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gain it approbation. It hurts no body, and therefore may pass in safety; and it offers its service to do every body good, which, methinks, should be taken kindly by those who stand in no need of it.”
The writer is aware that a good intention is not always a sufficient apology for obtruding a book on the notice of the public; and in the present instance it may perhaps be urged, that books on affliction are already numerous: it will be found, however, on examination, that of those by far the greater number are addressed exclusively to believers, and are confined to the purpose of consolation, whereas the majority of persons in trouble are devoid of religion; and with respect to christians, they often require something besides comfort; they need to have their minds stirred up by way of remembrance; they need the word of exhortation, the counsels of wisdom, the cautions of experience, the reproofs of fidelity; and these, too, must in many instances precede the administration of comfort. The Author has, therefore, endeavoured to adapt these essays to both classes, and, as far as he was able, to meet the varied experience of all who are in distress. Having written exclusively for their benefit, he has sought to avoid all polemical discussion, and the introduction of matters purely speculative, as being unsuited to the state of their minds, and the peculiarity of their circumstances.
Free use hath been made of such writers as have united their kind endeavours to assuage the burthen of
human woe; in so doing the Author hoped to add to the value of the book, and to render it more interesting and serviceable. He prefers this general acknowledgment to a particular notation of each passage. The same reason hath led to the introduction of so many poetical extracts. These, he hopes, will be acceptable, not only on account of their general excellency, but because in that state of mind which often distinguishes the afflicted, a striking verse of poetry will frequently afford more effectual relief than the best selected argument.
The Author tenders his grateful acknowledgments to the numerous friends who have kindly patronised the undertaking, and but for whose spontaneous encouragement, it is probable, it would never have been brought to its present issue.
The manner in which the work has grown up under the hands of its author has been very far from favourable to any thing like critical completion. It has been written at sundry times, amidst a variety of engagements, and many painful exercises, and possesses but little claim to attention, except as addressing itself to the heart and experience of the afflicted. If these should find in it any thing either to edify or comfort ; if any should learn from it to support with patience the weight of calamity, and to look up under it with becoming resignation to the Father of mercies, it will readily be allowed that an end so desirable as this will render alike indifferent either the breath of applause, or the blast of censure.
BY SYMON PATRICK, D, D., BISHOP OF ELY.
VOUCHSAFE, O LORD, TO EVERY ONE THAT SHALL PERUSE THIS BOOK, THE ILLUMINATION OF THY HOLY SPIRIT, TO UNDERSTAND THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE FAITHFULLY DECLARED THEREIN, ACCORDING TO THY MIND AND WILL : AND WORK IN ALL OUR HEARTS
DOST DEVOUT AFFECTIONS TO OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR, FOR OUR INCREASE IN FAITH, AND LOVE, AND HOLY