaction at the liberal and extenfive patronage he has received. Without pretending to be lefs influenced than is ufual by a regard to perfonal 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 inconfiderable 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 fecond edition of his works within a year after the publication of the first; that the demand feems to be ftill increafing; and that men of the firft reputation and influence are among his fubfcribers. In religion, in morals, in tafte, and in politics, the principles which the DR. has inculcated are of the foundeft and purest kind; and that thefe fhould be popular, cannot but be confidered as the beft caufe of felicitation to the country in which the fact is realized.
Animated by the countenance which he has received, the editor has ufed his best endeavors to free the prefent edition from the imperfections of the former. The whole has been attentively and separately reviewed by two gentlemen of letters, for the purpofe of correcting the errors in language, fpelling and pointing, which had before efcaped attention. No attempt, however, has been made to alter the DR's phrafeology, this being confidered as an unjustifiable license, but only to rectify thofe miftakes which were fairly imputable to inadvertence, or chargeable to the printers who have published his pieces either in this country or in Europe.
The bufinefs of infpecting the proof fheets the editor has ta ken wholly on himfelf, and he trufts that no error of any confequence will be found, though he is fenfible that abfolute perfection in this particular is fcarcely attainable.
In this edition the arrangement of the feveral tracts is very different from any that has heretofore been made. Difcuffions which relate to the fame or fimilar fubjects, or which belong to the fame clafs or denomination of compofition, have generally been kept together. Some of thefe, it will be obferved, were written in an earlier, and fome in a later part of the author's life; fome in Scotland and fome in America; but it was judged better to put them in an order dictated by the nature of the fubject, than in one which should correfpond to the various periods at which they were compofed. The time and circumftances to which they refer may commonly be learned from their contents.
As the whole of the DR's works are now collected, it is proper to specify diftinctly those that are pofthumous: 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 compofitions which he did not defign for the prefs, or with finally determining to publifh what he might have written with that intention, but afterwards refolved to fupprefs. It will be remembered then, that in thefe volumes, the following pieces are pofthumous, 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 effays entitled, Observations on the improvement of America-Reflections on public affairs-On the con 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 this is not certainly known. Copies of them in the DR's own hand writing, were found among his papers.