Watts - Houston-Packer Collection BX5207.W3 S4x 1805 v.2

DLDICATION. .Besides, myfriendly readers will now and then indulge ametaphor, to one who, from his youngest years, has dealt a little in sacred. poesy. You are .my witnesses, that in the common course of my ministry, I often press the duties of sobrietyand temperance, justice and charity, aswell as the inward and spiritual parts of godliness. But since treatises on these latter subjects are seldom published now-a-days, Ihave permitted the mat- ters of secret converse between God and the holy soul, to take up a larger share in these discourses; and it has been my aim to rescue these argu- meats from the charge of enthusiasm, and to 'put' them in. such a light, as might shay their perfect consistence with common- sense and reason. Here- by I have done my part to defend them against the daily cavils of those low pretenders to christianity, who banish most of these things from their religion,, and ,yet arrogate and confine all reason to themselves. It is necessary that a christian preacher should teach the laws of sobriety, the rules of charity and justice, our duty to-our neighbour, and our prac- tice cfpublic religion, -but it is my opinion that discourses ofexperimental piety, and the work ofthe closet, should also sometimes entertain the church and the World. Our fathers talked muck of pious experience, and have left their writings .of the same strain behind them: They Were surrounded with converts, and helped to fill heaven apace ; for God was with them. But I mourn to think that some are grown so degenerate in our darts, as to join their names and their works together in a common jest, and to ridicule the sacred matter of their sermons, because the manner had noz6 and then something in it too mystical and obscure, and there is something in their style unfashionable and unpolished. It must be acknowledged indeed, to the honour of the present age, t.',at we hare- some pretences above our predecessors, to freedom and justness of thought, to strength of reasoning, to clear ideas, to the generous princi-' pies of christian charity;. and I wish we had the practice of it too. But as to the savour ofpiety, and inward religion; as to spiritual-mindedness, and zeal for God, and the good of souls; as to the spirit and power of evangelical. ministrations, we may all complain, theglory is muchdeparted from our Israel. Happy the men who are so far assisted and favouredof God, as to unite all these excellencies, and to join the honours ofthe past' and present age together ! Howfar it has been attempted amongst you, I have a Witness in your consciences : and though I keep a.sincere andpainful' sense within me of my great defects on either side, yet I must still pursue the same attempt; and with reverence and zeal I beg leave to' trace the footsteps of my brethren, who come nearest to this shining character. In all these things I rejoice, and cannot conceal my joie, that my kind and fcaitlful companion in the service of your souls, practises his ministry with the same views and designs; and he ]lath been sensibly owned and assisted of God, to support, and to build up the church, during mrl long confinement. His labours of love both for you andfor me, shall ever en- dear hire both to me and you. May the divine blessinggloriously attend his double services in the seasons of my absence and painful restraint! May your united prayers prevail for my restoration to the full exercise of my ministry amongyou! And mayyou all receive such lasting benefit by our associated labours, that -yon may stand up, and appear as our crown and our,Joy in the great day of the Lord! This is the continual' and heartt . prayer of rly dear Friends, Your ufectionate and afflicted Theobald's, in Hertfordshire, Servant in the gospel, February 21, 1720-21. 1. WATT