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PREFACE.

The English people,” said an eminent professor of divinity at Berlin to the writer, “ are a great deal too forward to deem any man converted : to-day he is converted-he is unconverted to-morrow.” The remark was made, indeed, in more particular reference to the conversion of the Jews, for which that indivi. dual had been a most fervent labourer. The writer is, however, of opinion that the same parable may be taken up with regard “ to the Gentiles also.” It is not to be denied, neither is there any use in denying itmit is better to meet it in all its lamented extensiveness—that the serious, professing part of the Church of the Redeemer—the only real Jerusalem in the midst of the nations—is, nevertheless, full of delusions, perversions, hypocrisies, and self-deceptions. This, it need not be said to the readers of this work, is not the “railing accusation” of an adversary-of a Shimei cursing David ; nor the reckless surrender of a distrusting friend,“ telling in Gath” the blame of the Lord's anointed ones and publishing it in the streets of Askelon:” it is the humble, sorrowful confession of an anxiously interested member, that “to us, and to our fathers, our priests, and our princes belongeth confusion of face;" yet coupled with the fervent supplication of the ancient seer—" turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine : before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, stir up thy strength, and come, and save us.”

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The design of the present work is to lead those who read it to faithful self-examination and scriptural self-discipline. The Church, as it now is, abounds, perhaps judicially, with temptations and false lights. Its chiefest snare is one which is directly the converse of that which obtains in the day of persecution ani adversity; it is not the “ fear” but the praise of man ;”-“how can ye believe which receive honou one from another, and seek not the honour which cometh from God only?" To this spirit of vain-glory may be traced, none shall say how much, but certainly an enormous amount of all that is acted for God upon the platform of public endeavour. The manifold schisms and divisions—the putting forth of strange doctrines new and old—the constant aiming at notoriety—the efforts laborious for distinction in public speaking and preaching in order to appropriate a measure of the age's indulgence in idolatry-even the rigorous customs, restrictions, and separations of many that differ from the world-even the visits of fashionable members to the poor, distributings of tracts, or collectings of money for Institutions—arise, or are done, from motives of selfish interest, and, more than all others, from this disposition to the spirit of vain-glory.

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In the midst of these evil things, it is surely more than ever a duty to those who are really in earnest, to “examine if they be in the faith,” and “to make their

vour.

calling and election sure.” The characters pourtrayed in these volumes are set forth to assist in that endea

Therein is exhibited, in instances of actual experience, and written by Infinite Wisdom, what it is to come short of the kingdom,-what it is to hold forth to the world, and have the personal discomfort of, a doubtful, compromising testimony,—and what it is, on the contrary, to be established and comforted members of the redeemed family, to feel the work of grace in the heart, to experience its influence in a growing sanctification, to witness a good confession, and, at last, by the power of God to attain through faith unto salvation. In short, two considerations shall account for this present undertaking ;-—first, that a real believer is truly a different being from what the world commonly esteems him ;-secondly, that by far is it better to deal a little over strictly, if that be possible, with our own spirits here, than hereafter at the judgment-seat of Jesus to find ourselves to have been self-deceivers.

Commending, therefore, this feeble effort of enquiry to the gracious acceptance and blessing of the divine Head of the Church, who holds its stars in his right-hand, and walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks, only desiring this—that it may confess his name, to the glory of God the Father ;-a powerful extract from a well-known writer of the French school of divinity shall close this prefatory statement:

que je vi.

“ Ce n'est pas seulement Tyr et Sid siterai dans le jour de ma colère, dit le Seigneur, c'est-à-dire, ces pécheurs dont les crimes sembloient

les confondre avec les infidelles et les habitans de Tyr et de Sidon ; je porterai la lumière de mes jugemens jusques dans Jérusalem : c'est-à-dire, j'examinerai, je rechercherai, je sonderai les motifs de ces cuvres saintes, qui sembloient vous égaler aux ames les plus fidelles de la sainte Jérusalem : Scrutabor Jerusalem in lucernis. (Sophon. 1. 12.)

Je remonterai jusqu'au premier motif de cette conversion qui fit tant de bruit dans le monde ; et l'on verra si je n'en trouverai pas la source dans quelque dépit secret, dans la décadence de l'âge ou de la fortune, dans les vues secrètes de faveur et d'élévation, plutôt que dans la haine du péché, et dans l'amour de la justice : Scrutabor Jerusalem in lucernis.

J'opposerai ces libéralités répandues dans le sein des pauvres, ces visites de miséricorde, ce zèle pour les entreprises de piété, cette protection accordée à mes serviteurs, avec les complaisances, les désirs d'estime, l'ostentation, les vues humaines qui les ont infectées : et peut-être qu'à mes yeux elles paroîtront plutôt les fruits de l'orgueil, que les suites de la grâce, et l'ouvrage de mon Esprit : Scrutabor Jerusalem in lucernis.

“ Je rappellerai cette suite de Sacremens, de prières, de pratiques saintes, dont vous aviez fait une sorte d'habitude qui ne réveilloit plus en vous ancun sentiment de foi et de componction; et vous saurez si la tiédeur, la négligence, le peu de fruit qui les accompagnoit, le, peu de disposition qui les précédoit, n'en ont pas fait devant moi autant d'infidélités pour les

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