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of public attention, must now be left to the decision of those who may favour the Volume with a perusal.
-To the friends themselves by whom the requests were transmitted, whether prompted by a coincidence of sentiment with my own, or simply by a desire for the free investigation of truth, my grateful acknowledgments are, at any rate, due ; and they are thus publicly and respectfully presented.
It is a serious thing, to charge a professed minister of Christ with preaching “ another gospel” than his.
. When the Apostle Paul brings the charge, he adds, with all solemnity, and, lest any should think it a hasty utterance, deliberately repeats the denunciation, “Let him be accursed !" The least, certainly, that can be inferred from this is, that we should be very sure of our ground, before we venture to advance the charge. It is sufficiently well known, that, by some at least of the advocates of universal pardon and of the necessity of personal assurance to saving faith, bold and sweeping assertions have been openly made, that the gospel is not preached in this land ; and, indeed, the same thing has, in substance if not in the ipsissima
verba, been avowed from the press ; Mr Erskine having, in his last publication, declared his conviction, that all who, in their preaching, connect pardon with the faith of the gospel, preach a system of pure selfishness, which he pronounces“ man's religion, and not God's," and represents as subversive of the unconditional freeness of grace. In this condemnation are included, whatever may be the simplicity of their views otherwise, both of the ground of the sinner's acceptance with God, and of the faith, or belief of the truth, by which he becomes interested in the blessing, all who do not preach the very sentiments respecting pardon and assurance, which he has himself embraced, and which he conceives to constitute the essence of the Gospel. That there is ground for many of his strictures, on the nature and tendency of certain doctrines, and modes of stating doctrines, accords with my own observation. But his censures have appeared to me reprehensibly indiscriminate ; views of the faith of the
; gospel being grouped together, and charged with the same consequences which are evidently and materially different. Surprise and regret at this indiscriminateness,
together with a conviction, which I have long entertained, that on the subjects of the two Essays there is great danger, in controverting one extreme, of falling into its opposite, have been part of my inducement to publish. Whether I have myself been enabled to shun this tendency to extremes, the reader must judge.
Various publications have recently issued from the press, in opposition to the views which are controverted in these Essays. I know not that any apology is due to their respective authors for my not having yet perused them ; but I feel it needful to state
2 the fact, in order to account for the absence of all allusion to them in the succeeding pages. The truth is, that, wishing to be quite untrammelled in pursuing the course of my own investigations and reasonings, I laid down the resolution, that I would read nothing of what was written by others, till I had finished what I had to say myself. As there could not fail to be, on the general subjects, a considerable coincidence of views and arguments, I was solicitous to leave no ground, in any mind, for even a suspicion of plagiarism. And, on the other hand, aware that, on some points, there was
a likelihood of material difference, both in the representations of truth and in the grounds adopted for the refutation of error,
hardly less important, perhaps, in those points, than the coincidence in others,—I was equally solicitous to shun the appearance of writing, with personal allusion, against any individual on the same side with myself of the general controversy.
In the first advertisement of this little work, the general title given to it was “ SIMPLE TRUTH." - Various objections, however, were started against this title. By some it was conceived to be deficient in dignity. And yet, what is there that can vie in real dignity with unadorned truth? To what, more justly or forcibly than to truth, can the poet's line be applied
“ Majestic in its own simplicity ?” By others, it was reprehended, as assuming what it was the object of the work to prove-taking for granted, in the very Title-page, that truth was on my side. This brought to my recollection a sentiment of the late Mr Fuller, that “those writers, who are not ashamed to beg the question in the title-page, are sel
dom the most liberal or impartial in the execution of the work." And although, in giving to the very
. volume, in the preface to which this sentiment occurs, the title of, “ The Gospel its own witness ; or the holy nature and divine harmony of the Christian religion, contrasted with the immorality, and absurdity of Deism,” the excellent and able writer appears to have allowed his own remark to slip from his remembrance, yet is the remark itself by no means destitute of truth. It is always, however, conceived to contain even more of truth than really belongs to it, by persons who are predisposed against the particular views of which the writer avows himself the advocate. Such persons say immediately, with an emotion half-indignant, half-disdainful—“Simple truth! that remains to be proved :" and the very feeling thus excited gives an addition of strength to their prejudice, and fortifies them the more against conviction. Yet surely, every one who publishes his sentiments, on any subject, to the world, must, if he be an honest man, believe what he publishes to be truth; and a title-page ought, perhaps, to be considered, rather as expressing what the author be