Page images


gorg , ЕП3

1904 Vill

The following Recommendations of Mr. Erskine's Writings, by Dr. Bradbury and Mr. Hervey, were not infert in the folio edition; the Account of the Author's

Life, here given, is quite different, and much fuller than ; the former one; and the Elegiac Poem, subjoined there.

to, was not printed with the former edition of his Works.

The Rev. Mr. Adam Gib, late Minister of the Gospel in Edinburgh, speaking of Mr. Ralph Erskine, his words are, “ This now glorified Author, having been long “ a very eminent light in the Church, and one whole “ memory, as a Mivister of the Gospel, mutt be preci.

ous, from the various Works which he has given “ to the public, so long as the Gofpel continues to be dispensed in the English tongue."

Display of the Secellion Teftimony, Vol. II. p. 5, 6. A




I .

T is not the intention of the Editor of the present

cal works, in ten volumes octavo, to attempt passing any fulsome enconriums on the worthy Author, whose praise is already in the churches, or to launch out into any prolix cominéndation of his elaborate and valuable writings, which are fo universally known, read, and esteemed; but to refer the reader, for his satisfaction relative to these, to what is advanced in the following short Account of his Life and Writings: We shall only here observe, That as he was eminently pious from his youth, had always a conversation be. coming the gospel, was endued with every suitable qualification for the ministry, poffe fied of very po. pular talents, made the distinguishing doctrines of Christianity the chief subjects of his pulpit-themes, and fingularly zealous for the purity of gospel-truih, it is not at all surprising, that he was greatly beloved, much followed by all true Christians, and his writings eagerly read by the religious and devout of every dea nomination:

The SERMÓNS and Poems are already so well known and deservedly admired, both at home and abroad, that it would be superfluous to pass any encomiums on them. Let it fuffice to say, in the words of that eminent divine, the late Rev. Dr. BRADBURY, in his preface to a collection of Mefl. EBENEZER and RALPH ERSKINE's Sermons, printed at LONDON, in 1738.

“ The Sermons, faith he, have no need of niy re" commendation: the reader will find in them a faith"ful adherence to the design of the gospel, a clear " defence of those doctrines that are the pillar and

ground of truth, a large compass of thought, a " strong force of argument, and a happy flow of " words, which are both judicious and familiar: and

they have been greatly blessed to the edification of many, especially the poor of the flock.”

The same Dr. Bradbury, speaking concerning the poetical compositions of our Author, observes, That " as poetry has often. no more in it than great fwels “ling words of vanity, distorted images, and monstrous

allusions ; fo it is a pleasure to see the things of “ another world delivered without any heathenish fi.

gures and phrases, but in such an Adorning as becomes the gospel of Jesus Curist: On this ac

count, Mr. Erskine's Golpel-Sonnets, are greatly * to be esteemed, for the sweetness of the verse, the

difpofition of the subjects, the elegance of the com. " position, and, above all, for that which animates “ the whole, the favour of divine and experimental


The words of the late justly celebrated and pious Mr. Hervey are very fignificant, and truly expressive of the high esteem he had for Mr. Erskine's Writings. I Was I to read, (lays that judicious and elegant " writer), in order to refine my tafte, or improve my “ stile; I would prefer Bishop Atterbury's sermons, " Dr. Bate's works, or Mr. Seed's discourses: But, " was I to read with a single view to the edification “ of my heart, in true faith, folid comfort, and ” evangelical holiness; I would have recourse to Mr. “ Erskine, and take his volumes for my guide, my “ companion, and my own familiar friend."*

* Herve;'s Works in fol. p. 346. and Theron and Afp. dial. 16






IN emitting the Writings of great men to the public, it hatla

been usual to give fome account of their Author, that the reader may, in a short compass of reading, learn some of the principal lines of their character. Our Author is already so well known in the churches of Christ, both at home and abroad *; by liis excellent and elaborate productions, that faring any thing of him might have been entirely superceded: aid had it not been, that his writings may fall into the hands of fome at a distance, and in after-ages, who are not, and cannot be fò well acquainted with him as the present, it would have been superfluous to have faid any thing concerning him.

THE Rev. Mr. RALPH ERSKINE was honourably de. seended of very respectable ancestors; his father the Reverend Mr. Henry ERŞKINE, being one of the thirty-three children of RALPH ERSKINE of Shielfield, a family of confiderable rez pute and standing in the county of Merse, and originally descended from the antient house of MAROur Author, and his brother, the Rev. Mr. EBENEZER ERSKINE, late Minilter of the Gospel at Stirling, were two of the children of the said Rev. Mr. Henry ERSKINE, who was sometime Minister of the Gospel at Cornwal, afterwards at Chirnside ti a man eminent in his day, and justly disinguished for his piety, and firm attachment to Presbyterian principles: For his Itedfast adherence to which, he was subjected to many confiderable hardships in the latter part of the latt century, during the perfecuting period of Charles II, and James VII*.




EN ti

* The greatest part of our Author's Works were at first printed in single sermons and Imall tracts, and well relithed; numbers of these have gone abroad, and met with a kind reception : yea, such regard hach the public put upon them, that several of them have undergone a great many impressions; and even some of them translated into other languages: and we have even seen a few of them printed in Dutch. In the year lixiy-four and fixiy-five they were collected together, and printed, in a molt elegant manner, in two large volumes in folio, in which there was interspersed a great many manuscript Sermons. This handsome O&avo Edition is printed from the elegant folio one, with confiderable amendments.

of Cornwal is in the shire of Nori humberland; Chirnside lies about five miles from Berwisk upon Tweed, in the Scotch lide.

The Author of the following Sermons was born at Mcnilaws, in the county of Northumberland, on Sabbath the 15th of March, 1635, at three o'clock in the afternoon; and baptized at Chirnside on the 5th of April, said year, by the Reverend Mr. William Violand.--He gave pretty early proofs of a great genius and fine fancy; and several instances of a pious disposition and a solid way of refleting on matters. On this account he was, by his parents, early destined for the holy miniftry, who resolved to give him a regular and liberal education, in order to qualify him for that important office,

When he had acquired a competent measure of Grammar, and other introductory parts of education, he went to the University of Edinburgh, to complete his ftudies; where he went through the ordinary courses of philosophy and divinty with fuccefs; and made a considerable progrefs in all the different branches of useful literature: for, he foon became a fine Grecian, an excelļent Logician, and an accomplished Philosopher. But after having acquired such a competent measure of knowledge, in these various branches of erudition, he gave himfelf up to the study of theology, his darling and beloved topic; in which he made great progress, as his prcduciicns therein do abundantly evidence,

Having experienced the grace of God himself, he thougl.t it his duty to give himfelf up to the great work of the miniltiy, that he might be a hapry instrument of bringing others to know these things which he found and experierced to be of the utmost importance. He was abundantly fenf.ble this was a work of great labour and diligence; and therefore gave himself up to a course of unwearied study. He was never more delighted than when he could apply himself to the increase of valuable knowledge, without being interrupted: this defire after improvement continued to the last; and he was never seemingly better, than when he thus enjoyed himself.

The ordinary course of philosophical and theological studies being gone through, at the College of Edinburgh, with success; he was, in the providence of God, called forth to appear in a public character; and being well reported of, by all who knew him, for a conversation becoming the gospel, he was according, ly taken upon trials by the Presbytery of Dunfermline: and having finished the usual pieces of trial assigned him, to the enţire satisfaction of the Presbytery, he was by them licensed

See the Continuation of Calamy's Life of Baxter, p. 681,

« PreviousContinue »