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To prevent that species of disappointment which arises from a reader's expecting in a book what it was never intended to contain, it is judged proper to intimate, that it is not designed, in the following pages, to give any thing like a complete and regular treatise on the Lord's Supper. They are occupied with a series of Discourses, delivered before, at, and after the dispensation of that ordinance, composed at distant intervals, and having little or no mutual connection, except what arises from their general reference to the same great subject.
At the time of their composition, the author considered it his duty to consult such books on their subjects as were within his reach, and to avail himself of whatever in them he conceived likely to be useful to those for whose edification they were originally intended ; and as at that time he had not the remotest intention of publication, he was not scrupulously exact in marking, in his manuscript, the full extent of his obligations. In transcribing the Discourses for the press, he has endeavoured, as far as possible, to supply this deficiency; but if, after all, the reader should occasionally meet with sentiments or language which he recognises as borrowed, it is hoped candour will induce him to conclude, that the obligation is not acknowledged, merely because it was not observed.
It was intended originally to have prefixed to the work, a preliminary discourse, on the nature and necessity of preparation for religious ordinances, and to have given a greater number of Communion Exhortations. In the course of transcription, however, it became apparent, that neither of these could be done without swelling the volume to an undue size. The author mentions the first of these facts, to account for what may to some appear an omission; and the second, to have an opportunity of doing his readers a favour, by recommending to them the pious and useful Sacramental Addresses of his friend and brother Mr BELFRAGE, in which they will find any deficiency of devotional exercises in this volume abundantly supplied.
It is scarcely necessary to remark, that in the arrangement and composition of the whole work, a regard has been paid to the manner in which the ordinance of the Lord's Supper is dispensed in the Scottish Presbyterian churches ; and that to promote a fervid, yet rational devotion in their members, when engaged in this service, is avowedly its primary object. At the same time, as there will be found nothing sectarian, either in its sentiments or spirit, the author ventures to hope, that it may be of general use and interest, as a view of Christian doctrine and duty in reference to this ordinance; and that it may also serve the subordinate purpose, of exhibiting a picture of the manner in which the Scottish Presbyterian churches observe this solemn rite of Christian worship.