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ALTHOUGH it is not intended to detain the reader by a long preface, it may be proper to acquaint him that this work was undertaken at a time when the author was slowly recovering from a long and threatening illness.
While his affliction had naturally called him to a more serious consideration of death and eternity, he felt inwardly dissatisfied with himself, in reference to these momentous concerns.
Hence he was led to consider more attentively the topics of the following pages.
The subject came under his notice in his public ministry, from which circumstance, in part, he was led on to this undertaking. And he has done it the more readily, because he could not recollect, amongst the great number of devotional treatises, any work exactly on the same plan.
Other circumstances had their weight. The author was compelled, by bodily affliction, to relinquish for many weeks part of his public labours; and in consequence of some other severe trials, at the same time, needed a worthy object to engage and absorb his attention, till he should be able to resume his stated labours.
An extensive field is embraced in this little volume. The first chapter, on the immortality of the soul, is treated pretty much at large, in which the general arguments and proofs are as much compressed as the nature of the subject would admit, in order to lay them before the reader in that concise form, with the view of checking the progress of infidelity, and error. In passing over the other parts of this wide field, the author is aware, that, amongst many other faults, the rapidity of his steps may be considered as one. He would rather, however, be chargeable with this, than with a tedious prolixity.
It is hoped the examples of “ Soul Prosperity” drawn from the Scriptures, will prove acceptable to the pious reader, and tend to exemplify the general subject.
Nothing can equal the importance of knowing and enjoying that religion which is founded on the holy Scriptures, and was taught by the Son of God himself. On this object may the reader's heart be fixed with an intensity of desire, and with an holy ardour, which nothing shall allay, till the blessing sought is fully in his possession !
It was a saying of the excellent Mr. Matthew Henry before he died, “ That a life spent in the service of God, and in communion with him, is the most comfortable and pleasant life that any one can live in this world.” Prosperous souls are always the most happy, in sickness or in health, in life or in death. That religion is best which will bear every test, and stand by its possessors through all the various changes of time, and all the ages of eternity. Such is the religion of Jesus Christ. It is a reality, and possesses that unction which carries with it a delightful fragrance, that cheers and refreshes the soul of every good man.
The true believer, wbo is born from above, is enabled by divine grace to burst his fetters, and to live for the great purposes for which he was born. He knows something of “the love of Christ which passes knowledge,” and is, in part at least, “ filled with all the fulness of God."
“ His ardent hope anticipates the skies.”
He exclaims, “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” Thus, while “ panting after God, the living God,” he longs, through the infinite grace of his Redeemer, to bask for ever in the rays of his glory.
All men have not this delightful prospect. Thousands are totally thoughtless, and many are daring and bold in avowing their infidelity. Bishop Lowth remarks that “ it is certainly a great judgment to be given up to report lies, but a still greater to believe them.” Infidelity is doubtless a lie, and dreadful is their state who believe it. The agents of the prince of darkness are assiduously attempting, in various ways, to undermine the foundation of the christian's hope. The reason is obvious. They would be glad to have plenty of company, and still more so, perhaps, to be convinced that their conscious existence terminates with their present transitory life and ungodly career. To strengthen such a persuasion, and to keep them the more in countenance, while they trample on the Bible themselves, they labour to impose their pernicious opinions upon the incautious and unthinking, and especially upon the young; and by their Aimsy and sophistical reasonings, to entangle them in the same snare in which their own souls are taken. The first chapter of this work, referred to already, is recommended to the reader's careful attention, as an antidote to this dangerous poison.
Finally. Let every reader seek an acquaintance with Immanuel, the Son of God, the Lord and Heir of all things; let him commit his soul into his hands, and seek an interest in his blood; so shall he he sanctified and saved, supported and blessed, and be at last received up to enjoy “ an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away." Amen.
Halesworth, July 15, 1825.