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OF SOME OF THE
MOST ESSENTIAL DOCTRINES
OF THE REFORMATION :
BEING A REPLY TO OBJECTIONS RAISED AGAINST THESE DOCTRINES IN A LATE PUBLICATION, ENTITLED,
"THE ERRORS OF HOPKINSIANISM DETECTED AND REFUTED;
IN SIX LETTERS,
BY NATHAN BANGS,
ADDRESSED TO THE AUTHOR OF THE PRESENT WORK.
To which is added
ON THE GOODNESS OF GOD,
MANIFESTED IN GOVERNING THE HEARTS OF HIS ENEMIES.
BY SETH WILLISTON,
Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Durham, N. Y.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
HUDSON, N. Y.
PRINTED BY ASHBEL STODDARD.
gift Kellogg foundation
IT is now more than a year and a half, since I received the Letters of Mr. Bangs. The religious public had a right to expect that if an answer were attempted, it would have been out at an earlier period. One reason of the delay has been this: On first reading the Letters, it was my purpose, if I made a reply, to publish in connexion with it a concise Harmony of divine truth; a contemplated work, which had lain with weight on my mind for several years. I finally entered upon, and went through the outlines of the Harmony, and had made some advances in my reply to Mr. B's. objections, before I relinquished my original plan of connecting the two together. As my friends had been made acquainted with my original plan, I feel myself under obligation to give them my reasons for relinquishing it. My reasons were two: One was this; that considering my many interruptions in study, I saw that if both of the contemplated works were published together, it would be the means of a still further delay of the publication of the present work, which, being designed as a reply to a book that was now in the hands of the public, had been already delayed too long. The other reason was; that as my work was multiplying in my hands, beyond my first calculation, it was thought, that if both objects were to be included in one book, it would render it too expensive for the present period of pecuniary embarrassment. If the Vindication, which is now issued from the press, should meet the approbation of my friends, and of the public; and should they manifest a desire to see the author's attempt to harmonize divine truth, they may yet be gratified, if it should please the Lord to spare his life. Let them be reminded, that their prayers may be the means of rendering the contemplated work more perfect and useful, than it would otherwise be. Brethren, pray for us." The prayers of the righteous avail much.
July 11, 1817,
PERHAPS some of my christian brethren would say, if they knew for what purpose I have now taken up my pen, "Do let contention alone: There are other things of more importance to engage the attention of the ministers of Christ at such a day as this." 1 view this to be truly an extraordinary day, a day in which there is an opportunity and a call, to do much in the vineyard of our Lord. The command of the risen Saviour now comes with accumulated weight upon his disciples, "Go and teach all nations." It is matter of joy that the disciples of Jesus begin to feel the force of the command. That they do begin to have feeling, is manifest by the increasing number of benevolent institutions which are formed and supported, with a view to diffuse abroad the knowledge of the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. We ought to be thankful that the Lord of the harvest is raising up, and furnishing men, for the missionary work, and disposing them to go, if needful, even to the ends of the earth. But Christ has not designed all his ministers for missionaries. Neither is all the work of the present day to be done in Asia and Africa. There are different ways in which we may be instrumental of hastening the latter day glory of the church. Every one has his place in which to work, and every one is loudly called upon to be up and doing. The Millennium will differ from all other periods of the world by the triumph of truth. Then will that prediction be most eminently fulfilled; "Truth shall spring out of the earth, Psal. lxxxv. 11. A religion founded upon divine truth, and conformable to it, shall then universally prevail.
But is not this one of the mountains, which stand in the way of the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom, and the propagation of the truth, that the christian church is not agreed about the answer to this most important question, What is truth? and the watchmen do not see eye to eye, nor lift up their voice together.