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OF THE

DOCTRINES AND DUTIES

OF THE

CHRISTIAN RELIGION,

IN FORTYNINE DISCOURSES ON

ST. PAUL'S EPISTLE to the EPHESIANS.

WITH A

PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE

ON THE

EVIDENCES OF THE GOSPEL,

ESPECIALLY THOSE DERIVED FROM THE

Converfion, Miniftry and Writings of that Apoftle.

BY JOSEPH LATHROP, D. D.

PASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN WESTSPRINGFIELD.

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PRINTED AT WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS:
BY ISAIAH THOMAS, JUN.

[PROPRIETOR OF THE WORK ACCORDING TO LAW.]

September 1801.

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2695 .233

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THE author of the following work has made it a frequent practice, in the course of his ministry, to felect, for the fubject of his public difcourfes, a large portion of fcripture, a number of chapters in a book, a whole book, or Epiftle, going through it, paragraph by paragraph, in order. From this method of preaching he has contemplated these two advantages -The preacher will thus be led to treat on fome fubjects, which, in the ordinary way of felection, might be overlooked; and he will exhibit the connected train of reafoning which runs through the book, and thus will lead his hearers to obferve the connexion and argumentation of fcripture in their pri vate reading.

AMONG the books selected for the fubjects of a series of discourses, that entitled "The Epifle to the Ephefans," is one. Whether this Epistle was originally written to the Ephefians, as is generally fuppofed; or written to the Laodiceans, and from them conveyed, by copy, to the Ephefians, as fome have conjectured, is a question, not neceffary here to be difcuffed; for on the decifion of this queftion neither the genuineness, nor usefulness of the Epiftle will depend. The reafons for the former opinion will be found in HAMMOND, WHITBY, and other commentators; the reafons for the latter may be seen in PALEY'S Foræ Paulinæ.

*

THIS Epiftle is more replete with fentiment, and enriched with a greater variety of matter, than Paul's other Epiftles, and, perhaps, than any other book in the facred volume. It is a compendium of the gospel. In discoursing upon it, the author of the enfuing fermons, has ob

The Publisher of this work has juft reprinted WHITBY's Discou RSES which are to be fold by him in Worcester,

ferved its order, attended to its connexion, elucidated from scripture, especially from Paul's other writings, the paffages which feemed obfcure, noticed every fubje&t which it prefented to him, and treated the whole in a familiar and practical manner, that the work might be adapted to every capacity, and to general usefulness.

He will not call this a complete body of divinity; for it is not caft into a fyftematic form, nor does it contain every subject, which might be expected in a complete system. But most of the subjects, which peculiarly belong to the Chriftian scheme, as diftin&t from natural religion, are here ftated and explained, if not in the fyftematic order, yet in the order in which the Apostle has placed them. SOME fubjects, on which the author has before published his fentiments, as baptifm, the church, and the difcrimination between true and falfe teachers, are here paffed over in a fummary way, left this work fhould be too voluminous; and it is probable that of those, who have not condefcended to read his former publications, few will think this worthy of their perufal.

THE prevalence of infidelity, in the prefent day, fuggefted the propriety of prefixing to this work a preliminary discourse on the Divine Authority of the Gospel, and particularly on the genuineness and authenticity of the writings afcribed to St. Paul.

THIS work, which was, in a courfe of Sermons, laid before the people to whom the author ftands immediately related, is now humbly prefented to the public, with his ardent wishes and prayers that the bleffing of God may accompany it.

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An INTRODUCTORY SERMON on the EVIDENCES of the GOSPEL, and the GENUINENESS of PAUL'S EPISTLES.

ACTS xxvi. 16, 17.

I have appeared unto thee for this purpofe, to make thee a minifter and a witnefs both of thofe things which thou haft feen, and of thofe in which I will appear unto thee, delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I fend thee ;

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AUL, in the preceding verfes, declares before Agrippa,the time and manner of his converfion to the faith of Chrift, and the extraordinary circumftances which attended it. And, in the words now read, he fubjoins an account of the commiffion, which he received from Chrift, to preach his gospel among the Jews, and efpecially among the Gen tiles.

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