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provided for their remedy-Fine description of eloquence, &c.;
modern eloquence-Has used some figures of speech too often-
ministry, as an author, and superintendent of schools;
Apology for these letters-Object of them-Reasons which induced the author to publish so many sermons.
MY DEAR FRIEND
You in reality, then, take no offence at the number of my printed sermons, amounting as they do, to about thirty volumes. On the other hand, you wish to know by what means I have been enabled to produce so many worth perusal, and for this purpose, request me to give you a minute account of the education I received, preparatory to becoming a minister of the Gospel. I will comply with your request, but in such a manner, that what I impart to you, may also be given to the public. Indeed, you do not wish to confine my confessions, in this respect, to yourself. You naturally expect to find many things in what I say to you, which will be useful to those just entering upon the ministry, serve to guard them against various errors, and be of advantage to them in many ways. I will not deny that this may be the case. It is impossible for me to make such disclosures as you expect from me, without taking notice of the great defects of my homiletical education, and acknowledging the errors into which I have fallen;-without honestly telling you what there is in my sermons deserving of censure, and why I have not been able to approximate nearer to the perfect pattern of a sermon which lies in my mind. If I do so, from the account,
young preachers will, of course, be able to draw much valuable instruction. At least, it will not be my fault, if those who take my sermons for patterns, imitate the very things which they ought to avoid.
But, while I readily admit that the information you desire of me, may be of general use, I must confess it is not without struggles that I have brought myself to comply" with your wishes. It is difficult, nay, almost impossible, to say much of one's self, especially before the world, without exciting a suspicion in the minds of people, that one thinks himself of great importance, and imagines himself and his little affairs worth the notice of the public. You know me too well not to pronounce me entirely free from every thing of the kind; but will others, less acquainted with me, do the same? Will not the whole thing appear to be the result of vanity and arrogance, and highly deserving reprehension ?
You do not require me, however, to do what so many excellent men have done respecting themselves in a manner which met with the approbation of almost every_reader, to give a minute account of my whole life. In my confessions to you, therefore, I shall touch upon those circumstances merely, which may have exerted an influence upon my education as a minister of the Gospel. Every thing that does not properly belong to this subject, every thing that is disconnected with the business and science of preaching, or at most, seems calculated to excite a suspicion of my aiming at vain glory, I shall pass over in silence. You must be satisfied then, if, in the series of letters I write to you, you receive an account of the manner in which I became a preacher, and an impartial criticism of my own sermons. Geratur," in the words of a man with whom I know not that I am worthy of any other comparison, let me say, "Geratur tibi mos, quoniam me non ingenii prædicatorem esse vis, sed laboris mei."*
You must expect nothing more from me to-day, than an account of the circumstances which induced me to publish so many volumes of sermons. Strictly speaking, it was never my intention to print any of my sermons; much
* Cicero in Bruto, c. 65, § 233.