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While unable to preach, I still feel impelled to write. And believing as I now do, that of all the various forms of useful books, taste and inclination lead many persons to give a decided preference to works of a biographical character for their effect in the way of example, and as affording an interesting style of communicating moral and religious knowledge, in a way that comes home directly to the heart. I have taken a mournful pleasure for the last few years, in laboring according to the best of my ability in this instructive and highly profitable field of religious literature. It is a pleasing task, and a sacred duty that we owe to the memory of pre-eminently good and holy men, as well as to posterity, to hand down to subsequent generations those illustrious examples of purity, goodness, and truth — the "great lights” of the Christian Church.
The materials to make up the biographical sketch of Charles R. Baldwin, which is here recorded, have been collected from widely different
And although not so complete as could be wished, they are sufficient to show the powerful work of God, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, upon a man of a strong, clear intellect-together with the "instrumental
means " employed in his complete deliverance from the facinating mazes of skepticism.
It has been the design of the author to let Mr. Baldwin speak for himself-hence are given letters and extracts from his journal and private papers in various forms. These exhibit his true sentiments and real character, the depths of his feelings, and entire consecration to his work, more concisely and far more fully than the ablest biographer otherwise possibly could do. I acknowledge with pleasure my indebtedness to those family friends who have so kindly responded to my numerous inquiries touching his private character, habits, and social relations. And especially my heartfelt thanks are due to his widow, Mrs. Ann E. Baldwin, who has so promptly furnished me with the most interesting and valuable materials for the work.
Mr. Baldwin was of a highly respectable family and well educated. A man of superior intellectual endowments, a highly gifted attorney, floating on a tide of great worldly prosperity, and standing high in the estimation of his fellow citizens. But immediately after his conversion to God, he brought all his worldly honors and laid them down at the feet of Jesus, and consecrated his powers of mind and heart to the service of his Divine Master.
With what noble, and conscientious determination he withdrew from the honorable, and to him lucrative profession of the law, and devoted himself to the great work of "saving souls from death," let the following unadorned recitals show to the world. “A thousand volumes in a thousand tongues, enshrine the lessons of experience. Yet a man may read them all and go forth none the wiser.” Yet I am sure the careful reader can not peruse these pages, especially those written by the lamented Baldwin's own hand, without feeling himself religiously elevated, his heart "strangely warmed, ” and his soul fired anew with a holy ambition to imitate the noble example of the " good and great."
MAXWELL P. GADDIS. West End, Dayton, July 10, 1858.