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moral, and they could not be charged with any open breach of the laws of God. And as they have little or no idea of the internal and spiritual sense of the decalogue, to which their life is in too many instances opposed, so they have generally confirmed themselves in an opinion, that no higher powers, than those which are merely natural, can be opened during the present life of man in this world.

Now, if this be the case, no higher life than the natural life can here be opened. All that is said, therefore, in scripture, of regeneration, the inward man, spiritual discernment of the things of God, to which the natural man cannot attain ; and indeed, the whole account that is there given of the christian's progress in divine knowledge and practice, must be totally rejected, or received merely in an outward and literal sense, without the least respeet to an inward and spiritual life.

Many also are the passions, prejudices, and interests, by which the greater part of learned men are influenced in their inquiries after truth. Till these are in some degree subdued, they cannot love truth for truth's sake. Some seem to place the whole delight of their life in an argument:

they doubt, dispute, cavil for ever : the simplicity of truth can never strike such minds with conviction : they do not suffer it to command their assent by its own authority alone : their restless and disputing tempers will never be satisfied with a conviction, that a thing is so, but they must know how and why it is so. Such persons may think that they love truth

; but their own judgment, and fancied acuteness of reasoning, is the Egyptian idol they are continually worshipping. This self-love keeps them from embracing the truth. Till this evil is resisted as sin against the Lord, and the Lord alone is regarded and applied to as the fountain of truth, by keeping his holy commands, and praying to him to “open their understanding, that they may understand the scriptures,” they will continue to wander for ever in doubt, without light in their understandings, or the love of God and man in their hearts.

Others have been for years, perhaps, attached to some favourite system of doctrine, and have so confirmed themselves therein, by talking, writing, preaching, and publishing their opinions founded thereupon, that they cannot love truth for

truth's sake; they see it through the medium of prejudices, worldly passions, and worldly interests, which urge them continually to oppose it. Their literary reputation is at stake ; they have, perhaps, composed volumes on subjects of divinity, morality, or natural philosophy; they are spoken of as luminaries of the age; respected, courted, and applied to as oracles by the whole circle of their friends and acquaintance. It would be a severe sacrifice indeed to such men, to part at once with their worldly fame, and their long received opinions, candidly to confess their ignorance, and publicly to renounce former errors. They shrink from such convictions of truth, as they plainly see must lead to such sacrifices; and thus they are withheld by motives of prejudice, self conceit and vain glory, from loving the truth for truth's sake.

And yet could these men be prevailed upon to lay aside the pomp and parade of human learning, the pride of literary fame, and all undue attention to worldly respects; could they enter the school of Christ with that child-like simplicity, which he requires as indispensably necessary for all religious attainments; could

they seriously determine to keep the commandments, that is, to fly from the love of self, and the love of the world, in all their variety of false and evil forms, to love the Lord with all their hearts, and their neighbour as themselves, they would soon find a way open for their entrance into life; they would soon “know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or not;" they would soon be possessed of as much truth as their present states and capacities could receive; and would find a path of “light shining," as they advanced,

6 more and more unto the perfect day.”

Even the philosophers of old acknowledged and taught this fundamental maxim, (which they received from an higher source than most of them suspected,) that the purification of the mind" from errors and vices was previously and indispensably necessary to the reception of truth and virtue, which could not take up their residence in an understanding clouded and confused by falsehood, and an heart polluted by sensual, selfish, and impure desires. Let these few hints suffice to prepare

the learned reader for the important contents of the following pages.

To the unlearned, who are satisfied with having been instructed in their catechisms at an early period of life, have now and then read a little in their Bibles, and formed some obscure notions of christian doctrine from the church in which they were educated, and the sermons and lectures which they have been accustomed to attend, it need only be observed, that they will find, in this small volume, the great doctrines of repentance, faith, and good works, (which they have often heard from the pulpit,) explained in a more scriptural, clear, connected, rational way, than has ever yet been done.

It may be here observed, that though the mode of expression made use of in the following treatise may appear in some measure new, yet it is not only clear and explicit to the unlearned reader, but may be attended, perhaps, with this peculiar advantage, that it will lead him to consider realities more than words, which are only signs. For realities have been frequently neglected, nay, sometimes wholly lost sight of, by long use of the same words. This might be exemplified in a variety of sad instances, from the present state of the church.

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