« EelmineJätka »
The design of this Publication, is to furnish heads of families, and the community at large, with a volume, containing, in a small
evidences of the Divinity of Christ, a refutation of Romanism, an explanation of the origin and nature of episcopacy, (as established by our blessed Saviour and his apostles, for the maintenance of the true faith and worship,) with a summary of the doctrines of the reformed church, shewn to be in perfect harmony with holy writ.
Upon subjects of such infinite consequence to the welfare of mankind, the author conceived it to be his duty to consult the most eminent and profound theologians. He has
diligently perused the fathers of the first ages, and profited, not a little, by the valuable labours of many pious and learned prelates, particularly by those of Warburton, Hurd, and Horseley, and other celebrated divines, both living and dead. He makes this general acknowledgment, that the reader may consider this work, partly original, and partly compiled.
Whatever is written in support of the Establishment, dissenters are apt to look upon, as an indirect attack upon them. To this it may be sufficient to reply, that it is incumbent upon every man, to promote the happiness of his fellow creatures to the utmost of his power; and that he who thinks he sees many around him, for whom he entertains the greatest regard, labouring under errors, must have a cold heart, or a most confined notion of benevolence, if he can re
frain from endeavouring to set them right, lest he should be accused of the want of a christian spirit, or expose himself to the imputation of illiberality and intolerance.
In these times of religious indifference, when so many loose opinions prevail, prejudicial, in the highest degree, to the interests of christianity, and entirely destructive of the unity of the church,—silence, on the part of its friends, whether clergy or laity, becomes criminal, and a cold neutrality inexcusable. It is hoped, however, that no uncharitable expressions will be found to have intentionally fallen from the writer's pen.
The consequences of what he conceives to be error, must be left to the just and merciful judgment of him, who remembers whereof we are made, and knows the strength of our prejudices, and the excellencies and defects of our reasoning powers.
But though he passes no censures upon conscientious scruples, as proofs of persuasion, he cannot admit them to be any proofs of the truth of our opinions.
It has been often said, and it will probably be said in the present case,
" that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law,” therefore it is of little consequence what a man believes, if his religious tenets be accompanied with sincerity, This doctrine has been cultivated with the utmost diligence, enforced with all the arts of argument, and embellished with all the ornaments of eloquence, but not guarded, by equal care, with proper limitations, from being a snare to pride, and a stumblingblock to weakness.
That the judge of all the earth will do right, that he will require in proportion to what he has given, and punish men for the misapplication or neglect of talents, not for the want of them, is deducible from the contemplation of the Divine attributes. But when a law is promulgated, with that evidence which the Divine legislature, (and such a law is now meant,) sees to be sufficient for the conviction of a reasonable man, is it not presuming too much, to suppose, that we are innocent in rejecting it, or not bound by it, if we do reject it ?
Sincerity, in all professions, is commendable, and in the Christian character indispensable ; but if sincerity, as such, independent of any particular mode of worship, or profession, good or bad, can recommend