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"the procuring God's acceptance: But to live in a chriftian country, nay, and to be baptized into Chrift's religion, and yet to be pagans as to their notions and opinions; not to believe in JESUS CHRIST, but to think to please "God in the way of the philofophers; there is nothing in "the world to be faid in their excufe for this. And they "will at laft find true what our Saviour hath pronounced, "that this is their condemnation (and a heavy one it will be) that light is come into the world, but they have loved darkness rather than light," because their deeds are evil. For every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light left his deeds fhould be reproved *. So,
I have endeavoured to fupply the foregoing defects of the OLD Whole Duty of Man, even fuch defects as the faid Archbishop, as well as the above cited author of the Lively Oracles, affirm to be fo fatal to every man's eternal falvation, by furnishing the age we live in with a Duty of Man, much better fuited (I hope) to the circumftances and occafions of the prefent times and I fee no reason, either human or divine, why I may not for the good of fouls take the fame liberty with the Ten Commandments now, as the author of the OLD Whole Duty of Man did betwixt four-fcore and a hundred years ago †; and either by paraphrafing, or enlarging, or ufing any chriftian ways or methods, endeavour to render the duties they and the Creed contain, better understood by the people, and confequently more ferviceable to their edification in faith and holiness, which being the principal design of the following treatife, there can need no further apology upon that account. Tho'
It may not be improper here to take notice of Two forts of men, who are not likely to relish the following pages, viz. fuch as would gladly bring all religion into contempt, and fuch as think nothing should interfere with publick preaching from the pulpit. As to the first, no body can be ignorant but that the age we now live in has produced many men, who make light of the chriftian religion, and talk contemptuoufly of our Saviour and his doctrines; but, are we to conclude from thence, that there is no reason, no argument, no evidence
John iii. 19, 20.
Many having treated of them before that author, as well as he has done, before many, who have treated of them fince.
to be offered for chriftianity, nor to enforce it's faith and practice, because these men, who are acknowledged to have wit and parts, make it their business to run it down? No; this would be a very false and unjust conclufion. And if you can imagine otherwife, you are strangely mistaken in your men, they never much applied their heads to examine these things; they have, perhaps, got fome common-place heads, with which they think they can difparage chriftianity; and it is likely they have wit enough to fet off those things to advantage. But, as for ferious thinking and putting things together, and making a folemn judgment of what is true or false in those matters, as in the presence of God, and as in a bufinefs whereon their everlasting falvation, or damnation does depend; I fay, as for this, you may affure yourselves, these men never did it, nor are they capable of doing it: it is not in their nature to give themselves fo much trouble, as fuch a work will require; and therefore we may be fure their infidelity does not proceed from any want of evidence, or arguments, for the truth of the chriftian religion, but from this, that these men have fo wretchedly abused their faculties, by debauchery and ill practices, that, as the apostle expreffes it, they have made themselves unworthy of eternal life. In a word,
All our natural and civil duties are strongly tied upon us, by virtue of our profeffion of chriftianity: and it is very much to the honour of our religion, that it is wholly taken up in providing for the fecurity and benefit of mankind, even in this life; it's general bent and tendency is to fet men at ease, and make them happy, by fecuring to all the duties due from each other, and from the want of which proceeds all the mischief in the world; it does not leave men to be moved by fuch confiderations alone as natural reafon can fuggeft, but furnishes them with better. Now certainly, nothing can be more to the advantage of any man, than that all the people with whom he has to do, fhould be commanded by GoD to fhew him mercy, and to do him juftice, and to do him all good offices, and to fuffer none to do him injury: Nothing (I fay) is more likely to fecure a man's peace and happiness, than fuch a fence as this; and yet this is the fence that chriAtianity provides for every fingle perfon in the world. In
fine, there never has been any religion ever framed to make men happy, even in this life, like that of Jefus Chrift, if it were thoroughly purfued: for, a man cannot poffibly be made uneafy or miferable, or fuffer any evil at another's hands, without the violation of fome chriftian command, which, if obeyed, would have secured him from it. So that, what reafons these men really have for flighting and ridiculing the chriftian religion and the minifters thereof, let the world judge.
Then as to fuch who are fo tenacious of preaching as to oppofe all written difcourfes, I defire it may be obferved, that though preaching is ufually allowed the preheminence of written difcourfes, yet if men would hear or read them with due attention, they might be effectual to the fame ends and purposes: for, notwithstanding what may be urged in favour of the voice, the air, and the action of a preacher; ftill, what is uttered with the voice, paffes off fo faft, that men of ordinary capacities are not able to judge of the foundness of it: and the exhortations to virtue often have but little effect ; because the rules and directions which we hear concerning it are fo very apt to flip out of our memories; whereas written difcourfes are always with us; and we may have recourse to them whenever we please, to recover what we have forgotten, to examine and fatisfy ourselves in any thing we doubt of, and by leisurely fearches and enquiries, we may by their affistance attain to the knowledge of thofe fublime truths which would otherwise be too hard for us.
And therefore I cannot but infer that it is a great, though common mistake, with fome readers to think that written difcourfes cannot have their due praise, but there must be a defign of degrading and undervaluing preaching: but I trust I cannot be fufpected of fo invidious an infinuation, when I declare the following discourses are by no means intended to hinder any ones attendance on divine fervice, but are accommodated to the occafions of fuch as cannot be always prefent at the publick worship; and to the use of families on Sunday evenings. And those, who shall think fit to make use of them for fuch purposes, I hope, by God's bleffing, will greatly benefit at least their children and fervants; and I truft they may be so far useful to themfelves, as to bring to their remembrace
the most neceffary directions for their christian conduct in this life.
To conclude, I am but little concerned for thofe cenfures the men I have been speaking of may pafs upon this performbecause the defign of it, with well difpofed minds, will excufe for many imperfections: and if I can but in any degree promote a sense of religion, or a due refpect for it's minifters, where they are wanted, or contribute to the improvement of them, where they are already entertained, I shall be much better pleased then to be an author of fome account in the opinion of the greatest critick.
BOOKS lately printed for E. WICKSTEED, at the Black-Swan in Newgate-street.
I. HE NEW Week's Preparation for a Worthy receiving of the Lord's con
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That not one of this Impreffion of Practical Measuring is warranted by me to be correct, or is to be depended upon, unless I have subscribed my Name to this Deg claration upon the back of the Title Page. E. HOPPUS.