« السابقةمتابعة »
THE ROYAL MAJESTY
OF OUR MOST GRACIOUS AND PIOUS SOVEREIGN,
KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, &c.
MOST GRACIOUS Sovereign,
It is not out of admiration of your greatness, though unto me you be the greatest under heaven, nor out of any desire to be made great by you, that I present this treatise to your sacred patronage. That which puts this unusual boldness upon me is my long experience of your royal goodness, (wherewith your greatness is bounded,) of your gracious affability to your meanest subjects, and special affection to the subject whereof I treat,-Jesus Christ, and him crucified; a subject commended by your sacred Majesty unto the faculty of divinity within your University of Oxon, at your manor of Woodstock two years since. It was my happiness to be then present, and I took no little comfort that in this course I had the start of many of my brethren, most of my meditations being addressed unto this part of divinity. But the advantage of start which I then had, I neither can hope nor desire to keep, as being since acquainted with many younger students (to omit men of mine own rank and age) whom God hath blessed with better gifts and opportunities to accomplish that course which I ever intended since my designment to this sacred function. If my
endeavours may prove occasions to stir up the gifts of God in them, or give them any useful hints for prosecuting this argument, I have that which I most desired in the publication of my former meditations upon the Apostles' Creed. And if these labours, and others of like nature following, may be accepted by your Majesty, I have all that I desire, besides the propagation of Christ's kingdom and church here on earth, and the good success of my daily prayers for the blessing of God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost, upon your sacred Majesty, your royal Consort, and hopeful issue.
How evil should mingle itself with the works of God, seeing every thing made by him (and he made all) was good-how that evil which we call sin should find entrance into, and hold possession of the heart of man, who was the accomplishment of all God's visible works, and upon whose creation it is said, that God saw every thing that he had made, and it was very good-what kind of being this evil hath, whether merely privative, or only positive, or partly bothwherein that servitude which sin did bring upon us doth consist-what freedom of will is compatible with our natural servitude unto Satan, (for without some freedom of will we might be Satan's instruments, his slaves or servants unto sin we could not be); these and the like queries, with their several branches, in the first project of this long work, had their place allotted between the article of Creation and the articles concerning Christ, or in the intended seventh book of Commentaries upon the Creed. But
the method then intended I have now altered, not out of forgetfulness, but out of choice, and upon these considerations especially: first, in that the doctrine concerning sin original or actual is not expressly mentioned in the Creed: secondly, because the most pleasant and most fruitful branches of Divine Providence (whose general stems have been in the article of Creation handled) are nowhere so conspicuous or so admirable as in the evangelical history of the conception, birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of 568 Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour; and pity it were to sever them in place which accord so well in nature. Lastly, I considered it could no way be harmful to have the plaster ready before I adventured to lance the sore; specially in that I am likely to search somewhat deeper than I have found it searched by others. The only sore of the human soul whose scars cannot in this life be perfectly healed is sin original, and the wounds thereof are sins actual and habitual; the only medicine or salve for both is the knowledge of Christ and him crucified; for he is the only tree of life whose leaves are appointed to heal the nations.
Of the belief or knowledge of Christ in general: and whether Theology be a true science or no.
Of the principal points that Christians are bound to believe. THAT all we which bear the name of Christians did take the name originally from Christ, the heathen