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THERE are several questions of grave import which naturally present themselves for consideration, in a work bearing the title of these volumes. The facts and principles early revealed to the world, were designed to exert a permanent influence. They form the base of the spiritual edifice in which God himself dwells, and in which his people, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy temple unto the Lord. They are principles, some of which have given rise to no small diversity of views, and on which the author is not unwilling to leave the testimony of his own thoughts, however humble they may be. - . .
If he has allowed himself to introduce topics and matter of a somewhat varied kind, and portions of it in no elaborate and somewhat discursive form; it is because these topics could not well be overlooked, and a less elaborate view of them would, in his own judgment, be the more useful. If he has omitted some which might naturally have been looked for, it is because they would have exposed him to a still more redundant expression of the same thoughts, and because they have been so frequently and ably presented by other pens.
In dedicating the work to those who compose his own pastorate, he would fain be allowed to include in that number, not only those who now constitute the flock of
which the Holy Ghost has made him overseer, but those who no longer attend upon his ministrations, and are dispersed through the metropolis, and still more widely throughout the land. They are delightful memories to his own mind which are thus associated with the past. They bring to his recollection so much that is venerable in the character of those long since gathered into the garner of the great husbandman, and so much that is lovely in youthful piety that lives still, but no longer among men, that he loves to dwell upon them. INor are they less delightful, because, through much infirmity and more imperfection on his part, he has been so uniformly sustained by the kindness of his people; and more than all, because they so richly savor of the “years of the right-hand of the Most High.” Those who once heard, and now hear the gospel from his lips, will not, he hopes, be displeased, that some of his last thoughts upon First Things are most respectfully dedicated to them, by their affectionate pastor,
IT is not the object of the writer to address himself to the popular taste, at the sacrifice of truth. So far from this, the following pages will, he trusts, be found to contain God's truth, presented in the plainest dress. He has assumed the title, FIRST THINGs, because his topics are among the first lessons narrated in the Sacred Writings, the first great realities revealed to men. Of these the adorable and ever-blessed God has the first place. In every view he has the preeminence. By the great word GOD, the Scriptures mean that intelligent, eternal First Cause, who created, upholds, and governs all things. We open the Sacred pages, and the first words we read are these: “IN THE BEGINNING, GoD.”