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THE FORCE OF TRUTH.
If a book do not apologise for itself, in vain will the author attempt to apologise for it by a preface. I shall here therefore only declare the nature and intent of this publication.
It indeed contains little more than the history of my heart, that forge of iniquity, and of my conscience, that friendly, but too often neglected monitor. By men in general the latter is hated, because, as far as informed, it boldly tells the truth : and their grand endeavour seems to be, to lay it asleep, or to render it as insensible, as if “seared “with a hot iron.” Through the deceitfulness of the human heart, the allurements of the world, and the artifices of Satan, this at length is commonly accomplished : and, in the mean time, men deafen themselves to it's remonstrances, by living in a continual noise and bustle. The conflict in my soul between these two is here related, and some account given of the artifices which Satan, in confederacy with my heart, made use of, to keep my conscience quiet, and silence its remonstrances;
* This preface was omitted by the author after the fourth edition.-J. S.
and also of the means which the Lord employed to defeat this conspiracy, to give conscience its due ascendancy, and to incline my before unwilling heart to become obedient to its friendly admonitions; with the effect thereof upon my religious views and conduct.
As to the effect of this publication respecting my character and worldly interest; myself, and all that is dear to me, I would leave in his hands, who causeth all “ to work together for good to them, “ that love him, whom he hath called according “ to his purpose.” And he hath so evinced his care over me, and goodness to me, in all the concerns of my past life, that it were shameful indeed, if I did not most willingly cast all my care upon him for the future. But, reader, the effect of it respecting thee I have much at heart; and have had, still have, and shall I trust continue to have it much in my prayers. If thou art a believing servant of God, I hope thou wilt see cause to bless God in me, and wilt be established and comforted thereby; according to the fervent desire of my “ soul for all “ that love the Lord Jesus Christ in “ sincerity.” If thou art one whose experience answers in many things to what is related in the former part of this narrative, as face answers to “ face in the water;" may the Lord, the Spirit, who convinceth of sin, alarm thy drowsy conscience, and bring thee under a serious concern for thy precious soul, and its eternal interests ! may he incline thine heart diligently to use the means here spoken of, as far as conscience evidences it to be thy duty! and may he bless the means for enlightening thy mind with the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, and guiding thy wandering feet into the way of peace! This, be assured, is my hearty prayer for thee; and with this prayer I commend this work unto the Lord, that, if it be his blessed will, he may employ it as an instrument for advancing his glory, and the salvation of immortal souls.
Feb. 26, 1779.
TO THE FIFTH EDITION.
Almost twenty years have now elapsed, since the ensuing narrative was published. During this time the Author has had abundant opportunities of examining, over and over again, the principles which he then intended to inculcate. If, therefore, he had, on further reflection, materially altered his sentiments, he would have thought himself bound, by the strongest obligations, to retract what he had erroneously advanced. But he is thankful that, on the contrary, he feels it incumbent on him to declare most solemnly, as in the presence of God, that every thing which he has since experienced, observed, heard, and read, has concurred in establishing his most assured confidence, that the doctrines recommended in this publication are the grand and distinguishing peculiarities of genuine Christianity.