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evidence of it. For as Mr. Williams himself says, in sermon on Christ a King and Witness, p. 91, 92, “ The understanding cannot be brought to yield its assent to any truth, which it does not see the truth or apprehend the evidence of. If you would hire him with cart-loads, or ship-loads of gold and silver ; if you would imprison him, whip him, burn him ; you cannot make him believe a thing to be true, which he apprehends to be incredible, or which he sees no sufficient reason to believe.” Now, therefore, what shall the man do, on Mr. Williams's principles? He is commanded to profess the doctrine of the Trinity, which must be professed in order to be lawfully baptized in the name of the Trinity; and on Mr. Williams's principles, he is commanded to do it this moment : yet also on his principles, if the man professes it, and is not morally sincere, or knows he does not believe it, he is guilty of horrible falsehood and prevarication; which God doubtless forbids. Therefore here is certainly as much of an appearance of commanding and forbidding the sanie thing at the same time, as in the other case.
Every husbandman in Israel, that lived even in Christ's time, was required to offer a basket of the first fruits; and was commanded, when he offered it, solemnly to make that profession, concerning the principal facts relating to the redemption out of Egypt, which is prescribed in Deut. xxvi. 5—10,“ A Syrian ready to perish was my father," &c. Now supposing there had been an Israelite, who did not believe the truth of all these facts, which came to pass so many ages before (as there are now many in Christendom, who do not believe the facts concerning Jesus Christ), and continued in his unbelief, until the very moment of his offering ; God peremptorily requires him to make this profession; yet none will say, that he may lawfully profess these things, at the same time when he does not believe them to be true. However, here is no commanding and forbidding the same thing at the same time : because, though God required the Jews to make this profession, yet the thing required was to believe it and profess it. Though some might not believe it, nor be able for the present to believe it; yet this inability arose from depravity and wickedness of heart, which did not at all excuse their unbelief, for one moment.* Mr. Williams himself owns, p. 129, that God may require those things which are out of men's natural power.
Now this may be laid down as a truth, of easy and plain evidence : if God may require what wicked men, while such, are unable to perform, then he may also require those things which are connected with it, and which, if the other be done, they would be able to do, and might do, and without which they may not do it. So if God may require an unsanctified man to love him, then he may require him to testify and profess his love, as I suppose Christians do in the act of partaking of the Lord's supper ; and yet it may not be lawful for him to testify and profess love, when he has it not.
This instance may show us, that God's requiring all Israel to enter into covenant with him, and seal their covenant in the passover, will not prove, that it was lawful for any to avouch the Lord to be their God, and promise and swear they would perform universal and persevering obedience, when at the same moment they had no love to God, and even then, while speaking the words, continued in a habitual, wilful disobedience to God's commands, and were willing slaves to the devil. Nor will it follow, from
these commands given to the Israelites, concerning their covenanting with God, and sealing their cove· nant, that God ever did, since the foundation of the world, appoint or command any other covenanting with him, than as giving up themselves wholly and without reserve, both soul and body, both heart and life; or that ever he appointed or commanded any covenanting, wherein men give a part, and keep back a part, give him the side and keep back the noblest and best part, the heart, will and affections, for sin and Satan; or lilai there :s ans rich covenant of God in being; or that such covenanting has not always been as much without foundation in 2'institution of God, es a zv of the spurious sacraments of the church of Rome: or that it has not always veca srl Stilden of Gu: or that it is not absolutely and in itself sinful and unlawful, as truly as the act of Ananias and Sapphira.
TO THE EDINBURGH EDITION.
TAEY who have a relish for the study of the Scriptures, and have access to peruse the following sheets, will, I am persuaded, deem themselves much indebted to the Reterend Mr. Edwards of New Haven for consenting to publish them. Though the acute philosopher and deep divine appears in them, yet they are in the general better calculated for the instruction and improvement of ordinary Christians, than those of President EDWARDS's writings, where the abstruse nature of the subject, or the subtle objections of opposers of the truth, led him to more abstract and metaphysical reasonings. The manuscript being intrusted to my care, I have not presumed to maxe any change in the sentiments or composition. I have, however, taken the liberty to reduce it from the form of sermons, which it originally bore, to that of a continued treatise ; and I have so altered and diversified the marks of the several divisions and subdivisions, that each class of heads might be easily distinguished.
EDINBURGH, April, 29, 1774.
It has long been desired by the friends of Mr. EDWARDS that a number of his man- . uscripts should be published; but the disadvantage under which all posthumous publications must necessarily appear, and the difficulty of getting any considerable work printed in this infant country hitherto, have proved sufficient obstacles to the execution of such a proposal. The first of these obstacles made me doubt, for a considerable time after these manuscripts came into my hands, whether I could consistently with that regard which I owe to the honor of so worthy a parent, suffer any of them to appear in the world. However, being diffident of my own sentiments, and doubtful whether I were not over-jealous in this matter, I determined to submit to the opinion of gentlemen, who are friends both to the character of Mr. EDWARDS and to the cause of truth. The consequence was, that they gave their advice for publishing them.
The other obstacle was removed by a gentleman in the church of Scotland, who was formerly a correspondent of Mr. EDWARDS. He engaged a bookseller to undertake the work, and also signified his desire, that these following discourses in particular might be made public.
Mr. EDWARDS had planned a body of divinity, in a new method, and in the form of a history; in which he was first to show, how the most remarkable events, in all ages from the fall to the present times, recorded in sacred and profane history, were adapted to promote the work of redemption; and then to trace, by the light of Scripture prophecy, how the same work should be yet further carried on even to the end of the world. His heart was so much set on executing this plan, that he was considerably averse to accept the presidentship of Princeton college, lest the duties of that office should put it out of his power.
The outlines of that work are now offered to the public, as contained in a series of sermons preached at Northampton in 1739,* without any view to publication. On that account, the reader cannot reasonably expect all that from them, which he migh: justly have expected, had they been written with such a view, and prepared by the author's own hand for the press.
As to elegance of composition, which is now esteemed so essential to all publications, it is well known, that the author did not make that his chief study. However, his other writings, though destitute of the ornaments of fine language, have it seems that solid merit, which has procured both to themselves and to him a considerable rep utation in the world, and with many, a high esteem. It is hoped that the reader will find in these discourses many traces of plain good sense, sound reasoning, and thorough knowledge of the sacred oracles, and real unfeigned piety; and that, as the plan is new, and many of the sentiments uncommon, they may afford entertainment and improvement to the ingenious, the inquisitive, and the pious reader; may confirm their faith in God's government of the world, in our holy Christian religion in general, and in many of its peculiar doctrines; may assist in studying with greater pleasure and advantage the historical and prophetical books of Scripture; and may excite to a conversation becoming the gospel.
That this volume may produce these happy effects in all who shall peruse it is the hearty desire and prayer of
The reader's most humble servant,
New Haven, Feb. 25, 1773.
* This is necessary to be remembered by the reader, in order to understand some chronological ubuer. vations in the following work.