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THE EDITOR'S PREFACE.
To introduce works which have been so long known to the public, with any thing like a regular Preface, would be altogether superfluous. Neither, after the observations which have been made on the principal of them, in the Life of the Author, both from the pen of Mr. Wilson and from my own, will it be expected that I should attempt any further to characterize them, either individually or generally.
Certainly I rank it among the happiest events of my life, to have been enabled to give such a history of the author of these volumes, as has met with the most favourable reception, and drawn forth the most gratifying testimonies to its usefulness, both at home and abroad: and next to that it affords me pleasure, to have been permitted to present all his works (with the exception of his Commentary, which is perfectly well able to stand alone,) in the permanent form of an uniform and respectable edition.
In preparing this edition, only two points appeared particularly to claim attention—correctness and arrangement.
In order to the former, considerable pains were
bestowed in revising the copy, and in comparing different editions together. Perfection, however* is rather to be desired, than hoped for; and some errors, I am aware, have escaped detection, which might have been avoided had circumstances allowed me to superintend the press in person: but none, I trust, will be found, affecting the sense, which the reader is not furnished with the means of correcting.
With respect to arrangement, the dates and the subjects of the works were both to be attended to; and each must occasionally, and in some degree, give place to the other. The result will, I hope, be thought satisfactory: of which I shall enable the reader to form a judgment, by here stating, generally, the contents of the several volumes.
The first volume may be regarded as consisting of Theological Treatises. "The Force of Truth," indeed, may hardly come under this description: but, in every point of view, it claimed the situation which it holds, as opening the whole series of the works. The Sermon on Election need not be mentioned as an exception.—Possibly it may be thought that the Treatise on Faith should have preceded a discourse on the subject of that Sermon. But the sort of discussion into which the Treatise enters, " with reference to various controversies," perhaps requires in the reader no less progress in theological studies, than the Sermon does. The Treatise also is much the later in date of the two.
The second volume contains the Essays on Religious Subjects: the third, the Notes upon the Pilgrim's Progress—with which it appeared indispensable to reprint the text of the original work.
The fourth volume consists of Sermons on general subjects.
The fifth may be described as comprising publications relative to the state of the times; consisting of works against the infidel and anarchical principles which prevailed during the period of the French Revolution, with Sermons on days of public humiliation or thanksgiving.
The sixth volume, in its former part at least, may be considered as in some degree carrying on the view of the times which had been commenced in the fifth; only restricting it more particularly to those religious and benevolent institutions, which form so auspicious a feature in the history of the present century. The first half of the volume consists of Sermons, Addresses, and Tracts, delivered or composed for the benefit of these institutions; the remainder, of Funeral Sermons.
Volumes VII, VIII, IX, are all connected with controversy: the two former containing the Answer to Bishop Tomline's " Refutation of Calvinism," and the Account of the Synod of Dort; the last, the Answer to Rabbi Crooll, on the Jewish question, and some discussions relative to Ecclesiastical Establishments, and the Church of England.
The tenth volume is miscellaneous—comprising Prayers for Families, Detached Papers, and Posthumous Sermons.
Title pages are given for eleventh and twelfth volumes, for the use of such persons as may choose to assign those places to the " Life of the Author," and his " Letters and Papers." The latter, as well as the former of these, is a distinct publication— having constituted no part of the author's " works," and indeed not having in any way been given to the public, when the present edition was projected.
For a general and copious Index to the whole ten volumes, I hope I may claim some merit with the Subscribers. It has cost me labour which I must not expect to be generally appreciated: but to theological students, especially, I trust it may prove acceptable and useful: and to such readers I would venture to suggest, that, should they take the trouble, not merely to turn to this Index, for the sake of finding a particular passage to which they may wish to refer, but to look through all its principal heads, I hope they may not have reason to complain, that the time has been employed wholly in vain.
To the continued blessing of that gracious God and Saviour, to whom the author aimed unreservedly to devote himself, and to consecrate the fruit of all his labours; and who has condescended to make his writings the instruments of such extensive good; I desire still to commend, and would intreat every reader to join me in commending them.
Hull, February 21,1825.