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it to any other writer. This bath made me ob ferve with particular attention, the effect of your laft performance, Theron and Afpafio, the charafter given to it, and the objections raised against it. And I have always found that the moft fpecious and plausible objection, and that most frequently made, against the doctrine of juftification by imputed righteousness, has been in this cafe, as indeed ufually before, that it loofens the obligations to practice. This is what I have particularly applied myself to refute in the following effay, because I have rarely obferved it done diftin&tly, and at full length, in any writer. And I have addreffed it to you, as a teftimony of my esteem of your excellent and ufeful writings, as a public declaration of my efpoufing the fame fentiments as to the terms of our acceptance with God, and my ambition of contributing fame fmall affiftance to the fupport of the fame glorious caufe. It was alfo no fmall inducement to it, that thereby it might appear to all, that no external dif tinations, or fmaller differences, ought to be any bindrance to a cordial esteem and affection among the fincere fervants of our common Master.

The greatest part of what follows was first delivered in two fermons ; but it is now thrown into the form of an effay, left the defpifed title of a fermon fhould offend fome, and that it might the better admit of feveral additions, B 3



both in the bedy of the piece, and in the notes, which could not have been fo properly delivered from a pulpit. Some of thefe regard the philofophical principles, which have of late been publifhed among us, of which I propofe, in a fhort time, a much fuller difcuffion, as there is no way in which the truths of the gospel are more perverted than by what the apofile Paul calls Philofophy and vain deceit, and oppofitions of science falfly fo called.

That your useful life may be prolonged, and that you may have the honour of contributing more and more to the converfion of finners, and the edification and comfort of believers, is the earnest prayer of,


Your moft obedient humble fervant,

J. W.

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LL the works and ways of God have something in them myfterious, above the comprehenfion of any finite understanding. As this is

the cafe with his works of creation and providence, there is no reason to expect it fhould be otherwife in the aftonishing method of the redemption of the world by Jefus Chrift. From this their myfterious nature, or rather from the imperfect measure and degree in which they are revealed to us, they are admirably fitted for the trial of our ingenuity, humility and subjection. They are all of them, when feriously and impartially enquired into, holy, just and good;

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good; but at the fame time, not beyond the cavils and objections of men of prejudiced, perverfe and corrupt minds.

The apostle Paul, in his epiftle to the Romans, among whom he had never been in perfon, at great length establishes the fundamental doctrine of the gospel, that finners are juftified by the free grace of God through the imputed righteoufnefs of a Redeemer. To this doctrine men do by nature make the ftrongeft oppofition, and are, with the utmost difficulty, brought to receive and apply it. We may well fay of it in particular, what the fame apoftle fays of the truths of God in general, that "the natural man doth not re"ceive them. It is therefore highly neceffary to prevent or remove, as far as poffible, the objections that may be brought against it by the art or malice of Satan, who will, no doubt, bend the chief force of all his engines against this truth, knowing that the cordial reception of it is a fure and effectual, and indeed the only fure and effectual means of deftroying his power and influence in the heart. Accordingly we find the apof tle, in the fixth chapter of the above-named epiftle, and first verfe, fuppofes an objection made against this doctrine in the following terms, "What shall we say then? fhall we continue in fin, that grace may abound?" To which he

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answers, by rejecting the confequence with the utmost abhorrence, and in the strongest manner affirming it to be without any foundation.

From the introduction of this objection by the apoftle, we may either infer, that there were,. even in thefe early days, fome who branded the, doctrine of redemption by the free grace of God with this odious confequence; or that he, by the inspiration of the Almighty, did foresee that there should arife, in fome future periods of the Chriftian church, adverfaries who would attempt to load it with this imputation; or that the doctrine is indeed liable, on a fuperficial view, to be abused to this unhappy purpose, by the deceitful hearts of men, who are wedded to their lufts. It is probable that all the three obfervations are just; and the two last render it a peculiarly proper fubject for our attention and confideration at this time, and in this age.

It is well known, that there are many enemies of this doctrine, of different characters, and of different principles, who all agree in aflaulting it with this objection, That it weakens the obliga tions to holiness of life, by making our juftifica tion before God depend entirely upon the righte oufnefs and merit of another. And fo far, I think, we muft join with the adverfaries of this doctrine, as to lay it down for a principle, That whatever belief or perfuafion, by its native and genuine

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