OF all enquiries, which employ the minds of men, I know not any that can be reckoned important, in comparison of that which was once made by a trembling jaylor at Philippi, viz. What Shall I do to be saved? And I suppose there can hardly be found one thinking Man, let his sentiments in other respects be what they may, but will join with me in saying, that the salvation of the soul, is the most awful of all concerns. This being the case, I need an apology for laying extract before the be for the homely dress I have put upon my author: it must be remembered that I have changed his language in order to bring the unlearned to an acquaintance with him, and the better to carry on this design, have made him speak as plain as I possibly could.
As for the subject matter of this little treatise, I think I may venture to recommend it, because the book from whence it was taken has met with the approbation of many learned and excellent divines, who mention the name of Witsius with peculiar and distinguished reverence; but even this ought to have but little weight with the reader, did not our author’s sentiments exactly comport with the divine mind and will, as revealed in the word of God, the only infallible standard of all saving truth.
It is clear from the answer Paul gave the trembling querist above-mentioned, that the only mean of salvation is faith: surely then it must be an acceptable thing, at least to every serious mind, to meet with a plain and truly scriptural account of the only way of deliverance for a sinful soul; especially as we live in a time, when it is much misunderstood, or wholly unknown, when presumption on the one hand, and despair on the other, are spreading their nets for the feet of the ignorant and unwary: but this ever was, and will be the case, whenever God is pleased to revive his work: the grand desire of our ghostly enemy is to keep us in sin and ignorance, therefore when truth puts forth its lovely face, and shines with its native heavenly lustre, as satan cannot eclipse its brightness by outward and direct opposition, he will endeavour to set up false lights, in order to mislead the unwary traveller; yea, rather than fail, will transform himself into an angel of light, 2 Cor. 11:14.
Hence is is that many are deceived in their notions of faith, are led to think it something which it is not; the legalist is for mixing the impure leaven of his own imperfect works, with the bread of God, and must have something in himself to recommend him to the favour of God, in order to merit, in a measure at least, the forgiveness of his sins.—The Antinomians, who are most vile and wicked perverters of the right ways of the Lord, are resting in something they call faith, which hath nothing of salvation, but the sorest condemnation in it, to which, saith the apostle, they were of old ordained, Jude 4. Add to these the number of well-meaning serious people, who by taking the marks of faith too high, are labouring under the most fearful apprehensions of their state before God, and by thinking the essence of faith consisteth in frames and feelings, are blind to that happiness, which, the real work of God within them, would otherwise put them in possession of.
Let all such read and mark the plain simple account of faith which (I doubt not in exact conformity to the scriptures) is exhibited to view in this book, and the more they compare their own experience with it, the more clearly will they be enabled to discern the true state of their souls. But the clearest light is nothing to the blind; therefore let every reader go to the throne of Grace, for the seeing eye, and the understanding heart, and then they may expect a blessing from what they read.