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THOUGH I be sar less sit sor framing a Testimony to the principles, wrestlings, and attainments of this church, and against the corruptions, desections, and evils of the times, than many of my brethren; yet, being encouraged by some whom I highly value to undertake it, and sinding none else inclined to it, I have essayed it through Divine strength, hoping to see a Witnefling Bodv appear within this church, as well as without it, at least some who would desire to testify against the evils of the day with just zeal, impartiality, and meekness.
No sooner set I my sace to it, but I saw it to be a matter of great dissiculty to fleer a straight course, without swerving to the right or lest hand, in these reeling and shaking times, when such disserent opinions are vented, provocations are given, calumnies are spread, and mens passions are stirred on each side, so that even the meekest and wisest are ready to stagger: I sound also the dissicultyincrease, from the divided sentiment of godly ministers with respect to some particular occurrences, and the strong inclination of many to live at ease, enjoy quiet, and even to sit down, Issachar-like, and couch under the burden, when hopes of relies do not appear. These things greatly discouraged me to proceed in the design.
But when I duly weighed and considered the growing dangers of the church, the backsliding disposition that still prevailed, and the unsuccesssulnesi of all other methods to recover her from it, such as Dissents, Protests, Instructions, Representations, Petitions, Separations, SeceJJions, &c. and that the only mean now lest to be tried, sor giving check to corruption, and exciting resormation, seemed to be that of an honest Testimony of some within the church: I determined at length to go on through all difficulties and discouragements, to prepare and publish the sollowing Essay, with a sincere intention to preserve the Motherchurch, and promote her interests; looking to Heaven sor a blessing on it, that it may be of use to excite judicatories to put a stop to some evils, and resorm some things amiss: And though it should have little essect on the present backsliding age, yet hoping it may be usesul to the rising generation, fatten, when God (hall send a general revival of true
Christianity in the land j at siich a time the subscribers of this testimony will continue, when dead, thus to speak, to the glory of the ever living Redeemer.
I considered also within myself that our old sufsering ministers were all gone oss the stage, and many other worthy brethren were going oss from time to time, and that I myself got frequent warnings to prepare sor going : and at the same time, that numbers of eminent good men drop into the silent grave, without leaving any testimony behind them > so that in a sliort time it may be called in question what their mind was concerning the principles and attainments of our sathers, and the corruptions of present and former times; and, if I continued to linger a little longer, this would be my own sate also. Wheresore I resolved to expose this Essay, and myself likewise, to the censure of the world; and though 1 should be charged with mean and selsish views in it, as assecting singularity, a name, applause from some, &c. if the Lord call me to bear reproach in carrying on a good design, why mould I not submit to it? Surely it may be thought that one of my age should be dead to these vanities, and that it is high time sor me to be seeking the approbation of my great Judge, more than that of all the world. May I ever mind this!
^uejl. It is like it may be asked, What warrant have ye sor emitting such a Testimony?
Ans The reasons and grounds of it seem so plain both from scripture and sound reason, that we may adventure to submit them to all thinking persons to judge of them.
I. The servants of God, and especially ministers of the gospel, are frequently in bcripture called his Witnxsses; in regard they are called to give testimony to his truths and ways, and to bear witness against what is prejudicial or contrary thereunto, Rev. xi. 3, 7. Luke xxiv. 48. John v. 33. and xv. 27. Acts i. 8. and xxii. J5, 18. and xxvi. 19. It is by such witness-bearing that we must hold sast the truths of God when ready to be plucked from us, and to contend sor the faith which he hath delivered to his saints, Rev. in. a. Jude verse 3. And i., this way we are to wrestle with and overcome truth's adversaries, Rev. xii. 11.' They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony.' The character which God gives his servants three times in the compass- of a
sew verses should make very deep impression upon us Isa; xliii. 10, 12. and xliv. 8. ' Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.' And it is in that capacity he calls and requires us to ' consess Christ besore men,' to ' bear witness to Christ and to his truths,' to ' stand fast in the faith.' td' 'quit ourselves like men,' to ' be strong,, to ' be stedsast,' to ' be zealous and valiant sor the truth,' to ' be faithsul unto death,* to ' contend earnestly sor the faith, and set ourselves for the desence of the gospel,' to * plead with our mother,1 to ' keep the charge of the Lord, and the charge of his sanctuary,' to ' keep that which is committed to our trust,' to ' be clean who bear the vessels of' the Lord, and not to touch the unclean thing,' to ' save ourselves from an untoward generation,' to ' keep our garments clean and unspotted from the world,' to ' bate' the work of them that turn aside, that it may not cleave to us,' to ' keep-ouiselves pure, and not to be partakers of other mens sins,' to 4 flee from sin, and deliver every t man liis own foul,' to ' abhor what is evil,' to 4 cleave unto the Lord, and to that which is good,' to ' keep our-' selves from the accursed thing,' to * be watchmen to the house of Israel, and give them warning from God,' to" 'cry aloud and not spare, to shew the house of Jacob their sins,' to ' reprove the works of darkness 5 not to susser sin upon our brother,' to ' be pure from the blood of all men, and not to fhun to declare all the counsel of God.' Now these multiplied Scripture texts and Divine precepts assord us clear and plain warrant to make an open appearance and declaration sor our Lord Jesus Christ, and ser his truths and ways when injured; and against the evils and corruptions of the times, especially when they are avowed and insectious, and like to instct more and more.
II. Writing and leaving a testimony behind us to true religion, and against error and corruption, is necessary and usesul sor the instruction, conviction, and consirmation both of the present and suture generations, and a very proper mean sor banding down God's truihs and institutions pure from age to age; which is a debt that one generation owes to another, as God declares in his word, Psal. lxxviii. j. 6. 7. ' He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our sathers th3t they should make them known to their children j that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born, who should arise
Vol. IV. T t and. and declare them te their children: That they might (et their hope in God, and n6t forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.' Psal. caclv. 4. ' On* genera, tion fhall praise thy works to another and shall declare thy mighty acts.' And, according to Psel. cii. 18. God'i works of grace and mercy are to be ' written sor the ge. Derations to come, that the people which are to be created may praise the Lord.' And we are injoined, Psal. Xlviii. 13. to ' walk about Zion, to tell her towers, mark her bulwarks and palaces,' viz. the institution's and ornaments of the gospel-church,' that we may fhew them to the generation sollowing.' And we are appointed, Ezek. xliii. 1U to ' shew to the house of Israel the sorm and sashion of the house of God, with the ordinances and laws thereof and to write it in their sight, that they may keep them and do them.' All these do plainly demonstrate our Scripture warrant sor leaving such written testimonies behind us.
111. Writirtg and emitting saithsul testimonies sor God and his ways, is necessary and seasonable, especially in times of corruption arid backsliding, even when true religion is in danger. In such times Christ doth kindly accept and reward our open ' consessing of him' and his truths besore men. Rev. ii. 2. Matth. %. 32. And, on the other hand, he severely threatens our Conniving at errors and impiety, and not bearing testimony against thtm when they abound, Rev. ii. 14. 45. 16. Now, is not the backsliding day in which we live a proper season for such opep consefliens and saithsul testimonies, when errors us all kinds are tolerate, approver) truths are run down, and manifold corruptions prevail, to the dishonour of God and our holy religion; and when applications to judtcatories sor redress are unsaceesisul? Surely it must be in such a time as this, that God calls his servants and witnesses to ' rise up sor him (by saithsul testimonies) against the evil-doers, and stand up for him against the workers of iniquity,' Psal. xciv. 16.
ObjeB. Some perhaps will say, The corruptions and grievances of the times are not su great as some- are ready to make them. - . .- ...
Anj. No doubt some do aggravate them beyond what is true and just. But, if what these say be sact, who use to speak within bounds, Was. 1. That a spirit of insidelity and error greatly prevails in the land, and open - attacks