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When the First Volume of these Sermons was published, I did not presume to request the liberty of prefixing to them a name so illustrious. Encouraged by the favourable manner in which the Public has received Two Volumes, I now humbly beg leave, on the publication of a Third *, to lay them all before Your MAJESTY.
Had I been in doubt to whom they could be presented with the greatest propriety, the public voice would instantly have directed me to the Person to whom I have now the honour of addressing myself. Discourses intended to promote religion and virtue can be inscribed to none more suitably than to One who, in the highest station of life, has ever supported the cause of religion by her conspicuous regard
* Dr. Blair's Sermons originally formed Five Volumes; and this Dedication was prefixed to the Third, which contained Sermons XXXI.-L.
for it; who has advanced the interests of virtue, by her distinguished example; and who, by a happy union of the amiable with the estimable qualities, has commanded the love and respect of a great nation.
It is a signal blessing to a kingdom when a Person whose character would have reflected honour upon any
condition of fortune, is placed by Providence in that elevated rank, which allows her virtues to shine with extensive lustre, and to diffuse their auspicious influence over a whole land.
That this influence of Your MAJESTY'S virtues may long continue to be felt; that while they alleviate the cares, and increase the comfort of our gracious Sovereign ; while they improve the minds, and contribute to the felicity of Your illustrious offspring; they may, at the same time, successfully exert their power in forming the public manners on a pattern so worthy of imitation ! shall be my sincere wish and earnest prayer.
I have the honour to be, with profound respect,
HUGH BLAIR. TO THE READER.*
After the very favourable reception which the Four former Volumes of my Sermons have met with, both at home and abroad, I had resolved not to presume on offering any more to the Public. To this publication of another Volume, my present situation gave rise, being now, by the infirmity of very advanced age, laid aside from all the labours of the pulpit ; and possessing, of course, more retirement and leisure than formerly, it occurred to me sometimes, to look back into Sermons, most of which had been composed a great many years ago, with a view to observe how far they agreed in the strain of thought with those which I had written at a later period. In reviewing them, passages sometimes appeared which I imagined might be serviceable, either for admonition or consolation to various classes of persons; and the thought began to arise in my mind, that by employing my present leisure, as long as health allowed, in preparing some of those Discourses for the press, it might be in my power to be still of some use in the world. Encouraged by this idea, I went on to revise and correct one Sermon after another, often making alterations and additions, till the present Volume arose.
* Originally prefixed to Vol. V. containing Sermons LXXII-XCI.
Though the subjects of these Sermons be different from those which I formerly published, some of the same sentiments and expressions may occasionally be found to be repeated in them. This is apt to happen, partly from that similarity of thought and style which will run through all the compositions of an Author who is not copying others, but writing from his own reflections; and partly, from the coincidence of some general topics and allusions which recur frequently in serious discourses of the practical kind. Where
Where any instances of this nature presented themselves to my memory, I found, that without altering the strain of the Sermon, I could not altogether suppress and omit them; and as it is not often they occur, I did not think it requisite that they should be omitted. If the sentiment, where first introduced, was in any degree useful or important, the renewal of it, when brought forth under some different form, enlarged perhaps, or abridged, or placed in connection with some other topic, may be thought to strengthen and confirm the impression of it. With regard to errours or inaccuracies of any other kind, the Author must trust to the indulgence of the candid Reader.
DR. HUGH BLAIR was born in Edinburgh, on the 7th day of April, 1718. His father, John Blair, a respectable merchant in that city, was a descendant of the ancient family of Blair in Ayrshire, and grandson of the famous Mr. Robert Blair, Minister of St. Andrew's, Chaplain to Charles I., and one of the most zealous and distinguished clergymen of the period in which he lived.
This worthy man, though firmly attached to the cause of freedom, and to the Presbyterian form of church-government, and though actively engaged in all the measures adopted for their support; yet, by his steady, temperate conduct, commanded the respect even of his opponents. In preference to all the other ecclesiastical leaders of the covenanting party, he was selected by the King himself to fill an office which, from the circumistances of the time, gave frequent access to the Royal Person; “ because," said His Majesty, “ that man is pious, prudent, * « learned, and of a meek and moderate calm temper." His talents seem to have descended as an inheritance to mis posterity. For, of the two sons who survived him, David the eldest, was à clergyman of eminence in Edinburgh, father to Mr. Robert Blair, Minister of Athelstonford, the celebrated author of the poem intitled The Grave; and grandfather to