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Τ Η Ε
PRE FAC E.
HE following observations were in part
written before the public was informed, that the Rev. Dr. Priestley was the author of the Appeal, and some other tracts which are taken notice of in this essay. * My design being solely to examine sentiments, without any respect to the persons who espouse them, I have chosen to continue the style I had begun to make use of, and to speak of the author as yet unknown. I could not take the same method of avoiding the appearance of personal reflection in examining Mr. Graham's letters, because his name was prefixed to them at their first publication: But the freedom used in marks upon them is designed to extend no farther than to the writings themselves. I think it a shame for any, who profess themselves candid inquirers after truth, to entertain the least malevolence towards those whose opinions A 2
* See a Sermon preached on occasion of his resigning the charge of a congregation of Protestant Diffenters in Leeds.
they are opposing, and I am sure that such conduct is contrary to the spirit of christianity.
I have used the term Socinian, to distinguish those who deny the doctrine of atonement, both as it
prevents the necessity of tedious circumlocution, and as it is adopted by the writers whose works I am examining. +
I have informed the reader in the course of this work, in what sense I use the principal terms belonging to this controversy; and, as as far as I know, I have used them according to their most common acceptation. When I speak of repentance or faith as being the condition of pardon, I mean no more by this mode of expression than to assert, that the pardon of sin, considered as the transgression of the moral law, is never obtained without repentance and faith, and that it is always granted to the repenting and believing finner. When I call the death of Christ the confideration of our forgiveness, it will be sufficient for my argument if the term consideration be construed to imply no more than "
something necessary in order to the pardon of fin;" but I would not be understood to mean, that the death of Christ is not the condition of pardon in a higher sense than our faith and repentance are. I have generally preferred the term consideration to that of condition, in speaking of the relation which
+ Familiar Illuftration, p. 64. And Mr. Graham's Letters, p. 75. Note.
the death of Christ bears to our forgiveness, as more readily admitting and suggesting the idea of worth or compensation ; but I have not strictly adhered to this distinction.
I have studied to avoid entering upon any question which did not immediately affect the subject in debate, and to express my arguments as concisely as I could without being unintelligible. I do not mean to enter upon a full difcuffion of all that respects the doctrine of atonement; my design is only to prove that it is a doctrine of divine revelation. Much might be said, and that of considerable importance, upon this subject, which I have wholly omitted ; contenting myself with a brief, and yet, I hope, sufficient answer to the principal objections made against the doctrine I have attempted to defend. What I have written is from a full persuasion of the truth and importance of this doctrine ; but I shall be ready, I trust, to correct any errors I may have fallen into, when they are pointed out to me.
I wish the reader every spiritual blessing that is offered to finners through Jesus Christ, who is made of God to all that believe wifdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.