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TO THIS EDITION.
THERE are several considerations which have influenced me in publishing a new edition of this popular work. In the first place, I flatter myself that the various emendations which I have made will enhance the value of the work to the public. In some cases I have supplied dates where they were wanting; in some I have given the full name for the initials, and made other alterations of a like character. But the text, with a few verbal exceptions, is preserved as it was in the original edition. I freely confess my regret that my means of amending the work in these particulars were not more abundant; for it is a general fault, running through all the works of Mr. Murray, that names and dates are sadly wanting.
I have endeavored also to enhance the value of the work by the addition of a large body of notes. I had many facts in my possession belonging clearly to the biography of Mr. Murray, that had not been incorporated into his 'Letters,' &c. nor into any edition of his 'Life.' Such as I could introduce without swelling the work to too large a size, I have given.
Again I have made some additions from Mr. Murray's 'Letters and Sketches.' The latter work was published before the author's death, and some interesting parts of his biography were included, which his widow did not incorporate into the account of his life. His visit to Potter's grave, and to the meeting-house which his departed friend had bequeathed him, his refusing to receive the meeting-house as his own, and giving it up to the people for their use, are circumstances that ought to descend to posterity with his biography.
The want of an Index is a material defect in any work. I have, therefore, with some labor, prepared one for this edition, the first that has appeared with an index. But my principal effort has been bestowed upon the Appendix. I have
here given certain documents never before published; to all which is added the large note on the relative sentiments and feelings of Murray and Winchester. These great men were contemporaries, and it has been an interesting employment to seek out the intercourse they had with each other, to penetrate their feelings one towards the other, and to bring their religious opinions into contrast. This work was performed, not with invidious feeling, but because it never had been so fully done before, and for the object that their relative sentiments may be better understood. The views of Mr. Murray in regard to the nature of sin, the character of punishment, the condition of departed unbelievers, and the transactions of the day of judgment, are shown. These have been gathered from a very careful examination of his 'Letters and Sketches.'
It should not be omitted that another object in publishing this edition is to reduce the price of the work. The first edi tion in 8vo. we believe, sold for $1 50 cents. The second, in 12mo. at $1 25 cents. Subsequent editions at 75 cents, -this, notwithstanding it is much enlarged, at 50 cents. It will now be within the means of all classes, and from its highly interesting character, will be more generally read.
In perusing the following pages, the reader should bear continually in recollection, that Mr. Murray was a man of warm and ardent mind, a rich and glowing fancy, and of a heart of stern integrity. These circumstances will serve to account for whatever there is in this work of a marvellous character. It cannot be more truly said of any man an of him, that he saw the hand of God in all the events of his life; and whatever occurred in his course of a wonderful nature, his firm belief in the divine supervision of human affairs, led him to regard at once as a particular providence.
The seventh, eighth, and ninth chapters of the work were written by Mr. Murray's widow, a woman of unquestioned talent. Her disposition in regard to the things of this world was altogether different from his; nor was she able to suppress a lamentation which appears in the seventh chapter, that he did not avail himself of the opportunities offered him, to accumulate wealth. She removed several years since, with an only daughter and a grand child, to one of the south-western states. They are now all deceased; and not a descendant of Mr. Murray is on the earth.
Boston, April 20, 1833.