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No subject is more interesting, or can be a fitter theme, for those velted with a poetical genius, than these of an evangelical nature, either directly founded upon some particular portion of sacred writ, or drawn from it, by just and necessary consequence. No writings, for justness of sentiment, and sublimity of stile, can equal or compare with these of divine inspi. ration : and though the mysteries of Christianity, and the wonders of our holy religion, stand in no need of gay trimings and poetical embellishments to set them off'; yet, such is the superior excellency of inspired poely, that the brightest and most elevated descriptions of a mortal pen must vail to it: and therefore, says a celebrated writer, · If any would attempt to be • master of true eloquence, and aim at a proper ele• vation of stile, let him read, with unremitting dili
gence, the antient prophets, and inspired apostles; • for their writings are an abundant source of all the • riches and ornament of speech.'
Where will you find such strong figures, bold me. taphors, and surprisingly beautiful images, than in the writings of Moses, the Israelitish law.giver, whom Longinus himself, a Gentile critic, cites as master of the true sublime flile? Where can there be seen, among all our celebrated moderns, such grandeur, variety, and justness of ideas, or more pomp and beauty of expression, than in the writings of Job? And is not poetical excellencies, depth of thought, and sublimity of stile, carried to its utmost pitch, in the writings of David, the prophet Isaiah, and in some passages of the lesser prophets?-When this is the case, is it not surprising that so many, endued with fine poetical abilities, should so much neglect, in their various compositions, to read their Bibles, adopt the sentiments, and attempt to imitate the sublime stile of the inspired writers ?
It hath been now a long and just complaint, that poely, which is of a divine original, should have been so much debased to the worst of purposes, in decorating vice and profaneness; and that men, endued with such a happy talent, hould so much employ it, in furnishing out theatrical entertainments, or upon ludicrous and profane trifles. How happy would it have been for the world, what an ornament to Christianity, and advantage to the church, and how honouring to themselves, as well as beneficial to the interests of religion, had they employed it on evangelical and divine subjects, in pointing out the beauties of creation, the bounty of providence, the depths of redeeming love and grace, and the excellency and sweetness of true religion and practical godliness !
The Rev. Mr. Erskine, Author of the following Poems, was happy in employing his poetical talent to the best of purposes: the subjects he made choice of to handle, were of the utmost importance for mankind to know; his manner of treating them, truly evangelical ; and the spirit that breathes through them, heavenly and divine; tending to warm the heart, excite to genuine devotion, and to inspire the mind with just and proper sentiments of God, and true religion.
The sentiments of Dr. Bradbury, relative to our Author's poetical talent, is very juit. · Mr. Erskine's Poems, says he, are greatly to be esteemed, for the • fweetness of the verse, the disposition of the subjects, 'the elegancy of the composition, and, above all,
for that which animates the whole, the favour of • divine and experimental knowledge.'
The following lines of two celebrated English poets, in commendation of another, may not improperly be applied to our Author.
Say, human seraph, whence that charming force !
No vulgar themes thy pious muse engage,
C Ο Ν Τ Ε Ν Τ S.
TABLE of the GOSPEL-SONNETS.
The Publishers Preface to the Poctical Works,
Page 3 A Defence of rhyme and musical metre,
29 A general Preface, shewing the Author's intention of writing the
Sonnets, viz. to open up some of the great mysteries of the gospel, and commend Christ to the soul; to point out some of the special doctrines he intends to elucidate ; to assign rules to be observed, for reading them with profit and advantage,
37,-47 A Recommendatory Poem on reading them, wrote by a Lady,
48 PART I. The BELIEVER'S ESPOUS AL S.
Preface, containing a pathetic call to read the Espousals with attention,
and displaying the mysterious nature of the spiritual marriage, 49
CHAP. I. A general account of man's fall in Adam, and the re.
medy provided in Christ; and a particular account of man's being naturally wedded to the law as a covenant of works,
ib. 51 54
Seft. 1. The fall of Adam,
a condition of life,
joined with their own; and legal hopes natural to all,
CH A P. II. The manner of a finner's divorce from the law, in a
work of humiliation, and of his marriage to the Lord Jesus Christ; or, the way how à finner comes to be a believer,
SeEt. 1. Of a law-work, and the workings of legal pride under it,
effcctually in the heart,
coveries of Christ the Redeemer,
from all self-righteousness, and drawing out its consent to, and desire
after Chrift, alone and wholly, Se&t. 5. Faith's view of the freedom of grace, cordial renunciation of
all its own ragged righteousness, and formal acceptance of, and closing with the person of glorious Chrift,
CH A P. III.
particularly gospel-holiness, and obedience to the law
73 Selt. 1, The sweet folemnity of the marriage now over, and the fad effects of the remains of a legal spirit,
ib, Set. 2. Faith's victories over sin and Satan, through new and further
discoveries of Chrift, making believers more fruitful in holiness than all other pretenders to works,
75 Se&t. 3. True saving faith magnifying the law, both as a covenant and a rule. False faith unfruitful and ruining,
77 SęEt. 4. The believer only, being married to Christ, is justified and
Sanctified; and the more gospel-freedom from the law as a covenant, the more holy conformity to it as a rule,
80 Sel. 5. Gospel-grace giving no liberty to fin, but to holy service and pure obedience,
CH A P. IV. A caution to all against a legal spirit, especially to those that have a profession without power, and learning
CH A P. V.
to avoid a legal strain of doctrine, and endeavour the
finner's match with Christ by gospel means, Set. 1. A legal spirit the root of damnable crrors,
ib. Set. 2. A legal strain of doctrine discovered and discarded,
· 88 Sell. 3. The burtfuiness of pot preaching Christ, and distinguishing duly between law and gospel,
go 8. 4. Dampable pride and self-righteousness, fo natural to all men, have litele need to be encouraged by legal preaching,
91 Seft. 5. The gospel of divine grace the oply means of converting sinners;
and therefore should be preaciied most clearly, fully, and freely, 94
CHA P. VI.
to their closing the match with him ; containing also