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SERMONS ON THE EPISTLES TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES.
THERE are certain leading subjects of experimental and practical religion, which can be brought to bear upon the heart through the medium of interesting historical details. It is true that the same subjects may be presented entirely apart from these details, because, though they may serve to illustrate, they form no essential part of the subject itself. I have often found, however, that a specific Scripture truth works its way to the conscience with a remarkable force, when it is viewed in the effect which it has produced upon others. With this view I have taken the epistle to the Church of Ephesus, as illustrating the nature and evils of SPIRITUAL DECLENSION. In the epistle there are necessarily many other matters, some of great and some of but
This Introduction was prepared by the lamented author, with a view of publishing, in a smaller form, the Sermons which follow it. He was led, however, probably from his infirm health, to relinquish this intention, after having prepared for publication the Sermons on the epistle to the Church at Ephesus. None of the others have had the benefit of his late revision.-Ed. VOL. II.
little interest; but the main design of the whole is the subject to which I have alluded. This little work, however, I wish to be considered as a practical treatise on the subject of religious declension; and though I shall reach this topic, by a more circuitous route than had I used the direct road of the essay or dissertation, I trust the intrinsic importance of the subject will not be diminished, but rather increased, by the novelty of the method by which it is attained, and the interest of the collateral topics by which it is accompanied. Should this effort meet a favourable reception, from the public interested in the discussion of those topics of experimental religion which go so much to add to or diminish from the value of individual religious character, I shall be encouraged to present another series, and so on, till the practical matter arising out of the consideration of the epistles to the seven Churches shall have all been disposed of. At present, I need say no more than that when the matter which forms this volume and which may form the others, was delivered to a congregation in the form of lectures, it was much blest by the Great Head of the Church to the conversion of sinners, and to the establishment of God's people. It is this circumstance which has mainly encouraged me in the publication; and my prayers shall not be wanting, that the same blessing may not be withheld from the same truths, though in the form of a book. For sure I am, that without the very special blessing of Him, without whom all efforts are vain, these truths would not have succeeded in the pulpit and will not in a book. But in this age, when Christians have learned so well the value and the efficiency of prayer, I feel that if I but ask and receive the prayers of God's people, this little work, and others which may succeed it, may be blessed of God to the spiritual benefit of those who read; I shall therefore without wavering or doubting, submit it to the public.