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R E A D E R.
HE ensuing exposition and discourses are intend
ed for the benefit of those, whose spiritual state and condition is represented in the Psalm here explained. That these are not a few, that they are many ; yea, that to some part or parts of it, they are all who believe both the scriptures and their own experience will bear testimony to. Some of them, it may be, will enquire into, and after their own concernments, as they are here declared. To be serviceable to their faith, peace, and spiritual consolation, hath been the whole of my design. If they meet with any discovery of truth, any due application of it to their consciences, any declaration of the sense and mind of the Holy Ghost, in the scriptures suitable unto their condition and useful to their edi. fication, much of my end and purpose is obtained. Iknow fome
there are that dislike all discourses of this nature and look upon them with contempt and scoro. But why they should do so, I know not unless the gospel itself, and all the mysteries of it, be folly unto them. Sin and Grace in their original causes, various respects,
consequents, and ends, are the principal subjects of the whole fcripture, of the whole revelation of the will of God to mankind; in these do our present and eternal concernments ly, and from and by them hath God designed the great and everlasting exaltation of his own glory. Upon these do turn all the transactions that are between God and the souls of men. That it should be an endeavour needless, or' fuperfluous, to enquire into the will of God about, and our own interest in these things, who can imagine ? Two ways there are whereby this may be done. Firft, Speculatively, by a due investigation of the nature of these things, according as their doctrine is declared in the scripture. An endeavour, according to the mind of God herein, is just and commendable, and comprehensive of most of the chief heads of divinity. But this is not to be engaged in for its own fake. The knowledge of God and spirituał things have this proportion unto practical sciences, that the end of all its notions and doétrines consists in practice. Wherefore, Secondly, these things are to be considered practically, that is, as the souls and consciences of men are actually concerned in them, and conversant about them. How men contract the guilt of an, what sense they have, and ought to have thereof, what danger they are liable unto thereon, what perplexities and distresses their souls and consciences are reduced to thereby, what course they fix u.
pon for their reliéf, as alfo whar is that grace of God whereby alone they may be delivered, wherein it confifts, how it was prepared, how purchased, how it is proposed, and how it may be attained ; what effeas and consequents à participation of it doth produce, how in those things faith and obedience unto God, dependence on him, fubmission to him, waitiog for him, are to be exercised, is the principal work that those who are called unto the dispensation of the gospel ought to enquire into themselves, and to acquaint others withal. In the right and due management of these things, whether by writing, or oral instruction, with prudence, diligence, and zeal, doth consist their principal usefulness in reference unto the glory of God, and the everlasting welfare of the souls of men : And they are under a great mistake, who suppose it an easy and a common matter to treat these practical things usually to the edification of them that do believe. Because both the nature of the things themselves, with the concerns of the souls and consciences of all sorts of persons in them, require, that they be handled plainly, and without those intermixtures of secular learning, additions of ornaments of speech, which discourses of other natures may, or ought to be compofed and set of withal; fome judging by mere outward appearances, especially if they be of them from whom the true nature of the things themselves treated of are hid, are ready to despise and
fcord the plain management of them, as that which hath nothing of wisdom or learning accompanying of it, no effe&ts of any commendable ability of mind for which it should be esteemed. But it is not inexpressible how great a mistake such persons, through their own darkness and ignorance, do labour under. In a right fpiritual understanding, in a due perception and comprehenfion of these things, the things of the fins of men and grace of God, consists the greatest part of that wifdom, of that soundness of mind, of that knowledge rightly so called, which the gospel commands, exhibits, and valuation
To reveal and declare them unto others in words of truth and foberness, fit and meet to express them unto the understandings of men opened and enlightned by the same Spirit, by whom the things themselves are originally revealed, to derive such sacred spiritual truths from the word and by a due preparation to communicate and apply them to the souls and consciences of men, contains a principal part of that ministerial skill and ability which are required in the dispensers of the gospel ; and wherein a severe exer. cise of sound learning, judment and care necessary to be found, and may be fully expressed. Into this treasury towards the service of the house of God, it is, that I have cast my mile in the ensuing exposition and difcourses on the cxxx Pfalm. The design of the Holy Ghost was therein to express and represent in the per