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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 dificulty 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 can. dour of its readers, and the blessing of God.
Though this volume is published more especially to gratify the numerous friends of Dr. Keith, and to them we are sure it will be very precious ; yet, we doubt not, it will prove a useful and valued work to many otbers also, and remain a monument of the affectionate piety, christian charity and meekness, respectable talents and acquirements, and ministerial fidelity of its Author, to the latest generation.
We close our Preface with the following letter, addressed to the widow of Dr. Keith, shortly after his decease, as a valuable testimonial of the high estimation in which he was held by the most respectable people of his cbarge ; and as furnishing also a strong reason for the publication of this volume.
CHARLESTON, MARCH 31, 1814.
HILE we partake in the ex. tensive grief, which the much lamented death of your excellent husband has excited, one source of alleviating our distress has been opened to our minds. With your permission, he who when living faithfully fed us with the bread of life, may, though dead, yet continue to instruct and comfort, not only us and our children, but multitudes who never had the happiness, which we enjoyed, of hearing from his lips the gracious messages of divine truth. To withhold these precious remains of our much loved Pastor from the public eye, would,
in our opinion, be an injury to the community, as it would deprive them of a source of improvement and consolation, which, under existing circumstances, promises to be of extensive utility. We therefore most earnestly request you to deliver over to some judicious friend, the manuscripts of your beloved husband, that a selection may be made from them for publication. In so doing you will not only oblige us, but many who have never heard his voice; and at the same time, carry on the good work to which his whole life was devoted.
REV. DR. KEITH.
Isaac Stockton Keity, 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
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. Joux WITHERBPOON, as Pres