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This little volume contains the principal articles of a religious character, found among the papers of their lamented author. The letters on the early churches in the Peninsula, were the last labours of his hand. They were undertaken at the request of the Presbytery of Lewes. They were left unfinished; most of them in his first draught, were, since his death, collected on scattered pieces of paper.
It is scarcely justice to his memory to publish them, as they are, undoubtedly, far from what they would have been, had he been spared to give them the finishing touch of his own pen. It is, however, the opinion of many competent judges, who have examined these papers, and their accompanying documents, that they embody a history of facts too important to be withheld from the Presbyterian church, from any delicacy of mere individual feeling; and, that although they may not be what they would have been, yet, that even in their present state, they are far from disreputable to their respect
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ed author. They are the result of investigations, in which he took a deep interest for some time immediately preceding his decease, and for which, few men would have been so competent. The individual addressed in these letters is the late Rev. Robert M. Laird.
The tract on being ““ Ashamed of Christ,” it is said, was suggested by the following occurrence: The author at some early period of his christian course, was present at a prayer-meeting, and was called on by a pious elder to lead in prayer, which through diffidence he declined. That elder then gave out to be sung, the hymn of Dr. Watts, which begins with these lines:
“I'm not ashamed to own my Lord,
Or to defend his cause." This made so deep an impression on the mind of Mr. Spence, that he took the subject into very prayerful and personal consideration, the result of which was this excellent tract.
The piece entitled, “ A Few Reminiscences,” appears to have been suggested by the Convention of the signers of the Act and Testimony, at Pittsburgh, in May, 1835, and was probably written about that time. At that period, the author's own mind appears to have been so much employed on the subjects of
death and eternity, that he could not sympathise in the zeal of those conventionists for mere modes and forms.
The few poetical compositions at the end of the volume, were written on various occasions; at one time, for the purpose of giving pious verses to a favourite tune; at another to give vent to the author's own feelings on a particular subject; and at another, perhaps, for the gratification of a friend; but never with the most distant intention of his being known as a poet.
One of them, with his own permission, was published anonymously in a religious periodical; another was transcribed by a friend, and published in a newspaper, without his knowledge ; and the remainder were found amongst his manuscripts, perhaps unknown to any except his own family. As their publication is demanded by some, whose judgment is not unworthy of regard, they are added as a part of his religious writings.