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WHEN I was first convinced of the Truths contained in these papers, and saw them so generally opposed by those of the Established Communion, I was induced to search more narrowly into the constitution of our Church; whereupon I carefully perused her Articles and Homilies, and soon perceived the judgment of our reformers as to these important heads of christian divinity; and the frequent mention and strenuous vindication of these evangelical truths gave me an equal degree of pleasure and surprise. The preaching of this or that particular person is not the rule whereby we are to judge of our Church, but her professed Articles and Homilies are the standard; and since these doctrines are therein contained, they may truly and properly be called the Doctrines of the Church of England.
It is a rule in philosophy, that a fountain can rise no higher than its source. It is a rule in divinity, that a preacher can preach no more of Christ than he hath experienced in his heart. Hence we find so many preachers mentioning nothing of the corruption of the heart, because they feel it not : they seldom speak of the doctrine of justification, unless it be to expose or deprave it; and as for the effusion of the Holy Spirit, this, with them, is madness and enthusiasm. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. When a preacher is influenced by the Holy Ghost, he speaks as the Spirit gives him utterance, and he feels every word he speaks ; his every word is light, life, power and demonstration. He is never at a loss for quickness of apprehension, accuracy of expression, or affluence of elocution. He can speak with equal facility upon any evangelical subject whatsoever.
I know this performance will gain me no credit or repute with some sort of people ; I shall pass with them, (as I already do,) for a philosophic divine, a person of clear notions, a speculative preacher, that hath a consistent scheme of doctrines in the head, but little or no fund of grace in the heart.
This is a severe censure; yet I freely forgive those who
With me it is a very small matter to be judged of man's day. And whatsoever thoughts such persons may entertain of me, still I love them, and hope the best of them; and this I desire, even the salvation of their souls.
Others, perhaps may carry the matter further, and be ready to esteen me a madman, a fool, an enthusiast, or an Antinomian. As to the two first of these, I have no reason to be offended, because greater personages* than I have
* See 2 Kings ix. 11. Jer. xxix. 26, 27. John x. 20. Acts xxvi. 24.
been branded with them; yea, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Master, was called by a name as bad, or worse than any or all these put together, Mark iii. 22. As for enthusiasm, if it be counted enthusiasm to have a possession of the Spirit of God, and a sensible enjoyment of his comforts, then let me live and die an enthusiast; and I wish my enemies no worse evil than that they may do so too. Our Church saith of true christians, “ They dwell in Christ, and Christ in them; they are one with Christ, and Christ with them. *" But if, by enthusiasm, you mean a false pretence to the Spirit, (as I suppose you do,) then how will you know a man to be an enthusiast, if he be orthodox in faith and blameless in conversation? Hence, therefore, learn not too hastily to brand any man with this odious appellation. As to the charge of Antinomianism. I have carefully avoided this error, by insisting upon the necessity of good works, as the proper produce and genuine effects of justifying faith..
I know there is in man a natural enmity to these spiritual truths, which will always exert itself in a manner suitable to its nature and quality. Henoe the opposition of some men to these christian principles; and their way
of manifesting that opposition does but confirm me in the truth of them. I remember once when I was in great doubt and concern about the Trinity, I met with these words of Lucian: “ The Most High God, Great, Immortal, Heavenly, the Son of the Father, One of Three, and Three of One.»* This scurrilous passage of the Pagan scoffer was a means of removing my doubt, and confirmed me in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Just so, in the present case, the rage and raillery, the ridicule and drollery, the madness and blasphemy, wherewith some oppose the doctrines now under consideration, just serves to convince me of the truth of them, and withal shows me the badness of the adversaries cause, which requires so much sin, folly, and extravagance to support it.
* Communion Service.
I am sensible, that many objections are levelled against these doctrines; but I purposely decline burdening the reader with them, for two reasons; First, Because I design to make this work as little controversial as possible. Secondly, These objections are chiefly borrowed from the Papists, and have been solidly confuted by judicious Protestant divines, both domestic and foreign.
I have taken care, in the ensuing pages, to cite some of the most learned divines of the last age, and the beginning of this; such as archbishop Usher, bishop Hall, bishop Reynolds, bishop Sanderson, bishop Wilkins, bishop Burnet, bishop Beveridge, and Dr. Edwards, in order to show the reader what learned men have embraced these principles, and with what good authority they are backed. And if our modern preachers and ministers will not hear them, whom will they hear? Especially if we add, that these
* Υψιμεδονία Θεον, μεταν, αμβροιον, ουρανιωνα, υιον πατρος πνευμα εκ παρος εκεπορευομενον, εν εκ τριων και εξ ενος Τρια.