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The Norter Catechism.
Pag. 395 The Directory for Family Worship. 445 Acts of Affembly relating to Family
Worship. ATable of the Matters' contained in the
Confeffionof Fai th and larger Catechism.
T H E
'HE Gentlemen who have taken Care of this Work,
being convinced that a full Account and Vindica
tion of Confessions of Faith was very necesary at this time and a proper Subje&t of a PREFACE to a Collection of this Nature ; And being perswaded, that the following ESSAY, composed by a private Hand at their Defire, may be very serviceable for this End, and of use to give the World juster Notions of CREEDS and ARTICLES OF FAITH, and to vindicate them from the many Calumnies wherewith they are so injuriously loaded : They have presumed to prefix it to this Volume; and hope it will be acceptable the Publick, and favourably received by all zuho are f. ere Members of the Church of SCOTLAND.
T a Time when Creeds and Confeffans of Faith are so
generally decried, and not only exposed to Contempt as useless Inventions, without any Force and Efficacy to promote the Interests of Truth and Religion, but are loaded, by many Writers of distin.
guished Wit and Learning, with the most fatal and dangerous Con quences; and represented as one of the most plentiful Sources of these angry Debates and fierce Contentions, which have for fo many Ages distracted the Christian Church :
We thought it might be of fomne Ufe, and a fuitable enough Preface to a new Edition of the Confessions of Faith, &c. embraced by this Church, to give a short Account of the End and Design of Composures of this Nature, and of the chief Purposes which the Christian Churches intended to promote, in framing and publishing their several Confessions; and 'tis hoped these will be found to be so considerable for their Number and Value, as to convince the impartial Reader, that there is no Occasion for treating them with Disdain or Neglect, and that we are justly to be excus'd who retain a Veneration and Esteem of them, as Works both founded on Reason, and supported by many adyantageous Confequences.
And since Creeds in general are not only of late Years underyalued, as mean and useless; but exclaimed against as unjust, arbitrary and inconsistent in their Frame and Tendency with the Liberty of Mankind, and the noble Freedom of the Christian Faith, we shall endeavour to vindicate the present Practice of the Church of Scotland, and the Use which flie, at least, makes of her Canfelion; wipe off the Aspersions which have been thrown on her by Writers, who (how justly, foever valued on many accounts, yet) appear not fo throughly acquainted with our Conficution, or perhaps not altogether impartial in their Sentiments of it. And, Laftly,, We shall antwer lome of the most plausible Objections, which have been made against the using Confessions as a Mcans of preserving the Christian Doctrine from impure Mixtures, and of preventing the Breaking in of Heresies and Difora der into the Church. After all which it will be easier to determinė, if they ought to be accounted arbitrary Impositions, and deftructive Engines of spiritual Tyranny, and the Luit of Power over the Consciences of Men; or if they be not rather very consistent with all the Privileges and Freedoms of a Man or ą Christian,
The several Purposes which the Churches designed to promote by their Confelions, may be distinguished into theic Three Heads, 1. Some of them were of a very general and extensive Design, having a Regard not only to the whole Body of Christians, but to all Men, even their Enemies, who had any Knowledge of them. 11. Other Uses of these Coufessions peculiarly respected the Minifers of the Golpel, who were obliged to declare their Afsent to the Doctrines contain’d in them. IÏI. Confessions of Faith were also designed for Purposes of a more extensive Nature than the second, and yet not fo general as the first Glass, namely, such as relpected the whole body of the People as well as the Ministers; but were particularly calculated for the Members of that Church to which the Confelion belonged, and had a special Regard to them more than to the whole World, or to other Christians who were Members of other Churches. In examining a little these Things, we thall have Occasion to consider" all that is proper to be observed in a Work of this Nature.