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gorg i E13 1994
The following Recommendations of Mr. ÉRSKINE'S Writings, by Dr. Bradbury and Mr. Hervey, were not insert in the folio edition; the Account of the Author's Lise, here given, is quite different, and much fuller than the former one; and the Elegiac Poem, subjoined there. to, was not printed with the former edition of his Works. ,
The Rev. Mr. Adam Gib, late Minister of the Gospel in Edinburgh, speaking of Mr. Ralph Erskine, his words are, “ This now glorified Author, having been long “ a very eminent light in the Church, and one whole " memory, as a Mivister of the Gospel, mult be preci. " ous, froin the various Works which he has given " to the public, so long as the Gospel continues to be * dispensed in the English tongue.”
Display of the Seccllion Testimony, Vol. II. p. 5, 6.
CH A R A C I ER
AUTHOR and his WRITINGS.
TT is not the intention of the Editor of the present lemn Edition of the Rev. Mr. RALPH ERSKINE's Practi
cal works, in ten volumes octavo, to attempt passing any fulfòme encomiums on the worthy Author, whose praise is already in the churches, or to launch out into any prolix commendation of his elaborate and valuable writings, which are so universally known,' read, and esteemed; but to refer the reader, for his
satisfaction relative to these; to what is advanced in precht the following short Account of his Life and Writings:
We shall only here observe, That as he was eminently pious from his youth, had always a conversation be. coming the gospel, was endued with every suitable qualification for the ininiftry; poffefied of very po. pular talents, made the distinguishing doctrines of Christianity the chief subjects of his pulpit-themes, and fingularly żealous for the purity of gospel-truth, it is not at all surprising, that he was greatly beloved, much followed by all true Christians, and his writings eagerly read by the religious and devout of every de: nomination.
The SERMÓns and Poems are already so well known and deservedly admired, both at home and abroad, that it would be fuperfluous to pass any encomiums on them. Let it fuffice to say, in the words of that eminent divine, the late Rev. Dr. BRADBURY, in his preface to a collection of Mell. Ebenezer and Ralpu Erskine's Sermons, printed at LONDON, in 1738.
" The Sermons, faith he, have no need of niy re. * commendation the reader will find in them a faith. " ful adherence to the design of the gospel, a clear " defence of those doctrines that are the pillar and
ground of truth, a large compass of thought, a “ strong force of argument, and a happy flow of *6 words, which are both judicious and familiar: and " they have been greatly blessed to the edification of * many, especially the poor of the flock."
The same Dr. BRADBURY, speaking concerning the poetical compositions of our Author, observes, That “ as poetry has often. no more in it than great swel. "ling words of vanity, distorted images, and monstrous * allusions ; fo it is a pleasure to see the things of * another world delivered without any heathenish fi.
gures and phrases, but in such an Adorning as. be. ' to comes the gospel of Jesus Curist: On this ac. 66 count, Mr. Erskine's Gospel Sonnets, are greatly
to be esteemed, for the sweetness of the verse, the “ difpofition of the subjects, the elegance of the com. “ position, and, above all, for that which ànimates " the whole, the favour of divine and experimental " kuowledge." . .
The words of the late justly celebrated and pious Mr. Hervey are very fignificant, and truly expressive of the high esteem he had for Mr. ERSKINE's Writings. " Was I to read, (lays that judicious and elegant 56 writer), in order to refine my taste, or improve my “ stile; I would prefer Bishop Atterbury's sermons,
“ Dr. Bate's works, or Mr. Seed's discourses : But, ." was I to read with a single view to the edification
" of my heart, in true faith, folid comfort, and “ evangelical holiness; I would have recourse to Mr. “ Erskine, and take his volumes for my guide, my “ companion, and my own familiar friend."*
* Herve;': Works in fol. p. 346. and Theron and Afp. dial. 16
IN emitting the Writings of great men to the public, it hath I been usual to give some account of their Author, that the reader may, in a fhort compass of reading, learn some of the principal lines of their character. Our Author is already fo well known in the churches of Christ, both at home and · abroad *, by his cxcellent and elaborate productions, that
faving any thing of him might have been entirely superceded : and have it not been, that his writings may fall into the hands of some at a distance, and in after-ages, who are not, and cannot be fö well acquainted with him as the present, it would have been superfluous to have said any thing concerning him.
The Rev. Mr. RALPH ERSKINE was honourably de. seended of very respectable ancestors; his father the Reverend Mr. Henry ERŞKING, being one of the thirty-three children of Ralpa ERSKINE of Shielfield, a family of confiderable re. pute and standing in the county of Merse, and originally descended from the antient house of Mar, Our Author, and his brother, the Rev. Mr. EBENEZER ERSKINE, late Minilter of the Gospel at Siirling, were two of the children of the said Rev. Mr. Henry ERSKINE, who was sometime Minister of the Gospel at Cornwal, afterwards at Chirnside ti a man
* The greatest part of our Author's Works were at first printed in single sermons and small tracts, and well relithed; numbers of these have gone abroad, and met with a kind reception : yea, such regard hach the public put upon them, that several of them have undergone a great many impressions ; and even some of them translated into other languages: and we have even seen & few of them printed in Dutch. In the year lixty-four and fixiy-five they were collected together, and printed, in a moit elegant manner, in two large volumes in folio, in which there was interspersed a great many manuscript Sermons. This handsome O&avo Edition is printed from the elegant folie oue, with conliderable amendments.
† Cornwal is in the fhire of Northumberland; Clairnside lies about five miles from Berwick upon Tweed, in the Scotch lide.
od of Charlene Sermons Sabbat
eminent in his day, and justly distinguished for his piety, and firm attachment to Presbyterian principles : For his Itedfast adherence to which, he was subjected to many cinsiderable hardships in the latter part of the latt century, during the perfecuting period of Charles II, and James VII*.
The Author of the following Sermons tas born at Mcnilaws, in the county of Northumberland, on Sabbath the 15th of March, 1635, at three o'clock in the afternoon; and baptized at Chirnside on the 5th of April, said year, by the Reverend Mr. William Violand. He gave pretty early proofs of a great genius and fine fancy; and several instances of a pious disposition and a solid way of refleting on matters. , On this account he was, by his parents, early destined for the holy ministry, who resolved to give him a regular and liberal education, in order to qualify him for that important office,
When "he had acquired a competent measure of Grammar, and other introductory parts of education, he went to the University of Edinburgh, to complete his ftudies; where he went through the ordinary courses of philofophy and divinty with success; and made a considerable progress in all the different branches of useful literature; for, he foon became a fine Grecian, an excellent Logician, and an accomplished Philoso, pher. But after having acquired such a competent measure of knowledge, in these various branches of eruditiin, be gave himfelf up to the study of theology, his darling and beloved. topic; in which he made great progress, as his producticns therein do abundantly evidence,
Having experienced the grace of God himself, he thougl.t it his duty to give himfelf up to the great work of the minittıy, that he might be a happy instrument of bringing others to knew these things which he found and experienced to be of the ut-. most importance. He was abundantly fenfible this was a work of great labour and diligence ; and therefore gave himself up to a course of unwearied study. He was never more delighted than when he could apply himself to the increafe of valuable knowledge, without being interrupted: this defire after im. provement continued to the last; and he was never seemingly. better, than when he thus enjoyed himself.
The ordinary course of philosophical and theological studies being gone through, at the College of Edinburgh, with success; he was, in the providence of God, called forth to appear in a public character; and being well reported of, by all who knew him, for a conversation becoming the gospel, he was accordingly taken upon trials by the Presbytery of Dunfermline : and þaving finished the usual pieces of trial assigned him, to the enţire satisfaction of the Presbytery, he was by them licensed
* See the Continuation of Calamy's Life of Baxter, p. 681.