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The Editor thinks it necessary to inform the public, that, in order to render this work more generally acceptable, he has taken the liberty of abridging a few paffages; and as fome expeffions are too antiquated for the tafte of readers at the present day, he has endeavoured a little to modernife the language, where it could be done without altering the fenfe of the author.
AMONG all the useful discourses which the press hath of late expofed to public view, I have not, as I remember, met with any which purposely and directly treated of the subject of this essay, notwithstanding it must be owned to be needful, useful, and at all times feasonable. It is not a point of controversy, but a maxim to which men generally subscribe, that, In God's favour is life.
All forts of men plead for God's favour, and, in general, pretend to it. This is the cafe with perfons of all religions, and of all perfuafions. Men cannot bear the thoughts of an exclufion from it, whatever be their ftate or their conduct. Both the religious and the profane make pretenfions to it.The rich and great cannot say they are above it, the poor and mean think themselves entitled to it. The grofsly ignorant dream of God's favour, as their fanctuary, though the Most High hath said of such, "It is a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and
he that formed them will fhew them no favour." The learned Rabbies and fages of the world can gravely dispute about the grace and favour of God, with ftrong inclination to appropriate it to themselves. They are often ready to fay of the illiterate, as the chief priests and pharifees of old, "This people who know not the law are accursed;" intimating that they themselves are high in God's account, and diftinguished by his favour above their neighbours. But Jefus fays to those who justify themselves, "That which is highly efteemed among men, is an abomination in the fight of God."
The afpiring Nimrods and the flattering Abfaloms of the world, when they have the favour of princes or people, imagine they have the favour of the Almighty. But Haman and Herod foon received a confutation of this opinion; the one for his deteftable pride, through divine indignation, was hanged like a dog; the other was fmitten by an angel of the Lord, and his loathfome carcafe eaten up of worms, be, cause he gave not God the glory.
The unworthy, the greedy and griping fons of the good old Eli, who would be ferved firft, and ferved with the best, or take their part by force, though they boafted of the ark, and trufted in it, supposing they had the Almighty in fome fort engaged to them thereby, yet they themselves wereė miferably flain, and their pofterity were brought
bafely to crouch for a piece of filver, and a morfel of bread.
Though carnal perfons may bless the profperous covetous man, we are told that God abhors him. If Jeconiah w fet his eyes and heart only to his covetousness, and build himself a house by unrighteousness, and chambers by wrong, ufing his neighbours' fervice without wages, by divine appointment, he fhall die unlamented, and be buried with the burial of an afs; the best part of his name fhall be taken away, he shall only be called Coniah; and though he was as the fignet on God's right hand, advanced to high and diftinguished honours, yet the Almighty will pluck him thence and caft him down. Though the ambitious and impious king of Tyre be, in the estimation of fome, as the anointed cherub, and fay he is God, and fet his heart as the heart of God, yet he shall be brought down to the pit.
Myftical Babylon may fay, "I fit as a queen, and fhall fee no forrow; fhe may glorify herself, and boaft of the peculiar favour of Him whose spouse fhe pretends to be; yet it will appear by and by, that she is the habitation of Devils; and her plagues shall come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; nay, she shall be utterly burnt with fire, for ftrong is the Lord God who judgeth her.