« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
PRE FAC E.
TT is a maxim among wise men, That the knowledge of persons is I of as great use in the conduct of human life, as the knowledge of things : and it is most certain, that he who knows the various tempers, humours, and dispositions of men, who can find out their turn of thought, and penetrare into the secret springs and principles of their actings, will not be at a loss to find out proper means for compassing
his aims, will easily preserve himself from snares, and either evite or ľ overcome difficulties. But the knowledge of human nature, morally
considered, or, in other words, of the temper and dispolition of the foul in its moral powers, is of much greater value ; as it is of use in the concerns of an unchangeable life and world: he who is possessed of so valuable a branch of knowledge, is thereby capacitated to judge aright of himself, to understand true Christianity, and to conceive justly of perfect happiness, and confummate misery.
in The depravity of human nature is so plainly taught, yea inculcated in facred Scripture, and is so obvious to every thinking man's observation, who searches his own breast, and reflects duly on his temper and actings, that it is surprizingly strange and wonderful, how it comes to pass, that this important truth is so little understood, yea so much disbelieved, by men who bear the name of gospel Ministers. Are there not persons to be found in a neighbouring nation, in the character of preachers, appearing daily in pulpits, who are fo unacquanted with their Bibles and themselves, that they ridicule the doctrine of original sin as unintelligible jargon? If they are persons of a moral life and conversation, they seem to imagine, they cannot become better than they are; if they are immoral, they seem to indulge a conceit, that they can become virtuous, yea religious, when they please. These are the men who talk of the dignity of human nature, of greatness of mind, nobleness of soul, and generosity of spirit: as if they intended to persuade themselves, and others, that pride is a good principle, and do not know, that pride and selfishness are the bane of mankind, pro. ductive of all the wickedness, and much of the misery to be found in this and in the other world, and is indeed that, wherein the depra. vity of human nature properly consists.
Upright Adam's nature faintly adumbrated the divine, in a moderate self-esteem, in an adequate self-love, and delightful reflexion on his own borrowed excellency, regulated by a just elteem of, and supreme love to his adored Creator : whence a peaceful serenity of mind, a loving, compassionate and benevolent disposition of 'soul, a depth of thought, and brightness of imagination, delightfully employed in the rapturous contemplation of his beloved Maker's infinite perfections; thus bearing the divine image, and resembling God that made hiin. But no sooner did he disobey the divine probatory conimand, than
the scales were cast, his moderate self-esteem degenerated into pride his adequate foklove shrunk into mere selfishness, and his delightfu reflections on his own excellency, varied into the trickling pleasure of vanity and conceit: he lost view of the Author of his being, an thenceforth, instead of delighting in him, first dreaded, and then de pised him. '
The modest, and therefore hitherto anonymous author of the fo lowing discourses, Mr. Thomas Bofion, having, handled this subjec in preaching to his own obscure parochial congregation of Etterick, i the sheriffdom of Selkirk, had a particular view to their benefit, i printing and publishing them, and therefore the stile and method plain and simple, and the first edition printed on coarse paper ; but t subject is fo comprehensive and important, so well managed, and th: book has been so well received, that it now appears in the world mor embellished, as well as better corrected than formerly. · Let'it lufiice to recommend it to those who have a right taste genuine Christianity, that all the Author's notions flow so direct! from the sacred fountain, that it is to be doubted, if he has had muc recourse to any other helps that his Bible and his God for assistance Mean time, I am aware of an exception froin these who rank then felves among the polite part of mankind, as that there is the sam harsh peculiarity of diale&t in it, which is commonly to be found i books of practical divinity. But I beg leave to observe, That the di lect they except against, is borrowed from sacred scripture; and lik as it has pleafed God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them th believe ; lo also to countenance what they are displeafed with, by cl opperations of his Spirit on the minds of true Christians as their con mon experience witnesseth. However, I heartily wish, the exceptic were alcogether removed, by some persons digesting into a methodic treatise, the views of human nature in its primitive perfection, in i depraved condition, and in its retrieved state, who is master of mode stile, and throughly understands the subjects discoursed in this boo that by becoming all things to all men, Some, viz. Of all ranks al kinds of men, may be gained.
I am not declaim at large in favours of religion; this were to wri a book by way of preface. Many able pens have been employed recommending it to the world, by strong arguments drawn from usefulness to society, its suitableness to the dignity of the rational r türe, and the advantages arising to men from it in this and the ork world. But, after all, may pot one be allowed to doubt, if religi be rightly understood by all its patrons may not the beauties a excellencies of a precious gem be elegantly described by a natural
or jeweller, who never law the particular one he talked of, a · knows little of its nature, less of the construction of its parts, a
Nothing of its proper usc? Are there not men of bright parts, w reason finely in defence of religion, and yet are so much strangers it, that they brand the perfons who are lo happy as to be ponesco
peone cannot, esteption, and command abilitie
it, with the hard name of fpiritualists, reckoning them a kind of Enthusiasts, unworthy of their regard. . The truth is, Christianity is 2 mykery, mere reason does not comprehend it. There is a spiritual difcerning necessary to its being rightly understood, whence it comes to pass that men of great learning and abilities, tho' they read the Scriptures with attention, and comment learnedly upon them; yet do not, yea cannot, enter into the vein of thought peculiar to the inspired pensas, because they are not of the fame Spirit; wherefore it is, that the Apostle Paul asserts, the natural, that is, unregenerate mang not to know the things of God, neither indeed to be capable of knowing them, because they are spiritually difcerned. .
From what has been said, it is easy to conclude, That no pedantic apology on the part of the Author, for appearing in print, or fawning compliments to the courteous reader, on the part of the prefacer, are,
to be expected The truth is, both the one and the other are rather 1. little arts, vailing pedantry and conceit, than evidences of modesty
and good-fenfe. It is of more use to recommend the perufal of the book to persons of all ranks and degrees, from a few suitable topicks , than to Thew herein this Edition differs from the first. .
That all mankind, however differenced by their rank and station in the world, have an equal concern in what is revealed concerning an, other and future world, will be readily owned; and it must be as readily granted, that however allowable ic may be for men of learn, ing and parts, to please themselves with fineness of langu"ge, jusness of thought, aud exact connection in writings upon other subjects; yet they ought not to indulge themselves in the same taste in discourses on divine things, left they expose themfelves to the just censure of acting with the fame indiscretion, as a person in danger of famishing by hun. ger, would be guilty of, if he perverfly rejected plain wholsome food when offered to him, for no other reason than the want of palatable fauce, or order and splendor in serving it up."..
The sacred book we call the Bible, has a peculiar fublimity in it, vailed with unusual dialect and seeming inconnection: but it is not therefore to be rejected by men who bear the name of Christians, as uncøuth or unintelligible; true wisdom dictates quite another thing, it : counsels us, by frequent reading, to acquaint ourselves well with it, become accustomed to its peculiar phrases, and search into its fubli, mnities : upon this ground, that the matters contained in it, are of the utmost consequence to us, and when rightly understood, yield a refined delight, much superior to what is to be found in reading the bek written books on the most entertaining subjects. What pleads for the parent is a plea for the progeny; practical discourses upon divine sub. jects are the genuine offspring of the sacred text, and ought therefore to be read carefully and with attention, by persons of all ranks and degrees, though they are indeed calculated for, and peculiarly adapted i to such as move in low spheres of life.. Let is, however, be a prevailing argument with persons of all de.
nominations, carefully to read books. of practical divinity, That many of them are not written on the same motives and principles as other books are; the authors have often a peculiar divine call to publish them, and well founded hope of their being ufeful to advance Christiantiy in the world: In consequence whereof it is, that great numbers have reaped benefit by reading them, especially in childhood and youth; many have been converted by them; and it may be questioned, if ever there was a true Christian, since the art of printing made these books common, who has not, in fome stage of life, reaped considerable advantage from them. This book recommends itself in a particular manner, by its being a short substantial system of practical divinity, in so much, that it may with truth be asserted, That a person who is throughly acquainted with all that is here taught, may, without danger to his eternal interest, remain ignorant of other things, which pertain to the science called divinity. It is therefore earnestly recom. mended to the serious and frequent perusal of all, but especially of such as are in that stage of life called youth, and are lo stationed in the world, as not to be frequently opportuned to hear fermons, and read commentaries on the sacred text.
It is doubtless incumbent on masters of families to make some pro. vision of fpiritual as well as bodily food, for their children and servants; this is effectually done by putting practical books in their hands: and therefore this book is humbly and earnestly recommended as a fainilybook, which all the members of it are not only allowed, but desired to peruse. ipt "! ..
As to the difference betwixt this and the former edition, which gives it preference, it lies chiefly in the Author's not only having revised the ftile, but the thought in many places, and corrected both, so as to set several important truths in a clearer light, and make the stile of the book now uniforın, which formerly was not so, because of the expli. cations of pcculiar words and phrases in use amongst practical divines, especially of the church of Scotland, which were interspersed through. out the former edition, and introduced by another hand, for the sake of suchpersons as are not accustomed to them. It remains, that the prefacer not only fubjoin his name, which was concealed in the first edi. tion, as a testimony that he esteems the Author, and values the book, but that he may thereby recominend it in a particular manner to the perusal of persons of his own acquaintance. If in his assisting towards its being published, and in prefacing both editions, he has not run unsent, he has what will bear him up under all censures; the charitable will th nk no evil, and others will do as they please... '
EDINBURGH, 18th 2. * MARCH, 1729. S.
ROBERT WICHTMAN, M. D. G. E.
CON T E N T S.
1. The State of INNOCENCE, or PRIMITIVE INTEGRITY,
· discoursed from Ecclef. vii: 29. of man's original righteousness,
The qualities of this righteousness,
The covenant of works,
The forbidden tree a stay to keep him from falling,
Three forts of perfons reproved, -
II. The State of NATURE, or State of ENTIRE DEPRAVATION. HEAD I. The SINFULNESS of Man's natural State, discoursed from GENESIS vi. 5.
- Page 35 THAT man's nature is corrupted, proven, T . - 35 1 From God's word,
From men's experience, and observation,
Weakness with respect to fpiritual things,
Four evidences of it,'
Three evidences thereof,
Man naturally high-minded,
Two evidences of it, '
Four evidences of it,