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to the church; and how honoring to themselves, as well as beneficial to the interests of religion, had they employed it on evangelical and divine subjects, in pointing out the beauties of creation, the bounty of Providence, the depth of redeeming love and grace, and the excellency and sweetness of true religion and practical godliness!
The Rev. Mr. ERSKINE, author of the following poems, was happy in employing his poetical talent to the best of purposes; the subjects he made choice of to handle, were of the utmost importance for mankind to know; his manner of treating them, truly evangelical; and the spirit that breathes through them, heavenly and divine; tending to warm the heart, excite to genuine devotion, and to inspire the mind with just and proper sentiments of God and true religion.
The sentiments of Dr. Bradbury, relative to our author's poetical talent are very just. “Mr. Erskine's poems," says he, "are greatly to be esteemed, for the sweetness of the verse, the disposition of the subjects, the elegancy of the composition, and, above all, for that which animates the whole, the savor of divine and experimental knowledge."
See his preface to some of Mr. Erskine's Sermons, printed at London, in 1738.
TO THE READER.
READER ---Whatever apologies this book has formerly been prefaced with, (as to the manner in which many. lines in it ite jixitten;) shall be here altogether dropped and fordorned how
dismiss it as it is, under. Che, conduct of Divine, Brewidence, to take. its hazaran the: wegeta; since it has already served its appreheship under several impressions, and gone botli tovar kind and hard usage, through good report aut maleport? It never promised much to them that seek notlöng but pleasure and satisfaction to their fancy; but I have heard; that it has done some service (and, I hope, through the blessing of Heaven, it may yet do more) to them that seek profit and edification to their souls.
The late edition of this book at London, being more it and complete than any that was formerly emitted, it la fit here to acquaint the reader, that this is printed exaötly off the London copy, without any material adition or alteration, except in the third part of the boak,
comes under the name of Riddles, or mysteries ; and part sixth, chap. ii., sect. 1, entitled, The believer's principles, concerning the mysteries of the Law and Gospel : both of which (because there were several demands
in this country for a new edition) I thought fit to confirm by Scripture texts, cited at the bottom of the page, for the benefit of those that are weak in knowledge, and unacquainted with the Scripture.* I have directed them by a letter of the alphabet, at every branch of the sentence that is either seemingly or really opposite to the other, unto some scriptural text, one or more, for evincing the truth thereof: by which means the weakest that is willing, may come to understand the most difficult paradox, or mystery, mentioned in this work; at least so far as to see, that every part of it is founded on the word of God, either directly, or by plain and necessary consequence. Only this general rule is to be observed, namely, that the reader always consider what is the subject treated in every section or stanza; and this, for the sake of the more illiterate, I shall illustrate by two examples, the one concerning the law, the other concerning the believer. The former you see Part III., sect. vi., ver, 25, p. 181.
Here you are to remark, that as the subject spoken of is the law, so the law in Scripture is considered two ways, viz., both as a covenant of works, and as a rule of duty. Now, that the believer is under no obligation to
• The Scriptures in this edition are extended at full length.
the law, as it is a covenant of works, or to perform obedience to it as a ground of justification, (which is also the subject treated in that section,) is confirmed in the foot notes by the following Scriptures, to which you are directed by the letter (s), Rom. vi. 14, Gal. v. 1, 2, 3, 4, where you may see believers are said to “be not under the law, but under grace ;” and exhorted to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free;" and assured, “that Christ is become of no effect to them, whosoever of them are justified by the law; they are fallen from grace.” Again, that the believer is under more obligation than ever before he was justified, to yield obedience to the law as it is a rule of life, (which is the other branch of that paradox,) is confirmed by these following texts of Scripture, to which you are directed by the letter (t), Rom. vi. 1, 2, 15, where it is said, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound ? God forbid : how shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? What then ? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” From which texts, together with their contexts, it is evident, that the believer's freedom from the law as a covenant, docs not at all free him from obligation to it as a rule, but superadds to the natural obligation, that of grace, which both argumentatively and effectively teaches what the law does authoritatively and preceptively, namely, "to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” Tit. ii. 11, 12.
The other example I adduce, you may read, Part III., sect. ii., ver. 47, where the words are,
To good and evil equal bent:
I'm both a devil and a saint. Here the reader may notice, that the subject spoken of is the BELIEVER, or the saint's old and new man described, (which is part of the title of that section,) or considered as to his unregenerate and regenerate part; in which view he is frequently spoken of in Scripture; ex. gr. 1 John iii. 6—9, it is said of the believer, or the person born of God, that “he sinneth not,” and that “he cannot sin, because he is born of God :" there he is spoken of as to his new nature, or regenerate part. But, 1 John i. 8, the words are, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us :" where the apostle speaks of believers' unregenerate and corrupt part. Now, this being the scriptural representation of the believer, the foresaid paradox is easily proven from Scripture.
The first branch is, That he is equally bent to good and to evil. For the proof of this, you are directed in the foot note to Rom. vii, 21, where the apostle Paul, speaking both of his corrupt and renewed part, says, “I find a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me.” And, if you read the preceding and fol