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TO THE PRINCIPAL INHABITANTS
Gentlemen,—You are no less entitled to my private labours than the inferior class of my parishioners. As you do not choose to partake with them of my evening instructions, I take the liberty to present you with some of my morning meditations. May these well-meant endeavours of my pen be more acceptable to you than those of my tongue! And may you carefully read in your closets what you have, perhaps, inattentively heard in the church! I appeal to the Searcher of hearts that I had rather impart truth than receive tithes. You kindly bestow the latter upon me; grant me, I pray, the satisfaction of seeing you favourably receive the former, from, gentlemen, your affectionate minister and obedient servant,
CONTENTS OF APPEAL.
Man is considered as an inhabitant of the natural world, and his fall is proved by arguments deduced from the misery in which he is now undeniably involved; compared with the happiness of which we cannot help conceiving him possessed, when he came out of the hands of his gracious Creator.
A view of this misery in the following particulars, I. The disorders of the globe we inhabit, and the dreadful scourges with which it is visited. II. The deplorable and shocking circumstances of our birth. III. The painful and dangerous travail of women. IV. The untimely dissolution of still-born, or new-born children. V. Our natural uncleanliness, helplessness, ignorance, and nakedness. VI. The gross darkness in which we naturally are, both with respect to God and a future state. VII. The general rebellion of the brute creation against us. VIII. The various poisons that lurk in the animal, vegetable, and mineral world, ready to destroy us. IX. The heavy curse of toil and sweat to which we are liable; instances of which are given in the hard and dangerous labours of the author's parishioners. X. The other innumerable calamities of life And, XI, the pangs of death.
Man is considered as a citizen of the moral world, a free agent, accountable to his Creator for his tempers and conduct; and his fall is farther demonstrated by arguments drawn from XII. His commission of sin. XIII. His omission of duty. XIV. The triumphs of sensual appetites over his intellectual faculties. XV. The corruption of the powers that constitute a good head; the understanding, imagination, memory, and reason. XVI. The depravity of the powers which form a good heart; the will, conscience, and affections. XVII. His mani. fest alienation from God. XVIII. His amazing disregard even of his nearest relatives. XIX. His unaccountable unconcern about himself. XX. His detestable tempers. XXI. The general outbreaking of human corruption in all individuals. XXII. The universal overflowing of it in all nations. Five objections answered. XXIII. Some striking proofs of this depravity in the general propensity of mankind to vain, irrational, or cruel diversions; and XXIV. In the universality of the most ridiculous, impious, inhuman, and diabolical sins. XXV. The aggravating circumstances attending the display of this corruption. XXVI. The many ineffectual endeavours to stem its torrent. XXVII. The obstinate resistance it makes to Divine grace in the unconverted. XXVIII. The amazing struggles of good men with it. XXIX. The testimony of heathens and Deists concerning it: and, after all, XXX. The preposterous conceit which the unconverted have of their own goodness.
Man is considered as an inhabitant of the Christian world; and his fallen state is farther proved by six Scriptural arguments, introduced by a short demonstration of the authenticity of the Scriptures, and by a little attack upon the amazing credulity of Deists. The heads of these arguments are, XXXI. The impossibility that fallen, corrupt Adam should have had an upright, innocent posterity; with answers to some capital objections. XXXII. The spirituality and severity of God's law, which the unrenewed man continually breaks: and XXXIII. Our strong propensity to unbelief, the most destructive of all sins, according to the Gospel. XXXIV. The absurdity of the Christian religion with respect to infants and strict moralists. XXXV. The harshness and cruelty of Christ's fundamental doctrines; and XXXVI. The extravagance of the grand article of the Christian faith, IF mankind are not in a corrupt and lost estate.
The doctrine of man's fall being established by such a variety of arguments: First, A few natural inferences are added. Secondly, Various fatal consequences attending the ignorance of our lost estate. Thirdly, The unspeakable advantages arising from the right knowledge of it.
The whole is concluded with an address to the serious reader, who inquires what he must do to be saved. And with an appendix concerning the evangelical harmony that subsists between living faith and loving obedience.
IN religious matters we easily run into extremes. Nothing is more common than to see people embracing one error under the plausible pretence of avoiding another.
Many, through fear of infidelity, during the night of ignorance and storm of passion, run against the wild rocks of superstition and enthusiasm; and frequently do it with such force that they "make shipwreck of the faith," and have little of godliness left except a few broken pieces of its form.
Numbers, to shun that fatal error, steer quite a contrary course: supposing themselves guided by the compass of reason, when they only follow that of prejudice, with equal violence they dash their speculative brains against the rocks of Deism and profaneness; and fondly congratulate themselves on escaping the shelves of fanaticism, while the leaky bark of their hopes is ready to sink, and that of their morals is perhaps sunk already. Thus, both equally overlook sober, rational, heart-felt piety that lies between those wide and dangerous extremes.
To point out the happy medium which they have missed, and call them back to the narrow path where reason and revelation walk hand in hand, is the design of these sheets. May "the Father of lights" so shine upon the reader's mind that he may clearly discover truth, and notwithstanding the severity of her aspect, prefer her to the most soothing error!
If the reader is one of those who affect to be the warm votaries of reason, he is entreated to be a close thinker as well as a free thinker; and with careful attention to consider reason's dictates before he concludes that they agree with his favourite sentiments. He has, no doubt, too much candour not to grant so equitable a request; too much justice to set aside matter of fact; and too much good sense to disregard an appeal to common sense.
Should he incline to the opposite extreme, and cry down our rational powers, he is desired to remember, right reason, which is that which I appeal to, is a ray of " the Light that enlightens every man who comes into the world;" and a beam of the eternal Logos, the "Sun of righteousness."
God, far from blaming a proper use of the noble faculty by which we are chiefly distinguished from brutes, graciously invites us to the exercise'