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If the number of Editions of any performance, be a mark of public approbation, Mr. Erskine's Gospel SONNETS have a claim to that distinction, and they may be ranked amongst those of general esteem and usefulness ; few books have been so often printed in the fame space of time.
The present Edition, it is hoped, will be found not less, worthy of public encouragement, than those that have gone before it, as considerable attention has been paid to the correcting, by comparing it with former editions; and every thing is to be found here that has appeared in the most approved copies of the Gospel Son
WOR 19 FEB'36
Mr. Erskine's Poems, as Dr. Bradbury says, are greatly to be esteemed; and above all, for
that which animates the whole, the favour of s divine and experimental knowledge.
BY THE PUBLISHER.
POETICAL compositions, it will readily be admitted, are of a very ancient original; and very early specimens of this nd of writing are yet to be found on record, both in sacred* and profane history. Writings in poesy have many peculiar excellencies in them, and particular advantages attending them: and when men, endued with poetical talents, employ them on subjects of real importance, the sparkling and flowery images, the magnificent and lofty expressions, and the striking figures and rhetorical embellishments, add such a native grandeur, dignity, and majesty to the subject, that the mind is not only truly elevated, the attention gained, the affections moved, and devotion excited ; but the memory is gradually prepared to retain and be benefited by them, on account of the beautiful and elegant manner in which the various topics are elucidated.
No subject is more interesting, or can be a fitter theme, for those vested with a poetical genius, thon those of an evangelical nature, either directly founded upon some particular portion of facred writ, or drawn from it by just and necessary consequence. No writings, for justness of sentiment and sublimity of stile, can equal or compare with these of divine inspiration : and though the myste. ries of Christianity, and the wonders of our holy religion, stand in no need of gay trimmings and poetical ombel. lishments to set them off; yet such is the superior excellency of inspired poefy, that the brightest and 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 of stile, let him read, with unremite
* See the Song of Moses at the Red Sea, Exodus xv. 1-21. This Song is the most ancient and sublime piece of poetry in the world : the images are natural-the arrangement of its ideas is beautiful and the strain of piety which breathes through the whole, is truly evangelical.
ting diligence, the ancient prophets, the inspired evangelists and apostles ; for their writings are an abundant • jource of all the riches and ornament of speech.'
It hath been now a long and just complaint, that poefy, which is of a divine original, should have been so much debased 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 our theatrical entertainments, or upon ludicrous and profane trifles. How happy 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 fubjects, in pointing out the beauties of creation, the bounty of providience, 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 fpirit 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 juít. • Mr. Erfkine's Po* ems,' says he, are greatly to be esteemed, for the sweet*ness of the verse, the disposition of the subjects, the el.
egancy of the composition, and, above all, for that • which animates the whole, the favour of divine and experimental knowledge.'*
* See his preface to fome of Mr. Erskine’s Sermons, printed at London, in 1738.