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man, not to know the things of God, neither indeed to be capable of knowing them, because they are spiritually discerned.
From what has been said, 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, vailing pedantry and conceit, than evidences of modesty and good sense.
It is of more use to recommend the perusal of the book to persons of all ranks and degrees, from a few suitable topics, than to shew 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 was revealed concerning another 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 language, justness of thought, and exact connection in writings upon other subjects; yet they ought not to indulge themselves in the same taste in discourses on divine things, lest they expose themselves to the just censure of acting. with the same indiscretion, as a person in danger of famishing by hunger, would be guilty of, if he perversely rejected plain wholesome food when offered to him, for no other reason than tho want of palatable sauce, or order and splendour in serving it up.
The sacred book we call the Bible, has a peculiar sublimity in it, vailed with unusual dialect and seeming inconpection ; 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 search into its sublimities 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 best written books, on the most entertaining subjects. What pleads for the parent, is a plea for the progeny practical discourses upon divine subjects, are the genuine
offspring of the sacred text, and ought therefore to be read carefully and with attention, by persons of all ranks and degrees, though they are indeed calculated for, and peculiarly, adapted to, such as move in low spheres of life.
Let it, however, be a prevailing argument with persons of all denominations, carefully to read books of practical divinity, that many of them are not written on the same 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 useful to advance Christianity 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 some stage of life, reaped considerable advantage from them. This book recommends itself in a particular manner, by its being a short, substantial system of practical divinity, in so much that it may with truth be asserted, that a person who is thoroughly 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 so stationed in the world, as not to be frequently opportuned to hear sermons, and read commentaries on the sacred text..
It is doubtless incumbent on masters of families, to make some provision of spiritual 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 family. book, which all the members of it are not only allowed, but desired to peruse.
As to the difference betwixt this and the former edi. tion, which gives it preference, it lies chiefly in the au. thor's not only having revised the style, but the thought, in many places; and corrected both, so as to set several important truths in a clearer light, and make the style of the book now aniform, which formerly was not so, becầuse of the explications of peculiar words and phrases in use amongst practical divines, especially of the Church of Scotland, which were interspersed throughout the former edition, and introduced by another hand, for the sake of such persons as are not accustomed to them. It remains that the prefacer not only subjoin his name, which was concealed in the first edition, as a testimony that he esteems the author, and values the book, but that he may thereby recommend it in a particular manner to the perusal of persons of his own acquaintance. If, in his assisting 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 think no evil, and others will do as they please.
II. THE State of NATURE, or State of ENTIRE DE
Utter inability for what is truly good,
Two evidences of it,
Four proofs of it,
Against the law, as a rule of life,
The body partaker of this corruption,