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BX (334 ,K57 1831
P R E F A CE.
Some reasons may be expected for the re-publication of this work, and though the title may appear objectionable, or the attempt to refute the sentiments of a pious pastor, or much esteemed Christian friend, may be offensive; or, any objections made to the opinions of a favourite author may be extremely painful; yet it is fondly hoped that candour, love of truth, and respect for the word of God, may so ope. rate that prejudice may be laid aside, and fervent prayer ascend to God for the influences of his Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth as it is in Christ Jesus. Without this the capacious mind of a Locke or a Newton, the ingenuity and piety of a Bunyan, the eloquence of an Apollos, the love of a John, or the powerful preaching of a Paul, would neither enlighten the mind, or improve the heart.
The motives for the appearance of this work are these; for more than thirty years, it is presumed, some thoughtful believers have, with much anxiety, watched the progress of Christianity and Infidelity in this city, and are led to the painful conclusion, that the doctrine of a general or indefinite atonement, or that sin was atoned for in the abstract, has been the prolific source or fountain from whence arguments have been, and are drawn, designed to support those delusive errors embraced and propagated by Universalists, Unitarians, Arians, and Deists, and thus hare the depraved hearts
of poor sinners been hardened, their eyes blinded, and they have been lulled into a fatal security, while strangers to a change of heart and the love of Christ Jesus. Some of God's dear children may take no interest in this work, assigning as a reason, "We are not fond of controversy;" but ought we not to remember the exhortation, “ Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints,” and is it not possible that this plea was also used by the poor deluded opponents of Martin Luther at the Reformation ? Again; some may say, "We do not like the spirit of the author, he seems to be so severe against his opponent;" but we should remember the inspired Apostle said, "Rebuke them sharply," and he even withstood the Apostle Peter to the face. Others may say, "The author is opposed to missionary exertions;" but if such will examine his work, and compare it with the word of God, it will be found, that he is only opposed to missionary errors, or the strange fire which is taken to the altar of the Lord. Some may suppose he is unfriendly to learning, and a well-educated ministry; but if they candidly peruse his work, or inquire into his character, they will find that he is a friend both to literature and science, as also to theological studies, though strenuously opposed to those blind guides, who are taught to preach by human agency,
without the influences of the Holy Spirit to qualify them for the important work.
Others may imagine that he is opposed altogether to the Gospel ministry, but there are living witnesses in this city who can testify to the contrary from personal knowledge of the author. Some may suppose his reflections are too severe on the titles assumed by, or given to those who profess to preach the Gospel. Primitive christians were satisfied with the title of “Elder;" Jews with that of “Doctor," or "Rabbi," but Jesus said to his disciples, "Be ye not called Rabbi or Master." The fact of antichrist's having stolen
and arrogated to himself the title of Holiness, certainly cannot justify Protestants in joining with him to profane the name which is peculiar to Deity, by either giving or receiving the title of "Reverend," and as it is written "Holy and Reverend is His Name," and that Aaron was manded "not to profane God's Holy Name," how careful ought we, as Christians, to be, lest we should take that Holy Name in vain. Others of the little flock whom Jesus feeds, may complain because the author relates the dying experience of many of the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, many of his public ambassadors, and amongst them the pious individual Andrew Fuller, against whose sentiments he has written this work. But, is this a valid objection? are not christians much gratified by hearing or knowing how the Lord Jesus supports true believers in their last moments? “Oh, yes! says the objector, but he has introduced this to support his arguments;"_let this be admitted, and it shows the author's love of the man, but his aversion to his errors, by the faithful and affectionate manner in which his opponent's dying exercise is introduced; it also shews that those who honour God he will honour, and those that despise him, shall be lightly esteemed. The pious Bunyan advances this idea; that the fatherly chastisements of God to his dear children may extend even to their dying beds, like naughty children they may be put to bed in the dark, but still they are children," heirs of God and joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ,” and “because he lives they shall.live also." No one doubts the piety of the good King Hezekiah, though he was unwilling to die, any more than they do the piety of Paul, who had a desire to depart and be with Christ,” and who exultingly said, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith,” &c. May all those who are
placed on the walls of Zion so imitate this great Apostle, that the blood of souls may not be found on their skirts, and that the souls of God's dear children may not be made sad by the uncertain sound which is too often given to the Gospel Trumpet. But, it is to be feared that some of them may feel no interest in this work, they "do not like doctrinal discussions;" but may it not be said of such, “When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need of being taught, and fed with milk, and not strong meat.” Shall we say with the Man of Sin “Ignorance is the mother of devo. tion?" No! says the Christian, it is our duty and privilege to “search the Scriptures, and giving all diligence, add to our faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity, and if these things be in us and abound, we shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” To conclude, many may have no love for the doctrinal, practical, experimental, or evangelical truth contained in this book, and, we have some reason to fear, no love to God, to his word, to his ways, to his ordinances, or to his people. To such persons we would most affectionately point out the words of the great Head of the church, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God," and to any poor, sensibly helpless, perishing sinner, we would say, “The blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanseth from all sin;" and if we are thus quickened by the Holy Spirit, and brought to feel our wretched condition by nature and practice, the Scripture warrants us to believe that he ever liveth to make intercession for us.
TO THE FIRST EDITION.
I THINK it right to inform the reader, that, some time ago, I was accidentally engaged in a verbal controversy on the nature and extent of the atonement of Christ, with a Baptist minister of some celebrity, residing in Northamptonshire. At parting, he earnestly entreated me to read Mr. Fuller's “Dialogues, Letters, and Essays," which I promised to do. No sooner had I read and pondered that work, than the fallacy of Mr. Fuller's doctrine, which my friend had espoused, appeared to me in a more striking manner than it had ever done before ; and I felt assured that, with a little labour, the speciousness and deceitfulness of Mr. Fuller's views might be fully made manifest. With this conviction, I determined to attempt a refutation of them, and to publish it in the following Letters.
It is more than possible that some weak and