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BX. 5153 •E46

PREFACE,

TO THE

CHRISTIAN READER.

TH

HE Author humbly conceives that the following Discourses contain the most important and interesting truths of Christianity; and, as fuch, he earnestly recommends them to the perufal of every candid, and ferious Chriftian.

THERE is, he confeffes, nothing in their ftile, and manner, that will delight the critic, or entertain the curious; yet he hath ftudied to please every Reader for his good to edification.To speak the truth as it is in JESUS, and to fet it forth in a plain and intelligible manner, fo that he who readeth might understand, and have his foul profited thereby; is that which above all things is aimed at, A 2 and

and intended by the publication of thefe Difcourfes: For what is a man profited if he fhould gain the whole world, and lofe his own foul? But as thou art commanded to try the fpirits whether they be of God; even fo likewise examine and try all human wri. tings by the Holy Scriptures.

THE Author confeffes alfo that in fome points he differs in judgment from many eminent Chriftians that have gone before him; or rather, he differs in the manner of his explaining them: which may be particularly feen in his Sermons on repentance towards God, the communion of faints, and Gofpel fanctification. But fhould any perfon make it plainly and fatisfactorily appear that he is miftaken therein, and hath not spoken agreeable to the divine records; he promises, by the help of God, not only to change his opinion, and retract the error, but also to thank the inftrument that shall help him to understand the mind and word of GOD more perfectly. For my confcience bears me witnefs, in the fight of God, that I have fought to make the truth manifeft, and to eftaoth it, free from all error: Neither have I oppofed any one, but for the fake of oppofing error; nor have I, on the other hand, paid the leaft regard to any buman asthority whatever, that is not warranted, or sup ported by the oracles of truth. Thro' the whole, as much as in me is, I have fincerely and fimply aimed to inftruct and edify the Reader: I exhort thee therefore to understand, and then compare

what

what thou readeft with the Scriptures; for every word of God is pure.

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 fhewing him the right way wherein to walk with fafety, except his eyes be firft opened; fo 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 fo few seek after fpiritual illumination in the knowledge of CHRIST, arifes chiefly from a want of knowing their own blindness; for who but the blind will feek for fome one to lead him by the band?

Wherefore is it that men are fo notoriously alienated from the life of God? The Apoftle answers, thro the ignorance that is in them, because of the infenfibility, or bardness of their hearts.

*

THERE is not fo 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 falvation, if he had but eyes to see it, and a a heart to obey it; but my people perish, faith God, for lack of knowledge. The common people count the Scripture a fealed book, which none but the learned or clergy can read and understand: And frequently their leaders, instead of inftructing them in the right way, confirm them in their natural blindness, or cause them to err.

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πώρωσις.

BUT bare light, or knowledge only, without the love of the truth, is not faving; for the end of the commandment is Love.- I have aimed therefore to fhew the neceffity of this grace alfo; for what doth it profit a man to have his eyes open, and the light of the world fhining on him; if he wilfully fhut his eyes against it, or fall into the ditch as those that have no eyes. Therefore to explain to thee the nature, and urge the neceffity of the true knowledge and love of GOD which is in CHRIST JESUS, that it may poffefs thine heart, and influence thy daily walk and conversation; is the whole defign of thefe Difcourfes, and the end for which they are fent into the world. If thy foul is profited thereby, give the praise not to man but to GOD only; for neither is be that planteth any thing, neither be that watereth, but 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 fhall take away thy foul? Or what grief of mind will it be to thee, O Chriftian! when thou art entered into Paradife, that thou haft fuffered loffes and reproaches in this world for CHRIST'S fake, and for confcience towards GoD? Yea, what fatisfaction of foul will it not be to thee, that thou haft denied thyself, and taken up thy cross daily, when thou fhalt enter into the joy of thy LoRD? The wife fhall inherit glory, but fhame fhall be the promotion of fools.- Commending thee, Chriftian Reader, to the word and grace of GoD, I am thy friend and fervant, for Jesus' fake.

R. E.

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