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Ir persons devoted to profound thought and argumentative disquisition, constituted the majority of the religious public, never had the following pages been committed by their Author to the press ; being sensible how little they have to recommend them, where any thing beyond plain instruction on the plain and every day business of the Christian calling is in view. The subjects are tritely common; and the method of handling them wants all pretension to novelty, or splendour of illustration. Why then produce them, at a time when the press teems with works of a higher claim ? Though reasons for the publication are not wanting, they need not be produced ; for if any derive comfort or direction from the perusal, no reasons will be sought, and to others, none would be satisfactory.
The matters treated of are all of the most practical kind, with exception of a single head in the first discourse, which takes a compendious view of the truth of the Gospel. Its brevity, however, is injurious to the end proposed; for to have done justice to the subject, almost every sentence must
have been expanded into a paragraph, with historical references annexed, for want of which, to the reader it will appear as if much were left to stand on the ground of bare assertion—a deficiency that could not be supplied in the pulpit:
The discussion of evidences in the pulpit, however, is perhaps less appropriate than from the press ; for it is not by proving to our hearers that the Gospel is true, but by preaching it, that converts are ordinarily made. It is not by taking the mighty engine to pieces, to show the incredulous its sound materials and its wise construction, but by working it with diligence, that great effects are produced.
Men need to be assailed in the strongholds of their alienation from God, not with proposals to prove the Gospel to be true, but with its truths brought at once to bear on their consciences with all the might of their moral influence a more effectual way, if a judgment may be formed from the reč sults of past experience, than debating preliminary points. “The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom." But we preach Christ crucified.” If this be repugnant to man's wisdom, it accords with the wisdom of God, who is pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
Of the following discourses, the chief intent is to furnish those who have obeyed, or who desire to obey the Gospel call, with some counsels or consolations on matters of daily exigency in the way to heaven. With this view, the grace of the Gospel, in several of its more glorious displays, is exhibited
in various, though consistent representations. There is more of doctrine than of duty apparently inculcated; but, in reality, no doctrine is detached from its corresponding fruit of holy obedience to the will of a reconciled God.
There will be found in these discourses neither an ocean depth, nor the rush and urgency of an impetuous flow. A well, though not so magnificent an object, will serve the traveller to quench his thirst, as well as a river. And if the Author has succeeded in his attempt to disclose a few springs of eternal truth, let those who are truly seeking a better country, if refreshed by these means, lift up their eyes to Him from whom cometh every good and every perfect gift.
As a not unsuitable close to a volume devoted to the illustration of some of the leading doctrines of grace, a Character is introduced, in the formation of which the efficacy of these doctrines was happily exemplified. Among the superior orders of society, a greater regard is now paid to religion than in some former periods; though, we fear, there are not a few noble families yet in the land, that would reckon it a grievous disappointment, if not a disgrace, to have serious, devoted, scriptural piety, such as the last discourse discloses, manifest itself in any of their high-born progeny.
But we know Him who hath said, “ Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Fathe with the holy angels.”
Page 176, last line, for “ imited” read “ limited” 185, line 18, 66 him"
66 them" 290, Ino
THE GOSPEL ILLUSTRATED IN ITS TRUTH, CHARAC:
TER, AND CALL FOR CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST.
EPHESIANS 1. 13. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the
word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” Having it in view to call your attention to the saving character of the glorious gospel, and to press a cordial committing of the soul to Christ, in the belief of the glad tid. ings which it brings; we shall, in the first place, offer a few remarks on the subject of its truth. And on this department we shall not enter in the spirit of aggression, nor with the tone of defiance; but would rather persuade an opponent to desist from attack, by showing him the strength and friendliness of what he ignorantly assails. 66 Walk + + 2