« PreviousContinue »
The Author of the following pages, in writing and preparing them for the inspection of his readers, en: dea youred to keep two things coostantly in view ; The necessity of salvation---and the scriptural method of obtaining it. He considers the former as arising from human degeneracy; and the latter is laid down in the plainest manner, to facilitate the escape of those who acknowledge and feel their degeneracy, to that only Refuge of lost sinners, the Lord Jesus.
It will be seen that he is fully convinced of that weighty and humiliating truth, that the human race have apostaţized from God; and were it not for the riches of his grace, it might be said of all, without exception, that "they are corrupt,” that “they have done abominable works,” that “there is none that doeth good,” that “ they are altogether become fil, thy,” that "there is none that doeth good, no, not one ;” for, without Divine assistance, “nothing is strong, nothing is holy.” From this persuasion he has been led to point out in a variety of instances the proofs of human depravity, that the necessity of our conversion to God, both in heart and life, may be made more fully to appear. At the same time he readily admits the sufficiency of Divine grace to save us from all our evil propensities, and to plant in pur nature all the excellencies which form the character of the de
vout christian ; so that none need despair, and all may come freely to “the Lamb of God, which taketh
away the sin of the world,” and partake largely of all the benefits flowing from his death and meritorious intercession : in a word, will be restored and made truly happy.
He flatters himself with the hope, that such as are truly penitent, and are resolved not to content themselves with names and forms, will here meet with such directions and encouragements, drawn from the
lively oracles,” and the experience of God's servants, as will speedily lead them into the paths of Divine knowledge and happiness. The difficulties attendant upon the commencement of a life of piety are soon overcome, when we gain right views of the Saviour, When we discover his tender compassion and ability to save, our doubts and fears are soon removed ; and by placing our confidence entirely in him, we find rest for our troubled and tempted souls. On this account this part of the subject is considerably amplified.
Many persons, indeed, feel very little interest in works of this nature. In opposition to such characters, he considers the subject of religion the most important that can engage the attention or employ the thoughts of men, whether we consider it as a system of evangelical truth having God for its author, or the influence of that truth on the hearts and lives of mankind. Other subjects may or may not be interesting to us, according to our respective states and circumstances ; this is of universal concern, involving in it the present and everlasting happiness of every individual of the human race. It ought, therefore, to be well understood, and embraced by all; and happy will he consider himself, if by this attempt lie can prevail on any to believe its declarations, experience its privileges, and regard its precepts. Such will be truly blessed, God will be glorified, and the end of kis la. bours answered.
Should any inquire, since so many have written on this subject, why he thus intrudes himself on the notice of the public? In reply to such inquirers, he simply declares, that he was thoroughly sensible that many had written much better upon this important subject than he pretends to, and that others may be found wbo could set it forth in purer language, and much more methodically than he has done ; yet he considers that the greatest success does not always attend superiority of talents, and that the best and most ingenious performances are not the most pleasing to the generality of readers, or tend most to their edification. He thinks it would not be difficult to prove that works of an inferior kind have, when accompanied by the Divine blessing, been as acceptable, and full as beneficial, and even more so, than those of a more shining nature.
He does not speak thus by way of depressing the works of those who have written better than himself: that would be invidious and highly censurable. No; for he has read many of them with profit to his own min), and noticed with gratitude the advantage
they have been of to others. Indeed it was this, among other considerations, that induced him to write upon this subject. The names of Baxter, Allein, Bunyan, Doddridge, Fletcher, &c. &c. made him desirous of throwing his mite into the same treasury; that, if it should please God, he might have a little of their in. terest---the pleasure of doing good.
He was well aware that nothing nere could be expected in a work of this kind, except the manner of treating the subject, or the peculiar turn of the writer. The beneficent Creator has greatly diversified his work, not only in visible objects, but in the dispositions and capacities of the human mind. Hence he concluded, if he wrote at all, and followed the bent of his own mind, he must, more or less, differ from others; and that that very difference might mect with corresponding views in some readers, who, from this circumstance, miglt derive benefit from his services and observations.
He feels disposed to add, that having spent upwards of twenty years in travelling through various parts of this kingdom, preaching the everlasting gospel of God our Saviour to numerous congregations, he has formed an extensive religious acquaintance; and persuades himself that an attempt of this kind will not be unacceptable to many of his friends, for whom he entertains the highest regard, and feels the most sin, cere affection. It has been his endeavour, in his mipistry among them, to make Jesus the grand subject of his discourses, as given for us to reconcile us to God,
and as living in us by the influence of his Spirit, enabling us to be, do, and suffer all that the wisdom of God requires at our hands ; and though many of them will hear these things from his lips no more, they may by perusing these pages observe the same subjects presented to their view; and he hopes at last to spend a joyful eternity with them in the kingdom of our common Saviour.
He views with pleasure the various attempts which are now making by different denominations of christians for the dissemination of spiritual and Divine knowledge among men. In this he sees Religion triumphing, and fully believes that it will triumph over infidelity, superstition, impiety, and sin ; which is another reason for his publishing. He sincerely wishes to be found among such benevolent persons, and to do a little in promoting the cause of true piety. Nothing but the saving knowledge of God, generally diffused, can be the means of general happiness ; and whoever conveys this blessing to any of his fellowcreatures, honours, and will be honoured of his God; and performs the most acceptable services to the hu
He is conscious that he is deeply indebted to God, for his boundless mercy and great forbearance towards himself; and he offers this work to him, in token of gratitude for all his mercies ; and fervently requests that he will accept it, and make it a blessing to those for whose use it was penned ; and a means of great consolation to such especially as are seeking