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sanctified in Christ Jesus, 1 Cor. 1:2. by faith in him, Acts 26: 18. Nay, being laid before them, they would have rejected it with disdain, as foolishness. 1 Cor. 1: 23.
In all views, which fallen man hath, towards the means of his own recovery, the natural bent is to the way of the covenant of works. This is evident in the case of the vast mui. titudes throughout the world embracing Judaism, Paganism, Mahometanism, and Popery. All these agree in this one principle, " That it is by doing men must live,” though they hugely differ as to the things to be done for life.
The Jews, in the time of Julian the apostate, attempted to rebuild their temple, after it had lain many years in ruins, by the decree of heaven never to be built again; and ceased not, till, by an earthquake, which shook the old foundation, and turned all down to the ground, they were forced to forbear, as Socrates the historian tells us, lib. 3. cap. 20. But the Jews were never more addicted to that temple, than mankind naturally is, to be building on the first covenant: and Adam's children will by no means quit it, until mount Sinai, where they desire to work what they do work, be all on fire about them. O that those, who have been frighted from it, were not so ready to go back towards it.
Howbeit, that can never be the channel of sanctification, what way soever men prepare it, and fit it out for that purpose; because it is not, by divine appointment, the ministration of righteousness and life. 2 Cor. 3.
And hence it is always to be observed, that as the doctrine of the gospel is corrupted, to introduce a more rational sort of religion, the flood of looseness and licentiousness swells proportionably; insomuch that morality brought in for doctrine, in room and stead of the gospel of the grace of God, never fails to be, in effect, a signal for an inundation of immorality in practice. A plain instance of this, is to be seen in the grand apostaey from the truth and boliness of the gospel, dit. Popery: and on the other hand, real and thorough reforma. tion in churches is always the effect of gospel-light breaking forth again from under the cloud which had gone over it; and of this the church of Scotland, among others, hath oftener than once had comfortable experience.
The real friends of true holiness do then exceedingly mistake their measures, in affording a handle, on any occasion whatsoever, for advancing the principles of legalism; for bringing under contempt the good old way, in which our fathers found rest to their soul, and for removing the ancient land-marks which they set.
It is now about fourscore years since this book made its first entrance into the world, under the title of The Marrow of Modern Divinity, at that time, not unfitly prefixed to it: but it is too evident, it hath outlived the fitness of that title. The truth is, the divinity therein taught, is no more the modern, but the ancient divinity, as it was recovered from underneath the antichristian darkness; and as it stood, before the tools of the late refiners on the Protestant doctrine were lifted up upon it: a doctrine which, being from God, must needs be according to godliness.
It was to contribute towards the preserving of this doctrine, and the withstanding of its being run down, under the odious name of Antinomianism, in the disadvanageous situation it hath in this book, whose undeserved lot it is to be every where spoken against, that the following notes were written.
And herein two things chiefly, have had weight. One is, lest that doctrine, being put into such an ill name, should be come the object of the settled aversion of sober persons; and they be thereby betrayed into legalism. The other is, lest in these days of God's indignation, so much appearing in spiri itual judgments, some taking up the principles of it, from the hand of this author and ancient divines, for truth; should take the sense, scope, and design of them, from (now) common fame; and so be betrayed into real Antinomianism.
Reader, Lay aside prejudices, look and see with thine own eyes, call things by their own names, and do not reckon AntiBaxterianism, or Anti-Neonomianism to be Antinomianism; and thou shalt find no Antinomianism taught here; but thou wilt perhaps be surprised to find, that that tale is told of Luther, and other famous Protestant divines, under the borrow. ed name of the despised E. F. the author of the Marrow of Modern Divinity.
For the ease and benefit in this edition, the book is divided into chapters and sections, greater and lesser, according to the subject-matter, with running titles, not used in any edi. tion of it heretofore: typographical errors, not a few, are by comparing copies of several impressions, here corrected: the periods, which, in many places were somewhat indistinct, are, through the whole, more carefully distinguished, rendering the sease of the author more clear: the letters of reference, brought into the Edinburgh edition 1718, for avoiding of the side margin, which preceding editions had, are here retained for the same reason; and so are the scripture texts in the body of the book, which were there brought from the side margin of foregoing impressions: the proper place being assigned to such of them as were found to be misplaced. The appendix is reserved for the second part, where the author himself placed it.
As for the notes, in them, words, phrases, and things are explained; truth cleared, confirmed and vindicated, the anno. tator making no bones of declaring his dissent from the author, where he saw just ground for it.
I make no question but he will be thought by some to have construed too favorably several passages: but, as it is nothing strange, that he incline to the charitable side, the book having been many years ago blessed of God to his own soul; so, if he have erred on that side, it is the safer of the two, for thee and me, judging of the words of another man, whose ends, I believe with Mr. Burroughs, to have been very sincere for God, and the reader's good. However, I am satisfied he has dealt candidly in that matter, according to his light.
Be advised always to read over a lesser section of the book, before reading any of the notes on it, that you may have the more clear understanding of the whole.
I conclude this preface, in the words of two eminent pro. fessors of theology, deserving our serious regard.
“I dread mightily that a rational sort of religion is coming in among us: I mean, a religion that consists in a bare attendance on outward duties and ordinances, without the power of godliness; and thence people shall fall into a way of serv. ing God, which is mere deism, having no relation to Christ Jesus, and the spirit of God.” Memoirs of Mr. Haliburton's life, page 199.
“ Admoneo igitur vos, fc. i. e. Therefore I warn you, and each one of you, especially such as are to be directors of the conscience, that you exercise yourselves in study, reading, meditation and prayer; so as you may be able to instruct and comfort both your own and others' consciences in the time of temptation, and to bring them back from the law to grace, from the active (or working) righteousness to the passive (or received) righteousness: in a word, from Moses to Christ.” Luth. comment. in epist. ad Gal. p. 27. April, 1726.
TO THE READER. If thou wilt please to peruse this little book, thou shalt find great worth in it. There is a line of a gracious spirit drawn through it, which hath fastened' many precious truths together, and presented them to thy view: according to the variety of men's spirits the various ways of presenting known truths are profitable. The grace of God hath helped this au. thor in making his work; if it in like manner help thee in reading, thou shalt have cause to bless God for these truths thus brought to thee, and for the labors of this good man, whose ends, I believe, are very sincere_for God and thy good.
ADVERTISEMENT. WHEREAS it hath been handed about, and by some pub. lished to diminish the credit of the ensuing book, that the author, Edward Fisher, was a poor illiterate barber, without any authority to vouch it; it is thought proper to prefix the foilowing account of him, from Wood's Athena Oxoniensis, Vol. II. p. 198.
“ Edward Fisher, the eldest son of a knight, became a gen. tlemart commoner of Brazen-nose College, Aug. 25, 1627, took on his degree in Arts, and soon after left that house. Afterwards, being called home by his relations, who were then, as I have been informed, much in debt: ho improved that learning, which he had obtained in the university, so much, that he became a noted person among the learned, for his great reading in ecclesiastical history, and in the fathers, and for his admirable skill in the Greek and Hebrew languages, His works are,
“ I. An appeal to the conscience, as thou wilt answer it at the great and dreadful day of Jesus Christ. Oxford, 1644. Quarto.
“ II. The Marrow of Modern Divinity. 1646. Oetavo. « III. A Christian Caveat to old and new Sabbatarians. 1650.
“ IV. An answer to sixteen queries, touching the rise and observation of Christmas."
TESTIMONIES. DOCASIONALLY lighting upon this dialogue, under the ap. probation of a learned and judicious divine; I was thereby induced to read it, and afterwards, on a serious consideration
of the usefulness of it, to commend it to the people in my public ministry.
Two things in it especially took with me: First, The matter, the main substance being distinctly to discover the nature of the two covenants, upon which all the mysteries, both of the law and gospel, depend. To see the first Adam to be primus fæderatus in the one; and the second Adam in the other: to distinguish rightly between the law standing alone as a covenant, and standing in subordination to the gospel as a servant; this I assure myself to be the key, which opens
the hidden treasure of the gospel. As soon as God had given Luther but a glimpse of this, he professed that he seemed to be brought into Paradise again; and the whole face of scripture. to be changed to him:* and he looked upon every truth with
Secondly, The manner; because it is an irenicum, and tends to an accommodation and a right understanding. Times of reformation have always been times of division: Satan will cast out a flood after the woman, knowing that more die by the disagreement of the humors of their own bodies, than by the sword; and that, if men be once engaged, they will contend, if not for truth, yet for victory.
Now, if the difference be in things of lesser consequence, the best way to quench it, were silence. This was Luther's counsel, given in an epistle written to the divines assembled in a synod at Nuremberg: Meum consilium fuerit (cum nullum sit ecelesiæ periculum) ut hanc causam finiatis, vel ad tempus sopitam (utinam extinctam) jacere, donec tutiore et meliore tempore, animis in pace firmatis, et charitate adunatis, eam disputetis. It think it were good counsel concerning many of the disputes of our times.
But if the difference be of greater concernment than this, the best way to decide it, is to bring in more light; which this author has done, with much evidence of scripture, backed with the authority of most modern divines: so that whoever desires to have his judgment cleared in the main controversy between us and the Antinomians, with a smallexpense, either of money or time, may here receive ample satisfaction. This I testify, upon request, professing myself a friend to both truth and peace. November 12.
* Portis apertis Paradisum intrasse. Tom. 1.