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THE following discourses were prepared for the pulpit during the summer of eighteen hundred and four, with little expectation of being afterwards offered from the press. The author, since that time, has occasionally itinerated through the frontier settlements, and, in these visits, has sincerely deplored the desolate condition of the inhabitants. Many of them are destitute of gospel ordinances regularly dispensed on the sabbath, neither are they furnished with practical books for their instruction and edification through the week. From this acquaintance with their situation, he has been led frequently and anxiously to enquire, what means might be adopted for ministering to their relief? Willingly he would impart some spiritual gift, to the end they might be established, and finally saved. Such were the circumstances by which the author was induced to publish these discourses. The subjects, however imperfectly discussed, are without doubt infinitely interesting; and the plan, he humbly hopes, is in some measure adapted to the situation of the frontier inhabitants. There is an attempt to exhibit the great doctrines of christianity in their connexion with each other, which renders the work suitable for those who do not enjoy the means of systematic instruction. Divine grace is represented as rearing her splendid edifice on the ruins of human apostacy : We behold her occupied from eternity past in laying the foundation, gradually carrying on the superstructure in time, notwithstanding infinite opposition, and at last completing the building amidst the mingled shouts of men and angels, GRACE, GRACE unto it.
The author frankly acknowledges that nothing new is contained in this volume, and he feels equal freedom in asserting that nothing new is affected. The corruptions of the natural man are the same now, that they were in centuries past, and his salvation must be promoted by the instrumentality of the same word of the living God, illustrated and applied. Sinners, through the sovereign operations of Jehovah the Spirit, must be awakened by the same law revealed in its terrors, and encouraged by the same gospel exhibited in its consolations, by which they were either awakened or encouraged in the age of apostles and reformers. Faith must yet come by hearing or reading, and this hearing or reading, by the simple, unaffected word of God. The gospel must still be preached, not with the wisdom of human words, lest the cross of Christ be made of none effect : The moment that the doctrines of the ministry of reconciliation lose their native simplicity, they lose both their efficacy and glory.
Although the subjects, illustrated in the
following pages, have oîten occupied the pen of controversy, yet I have cautiously avoided entering the field. To have stated and answered the various objections must necessarily have swelled the work to an immoderate size, and in a great measure defeated the design of the publication. My intention was not to contend with the adversaries of our salvation, but, if possible, by a plain exhibition of divine truth, to espouse sinners to the Saviour, and advance his own children to the measure of the stature of his fulness. The apprehension that any doctrine contained in this volume should be rejected by a professed follower of the Lamb is unutterably painful; it is truly humiliating that with the same bible before our eyes we should entertain sentiments widely different in matters which concern our common welfare. But as I firmly believe I have freely spoken and written. With respect to those who may not assent to all the truths here delivered, I have one request, which is made with the purest friendship; before they reject a single principle, let it be deliberately and impartially compared with the unerring oracle: If it is not confirmed by a thus saith the Lord, I ask them not to believe; but if it appears supported by this high authority, it is dangerous in the extreme to reject it. Let God be true, and every man or angel a liar that dares to contradict him.
I have only to lament that the work is not executed in a manner more worthy of its importance: but I have this confidence and consolation, that it is not by might, or by poner, but by the SPIRIT of the LORD OF HOSTS: It is neither elegance of diction, nor propriety of arrangement, nor even energy of argument, which secures efficacy to the means, but Jehovah's blessing; and this blessing can easily make “ foolish things to confound the wise, and weak things to confound the mighty, and even things that are not to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence.” To his sovereign, almighty operations, the author now freely recommends it:-Should Israel's God, in his abundant mercy, render it effectual for the conversionof a single sinner, or the establishment of a dear child in the spiritual family, he would most cordially mingle his note in the general ascription, not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake. AMEN.
The doctrines of Revelation, although myr
terious, ought to be preached.
1. CORINTHIANS II, 7. We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery.
THE recovery of man from the reproach and wretchedness of his apostacy is a work not more interesting in its consequences, than mysterious in its nature. T'he contrivance and the execution of a plan, by which transgression is punished, and yet the transgressor pardoned; the majesty of the Sovereign vindicated, and yet the rebel admitted to his favor and friendship; sin exposed in all its malignities and horrors, and yet the sinner restored to a greater elevation of blessedness and glory than he had forfeited, furnish a display not only of power omnipotent, but of wisdom the most profound and unsearchable. These things the angels desire to look into.
The very prophets and apostles, who were divinely inspired to reveal the method of human redemption, neither did nor could fully comprehend it; although their lips, directed unerringly by the Spirit of wisdom, announced the doctrines of salvation, their understandings were unable to trace them VOL. 2.