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Out common Christianity, which, at this time, is so warmly attack'd; that, to enable you to accomplish the great Designs of Virtue and Godliness, which your extensive Mind has conceiv'd, he may prolong the Number of your Days, and grant you Favour in the Sight of his Vice-gerent here below • and that all, in short, who are called to the like Office and ApostleJhip, may (in Imitation of your Lordship's Care and Vigilance) feed the Flock, which is among them, taking the Oversight thereof not for filthy Lucre, but of a ready Mind; neither as A 4 being
being Lords over God's Heritage, but Ensamples to the Flock: so that, when the great Shepherd Jhall appear, you, together with them, may receive a Crown of Glory, thatfadeth not away, is the ardent and incessant Prayer of,
most obliged, and
[RAT the Reader may letter An Acunderftand the Nature ofTMTM°l the several Controversies,ral ***■ .comprizd in the following sheets ;S,Tcivhence they arose, and by what t^° Steps they grew to their present ex- J^f*1 orbitant Height} he is desired to*'«*" • remember, that Infidelity is not pro- g$£. perly the natural ProduB of our Coun- nity' try, but an exotick Weed, which, (however it may thrive beyond the Alps) had no fix d Rooting in this cold Climate, till the Heat of our civil Distractions gave room for the Leviathan to bring it in, and, in Process of time, for the Oracles of Reason to make it grow.
From these two Fountains or Repositories > mojl os the Writers for Infidelity, who were for making Religion a Creature of the State, or for vacating the Necessity os a divine Revelation, took their Arguments and Materials; till, within less than thirty Tears ago, a certain Writer, or (as some imagine) a certain Club and Combination os Writers, under the pom Title of the Rights of the Christian Church, asserted, and in Pretence of opposing the Encroachments of Popery, * laboured po set aside at once all Christian Ordinances, and the very' Being of a Chrijlian Ministry, and a Christian Church. >
In a port time after, this Book was follow'd (from the fame Quarter, as is supposed) by a Discourse of Freethinking, which, under the pretence of the many Divisions, and contradictory tory Opinions among Divines, the several Abuses, DefeBs, and false DoSfrines, 'which were crept into the Clmrch, and the Necessity thereupon, that every one Jhould judge for himself in Matters of Religion, has taken an uncommon Licence in calumniating the Ministers of God, and exposing the Mysteries of our most holy Faith to Contempt and Ridicule.
* Bishop of London's ist Pastoral Letter.
Both these Books were written with some Semblance of Reason and Argumenty but in a different Manner and Stile •, the one, proper to affeB the Serious, the other, the more light and thoughtless Part of Mankind. They received however, from several learned Hands, their respective Answers, wherein the Sophistry of the former, and the Ignorance of the latter, are sufficiently deteBed y though, in asserting the Dignity of the Priesthood, and the Independency os the Church, some of their