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Present Xnbabitants of Ancient Dedham,
WHICH IS NOW DIVIDED INTO TEN TOWNS AND TWENTY-EIGHT RELIGIOUS SOCIETIES,
WITH A DESIRE TO PRESERVE THE HISTORY OF THIS ANCIENT CHURCH,
TO PERPETUATE THE MEMORY OF ITS WORTHY PASTORS,
AND “TO BRING DOWN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS INTO THE CHILDREN,"
IS RESPECTFULLY COMMENDED,
BY THEIR FRIEND AND SERVANT,
DEDHAM, MAY 1, 1840.
This volume contains a complete collection of the Sermons published by the Ministers of the First Church in Dedham from 1638 to 1800. It is a humble tribute to our successors, who may celebrate the next Centennial Anniversary in this church. As historical documents, they are of some value. As exhibiting the spirit and principles of the Fathers, with their style of preaching, they are precious memorials. In several of our early churches, as Plymouth, Salem, Charlestown, Boston, Cambridge, Roxbury and Dorchester, it would be easy to collect a volume, greater in extent and more rich in intrinsic worth. This hint may be useful. If this volume should contribute, in any degree, “to turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers," it will amply compensate for the labor and expense.
To recover such documents from dust and oblivion is a task, which some future age will more justly appreciate. An Indian relic, which the ploughman covers with his furrow, will yet be gazed at with a curious eye. Centennial Discourses are now frequent. The settlement of colonies, the incorporation of towns, the institution of churches, and the occurrence of important events, are commemorated. Many facts are revived and authenticated, the providence of God is devoutly acknowledged,
the progress of our country is registered, and a new impulse is given to our national patriotism.
The publishing of this volume has been delayed, chiefly to supply a chasm in the first Discourse. A copy was found in a garret in Dedham, where it had probably slept a century, and another was found in Dover, both of which had lost the title page and a part of the introduction. This defect has at last been supplied by a copy, found among a mass of unassorted pamphlets in the garret of the Antiquarian Society's Library at Worcester, for which the compiler makes his respectful acknowledgment to the Librarian, S. F. Haven, Esq.
The several Discourses are arranged in chronological order. The orthography is adapted to the present standard of our language, but the words and phrases are without alteration. A friend suggests that the notation of dates ought to be explained : thus “21. 9. 1678," means 21st day of November, 1678, (as March was then the first month in the year.)
It is no more than ordinary justice to allow writers, whether ancient or modern, to speak in their own way, without abridgment or change. And there are few words in this volume, which can be condemned as obsolete or provincial, or which cannot still appeal to the best standard of language-popular use.