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PREFACE.

WH

HEN a writer confiders that fomething new will be expected in every addition to the number of books already publifhed, and is confcious that his own labours under this defect, he may wish to prefix an apology for engaging the public notice: And if novelty be proved effential to edification, the author of the following fheets is fenfible no apology can atone for their deficiency in this view, and has the mortification to reflect, that he has employed his time and pen to no purpose. There is however fomething in every perfon's mode of thinking and writing, which may be new to fome; and as a late eminent Commentator obferves, "Every man has his connexions; and some are difpofed to read with attention what he writes, who have not the fame favourable difpofition towards another, perhaps of fuperior excellency." Thus moft books of a religious caft are read by fome, and no doubt some benefit obtained from all: And may, he not be allowed to hope, there are more than a few, who can relish a repetition of plain, prac-. tical truths, and difpenfe with a plain manner of communicating them; and that to apologize because he has aimed to do good in the way in which others have gone before him, would be reputed and pronounced impertinence and affectation?

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* Scott's Bible Pref.

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The original defign of part of what is written was to accommodate the younger branch of the author's flock with fome useful catechetical inftructions; which it was hoped, might occupy a kind of a middle place between Dr. Watts' Catechifm and the Affembly of Divines. But though he has been infenfibly lead to enlarge his plan, for the benefit of adults, he did not with the cafe of the former to be entirely excluded. And he would flatter himself its prefent form, in fome refpe&ts, may not be deemed unfuitable to either, and, with a bleffing from above, may fubferve the inftruction and fanc rification of both. The edification however of the weak, uninformed Chriftian, has been a particular object in view in publishing his thoughts; and fhould they conduce, with the fame bleffing, " to open the eyes of finners, and turn them from darkness to light, from Satan to God," his plan will be ftill more perfectly effected, and the earnest defire of his heart, if he miftake not, be fulfilled.-To be able to add to the stock of merely fpeculative, fyftematic intelligence in divinity, he apprehends is a poor acquifition; and thinks he has more than once feen it attended with the worst of confequences. It has therefore been his wish, however he may have failed in the attempt, to communicate and increase knowledge with its proper influence: So to inform the judgment that the tempers and conduct may be regulated by the word of Chrift, that each may speak the language of obedience, and fhow the poffibility, neceffity and beauty of evangelic holinets. Such a living, active influence apart, the foundeft orthodoxy

appears

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appears to him infignificant and ufelefs: may ferve perhaps to get a name with man, but is hardly likely to fubferve the interest of the Kingdom of God. He has indeed fometimes thought the best digested fyftem may not unfitly be refembled to a skeleton, which has every bone in its proper place, and exhibits the first rudiments of our ftructure to a speculative eye, but has loft the feat of life and action: may help to instruct us in the compages of our frame, but can afford us no affistance to exert it. He hopes however, that what he has written, will be found agreeable to found doctrine, in the esteem of those who value it for its effects, and are folicitous to fecure its end. The fubjects are indeed common, and to many may be hardly thought worth a perufal; but their richness is inexhauftible, and their glory inextinguishable: ad the method of communicating them, if judged unpopular by fome, may be felt by the ordinary, unlettered reader (for whofe benefit it is chiefly defigned) eafy and intelligible: And if the way of falvation be contained therein, he has little fear, but with the approbation of the Lord, it will be obtained thereby; where the reader, like the Ethiopian Eunuch, has the anxiety of a Chriftian to be t taught, and the fimplicity of a child to receive it. In a word, it was his defire to accommodate the poorer fort, especially thofe of his own charge, with a brief compendium of practical divine truths, with their na tive tendency, to renew the heart and life for God, and make us holy, happy and ufeful, pointed out; and to apply the whole to the confcience with this a 3

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view :-To show what a Chriftian is, in the esteem of the Great God, as he has made known his mind and will, and what we may be, and must be, by the grace of his Holy Spirit, if ever we fee, with joy, that Saviour the Bible reveals, or enter upon that rest it promifes. It is not impofed, however, upon the reader to exclude the use of others of a fimilar kind, which he may already poffefs, or may be able to obtain; but to co-operate with them in the fame purpose, and to add ftrength, if poffible, to their teftimony..

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But, tho' the greater part of the doctrines he has produced thro' the whole, are, in general, fupported by direct references to Scripture, and many of the leading ones will not admit of an ambiguous meaning, he is far from fuppofing they will meet with a favourable reception from all who peruse them. On the contrary, he believes they will have the fame effect on fome, and not a few, in awakening those symptoms of difguft and fcorn which have ufually attended them. This indeed is what the Scriptures have forewarned him of, what he has been an eye-witnefs to, in various inftances, and what may very naturally be expected, when we recollect their humiliating, degrading tenor and caft, and reflect that they have ever been chiefly acceptable and useful with the lower clafs of people. It is no more; in fact, than what has been, what will be, and what must be, wherever the love of this world is allowed to command the mind, and govern peoples religious fentiments, and the approbation of men of wealth and

letters,

letters, is alone, permitted to give them fanction and currency. This ought not however to difcourage him; for fome will receive them, and profit by them, so far as what he has written may convey the mind of the Spirit, and borrow a living influence from the revealed teftimonies of his will. And the objection of their being chiefly patronized by the poor and illiterate, is, he conceives, no real diminution of their value, and no admiffible plea for rejecting them, fo long as they live in the Bible, and are recommended by their happy influence on thoufands; fome of whom, we may add, are perfons of diftinguifhed eminence in the literary world. It is fome fatisfaction too, to reflect, that what has the authority of this book can never be rendered contemptible in the eyes of true wifdom, however infignificant the writer, and wants not the commendation of other wisdom to give it approbation with God, or credit with his Saints: But,, he will venture further to add, that fo far as this is the cafe with the following: Sections, however they may be repugnant to the prevailing fpirit and maxims of the world, by whose opinion multitudes find it convenient and beneficial to be ruled, to reject them is to deny them, and to deny them to defpife Him whofe truths they are, and who is bound to fee them fulfilled for the preservation of his own honour and dignity, whether the finner will believe and respect them or not.. Let the fcorner take care then, not how he flight the writer, but how he treat with indifference and contempt what is written, which has the countenance of the lively Oracles of God; for

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