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THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
In the ensuing treatise, I condemn ministers assuming, or taking too much upon them, and appearing as though they supposed that they were the persons, to whom it especially belonged to dictate, direct, and determine; but perhaps shall be thought to be very guilty of it myself. And some, when they 'read this treatise, may be ready to say that I condemn this in others, that I may have the monopoly of it. I confess that I have taken a great deal of liberty freely to express my thoughts' concerning almost every thing appertaining to the wonderful work of God that has of late been carried on in the land, and to declare what has appeared to me to be the mind of God concerning the duty and obligations of all sorts of persons, and even those that are my superiors and fathers, ministers of the gospel, and civil rulers. But yet I hope the liberty I have taken is not greater than can be justified. In this nation, such liberty of the press is allowed, that every author takes leave, without offence, freely to speak his opinion concerning the management of public affairs, and the duty of the legislature, and those that are at the head of the administration, though vastly his superiors. As now at this day, private subjects offer their sentiments to the public, from the press, concerning the management of the war with Spain; freely declaring what they think to be the duty of the Parliament, and the principal ministers of state, &c. We it New England are at this day engaged in a more important war: and I am sure, if we consider the sad jangling and confusion that has attended it, we shall confess that it is highly requisite that somebody should speak his mind, concerning the way in which it ought to be managed. And that not only a few of the many particulars, that are the matter of strife in the land, should be debated, on the one side and the other, in pamphlets; (as has of late been done with heat and fierceness enough) which does not tend to bring the contention in general to an end, but rather to inflame it, and increase the uproar. But that something should be published, to bring the affair in general, and the many things that attend it, that are the subjects of debate, under a particular consideration. And certainly it is high time that this was done. If private persons may speak their minds without arrogance, much more may a minister of the kingdom of Christ' speak freely about things of this nature, which do so nearly concern the interest of the kingdom of his lord and master, at so important a juncture. If some elder minister bad undertaken this, I acknowledge it would have been more proper; but I have heard of no such thing a doing, or. like to be done. I hope therefore, I shall be excused for undertaking such a piece of work. I think nothing that I have said can justly be interpreted, as though I would impose my thoughts upon any, or did not suppose that others have equal right to think for themselves, with myself. We are not accountable one to another for our thoughts; but we must all give an account to him who searches our hearts, and has doubtless his eye especially upon us at such an extraordinary season as this. If I have well confirmed my opinion concerning this work, and the way in which it should be acknowledged and promoted, with Scripture and reason, I hope others that read it will receive it, as a manifestation of the mind and will of God. If others would hold forth further light to me in any of these particulars, I hope I should thankfully receive it. I think I have been made in some measure sensible, and much more of late than formerly, of my need of more wisdom than I have. I make it my rule to lay hold of light and embrace it, wherever I see it, though held forth by a child or an enemy. If I have assumed too much in the following discourse, and have spoken in a manner that savors of a spirit of pride, no wonder that others can better discern it than I myself. If it be so, I ask pardon, amd beg the prayers
of every Christian reader, that I may have more light, humility and zeal; and that I may be favored with such measures of the divine Spirit, as a minister of the gospel stands in need of, at such an extraordinary season.
The occasion of the following treatise, will be seen, in part, in the preceeding narrative. The gracious influences of the Holy Spirit, with which Northampton was so abundantly enriched, and which spread through many towns in its vicinity, were soon followed with a very extensive revival over the land. An extraordinary zeal was excited in many gospel ministers. Itinerants travelled the country and preached daily. They addressed their crowded audiences, not in the dull monotony of a mere moral lecture, but in the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power. Their indefatigable labors were crowned with the most desirable success. Zion put on her robes of salvation. Converts to Jesus were multiplied as the drops of the morning dew. Religion became almost the only subject of concern. Many indulged the hope that the millenial glory was commencing. This glorious work had its opposers. Advantage was taken of the errors of some of its most zealous promoters to cry it down, and render it altogether suspicious. Mr. Edward's design was to vindicate it, as undoubtedly a work of God, and among the most admirable of his triumplis over the hearts of his enemies; to correct errors which attended it, and to excite augmented efforts for its increase.
The scene which he describes is past; let it live however in our 'memories. Let it excite our fervent gratitude, and call forth the devout aspirations of our souls for the spread of the victories of our glorious King in these days. Let the pertinent and instructive sentiments wrought into the treatise, the most of which are adapted to every condition in which the church and the individual believer can be placed, take deep hold of our hearts and be carried out in their proper effects in our lives.