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and private exercises of other Christians, when they are separated from such matters as are exclusively personal in their application, the Christian finds, perhaps, the most useful department of religious reading. They become particularly interesting and important, when the persons before us, have been known and read of all men in their day and circle of intercourse, as living epistles of Jesus Christ. If we go back through latter ages, to the early and present times of the Christian Church, and to the lives of the holy and exemplary Christian professors, who lived and acted in those times, there is so much confidence resting upon the character and professions of men who were disciples in the midst of great difficulties, that all the records of such, which have been handed down to us, are of acknowledged worth. It is comforting and encourag. ing to us, to find the identity of our religious feelings and plans; to see that their inward trials were like ours; their sense of sin equally deep and painful; their con. flicts with spiritual enemies as severe; and their discouragements to perseverance in duty as numerous. It is animating to our feeble efforts and desires, to behold them coming daily anew to Christ for pardon and peace; to witness the simplicity of faith, with which they rest upon his sufficiency for their daily strength; to know that they gloried even to the end of life, only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world was crucified to them; and to see that out of weakness they were thus made strong, and became conquerors at last, through him that loved them. It is also calculated to establish our faith in the great doctrines of the Scriptures—the Trinity of the God. head, the mediation of Jesus, and the power and operations of the Holy Ghost—to find them asserted and inculcated, in the writings of men so near the time of inspiration, in the same forms as they are now received by the evangelical Churches of our time. These doctrines were with them matters of experience, and not of speculation. And it is a remarkable evi. dence of their truth, that they are always received as the unavoidable result of that operation of God, which brings the sinner to a knowledge of himself. No man, it is presumed, who knows the power of religion, as a vital principle of conduct in a renewed soul, will be led to any other permanent result in doctrine, than that which the following pages contain. And it is only as they are thus known, in the result of personal experience of their practical results, that they have an
abiding and operative influence upon man, and a per* manent value in his sight.
If my reader has followed me through these obser. vations, he has arrived at the single object of the present publication. I would in this way assist the fol. lowers of the Lord around me, in leading them forth, with the divine blessing, “by the footsteps of the flock.” The meditations which are here collected, have been drawn, as the title-page announces, from the piety of former ages. In making the compilation, I have used no other liberty with the matter selected, than the correction of language, for the more satisfactory communication of thought, and the fur. nishing of titles to the various extracts which I have made. The translations from the original language were made by the Rev. George Stanhope, D. D. in the early part of the last century. The style and manner of expression had become in many places quite obsolete, and required alteration to be made intelligible. - Thus far only have I allowed myself latitude, that I might retain, as entire as possible, the character of the original meditations. The present title the pub.. lisher has furnished. It becomes an appropriate one, from the believed accordance of the contents of the work with the Holy Scriptures, which should be, in a primary sense, the Christian's Own Book. The rea. der who feels an interest in the concerns of experimental piety, will here find details of private religious character, that will probably become an accurate mirror for himself. Should he make this little work his companion, it will, under God's blessing, guide and instruct him in the way of peace. The footsteps which it contains, were left by men who have long since gone to their reward. The latest date which can be assigned to any of them, record many centuries as passed by since their time. Yet the language which told the operations of grace upon their hearts, ex. presses the feelings of which every one is still conscious, who is brought from the power of Satan unto God. To the good of those into whose hands this little book may come, it is affectionately devoted, with a prayer for God's merciful blessing upon all who shall make it their guide to Christ. In several years' use of these selections, the editor has found, he trusts, edifi. cation and profit, and it is as an humble instrument to lead others to nearer communion with the adorable Redeemer, that he presents them in this form to the Churches of the Lord.
CHRISTIAN'S OWN BOOK.
Accountability to God. The Lord, even the most mighty God, shall come. I know thou shalt appear, and not always keep silence. Then shall thy glory be seen, then shall thy voice be heard, then thy terrors felt by all the world; when a fire shall devour before thee, and a horrible tempest be stirred up round about thee. When thou shalt call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that thou mayest judge thy people. And must our sins, which we now so industriously conceal, must every aggravating circumstance be then laid open, before so many thousand millions of witnesses ? Must I be then upbraided before so many troops of angels and saints, with not my evil deeds only, but even with the sins of word and thought ? Must I stand then helpless and friendless before so many judges Must I be confounded with the reproaches of so many eminent patterns of piety and virtue, whose examples I refused to follow ? Must I stand the shock of so many witnesses, who will testify against me how often their charitable advice hath been given me to no purpose, and how ineffectual all the good they did was to provoke my imitation ? Blessed God! what shall I have to say, or how shall I find an evasion?