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Law and GOSPEL,
Faith and SENSE,

By the late REVEREND
Mr. RA L P H E R S K I NE,
Minister of the Gospel at Dunfermline.

In which the Holy Scriptures are fully extended.

To which is now prefixed, An Account of the Author's Life and Writings. Mira canam, fed vera canam. Buch. Pf. lxxviii.





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If the number of editions of any performance be a mark of public approbation, Mr. ERSKINE'S GOSPEL SONNETS have a claim to that distinction, and they may be ranked amongst those of general esteem and usefulness ;; few books have been so often printed in the saine space of time.

The present edition, it is hoped, will be found no less worthy of public encouragement, than those that have gone before it, as considerable attention has been paid to the correcting, by comparing it with former editions; and every thing is to be found here that has appeared in the most approved copies of the Gofpel Sonnets.

Mr. ERSKINE's Poems, as Dr. BRADBURY says, are greatly to be esteemed; and above all, for that which animates the whole, the favour of divine and experimental knowledge.

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OETICAL compositions, it will readily be admitted,

are of a very actient original : and very early specimens of this kind of writing are yet to be found on record, both in facred † and profane history,– Writings in poely have many

peculiar excellencies in them, and particular advantages atAtending them : and when men, endued with poetical talents, y employ them on subjects of real importance, the sparkling

and flowery images, the magnificent and lofty expressions, and the striking figures and rhetorical embellishments, add fuch a native grandeur dignity, and majesty to the subject, that the mind is not only truly elevated, the attention gained, the affections moved, and devotion excited; but the memory

is gradually prepared to retain and be benefited by them, on account of the beautiful and elegant manner in which the various topics are elucidated.

No lubject is more interesting, or can be a filter theme, for ihese vetled with a poetical genuis, than these of an evangelical nature, eithier directly founded upon some particular portion of facred writ, or drawn from it, ty just and neceffery consequence. No writings, for justness of sentiment; and lum blimity of file, can equal or compare with these of divine in {piration: and though the mysteries of Christianity, and the wonders of our holy religion, stand in no need of gay trimings and poetical embellishments to let them off, yet fuch is the fuperior excellency of inspired poefy, that the brightest and

poetry in

+ See the Song of Moses at the Red Sea, Exod. xv, 1,-21. This Song is the most ancient and fublime piece of the world: the images are natural; the arrangement of its ideas is beautiful; and the strain of piety which breathes through the whole is truely evangelical:

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most elevated descriptions of a mortal pen must vail to it : and therefore says a celebrated writer, “If any would attempt to be master of true eloquence, and aim at a proper elevation cf stile, let him read, with unremitting diligence, the ancient prophets, the inspired evangelists and apostles; for their writings are an abundant source of all the riches and orna. ment of speech.'.

It hath been now a long and just complaint, that poesy, which is of a divine original, should have been fo much de• based to the worst of purposes, in decorating vice and profaneness ; and that men, endued with such a happy talent, should so much employ it, in furnishing out theatrical entertainments, or upon ludicrous and profane trifles. py 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 provi. dence, the depth of redeeming love and grace, and the excel. lency and sweetness of true religion and practical godliness!

T'he Rev. Mr. ERSKINE, Author of the following Poems, was happy in employing his poetical talent to the best of pure poses: the subjects he made choice of to handle, were of the utmolt 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.

The sentiments of Dr. Bradbury, relative to our Author's poetical talent are very juft. Mr, Erskine's Poems, fays he,

are greatly to be esteemed, for the sweetness of the verse, the • difpofirion of the subjects, the elegancy of the compofition, «andabove all, for that which animates the whole, the favour • of divine and experimental knowledge 't

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+ See his preface to some of Mr. Erskine's Sermons, priated at London, in 1738.

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WHATEVER apologies this book has formerly been

prefaced with, (as to the manner in which many lines in it are written), mall be here altogether dropt and forborn. I now dismiss it as it is, under the conduct of divine providence, to take its hazard in the world ; since it has already ferved its apprenticeship under several impressions, and gone both through kind and hard usage, through good report and bad report. It never promised much to them that leek cothing but pleafare and satisfaction to their fancy; but I have heard that it has done some service (and, I hope, through the blefling of Heaven, it may yet do more) to them that feek profit and edification to their soulso

The late edition of this book at London, being more full and complete than any that was formerly emitted, it is fit here to acquaint the reader, that this is printed exactly off the Lon. don copy, without any material addition or alteration, except in the third part of the book, that comes under the name of Riddles, or mylteries; and part fixth, chap. ii. fect. 1. intit. led, The believer's principles, concerning the mysteries of the law and gospel: both of which (because there were several demands in this country for a new edition) I thought fit to confirm by fcripture texts, cited at the bottom of the page, for the benefit of those that are weak in knowledge and unacquainted with the fcripture *. I have directed them by a letter of the alphabet, at every branch of the sentence that is ei

* The feriptures in this edition are extended at full length.

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