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PREFACE

TO

THE THIRD EDITION.

For some years after Mr. Wesley had entered upon the office of a Christian Minister his views of evangelical truth were very defective. His temper was deeply serious, and it was his sincere and earnest desire to save his own soul, and them that heard him ; but he understood not the nature and extent of the Christian salvation, nor the faith by which it is obtained. In this state he wrote and published little. A revised translation of Kempis's “ Christian's Pattern,” a single Sermon, and a small Collection of Prayers, which he formed for the use of his pupils at Oxford, were his only publications at this period of his life. The case was widely different when he was brought to an acquaintance, both in theory and experience, with the truth as it is in Jesus. He then felt that“ the world was his parish ;” and that he had a message from God to all men. The love of Christ constrained him to publish that message in all parts of the land, regardless of toil, contempt, and danger; and the same principle rendered him one of the most voluminous writers of the

age. For fifty years the press was incessantly employed under his direction, in multiplying books of the most

VOL. I.

a

useful kind, adapted to the spiritual benefit of all classes of the community, but chiefly designed for the instruction of the poor. His different works were printed in London, Bristol, Dublin, and Newcastleupon-Tyne; but they often were confided to the care of men who were incompetent to the task of correcting them; and the itinerant ministry in which he was incessantly employed rendered it impossible that they should undergo his own inspection as they passed through the press. The consequence was, that errors accumulated in them, till, in several instances, they failed to express the author's meaning.

Reminded, at length, by advancing years, of his approaching end, and desirous that, after his decease, his trumpet should not "give an uncertain sound,” he undertook a careful revision of his whole works, which he published in a urriform edition. It is comprised in thirty-two duodecimo volumes; the first of which bears the date of 1771, and the last that of 1774. To this edition the following address “ to the reader' is prefixed :

“1. I have had a desire, for several years, if God should spare me a little longer, to print in one collection all that I had before published in separate tracts. (I mean, all the prose, except the Notes on the Bible, the System of Philosophy, the Christian Library, and the books which were designed for the use of Kingswood School.) These I wanted to see printed together; but on a better paper, and with a little larger print, than before,

« 2. I wanted to methodize these tracts, to range them under proper heads, placing those together

which were on similar subjects, and in such order, that one might illustrate another. This, it is easy to see, may be of use to the serious reader, who will then readily observe, that there is scarce any subject of importance, either in practical or controversial divinity, which is not treated of more or less, either professedly or occasionally.

“ 3. But a far more necessary work than that of methodizing, was the correcting them. The correcting barely the errors of the press is of much more consequence than I had conceived, till I began to read them over with much more attention than I had done before. These, in many places, were such as not only obscured, but wholly destroyed, the sense; and frequently to such a degree, that it would have been impossible for any but me to restore it. Neither could I do it myself, in several places, without long consideration : The word inserted having little or no resemblance to that which I had used.

“4. But as necessary as these corrections were, there were others of a different kind, which were more necessary still. In revising what I had wrote on so many various subjects and occasions, and for so long a course of years, I found cause for not only literal or verbal corrections, but frequently for correcting the sense also. I am the more concerned to do this, because none but myself has a right to do it. Accordingly I have altered many words or sentences; many others I have omitted ; and in various parts I have added more or less, as I judged the subject required : So that in this edition I present to serious and candid men my last and maturest

thoughts, agreeable, I hope, to Scripture, reason, and Christian antiquity.

“ 5. It may be needful to mention one thing more, because it is a little out of the common way. In the extract from Milton's ' Paradise Lost,' and in that from Dr. Young's 'Night Thoughts,' I placed a mark before those passages which I judged were most worthy of the reader's notice. The same thing I have taken the liberty to do throughout the ensuing volumes. Many will be glad of such a help; though still, every man has a right to judge for himself, particularly in matters of religion, because every man must give an account of himself to God.

JOHN WESLEY." March, 1771."

The printer employed upon this occasion was William Pine, of Bristol; whose carelessness in a great measure defeated Mr. Wesley's design in the correction of his works. In the seventeenth volume, page 56, the argument is completely ruined by an omission, which Mr. Wesley has thus noticed in the table of errata :-“ By the inexcusable negligence of the printer and corrector, several paragraphs are here left out." A more grievous instance of the same kind occurs in the twenty-ninth volume, page 183; where one hundred and seven pages are omitted, making a chasm in the Journal of one year and three months. On this subject the following entry is made by Mr. Wesley in the volume which he left in his own private library :-“N. B. From this day, July 20, 1749, to Nov. 2, 1751, is wanting, by the

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