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The Late Rev. Mr. JAMES HERVEY, in his Dialogues,
Vol. I, page 343, gives the following recommendation of this Book.
“See this work of grace, and procedure of conversion, 6 more copiously displayed; in a valuable little piece, en6 titled, Human Nature in its Fourfold State, by Mr. 6 Thomas Boston, which, in my opinion, is one of our 6 best books for common readers. The sentences are « short, and the comparisons striking : the language is “ easy, and the doctrine evangelical ; the method. proper, 6 the plan comprehensive, the manner searching, yet 4 consolatory.If another celebrated treatise is styled, « The Whole Duty of Man, I would call this, The WHOLE 6 of Man; as it comprises what he was, originally 6 what he should be, through grace ;-and, then, what
he will be in glory.".
IT is maxim among wise men, that the knowledge of persons is of as great use, in the conduct of human life, as the knowledge of things ; and it is most certain, that he who knows the various tempers, humours, and dispositions of men, who can find out their turn of thought, and penetrate into the secret springs and principles of their actings, will not be at a loss to find out proper means for compassing his aims, will easily preserve himself from snares, and either evite or overcome difficulties. But the knowledge of human nature, morally.considered, or, in other words, of the temper and disposition of the soul in its moral powers, is of much greater value as it is of use in the concerns of an unchangeable life and world : he who is possessed of such a valuable branch of knowledge, is thereby capacitated to judge aright of himself, to understand true Christianity, and to conceive justly of perfect happiness and consummate misery.
The depravity of human nature is so plainly taught. yea, inculcated in sacred Scripture, and is so obvious to every thinking man's observation, who searches his own breast, and reflects duly on his temper and actings, that i is surprisingly strange and wonderful, how it comes to pass that this important truth is so little understood, yea, so much disbelieved, by men who bear the name of Gospel Ministers. Are there not persons to be found in a neigh bouring nation, in the character of preachers, appearing daily in pulpits, who are so unacquainted with thei Bibles and then selves, that they ridicule the doctrine o original sin as unintelligible jargon ? If they are person of a moral life and conversation, they seem to imagine they cannot become better than they are ; if they are im moral, they seem to indulge a conceit, that they can be come virtuous, yea religious, when they please. Thes are the men who talk of the dignity of human nature of greatness of mind, nobleness of soul, and generosity o spirit; as if they intended to persuade themselves an others that pride is a good principle, and do not kno
that pride and selfishness are the bane of mankind, productive of all the wickedness, and much of the misery to be found in this and in the other world ; and is indeed that wherein the depravity of human nature properly consists.
Upright Adam's nature faintly adumbrated the divine, in a moderated self-esteem, an adequate self-love, and delightful reflection on his own borrowed excellency, regu. lated by a just esteem of, and supreme love to his adored Creator ; whence a peaceful serenity of mind, a loving, compassionate, and benevolent disposition of soul, a depth of thought, and brightness of imagination, delightfully employed in the rapturous contemplation of his beloved Maker's infinite perfections ; thus bearing the divine image, and resembling God that made him. But he no sooner disobeyed the divine probatory command, than the scales were cast, his moderated self-esteem degenerated into pride, his adequate self-love shrunk into mere selfishness, and his delightful reflections on his own excellency, varied into the tickling pleasures of vanity and conceit; he lost view of the Author of his being, and thenceforth, instead of delighting in him, first dreaded, and then despised him.
The modest, and therefore hitherto anonymous, author of the following discourses, Mr. Thomas Boston, having handled this subject, in preaching to his own obscure parochial congregation of Ettrick, in the Sheriffdom of Selkirk, had a particular view to their benefit, in printing and publishing them; and therefore the style and method is plain and simple, and the first edition printed on coarse paper ; but the subject is so comprehensive and important, so weil managed, and the book has been so well received, that it now appears in the world more embellished, as well as better corrected than formerly.
Let it suffice, to reommend it to those who have a right taste of genuine Christianity, that all the Author's notions flow so directly from the sacred fountain, that it is to be doubted, if he has had much recourse to any other helps, than the Bible and his God for assistance. Meantime, I am aware of an exception from these, who rank themselves among the polite part of mankind, as that there is the same harsh peculiarity of dialect in it, whicly is commonly to be found in books of practical divinity. But I beg leave to observe, that the dialect they except against is borrowed from sacred scripture ; and like as it has pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe ; so also, to countenance what they are displeased with, by the operations of his Spirit, on the minds of true Christians, as their common experience witnesseth. However, I heartily wish the exception were altogether removed, by some person's digesting into a methodical treatise, the views of human nature in its prim. itive perfection, in its depraved condition, and in its retrieved state, who is master of modern style, and thoroughly understands the subjects discoursed in this book, that by becoming all things to all men, some, viz. of all ranks and kinds of men, may be gained.
I am not to declaim at large in favour of religion ; this were to write a book by way of preface. Many able pens have been employed in recommending it to the world, by strong arguments drawn from its usefulness to society, its suitableness to the dignity of the rational nature, and the advantages arising to men from it, in this and the other world. But, after all, may not one be al. lowed to doubt, if religion be rightly understood by all its patrons ? May not the beauties and excellencies of a precious gem be elegantly described by a naturalist, or jeweller, who never saw the particular one he talked of, and knows little of its nature, less of the construction of its parts, and nothing of its proper use? Are there not men of bright parts, who reason finely in defence of religion, and yet are so much strangers to it, that they brand these who are so happy as to be possessed of it, with the hard name of Spiritualists, reckoning them a kind of Enthusiasts, unworthy of their regard. The truth is, Christianity is a mystery; mere reason does not comprehend it. There is a spiritual discerning necessary to its being rightly understood; whence it comes to pass, that men of great learning and abilities, though they read the Scrip
with attention, and comment learnedly upon them : yet do not, yea cannot, enter into the vein of thought peculiar to the inspired penman, because they share not of the same Spirit; wherefore it is, that the A. nostle Paul asserts, the natural, that is, unregenerate
man, not to know the things of God, neither indeed to be capable of knowing them, because they are spiritually discerned.
From what has been said, it is easy to conclude, that no pedantic apology, on the part of the author, for appearing in print, or fawning compliments to the courteous reader, on the part of the prefacer, are to be expected. The truth is, both the one and the other are rather little arts, vailing pedantry and conceit, than evidences of modesty and good sense.
It is of more use to recommend the perusal of the book to persons of all ranks and degrees, from a few suitable topics, than to shew wherein this edition differs from the first.
That all mankind, however differenced by their rank and station in the world, have an equal concern in what was revealed concerning another and future world, will be readily owned, and it must be as readily granted, that however allowable it may be for men of learning and parts, to please themselves with fineness of language, justness of thought, and exact connection in writings upon other subjects; yet they ought not to indulge themselves in the same taste in discourses on divine things, lest they expose themselves to the just censure of acting with the same indiscretion, as a person in danger of famishing by hunger, would be guilty of, if he perversely rejected plain wholesome food when offered to him, for no other reason than the want of palatable sauce, or order and splendour in serving it up.
The sacred book we call the Bible, has a peculiar sublimity in it, vailed with unusual dialect and seeming inconnection : but it is not therefore to be rejected by men who bear the name of Christians, as uncouth or un. intelligible: true wisdom dictates quite another thing; it counsels us, by frequent reading, to acquaint ourselves vell with it, become accustomed to its peculiar phrases, and search into its sublimities upon this ground, that the matters contained in it are of the utmost consequence to us, and, when rightly understood, yield a refined delight, much superior to what is to be found in reading the best written books, on the most entertaining subjects. What pleads for the parent, is a plea for the progeny ; practical discourses upon divine subjects, are the gengine