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most elevated descriptions of a mortal pen must vail to it : and therefore says a celebrated writer, “If any would attempt to be master of true eloquence, and aim at a proper elevation cf stile, let him read, with unremitting diligence, the ancient prophets, the inspired evangelists and apostles; for their writings are an abundant source of all the riches and orna. ment of speech.'.
It hath been now a long and just complaint, that poesy, which is of a divine original, should have been fo much de• based to the worst of purposes, in decorating vice and profaneness ; and that men, endued with such a happy talent, should so much employ it, in furnishing out theatrical entertainments, or upon ludicrous and profane trifles. py would it have been for the world, what an ornament to Christianity and advantage to the church ; and how honouring 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 provi. dence, the depth of redeeming love and grace, and the excel. lency and sweetness of true religion and practical godliness!
T'he Rev. Mr. ERSKINE, Author of the following Poems, was happy in employing his poetical talent to the best of pure poses: the subjects he made choice of to handle, were of the utmolt 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 juft. Mr, Erskine's Poems, fays he,
are greatly to be esteemed, for the sweetness of the verse, the • difpofirion of the subjects, the elegancy of the compofition, «andabove all, for that which animates the whole, the favour • of divine and experimental knowledge 't
+ See his preface to some of Mr. Erskine's Sermons, priated at London, in 1738.
WHATEVER apologies this book has formerly been
prefaced with, (as to the manner in which many lines in it are written), meall be here altogether dropt and forborn. I now dismiss it as it is, under the conduct of divine providence, to take its hazard in the world ; since it has already ferved its apprenticeship under several impressions, and gone both through kind and hard usage, through good report and bad report. It never promised much to them that leek cothing but pleafare and satisfaction to their fancy; but I have heard that it has done some service (and, I hope, through the blefing of Heaven, it may yet do more) to them that seek profit and edification to their soulso
The late edition of this book at London, being more full and complete than any that was formerly emitted, it is fit here to acquaint the reader, that this is printed exactly off the Lon. don copy, without any material addition or alteration, except in the third part of the book, that comes under the name of Riddles, or mysteries ; and part fixth, chap. ii. fect. 1. intitled, 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 fcripture texts, cited at the bottom of the page, for the benefit of those that are weak in knowledge and unacquainted with the fcripture *. I have directed them by a letter of the alphabet, at every branch of the sentence that is ei
* The scriptures in this edition are extended at full length.
ther seemingly or really opposite to the other, unto fome ferip, tural text, one or more, for evincing the truth thereof: by which means the weakest that is willing, may come to un derstand the moft difficult paradox, or mystery, mentioned in this work ; at least so far as to fee, 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 ob. served, namely, That the reader always consider what is the subject treated in erery section or stanza; and; this, for-thefake of the more illiterate, I shall illustrate by two examples, the one concerning the law, the other concerning the belicueta The former you see Part. 111. sect. vi. line 25
I'm not oblig'd to keep it more ;
Here you are to remark, that as the subject spoke of, is the LAW; fo the law in fcripture is considered two ways, viza. both as a covenant of works, and as a rule of duiy. Now, that the believer is under no obligation to the law, as it is a cove. want of works, or to perform obedience to it as a ground of jaftification, (which is also the fubject treated in that section), is confirmed in the foot cotes by the following scriptures, to which you are directed by the letter (s), Rom. vi, 14. Gal. V, 1, 1, 3, 4 Where you may see the believers are said to be 20. under the law, but under grace.; and exhorted to fand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free; and affured, that Christ is become of no effe & to them, whosoever of them are jufiified 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), Rooi. vi. 1, 2, 15. where it is. faid, Shall we continue in fin, that grace may abound? God. forbid : how mall we that are dead to fin, live any longer therein? What then? Jhall we firi, because we are not un. der the law but under græce? God forbid. From which texts, together with their contexts, it is evident, that the be-, liever's freedom from the law as a covenant, does not at all free him from obligasian to it as a rule, but fuperadds 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 lufts, and to live foberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Tit ii. il, 12.
The other example I adduce, you may read, Par, III. fect. x. line 43. where the words are,
To good and evil equal bent :
Here the reader may notice, that the subject spoken of, is the BELIEVER, or the faint's old and new man described, (which is part of the title of that fection), or considered as to his unregenerate and regenerate part; in which view he is frequently spoke of in fcripture ; ex gr. ! John iii. 6, 9. it is said of the believer, or the person bord of God, that he finneth #ct, and that he cannot fin, because he is born of God: there be 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 sing we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in uso where the a poftle 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 following context, you will find him complaining how corruption bends him as far one way as
The other part of the fame paradox is, That the believer is, on thefe accounts, both a devil and a faint. Now, that the believer is by nature and corruption a devil, is one branch of this pofition here to be confirmed That he is so by na. ture, is proven by the following scriptures in the forecited page at the bottom, John vi. 70. and viii. 44: compared ;. where Christ, speaking of fome that were in a natural state, viz. of Judas and the Jews, discovers what is the state of all *men by nature, that they are of their father the devil, fince the lufts of their father they will do ; and therefore may be
called 'evils, as our Lord calls. Judas, saying, I have cha: Jen sou twelve, and one of you is a devil. And such are. believers also naturally, as descendants of the first Adam, being, chi dren of disobedience, and children of wrath by na. ture, even as others, Eph. ii. a, 3. And that the believer is so, not only by nature, but alsa by realon of remaining corruption, is proven at the foot of the fame page, from James iii. ' 5. where that apoftle, speaking of. ftrife and snvy,. that
may be even among the children of God, (which indeed has too much taken place in all ages), says, This wisdom do fcendeth not from above, but is earthly, Jensual, devilishi Again, that though the believer be by nature and corruption. a devil, yet he is, by grace and regeneration, a faint, is documented also, in the fame page, from 1 Cor. vi. 11. Such: were fome of you; but ge are fan&tified, &c.
In this manner, you may easily go over all the rest of the: paradoxes, riddles, or mayileries, contained in this book, and find theni evidently confirmed by the scriptures of truth, the: word of God. This might be no unprofitable exercile, but tend to lead you into the true knowledge of the Gospel, to. which mysteries are so efforiál, that it is designed by them, and called the wisdom of God in a myslers, Cor. ii. 7. ;. and the knowledge of which is fo essential to Christianity, and so absolutely necessary to falvation, that the same apostle declares that if our gospel be hid, it, is bid to them that are. 10]; is whom the god of this world hash blinded the minds: of them which beliae not, left the light of the glorious gospel of Chri?, who is the image of God, should shine unto thens., 2 Cor. vi.
3. Again, if you search the feriptures, you will see many more: proofs for every point than I have adduced, and perhaps many, much more appofite; for these only are set down at thebottom of the page that forft occured to me: yet, I supposeg: tliough sometimes but one, and sometimes more feriptures are, poinied out, they are such as fufficiently. confirm the positions, they relate to. But that other scriptures might have been ade duced in plenty, I shall give one instance, in the paradox just now mentioned, viz. That every believer, while in this world, is both a devil and a faint. The latter clause is what none. will deny, namely, That every true betierer' is a faint į for, further proof of which, you might fee Acts xv. 9. and xxvi.. 18, &c. But because the first claufe may seem more bath,