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those who are truly desirous of Information in the Principles of the Protestant Religion in the En
glish Language. May Grace, Mercy and Peace, be multi
plied unto you all, through the Merits
HERE is nothing more natural for me to expect,
than that this my. System, will excite the Wonder of many, and probably raise the
Prejudice of others against such a bold Undertaking, by a person fo little versed in the English Language, and according to the Nature of Mankind in general, the Author foresees it will not be so well received of these, who, for their Part, will do nothing far the Welfare and Edification of the Church, and their Fellow Creatures, and are, moreover, accustomed to envy the Works of others, when they cannot cause them to be cenfured and rendered odious by their masterly Judgements.
And, indeed, considering my fingular Disadvantages, and the little Opportunity I have had of attaining a tolerable Proficiency in fo difficult a Language, it would be Prefumption to pretend to write it with Ease and Elegance,
All I aim at, is to express my Sentiments intelligibly; and as the IV ork is designed, rather to adorn the Mind with divine Truths, than to please the Imagination with the Flowers of Rhetorick ; it is to be hoped the candid Reader will easily pardon such verbal Inaccurancies, and Orthographical Errors, as muft (all Circumstances considered) be naturally expected in my firft Attempts of this Kind. The Reason of my publishing the following Tract, rather in English than in my natural Tongue, is aligned in the Sequal. With regard to those who may be inclined to find Fault with my System it self, I know I can as little silence them as others; Non quivis Lectori auditorive placebo Lector & auditor non mihi quisque placet ; however, every one may judge of it as be pleajes: I fubmit myself to that come mon Lot, which all Writers by their Publications mujt undergo, I mean to be despised by the many, and approved by the Candid and Seriores ; nor do I value the Animadversions of such Criticks, who seldom approve of any Thing but whatis the Produce of their own Brain; for one, it is enough that I have the Answer of a good Conscience towards God, who knows I have a sincere Design in the Composition and Publication of this Work;. that is to impress on the Minds of Men, the most holy Principles of our Christian Faith, according to the holy Scriptures, and Plan of the Heidelberg Catechisin, in as plain and demonstrative a Manner, to the Apprehenfion of the lowest Capacity, as was poffible for me to do, in this Time of almost universal Degeneracy, wherein Truth is. fallen in the Street, the Ignorance of the People is great, and true Piety practised by very few; in a I ime wherein Libertinism is arrived to its highest Pitch, whereby. many of our young People (if the Lord in Mercy prevent not) are in the greatest Danger to be carried away as with a Torrent, to their everlasting Ruin ; yea, in a Time, wherein our Practice under. Christianity, presents but a very gloooniy Aspect, in which the God of this World hath blinded the Minds of them that believe not, 2 Cor. iv.
Therefore Therefore let every one be admonished to exercise themselves in the Word of God, especially in the principal Truths thereof; and further endeavour to attain to a more extensive Knowledge and Increase, in the holy Wisdom, that the Word of Christ may dwell in them richly in all Wisdom, Col. ïïi. Chiefly as a fair Opportunity is now offered those, who used to say, they would willingly be instructed in the Principles of our Doctrine, if it pollibly could be done in the English Tongue ; let them therefore delay no longer such a necessary Instruction in the wholesome Doctrines of the Gospel, but endeavour after a theological and sacred Knowledge to be made free by the Truth, John viii.
That vain Youth may be stirred up to forsake the foolish, and to go in the Way of Understanding, Prov. ix. That they may learn to know, to love, and experience by themselves, the Sweetness and Excellency of the Truth of Christ our dear Saviour, chusing with Mary, that good Part, which shall not be taken away from them, Luc. X.
For which Reason after most of the Points of Doctrine treated of, I have made some Application, arging the Use and Practice of Piety, that every one miay be inwardly convinced of the Necessity of a true Faith and Repentance, flying to Jesus Chrilt as the only Fountain of Salvation, to receive of him Grace for Grace, John 1. and also a true Confolation bath in Life and in Death. This is briefly the Design I proposed to myself
in the Explanation of the divine Truths to the Glory of God, the Edification of his Church, and the Allurement of such as are yet Strangers to the Co
I have generally confined myself to the Method of our Heidelberg Catechism, which according to a laudable Cuftom is constantly expounded amongst us, on the Lord's Day, by which Means the Learners accustomed to that Méthod, may the easier comprehend the Truth therein conn tained, when they hear those Doctrines.
I I have
I have found myself the more induced to compose such a System, because I do not know, that any such Explication or Commentary on our Heidelberg Catechism, by Question and Answers, has ever been published in the English Language.
If any will misconstrue my good Intentions, contemptibly disapprove, or maliciously.hinder the Use and Progress of it, ту
Work it self, by Reason of some Principles, which are not agreeable to their peculiar Opinions, I will chearfully bear such Contempt and Gain-saying, in the Strength of God. In the mean Time, I recommend it to my soves, reign Lord and heavenly Father, to whom I have humbly dedicated it, that he maytake it into bis powerful Protection, bless and defend it, against the Attempts of all Adversaries;
and thoʻthis Practice may seem strange to many People, I can alire them it is very usual with the Divines in the United Provinces of the Netherlands, because God as the Lord of Lords, and King of Kings, ought to be adored and glorified, in all our Works, as the Fruits of his IVisdom, Goodness, and Power. Should any burlesque and redicule thefe venerable Truths, the Efsence of the Gospel, because they are not agreeable to their Carnal Wisdom, 1 fhall only say with my divine Mafter, Othat thou hast known in this thy Day, the Things that belong to thy Peace, but now they are hia from thine Eyes, Luke xix.
And to such as may complain, that this System is too large, saying, how can we learn that by heart? I answer, although such a Complaint is a sign that they have no delight in spiritual Understanding, yet they may be made easy, if they have a Mind to be instructed therein, as I offer myself to that Purpose as an Instructor to Persons of cvery Age or Degree, not doubting, but that God, who hath fó remarkably alifted me in composing this Work, will farther enable me to speak from it to the Instruction of others, to the End, that his Name may be glorified; and the Reformed Church more and more established. I beseech you my curteous Readers, to ascribe every thing
you find for the Benefit of your Souls, to the Grace of God,
I pray the Father of Light, that it may please him to bless these my weak Endeavours, that they may answer the proposed End; and to enable and fanctify all the faculties of Soul and Body, to employ the rest of my Days to the Edification of his Church, and enlarging of his Kingdom.
I defore, kind Reader, to be remembered by you, in your Prayers at the Throne of Grace, even as you may expect the same from me ; and to conclude, I now pray; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give unto you the Spirit of Wisdom, and Revelation in the Knowledge of him, the Eyes of your Understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the Hope of his Calling, and what the Riches of the Glory of his Inheritance in the Saints, and what is the exceeding Greatness of his Power toward us who believe.