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THE continued and increasing demand for the works of Sturm has occasioned the present edition of his Reflections to be presented to the public; before whose tribunal they have so long been, that to descant now upon their nature, merits, and design, would be superfluous. It may, however, be briefly stated, that these reflections are calculated to enlarge the mind and to purify the heart: they lead the attentive observer through the whole creation, inform him of its stupendous works, and conduct him within the temple of the great God; whilst they inculcate resignation to the divine will, humanity, benevolence, and the most amiable virtues which dignify and adorn human nature.
Several translations of this work have already appeared; but they are all either grossly inaccurate, and deficient in grammatical purity, or they are written in a tame, insipid style, devoid of elegance and destitute of interest. Let it be remembered, that something more than merely expressing the thought is required; the harmony of the cadence, the rounding of the period, and the poising of the sentences, all are necessary to excite and to arrest the attention; and unless the attention be stimulated and stabilitated, it will be to very little purpose that the moralist declaims, or the philosopher writes. For purposes merely didactic, when something is to be told that was not known before, a style the most naked and beggarly might, perhaps, be endured; because the novelty of the matter may induce us to overlook the poverty of the manner: not but, even in this case, the thought will receive additional strength and lustre from elegance and splendour of diction; as a beautiful woman appears more lovely when arrayed with neatness and simpli city, than when cloaked to the heels in very rags and tatters. But against that inattention by which known truths are suffered to be neglected, insipid language or sterility of imagery makes no provision; it may, perchance, instruct,
but can never persuade. Now although what Sturm says is very good, and very just; yet, as he wishes to lead us from the error of our ways to the wisdom of the just, it is necessary that he use every effort to impress upon our minds an earnest desire to follow him in his strains of piety and heavenly contemplations. He has many powerful obstacles to struggle against; such as, the obstinate resistance of our own perverted and corrupt hearts, and the allurements and example of an ignorant and embrutified world, which will not listen to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely.
We well know that the same truth, told in two different ways, shall have a very different effect upon our minds: let it be doled out to us in a droning, drowsy tone, and in homely, vulgar language, and we either sleep, or turn our backs upon the speaker; but let a man deliver this truth in appropriate diction, with impressive seriousness and awful solemnity, and it will penetrate to the inmost recesses of our heart. The same reasoning applies to writing; which may, indeed, be called speaking to the eye. We slumber over the page which is polluted by colloquial barbarisms, and deformed by continual outrages against accuracy and elegance. In such a situation is the invaluable Sturm placed by his translators: his thoughts are clouded by unseemly language, and buried by a tiresome abundance of repetitions. I do not mean to blame them for not having been sufficiently literal in their versions; because the idioms of the two languages are so different, that all the spirit of the original must vanish if the copy be made too close. The attempting to render word for word any work from one language into another, is a foolish and useless undertaking; because it precludes the possibility of expressing the sense of the author. It will be readily seen, therefore, that I do not mean to give a literal, but a literal translation of Sturm: his repetitions of the same things, and many such there are, I have avoided; some of his inaccuracies ventured to correct, and have omitted some trifling passages, which lessened the weight and dignity of the subject; and every where, by an attention to style, have endeavoured to give it the spirit of an original work. In doing this I have been anxious to preserve the same fervent strain of piety which animated the worthy author; and in presenting this work to the public