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The Divinity of and Operations Of the Holy Ghost
TO THE FIRST EDITION,
PUBLISHED IN 1794.
If the motive for the publication of the present Work be demanded, the Author hopes that he shall not be accused of vanity in ascribing it, partly to the kind reception which the public hath been pleased to give to his former volume on the subject of the Godhead of Christ; and partly to the desire of being further useful in the same great cause, during the short period allotted to human labors, within the narrow limits of the present life. There seemed to be a propriety in the addition of the Sermons now offered, to the preceding, being but a continuation of the same important doctrine, and forming a very proper sequel to it. Such as they are, they now appear before the Public; and the Author wishes that both volumes may be considered as a small testimony of his humble endeavors to promote the Great Redeemer's glory in the earth.
He is not without apprehensions, that the unusual length of each of the discourses may be attended with a disadvantage in the perusal. And he should have been glad, had it been compatible with the plan of the work, to have obviated the objection by a division of them. But as the subject treated of, is of a doctrinal as well as of a practical nature, he thought it might be better to preserve the present arrangement, leaving it to the reader's pleasure to divide or subdivide, as he may find it necessary or convenient.
Though all periods may be supposed favorable for the discussion of subjects of such a solemn and weighty nature as are here examined; yet if one portion of time may be considered as more immediately interesting than another, the present is eminently so; distinguished as it is by a freedom of inquiry, unprecedented in former ages; in which the most sacred truths are attempted to be brought under human decisions. It is in such seasons, therefore, that the believer is called upon to review the evidences of his faith: and it cannot but be peculiarly gratifying, when he sees that the doctrines of the Established Church of this country are founded upon the Scriptures, and derive their sole authority from them. And the Author of this little work, though conscious how very inadequately the subject is treated of in the following sheets, cannot but express an humble hope that no member of the orthodox persuasion will suffer himself to be led away from the faith by any specious arguments of modern divinity, until he shall have examined what is here advanced in proof of its doctrines. As he is fully satisfied common candor cannot resist the facts which are here stated in testimony of the truth, even the imperfect manner in which he hath managed the subject, may serve, in some measure, to strengthen the whole argument, by showing the reader how much more convincing the evidences might have been made to appear, if the matter had engaged some abler pen.
With respect to the praise or censure which may attend the publication, these are extraneous considerations, and not of the smallest consequence in the breast of the Author. For though by no means insensible to a well-earned reputation, yet when he contemplates the boundary of all human applause, the recollection damps every degree of ardor in studying to acquire it. And in the consideration that the hour is hastening (perhaps not far remote) when the hand that is now writing will forever have ceased its office; it can be no object whether the eye which then reads shall praise or censure the performance. Both will be alike indifferent "in the land where all things are forgotten." There is, indeed, an ambition of the purest kind, which the Author feels, and for the attainment of which he offers up a prayer of supplication to heaven; that should these feeble essays be so far honored by Him, of whose divine operations in the heart of man they treat, as to be the instrument of good to a single soul; this will prove a source of satisfaction, which shall outlive the present system of things. And when the writer is no more seen, and he that now reads shall have followed him to the dust, the whole will be again remembered in that day, "when the Redeemer shall stand upon the earth."
PLYMOUTH, CHARLES VICARAGE,
January 23, 1794.
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