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USUALLY ATTENDS UPON MY MINISTRY.
THE following Discourses, which have been the employment of several months in the pulpit, are now made public, with an eye principally to the service of you and your families; whose best interests your Minister hath the strongest obligations to consult, not only from special relation, but in gratitude for the long experience he has had of your candour and affection, which hath never been interrupted in the course of so many years.
The subject of these sermons is of the greatest and most general importance, the spirit of Christianity; to which all the doctrines of our religion are designed to form us, and without which the external practice of our duty is in God's account no better than a dead carcase.
For Christianity is neither a mere speculative science, intended only for the information or entertainment of the mind; nor yet a flat system of precepts, without substantial and vital principles to support them: But it proposes many divine truths and doctrines to our faith, on purpose to influence and engage in the most forcible manner to a correspondent practice. And where it meets with a proper entertainment, it is neither so inward a thing, as to be altogether invisible; nor yet such a mere outside, as leaves the heart and the life at variance, or recommends a man to his fellow-creatures, while he is utterly unacceptable to the heart-searching God: But the kingdom of God is first set up within us, and subjects the thoughts, the will, and affections to the obedience of Christ; and so produces out of the abundance of the heart the natural and visible fruits of Christian practice.
A gospel-ministry is intended to represent faith and tice in connection. And there are two ways of prosecuting that design: When any doctrine of the gospel is the argument, to bring it down to practice by shewing the reasonable influence which it ought to have upon one or another virtue : Or when the dispositions and duties of a Christian are more directly insisted upon, to recommend them from Christian
The Discourses, now offered to your perusal, are drawn with the latter view: Wherein I have endeavoured to select those characters and ingredients of the Christian temper, which I apprehend to be of principal weight, and of the most frequent and extensive use in the course of our obedience. In the review, they are cast into that method and order which I thought most natural, and likely to be of the greatest service. The contents of the volume will shew