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and to particular spheres of action. This is true of biography in general.
But christian biography has something more exalted than mere human philosophy, to teach. It teaches the ways of God towards man in relation to an eternal and blessed existence.—Yes; and it will be studied, too, not merely in this world, but in the next. Biography is prized in heaven. The records of the judgment day, will give the disclosures of human life in relation to God. And the thrilling interest that will never flag during those long disclosures, will be the interest of biography. Nay, such exhibitions of man and of Providence, will forever continue to interest and profit those happy souls who delight supremely in the greatest wonders of creating and redeeming wisdom, love, and power.
If, then, it is desirable that earth should be made more like heaven, in its joys and its occupations, let it be filled with just and glowing biography. And if individuals would become better prepared for the upper world, let them devoutly peruse the lives of those who have died in faith and gone to inherit the promises.' This is the way to become acquainted with divinity, both for theory and practice. And hence it is, that God has so filled his own divine book with such sketches.
Possessing such views of christian biography, the author has been deeply impressed with the solemn responsibility to which Providence has called himn, in the
preparation of the following work. It has, accordingly, been his devout aim, to bring to its execution, a spirit of candor, zeal, and christian love; and to cherish the solemn, yet joyful impression, throughout these labors, that he is to meet this dear departed brother in the eternal world ; and to meet all who are to read this work.
Whether the present is a “good biography,” is not a question for the compiler to decide ; but he may be permitted to say, that he has bestowed all the attention in his power, to render it a faithful and profitable account of “a good man." Should this account be found useful to some preachers and some hearers of the gospel—to some teachers of youth and some learners of the best things—to some parents and some children; how rich will be the reward of this labor. To this end, the subject of this volume has been permitted to speak extensively for himself, by extracts from his letters and other productions. The revision of these letters, many of them precious memorials of affection, has often filled a brother's heart with a rush of mingled emotions, that compelled him to drop the affecting relic and suspend the pleasing, painful task.” The perusal, however, cannot thus touch the heart of a stranger; and the selections for publication, have been made with a view to usefulness, rather than to effect.
The gratitude of the compiler is here tendered to the kind friends who have forwarded these letters, or in other ways have aided his labors.
Perhaps a few readers may prefer to commence with the account of his ancestors, contained in the appendix, and which was originally designed to precede the small portion of autobiography, now placed at the beginning. The reasons which induced the subject of this work to commence these notices of his ancestors and himself, will appear in the sequel. Had he been spared to complete the design, we should have heard less of himself, and perhaps more of the age in which he lived.