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the amplifying tendency. That it is possible to be so minute, as to become tedious and prosy. But let any man who has had much experience in these matters say, if when he has attempted to be exceedingly condensed in his theological statements, he has not frequently been reminded of the brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio, of Horace? If, when he has been pluming himself on his trim, and neat, and well-defined manner of expressing himself, he has not sometimes, if an honest man, been stopped by the suspicion, that the nicelyturned sentence might be the means of insinuating a falsehood into his reader's mind? The author trusts, that when his work comes to be examined by persons competent to judge, it will be candidly admitted by them, that, with all his prosing and prolixity, he has in some parts of it, at least, contrived to present clearly, in very narrow compass, topics upon which volumes, not inconsiderable in number and dimensions, have been written.
Upon the arrangement of his materials, a good deal of pains has been bestowed by the author. As intelligibility has been his object; and as, without a lucid perspicuous mode of statement, this was obviously unattainable; the order of succession, in which his views should be brought out, has occasioned him no small degree of anxiety. He hopes that he has succeeded.
The work in its present state, does not exhibit the first, nor the second attempt made by him to reduce it to bodily form. He flatters himself, that the order in which the different subjects treated of by him are placed before the reader, could not have been improved. This, however, as a matter in some measure appertaining to the province of criticism, he leaves to be decided by those, who are greater proficients in that science, than he himself can pretend to be.
With a view to perspicuity, the author has been induced, in opposition to the wishes of his printer, to overload, perhaps even deform, his pages
with italics. For the acquisition of the views developed in this work, the author desires to acknowledge himself indebted, as much to numerous, pleasing, and instructive conversations with the members of his flock, as to the express study of books written on the subject of theology. The latter may have furnished him originally in many cases with materials : but to the former he owes his having had these materials frequently brought before his mind;-his having been obliged to consider them under a great variety of aspects, and in answer to a great variety of objections ;—and his having had relations of divine truth thereby suggested to him which, otherwise, he might have overlooked. In a case where
he is so largely indebted to all, it may seein unnecessary for him to specify the obligations under which he lies to
And yet there is one Christian friend, from his conversations with whom, he has derived such distinct * views of divine law, as by its very nature merely restraining, and as never intended to confer positive rewards on men,—views which will be found stated in the third chapter of this work,—that he should deem himself obnoxious to a charge of culpable omission, were he not to acknowledge the favour. He alludes to Mr. Robert G. Hunt; whose tract on the evidences of faith, and the impregnable security of believers in Christ, the reader will find elsewhere spoken of. He is aware, that the mind of his excellent friend has been much enlarged in its views of divine truth, since that tract was written: but when he takes into account the early period of that gentleman's Christian career at which it was composed, there is afforded to him a very extraordinary proof of the rapidity, with which it pleases the Father of Spirits, sometimes to carry forward the work of illumination in the hearts of his people.
Although the obligations under which the author lies to the writings of the late Mr. Barclay, of Edinburgh,
• He says distinct ; for the subject undoubtedly was known to him in a general way previous to his conversations with Mr. Hunt: but never was opened up to him, nor impressed upon his mind, as it was in his intercourse with that gentleman.
and his followers, are more than once acknowledged in the body of the work, he would, notwithstanding, take this opportunity of especially directing the attention of Christians, to the few publications which liave issued from the pens of the members of the Berean school. In addition to Mr. Barclay's “Dissertation on the Book of Psalms,” “Without faith, without God,” and “Assurance of faith vindicated,” to which allusion is made in the following pages; the author would mention, Mr. William Brooksbank's “Doctrines of the gospel stated and vindicated,” “ Appeal to the scriptures on the assurance of faith,” and “Remarks upon several texts of scripture;" Mr. John Nichol's “One faith of the gospel distinguished from the pretended act of appropriation,” and “Westminster Assembly's Shorter Catechism explained ;” and Mr. Sang's “Discourse on John iï. 3,” “Observations on certain passages in the writings of Mr. Walker of Dublin,” &c. Had it not been for the exceedingly limited pecuniary circumstances of the author, all these works should long since have been republished by him. As it is, those who can procure them, he would strongly recommend to do so: for, making some few allowances, he has no hesitation in saying, that they appear to him to contain almost the only pure and scriptural theology of modern times.
"I should not think the better of a man who should
tell me on his death-bed he was sure of salvation. A man cannot be sure bimself that he has divine intimation of acceptance; much less can he make others sure that he has it. No rational man can die without uneasy apprehension.”—“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God.”
— The former is the language of Dr. Samuel Johnson ;* the latter of an inspired apostle.f The former is the dictate of the natural ; the latter the experience of the supernatural mind. Every spiritually enlightened individual will find in this distinction, a key to the understanding of the author's peculiar sentiments, and of the principles upon which the present work is constructed.
It will be found that the author has entered largely into the question, as to what constitutes the particular ground on which, in believing the divine testimony, the mind rests; and as to what is the particular means by which the certainty of life everlasting is introduced into the conscience. He has done so, not as if by any statements and reasonings of his there could be accomplished, what God has reserved to Himself as His distinguish
* Boswell's Life of Johnson, vol. 3d.
+ Rom. viii. 16.