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"Entered, according to act of congress, in the year 1832, by Rev. Ebenezer Mason, in the clerk's office of the southern district of New York."
SLEIGHT AND ROBINSON, PRINTERS,
THE public character of the late Dr. MASON has made the publication of some of his writings desirable to his friends, and due to the community. The task of collecting together and selecting from them materials for publication, assigned to me by the family, was undertaken from a sense of duty, and has been discharged according to the ability possessed. The result is submitted to the public in these volumes.
Those who knew the author as a public man, and were not acquainted with his situation and engagements, may be surprised to learn that the materials for publication were so scanty. It is much to be regretted that one who was so preeminent in his day should leave so few manu
scripts. Dr. Mason's life was emphatically devoted to the active discharge of duties in religion and literature. The pressure of his public services soon compelled him to lay aside his pen; and, sustained by a vigorous mind, and guided by firmly settled principles, he filled up his time in enlarging his sphere of active labor, and urging to still further exertion his mental powers. For at one period, the charge of a new congregation—the responsibility of a literary institution, and the whole weight of an in- fant and struggling theological seminary-together with all the engagements of a public man-rested upon his shoulders, and were sustained by him. Is it surprising that he wrote so little ? Uniting in himself talents of the highest order as an extemporaneous speaker, he was freed from the necessity of writing for daily purposes, and he never did write when he could avoid it. Hence, from the year 1796, four years after his settlement in the ministry, until 1821, a space of twenty-five years in the vigor of life, not a sermon, not an essay, even in an unfinished state, excepting what has been already published, has been discovered. In 1821 ill health compelled liim to write his sermons for the pul
pit, and read them. The sermons, therefore, excepting those republished and indicated by their titles, are limited to the early and late periods of his ministry. They are not, however, printed in the order of their composition, but as appeared desirable. Some of his later sermons were loaned at the urgent request of friendship, but have never since been returned. Especially sermons on John iii. 3, and 2 Cor. vi. 2.
From his sermons thus confined to the extremes of his public life, his theological opinions are easily discovered; and how he brought the gospel of grace to bear upon the consciences of men as responsible beings, may be as readily seen in these sermons as it might be attested by those who heard him. No man thought more independently, or was more in the uniform habit of personally investigating his subjects and deciding for himself.
A hope was indulged that outlines of his lectures upon different continued portions of the Bible, delivered to his congregation and to his students, miglit be found among his papers. His exhibitions of divine trutle in this form were most impressive and instructive. Nothing, however, remains belind which would indicate lie
had ever lectured upon the Psalms, the Gospels, the Acts, Romans, Hebrews, and other epistles. During his life, he gave a partial promise that he would write out some lectures upon the epistle to the Romans; but ill health forbade the redemption of that pledge. And it is well known that when applied to furnish for publication several discourses upon family instruction, delivered while preaching in the late Dr. Romeyn's church, in 1810, he replied, “I cannot give them, for I have them not."
The Essays upon Episcopacy, commencing the third volume, are already well known. Previous to Dr. Mason's decease, he had been frequently solicited by letters from different parts of the United States to permit their republication, and had finally consented; not from any desire to renew that controversy, but because the same high “jure divino” pretensions, which induced him to write his review, were again preferred, to the disquietude of many distant communities and churches. And as an additional reason, the articles reviewed have since been collected and republished.
The Essays upon the Church of God, commencing the fourth volume, are well known