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THE Reverend WILLIAM BARLASS, the author of the following sermons, was born in Scotland, in the parish of Fowlis, about eight miles from Perth. After much and serious reflection, he overcame his scruples, and entered the sacred ministry, in connexion with that body of Christians usually denominated Antiburgher Seceders; and was settled at Whitehill, in the parish of New Deer, about thirty-six miles from Aberdeen; where he continued until the year 1797. The circumstances which led to a separation from his congregation, and which produced his emigration to America, are not material to the reader. The sermons must be tested by their own intrinsic merit. After his arrival in New-York, August 27, 1798, he undertook the tuition of a number of boys in the Classics, and continued in this employment with reputation and usefulness, until August, 1800; when he
commenced the business of a bookseller and stationer, which he pursued till his death, January 7, 1817. In this station he was peculiarly useful, by importing from Europe, and collecting from various quarters, an assortment of the most valuable, curious, and rare books on divinity, and in the learned languages; thus supplying wants, which could not otherwise be satisfied in this city.
The sermons now presented to the public were evidently intended by the author for the press: having been fairly transcribed by himself long before his death, and left to the care of his sister, who has at length thought proper, by the advice of her friends, to publish them. Indeed, a contract was made between the author, and a bookseller in Scotland, for giving them publicity in that country, which was prevented by nothing but his removal to America.
Many of these sermons were delivered on sacramental occasions, and all treat of important, practical, and experimental subjects. The language is plain, simple, and unaffected; and they appear well calculated to make an impression on that class of people, who occupy the middle ranks of life, who compose the majority in every congregation, and to whom they were originally addressed.
Mr. Barlass was a zealous, faithful, and impressive preacher, and acquired a high degree of popularity
with the members of the society among whom he officiated. Wherever he displayed his talents he was attended by a crowded auditory;* and many of the congregation at Whitehill, which was greatly attached to him, to this day deeply lament the loss of his services.
He was a judicious divine, a man of extensive reading, and a good classical scholar. In his manners he was mild, and without affectation; modest and unassuming in his deportment; of a sociable disposition, but much abstracted from the world; of ardent piety; humble, patient, and submissive to the will of his heavenly Father, under a severe and distressing malady, with which he was afflicted for many years, and which at last brought him to the grave.
It is hoped and believed that his sermons will be relished by all who love the truth, dressed in the garb of simplicity and neatness, without parade of words, or studied ornaments of diction.
The correspondence between the author and the pious and celebrated John Newton, whose works are
* And no wonder, for he possessed in a high degree the talents which commend a speaker. His appearance was solemn and commanding; his voice full, distinct, and melodious; and his manner characterized by a peculiar earnestness. He appeared when preaching to be talking to another, on a subject which he understood well, and on which his whole heart was set.
well known, and highly estimated, accompanies these sermons. This correspondence took its rise from the difficulties and perplexities which agitated the bosom of the author, when about to enter upon the work of the ministry; and was intended to elicit the advice and direction of that excellent man, for whom the author had a high veneration. The effect corresponded with the expectation of the author.
The publication of these letters will prove an acceptable present, it is hoped, to all who value the letters of Omicron; while they display the serious exercises and tender feelings of the author, in very trying circumstances, and on a subject of great difficulty and importance.