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Rev. John Witherspoon,
D. D. L. L. D.
LATE PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE, AT PRINCETON NEW-JERSEY.
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED
An Account of the Author's Life, in a Sermon occafioned
by his Death, by the
REV. DR. JOHN RODGERS,
OF NEW YORK.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
Printed and publifhed by WILLIAM W. WOODWARD, No. 17,
Chefnut near Front Street.
[COPY RIGHT SECURED.]
Was Published in the European, which makes but a part
of the American Edition.
THE following Treatises were originally published at different times, and some of them on particular occasions; but the attentive reader will easily perceive one leading design running through the whole. The author bath long been of opinion, that the great decay of religion in all parts of this kingdom, is chiefly owing to a departure from the truth as it is in JESUS, from those doctrines which chiefly constitute the substance of the gospel. It may perhaps be justly imputed to other general causes in part, and in some measure to less universal causes in particular places; but as all moral action must arise from principle, otherwise it ought not to be called by that name, the immediate and most powerful caufe of degeneracy in practice, muft always be a corruption in principle.
I am sensible that many will be ready to cry out on this occasion, "Such notions arise from narrowness of mind and uncharitable senti"ments." I answer, that it is surprising to think how easily the fashionable or cant phrases of the age, will pass among superficial thinkers und readers, without the least attention either to their meaning, or to the evidence on which they are founded.
Thus at present, if a man shall write or speak against certain principles, and stile them pernicious, it will be thought a sufficient vindication" of them to make a beaten common-place encomium on liberty of conscience and freedom of enquiry. Blessed be God, this great and sacred privilege is well secured to us in this nation: But pray, is it not mine as well as yours ? And is it not the very exercise of this liberty, for every man to endeavor to support those principles which appear to him to be founded on Reason and Scripture, as well as to attack without scruple every thing which he believes to be contrary to either.
Let it also be observed, that if freedom of inquiry be a blessing at all, it can be so for no other reason than the excellence and salutary infitence of real truth, when it can be discovered. If truth and error are equally safe, nothing can be more foolish than for a man to waste bis time in endeavoring to distinguish the one from the other. What a view does