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ally to those of them who have but little money to fpare for the purchase of books, or time for the reading of them.
I am not so little acquainted with human nature, as to expect any great success in this attempt to overturn long-established errors; and least of all can I hope to convince those who refuse to read, or to hear (which is the case with too many) on whom even miracles could produce no effect; but the reftoration of christianity to its primitive purity and efficacy, after so long and fo radical a corruption (which was foreseen and lamented by the inspired writers of the New Testament) is so great and so worthy an object, that every man, who has the interest of religion at heart, will rejoice in every opportunity that divine providence affords him for promoting it, with respect to ever so few, or even a single individual of his fellow-creatures.
A zeal for the truth, and even to contend earnestly for it, does certainly well become a christian. . Since, howeyer, the inspiring of a christian Spirit is the great purpose to which purity of christian faith is subservient, I hope that, with respect to myself, I have been careful not to lose the end, while I have been contending for the means. Of th myread er may be a pretty good judge ; since that zeal which arises from the love of truth, and of mankind, will easily be distinguished from that spirit which actuates those whom Paul calls the dif
puters of this world, a spirit which fayours strongly of pride, hatred and malice, and which often induces them to have recourse to unfair and unworthy artifices in order to gain a victory. · Some persons think that in these publications I have attacked too many long-established errors, and that it would have been more prudent to have attempted one thing at once, and to have proceeded gradually and gently. But it should be considered, that there are in the world persons in every possible state of mind with respect to these things; so that. what will stagger fome is calculated to make the strongest and best impression upon others. Since, therefore, every thing that is published from the press must be distributed promiscuously, we can only take care that what we write be calculated to do good in general;, and since a nice calculation of this kind is exceedingly difficult, it appears to me to be the best, upon the whole, for every person to endeavour to establish what appears to himself to be the whole truth, and not to trouble himself about any consequences. The gospel-fower must cast his feed promiscuously on all kinds of ground, hoping that in some it may yield a good increase, though he must lay his account with its being loft, and even worse than loft upon others.
I also think it an objection to the flow and cautious proceeding which some persons recommend, that the evidence of any truth is exhibited
to the most advantage in connection with the whole System to which it belongs. Nor would I conclude that because the minds of many are staggered by bold and undisguised representations of truth, this mode of proceeding is, upon the whole, less effectual. In many cases it may be the only method of gaining a sufficient degree of attention to a subject; and when this only is done, a great point is gained. The , horror with which an offensive sentiment is viewed at first may wear off by degrees, and a cool examination succeed. What could give more of. fence, even to good minds, than the manner in which Luther, and other reformers, attacked the church of Rome? Any person would have ima. gined, a priori, that it could only offend and irritate. We must wait a considerable time before we can form a judgment of the number of converts that any person makes.
I cannot help expressing my surprize that so many persons, and especially of the clergy of the established church, should profess themselves Arminians, rejecting the Calvinistic doctrines of election and reprobation, and yet entertain such a horror of Arianism, or Socinianism, contending with the greatest earnestness for the divinity of Christ, and atonement for sin by his death ; when it appears to me, that the literal interpretation of the language of fcripture (which is almost all that can be pleaded in favour of any of those opinions) is even more fa
vourable to the former than to the latter, as, I should think, must appear to any person who will attend to those which I have quoted in this treatise. I know that I have found much more difficulty in my attempts to explain tbem. I consider it, however, as an undoubted sign of the progress of just thinking in matters of religion, that the standard of. orthodoxy is so much lower at present than it has been in former times.
Time was, and, though I am not old, I well remember the time, when Arminians would have been reckoned no better than Socinians by those who were reputed the orthodox of their day; and yet with what rage have some of these orthodox-writers, attacked a brother-heretic? How would the manes of those old champions smile to see us fall out by the way, when they were confident that we must all come to the same place of torment at last; and the furious zeal of those veterans was far more plausible and respectable, than that of the modern pretenders to orthodoxy ?
There is something striking and consistent in the genuine Supralapsarian system, of the eternally def. tined fall of man, an infinite penalty incurred by one, and, by the imputation of his sin, affecting all, and an infinite atonement adequate to it made by an infinite being; by which means a small remnant of the human race are neceflarily faved, while all the rest of mankind, including new-born chil
dren, dren, unbelieving jews, mahometans and heathens, arminians and baxterians, arians and socinians, without distinction (as deftitute either of faith, or the right faith) are consigned to everlasting tore : ments with the devil and his angels ; from whence results glory to a God, who, in all this dreadful scheme, is supposed to have fought nothing else.
These are the tremendous doétrines which have over-awed mankind for so many centuries ; and, compared with this, all the modern qualified, intermediate Systems are crude, incoherent, and con-temptible things. My antagonists may cavil at election and reprobation, or any other single article in the well-compacted fystem, but every part is necessary to the whole; and if one stone be pushed out of its place, the whole building tumbles to the ground. And when, in consequence of their illjudged attempts to alter, patch, and repair, they have brought things to this catastrophe, there will be nothing left.but the simple belief, that the merciful parent of the universe, who never meant any thing but the happiness of his creatures, fent his well-beloved son, the man, Chrif Jesus, to reclaim inen from their wickedness, and to teach them the way of righteousness; affuring them, for their encouragement, of the free and unbought pardon of their fins, and promising a life of endless happiness to all that receive and obey the gospel, by repenting