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THAT this book may be better understood,
and prove a means of edifying every reader, let the following remarks be particularly attended to :
1. The Petitions and the Divine Answers which are to be found among several of the Scripture texts in the titles, may be of admirable use to many.
The questions generally run in the complaining, inquiring strain, for information and redress, under the painful anxieties of a wounded conscience; and the answers are well calculated to relieve and inform the distressed soul. They generally consist of gracious promises of Scripture, which may easily be turned into petitions ; and if relief does not immediately come, yet the soul gets ease by thus pouring out its complaints, and reminding the Lord of his promises ; faith in the word is hereby strengthened, and the soul is led to see that trouble and anxiety must lead the way to rejoicing and triumph.
2. The distinction that is made in several parts of the book between bare morality and true Christianity, respecting the motives of actions, the principle from which they are done, and the degree and extent of them, may be also useful. Morality is not Christianity, though there can be no true Christianity without morality. Moral actions may be done from natural principles, and will certainly centre in self, in some shape or other : but a truly Christian act must proceed from a gracious principle in the heart. A moral man and a true Christian may both give something to the poor; the poor is relieved by each; but the benevolence of the one may proceed from a natural generosity of spirit, while that of the other comes from a sense of Divine favour and bounty already bestowed upon himself. They may both join in the same ordinance, pray to the same Supreme Being, and yet the one continue self-righteous and vainly confident, while the other is humbled, and lives upon divine grace : the principle within makes the difference between them, and they who are only moral would do well to consider the difference.
3. In almost every page there are several passages of Scripture which, taken in connexion, serve to throw a light on each other; so that what in one is obscure, is generally opened by its parallel, which will be found very useful if diligently compared ; and serve to show the abundance, the superabundance of light, promises, privileges, and advantages, there are in the word of God, and how they become “profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work,
and, through the Divine blessing upon him, be made “ wise unto salvation.”
4. Let the reader be careful to distinguish between a state of safety by faith in CHRIST, and a state of assurance arising from sensible comforts in the heart. The best Christians experience great changes in the frame of their minds: sometimes they are lively and comfortable, then they are low and depressed; now they have sensible tokens of divine favour, then again these are withdrawn, and they begin to question the safety of their state before God. The enemy often takes advantage of their uncomfortable frames, and would have them question the reality of grace
in in their heart; and the consequence generally is great anxiety and distress.
In order to remove this, it is necessary to consider what is the true foundation of hope, and to distinguish between what is durable and what is changeable.
The work of the Redeemer is a perfect work; nothing can be added to it, and nothing must be taken from it. It is everlasting in its duration and efficacy; upon this the eye of faith should be invariably fixed, and hence comfort and support in every state are to be drawn. CHRIST'S blood is a constant propitiation, his righteousness is a perfect covering; to these, Reader, have daily recourse for cleansing and recommendation before God; by these you may silence all the accusations of Satan, all the clamours of conscience, all the threatenings of the law; for in Christ the believer is complete, and here he may safely rest in his dullest and heaviest moments.