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THE length of time, which has elapsed, since this edition of the Works of President Edwards was, in a sense, announced, needs a brief explanation.
His manuscripts were so illegible, and left in such a state, that it was impossible to decide on the publication of any of them, until they were copied. The materials for his Life, were to be sought for in remote places, by consulting those advanced in life, by finding out family traditions, by copying records, by collecting letters, manuscripts and pamphlets, and the original editions of his works, in libraries of long standing, and in the collections of antiquaries. Many of the manuscripts, thus discovered, were so illegible, that no one could be found to undertake the task of copying them. According to the original plan, the negligences of language in the published works were to be corrected; and this plan was not relinquished, until the slow process of correcting them with the pen, on the printed page, was far advanced towards completion. The expense of copying the manuscripts of Mr. Edwards, was also heavy, and could not have been defrayed, but for the liberality of a friend. Without any farther detail of circumstances, it need only be stated, that the whole work, including the examination and copying of the manuscripts, the preparation of the unpublished manuscripts, and of
the Life, has occupied several years of constant labour, and has been pursued unremittingly, and at the sacrifice of health, by a regular devotion to it, of all the time, that could be spared from professional duties. In preparing the Memoir, the Life by Dr. Hopkins, which is the testimony of an eye-witness, has been incorporated; and the quotations are marked in the usual way, except where the paragraphs are seriously altered by the insertion of new matter. In the last chapter, free use is made of a brief sketch of the Life and Character of Mr. Edwards, (also the testimony of an eye-witness,) by a gentleman connected with the college at Princeton, probably Dr. Finley, inserted in the first edition of the Treatise on Original Sin; as well as of a well written review of the Worcester Edition of his works, in the Christian Spectator. To a friend I am indebted, for the very brief account of the two Treatises on Original Sin, and the Freedom of the Will.
The works, heretofore published, are taken from the English Edition, as far as it contained them, without alterations of the language. The notes of its editor, Dr. Williams, are marked with a W. at the end, and have been retained by request.