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TO THE READER. *
Is SHALL not need to detain the reader with an account of the nature and moment of that doctrine which is the entire subject of the ensuing Discourse. For although sundry persons, even among ourselves, have various apprehensions concerning it, yet that the knowledge of the truth therein is of the highest importance unto the souls of men, is on all hands agreed unto. Nor indeed is it possible that any man who knows himself to be a sinner, and obnoxious thereon to the judgment of God, but he must desire to have some knowledge of it, as that alone whereby the
way of delivery from the evil state and condition, wherein he finds himself, is revealed. There are, I confess, multitudes in the world, who, although they cannot avoid some general convictions of sin, as also of the consequents of it; yet do fortify their minds against a practical admission of such conclusions, as in a just consideration of things do necessarily and unavoidably ensue thereon. Such persons wilfully deluding themselves with vain hopes and imaginations, do never once seriously inquire by what way or means they may obtain peace with God, and, acceptance before him, which in comparison of the present enjoyment of the pleasures of sin, they value not at all. And it is in vain to recommend the doctrine of justification unto them, who neither desire nor endeavour to be justified. But where any persons are really made sensible of their apostacy from God, of the evil of their natures and lives, with the dreadful consequences that attend thereon in the
wrath of God, and eternal punishment due unto sin, they cannot well judge themselves more concerned in any thing, than in the knowledge of that divine way whereby they may be delivered from this condition. And the minds of such persons stand in no need of arguments to satisfy them in the importance of this doctrine; their own concernment in it is sufficient to that purpose. And I shall assure them, that in the handling of it from first to last, I have had no other design, but only to inquire diligently into the divine revelation of that way, and those means, with the causes of them, whereby the conscience of a distressed sinner may attain assured peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. I lay more weight on the steady direction of one soul in this inquiry, than in disappointing the objections of twenty wrangling or fiery disputers. The question therefore unto this purpose being stated, as the reader will find in the beginning of our Discourse, although it were necessary to spend some time in the explication of the doctrine itself, and terms wherein it is usually taught, yet the main weight of the whole lies in the interpretation of Scripture testimonies, with the application of them unto the experience of them who do believe, and the state of them who seek after salvation by Jesus Christ. There are therefore some few things that I would desire the reader to Take notice of, that he may receive benefit by the ensuing Discourse; at least, if it be not his own fault, be freed from prejudices against it, or a vain opposition unto it.
1. Although there are at present various contests about the doctrine of justification, and many
books published in the way of controversy about it; yet this Discourse was written with no design to contend with, or contradict any, of what sortor opinion soever.