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P R E F A C E
R E A D E R.
IT hath pleased Mr. Edwards, in answer to the Reasonableness of Christianity, &c. and its Vindication, to turn one of the most weighty and important points that can come into question, (even no less than the very fundamentals of the Christian religion) into a mere quarrel against the author ; as every one, with Mr. Bold, may observe. In my reply to him, I have endeavoured, as much as his objections would allow me, to bring him to the subject matter of my book, and the merits of the cause; though his peculiar way of writing controversy has made it necessary for me, in following him step by step, to wipe off the dirt he has thrown on me, and clear myself from those falsehoods he has filled his book with. This I could not but do, in dealing with such an antagonist; that, by the untruths I have proved upon him, the reader may judge of those other allegations of his, whereof the proof lying on his side, the bare denial is enough on mine, and, indeed, are wholly nothing to the truth or falsehood of what is contained in my Reasonableness of Christianity, &c. To which I shall desire the reader to add this farther consideration from his way of writing, not against my book, but against me, for writing it, that if he had had a real concern for truth and religion in this dispute, he would have treated it after another manner; and we should have had from him more argument, reasoning, and clearness, and less boasting, declamation, and railing. It has been unavoidable for me to take notice of a great deal of this sort of stuff, in answering a writer who has very little else to say in the controversy, and places his strength in things beside the question : but yet I have been so careful to take all occasions to explain the doctrine of my book, that I hope the reader will not think his pains wholly lost labour, in perusing this reply; wherein he will find some farther, and, I hope, satisfying account, concerning the writings of the New Testament, and the Christian Religion contained in it.
Mr. Edwards’s ill language, which I thought personally to me, (though I know
not how I had provoked a man whom I had never had to do with) I am now satisfied, by his rude and scurrilous treating of Mr. Bold, is his way and strength in management of controversy; and therefore requires a little more consideration in this disputant, than otherwise it would deserve. Mr. Bold, with the calmness of a Christian, the gravity of a divine, the clearness of a man of parts, and the civility of a wellbred man, made some “ animadversions” on his Socinianism unmasked ; which, with a sermon preached on the same subject with my Reasonableness of Christianity, he published: and how he has been used by Mr. Edwards let the world judge.
I was extremely surprised with Mr. Bold's book, at a time when there was so great an outcry against mine, on all hands. But, it seems, he is a man that does not take up things upon hearsay; nor is afraid to own truth, whatever clamour or calumny it may lie under. Mr. Edwards confidently tells the world, that Mr. Bold has been drawn in to espouse this cause upon base and mean considerations.
Whose picture of the two such a description is most likely to give us, I shall leave to the reader to judge, from what he will find in their writings on this subject. For as to the persons themselves, I am equally a stranger to them both : I know not the face of either of them: and having hitherto never had any communication with Mr. Bold, I shall begin with him, as I did with Mr. Edwards, in print; and here publicly return him this following acknowledgment, for what he has printed in this controversy.
To Mr. Bold.
SIR, Though I do not think I ought to return thanks to any one for being of my opinion, any more than to fall out with him for differing from me; yet I cannot but own to all the world the esteem that I think is due to you, for that proof you have given of a mind and temper becoming a true minister of the Gospel, in appearing, as you have done, in the defence of a point, a great point of Christianity, which it is evident you could have no other temptation to declare for, but the love of truth. It has fared with you herein no better than with me. For Mr. Edwards not being able to answer your arguments, he has found out already that you are a mercenary, defending a cause against your persuasion, for hire ; and that you “are sailing to Racovia by a side-wind :" such inconsistencies can one (whose business it is to rail for a cause he cannot defend) put together to make a noise with : and he tells you plainly what you must expect if you
any more on this argument, viz. to be pronounced a downright apostate and renegado.
As soon as I saw your sermon and animadversions, I wondered what scarecrow Mr. Edwards would set up, wherewith he might hope to deter men of more caution than sense from reading of them ; since Socinianism, from which you were known to be as remote as he, I concluded would not do. The unknown author of the Reasonableness of Christianity he might make a Socinian, Mahometan, atheist, or what sort of raw-head and bloody-bones he pleased. But I imagined he had more sense than to venture any such aspersions on a man whom, though I have not yet the happiness personally to know, yet I know hath justly a great and settled reputation amongst worthy men ; and I thought