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M A DE LEY
210. 9. 268.
THE name of the venerable Mr. Fletcher in.
fcribed on this volume will introduce it to the perusal of many, and its own intrinsick worth will, I flatter myself, entitle it to the approbation of proper judges. Thus I am relieved from the pain of foliciting for it the notice of the publick, and of giving it that commendation, which will better become any other person than the Editor. It may, however, be expected, that I should give some account of my book, and I conform, the more cheerfully, to general custom, as it affords me an opportunity of conciliating the candour of the Reader.
This book is truly Mr. Fletcher's. A large part of the Letters is transcribed from the origi. nals, others from authentick copies, and some from a su: ll collection of letters published a few years ago in Dublin. For the Letters on the Manifestation of Christ, and the Frarments, I am obliged to Mrs. Fletcher: the first are in the Author's own manuscript, the last copied by Mrs. Fletcher from some of his old pocket-books. The Pastoral and Familiar Letters are written from the period of Mr. Fletcher's conversion to within a ferv days of his decease. When the Letters on the Manifestation were written, or to whom they are addressed, I cannot learn; but from the beginning of the first letter, the decayed state of the manuscript, and the extreme smallA 2
ness of the character, (which could scarcely have been legible to the Author in his latter years) I judge then to have been the first essay of a genius afterwards so much admired. The Fragments, of which fome appear as the thoughts of the day, others as notes of sermons, bear date the first few years of his ministry.
If, therefore, any part of this volume, however excellent, be deemed inferior to the more mature productions of the fame admirable pen, it is hoped that candour will have at least as inuch weight as criticism.
The Reader is farther requested, to remember that the pious Author wrote only for himself and his friends; that these sheets want his perfecting hand; and that the Editor thought himself entitled to take no liberties.
It is not expected that Mr. Fletcher's reputation as a writer will receive new lustre from these Polhumous Pieces: But, if the many friends, who revere his memory, find edification and delight in perusing his apoftolick letters; if any, whose opposition of fentiinent would not allow them to converse with him as a polemick divine, shall now receive him to their breasts, as a Christian brother; if any, who have not reaped the rich harvest of his foriner writings, are benefited by the gleanings of the field; and if the world in genreTal is made better acquainted with the virtues of this excellent man: all the ends proposed by their publication will be obtained, and the Editor will think himself justified in giving them to the
That the benedi&tion of the Almighty may attend these last labours of his Servant, that the