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MY DEAR MADAM,
It is now near half a century since I published a volume of Sermons, which was better received than so juvenile a performance deserved, for it passed through a second edition; and now I am willing to believe that, after so many years of observation and experience, I may be able to offer you something less unworthy your attention.
When I first entered the Church, I had just ground to look for preferment both from lay and clerical patrons : Nothing, however, was offered me, (with the exception of a chaplaincy at Calcutta by Mr. Nathaniel Smith) till, in the year 1802, your good father, at that time chairman of the Court of Directors, procured for me, unsolicited, and, indeed, without my knowledge, the situation of chaplain to the East-India Company at Poplar.
Here, having discharged the office of a parochial minister near twenty years, the inhabitants, when the hamlet became a parish, inserted my name in the Act of Parliament as first rector,-a preferment which, though less lucrative, appeared more desirable than the chaplaincy, as being more certain, and more independent.
Your amiable mother, when I was quite a youth, first suggested my taking orders, and your kind-hearted father was the sole means of my obtaining an income ample, though not exuberant, and a station respectable, though not dignified. Thus, my dear Madam, am I indebted to your family for whatever I have derived from my profession; and I now gladly embrace this occasion of gratifying myself, by prefixing your name to this little volume, as a sincere, though humble, tribute of respect and gratitude to the memory of those who were so deservedly dear to you.—Of yourself I forbear
to speak; since whatever might be construed into flattery, would but disgust you, and disgrace myself.
Being now in my seventy-sixth year, I can hardly expect to appear much longer in the pulpit : I am therefore desirous of leaving something behind me, which may speak when I am silent. To suppose that I have any power to convince or persuade, by my voice, or by my pen, may be only a suggestion of vanity; but, if so, it will not be the first time that a preacher and an author, has made a false estimate of his abilities. This I can honestly say,
chief view in the present publication is to promote, as far as I am able, the belief and the practice of that religion, which I regard as the most invaluable of all those blessings which the Universal Father has bestowed on his thankless children. From the world I ask, I expect, nothing :-Even in the prime and vigour of our days, it has little to give which deserves our care; but, when we hang trembling over the opening grave, what can it confer ?–To the weary pilgrim, arrived at the very threshold of