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TO THE FIRST AMERICAN EDITION.
The favorable reception which was given to the first volume of Mr Beard's collection of Family Sermons, has induced the American Editor to offer the religious public another volume of the same work. It is believed that it will be found, in no respect inferior to the one which preceded it. It contains Discourses on some of the most important topics of Christian doctrine and duty, which are no less valuable for the ability with which they are composed than for the excellent spirit which they breathe. They exhibit a happy union of sound theology and earnest feeling which is well adapted at once to enlighten and warm, to convince and persuade, the candid and attentive reader. Some of the best discourses in this collection will be regarded as fine specimens of chaste and eloquent pulpit instruction ; while there are few of them which do not rise above the ordinary level of modern printed sermons.
The present volume is enriched with contributions from M. Cellerier and other distinguished preachers of Geneva, as well as with three discourses from well known and highly esteemed clergymen of our own city.
The Editor commends it to the Christian public, with the hope that it may find a ready welcome in the circle of the family and in the retirement of the devout, and prove an efficient aid in the cause of fervent piety and practical goodness. Boston, May, 1832.
TO THE FIRST LONDON EDITION.
If the tone of this volume should seem to sonie too elevated, in a literary point of view, to answer the purposes for which it is designed, the Editor begs it may be borne in mind, that he wished to provide discourses to be read by heads of families themselves, and by those of their children who had come to riper years, as well as to the assembled family circle, or specially to servants. For whomsoever designed, discourses are not the worse, but the better, which, instead of being a series of common place truths, expressed in plain—that is, as commonly understood, common-place-language, rouse the understanding by a display of thought, fix the attention, by novelty, at least, of manner, and improve the taste by correctness and energy of style. The capacity of the laboring classes is often underrated, and, in consequence of a false estimate, supplied with nutriment, which, when not refused, is fitted for little else than to realise the misconceptions which determined its nature.
There is often in them a rugged and active strength, which nauseates the polished truisms, and tranquil, not to say somnolent, tenor, of ordinary sermons, and gladly welcomes the strong meat which is offered them by those who know somewhat accurately their capabilities and wants.
The Editor is not without a fear, that, to some extent, the tone of sermons is, in more than one denomination, too poor in thought, and tame in manner, to effect much for the great oljects of Christianity. Something is needed, in these times, more than a dry detail of trite, vague, and powerless observations, however true, and, if acted on, however useful. The intellect must be roused, exercised, tasked; the heart must be moved, smitten, elevated; truth should be exhibited in its applications to actual life and modes of thought, illustrated by the new lights and views which an age of extraordinary mental activity and developement offers, and impregnated with the living fire of a mind that sees the Gospel in its application to the world, and the world in the light and prospects afforded by the Gospel. If the age be distinguished for mental activity, it requires, no one can doubt, not vapid inanities, not polished disquisitions, but spirit-stirring exhibitions of the great principles of man's duty and expectations; and unless the pulpit furnish these out of the hearts of men who have vital energy within them, who have partaken of the prevalent mental
energy, and are glad to cast down their richest gifts at the feet of Jesus, the ministry of the word will sink into contempt, and, in its fall, religion suffer an injury that generations may be unable to repair.
So far is the Editor from thinking the iutellectual character of these discourses too high, that he would gladly see the highest powers of the highest and strongest minds devoted to the service of the pulpit, and then perhaps it would be found out, that what has sometimes been thought profundity, has been but dulness, and that the much deprecated style of alleged meta
physical preaching is often as guiltless of thought, as it is acknowledged to be of feeling: then, as in all kinds of literature, that would be deemed the best discourse, which most effectually secured the proposed ends : then it would appear, that elegance of wrtitng is not incompatible with greatness of effect; that to move, you need not descend ; that to be understood, you need not be common-place; and that to prepare a discourse, which is to be pronounced from the pulpit, not read in the study, or if read in private, read with a view to exercise the heart at least as much as the mind ; which should, therefore, deal in address, not disquisition; which should abound in appeal, not syllogisms; which should aim to move, much more than to teachthat to prepare a discourse in the style of an essay, is a miserable mistake, that impeaches the taste as much as the heart of a Christian minister. With these views of what a discourse should be, the Editor has great pleasure in directing attention to the sermons, with which his volume is enriched and adorned, from the
of Ministers who hold a high station in the Church of Geneva. Thinking, as he does, that they approach to what a sermon ought to be, he takes the liberty to express a hope, that they may exercise an influence in this country, by showing how admirably literary excellence may be harmonized with forcible writing and powerful appeal. There may be those, who, forgetting what is the legitimate object of pulpit addresses and moral admonitions, may, under the influence of a taste as false as it is fastidious, pronounce them too declamatory; but glad would the Editor be, to abide by the result of an appeal to Christian men and women, made