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THE following Sermons were not transcribed with any view to a publication in this country. In the year 1773, I was desired by a gentleman in Scotland, to transcribe a number of the author's sermons on some of the most plain, practical, and experimental subjects, that they might be printed there. The reader will hence see, that it was not the design to pick out the most curious and elaborate discourses, but those of a different stamp. Among the very numerous discourses on practical and experimental subjects out of which I was to choose, it was no easy task to determine which to publish and which to omit. Aud different persons would, no doubt, in this case, judge differently. Many sermons, equally worthy of the light as these, were omitted, and, perhaps, some that were more worthy : yet, it is hoped, that the public will judge these not unworthy of their acceptance and attention.
The reader cannot be insensible of the disadvantages attending all posthumous works, especially sermons, which are generally prepared only for the next Sabbath, and for a particular congregation, and often in great haste, and amidst many avocations. Yet, if in these sermons he shall find the most important truths exhibited, and pressed home on the conscience with that pungency, which tends to awaken, convince, humble, and edify; if he shall find that serious strain of piety, which, in spite of himself, forces upon him a serious frame of mind; if, in the perusal, he cannot but be ashamed and alarmed at himself, and in some measure feel the reality and weight of eternal things; if, at least he, like Agrippa, shall be almost persuaded to be a Christian; I presume he will not grudge the time requisite to peruse what is now offered him. These, if I mistake not, are the great ends to be aimed at in all sermons, whether preached or printed, and are ends which can never be accomplished by those modern fashionable discourses which are delivered under the name of sermons, but really are mere harangues on such moral subjects as have been much better handled by Cicero, Seneca, or the Spectator, and contain very little more of the gospel than is to be found in the heathen philosophers. That the important ends now mentioned, may be indeed accomplished by this publication to every reader, is the sincere desire of the public's humble servant,
New-Haven, December 21, 1779.
N. B. The reader will observe some sermons not dated. Those I suppose, were written before the year 1733, when the author was thirty years of age; as in that year he began to date his sermons, and all written after that, appear to be dated.
THE MANNER IN WHICH THE SALVATION OF THE SOUL IS TO BE SOUGHT.
GEN. VI. 22.
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
CONCERNING these words, I would observe three things: 1. What it was that God commanded Noah, to which these words refer. It was the building of an ark, according to the particular direction of God, against the time when the flood of waters should come; and the laying up of food for himself, his family, and the other animals, which were to be preserved in the ark. We have the particular commands which God gave him respecting this affair, from the 14th verse, "Make thee an ark of gopher wood," &c.
2. We may observe the special design of the work which God had enjoined upon Noah: It was to save himself and his family, when the rest of the world should be drowned. See ver. 17, 18.
3. We may observe Noah's obedience. He obeyed God: Thus did Noah. And his obedience was thorough and universal: According to ALL that God commanded him, so did he. He not only began, but he went through his work, which God had commanded him to undertake for his salvation from the flood. To this obedience, the apostle refers in Heb. xi. 7. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house."
DOCTRINE. We should be willing to engage in, and go through great undertakings, in order to our own salvation.
The building of the ark, which was enjoined upon Noah, that he and his family might be saved, was a great undertaking: The ark was a building of vast size; the length of it being three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A cubit, till of late, was by learned men reckoned
* Dated September, 1740.