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PREFACE

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FIRST EDITION.

TH

HE fubjects of the following treatise, being of the utmost importance, have been confidered with the most serious attention, and are laid before the reader on the highest authority, that is to fay, on the authority of the holy Scriptures.

Nothing less than this ought, or can, determine on the points herein treated, because they concern, not only the prefent, but future welfare of mankind: thefe, as taken in connection together, must depend, first, on knowing, and then on doing the will of GOD. What His will is, can only be known from the several revelations, or difcoveries, which it hath graciously pleased Him to make of it, by men, who fpake not of themselves, but as they were moved by the Holy Ghoft. 2 Pet. i. 21.

To imagine that, without fuch revelation, mortals can understand, or know the mind and will of GOD, is an abfurdity, even greater than to suppose we can know the thoughts of each other, without any declaration of them either by words or actions. But to admit the neceffity of a divine revelation, to receive the scriptures as that revelation, and not to make them the only infallible rule and guide, in all matters which relate to the mind and

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and will of GOD therein revealed, is, fo far, to lay afide the revelation of God, to make it void and of none effect, and to place ourfelves in no better fituation, than if no fuch discovery of the mind and will of God had ever been vouchfafed us.

Thus we rob GoD of His honour, by flighting His word, and thus are people led to fet up the determinations of human wisdom against it, and expose themselves to be carried about with every wind of doctrine, which the folly and fuperftition of weak men, and the wickedness and craft of defigning men, may happen to invent.

By fuch means it has been, that so many errors of various kinds have found their way, in all ages, into the church, and have maintained their empire over the minds of men, Long ufage has made them venerable-the prescriptive power of custom has given them eftablishment-and both thefe have prevailed on human legislatures, to afford them the awful obligation of their most folemn sanctions.

It cannot want many arguments to prove, that fundry practices, as well as opinions, which are found among the heathen nations, are abhorrent from all our conceptions of propriety, decency, and even humanity itfelf *.-All thefe have but one fource-They do err, not knowing the fcriptures.

Where

* I cannot forbear mentioning here that valuable, learned, and excellent work of John Leland, D. D. on the Advantage and Neceffity of the Chriftian Revelationwherein that author hath, with a ftrength of judgment, and depth of learning and erudition peculiar to himself, fo proved his point, as to deferve the thanks of all who

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Where revelation is received, yet if it be not adhered to as the only rule of faith and manners, and this unreservedly, the opinions and practices of men will be as wide from the mind and will of GoD, as thofe of the Heathen are. I might here inftance in the opinions and practices of the Pharifees of old, as well as of many nations called Chriftian, in more modern days, and who are members of that fociety of profeffing Chriftians which infolently and exclusively styles itself—“THE 66 HOLY APOSTOLICAL and CATHOLIC "CHURCH"-amongst whom the most devout are worshipping worshipping a wooden god, which they call a crucifix*, and a breaden god, which they call the hoft; and, befides these, they worship faints and angels, and many fuch like things they do. The foundation of all which is ftill one and the fame-They do err, not knowing the fcriptures; for though the Papists

know how to fet a juft value on the fcriptures, as well as of those who would wish to do it. This valuable author fays, "It is the mighty advantage of a written revelation, "that by an impartial confulting it, the deviations from "it may be detected, and things may again be reduced "to the original ftandard." Vol. i. p. 453.

*This invention of the crucifix, or image of Chri on the cross, is but old heathenifm new vamped. Maximus Tyrius, a Platonic philofopher, who was master to M. Antoninus, fays-" The divine nature ftands not in "need of images or ftatues; but the nature and condi"tion of man being very weak, and as far distant from "the Divinity as heaven is from earth, framed these

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figns for itself, and attributed to them the names and "titles of the gods"-and he thinks that the legislators acted wifely in contriving images for the people. Leland, vol. i. p. 338. The wife men and philofophers pleaded for images as neceffary helps to human infirmity. Ib. 424.

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have the scriptures, yet they do not adopt them as the only rule of faith and worship. Their fear towards GOD is taught them by the doctrines and commandments of men*, If. xxix. 13. which take place of the mind and will of GOD, as revealed in His holy word.

Happy would it be, could we, reformed Proteftants, clear ourselves of this charge in all respects!

Το prove that we cannot, in fome points of the utmost consequence, is the purpose of the following pages; which, while the reader

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*Two of the articles in the famous creed of Pope Pius IV. are as follows:

XIII. I moft firmly admit and embrace apoftolical and ecclefiaftical traditions, and all other obfervations and conftitutions of the one catholic and apoftolic church.

XIV. I do admit the holy fcriptures in the fame fenfe that holy Mother Church doth, whofe bufinefs it is to judge of the true fenfe and interpretation of them, and I will interpret them according to the unanimous confent of the fathers.

The Popish canon law frequently affirms-that the church is above the fcriptures.

Omnis quæ nunc apud nos eft fcripturæ authoritas ab ecclefiæ authoritate neceffario dependet.-"All the authority

which we attribute to the fcriptures, neceffarily de"pends on the authority of the church." Pighius de Hierar. Eccl. Lib. i. c. 2. Eccius, in his Enchiridion de Authoritate Ecclefie, maintains-Ecclefiam effe fcripturis antiquiorem, & fcripturam non effe authenticam, nifi ecclefia authoritate.- "The church is more antient than the fcriptures, and the scriptures are not authentic, fave "by the authority of the church."

Hermannus goes farther, and affirms-Scripturas tantum valere quantum valent Efopi fabulæ, nifi accederet ecclefiæ teftimonium.-" The fcriptures are no more to be va"lued than Efop's Fables, unless it were for the tefti"mony of the church." See Hift. of Popery, vol. i. p. 214.

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perufes, I could wish him to weigh in the balance of the fanctuary, to lay his Bible before him, and to call every argument, obfervation, and doctrine, to the ftricteft and most severe account, before that unerring tribunal. If he fhall find any thing that is wrong, or detect any thing that is falfe, let him freely fet it down to the Author's account. But whatever he fhall find agreeable to, or clearly proved by, the word of GOD, let him not liften to the lying teftimony of prejudice or vulgar error against it, but treasure it up in his mind, for the direction of his own judgment and confcience, in all fituations and

conditions of life.

If the judgment be mif-led or mif-informed, the more confcientious a man is, the farther will he be led into error, and the more firmly will he be attached to it; therefore it is well for us to liften to the counfel of the

wife man--Prov. iv. 7. "WISDOM is the principal thing, therefore get WISDOM; "and with all thy getting get UNDERSTAND

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As to differences, or even errors, (if miftakes about indifferent matters can be fo called) where mere outward forms are concerned, and those of human invention, the Author defires to think, and to let think, and wherefoever the scriptures are filent, to be fo too. He does not esteem it worth his while to expend a fingle drop of ink in fuch controverfies. He does not fuppofe, that, had he lived in the second century, when the Roman and Afiatic Chriftians quarrelled about the

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