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enervates their energy, and evaporates their power and pathos.
The work which is now presented to the public, is not, strictly speaking, an abridgment. Though considerably less than the original, it has been reduced in size, chiefly by the omission of extraneous and controversial matter, which, however useful it might be when the work was originally published, is for the most part inapplicable to the circumstances of the present age. I have also in some instances changed the order of particular parts. The "Motives to the Oversight of the Flock," which our Author had placed in his Application, I have introduced in that part of the discourse to which they refer, just as we have "Motives to the Oversight of Ourselves," in the preceding part of the treatise. Some of the particulars which he has under the head of Motives, I have introduced in other parts of the body of the discourse, to which they appeared more naturally to belong. But though I have used some freedoms in the way of transposition, I have been anxious not to sacrifice the force and fulness of our Author's illustrations to mere logical arrangement. Many of the same topics, for instance, are still retained in the Application, which had occurred in the body of the discourse, and are there touched with a master's hand, but which would have lost much of their appropriateness and energy, had I separated them from that particular connection in which they stand, and introduced them in a different part of the work. I have also corrected the language of our Author; but I have been solicitous not to modernize it. Though to adopt the phraseology and forms of speech employed by the writers of that age, would be a piece of silly affectation in an author of the present day, yet there is something simple, venerable, and impressive in it, as used by the writers themselves.
While, however, I have made these changes on the original, I trust I have not injured, but on the contrary, improved the work; that the spirit of its great Author is so much preserved, that those who are most familiar with his writings would scarcely be sensible of the alterations I have made, had I not stated them in this place.
Before I conclude, I cannot help suggesting to the friends of religion, that they could not perhaps do more good at less expense, than by presenting copies of this work to the ministers of Christ throughout the country. There is no class of the community on whom the prosperity of the church of Christ so much depends as on its ministers. If their zeal and activity languish, the interests of religion are likely to languish in proportion; while, on the other hand, whatever is calculated to stimulate their zeal and activity, is likely to promote, in a proportional degree, the interests of religion. They are the chief instruments through whom good is to be effected in any country. How important, then, must it be to stir them up to holy zeal and activity in the cause of the Redeemer! A tract given to a poor man may be the means of his conversion; but a work such as this, presented to a minister, may, through his increased faithfulness and energy, prove the conversion of multitudes. Ministers themselves are not perhaps sufficiently disposed to purchase works of this kind: they are more ready to purchase books which will assist them, than such as will stimulate them in their work. If, therefore, any plan could be devised for presenting a copy of it to every minister of the various denominations throughout the United Kingdom, what incalculable good might be effected! There are many individuals to whom it would be no great burden to purchase twenty, fifty, or a hundred copies of such a work as this, and to send it to ministers in different parts of the country; or several individuals might unite together for this purpose. I can scarcely conceive any way in which they would be likely to be more useful.
To the different Missionary Societies, I trust I may be allowed to make a similar suggestion. To furnish every missionary, or at least every Missionary Station, with a copy of the Reformed Pastor, would, I doubt not, be a powerful mean of promoting the grand object of Christian Missions. Sure I am of this, there is no work so much calculated to stimulate a missionary to holy zeal and activity in his evangelistic labours.
Edinburgh, March 12th, 1829.
NOTE TO THE FIFTH EDITION.
This edition has been carefully revised by the Editor. He has restored in various instances the language of the original, where he thinks he had altered it unnecessarily, and also several passages which he had omitted. The work is thus now nearer to the great original, which he cannot but feel to be an improvement.
To the former editions of this work was prefixed an Introductoby Essay by the Rev. Daniel Wilson, then of Islington, afterwards Bishop of Calcutta. In this essay he thus speaks of the present work:—" The name of Baxter is too well known to require anything to be said, by way of introduction to such a work as the following. It is one of the best of his invaluable practical treatises. In the whole compass of divinity, there is scarcely anything superior to it, in close, pathetic appeals to the conscience of the minister of Christ, upon the primary duties of his office.
"Some account of the work will be found in the Preface to the present edition, from the pen of the excellent writer, who has, with extraordinary success, prepared it for the public eye. The Treatise is now adapted for the clergy of every confession. The passing controversies, the digressions, the long Latin quotations, the local matters, are omitted; but all that is native and vigorous, all that is spiritual and holy, all that is of general use, and belongs to every age, is retained and placed in a better light. A few phrases and sentiments, indeed, will still be found, which partake of Baxter's particular character or arise from his habits of thinking on controverted matters. These are inseparable from human infirmity; and he is unworthy the name of a Christian, who can allow such trifling considerations to lessen the full effect of the general truths of the work on his own heart and conscience. The writer of these lines rejoices, for his own part, to bear his testimony to the high value of this powerful book. It is peculiarly gratifying to him, as an Episcopal clergyman, to introduce the manly and eloquent pages of this great Nonconformist divine."
Of diligence in preparation for the pulpit Dr. Wilson was himself a great example. In a letter to Archdeacon Deal try, who was then at home for his health and had the temporary charge of St. John's Chapel, Bedford Row, he thus writes: "Let me affectionately remind you, my most truly beloved Dealtry, how Mr. Cecil for twenty-eight years, and I for sixteen, got on at St. John's, (1.) It was by steady and diligent preparation: (2.) Hard study: (3.) Texts chosen on the Sunday night and sermons begun on Monday morning: (4.) Matter collected from all our great authors during the early days of the week: (5.) Sermons finished on Friday: (6.) Saturdays left for the refreshment of the body by country air: (7.) Saturday nights' assurances obtained by meditation and prayer on the preparation made for the following day.
"An immense congregation of acute lawyers and busy curious merchants, amounting to nearly two thousand, can only be kept together, as a means under God, by such a course of solid, well-digested Food, carefully prepared."— Bateman's Life of Bishop Wilson, vol. II. 337.