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DISTRICT OF MAINE, TO WIT:
District Clerk's Office. BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the twenty-fifth day of February, A. D. 1830, and in the fifty-fourth year of the Independence of the United States of America, MRS. ANN L. Parson, of said district, has deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof she claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit:
"A Memoir of the Rev. Edward Payson, D. D. late Pastor of the Second Church in Portland. Bene orasse est bene studuisse.-Luther. Shirley & Hyde, Printers. 1830."
In conformity to the act of the congress of the United States, entitled, “ An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned ;' and also to an act, entitled, “An Act supplementary to an act, entitled, 'An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned ;' and for extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching bistorical and other prints.”
Clerk of the District of Maine. A true copy as of record,
Attest, J. MUSSEY, Clerk D. C. Maine.
STEREOTYPED AT THE
In revising this work for a new edition, the compiler has carefully considered the various suggestions for its improvement which have been offered by his friends. Of these, some he has adopted wholly, others in part: from others, again, he has felt himself constrained to dissent; not for want of due deference to the judgment which dictated them, nor from any partiality for his own; but partly in consequence of remonstrances against the alterations last alluded to, proceeding from sources equally entitled to respect. The ultimate decision, in every case, he supposed, should rest with him, whose it is to sustain the responsibility. The mere critic, however, he never expected to please. In estimating a work of this kind, judgment should be tempered with devotion. Hence, in deciding on the use to be made of the numerous remarks of his friendly advisers, who differed widely from each other, he has given the preference to the opinions of those, who, other things being equal, were, as he had reasons to think, most skilled in the science of the heart, and in the practice of devotion; "who,” in the language of the apostle, “by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Several erasures have been the consequence, by which it is hoped the imperfections of the book have been diminished. Some omissions have also been supplied, and such portions of the work as are most liable to abuse, guarded more strongly against perversion. By en
larging the page, the quantity of reading matter in this volume is made to exceed that in the first edition by more than twenty pages.
The general character of the work remains what it was. The feature most obnoxious to censure is its melancholy. From the detail of desponding feelings, doubts, and temptations, unhappy consequences to the reader have been feared. In giving to these so much prominence, the compiler has probably erred; still, they could not have been wholly concealed, without the sacrifice of historical verity. Besides, we are liable to err in judging, a priori, of the effect of such writings. Dr. Payson, contrary to maternal fears, was relieved, comforted, and instructed, by reading of the melancholy workings of Cowper's mind. We might suppose, that such desponding, and, it might almost be said, deistical sentiments, as are recorded in the first part of the seventy-third psalm, would be very injurious to the reader; whereas their real effect is to give force, impressiveness and beauty to the language which follows, so inimitably expressive of strong faith in God, and confidence in his providential government. In like manner, should the reader feel oppressed by the distressing exercises which are detailed in some of the following chapters, let him glance, for a moment, to their issue, and find relief in contemplating the triumphs of Payson's later days.
Further ; it may appear on reflection, that there could be no adequate exhibition of the degree of Dr. Payson's piety, without a corresponding exhibition of the obstacles against which he had to contend. That he did triumphantly surmount them all, is a fact full of encouragement to the tempted, desponding Christian. Indeed, it strips persons of this description of their last excuse for not persevering and rising superior to all difficulties; for where is the individual, whose constitutional hinderances to a peaceful and constant progress in piety are more hard to be vanquished, or more aggravated by bodily maladies? Who, then, can succumb, since he came off victor?
It may also deserve consideration, whether the developement of sorrows and depressions, as given in the former part of this volume, is not, on the whole, necessary to “justify the ways of God to men;" whether it is not in agreement with the laws which God observes in the arrangements of his providence and in the dispensations of his grace, that attainments should bear some proportion to the efforts by which they were acquired; that conflict should precede victory; that they who would “reap in joy" should “sow in tears ?” Now, it is well known that Dr. Payson's attainments in religion were far above the ordinary standard; his spiritual joys transcended, perhaps, those of
other tenant of earth. Let the reader, after having examined his history throughout, say whether the “ seed” is disproportionate to the “ fruit."
It does not affect this argument, that many of the exercises and affections, of which he was the subject, have no necessary connexion with religion. Some of them, it will be seen in the progress of the work, have been laid out of the account, in estimating his personal religion. They are too plainly and too bitterly characterized by himself, to be mistaken for objects of rational or pious desire. Still, however, where they have not a criminal origin, they may properly be ranked with other afflictions, which, though not good in themselves, are often known to work out the peaceable fruits of righteousness."
The suggestion also has occurred, whether the records which have been transferred to the following pages were not specially furnished by Providence to meet an existing exigency of the Christian church. The great enterprises in which she is engaged necessarily modify the instructions of her teachers as well as the duties of her members. They are constantly exhorted to action, as indeed they should be. It is an active, not a contemplative age. The business of Christians is, in fact, without, among their fellow creatures; not within, in communion with their own hearts. These circumstances, conspiring with man's natural aversion to self-examination, and the paramount difficulty of the duty, may bring on a deplorable inattention to the heart; they certainly will, if relative duties be regarded as a substitute for private devotion. The church should look to it, that the springs of action be not dried up. The benevolent operations of the day were set in motion by men of such deep and heart-pervading piety as Payson's. Such piety must continue to urge them onward, or their movements will be sluggish and inefficient. The two classes of duties will here be seen to have received merited attention, and their reciprocal influence will be scarcely less obvious.
In executing his extremely delicate and responsible task, the compiler has had occasion to feel the value of the counsel and the promise, which are addressed to those who “lack wisdom;" and can take no praise to himself that his errors of judgment have not been more numerous and more flagrant. May God attend the perusal of the book, notwithstanding its imperfections, with his gracious benediction.