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It is with no ordinary pleasure I lay before the public a volume, entirely composed of materials extracted from papers in Mr. Hall's own handwriting. The first four hundred pages contain notes of sermons; the rest of the volume consists of letters to various persons, and on various occasions. : Of the notes of sermons left by Mr. Hall, several were such mere skeletons that it did not seem expedient to publish them. Of those which have been selected for insertion, such as do not occupy more than eight or nine pages, seem simply to have been employed as pulpit notes, without any ulterior reference. Of the remainder, some were undoubtedly, and others probably, written more fully than his usual pulpit notes, that they might serve as the basis of a volume of sermons which he intended to prepare for publication,* should the state of his health, and a moderate freedom from interruption, ever allow him to accomplish his wishes in that respect. As they now appear, however, they are all, in some measure, incomplete ; not even the fullest of them are carried to half the extent of the preached sermons; and in but few is the application more than hinted.
It will not be expected, then, that these notes should evince the exquisite finish, in point of style, which they would have received from the author, had he prepared them
* See Note, Vol. I. p. 485.
at full length with a view to immediate publication ; or that they should abound in those copious and accumulative amplifications of the subjects, or those touching and powerful appeals to the affections and conscience, by which his preaching was so eminently distinguished. Yet they will be found to exhibit the same simple dignity and grace, often the same beauty and pathos, the same richness and variety of illustration, as his other works; while, if I mistake not, they manifest a more fixed and constant determination to elucidate and apply scriptural truth, a more vivid and awful conviction of the infinite importance of salvation to men who have lost the image and favour of God, and a more deep and pervading current of devotional feeling, than even the most admired of his former publications, eloquent, impressive, instructive, and often truly sublime, as they unquestionably are.
In preparing these notes for the press, no changes whatever have been made in the author's language. * In places where words are omitted, or the manuscript is illegible, the sense has been supplied by words introduced between brackets. It was sometimes, however, exceedingly difficult to fill the chasms which thus occurred; and though I hope the correct sense has been generally caught and preserved, yet a few cases remain in which I am by no means confident that this desirable result has been obtained.
My object in selecting the Letters, from many more which have been most kindly transmitted by different friends, has not been so much to publish those which exhibit Mr. Hall's talents, as those which tend most to illustrate his character, and to depict the state of his sentiments and his heart, at the periods of his life in which they were respectively
* To prevent misconception, it may be proper to state, that the references to texts at the feet of the pages are not in the original manuscripts, but have been annexed to save the reader the trouble of consulting a Concordance, in cases where it may seem desirable to examine passages in connexion with their context.
written. Some of them, however, will be found truly beautiful; others exemplify his philosophical cast of thought, his admirable discrimination, and the happy facility with which, in a few words, he often separated truth from the semblance of truth; while several bear evidence of the cordiality and permanency of his friendships, and the prompt and delicate sympathy with which, in seasons of affliction or bereavement, he administered the balm of christian consolation.
I have been aided in the selection of materials for this volume, by the excellent judgement of Mr. Foster, and of another highly esteemed friend, the Rev. W. ANDERSON, of Bristol. They have, indeed, frequently relieved my perplexity, especially with regard to the difficult task of choosing, from among numerous letters which cannot but be interesting to the individuals to whom they were respectively addressed, or to their surviving relatives, such as appeared most likely to be interesting to the public.
For the insertion of about six or eight of the letters, which I sent to the press when I had not an opportunity of consulting them, I hold myself responsible.
On the whole, I cannot but cherish the gratifying persuasion, that this volume will be prized, not merely by the friends of Mr. Hall, who value every thing which has proceeded from his pen, but by all who duly estimate the infinite moment of eternal things, and rejoice when religious verities are accurately stated, and impressively enforced.
OLINTHUS GREGORY Royal Military Academy,
Nov. 16, 1831.