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« unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily pro« voked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, « but rejoiceth in the truth : beareth all things, believ" eth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all " things. Charity never fails.” Men are too often the worse for their wit, for their learning, aye for their religion too, if charity does not humble and fanctify them. « Ye know not of what spirit ye are,” faid the blessed Saviour of the world, to some of his overzealous disciples. There is a false, as well as a true zeal, and by their fruits we shall know them. True zeal is against fin, and shown best upon a man's self, his own life and conduct : it is tempered with wisdom, and will not outshoot the mark, especially towards others. But false zeal is nothing but passion in the name of religion. It is impatient, froward, angry, and revengeful. It can slander, quarrel, beat, plunder, and kill too, and all for God's sake! alas ! their zeal is the excuse of their choler; and, for the most part, those that are captivated with it, are worse livers than those they so evilly treat; and, at best, shew most busy and concerned about the outside of religion. David was zealous, but not after this fort; for though he tells us that his “ Zeal for God's house had eaten « him' up,” yet he never said it had eaten up his neighbours. That furious zeal is strictly forbidden by Chrift, the great Lord of the Christian religion.
It will therefore do us no hurt, if we try our own fpirits, and see with what fpirits we profess religion, and act for it. They that act not from religion, can never act rightly for religion; their spirits must be wrong ; let their zeal fwell as big as mountains, their faith can never remove one : they build upon the sand, and the fall of their building will be, at last, as terrible to themselves, as their ignorant zeal made it formerly burdensome to others.
Well then, where shall we pitch the nature and business of religion, under the various notions and shapes we find it wears among men, and that plainly and
intelligibly? And with our answer to this, let us conclude this preface.
Religion, in the judgment of this author, is - Livring up to what a man knows of the mind of God; i and attending diligently upon that light in himself, , which gives him that knowledge of his duty."
This is the gift of God by Christ, that " enlightens 6 every man that comes into the world.” This is the talent that men are instructed with, to improve to the saving of their souls. And the apostle tells us, that « whatsoever may be known of God, is manifest in « them, by this light,” because or whatever makes « manifest is light." Peruse John i. 9. chap. iii. 21. Rom. i. 19. Ephef. v. 13, 14. He that knows and acquaints hinself with this holy light in himself, that comes by Christ, the great light of the world, and brings his deeds and thoughts to it, and squares his desires and will according to the manifestations and directions of it, will approve himself a disciple of Christ, a lover of religion, and therefore a religious man indeed : the nature and end of religion being our conformity to the will of God, which the apostle expounds to be our « sanctification ;” and that cannot be, till we receive this holy leaven in ourselves, by which the whole lump of man comes to be leavened; man, in body, soul, and spirit; man, throughout; man to be a new man: for so the apostolical doctrine instructs us, “ that as we have long borne the image of “ the earthly, so we may come to bear the image of “ the heavenly man, the Lord from heaven;" and, like him, to be heavenly-minded. And truly, that is the man I would choose to affociate myself with, and the church, society, or people, whose communion I would prefer, that are followers and children of this
light of Jesus; who, deftitute of pompous worship, . and of tedious and difficult creeds, resolve all into an humble and daily watch and obedience to this light of Christ in the conscience, both as to their worship to God, and conversation among men, whatever the unjust unthinking world is pleased to judge of them.
I shall I shall detain the reader no longer from the book itself. He will find virtue and charity the great tendency of it. And though it may be objected by some, that much of the service of it is over, because the o current of persecution is stopped;' they are under a great mistake: the service of it is not over; would it were : for debauchery of all sorts was never more impudent and epidemical; and as great uncharitableness still appears among people. Their hands are in some measure stopped or diverted, but their tongues are not, for they were never more on fire against one another; and we know, " out of the abundance of the “ heart the mouth speaks." They do not only whisper, but rail and threaten one another; and, to be sure, religion must be much of the ensign of their ani. mofity: therefore till vice be suppressed, and education be better provided for, and presumption and violence extinguished, that so virtue, humility, and charity may prevail among us, this treatise will be serviceable: however, we are not to measure our duty by success: but if it shall please Almighty God to favour the honest purpose of the author with his blessing, that it may have those desirable effects where it comes, the author will exceedingly rejoice, and God shall have the glory of this, as of all other the services of his people; who is worthy for ever!
REAT books seldom find readers; and it may U be the times may render this such: for the motion of affairs is so swift, that action treads hard upon the heels of writing, and there is little time left to read : besides, people had rather converse with the living than the dead; and such all books are to men in business. This reflection at first daunted me, the tract being grown thus under my hand: but believing what I have writ to be both true and useful to our yet so much needed civil and ecclesiastical reformation, and taking encouragement by the kind reception of some former essays and addresses I made, I resolved to let it go; but with this care, that by prefixing contents, thou mayest readily turn to that part which may more immediately concern thee, or best suit and answer thy inquiry.
PART 1. $. 1. T HE introduction. Five great and crying
I evils of the times, under the correction of the civil magistrates.
§. 2. Of the sin of drunkenness.
$. 4. Of the evil of luxury, and excess in apparel, in living, in furniture.
S. 5. Of the evil of gaming.
§. 6. Of the horrid sin of oaths, cursing and blafphemy.
5. 7. Of the sin of profaneness.
S. 8. An address to the magistrates for redress of those evils.
The first motive to this address, viz. the preservation of the government: examples of kingdoms, nations and people exalted by the practice of virtue, and overthrown by vice.
$. 9. The second motive to this address, viz. the benefit of pofterity.
$. 10. The third and last motive to this address, viz. the glory of God.
$. 1. T IVE capital evils that relate to the eccle
fiaftical Itate of these kingdoms. 9. 2. Of the first capital evil, viz. Opinions passing for faith.