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It is a duty incumbent upon every writer to state the reasons which induced him to present his labours to a discerning and judicious Public; and consequently this task devolves upon the author of the present publication.
It is an observation which has long and frequently been made, that Infidelity and Irreligion abound in this country en the one hand, and the pernicious tenets of Popery and other heretical Sects are making large strides upon the Reformed Religion on the other: and therefore it has been thought necessary, by many Ministers and serious Persons, of the various denominations of Evangelical professing Christians, to oppose a torrent of wickedness and delusion, which seems to threaten the destruction of all before it. The jast judgments of God, which appear to bang over us as a Nation, and the dreadful scourge of war, with which we have been visited for many years, with very little intermission
, may be properly imputed to the prevailing iniquity of the present age, to the dissoluteness of our public principles and manners
, and to the open disregard for the Lord of Hosts, which too many among us, in practice, if not in words, have even dared to avow.
We have indeed reason to tremble as a people, ander the visitations of the Almighty, and to fear, that, unless a reformation in our geneTal conduct take place, and a greater regard be paid to the interest of religion and truth, we shall be afflicted with yet heavier dispensations, and that what we have already seen
As nothing makes a stronger impression on the mind than example, a review of the Lives and Principles of the most eminent Persons in the Protestant Churcles, and of the Laity among Professing Christians, from the dawn of the Reformation to the present day, may be a providential mean
is only the beginning of sorrows.
of giving, at least, a check to the general inundation of Infidelity and Heresy. The attentive perusal and consideration of what those great and good men maintained, suffered for, (some by the loss of life, and others by the deprivation of their livings) or died in the possession of, may, in thọ hand of the Head of the Church, be instrumental in leading others to follow their example, and may deter many from reviling and contemning those peculiar principles of the Protestant Doctrine, which their ignorance or their indo, lence have not permitted them to understand. Too many of our Youth have been trained up, not in the way wherein they should go, that when they grow old they might not depart from it, but in the ignorance and contempt of every thing sacred: and, according to the worldly acceptation of the term, a man, to be polite, must be profane, and affect to despise the purity of the Gospel, and openly disregard the Author of his being. What is to be hoped for from such principles as these, but what we have too much, to our sorrow, found, Irreligion on the one hand, and Spiritual Error on the other ? Every person, therefore, who has any concern for the Glory of God, for the Purity of the Gospel, and for the best Interests of Posterity, will cordially encourage and support a Work, which is calculated for these important purposes, as well as for bis own edification. What greater delight can a truly pious man lave, than that which results from perusing accounts of the lives and actions of those great and exalted characters, who bave gone before him to inherit the Promises. As a Family-Book, a work of this nature may be put into the hands of Youth, both for their Information as a History, and for their Profit as an Instructor,
Accounts of the lives and deaths of pions persons must be exceedingly useful at all times. There are but few indeed who are endowed with those extraordinary qualities, and who move in such important spheres, as to afford materials
for an interesting volame; but there are very many from vbose history lessons of wisdom and virtue muy be learned, and which a work of this nature is calculated to rescue from oblivion.
There is no kind of history perused with more lively interest than that which is properly termed Biograpbical; for, in the memoirs of eminently pious persons, we behold Christianity embodied and animated, while at the same time, the most painful emotions are excited by the loss of so many valuable servants of the Lord. “ The great ends of Christian Biography,” says Mr. Fuller, “ arę instrnction and example. By faithfully describing the lives of men eminent for godliness, we not only embalm their memory, but furnish ourselves with fresh materials and motives for a holy life.” Indeed there is a kind of natural curiosity in the human mind, which prompts every person to covet an intimate acquaintance with the character and habits of our fellow-men; bat more especially of those who have distinguished themselves in their day and generation. By reason of the gene-ral prevalence of this principle, Biography is a species of composition which cannot fail to be popular; and when the subject is wisely selected and properly exbibited, it is likely to be useful in a very extraordinary degree. Many thousands, we doubt not, have been greatly edified by reading the sketches of the lives of pious persons which bave been given in various publications; and we are fully persaaded that the Biographical accounts which are displayed in the following work, will prove highly acceptable to the religious world. In short, few things tend more to strengthen and confirm the faith and patience of God's dear people than a relation of the experience and joyful death of his saints.
It has obtained in the world, from the earliest ages of civilized society, and in all parts of the habitable globe, to transmit to posterity the actions and virtues of such characters as have distinguisbed themselves among their fellow
citizens. Nor has any class of men been excluded from this testimony of respect to their memory. Statesmen and warriors, physicians and divines, as well as those who have figured on the Exchange, have ornamented the instructive page of history, and been held up to succeeding generations as examples for their imitation. This idea is corroborated by all authentic annals which have been handed down to us from time immemorial, and divine revelation itself furnishes us with innumerable instances of the same sort. It must be allowed therefore, that this kind of incitement to actions worthy of notice, and virtues which are the glory of man, exhibited by persons of like passions with ourselves, and surrounded with all the infirmities incident to human nature, is a sentiment founded in the nature and fitness of things; and also that it is species of writing eminently calculated to do much good. Nor can it be accounted for upon any other principle, that Biography has obtained so much in modern times, and that it continues even to this day, to be the most pleasing and instructive mode of enlightening the understanding and warming the heart.
In the prosecution of this work, we have chosen the alphabetical form, because the lives of persons are more readily found by this than by any other method. We have been careful to omit no material circumstance that has come to our knowledge. The Anecdotes which we have interwoven are such as are well authenticated; and the accounts of their Christian Experiences and Happy Deaths, are selected from the most unquestionable authorities.
We have only to assure the Reader, that no bigoted partiality to Seols or Denominations, whether Established or Tolerated, will be found in the following sheets; but our whole attention has been paid to truly great and gracious Characters, of those Persuasions which hold the distinguishing Principles of the Gospel.