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I cheerfully comply with the request of Mr. Smithson, to whose enterprise this volume is due, that I would introduce it to the public, and solicit in its favor a friendly criticism and a liberal patronage. Though the original motive of its publication was his zeal in behalf of a particular society of Methodists, or rather of Southern Methodism, as her interests are involved in the Church which represents her at the Federal Metropolis, it has been his ambition to make it a gem of art and a treasury of sacred eloquence, worthy to adorn the centre-table of every parlor, to rank in the library with other models of pulpit oratory, and to descend to succeeding ages in just honor to the faithful ministry of our day. He is free to confess that he has not perfectly succeeded in realizing the harmony and completeness of his design; and he pleads as his apology for any defect, the haste in which it was necessarily got up, and his inexperience in book-making. Не had expected the volume to be of larger size; and he greatly regrets that every Conference in our connection has not been represented, and that in a few instances he has not secured engravings of the authors. But I have all confidence that there will be no dissent among its generous patrons from the estimate I set upon it, in pronouncing it to be worth far more than it costs, and to reflect credit both on him and on the whole Church. The number and style of the engravings enhance greatly the expense of the book to him, and its value to the subscriber. A considerable circulation will be required to cover that single item. The sermons, with a few exceptions, whose special interest or limited circulation justified republication, have never been printed before; they constitute a valuable contribution to this species of literature, as well as a fair exponent of a pulpit which rates in reputation for eloquence and efficiency below none other in our land. The Methodists of the South will not fail to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Mr. SMITHSON for reproducing in a permanent form the sermon of our venerable father, BISHOP SOULE, which had such celebrity more than a quarter of a century ago. We had fondly hoped to obtain from him, though by the pen of an amanuensis, a legacy of counsel and encouragement to the Church he has so long served, and from whom he must soon separate: but the infirmities of disease, added to those of age, denied us the boon. It is a timely work to present to the public now an accurate engraving of that majestic but benignant face, on which the vast majority of us cannot hereafter look, and a discourse, the product of his prime and the admiration of our fathers, by which, even when dead, he will yet speak. There will also be an unanimous approval of the perpetuation of the noble discourse preached by Bishop Pierce on the death of Bishop CAPERS, as a tribute to one whose saintly spirit, silvery eloquence, and abundant labors will not soon be forgotten, and as a masterpiece of a living orator who deserved to be his associate in the high office of the Episcopacy. With the exception of the writer, who owes his place among the great men of our Israel to the accident of his present pastoral relation to the Church for whose benefit this work was projected, the contributors have been chosen because of their eminence in their respective sections, and far beyond. Their names are “ familiar as household words” throughout the South, and guaranty the amplest success to the volume. Their sermons, aided by the most correct and elegant likenesses which art could produce, will bring before the minds of vast numbers who have listened with delight and profit to their preaching, the living men and the living voices. Those who know them only by the fame of their virtues, their talents and labors, will rejoice to see their faces in these faithful engravings, and to read at leisure the printed words which, as they came from the lips and the warm heart, were clothed with so much spiritual power. The next generation will gladly learn in these pages something more about the men whose praise was a favorite theme with their fathers.
The name of WILLIAM T. SMITison has been prominently before the public in connection with this and other enterprises to establish in prosperity and permanence the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, at the Capital of the Union. In former years, as a member of the flourishing church in Lynchburg, Virginia, he pursued the even tenor of his duties with a liberal, consistent, and working devotion to all her interests; but
then he was at liberty to indulge the modest, quiet, and retiring disposition so characteristic of him, without detriment to the cause of Christ, which was then, as it still is, dear to his heart. Since his removal to this city, peculiar circumstances have called forth more remarkable displays of wholesouled generosity and untiring energy, in behalf of the church to which he has ever shown himself a true son. His zeal has been no partizan heat against any body of Christians, but a pure affection for the church with which he is identified by every tie of birth, education, faith, and communion. Here had been planted, in a soil and climate which seemed ungenial, a feeble society in connection with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He and others of like spirit have watched with solicitude and nursed with care this little slip, struggling doubtfully for existence. He saw that if a neat, commodious, and accessible place of worship could be procured, it would attract in future the numerous Methodists who should move to the Metropolis from all parts of the South—a class who had been heretofore lost to us, either by joining the societies under the jurisdiction of the Baltimore Conference, or by straggling off from their mother to other denominations, or by relapsing into the world--a course to which alas! strangers moving to this city of fashion and dissipation are too prone. The chief obstacle to the realization of this bright vision has been the smallness and poverty of our membership, and the consequent lack of funds to place themselves in a condition which would not only keep them alive, but attract to them the attention of the public interested in their welfare, during the period necessary for the operation of the causes already indicated. A debt has been incurred in the partial fulfilment of this object; and I am happy to state, as I can with certainty, that the increase in members, congregation, and all other elements of success which had been anticipated, has already begun, and progressed to a cheering degree. I may call the present year one of prosperity in numbers, finances, and usefulness. The fragile slip lives, grows, is destined to flourish and be fruitful. This volume is one of a series of efforts to raise the money which the members really have not the ability to pay, though they have the heart. Every purchaser will have the satisfaction to know that he is aiding a needy church, and is also doing a service of no small value to the whole extent of Southern Methodism, by raising her standard aloft at the Capital of our country, and by providing church privileges for the sons of every Southern State who shall flock hither with their families to fill various offices, from clerkships in the different departments of Government, to seats in the Cabinet, the Senate and House of Representatives, and it may be to the Chief Magistracy of the Union.