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I CONSIDER it a privilege to be instrumental in bringing this volume of Discourses before the public. Their Author was long known and very highly esteemed in the west of Scotland, as a most faithful and successful minister of the Gospel of Christ. He committed nothing to the press except two or three Addresses to the young, which were printed for local distribution.
The Sermons which compose this volume were all prepared in the ordinary course of ministerial duty, without any view whatever to publication, and of course exhibit, in some degree, the imperfections that attach to all posthumous publications which the author himself has not prepared for the press. A very general desire was expressed, not only by the members of the flock over which he had long watched, but by many others who had been edified by his pulpit ministrations, to have some permanent memorial of one to whom they had often listened with interest and with profit; and it was to gratify this desire that the present volume has been prepared.
Dr Scott was possessed in an eminent degree of almost all those qualifications which render a minister of the Gospel a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, -excellent talents,-extensive information,—very high attainments in personal holiness,-a thorough knowledge of the Word of God,-sound and comprehensive views of Christian doctrine,-great practical acquaintance with the effects of the truth on the minds of men of different characters and in different circumstances, and much Christian wisdom in rightly dividing the word of truth, so as to make it bear most directly and successfully upon the minds of those whom he addressed.
I had not the happiness of knowing him until after he had been laid aside from the discharge of public duty, but it was my privilege for several years to act as his assistant, and to minister among his flock; and I can truly say of him, as Burnet did of Leighton, that “ I have the greatest veneration for his memory, and that I reckon my knowledge of him among the greatest blessings of my life, and for which I know I must give an account to God in the great day.” I had an opportunity of witnessing, and think it proper to bear testimony to, his singular freedom from those feelings, which, even among good men, sometimes disturb the cordial and affectionate harmony that ought to subsist between an aged pastor and his assistant and successor, his profound and lively interest in the spiritual welfare of his flock, manifested in every way that was practicable, and especially in habitual prayer that the blessing of God might rest upon
them, and his holy and magnanimous disregard of every thing but what might tend most to promote the glory of God in the salvation of their souls. From peculiar circumstances, he was placed in a situation in which he was called upon, after he had been laid aside from public duty, to choose between securing what he reckoned a pure dispensation of Christian truth to his flock, and the accomplishment of an object which must have been dear to his strongest natural affections, and he never hesitated which side to choose. He continued, while he lived, to act firmly and conscientiously, under the conviction that he was bound to have for his first object the spiritual welfare of the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made him overseer, whatever sacrifices this might require at his hand.
He had been subjected in the holy providence of God to a series of severe and painful afflictions, but these were certainly sanctified both to him and to his flock. He endured much hardship, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus, and in this
way was eminently qualified for doing the whole work of an Evangelist, and making full proof of his ministry, and especially for binding up the broken hearted, and comforting the mourners in Zion. In the very close of his life he was subjected, in consequence of divisions in his congregation, to a species of trial from which he had been previously exempted, as if his heavenly Master saw that he still needed something to wean him wholly from the world, to make him cease entirely from man whose breath is in his nostrils, and to commit himself and all his concerns unreservedly to Him who judgeth righteously. This painful trial he bore with his usual resignation and magnanimity, and no doubt experienced its sanctifying influence in preparing him fully for the rest which remaineth for the people of God.
From my ministerial connexion with those among whom he had long laboured, I can bear ample testimony to the success of his exertions in converting sinners, and in edifying the body of Christ ; and especially in impressing the minds of the young, and in guiding the views and comforting the hearts of those who were labouring under the pressure
of temporal or spiritual distress.
The Discourses contained in this volume are, I think, eminently fitted to be useful, especially to those who have been awakened to some sense of the importance of religion, but who have not yet formed clear and distinct views of the leading doctrines of the Gospel, and are involved in difficulties and anxiety about their spiritual condition ; and to those more advanced in the Christian life, who, amid the temptations and perplexities of the world, are desirous to walk circumspectly and in wisdom, and to adorn the doctrine of their God and Saviour in all things by a life and conversation becoming the Gospel.
The Rev. Dr Barr of Port-Glasgow has kindly furnished a Memoir of Dr Scott's life and professional character; while his son has given a short sketch of his father as he appeared in his private and domestic relations.
It may be added to the facts recorded in the Memoir, that in 1803 the University of Glasgow unanimously conferred