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TO THE CHRISTIAN READER.
TH E Author humbly conceives that the following Discourses contain the most important and interesting truths of Christianity; and, as such, he earnestly recommends them to the perusal of every candid, and serious Christian.
There is, he confesses, nothing in their stile, and manner, that will delight the critic, or entertain the curious; yet he hath studied to please every
Reader for bis good to edification. To soeak the
truth as it is in Jesus, and to set it forth in a plain and intelligible manner, so that he who readeth might understand, and have his soul profited thereby; is that which above all things is aimed at, A 2 and and intended by the publication of these Discourses: For what is a man profited if be fhmU gain the whole world, and lo/e his own foul? But as thou art commanded to try the spirits whether they he of Cod; even so likewise examine and try all human writings by the Holy Scriptures•
The Author confesses also that in some points he differs in judgment trom many eminent £hriltians that. have gone before him; or rather, he differs in the manner of his explaining them: which may be particularly seen in his Setmons on repentance towards God, the communion of saints, and Gospel sanctification. But should any person make it plainly and satissactorily appear that he is mistaken therein, and hath not spoken agreeable to the divine record?; he promises, by the help of God, not only to change his opinion, and retract the error, but also to thank the instrument that shall help him to understand the mind and word of Goo more perfectly. For my conscience bears me witness,. in the sight of God, that I have sought to make the truth manifest, and to eiiaonih it, free from all error: Neither have I opposed any one, but for the sake of opposing error; nor have I, on the other hand, paid the least regard to any human authority whatever, that is not warranted, or supported by the oracles of truth. Thro' the whole, as much as in me is, J have sincerely and simply aimed to instruct and edify the Reader: I exhort thee therefore to understand, and then compare
what what thou readcst with the Scripturefy sot'tents
word of God is pure. '■ '■ x -^ * « • •' T* *»n
Without knowledge no man can rationally or acceptably serve the living and true God. For as the fun in the firmament cannot profit the~blind, by shewing him the right way wherein to walk with safety, except his eyes be first opened; so Christ, the Sun of righteousness, gives the light of life to no man, until the eyes of his understanding are opened to receive it: And the reason why so sew seek after spiritual illumination in the knowledge of Christ, arises chiefly from a want of knowing their own blindness •, for who but the blind
will seek for some one to lead him by the band? ■
Wherefore is it that men are so notoriously alienated from the life of God? The Apostle answers, thro* the ignorance that is in them, because of the insenfibi~ Sty, or hardness * of their hearts.
There is not so much want of Scripture light in our land, as of eyes to behold it. Every one who takes the Bible may thereby be made wife unto salvation, if he had but eyes to see it, and a a heart to obey it; but my people peri/h, faith God, for lack of knowledge.—The common people count the Scripture a sealed book, which none but the learned or clergy can read and understand: And frequently their leaders, instead of instructing them in the right way, confirm them in their natural blindness, or cause them to err. U But
But bare light, or knowledge only, without the love of the truth, is not saving; for the end of the commandment is Love. 1 have aimed therefore to shew the necessity of this grace also 5 for what doth it profit a man to have his eyes open, and the light of the world shining on him j if he wilfully shut his eyes against it, or sall into the ditch as those that have no eyes. Therefore to explain to thee the nature, and urge the necessity of the true knowledge and love of God which is in Christ Jesus, that it may possess thine heart, and influence thy daily walk .and conversation;, is the whole design of these Discourses, and the end for which they are sent into the world. If thy soul js profited thereby, give the praise not to man but to God only; for neither ii he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, hut God who giveth the increase: But if otherwise our labour shall not be in vain,in the Lord.
What will it profit thee to have obtained and enjoyed all the honors and pleasures of this world, when God shall take away thy soul? Or what grief of mind will it be to thee, O Christian! when thou art entered into Paradise, that thou hast suffered losses and reproaches in this world for Christ's sake, and for conscience towards God? Yea, what satissaction of soul will it not be to thee, that thou hast denied thyself, and taken up thy cross daily, when thou shalt enter into the joy of thy Lord? The wifeshall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools. —Commending thee, Christian
Reader, to the word and grace of God, I am thy friend and servant, for Jesus' sake. R. E.
S E R M. I. Gek. i. 25.