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My delign in detaining you with a pre
face, is not merely a recommendation of the following work; its character has been described by pens more capable than mine, and its real value asserted by names much more entitled to your confidence and respect. During the period of one hundred and fifty years the religious world have assigned it nearly the first rank among books of human composition, and its seal is impressed on the hearts of multitudes both finners and saints ; to the former it has been effe&ual, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, for their conversion, to the latter for their greater establishment and confolation.
My design in addressing you is only to expostulate with you thankfully to receive and diligently to improve it. We learn from the sacred oracles that some have a form of godliness, who are, notwithstanding, destitute of its living power ; that many will approach the Saviour at last and knock, faying, Lord, Lord, open to us ; we have eat and drunk in thy presence and thou hast 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 treatise thou mayest learn to which clafs of professors thou belongest now, and in which thy doom may be expected at last. Here thy fears, thy joys, thy desires, 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 careless of their danger, to inftru&t in the true method of falvation the ignorant and erroneous; to strip the vain formalist of his self-deceiving mask; to answer the objections and allay the fears of the weak and the timid, to brighten the evidences of the doubting, and cheer with
the light of heaven the spiritual pilgrim, while he is travelling to his Father's house. Reader, peruse it with all possible attention and impartially compare thine exercises with that divine standard which it presents, because on this Trial of a Saving Interest in Christ thy soul is eternally concerned. If like ihe foolish virgins, thou hast only the lamp of a profellion, better to discover the mistake now while oil is flowing from Jesus the Living Head, than hereafter, when all communication shall be suspended 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 shall be finally closed and the Lord God shall swear in his wrath that thou shalt not enter into his reft.
Again, after the examination of thine estate has been impartially made, if thou art left without any comfortable assurance of an Interest in Christ, this treatise direts thee how to attain it, how to make thy calling and ele&tion fure, by embracing Jesus with his eternal redemption as tendered freely in the gospel; a balm is here exhibited for thy diseases however complicated; an open door is held forth to view by which thou mayelt enter the city of refuge and be eternally secured, from the avenger of blood; Jelus the friend of finners ; Jesus “ó whose Tacrifice is the soul's ransom, whose righteousness is the foul's raiment,” whole confolations are the foul's life and support is clearly exhibited and indiscriminately offered to every reader. The fountain of life is unsealed and its healing waters drawn forth and tendered to any person that is fpiritually athirst.
A few christian friends in this and other places have united their contributions to publish and circulate thror your setilements this precious treat. Receive it, breihren, as an unfeigned teftimony of our fympathy with you in your desolate situation and our servent concern for your eternal welfare. The present may, possibly, be the last service of this nature which fome of us shall ever have opportunity of rendering you, this consider
ation encreases our solicitude that the offering may not be coldly received or carelessly improved. Although we are remote from many of you in local situation, we esteem you our brethren by nature; we would long over you in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Chrift, and cheerfully spend and be spent that your souls might be saved in the terrible day of his coming. Should this mean of salvation which, through the good hand of our God helping, we are enabled to carry to your abodes be blessed for awakening any thoughtless reader or encouraging any weak and wavering reader, we shall consider ourfelves rewarded ten thousand fold; we lball consider ourfelves unspeakably honoured in being employed as inftruments of bringing glory to Jesus and furtherance to your spiritual joy. But on the other hand, should it lay in your habitations dispised or neglected, our souls muft weep
you in secret places.. We know that by Counding the alarm we become guiltless of your blood whether you hear or forbear, but we are not satisfied barely with escaping ourselves; we would willingly be instrumental in rescuing you from deftruction and behold you at last standing before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. With ihese assurances of affection to your souls and solicitude for their eternal salvation we conclude praying you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
Now, that our Lord Jefus Christ 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 these your fpiritual benefactors, the prayer of your unworthy servant,
ALEXANDER PROUDFIT. SALEM, January 23, 1805.