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PREFACE.

This volume is designed as a memorial of departed worth. It appears under disadvantages common to all posthumous works. The SERMONS and ADDRESSES, with one or two exceptions, were prepared by the Author for the press. The rest of the volume, consisting of selections from his numerous letters to his friends, are the effusions of a pious and affectionate heart, and penned either for their comfort, instruction, or gratification, without the remotest idea of their ever appearing before the public. The Editors have found the task of selection, in these circumstances, both delicate and difficult ; delicate, lest we should encroach on the sanctuary of private friendship ; difficult, on account of the great mass of letters before us, from which the selection has been made. Our difficulty has arisen, not from a deficiency, but from a redundancy, of valuable materials. We have used our best judgment in making this compilation, from the writings of one of the best of men, and of ministers, and submit it to the candour of its readers, and the blessing of God.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

OF THE

REV. DR. KEITH.

Isaac STOCKTON Keith, the subject of this memoir, son of WILLIAM and MARGARET Keith, was born in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, January 20th, 1755. His parents were members of the Presbyterian church, in the place of his nativity, and were held in high estimation, in the circle of their acquaintance, for their piety and virtue. They educated their children, (two sons and two daughters, so far as we can ascertain from the documents before us) with exemplary fidelity, taking unwearied pains to pour religious and other useful instruction into their youthful minds, and to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In the subject of this memoir, at a very early age, they discerned a vivacity of imagination, a quickness of discernment, and a disposition and aptness to learn, which led them to determine, in humble dependence on the divine blessing, to give him the advantages of a public education, with a view to qualify him to act in a large sphere of usefulness. Accordingly, at the age of about fourteen, be was sent to Princeton, in New Jersey, where he commenced and finished his classical education, under that very learned and ex. cellent man, Rev. Dr. John WITHERSPOON, as Pres

ident of Nassau Hall, and the Proprietor and Director of the Grammar School, annexed to the College, and then taught by Mr. Nathaniel Erwin, late minister of Neshaminy. Such was the diligence and success with which he pursued his preparatory studies, that at every examination he was honored with a premium. The period be spent at the Grammar School, previous to his admission into the College, was much shorter than usual. His whole course of classical education was completed in six years, at the early age of twenty. But the event, which above all others distinguished the period of his residence at the Grammar School, and which Jaid the foundation for his future usefulness in the church of Christ, was his conversion. Here, as appears from a MS. account of the event now before the writer, through the influence of the Holy Spirit, the eyes of his mind were opened; he perceived, felt and lamented the exceeding sinfulness of his own heart and life ; and renouncing all dependence on any thing he could do to effect his own salvation, was led to rely wholly on the inerits and mediation of a crucified Saviour. In his own time, the Lord was pleased to diffuse the light of his reconciled countenance into his anxious and humbled soul. On hearing the joyful and welcome intelligence of this event, his parents exclaimed, « Now hath the Lord answered our prayers in his tender mercies toward that son, whom we had specially dedicated to his service.” During his whole collegiate course, he continued a warm hearted, active, exemplary christian.

Soon after he had completed his classical education, in the autumn of 1775, he was invited to take charge of a Latin school at Elizabethtown, in New Jersey, which

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he taught with Me approbation, both of his pupils, and of the Trustees. But this employment fell short of his great object.'. He accordingly resigned the school, and placed himself under the care of the Rev. ROBERT Smith, of Lancaster County, in conformity to whose directions, residing at his father's bouse, he pursued and finished his course of theological studies, preparatory to his entrance on the work of the ministry,

In the year 1778, he put himself under the care of the Presbytery of Philadelphia ; and in the autumn of the same year, received from that body a license to preach the gospel. The following winter he spent in a preaching tour, from which he returned to his father's house in April, suffering under a sore and most painful pleuretic complaint, which affected his liver, and imminently threatened his life. After a long and distressing sickness, he was relieved, though not restored to firm health, in an extraordinary manner. The matter which had collected internally, and caused his pain, discharged itself, in consequence of the application of a blister, near his shoulder blade, and his recorery immediately followed.

In March, 1780, having previously preached at Alexandria, in Virginia, he received from the Presbyterian church and society in that place, left vacant by the removal of the Rev. William Thom, an affectionate and unanimous call, (to which “ the inhabitants of every denomination echoed universal consent,"') to set. tle among them, as their pastor, “ promising obedience to his doctrine and discipline, so far as they should be agreeable to the word of God.” The call from this church he accepted, and was ordained by the Presbytery of Philadelphia, with a view to his taking the pas.

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