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A POEM, dedicated to the Reverend Mr. RALPH ERSKINE, by a Lady in New-England, upon reading his Gofpel-Sonnets.

E

RSKINE, thou bleffed herald, found

Till fin's black empire totter to the ground.
Well haft thou Sinai's awful flames difplay'd,
And rebel's doom before their confcience laid:
From fin, from felf, from trust in duty fly,
Commit thy naked foul to Christ, or die.
Go on and profper in the name of of God,
Seraphic preacher, through the thorny road;
The gracious Chrift, thy labours will reward;
His angel bands.be thy perpetual guard;
Though hell's dark regions at the present hifs,
The God of glory thy ftrong refuge is.
Mere moral preachers have no pow'r to charm,
Thy lines are fuch my nobler paffions warm;
Thefe glorious truths have fet my foul on fire,
And while I read, I'm love and pure defire.
May the black train of errors hatch'd in hell
No longer on this globe in quiet dwell;
May more like you be rais'd to fhow their shame,
And call them by their diabolic name,
Exalt the Lamb in lovely white and red,
Angels and faints his lafting honours fpread ;.
My trembling foul fhall bear her feeble part,
'Tis he hath charm'd my foul, and won my heart,
Blefs'd be the Father for electing love,
Blefs'd be the Son who does my guilt remove,
Blefs'd be the Dove who does his grace apply.
Oh! may I praifing live, and praifing die !.

SOME

ACCOUNT

OF THE REVEREND

Mr. RALPH ERSKINE.

THE

HE Rev. Mr. RALPH ERSKINE was honourably descended of very refpectable ancestors; his father, the Rev. Mr. HENRY ERSKINE, being one of the thirtythree children of RALPH ERSKINE of Shieldfield, a family of confiderable repute and ftanding in the county of Merfe, and originally defcended from the ancient houfe of MAR. Our Author, and his brother, the Rev. Mr. EBENEZER ERSKINE, late Minister of the Gofpel at Stirling, were two of the children of the faid Rev. Mr. HENRY ERSKINE, who was fometime Minister of the Gofpel at Cornwall, afterwards at Chirnfide*; a man eminent in his days and juftly distinguifhed for his piety and firm attachment to Prefbyterian Principles For his ftedfast adherence to which, he was fubjected to many confiderable hardips in the latter part of the last century, during the perfecuting period of Charles II. and James VII. t.

The Author of the following Poems, was born at Monilaws, in the county of Northumberland, on Sabbath the 15th of March, 1585, at three o'clock in the afternoon; and baptized at Chirnside on the 5th of April faid year, by the Reverend Mr. William Violand.

He gave pretty early proofs of a great genius and fine fancy; and feveral inftances of a pious difpofrion and a folid way of reflecting on matters. On this account he was, by his parents, early deftined for the holy miniftry, who re folved to give him a regular and liberal education, in order to qualify him for that important office.

*Cornwall is in the fhire of Northumberland; Chirnfide lies about five miles from Berwick upon Tweed, in the Scots fide.

+ See the continuation of Calamy's life of Baxter, p. 681.

When he had acquired a competent meafare of Grammar, and other introductory parts of education, he went to the univerfity of Edinburgh, to complete his ftudies; where he went through the ordinary courfes of Philofophy and Divinity with fuccefs; and made a confiderable progress in all the different branches of literature: for, he foon became a fine Grecian, and excellent Logician, and an accomplished Philo fopher. But after having acquired fuch a competent measure of knowledge, in these various branches of erudition, he gave bimfelf up to the study of theology, his darling and beloved topic; in which he made great progrefs, as his productions therein do abundantly evidence.

The ordinary courfe of philofophical and theological Audies being gone through, at the college of Edinburgh, with fuccefs; he was, in the providence of God, called forth to appear in a public character; and being well reported of, by all who knew him, for a converfation becoming the gospel. he was accordingly taken upon trials by the Presbytery of Dunfermline and having finifhed the ufual pieces of trial affigned him, to the entire fatisfaction of the Prefbytery, he was by them licensed to preach, as a probationer, the everlasting gofpel, on the 8th of June, 1709. In which capaci. ty he exercifed the talents which the Lord had graciouíly conferred on him, within the bounds of the said Prefbytery, both in vacancies and fettled congregations, to the great fatis. faction of his hearers, both minitters and people, as his certificate from that Prefbytery, dated April 4th, 1711, exprefly bears. In this itation of life he did not long re main Providence foon opened a door for him; and he got an unanimous call, from the parishioners of Dunferm line, on the firit of May 1711, to exercife his minuterial talents and abilities amongst them; which call was appro ven of by the Prefbytery, on the day following, as regu larly proceeded in. He went through the ufual pieces of trial, for ordination, prescribed by the Prefbytery, with approbation, and thereupon they fet him apart to the office of the holy ministry, in the collegiate charge of Dunfermline, on August 7th, 1711.

Under the character of a minifter of the gofpel, having now a pastoral relation to a particular flock; in the church univerfal, he determined not to know any thing jave Je

fus Chrift and him crucified He was infant in feafon and out of feafon, in all parts of of his ministerial labours, and gave himself wholly thereunto; exhorting the people under his truft, from houfe to houfe, in the way of tamily vifitation; examining them more publicly upon the principles of our holy religion; vifiting the fick when called; and preaching the everlasting gospel, in which he had a very pleafant and edifying gift. He preached. by turns, with his colleague. every Sabbath and Thursday, through the year: and afterwards, when he had none, for feveral years before his death, he officiated alone, very punctually, both on Sabbath and week day.

He delivered few extemporary productions. His fermons were generally the fruit of diligent study, and affiduous application. For the most part he wrote all; and kept very close by his notes in the delivery, except when the Lord was pleafed to carry in upon his mind, in time of preaching, fome pat and appofite enlargements, whereof he had no previons ftudy, and to which he neverthelefs chearfully gave way, as coming from Hrm, who has the tongue of the learned who knows how to speak a word in season to him that is weary; and who fays, It shall be given you the fame hour what ye shall speak, for it is not ye that Speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you. He was bleffed with a rich and fertile invention, as ap pears in the agreeable and entertaining diverfity, wherewith his heads of doctrine are every where adorned. The poe tical genius, with which he was happily endowed, contributed not a little to the embellishment of his discourses, with a variety of pertinent epithets and ftriking metaphors.

His gift of preaching was both inftructing and fearching. Few outfhone him in the nervous and convincing manner, whereby he confirmed the truth of the doctrines he infifted on; and fewer ftill in the warm and pathetic address, in which he enforced the practice of them.

He peculiarly excelled in the ample and free offers of Chrift he made to his hearers: and the captivating and alluring methods he used, for gaining their compliance, or their receiving and refting on Chrift alone for their falva tion, as thus freely and fully exhibited unto them in the gofpel. On all which accounts he was juftly esteemed, and and much followed, as one of the moit popular and edify

During his time, facramental

ing preachers of his day. folemnities, at Dunfermline, were very much crouded; numbers of people, from feveral parts of the kingdom, reforting unto them and the Lord was pleafed to countenance some of these communions, with fignal evidences of his gracious prefence and influence, to the fweet and comfortable experience of many.

It will easily appear to the judicious and experienced reader, in perufing his writings, that he had as dexterous a faculty in ranfacking the plagues of the heart, and defcribing the diverfified circumftances of ferious and exercised fouls, as if they had fully communicated their feveral doubts and cafes unto him; while, in the mean time, he was only unfolding the inward experience of his own foul, what he himself felt of the workings of unbelief, and of the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit, in oppofition thereunto; which could not but quadrate or agree, with the operations of the felf fame Spirit of God in others; for, as in water, face anfwereth to faces fo doth the heart of man to man.

This eminent fervant of Jefus Chrift, being exercised to godlinefs from his youth, became, by the grace of God, a Jeribe inftructed unto the kingdom of heaven, whom our Lord compares to an houfholder, which bringeth forth out of his treafure, things new and old. Old invariable truths, but new illustrations of them; old experiences, the fame with other faints before, but new observations and improvements upon them: fo that, with abundance of propriety, it may be faid, that there are few perplexing doubts, or intricate cafes, which the faints have, at any time, been exercised with, that are not in fome one or other of his fermons, very judiciously folved, and distinctly elucidated, or cleared up.

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During our Author's life-time, and at the importunity of many of his acquaintances, both minifters and people, he published a great number of his fermons, on the most interesting fubjects, which were well relished by the truly godly, and had their praises in the churches of Chrift, both at home and abroad. Thefe, with feveral others, transcribed from his notes, were first collected together, after his death, and publifhed along with his poems, in two large volumes in folio, in the years 1764 and 1765, printed in an elegant manner; and, fince that time, re-printed in ten large volumes octavos

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