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No subject is more interesting, or can be a fitter theme, for those vested with a poetical genius, than these of an evangelical nature, either directly founded upon some particular portion of sacred 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 mysteries of Christianity, and the wonders of our holy religion, stand in no need of gay trimings and poetical einbellishments to set them off; yet, such is the superior excellency of inspired poely, that the brightest and most elevated descrip. tions of a mortal pen must vail to it: and therefore, fays a celebrated writer, . If any would attempt to be • master of true eloquence, and aim at a proper ele• vation of stile, let him read, with unremitting dili.

gence, the antient prophets, and inspired apostles; * for their writings are an abundant source of all the • riches and ornament of speech.'

Where will you find such strong figures, bold me. taphors, and surprisingly beautiful images, than in the writings of Mofes, the Ifraelitish law.giver, whom Longinus himself, a Gentile critic, cites as master of the true sublime stile ? Where can there be seen, among all our celebrated moderns, such grandeur, variety, and justness of ideas, or more pomp and beauty of expression, than in the writings of Job? And is not poetical excellencies, depth of thought, and sub. limity of ftile, carried to its utmost pitch, in the writings of David, the prophet Isaiah, and in some passages of the lesser prophets?-When this is the case, is it not surprising that so many, endued with fine poetical abilities, should so much neglect, in their various compositions, to read their Bibles, adopt the sentiments, and attempt to imitate the sublime stile of the inspired writers ?

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It hath been now a long and just complaint, that poely, 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, hould so much employ it, in furnishing out theatrical entertainments, or upon ludic. rous 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 subjects, in pointing out the beauties of creation, the bounty of providence, the depths of redeeming love and grace, and the excellency and sweetness of true religion and practical godliness!

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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 spirit 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.

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The sentiments of Dr. Bradbury, relative to our Author's poetical talent, is very juit

. · Mr. Erskine's Poems, says he, are greatly to be esteemed, for the • sweetness of the verse, the disposition of the subjects, 'the elegancy of the composition, and, above all,

for that which animates the whole, the favour of divine and experimental knowledge.'

The following lines of two celebrated English poets, in commendation of another, may not improperly be applied to our Author.

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Say, human seraph, whence that charming force !
That flame! that foul! which animates each line;
And how it runs with such a graceful eafe,
Loaded with pond'rous sense ! Say, did not He,
The lovely Jesus, who commands thy breast,
Inspire thee with himself?-

Grove.

No vulgar themes thy pious muse engage,
No scenes of lust pollute thy sacred page.
You in majestic numbers mount the skies,
And meet descending angels as you rile.-
Regard the man, who in seraphic lays
And flowing numbers sings his Maker's praise :
He needs invoke no fabled muse's art,
The heavenly song comes genuine from his heart!
From that pure heart which God has deign'd l'inspire,
With holy raptures and a sacred fire.
Thrice happy man!

Euser,

GLASGOW, Sept. 24th. )

1778.

THE

C Ο Ν Τ Ε Ν Τ S.

TABLE of the GOSPEL-SONNETS.

Page 3

The Publishers Preface to the Poetical Works,
A Defence of rhyme and musical metre,

29 A general Preface, shewing the Author's intention of writing the

Sonnets, viz. to open up some of the great mysteries of the gospel, and commend Christ to the soul; to point out some of the special doctrines he intends to elucidate ; to assign rules to be observed, for reading them with profit and advantage,

37,--47 A Recommendatory Poem on reading them, wrote by a Lady, 48

PA R T I.

P Ꭱ Ꭲ
The BELIEV E R's ESPOUS AL S.

Preface, containing a pathetic call to read the Espousals with attention,

and displaying the mysterious nature of the spiritual marriage,

49

CH A P. I. A general account of man's fall in Adam, and the re

medy provided in Christ; and a particular account of man's being naturally wedded to the law as a covenant of works,

50

ib. 50 54

SeEt. 1. The fall of Adam,
Sect. 2. Redemption through Christ,
Sect. 3. Man's legal disposition,
Sect. 4. Man's strict attachment to legal terms, or to the law as

a condition of life,
Szt. 5. Mens vain attempt to seek life by Christ's righteousness,

joined with their own; and legal hopes natural to all,

55

57.

CH A P. II. The manner of a finner's divorce from the law, in a

work of humiliation, and of his marriage to the Lord Jesus Christ; or, the way how à finner comes to be a believer,

61

ib.

Se&. 1. Of a law-work, and the workings of legal pride under it,
SeEt. 2. Conviction of sin and wrath carried on more deeply and

effcctually in the heart,
Se&t. 3. The deeply humbled soul relieved with some saving dif-

coveries of Christ the Redeemer,

64

66

ScE7. 4. The workings of the Spirit of faith, in separating the heart

from all self-righteousness, and drawing out its consent to, and desire

after Chrift, alone and wbolly, Seet. 5. Faith's view of the freedom of grace, cordial renunciation of

all its own ragged rightecusness, and formal acceptance of, and closing with the person of glorious Chrift,

71

Page 68

CH A P. III. The fruits of the believer's marriage with Christ,

particularly gospel-holiness, and obedience to the law as a rule,

73 Se&t. 1, The sweet solemnity of the marriage now over, and the fad

effects of the remains of a legal spirit, Sect. 2. Faith's victories over sin and Satan, through new and further

discoveries of Christ, making bclievers more fruitful in holiness than all other pretenders to works,

75 Sect. 3. True saving faith magnifying the law, both as a covenant and a rule. False faith unfruitful and ruining,

77 Sect. 4. The believer only, being married to Christ, is justified and

sanctified; and the more gospel-freedom from the law as a covenant, the more holy conformity to it as a rule,

80 Scēl. 5. Gospel.grace giving no liberty to fin, but to holy service and pure obedience,

83 CH A P. IV. A caution to all against a legal spirit, especially to those

that have a profeflion without power, and learning without grace,

84

CHAP. V. Arguments and encouragements to gospel-ministers,

to avoid a legal strain of doctrine, and endeavour the

finper's match with Christ by gospel means, 87 Sect. 1. A legal spirit the root of damnable crrors,

ib. Sect. 2. A legal strain of doctrine discovered and discarded, 88 Set. 3. The burtfulness of pot preaching Christ, and distinguishing duly between law and gospel,

90 Sct. 4. Dampable price and self-righteousness, fo natural to all men,

have little need to be encouraged by legal preaching, Seft. 5. 'The gospel of divine grace the oply means of converting finners;

and therefore should be preached most clearly, fully, and freely, 94

91

C + A P. VI. An exhortation to all that are out of Christ, in order

to their closing the match with him ; containing allo motives and directions,

98

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