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MEMOIR.

THE

He sermons, which compose the following volume, are selected from a number of discourses written without any expectation of publication in the regular course of the official duties of the author. The objections to offering to the world writings left under such circumstances are obvious, and certainly not inconsiderable. The disadvantages of all posthumous works, which bave not received the author's last corrections, are exceedingly great ; but especially of those of a pulpit orator. A very different degree of attention will usually be given by every writer to compositions intended only for the ear of a miscellaneous audience, and those, wbich are to meet the eye of a cool and, perhaps, fastidious reader. It must, also, often be incident to one, who is tasked to be ready to speak at a given hour, that amidst the glow and hurry of composition, sentiments will be struck out, which are not sufficiently weighed, or not carefully limited, or not perfectly consistent with each other, or which, perhaps,

are unconsciously supplied to him by memory,

instead of invention. It is obvious, too, that many great improvements, and a certain finish and perfection will be suggested by a last revision, which the author himselfwhile his discernment is quickened by the anticipation of the public tribunal, before which he is about to stand-alone can give. These, and other similar considerations, seem to establish the propriety of a general rule, which shall forbid the publication of posthumous writings, except where the author bas directed it, or, at least, appears to have, in some degree, prepared for it.

Powerful, however, as these considerations undoubtedly are, they have yielded, in the present case, to a conviction of the very extraordinary merit of these discourses. The mind of Mr. Buckminster was so singularly and habitually accurate, that, though these sermons have a claim to all the indul. gence, wbich is due to posthumous writings, there are few which have so little need of it. It seemed, therefore, to his friends, that it would be unjust to him, to his country, wbich is interested in his fame, and even consistent with what we may believe to be the purposes of Providence, in committing to bim such powers for the support of religion and virtue, that all their beneficial effects should be confined to the small circle of his immediate hearers. It surely would not be right, that a mind so richly and splen

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didly endowed should be suffered to pass away, after shedding a momentary warmth and lustre around it, without leaving any permanent proof of its salutary and benignant influence.

Of the propriety of this decision the public have, in this volume, the means of judging.–As it was believed, that few will read these sermons without a desire of knowing something more of the author, the office of giving some particulars of his life and character has been committed to one of his friends, who may advance that claim to the confidence of his readers, which is given by an unreserv. ed and affectionate intercourse with Mr. Buckminster of many years.

JOSEPH STEVENS BUCKMINSTER was born May 26, 1781, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His ancestors, both by his father's and mother's side, for several generations, were clergymen. His paternal grandfather was the autbor of several tracts of some celebrity in their day, in defence of a miti. gated form of Calvinism. Dr. Stevens of Kittery, his maternal grandfather, is yet remembered, as a very learned, judicious and pious divine ; in short-to use the language

of the very high authority* from whom I received this account_"he was a man, of whom one may say everything, that is good.” His father, the late Dr. Buckminster, was for a long time a/minister of Portsmouth, and was esteemed one of the most eminent clergymen of that state. His mother, I find, all accounts unite in representing as a woman of a very •legant and cultivated mind; and

* The late Chief Justice Parsons.

; though she died while her son was yet in early youth, it was not till she had made many of those impressions on his mind and heart, which most deeply and permanently affect the character.

Mr. Buckminster was a striking example of the early development of talents. There is some diversity in this respect in the accounts, which are given us of eminent persons. As far, however, as the intellectnal differences of men arise from differences in their original constitution, from greater sensibility, greater capacity of exertion, or superiour suisceptibility of external impressions, these differences, we should think, would be more or less clearly displayed in every stage of the mind's progress. When, therefore, nothing remarkable is rernembered of the youth of a man of genius, the cause may probably be traced, either to a want of attention, or a want of philosophical discrimination in the observ. ers. The instances of the early display of the powers of Mr. Buckminster were very extraordinary. There was no period, after his earliest infancy, when he did not impress on all who saw him, strangers, as well as friends, a conviction of the certainty of his future eminence. It seemed as if the early opening of a mind so fruitful and so fair was intended

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