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BY THE AUTHOR.
IN my Proposals for printing this History of the Church of Christ, I promised “ an Ecclesiastical History on a new Plan.” The Reader therefore will naturally expect some distinct account of a Plan, which, in a subject so generally known, lays claim to novelty, in order that he may judge for himself, whether it appears sufficiently interesting to engage his perusal of the Work itself.
It is certain, that from our Saviour's time to the present, there have ever been persons whose dispositions and lives have been formed by the rules of the New Testament; men, who have been REAL, not merely NOMINAL Christians; who believed the doctrines of the Gospel, loved them because of their divine excellency, and suffered gladly the Loss OP ALL THINGS, THAT THEY MIGHT WIN CHRIST, AND BE FOUND IN HIM*. It is the history of these men which I propose to write. It is of no conscquence with respect to my plan, nor of much importance, I believe, in its own nature, to what EXTERNAL Church they belonged. I intend not to enter with any nicety into an account of their rites and ceremonies, or forms of Church government, much less into their secular history. Even RELIGIOUS CONTROVERSIES shall be omitted ; except those, which seem to bear a relation to the essence of Christ's religion, and of which the history of his
* Philipp. iii, 8, 9. VOL. 1.