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BY JOSEPH LATHROP, D. D.
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN WESTSPRINGFIELD.
PRINTED AT WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS :
BY ISAIAH THOMAS, JUN.
September - 18or.
The author of the fo'lowing work has made it a frequent practice, in the course of his ministry, to fele&t, for the subje&t of his public discourses, a large portion of scripture, a number of chapters in a book, a whole book, or Epistle, going through it, paragraph by paragraph, in order. From this method of preaching he has contemplated these two advantages ;—The preacher will thus be led to treat on some subjects, which, in the ordinary way of selection, might be overlooked ; and he will exhibit the connected train of reasoning which runs through the book, and thus will lead his hearers to observe the connexion and argumentation of scripture in their pria vate reading.
AMONG the books selected for the subjects of a se. ries of discourses, that entitled “The Epistle to the Ephefans,” is one. Whether this Epistle was originally write ten to the Ephefians, as is generally supposed ; or written to the Laodiceans, and from them conveyed, by copy, to the Ephefians, as some have conje&tured, is a question, not necessary here to be discussed ; for on the decision of this question neither the genuineness, nor usefulness of the Epistle will depend. The reasons for the former opinion will be found in HAMMOND, WHITBY,* and other com. mentators; the reasons for the latter may be seen in PALEY'S Foræ Paulinæ.
This Epistle is more replete with sentiment, and enriched with a greater variety of matter, than Paul's other Epistles, and, perhaps, than any other book in the facred. volume. It is a compendium of the gospel. In discoursing upon it, the author of the ensuing sermons, has ob
• The Publisher of this work has just repriated WHITBY's Discou RSES which are to be sold by him in Worcefer,
served its order, attended to its connexion, elucidated from scripture, especially from Paul's other writings, the passages which seemed obscure, noticed every subject which it presented to him, and treated the whole in a familiar and pra&ical manner, that the work might be adapted to every capacity, and to general usefulness.
He will not call this a complete body of divinity; for it is not cast into a systematic form, nor does it contain every subject, which might be expected in a complete syftem. But most of the subjects, which peculiarly belong to the Christian scheme, as distinct from natural religion, are here stated and explained, if not in the systematic order, yet in the order in which the Apostle has placed them.
SOME subjects, on which the author has before published his sentiments, as baptism, the church, and the discrimination between true and false teachers, are here passed over in a summary way, left this work should be too voluminous ; and it is probable that of those, who have not condescended to read his former publications, few will think this worthy of their perusal.
The prevalence of infidelity, in the present day, suggested the propriety of prefixing to this work a preliminary discourse on the Divine Authority of the Gospel, and particularly on the genuineness and authenticity of the writings ascribed to St. Paul.
This work, which was, in a course of Sermons, laid before the people to whom the author ftands immedi. ately related, is now humbly presented to the public, with his ardent wishes and prayers that the blessing of God may accompany it.
ACTS xxvi, 16, 13.
I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee
a minister and a witness both of those things which thou haft feen, and of those in which I will appear unto thee, delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee;
AUL, in the preceding verses, declares before Agrippa, the time
and manner of his conversion P
to the faith of Christ, and the extraordinary
circumstances which attended it. And, in the words now read, he subjoins
an account of the commission, which he received from Christ, to preach his gospel among the Jews, and especially among the German