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PREFACE.

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The author of the following work has made it a frequent practice, in the course of his ministry, to fele&, for the fubject of his public discourses, a large portion of fcripture, a number of chapters in a book, a whole book, or Epistle, 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 some subjects, which, in the ordinary way of selection, might be overlooked ; and he will exhibit the connected train of reasoning which runs through the book, and thus will lead his hearers to observe the connexion and argumentation of scripture in their priyate reading.

AMONG the books selected for the subjects of a series of discourses, that entitled: “ The Epistle to the Ephefans," is one. Whether this Epifle was originally written to the Ephefans, as is generally supposed; or written to the Laodiceans, and from thern conveyed, by copy, to the Ephefians, as fome have conje&tured, is a question, not necessary here to be discussed ; for on the decision of this question neither the genuineness, nor usefulness of the E. pistle will depend. The reasons for the former opinion will be found in HAMMOND, WHITBY,' and other commentators ; the reasons for the lateer inaybe seen in Paley's Foræ Paulinæ.

This Epistle is more repréte wish fentiment, and; enriched with a greater variety of master, 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 ensuing sermons, has ob.

• The Publisher of this work has just reprinted WHITBY'S Disc Ju R$2$2. which are to be sold by him in Worceller,

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served its order, attended to its connexion, elucidated from scripture, especially from Paul's other writings, the passages which seemed obscure, noticed every subject which it presented 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 cast into a systematic form, nor does it contain every subject, which might be expected in a complete syf

But most of the subjects, which peculiarly belong to the Christian scheme, as distinct from natural religion, are here stated and explained, it not in the systematic order, yet in the order in which the Apostle has placed them.

SOME subjects, on which the author has before published his sentiments, as baptism, the church, and the discrimination between true and false teachers, are here passed over in a summary way, left this work should be too voluminous ; and it is probable that of those, who have not condescended to read his former publications, few will think this worthy of their perusal.

The prevalence of infidelity, in the present day, suggested 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 ascribed to St. Paul.

This work, which was, in a course of Sermons, laid before the people to whom the author stands immediately related, is now humbly presented to the public, with his ardent wilhes and prayers that the blessing of God may accompany it.

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An INTRODUCTORY SERMON On the Evi

DENCES of the Gospel, and the GENUINE-
NESS of Paul's EPISTLES.

ACTS xxvi, 16, 17,

I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee

a minister and a witness both of those things which thout haft feen, and of those in which I will appear unto thee, delivering thee from the people and frons the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee ;

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AUL, in the preceding verses, declares before Agrippa,

obe time and manner of his conversion P

to the faith of Chrift, and the extraordinary

circụta{tances which atter.dediti. Ant; in the words now read, he subjoins

an account of the commission, which he received from Christ, to preach his gospel among the Jews, and especially among the Gertiles.

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The singular method, which Jesus took, to convince Paul of the truth of the gospel, was not out of partial favor to him, for surely he had done nothing to recommend himself, but rather out of a general benevolence to mankind; for this man was à chosen veffel--a suitable instrument to convey Chrift's name among them. Jesus miraculously appeared to him to make him a minister of the gor. pel, and a witness of those facts by which its truth is supported. And having furnished him for his work, Jesus sent him forth to publish the do&rines, and diťplay the evidences of the gospel among the people of the Jews, and among the Heathen na. tions.

The words teach us, that "the Apostle Paul was a notable and illustrious instrument in spreading the knowledge and confirming the truth of the re. Jigion of Christ.” Such he appears from the his. tory given of him in the Acts of the Apostles, and from the writings which he himself has left for the use of the church.

My design is to give a summary view of the evidences of Christianity, and particularly to illus. trate the evidences derived from the conversion, preaching and writings of this eminent minifter and winess.

The Christian religion does now exist, and for many ages it has existed in the world. To account for its existence, without admitting its truth, it is impostible:: For it did not take place by the influence of human authority, or the terror of mil. itary power;:bat: by familiar instructions and oba vious miracles: The credit of it depends on these plaiñ facts-that about eighteen hundred years ago, there arose io. Judea an extraordinary person, called Jesus of Nazareth, who declared himself to be divinely sent into the world, as an instructor, re. former and savior of men that he lived a most virtuous and holy life-that he taught a religion in some respects new, in many refpe&s more perfect than had ever been taught before, and in all rela pects pure and excellent--that he wrought many great and aftonishing miracles--that he foretold many things, humanly improbable, which were verified in event—that he suffered death by a public crucifixion, and, on the third day, rose again, and appeared to many in different times and places, not only to single persons, but to companies, and to more than five hundred at once, and fre. quently to those who had most intimately known him before his death, and who consequently could not mistake another person for him—that after a. bout forty days, he, in the presence of a large concourse of disciples, visibly ascended on high, and disappeared from the admiring spectators-that, soon after this, according to his previous promise, the disciples whom he had chosen to be the wit. neffes of his works and the ministers of his word, were endued with extraordinary gifts, qualifying them to go forth and proclaim his religion in the world.

If such facts as these did really exift, the religion of the gospel is indubitably true. They who disbelieve the gospel, must deny that there ever was such a man, or that he ever wrought such miracles, and died and rose again in the manner alledged.

Miracles, which are effects produced above the common powers, and in a way different from the ftated course of nature, plainly discover God's immediate interposition. Frckr: the geodriels and veracity of God, we may conclude, theBe never will immediately interpose to give such credibility to a falsehood, that men, inquiring.honefely, and judga ing rationally, must receive it as a truth.

The miracles of Christ, (admitting, for the presa ent, the Christian history to be true) were great and numerous; and he constantly appealed to them as evidences of the divinity of his million and down

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