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READER,

PREFACE.

My defign in detaining you with a pre

face, is not merely a recommendation of the following work; its character has been defcribed by pens more capable than mine, and its real value afferted by names much more entitled to your confidence and respect. During the period of one hundred and fifty years the religious world have affigned it nearly the firft rank among books of human compofition, and its feal is impreffed on the hearts of multitudes both finners and faints; to the former it has been effectual, through the grace of the Holy Ghoft, for their converfion, to the latter for their greater eftablishment and confolation.

My defign in addreffing you is only to expoftulate with you thankfully to receive and diligently to improve it. We learn from the facred oracles that fome have a form of godlinefs, who are, notwithstanding, deftitute of its living power; that many will approach the Saviour at laft and knock, faying, Lord, Lord, open to us; we have eat and drunk in thy prefence and thou haft taught in our streets; to whom he will reply, I know you not whence you are: depart from me all ye workers of iniquity. In the following treatife thou mayeft learn to which clafs of profeffors thou belongeft now, and in which thy doom may be expected at last. Here thy fears, thy joys, thy defires, thy hopes are laid in the unerring balance of the fanctuary and impartially weighed. This little volume, by a plain exhibition of divine truth to the understanding and by a powerful application of it to the heart, is eminently calculated to convince the carelefs of their danger, to inftru&t in the true method of falvation the ignorant and erroneous; to ftrip the vain formalift of his felf-deceiving mafk; to answer the objections and allay the fears of the weak and the timid, to brighten the evidences of the doubting, and cheer with

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the light of heaven the fpiritual pilgrim, while he is travelling to his Father's houfe. Reader, perufe it with all poffible attention and impartially compare thine exercifes with that divine ftandard which it prefents, becaufe on this Trial of a Saving Interest in Chrift thy foul is eternally concerned. If like the foolish virgins, thou haft only the lamp of a profeffion, better to difcover the miftake now while oil is flowing from Jefus the Living Head, than hereafter, when all communication shall be fufpended and he that is unjust shall be unjust fill; if when weighed in the balance thou art found wanting, better to know it in time while the offers of reconciliation are repeated, than hereafter when the door of mercy fhall be finally closed and the Lord God fhall fwear in his wrath that thou shalt not enter into his reft.

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Again, after the examination of thine eftate has been impartially made, if thou art left without any comfortable affurance of an Intereft in Chrift, this treatife directs thee how to attain it; how to make thy calling and election fure, by embracing Jefus with his eternal redemption as tendered freely in the gofpel; a balm is here exhibited for thy difeafes however complicated; an open door is held forth to view by which thou mayeft enter the city of refuge and be eternally fecured, from the avenger of blood; Jefus the friend of finners; Jefus "whofe facrifice is the foul's ranfom, whofe righteousnefs is the foul's raiment," whofe confolations are the foul's life and fupport is clearly exhibited and indifcriminately offered to every reader. The fountain of life is. unfealed and its healing waters drawn forth and tendered to any perfon that is fpiritually athirst.

A few chriftian friends in this and other places have united their contributions to publifh and circulate thro' your fettlements this precious treat. Receive it, brethren, as an unfeigned teftimony of our fympathy with -you in your defolate fituation and our fervent concern for your eternal welfare. The prefent may, poffibly, be the laft fervice of this nature which fome of us fhall ever have opportunity of rendering you, this confider

ation encreases our folicitude that the offering may not be coldly received or carelefsly improved. Although we are remote from many of you in local fituation, we efteem you our brethren by nature; we would long over you in the bowels of our Lord Jefus Chrift, and cheerfully fpend and be fpent that your fouls might be faved in the terrible day of his coming. Should this mean of falvation which, through the good hand of our God help ing, we are enabled to carry to your abodes be bleffed for awakening any thoughtless reader or encouraging any weak and wavering reader, we fhall confider ourfelves rewarded ten thousand fold; we shall confider ourfelves unspeakably honoured in being employed as inftruments of bringing glory to Jefus and furtherance to your fpiritual joy. But on the other hand, fhould it lay in your habitations difpifed or neglected, our fouls muft weep for you in fecret places. We know that by founding the alarm we become guiltless of your blood whether you hear or forbear, but we are not fatisfied barely with efcaping ourselves; we would willingly be inftrumental in refcuing you from deftruction and behold you at laft ftanding before the prefence of his glory with exceeding joy. With thefe affurances of affection to your fouls and folicitude for their eternal falvation we conclude praying you in Chrift's ftead, be ye

reconciled to God.

Now, that our Lord Jefus Chrift himself and God even our Father which hath loved us and given us everlasting confolation and good hope through grace, may comfort your hearts and stablish you in every good word and work is, in the name of thefe your fpiritual benefactors, the prayer of your unworthy fervant,

ALEXANDER PROUDFIT.

SALEM, January 23, 1805.

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