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FROM OCTOBER 1757 TO OCTOBER 1758,
TO THE READER.
THE HERXIT, (first published about forty-five years ago) was among some of the author's earliest writings; and having been well received, by the more serious part of his readers, at that time, he resolved to give it a place among such works of his, as he might afterwards be induced to think, in any degree, worthy of being collected from their original fugitive state; and of being preserved and bequeathed to posterity (or at least to his surviving friends) in a more permanent way, by means of the press.
The subjects treated of by the HERMIT, in his fourth and fifth numbers, and his soliloquies in the second and sixth, hav. ing so close a relation to some of the foregoing Sermons, and especially to those from 1. Thess. chap. iv. (On Death, a Resurrection from the Dead, a future Judgment and an eternal World to come) determined the author's choice of this volume, as the proper place, to give the HERMIT's speculations a chance for longer life. In the manner of composition (though the subjects are allied) there may be found some difference between juvenile writings, and those of advanced age; between compositions for a periodical work, and the public at large; and compositions for the pulpit, or a particular congregation. But the comparison of this difference will not be displeasing to ingenuous readers.
THE HERMIT, No. I.
PROPRIETORS OF THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE;
SEQUESTERED as I am from the world and most of its concerns, your plan for publishing an American Magazine has found its way to my retreat. - As I have always been a friend to works of this nature, especially when their chief end is made to consist in advancing the interest of religion, virtue and knowledge, I find myself strongly prompted, both by duty and inclination, to contribute my endeavours, and give all the assistance in my power, for promoting a design that appears so well calculated for the public good. It is, therefore, my purpose, to offer you my reflections, once a month, upon such subjects as correspond with the character which the good providence of heaven has called me to sustain; and these, you may easily guess, will be of the serious, moral, and religious kind.
But that your readers may be the better able to form a notion of the entertainment they are to expect from me, and to satisfy a curiosity natural enough to those who look for any thing of importance from an author, the subject of this first paper shall be my own
history; or, at least, so much of it as has a more immediate relation to the character I bear.
My parents were among the first of those, who left their native soil and dearest connections, with the laudable design of improving their fortunes, and seeking a settlement in this new world. Many were the dangers and difficulties which they encountered, both while they were at sea, and after their arrival here. My father, who was bred a gentleman and a scholar, and consequently unaccustomed to manual labour, was nevertheless obliged to put his hand to the plough, as there was at that time but little other means of getting a subsistence here. My mother, who was descended from a very good family in Yorksbire, and brought up in the most tender and delicate manner, was constrained to forget the softness of her education, and to bear a part, with her yoke-fellow, in most of the labours of his farm. Custom, however, which is justly called a second nature, made even their toils, at length, to become easy and agreeable.
Thus were they employed for several years, till the smiles of heaven upon their industry, blessed them with a comfortable subsistence, and enabled them to pass the remainder of their days, without labour and without care. Happy were they in themselves, and happy in the friendship and good offices of all around them! One thought alone would sometimes give a damp to their domestic joys, and render them a little unsatisfied with all their worldly bliss. They had as yet never been favoured with any offspring, and it grieved them to reflect, that the little fortune which
they had collected, by the labour of their own hands, should become the inheritance of strangers. But their anxiety in this respect was at length removed. Scarce were they sat down to rest from their toils, and taste the sweets of their honest industry, before an indulgent providence was pleased to send me into the world, as the wished for heir of a well earned patrimony.
My father, who was a man of strict piety, and looked upon my birth as the highest instance of the favour of heaven upon his old age, named me Theodore, (or the gift of God) and determined, from that moment, to devote me to the service of his maker, as the only acknowledgment he could offer for the repeated blessings showered upon him. For this purpose, he took upon himself the care of my education, as there was at that time no public American seminary erected near him; and he did not chuse, for many reasons, to risque my going to any distant university. He was, indeed, in himself every way qualified for this task; and to him alone I am indebted, not only for my skill in languages and philosophy, but, what is of still higher and more lasting importance, for my knowledge of the principles of morality and sound religion. Unfortunately for me, the good man was called to a better state, before I was of full age; and consequently he failed in his expectation of seeing me fixed in the ministry of the gospel during his own life.
It was, however, one of his last charges to me, that I should spare no pains to prepare myself for that sacred office; and therefore, he enjoined me that,