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As several Texts of Scripture come under Confideration, Criticisms upon the Original are frem quently subjoined. In order to clear up fome Difficulties, to re£tify fome Mistranslations, or point out the many delicate and masterly Strokes, which occur in the B 1 B.L E.- And glad mould I be, extremely glad, if I might recommend and endear that invaluable Book. If, as the Divine REDEEMER rideth on in the Word of
Truth, of Meekness, and Righteousness * this Hand might scatter a Palm Branch, or this Performancė might lie as a Floweret, to strew his Way t, and solemnize bis Triumph.
In the Course of the Disputation, I dare not suppose, that I have discussed all the Arguments, which Sagacity may devise, or Sophiftry urge. Perhaps, I have not removed all the Scruples, which may awaken Prejudice, or embarrass Integrity. This, however, I may venture to affirm, that I myself bave met with no considerable Objection, which is not either expresly answered, or virtually refuted, in these Conferences.—And, though I should neither jatisfy nor filence the Gainsayer, I shall think my Endeavours happily employed, if they may throw Light upon the dim Apprehenfion; establish the wavering Faith; or comfort the afflicted Conscience.
* Psal. xlv. 4.
† Alluding to Malt. xxi, 8.
If any Mould burlesque ox ridicule these venerable Truths, and exalted Privileges, I pall only say with my Diviné MASTER; O! that Thou hadît known, in this thy Day, the Things that belong to thy Peace! But now they are hid, it is evident from such a Procedure, they are hid from thine Eyes *. --Should any, in the Spirit of Decency and Candor, either start new, or revive old Obječtions, I doubt not, but they will receive both a due Examination and a proper Reply. As these Doctrines enter into the very Effence of the Gospel, and constitute the Glory of our Religion, they can never want à Succession of Advocates, so long as the Sun and Moon endure. For my own part, I must beg leave to retire from the Lifts, and lay down the Weapons of Controversy. Virgil's Language is my Resolution ; Discedam, explebo Numerum, reddarque
This Declaration is made, not from any the least Suspicion, that ny. Tenets are indefenfible; but because I would apprize my Friends, and the Friends of cur common Christianity, that the Field is clear and open for them to cdvance;. that I resign to others the glorious
* Luke xix. 42.
Combat; and Pball content myself with wishing them Success in the Name of the LORD. --Because, it becomes a Person in my declining State, to be more peculiarly intent upon encountering a different Adversary; who is sure to overcome, and never allows Quarter. Yet, by this Word of my Testimony, and by the Blood of the L AMB*, I hope to triumph even when I fall; and to be more than
Conqueror, through JEHOVAH my Righ· teousness.
Should any Thing be urged, forcible enougla to overthrow my Arguments, or detect a Miftake in my Sentiments, the World may depend upou seeing, a free and undiffembled Retractation. I shall look upon it as a Duty, which I owe to my Conscience, to my Readers, and to iny GOD, publicly to acknowledge the Error. -It is one Thing to be silent; another to be obstinate. As I shall inflexibly adhere to the first; I would, with equal Steadiness, renounce the last. Though I withdraw from the Strife of Pens and of Tongues, I shall take care to
open to Convi&tion. A Mind, infinitely more concerned for the Purity and Prosperity of the everlasting Gospel, than for the Prevalence of
my own opinion, or the Credit of my own Performance.
As I have the Happiness of being a Member, and the Honour of being a Minister, of the reformed established Church; I cannot but refleet, with a peculiar Pleafure, that every Doctrine of Note,, maintained in these Dialogues and Letters, is either implied in our Liturgy, asserted in our Articles, or taught in our Homilies.-It affords me likewise fome Degree of Satisfa&tion to observe, that the most material of the Sentiments, have been adopted by Milton; are incorporated into bis Paradise Loft; and add Dignity to the sublimest Poem in the World. To bave the bighest buman Authority, and the first Genius of the Nation on a Writer's Side, is no contemptible Support. This must surely give a Sanɛtion, where-ever our religious Eftablishment is reverenced, or polite Literature is held in Repute. Yet even this San&tion, compared with the Oracle of Revelation, is only like a Range of Cyphers, connected with the initial Figure. Which, were they detached, would be infignificant; but, in such a Subordination, are considerable.
* Perhaps, it should be farther acknowledged, that I have not always confined myself to the Method of our Systematic Writers, nor followed their Train of Thoughts with a scrupulous Re
gularity." I would conduét my Fellow-creature to the supreme and eternal Good, CHRIST JESUS.' I have chosen the Path; ' which seemed most agreeable and inviting, rather than most beaten and frequented.“ If this leads, with equal Certainty, to the great and desirable End, I dare promise myself an easy Excuse. ' However, that Method and Order, in the doétrinal Parts of the Plan, are not wholly negleEted, the following Summary of Contents may shew.