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man as the cause of evil concupiscence, must be interpreted by the same rule. It asserts the fallen state of man, and the great depravation of every man's nature, that is descended from Adam, inclining him to evil; insomuch that the flesh is represented to be always lusting against the spirit, and every man is said to have a natural propensity to evil, which, working evil deservedly subjects him to the divine wrath and condemnation. Take this proposition, as all propositions morally universal are to be taken; as meaning that a natural principle of evil still subsists in all men, and that evil thoughts and desires do frequently arise in the hearts of the best men, and almost perpetually in the hearts of bad ones; and our own consciousness and experience will convince us of the truth of it. And, indeed, was it not for the intervention of the Divine Grace, more general and powerful, perhaps, than we are aware of, the effects of this depravation might be as bad as they were in the antediluvian world, when every imagination of the thoughts of the heart of man were only evil continually; so evil, as to bring down a dreadful vengeance upon the whole world."
These preliminary observations, it is hoped,
may assist a fair and patient comparison of the several declarations of our Reformers, in order to their mutual illustration. To such as require complete information on any, or all, of the points, here considered, the bishop of Lincoln's perspicuous Refutation of Calvinism, and Dr. Laurence's successful Attempt to illustrate those Articles of the Church of England, which the Calvinists improperly consider as Calvinistical, amply afford it. From the perusal of these, the notion of bringing together the venerable documents, which therein are dispersedly, and in part, referred to, originated in my mind; and to them I most gratefully acknowledge particular obligation. That no reader might be repelled by the ancient orthography, (which a single page of the original editions will abundantly shew to be quite unsettled,) I have given the texts of these documents in modern spelling; but have not omitted a single word. An explanatory note has been sometimes necessary; together with a statement of some various readings, and the rectification of some mistaken dates.
At a time when hostility against the national faith is waged, not only by open enemies, but also by pretended friends; and when attempts to impose
impose false senses upon the publick declarations of that faith, in order to countenance and propagate error, continue to be made; any method, however humble, which may tend to weaken this hostility, and to expose these attempts, cannot, if conducted with truth, but be of use. With this feeling I have made the present compilation, and commend it to the theological inquirer.