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Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year Eighteen Hundred and Forty Two,
BY CROCKER AND BREWSTER,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
52 Washington Street.
In making selections for the present Work from the writings of the author, it has been thought but a just tribute to his judgment to fix in the first place upon the Volumes, Sermons and Essays which were prepared and published during his life, under his own direction. This has been done, so far as was consistent with what was thought on the whole to be the best arrangement of the subjects, and the number and size of the volumes. It has indeed been suggested by some who have felt deeply interested in this undertaking, that it would be well to omit some of the sermons in which the author's peculiar views are the most strongly expressed, in order to render the work less objectionable to those who differ from him. But such a policy has not appeared to the Editor either just or wise. It is certainly proper that such a man as Dr. EMMONS, should be left to speak for himself, and to continue to stand before the public in the same attitude in which he chose to stand while living and able to take his own position. The world wish to see the man as he was, and his writings as he left them. If he is wrong, the full, unequivocal, and even what some consider the unguarded manner in which he has expressed himself, will render it the easier to refute him. On the other hand, if he is right, these discourses are too valuable, the subjects on which they treat too important, to be thrown aside on account of a slight impropriety of expression with which some are disposed to charge him, and which can easily be corrected by those who think the same truth can be told in a better way.
The materials for ten volumes, as valuable as those with which these six are composed, are in the hands of the Editor. The only reason why the present edition embraces no more is, it was the serious judgment of those on whose advice in regard to subjects of this nature the greatest reliance is to be placed, that the present number and size of the volumes constitute a work as large as could with safety be published at this time of pecuniary embarrassment.
The Editor regrets to say that he has not been able to get into the present volumes near all of the matter which he had selected for them;
though they are larger, as well as in better style, than the Prospectus promised they should be. The System might have been made much more complete and valuable, had it not been for the restraint which the prescribed limits imposed. Should the sale of the present edition indicate a call for more of the author's writings, and the times favor their publication, new volumes will be added.
In the selection and arrangement of the discourses composing this Work, the Editor has received valuable suggestions and assistance from many of the author's friends, particularly from Rev. Thomas Williams, Rev. Dr. Spring, Rev. Dr. Burgess, and Rev. Sewall Harding, to whom he tenders his grateful acknowledgments.
The contents of two of these volumes are denominated System, because they contain a number of discourses upon the various subjects usually comprised in a Body of Divinity. It is, however, due to the venerable author to say, that the plan of arranging them in this form, and giving them this name, did not originate with him. It is a device of his friends, which they are aware must in many respects do him great injustice. Had he undertaken to write a System of Divinity, properly so called, he would doubtless have given one to the world altogether more perfect, both in respect to matter and form, than that which is found in the following pages. The discourses which comprise this System were not written with the slightest reference to their present arrangement. Terms are here more frequently defined, similar illustrations more frequently used, and the same inferences more frequently drawn, than they would have been, had the author been aware of the connection in which his writings would be read. But for these things the candid reader will doubtless make a proper allowance. Some advantages will probably result from this apparent evil. The frequent definition of terms will render a mistake in regard to the author's meaning impossible. The practical results of every doctrine clearly drawn out, at the same time the doctrine itself is illustrated, will make a deeper impression, both of the truth and importance of the doctrine. Besides, the single advantage of referring at once to what the author has said at different times upon any particular subject, and reading each part in connection with the whole, is more than sufficient to balance the trifling inconvenience of an occasional repetition of a thought or expression. To the arrangement here made of his discourses, although fully apprised of the evils which have been named as attending it, the author while living gave his cheerful assent.