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(1) scandalous Sins, and Errors wilfully and obftinately persisted ing
such as were inconsistent with the great Fundamentals of Religion, contain’d in the Creed call’d the Apostles, the guilty were excommunicated, that is, they were shut out of that Society,
whose Laws they would not be prevailed with to obey ; which : is highly reasonable, and pra&tised by all Combinations and s. Societies of Men. But this Punishment, tho' accounted
very great, did not deprive those who were under it of any of their Goods, or of their Estates, but left them in Polfeffion of all their civil Rights. For by the Laws of Christ,
no Man's (2) Title to his Possessions is in the least impair2 ed for his not being a Chriftian. To proceed.
There are more Notes upon thofe Texts than on any other, which are by some thought to teach, that Almighty God did from all Eternity, without any Respect to the good or evil A&tions of Men, decree, that a certain determinate Number of Persons should be neceffarily and everlaftingly happy in his Presence and Kingdom, but that the much greater Number of Men and Women should be necessarily and for ever miserable. This Opinion has produced dreadful Consequences ; for some (tho’ for the Reason hereafter mentioned, not many) have been driven to the utmost Depair ; others have been made secure and presumptuous thereby, and others have offered it as a Reason for their settling in Irreli
(1) Such Sins as are condemned by the Law of Reason and Nature, being destructive to humane Society, and to those who commit them, such as the holy Scriptures call the Works and Lufts of the Flesh, and of the Devil, deserve not only the Punishment of Excommunication, but to have such other Punishinents inflicted by the Magistrate, as may effe&tually discourage and deter all from living in them. For these Sins not only draw down the Judgments of God upon the guilty, but provoke him to send sore Judgments, as the Sword, the peftilence, or the Famine, on the places and Kingdoms where they are suffered to go unpunished. Those therefore who are aflisting to the Magistrate by Information or otherwise, in bringing such Sinners to condign Punishment, ought to be esteemed as publick Benefactors, and their Services merit the Approbation and Applause of all wife and good Men. And peradventure a greater Ą& of Charity, taking the Word in the largest Sense, cannot be done to the Persons and Families of Drunkards, and other leud and disorderly Perfons, than to make them feel the Inconveniencies and Smart of their Vices in this present World; for this may rouse and awaken their Consciences, and bring them to Confideration, and fo to true Repentance, and an inward as well as an outward Refor
1. See Dr. Claggeti's Sermon on Joh. 18. 6.
gion and Profaneness. Nor are all the nice Distinctions which have been invented and lent Abroad, sufficient to put a Stoj to these dismal Effects. For my Part, I should rather chul to say, I do not understand this or the other difficult Place o Scripture, than to put such a Sense upon any Text, as contradi&ts all the ratural Notions which God' has impressed concerning himself upon our Minds, and is contrary to a. plain and expreß Scriptures as any in the whole Bible. I dc not say this as thinking there are any such Scriptures, but only on Supposition that there were. For I hope what is said in the Notes is sufficient to satisfie any unprejudiced Perfon, and yet not one Quarter of what has been said, or may be said on this Argument, is touched upon. Those who go into this Notion, are generally so happy in their oton Opinion, as to believe themselves, whatever becomes of the rest of Mankind, to be of the Number of the Elcet, as they express it, otherwise it would be impossible for them to fit easie under it. And I believe I may without offending any one observe, That there is hardly a good-natured Man of this Opinion, who does not wish, that all his Fellow-Creatures were as capable of being for ever happy, as he himself is; nay, who would not make them fo, if it were in his Power to do it. If this Supposition be true, how is it poffible for any one to entertain such Thoughts of God, as this Opinion afcribes to him, whose Goodnes, whose Mercy, whose Compassions are infinite, as well as all his other Attributes? Or can we reasonably fuppose, that the Method designed and contrived by an All-wise and Almighty Being, for the Recovery of fallen Man, is of les Force, and of a smaller Extent, than the Destruction brought upon Man by the Dereit and Malice of the Devil, the great Enemy of Souls ? Would not such a Suppofition be highly injurious to the Mediatory Office of Christ, the great Refforer of fallen Man? As it is exprefly faid, that he tasted Death for every Man, so it must be acknowledged, that the Virtue and Valuc of his Sacrifice is sufficient for the Salvation of all Mon. It is a sad Truth, that many, very many, will miss of Salvation; but the Reason hereof is, not because God has excluded any by an absolute and unconditional Decree, but because they wilfully and obstinately refuse to accept of Salvation, on those reasonable and neceffary Conditions it is proposed to them upon. The Decree of God is, that it shall be well with the Righteous, but it shall not be well with the Wicked. And he
ol offers all sufficient Grace to enable them to forsake all known © and wilful Sin, to become new Creatures, and practise universal Holines and Goodness.
Scme who have early imbibed these Notions, and whose Minds are bound and fetter'd with them, may posibly be willing to be set free from them. Such I would advise not
to amuse and perplex themselves about the (1) Irescience Oor Foreknorpledge of God; for this is a Subje£t far, very far
out of their Reach, and what learned Men cannot agree about among themselves.
I have often thought, that the filling the Mind with such Subjects
, hath proceeded from a Temptation of the Devil, who finding that he cannot so far prevail as to have all Thoughts about Religion laid aside, hath, by this Artifice, turrid that Zeal, which should have been employ'd in governing our Passions, in mortifying our Lusts, and in the Destruction of Sin in our Souls, and in recovering the Divine Imagc, after which we were created in Righteculness and true Holiness, to such fruitless Speculations as thelė, about which, when we have pent many Days and Years, we fhall be as far from the Knowledge of them, as we were when we begun. If the Devil can destroy a Soul, it is all one to him whether he does it by Carelesness and Negligence, or by Immorality and Profaneness, or by imploying it only in the form of Religion, or in Difputes about it. Religion aims at nothing less than the
us such regenerate and holy Perfons as God can love and delight in; it aims to make us good our selves, and teaches us to do all the good we can to others, in our respektive Stations, Relations, and Circumstances
. And if the Devil çan by any of his Wiles and Devices, divert and keep us from seriouly endeavouring to resemble and imitate God, becoming like unto him in the Temper and Disposition of our Minds, he
It is not expected, that a Work of this Nature will be alike acceptable to all. Some may think that I might have saved
obtains his End.
(i) Those who have an Inclination, and are capable of considering and examining what has been written on this difficult Subject by fome who think out of the common Road, may consult Dr. Henry More's DiVine Dialogues, Dialogue the first, Se&t. 26. Allo Mr. Peter Poitett's Oeconomy of Univerlal Providence for the Salvation of all Men, which in the French is the 6th and laft Vol. of the Divin: Oecci.omy, ani Partyof the 4th Vol. in English.
my felf all this Pains; others, that there are too few Refe rences ; some, that there are too many. Some may say, tha they cannot discern the Relation between some of the References, and the Verses under which they are placed. Тc these and such like Objections, I shall only answer, That i any of these References have a Mark set before them, I do not look upon my self to be answerable for them
foi these having been put in the Margin of the Bible by emineni and learned Men, I should probably have incurr’d Censure if I had oniitted them. Besides, a second or third Revieto may discover their Relation to the Text, which was not so obvious at first sight. This
has often happened to me in compiling this Work. To assist the Reader herein, I have for the most Part put some of the emphatical Words ill a different Character. And though it should be supposed, that some of the Texts might as well have been omitted, yet if these stood before in the Margin of the Bible, this Work will notwithstanding fave them the Trouble of turning to them; and they will be able at first sight to judge what is, and what is not for their Purpose, which will, I am persivaded, be thought no inconfiderable Advantage by those who frequently turn to the References. The new References are those for which I am in some Measure accountable, because here I have used my own Judg
The Index at the End of the Second Volume will, in a good Degree, answer the Use of a Common-Place-Book to the holy Scriptures, there being among the References many Doctrinal and practical Texts cited from the Old Testament, as well as from the New. To make this the more useful, I have sometimes referr’d to Passages in the Old Testament, which are înot among the References, letting down in the Index the Chapter and Verse. If the Number of Sheets these Volumes consist of, would have allowed it, the Index might have been larger. But this Want may without much Difficulty be supplied; for those who defire a more complcat Index may interleave this, and in their Reading add such other Particulars as they think fit, which will make it more useful to them, than one entirely finifl'd by another Hand would be.
How far this Work may be of Use to my Reverend Brethren the Clergy, whether it may asist them in recollecting such Motives to prevail with their Hearers to practise the Duties which the Gospel enjoins, as the Holy Spirit makes Use of in the Scriptures, which consequently are the most perswalive
describ'd the Union of these two, or has been able to explain, how Thought should move Matter, or how Matter should act upon Thought : them the greatest Wonder, and perplex us as much as Things of greater Bulk and Shew. And yet we who know little of the smallest Matters, talk of nothing less than New Theories of the World, and vast Fields of 'selves with wonderful Discoveries, and mighty Improvements that have Knowledge, busying our selves in natural Enquiries, and flattering our been made in humane Learning, a great part of which is purely imagi
Motives ; or whether it may in any other Respect be serviceable
, I leave to be deterinined by them. But I am not without some Hope of its being of Service to those who are fiting themselves for Holy Orders, or have been but lately ordained.
I readily acknowledge, that my own manifold Defects might peily have discouraged me from this Undertaking, and that 2 Performance of othis kind by some abler Hand would have appeared with
greater Advantage ; but having been !ong of Opinion, that such a Work would be of Ule to the World, and having in vain tried to engage fome in it, whom I believed to be better qualified, I was at last prevailed with to set about it my self.
One Request I have to make to those who shall think fit to read this Work, That they would fignifie to me what Mifakes they shall discover therein; whether they were committed by me, or occasioned by my Distance from the Press. It is not unlikely, notwithstanding the Care I have taken, but that in transcribing so many Figures, fome Errors may be committed. Any such friendly Notice shall be thankfully acknowledged by me.
But if any fhall think it worth their Time and Pains to appear publickly against this Performance, all the Use I shall make thereof shall be to correct
upon further Examination I shall find my self to have beenz mistaken in, if there shall happen to be a future Impreffion, without giving them any Interruption about Matters wherein they may differ from me.
I will add no more, but my Defire to such as by ufing this Work fhall find themselves improved in Divine Knowledge, which is by far the (1) most valuable Knowledge, That when
they (1) We are not only puzzled by Things without us, but we are Strangers to our own Make and Frame; "for tho" we are convinced that we consist of Soul and Body, yet no Man hitherto has
sufficiently dary: and at the lame Time neglecting the only true, and folid, and