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succeeded in gaining a readier access to the heart, and in preparing it for the reception of truths which, in another form, might have been probably overlooked.
The circumstances of the mourner acquire a peculiar claim upon our tenderest regards. We are accustomed to feel compassion for every case of distress, and the hand of benevolence is readily outstretched for the relief of the indigent and the suffering poor. The sick and the miserable demand our attention, and all those comforts which a kind Providence has enabled us to bestow. Yet the mourner, in a much higher degree, is entitled to our sympathy. He has lost, perhaps, the friend in whom centered all his plans of earthly happiness, his every prospect is clouded by the gloom of desertion and despair, hope has abandoned a heart already overwhelmed with grief, and there is none to comfort him. If, then, we can be interested by the tale of human wo, if we can be animated with the liveliest sympathy towards those whose distress results simply from present and bodily privation; can we refuse to drop the tear of pity over the mental sufferer; can we withhold our exertions to impart relief, or conceive an object more worthy of our active beneficence? Hence it will be acknowledged, that every attempt to alleviate the sorrows of the afflicted, to administer comfort to the mourner, and lead him to the only source of solid peace, is entitled, in so far as it accomplishes this object, to be received with indul
Such, indeed, has been the exclusive design of the author, in offering to other mourners those considerations which served to calm his own mind, those brightening prospects which led him forward to the glorious realities of an infinite and eternal world, and those reflections which, he trusts, had a tendency to animate him to the love and service of God. In presenting his thoughts to the public, he has no interest to serve, no party views to promote, no favourite dogmas to enforce; his simple view is to administer consolation to the afflicted, and to lead them to make a proper improvement of their sorrows. If he has failed in accomplishing this object, it has not been from want of sincerity, of earnest desire, or of as great a devotedness to the pursuit, as his professional engagements would admit, but from incapacity.
How far the present little work fulfils these intentions, must be left to the decision of an impartial censor: if the author must relinquish the attainment of the good he has designed, he will still enjoy the satisfaction of having attempted what he conceived to be necessary, and if he shall have so far succeeded, as to administer to the comfort and improvement of such as are called to mourn for those who are translated from earth to heaven; if he may have the happiness to smooth the thorny pillow, to still the troubled bosom, to elevate the heart to God, and lead it to the only fountain of peace and consolation; then will he indeed rejoice in the delightful task he has undertaken, then will he render thanksgiving and praise to the gracious Hand which visited him with suffering, in order to prepare him for this labour of love. He now desires to leave his little work in the hands of Him who alone can bless it; imploring, with humble fervency, that an Almighty Father would be graciously pleased to smile on this feeble attempt to promote the honour of his name and the glory of his kingdom: and that He would render it instrumental in cheering and supporting the weary and the sorrowing, and in leading them to himself, as the only source of comfort. That those heart-broken mourners into whose hands this little Treatise shall fall, may share in the consolations of the Spirit of Grace, prays, with sincerest desire, Their obedient Servant,
In presenting to the Public a Fourth Edition of the Tribute of Sympathy, the author has only to express his unfeigned gratitude to Almighty God, for the many testimonies he has received of the efficacy of his little work in administering consolation to the mourner; and to add, that having carefully revised it, previously to its going to the press, he hopes he shall have rendered the present edition more acceptable to his readers.