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THERE is no question whatsoever, that is of greater importance to mankind, and that it more concerns every individual person to be well resolved in, than this, What are the cistinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and intitled to his eternal rewards ? Or, which comes to the • same thing, What is the nature of true religion ? And wherein do lie the distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness that is acceptable in the sight of God ? But though it be of such importance, and though we have clear and abundant light in the word of God to direct us in this matter, yet there is no one point, wherein professing Christians do more differ one from another. It would be endless to reckon up the variety of opin, ions in this point, that divide the Christian world ; making mania fest the truth of that of our Saviour, 6 Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, that leads to life, and few there be that find it."
The consideration of these things has long engaged me to attend to this matter, with the utmost diligence and care, and exactness of search and inquiry, that I have been capable of : It is a subject on which my mind has been peculiarly intent, ever since I first entered on the study of divinity. But as to the success of my inquiries, it must be left to the judgment of the reader of the following treatise.
I am sensible it is much more difficult to judge impartially of that which is the subject of this discourse, in the midst of the dust and smoke of such a state of controversy, as this land is now in, about things of this nature : As it is more difficult to write im. partially, so it is more difficult to read impartially. Many will probably be hurt in their spirits, to find so much that appertains to religious affection, here condemned i And perhaps indignation and contempt will be excited in others by finding so much here justified and approved. And it may be, some will be ready to charge me with inconsistence with myself, in 80 much approving some things, and so much condemning others ; as I have found this has always been objected to by some, ever since the beginning