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Intended to establish the Doctrine of
SALVATION by GRACE, and to point out
A SERIOUS APOLOGY; which have
been generally ascribed to the same Author.
in the Poultry, near the Mansion House.
Res stocks Shait
HÉ following Teatises were originally
published at different times, and some of quol. them on particular occasions ; but the
attentive reader will easily perceive one leading design running through the whole : The author hath 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 those doctrines which chiefly constitute the substance of the gospel. It may perhaps be juftiy imputed to other general causes in part, and in some measure to less universal causes in particular places ; but as all moral action must arise from principle, otherwise 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 sensible that many will be ready to cry out on this occasion, - Such notions arise from “ narrowness of mind, and uncharitable sen. 66 timents." I answer, that it is surprising to think how casily the fashionable or cant phrases of the age, will pass among superficial thinkers and readers, without the least attentio either to their meaning, or to the evidence on which they are founded. A2
Thus at present, if a man fhall write or Speek against certain principles, and siile thens pernicious, it will be thought a sufficient vindi. cation of them to mcke a beaten common-place encomium on liberty of conscience and freedorn of inquiry. Blesed be God, this great and sacred privilege is well secured to us in this nation : But pray, is it not mine as well as yours?, And is it not the very excrcise of this liberty, for every snan to endeavour to support those principles which appear to bim to be founded on Reason and Scripture, as well as to attack without scruple every thing which he believes to be contrary to either.
Let it also be observed, that if freedom of inquiry be a blessing at all, it can be so for no other recfon than the excellence and salutary influence of real truth, when it can be discovered. if truth and error are equally safe, nothing can be more foolish ihan for a man to waste 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 same perfons so frequently bold inconsistent principles? How many will say the strongest things in fa. vour of an impartial search efter truth, and with the very same breath tell you, “ It is of “ 110 consequence at all, either for time or es eternity, whether you hold one opinion or 6o another."
These reflections are only designed to procure A candid unprejudiced bearing to what is of. fered in the following pages, in defence of what appears to me the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, which are now. fo greatly negleEted, or so openly despised. I am encouraged to this republication by the great demand there has been for some of the pieces, particularly The Essay on Justification.
I must observe here, that I have received several letters on this subject, defiring that the phrase imputed righteousness might be changed, as liable to great exceptions ; a request which I would readily have complied with, if it could be made appear to be either unfcriptural or dangerous. But as I apprehend it is fully warranted by Rom. iv. 6. and many other passages ; fo I do not see what can be underfood by it, different from or more dangerous than forgiveness of sin and acceptance with God, not for our own but for Christ's Jake. As the case stands, therefore, it is to be feared, that a studied endeavour to avoid the expresion would do more barn on the one band than it could do service on the other.
In the Treatise on Regeneration, now first published, the same general design is pursued, but in a way more direčtly practical : and indeed I am fully convinced, that it is not only of much greater moment to make experimental