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"The pulpit orators of France, have in general surpassed those of England in a torrent of rhetoric and overbearing eloquence; whilst, on the other hand, they have been greatly inferior to them in the didactic and moral part of preaching. In France, a sermon is an animated harangue; in Eng. land, a serious and instructive lecture. Tillotson, Clarke, and Watterland, inform the understanding; Bossuet, Massillon, and Flechier, rouse the passions. Both talents should unite to make a complete preacher; since dry instructions are too dull and unawaking, and rhetoric often but an empty sound.
"The author of these discourses seems to have been aware of the deficiency of our English preachers in point of eloquence, and to have used his utmost efforts to avoid incurring the same imputation. In his first dicourse, which is a funeral sermon preached upon the death of a beloved pupil, there are some strokes equal to any in the Oraisons Funebres of Bos
It was surely very encouraging to a young man, as our author was in 1754, when this Sermon was composed, to find his eloquence would bear the being mentioned at the same time with that of Bossuet!
The Monthly Reviewers also who had noticed our Author much earlier, "marking him with their approbation as a writer from his first appearance in
the London press; viz. in their Review for April 1754, on the publication of a small pamphlet, containing, inter alia, the celebrated speech of a Creek Indian; then in their Reviews for July 1759, and July 1763."
"The principal design of these Discourses is to shew the value of the blessings, arising from the enjoyment of the Protestant Religion and Civil Liberty, and to inspire a becoming zeal for their defence. They are written with an excellent spirit, and in a sprightly animated manner; the language is clear and forcible; the sentiments generally just, and often striking."
And again, after some extracts from these Sermons, "Sentiments such as these must do honour to the preacher; and are essentially necessary to the progress of science and true religion, in any part of the world. As far as the schemes in which this gentleman is engaged, are calculated to promote, or are consistent with, these truly Christian and Protestant principles; we rejoice in his success, and heartily wish the increase of it."
Both the Critical and the Monthly Reviewers, at the same time that they thus bear testimony to our Author's merit, give specimens of it in long quotations, the inserting of which in this place would be an unreasonable enlargement of the Preface.
The following is the extract from Dr. Franklin's letter, above referred to; written antecedently to the Reviews, viz. May 3, 1753, but relating to a single tract, afterwards published in the editions which they noticed:
"Mr. Peters has just now been with me; and we compared notes on your new piece. We find nothing in the scheme of education, however excellent, but what is, in our opinion, very practicable. The great difficulty will be to find the Aratus,* and other principal persons to carry it into execution-But such may be had if proper encouragement be given. We have both received great pleasure, in the perusal of it. For my part, I know not when I have read a piece that has more affected me-so noble and just are the sentiments-so warm and animated the language."
In the year 1759, the Author was recommended to the University of Oxford, for the degree of doctor in divinity, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishops of Durham, Salisbury, St. Asaph and Oxford: And the manner in which these eminent persons solicited such a favour, was highly honourable to him. After a representation of his many zealous and successful endeavours in the dissemination
* The Ideal name given to the head or principal of the Ideal College of Mirania.
of religion and of learning; and of his zeal in animating the public mind against an invading enemy, they conclude thus:
Now, whereas these things (many of which are of public notoriety) have been represented to us by persons in whom we can well confide; and whereas the said William Smith is personally known to most of us, and is placed in a station in America that gives him an opportunity of being extensively useful to the interests of religion, learning, and good government in those valuable parts of his majesty's dominions, to which he is about to return; we think that it may contribute to the advancement of those interests to confer on him, by your diploma, the degree of doctor in divinity; and we beg leave to recommend him to your grace and favour for the same, not doubting but he will make it the care of his life to behave worthy of so honourable a mark of your distinction, and the hope we entertain concerning him.”
The degree, thus solicited, was soon afterwards conferred; as was also the same degree, about the same time, by the University of Aberdeen; and a few years afterwards by Trinity College, Dublin.
From the testimonies here recited, it must appear, at how early a period the Author had risen into consideration as a writer. The Editor might fill many pages with evidences of a more recent date: But he
rather appeals to subsequent productions themselves, as evidences of the extent in which a reputation, thus established, was in succeeding years sustained and improved. Accordingly, he adds but one more testimony; viz. that of the general ecclesiastical convention in 1789. That body, with a reference to the proposals which had been laid before them, entered on their minutes as follows:
"Resolved unanimously, That the members of this convention, being fully persuaded that the interests of religion and practical godliness may be greatly promoted by the publication of a body of Sermons, upon the plan proposed; and being well satisfied of the Author's soundness in the faith, and eminent abilities for such a work; they do, therefore, testify their approbation of the same, and their desire to encourage it, by annexing their names as subscribers." And a paper was signed to the above effect, by all the members.
It only remains to be mentioned, that the copyright of all the compositions, intended by the Author for the press, was presented by him to the Editor; who, on this account, feels himself under the obligation of gratitude, to go on with the remaining volumes; for which he is accordingly preparing, without waiting to know the extent of the public