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Intended to establish the DOCTRINE of
To which are added by the PUBLISHERS,
ARCANA of CHURCH POLICY,
A SERIOUS APOLOGY; which have
Printed for EDWARD and CHARLES DILLY,
Rey Strek Shant 1-25-33
HE following Teatifes were originally published at different times, and fome of them on particular occafions; but the attentive reader will eafily perceive one leading defign running through the whole: The author bath long been of opinion, that the great decay of religion in all parts of this kingdom, is chiefly owing to a departure from the truth as it is in JESUS, from thofe doctrines which chiefly conftitute the fubftance of the gospel. It may perhaps be justly imputed to other general caufes in part, and in fome meafure to lefs univerfal caufes in particular places; but as all moral action must arise from principle, otherwife it ought not to be called by that name, the immediate and most powerful cause of degeneracy in practice, must always be a corruption in principle.
I am fenfible that many will be ready to cry out on this occafion, "Such notions arife from "narrowness of mind, and uncharitable fen"timents.' I answer, that it is surprising to think bow cafily the fashionable or cant phrafes of the age, will pass among superficial thinkers and readers, without the leaft attention either to their meaning, or to the evidence on which they are founded. A 2
Thus at prefent, if a man fhall write or Speak against certain principles, and file them pernicious, it will be thought a fufficient vindication of them to make a beaten common-place encomium on liberty of confcience and freedom of inquiry. Bleffed be God, this great and facred privilege is well fecured to us in this nation : But pray, is it not mine as well as yours? And is it not the very exercife of this liberty, for every man to endeavour to fupport thofe principles which appear to him to be founded on Reafon and Scripture, as well as to attack without fcruple every thing which he believes to be contrary to either.
Let it alfo be obferved, that if freedom of inquiry be a bleffing at all, it can be fo for no other reafon than the excellence and falutary influence of real truth, when it can be difcovered. If truth and error are equally fafe, nothing can be more foolish than for a man to wafte his time in endeavouring to distinguish the one from the other. What a view does it give us of the weakness of human nature, that the fame perfons fo frequently bold inconfiftent principles ? How many will fay the strongest things in fa vour of an impartial fearch after truth, and with the very fame breath tell you, " It is of "no confequence at all, either for time or eternity, whether you hold one opinion or "another."
Thefe reflections are only defigned to procure a candid unprejudiced hearing to what is offered in the following pages, in defence of what appears to me the fundamental do&trines of the gofpel, which are now fo greatly neglected, or fo openly defpifed. I am encouraged to this republication by the great demand there has been for fome of the pieces, particularly The ESSAY on Juftification.
Imuft obferve here, that I have received feveral letters on this fubject, defiring that the phrafe imputed righteoufnefs might be changed, as liable to great exceptions; a request which I could readily have complied with, if it could be made appear to be either unfcriptural er dangerous. But as I apprehend it is fully warranted by Rom. iv. 6. and many other paffages; fo I do not fee what can be underStood by it, different from or more dangerous than forgiveness of fin and acceptance with GOD, not for our own but for CHRIST'S fake. As the cafe ftands, therefore, it is to be feared, that a ftudied endeavour to avoid the expreffion would do more harm on the one band than it could do fervice on the other.
In the Treatife on Regeneration, now first published, the fame general defign is purfued, but in a way more directly practical and indeed I am fully convinced, that it is not only of much greater moment to make experimental