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iv P R E F A C E.

I might, by way of apology for the following treatise, truly affirm that some particulars are handled in it, which have not been much insisted on by other writers : Some of the difficulties herein consider'd having been started, or at least reviv'd, but of late years.

But I rather chuse to say, that I can't think discourses of this kind to be impertinent, as long as so many men of corrupt minds let loose both their tongues and pens against the holy Writings. These all Christians look upon as the oracles of God, and the sacred Depositum of divine truth: And whoever retains a due reverence for them, and makes them his study and meditation, will continue grounded and

settled in the faith, and not be mov'd from the hope of the Gospel by the little cavils and exceptions of Sceptics and Infidels, which we may be bold to say proceed from their not knowing the Scriptures, and scorning to use the

whereby

means

whereby they might be better inform’d.

The seat of the scorners is now-a-> days look'd upon as the only infallible chair, and that temper which Solomon (a) fo frequently brands with the worst of characters, as the most incapable of instruction, the most pernicious to him that hath it, and the most dangerous to the public, is thought by many amongst us to be the surest indication of wit and parts. But whether such persons will bear, or whether they will forbear, 'tis certainly the duty of those who are appointed to be watchmen over the house of Israel to warn men to take heed, left there be in any of them an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, and despising his holy word, by which they must expect to be judg'd at the last day. It becomes those who are set for the

xiii. 1.

xiv. 6.

(a) Prov. iii. 34. xxix. 8.

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defence

vi P. R E FAC E.:: defence and confirmation of the Gofpel,, to stand in the breach, and endeavour in their several stations to give a check to the overflowings of ungodliness, which threaten to break down all our banks, and whose principles, if they are pursu'd to their just consequences, cancel the authority of all laws both divine and human, and set men loose from the obligations of them: Licentiousness in opinion always making way for licentiousness in practice, which is the true reason why it finds so many abettors amongst us at this day. Upon which account 'tis the earnest with and prayer of many good men, that God would put it into the heart of those who are in authority, to take care that the Toleration be confin'd within the bounds which the law hath prescribd to it ; for ’tis great pity that liberty of conscience Thould become a shelter for men of no conscience, to vent such doctrines as are not only destructive of all re

for a

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veal’d religion, but even of civil fociety itself.

It were well if the teachers of the separate congregations (I mean as many of them as have any regard

rule of faith or discipline) would shew their zeal

upon casion, in standing up for the maintenance of those common truths, which all that deserve the name of Christians, agree in. It would be great weakness in them to take the author of the rights of the Christian Church, and men of his stamp for their friends, because they discover a particular Spight and Hatred to the Establish'd Church: tháf indeed is the principal object of Envy, (and we hope it always will be fo to Men of ill Designs) and they are encourag'd in their attempts against it, because they hope to find their own account in the unsettling of their foundations : But he must be blind that does not see, that the same arguments which are levellid against the

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