« PreviousContinue »
LATL PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE, AT PRINCETON NEW-JERSEY.
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED
An Account of the Author's Life, in a Sermon occasioned
by his Death, by the
Rev. Dr. JOHN RODGERS,
or New YORK.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
Printed and published by William W. Woodward, No. 17,
Chesnut near Front Street.
[COPY RIGHT SECURED.)
P R E F A C E
Was Published in the European, which makes but a part
of the American Edition.
THE following Treatises were originally published at diferent times, and some of them on particular occasions ; but the attentive reader will easily perceive one leading design running tbrough tbe whole. The autbor bats long been of opinion, tbat tbe great decay of religion in all parts of this kingdom, is obieAy vwing to a departure from the truth as it is in JESUS, from tbose doctrines which chiefly constitute the substance of the gospel. It may perbaps be justly imputed to other reneral causes in part, and in some nieasure to less universal causes in par. ticular places ; but as all moral action must arise from principle, oiberwise it ought not to be called by tbat name, the immediate and most powerful cause of degeneracy in practice, must always be a corruption in principle.
I am sensible that many will be ready to cry out on this occasion, “ Sucb notions arise from narrowness of mind and uncharitable sentia « ments.” I answer, that it is surprising to think boru easily tbe fashionable or cant phrases of the age, will pass among superficial thinkers und readers, witbout the least attention either to tbeir meaning, or tbe evidence on wbich they are founded.
Tbus at present, if a man sball write or speak against certain principles, and stile tbem pernicious, it will be tbought a sufficient vindication of them to make a beaten common-place er.comium on liberty of conscience and freedom of enquiry. Blessed be God, ibis great and sacred privilege is well secured to us in this nation : But pray, is it not mine as well as yours
? And is it not the very exercise of this liberty, for every man to endeavor to support those principles which appear to him to be founded on Reason and Scripture, as well as to attack without scruple every ebing wbieb be believes to be contrary to eitber.
Let it also be observed, tbat if freedom of inquiry be a blessing at all, it can be so for no orber reason than tbe excellence arid salutary in uence of real truth, when it can be discovered. If truib and error are ev aliy safe, notbing can be more fuolish tban for a man to waste bis tiine in endeavoring to distinguish the one from the other. What a view does