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The Author of the following pages cannot suffer them to issue from the press, without, in a few lines, accounting for their publication.
It having pleased God to excite a spirit of enquiry, especially among the writer's young friends, about religion; in his frequent intercourse with them and others of the church and congregation, he has had much opportunity of observing in what particular ways their minds have been opened to the vast concerns of eternity; the various conflicts they have passed through; and their great depression arising from a discovery of the evils of their hearts. He has
noticed particularly two seasons of their distress, viz. when they have been first convinced of their sinful and condemned state, exposed to the dreadful consequences of sin beyond the grave, and, for a time, having not attained to a scriptural view of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the all-sufficient ground of a sinner's hope ;—and secondly, when having tasted that the Lord is gracious, embraced Christ, given themselves to his ordinances, and enjoyed the attractions of the beams of the sun of righteousness they have afterwards felt a decline in the spirituality and fervency of their affections, and a cloud has intercepted between God and their souls.
This has been a source of disappointment to
who after their deliverance from a spirit of legal bondage, and their being brought into spiritual liberty by faith in Christ,
and when from love to their Redeemer they have come forward in the observance of his own institutions, and have thus had their expectations raised as to their increasing communion with, and enjoyment of, their dear Lord, they have found corruptions arise which they thought were dead, evil thoughts which they could not have imagined, and propensities which have shook their confidence as to
any real acquaintance with the truth as it is in Jesus. Thus circumstanced, it is impossible but that the christian should be anxious to know the cause of his not realizing his expected joys, and of his apparent decline as to the life of religion in his soul. The writer has generally found, what perhaps may be considered as common in such cases, that after this change may have been accounted for in
many subordinate ways,
the real and lead
ing cause has been traced to UNBE
Hence he has heard many complaints against this very injurious principle, and has been frequently asked his opinion, either as to the evidences of it, its operations, causes remedies, &c. To these and such like inquiries he has generally refrained from giving any particular reply, as he fully intended to have preached a sermon or two on the subject; but seeing that, as God brought forward one after another into the divine life, similar exercises were experienced, and unbelief was sure to be the evil bewailed by all, and finding the subject more extensive than he at first apprehended, he was induced to attempt to furnish them with his view of it in the form in which it now appears. To this he was the more easily led, as he had it not in his power to put any book written on