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it, with the hard name of fpiritualists, reckoning them a kind of Enthufiafts, unworthy of their regard. The truth is, Christianity is a myftery, mere reason does not comprehend it. There is a spiritual discerning necessary to its being rightly understood, whence it comes to pass that men of great learning and abilities, tho' they read the Scriptures with attention, and comment learnedly upon them; yet do not, yea caanot, enter into the vein of thought peculiar to the inspired penman, because they fiare not of the fame Spirit; wherefore it is, that the Apostle Paul asserts, the natural, that is, unregenerate many not to know the things of God, neither indeed to be capable of knowing them, because they are spiritually difcerned.
From what has been faid, it is easy to conclude, That no pedantic apology on the part of the Author, for appearing in print, or fawning compliments to the courteous reader, on the part of the prefacer, are. to be expected The truth is, both the one and the other are rather little arts, väiling pedantry and conceit, than evidences of modesty and good-sense. It is of more use to recommend the perufal of the book to persons of all ranks and degrees, from a few fuitable topicks, than to Thew wherein this Edition differs from the first.
That all mankind, however differenced by their rank and station in the world, have an equal concern in what is revealed concerning an. other and future world, will be readily owned; and it must be as readily granted, that however allowable it may be for men of learning and parts, to please themselves with fineness of langu"ge, justness of thought, aud exact connection in writings upon other subjects; yet they ought not to indulge themselves in the same taste in discourses on divine things, left they expose themfelves to the just censure of acting with the fame indiscretion, as a person in danger of familhing by hunger, would be guilty of, if he perverfly rejected plain wholsome food wien offered to him, for no other reason than the want of palatable sauce, or order and splendor in serving it up."
The sacred book we call the Bible, has a peculiar sublimity in it, vailed with unusual dialect and seeming inconnection, but it is not therefore to be rejected by men who bear the name of Christians, as uncouth or unintelligible; true wisdom dictates quite another thing, it counsels us, by frequent reading, to acquaint ourselves well with it, become accustomed to its peculiar phrases, and fearch into its fubli mities: upon this ground, that the matters contained in it, are of the utmost consequence to us, and when rightly understood, yield a refined delight, much superior to what is to be found in reading the bei write ten books on the most entertaining subjects. What pleads for the parent is a plea for the progeny; practical discourses upon divine sub. jects are the genuine offspring of the sacred text, and ought therefore to be read carefully and with attention, by perfons of all ranks and degrees, though they are indeed calculated for, and peculiarly adapted to such as move in low spheres of life.. "
Let is, however, be a prevailing argument with persons of all de.
P Ř E F A C E. nominations, carefully to read books of practical divinity, That many of them are not written on the fame motives and principles as other books are; the authors have often a peculiar divine call to publish them, and well founded hope of their being ufeful to advance Christiantiy in the world. In consequence whereof it is, that great numbers have reaped benefit by reading them, especially in childhood and youth; many have been converted by them; and it may be questioned, if ever there was a true Christian, since the art of printing made these books common, who has not, in fome stage of life, reaped considerable advantage
from them. This book recommends itself in a particular manner, by its being a short fubftantial system of practical divinity, in so much, that it may with truth be asserted, That a person who is throughly acquainted with all that is here taught, may, without danger to his eternal interest, remain ignorant of other things, which pertain to the science called divinity. It is therefore earnestly recommended to the serious and frequent perusal of all, but especially of such as are in that stage of life called youth, and are lo stationed in the world, as not to be frequently opportuned to hear sermons, and read commentaries on the facred text.
It is doubtless incumbent on masters of families to make some provision of fpiritual as well as bodily food, for their children and servants; this is effectually done by putting practical books in their hands: and therefore this book is humbly and earnestly recommended as a fainilybook, which all the members of it are not only allowed, but desired to peruse.
As to the difference betwixt this and the former edition, which gives it preference, it lies chiefly in the Author's not only having revised the ftile, but the thought in many places, and corrected both, so as to set several important truths in a clearer light, and make the stile of the book now uniforın, which formerly was not so, because of the explications of peculiar words and phrases in use amongst practical divines, especially of the church of Scoiland, which were interspersed throughout the former edition, and introduced by another hand, for the fåke of suchpersons a are not accustomed to them. It remains, that the prefacer not only subjoin his name, which was concealed in the first edi. tion, as a testimony that he esteems the Author, and values the book, but that he may thereby recominend it in a particular manner to the perusal of persons of his own acquaintance. If in his affisting towards its being published, and in prefacing both editions, he has not run unsent, he has what will bear him up under all censures; the charitable will th nk no evil, and others will do as they please.
EDINBURGH, 18th 2
ROBERT WIGHTMAN, M. D. G. E.
CO N T E N T S
1. The State of INNOCENCE, or PRIMITIVE INTEGRITY,
difcoursed from Eccles. vii: 29.
His understanding a lamp of light,
orderly and pure,
The covenant of works,
The forbidden tree a stay to keep him from falling,
Three forts of perfons reproved,
ib. 20 21 22 23 ib, ib. ib. 26 ib. 27 ib. 28 ib. 29 30
II. The State of NATURE, or State of ENTIRE DEPRAYATION.
HEAD I. The SINFULNESS of Man's natural State, discoursed from GENESIS vi. 5.
35 ib. ib. 45
Three evidences of it,
Four evidences of it,
Three evidences thereof,
Man naturally high-minded,
Two evidences of it,
Four evidences of it, Propeness to evil,
Five evidences of it,
Against the being and nature of God,
Five queries, for conviction on this head,
ib In his prophetical office,
68 Two evidences of it,
69 In his priestly office,
70 Three evidences of it,
ib In his kingly office, Three evidences of it,
72 A peculiar malignity against the priestly office ; corrupt nature lying cross to the gospel-contrivance of salvation,
73 Four proofs of it,
ib. Bent to the way of the law, as a covenant of works,
75 Four proofs of it, Against the Spirit of God,
ib. Against the law as a rule of life,
77 Two evidences of it,
77 Contumacy against the Lord, Perverseness in reference to the chief end,
78 Of the corruption of the affections,
of the conscience,
-nf the memory;
The natural man can do nothing but fin,
89 Why it is to be specially noticed,
90 How to get a view of the corruption of nature,
93 HEAD II. The MISERY of Man's Natural State discourfed from Eph. ii. 3.
79 79 80 81 ib. 82
98 98 98
On his body,
Hath no security for a moment's safety,
ib ib. ib. 99 100 100 101 102
at the general judgment,
Several instructions from it,
Their misery in that respect,
Their misery in that respect,
A view of the nature of God, whose wrath it is,
104 104 ID4 104 105 105 107 II3 IIS 117
HEAD III. MAN's UTTER INABILITY to recover himself, discoursed from Rom. v. 6. John vi. 44.
p. 117 ON NLY two ways of man's recovering himself supposable, viz.
the way of the law, and the way of the gospel, Man unable to recover himself in the way of the law,
123 He cannot keep the commandments perfectly,
123 The perfection of law-obedience, four-fold,
123 He cannot satisfy the justice of God for his fin, Object. God is merciful: we hope to be saved, if we do as well as
we can. Answered, Man unable to recover himself in the way of the gospel, to embrace and use the help offered for his recovery,
124 Proven by several arguments, Object. (1.) If we be under an utter inability to do any good, how 124 can God require us to do it? Answered,
125, 126 Object. (2.) Why do you then call us to believe, repent, and use the means? Answered,
126 Object (3.) The use of means needless, seeing we are utterly unable to help ourselves out of the state of sin and wrath. Answered, 127 Queft. Has God promised to convert and save them, who, in the use of means, do what they can towards their own relief? Answered,
I 27 The Conelusion of this head,
III. The STATE of GRACE, or Begun Recovery.
HEAD I. REGENERATION Discoursed from 1 PET. i. 23.
F the nature of regeneration,
Partial changes mistaken for this change, The change made in regeneration, what it is,
The mind illuminated,
Cured of its utter inability to good,
a bent and propensity to good,
133 134 135 136 137 137