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The moral world, as well as the political, appears, at present, to be greatly out of order. Moral and political confusion, indeed, naturally produce each other. Let all who love their species, or their country, calmly consider whether the neglect or rejection of Christianity may not be the real cause of both: and let those who are thus persuaded, co-operate with every attempt to revive and diffuse the TRUE SPIRIT OF THE GosPEL. Let us meekly instruct those that OPPOSE “ THEMSELVES *,” (if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the TRUTH,) not being overcome of evil, but over“ coming evil with good t."
Nor let a private clergyman, however inconsiderable, be thought to step out of his province, in thus endeavouring to tranquillize the tumult of the world, by calling the attention of erring and wretched mortals to the gospel of peace. He is justified, not only by the general principles of humanity, but by the particular command of the religion of which he is a minister. Thus faith the apostle, in a charge which may be considered as generally addressed to all ORDAINED preachers of the Gospel, who having taken the oversight of the flock, are in the true sense of the word ETLOHOTTO, or OVERSEERS.
"s Feed the flock of God, as much as lieth in you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingness; not for riLTHY LUCRE, « but of a ready mind 1. Take heed to ALL the " flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath “ made you over seers, to feed the CHURCH of God,
2 Tim. ii. 25 I 1 Pet. v. 2.
+ Romans, xii. -21.
56 which he hath purchased with his own “ blood *."
This I have humbly attempted ; and, in imitation of a most excellent prelate t, I have adapted my book to ALL the flock; yetvarious parts of it more particularly to various descriptions of men ; some to the great, fome to the learned, but the greater part to the people: remembering the apostle's example, who says, “ To the weak became I as “ weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made “ all things to all men, that I might by all means “ save some; and this I do for the Gospel's
SAKE, that I might be a partaker thereof with
And now, readers, before you proceed any farther, let me be permitted to say to you,
" The " grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of “ God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be “ with you,” in your progress through this book, and also through life, even to its close.
* Acts, xx. 28.
† Bishop Sanderson, who preached in an appropriate manner, ad aulam, ad magistratum, ad clerum, ad populum.--See the titles of his Sermons,
I 1 Cor. xi. 22.
THE THIRD EDITION.
HE modern method,” says an ingenious
divine *, “ of perpetually discussing the a evidence of the Christian religion in the way of “ curiosity and literary debate, has a tendency to " keep the mind in a very immoral suspense ; and “ to divert it from habituating itself to the temper " and precepts of the religion, thus made the sub“ ject of endless disquisition. The New TESTA
MENT INCLUDES ITS OWN EVIDENCE T."
This opinion alone would justify the design of the subsequent volume, which is to persuade men to habituate themselves to the “
prea “ cepts of the Christian religion," instead of spend. ing their lives in oftentatious disquisitions on its external evidence.
In opposing the doctrines of those who call themselves, by way of eminence, the RATIONAL CHRISTIANS, or the PHILOSOPHERS, I foresaw that I rendered myself obnoxious both to misapprehen
* Dr. APTHORPE.
-La larga ploia
“ Ogni demonstration mi par obtusa." The abundant shower of divine grace, which is diffused over the Scriptures, becomes an argument so cogent and conclusive to my mind, that, in comparison with it, all demonstration appears inefficacious. DANTE, quoted by F. Simon and by Dr. APTHORPE. A 5
fion and misrepresentation. I was not unprepared to bear consequences which I predicted. They excite no surprise, and even the pain which they might otherwise inflict, is prevented by a sciousness of having, with singleness of heart, efpoused a cause beneficial to mankind, and founded on scriptural, as well as the HIGHEST HUMAN authority.
Nevertheless I think it right, not to neglect an opportunity of farther explaining the scope of these pages; because such an explanation may render them more efficacious in accomplishing their good purpose.
My book, as, I think, must have been evident to every attentive and unprejudiced observer, was, in the first instance, designed to COUNTERACT, among the multitude, the effect of Mr. Paine's Age of Reason, Volney's Ruins, and the general example of French apostafy.
But what mode of counteraction did I adopt ? that of producing * hiftorical evidence or abftrufe
* Dr. Cudworth was a philosopher of the very first order, deeply learned, and fingularly sagacious. Yet, what says he on the subject of producing faith by historical evidence ? the following words are from the Preface to his Intellectual System:
“ Scripture faith is not a mere believing of historical things upon “ teftimonies only; but a certain higher and diviner power in the soul, " that peculiarly correfpondeth with the Deity.”
« Faith,” says the celebrated Dr. Heylin, “ is an impression of “ the Almighty on the heart of man. This experimental efficacious « knowledge of God, manifesting himself to his worshippers, and " thereby dispofing and inclining them to their duty; this know“ ledge, I say, is what we call Faith, and is the proper basis of all os religion."
Monsieur Paschal says, “ it is the heart, and not the reason, or which has properly the perception of God. GOD SENSIBLE TO " THE HEART, is the most compendious description of true and “perfect Faith.”
As to reasoning, men may reason in defence of what they do not believe, and may reason so as not easily to be refuted, yet without