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if this conduct be not chargeable with a fatal criminality, the Bible is a vague,, indeterminate book, and the infidel justifiable in difcarding it.
The notes which occur it was hoped might help to relieve the mind under the tedious famenefs of queftion and anfwer, and at the fame time illuftrate and enforce the feveral fubjects they contain; and the notice now and then of texts in the original language of the Scriptures, the author hopes will not be deemed unnecessary pedantry and useless affectation, as they may now and then elucidate fome Scriptures to the common reader without perplexing him.-The remarks on Infant Baptifm at the close, as they were defigned to fuit perfons of this defcription, are attempted in a brief, intelligible form; and he flatters himself will be found to contain fome of the leading arguments in favour of this practice, without giving the fmalleft offence to his brethren of the contrary perfuafion: an infelicity he would be unwilling and forry to occafion, and as glad to avoid.
As to the free ufe of the Book of Common Prayer, and other detached parts of the Established Church, it occurs by way of support and vindication of the author's principles to fome of this Communion and it may perhaps fuffice for an apology, to thofe who may expect one, that the Providence of God had called him to labour among perfons of this defcription, and to fuch it is that his labours have been chiefly useful. He is free to acknowledge alfo, that the line of feparation between
us, does not, at present, appear to him to be of so much importance, as to require an irreconcileable diftance from that Church, much less an illiberal abuse of.it. Tho' he be known under the denomination of a Diffenter, he does not think himself called to be a fierce one and to be able to make that distinction fubferve the intereft of Chrift, from the principles on which an afpired Apoftle acted (1 Cor. ix. 20.) is, in his opinion, an acquifition worth coveting. The form of found words, contained in the Liturgy, &c. have the author's perfect approbation, and his readers, who may conftantly use them in their worship, will be able to obferve this in his frequent references to them, and quotations from them; how much alfo, his leading fentiments are justified upon the footing of their own profeffion, and how little caufe he has to fear an examination of them by the book of their own faith. A blind, bigoted attachment, however, to the forms and ceremonies of this Church, which has no fupport, fanction or plea but cuftom and ufe, and which will not fuffer us to profit equally without them, he has obferved, he thinks, with much concern. Such an attachment he conceives to be as oppofite to the fpirit of a Chriftian, and inimical to the increase of real religion, as it is repugnant to reafon and good sense: and a wish to fupprefs its pernicious influence, fuggefted the expedient of making quotations from them, and fubjoining fome remarks upon them. He is fenfible, if this were effected, one great and fuccefsful en
gine of Satan to preferve the mind in a ftate of fatal ignorance, would be destroyed; the first principles of grace, which pervade the whole Liturgy, be valued and fought every where, where they could be found; and none of them be fo fhamefully concealed or perverted, fo obviously misunderstood, fo flatly denied, and fo bitterly oppofed by many, who profefs à tenacious regard for the book which contains them; the prayers themselves be repeated with much more truth and fincerity, and the main doctrines of the Homilies and Articles, the very fupporters of the Church, be subfcribed with much lefs diffimulation, and with much more integrity and uprightness, "by not a few, who owe all their distinction, and authority in that Communion, to their having folemnly engaged to defend them."* Heu! Tantamne rem, tam impie, agere! He might
«The Articles and Homilies are our grand bulwarks against Popery: They contain all the fundamental truths of the reformation; having been compiled by the Archbishops and Bishops in the reigns of King Edward the Sixth, and of Queen Elizabeth; and no Minister can be ordained in the Church of England, without making the most folemn declaration and subscription, That he believes them from his heart (ex animo) to be perfectly agreeable to the Word of God; and that he will never preach any other doctrine than that which is contained in them; and every Clergyman who does preach any other doctrine, is liable to be excommunicated and fufpended by the Bishop, until he repent of his wicked error. See Canon 5th." Yet is it the zealous preaching of these very doctrines (whether in or out of the Church) and their happy
might then naturally expect to fee the flavish fetters of religious custom drop; and a spirit of bigotry, and party-zeal, confined to a comparatively narrow compafs of existence, give place to a more expanded, catholic, and fcriptural one; and the trite, filly reason for attending a place of worship, to wit, of keeping to what we were brought up, exchanged for one abundantly lefs futile, and infinitely more important, namely, the benefit and edification of the mind; if not in all, at leaft in enew to afford him the pleafing fatisfaction of his not having appealed to the volume of their belief in vain.
The more intelligent reader will readily perceive the author makes no pretenfions to fine thoughts or elegant diction he has indeed had little temptation, in the following pages, to attempt them. He wished to have fomething more interefting in view. To render his meaning intelligible to an ordinary capacity, was, in his account (fo far as language is concerned) an object worth aiming at, but which he dare not say he has perfectly, or even with full fatisfaction to himself, acquired.
effect on the minds and conduct of fome, which is reviled and defamed as Methodism, Enthusiasm, &c. But by whom?—“ Highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power"-"Thefe also refift the truth; men of corrupt minds-For the time will come when they will not endure found doctrine."-2 Tim. iii. 4, 5. iv. 3.
quired. He ventures the whole, however, into the hands of a candid few, with his humble prayer, that it may please the Lord the Spirit, to make it only as ufeful as he defires. And fhould it prove a bleffing to but one foul, though it exhibit unnumbered literary defects to a refined tafte, its value will, he prefumes, be more effectually ascertained than by the loud applause of the vulgar, or the fober encomiums of the judicious critic, if it deserved, in this view, the fpeculative notice of either.