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CONTRIBUTING UNTO THE DISCOVERY OF THE DANGERS THAT THREATEN RELIGION AND THE WORK OF REFORMATION IN THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND.
"The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?"-AMOS iii. 8.
"What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God; if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not."-JONAH i. 6. "I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."-REV. ii. 5.
THE true Protestant religion, as reformed in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, in the Church of Scotland, is a pearl of so incomparable value and price, that the very hearing and apprehension of any danger threatening its spoil and ruin, cannot but affect every soul that knoweth the worth, and is in love with the beauty thereof; especially the hearts of all the genuine and true-born sons and daughters of God, who have received their spiritual life and being therein, and do grow up under the shadow thereof: how much more ought it, and I hope doth it, affect thee when such dangers do threaten the same, as we nor our fathers have not heard nor seen the like since the time of reformation from popery. These in the year 1588, from the Spanish Armada without, and from the plottings and practices of papists within, seem in many respects nothing comparable to these of this time; and though I be far from extenuating the hazard that
religion stood in under prelacy, (especially when the Service book and the Book of Canons were violently obtruded upon this Church), or from reflecting upon the necessary, and just, and laudable opposition that was made thereunto; yet I do believe, that upon sober and serious examination, it will be found by men of judgment and understanding (who are pleased to make the parallel) to involve nothing contrary to the words of soberness and truth, to assert, that the hazard of religion is greater now than it was then, and that the tokens and prognostics of a dreadful night of darkness and desolation upon the sanctuary of the Lord in this land, are more and more pregnant now than they were at that time. The General Assembly of this Church thought that they had reason thus to speak in the year 1647, in their brotherly exhortation to England. "We cannot," say they, "but look upon the danger of the true reformed religion in this island as greater now than before; not only for that these very principles and fundamentals of faith, which under prelacy, yea, under popery itself, were generally received as uncontroverted, are now by the scepticism of many sectaries of this time, either oppugned or called in question; but also, because instead of carrying on reformation towards perfection, that which hath been already built is in part cast down, and in danger to be wholly overthrown, through the endeavours of sectaries to comply with many of the prelatical and malignant party, and their joining hand in hand, and casting in their lots, and interweaving their interests together, in way of combination against the covenant and presbyterial government; yea, the unclean spirit which was cast out, is about to enter in again with seven other spirits worse than himself, and so the latter end like to be worse than the beginning." If there was ground for such a warning and complaint above twelve years ago, when the toleration of errors and heresies was not enacted by a law, and the parliament of England and the Assembly of Divines at Westminster were proceeding in the work of reformation and uniformity in religion, and the State and Church of Scotland were in their inte
grity, how much more now, under all the evils that have since come to pass in both nations, and which do grow upon us day by day, and are come to such a height, that without a wonderful and mighty hand of gracious Providence interposing to preserve religion, it seems to be nigh to ruin amongst us, and that our land shall be involved in darkness, and plunged in the depths of atheism, and error, and popery, and profanity.
The thought of these things, as they did induce me two or three months ago to pen these Considerations, tending to the discovery of the dangers that threaten religion, and the work of reformation in this Church; so hath it now persuaded me to send the same abroad with the former testimony; that by casting these few mites into the public treasury of the sanctuary, I might, according to my weak measure, contribute and concur with other more faithful and able ministers and witnesses of Jesus Christ in the land, for informing of the ignorant and inadvertent, for rebuking of the careless and indifferent, for awakening such as are secure, for warning of such as have left their first love that they may remember whence they are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; and for stirring up of those who have received the truth in love, to be zealous for the Lord of Hosts, and valiant for his truth upon the earth, by standing in the breach, and contending diligently for the faith once delivered to the saints; for persuading unto the exercise of repentance and faith towards God, and to watchfulness and tenderness in duty, and unto cordial and wellgrounded union in the Lord, that we may all of us, in subordination to him, with one shoulder, to the utmost of our power, by all lawful means in our stations and callings, faithfully endeavour the preservation of religion and the work of reformation; that the blessed truths of the gospel, and precious ordinances of Jesus Christ, being preserved amongst us in their purity and integrity, they may be transmitted without spot to our posterity. I do not doubt, but discerning eyes may see more dangers than I have spoke
unto: I have but pointed at a few, and if any shall judge this discovery to be defective, I shall be glad, and not think my labour lost, if they may but thereby be provoked to give a more distinct and full sound in these things. It will haply be the expectation and desire of some, that something should be spoken also for discovering of these duties that the Lord calls for at our hands, for preserving of religion in the midst of so many dangers; somewhat of duty there is, which the discovery of the several dangers doth by native and clear consequence point forth: the whole would be a work very difficult and comprehensive, and that doth require much light and leisure. Therefore, hoping that it may be done to better purpose by those of more prudence and authority in the church, I shall for the present forbear to meddle further therein; and wishing that the little which I have done in the first part of the work, concerning the discovery of the dangers, may be accepted of the saints, and contribute for thy edification, I do continue thy servant, for Jesus' sake, in the work of the gospel,
CONSIDERATION FIRST.-From that swarm of pestilent errors and heresies that doth abound in the neighbour nation of England, and our vicinity thereunto, and intimate and daily correspondence therewith.
Ir is far from my purpose to cast any imputation upon England, or to render the neighbour church and nation vile in the eyes of any, by discovering of their nakedness, in reckoning out the many pestilent errors and heresies that many therein are infected with. I know there be many thousands in that land who have not bowed their knees to Baal, nor defiled their garments by departing away from the faith, but do sadly bemoan and faithfully bear witness against the falling away of others. And I do easily acknowledge that England hath a great and honourable company of precious, and sound, and able, and godly ministers and professors, as readily are to be found in any nation or church upon the earth. But I hope it will be no injury nor offence to any to say, (and would to God that I could speak it with that compassionate resentment, and serious affectedness of heart that doth become in so sad and soul-concerning a case,) that a great many in that church and nation are infected with many noisome errors, and pestilent heresies, which fret as a gangrene unto the destroying of many poor souls. Is there almost any of the precious and necessary truths of God but hath some opposers and contradictors in England? Not only are the beautiful superstructures thrown down, but the very lowest and most necessary foundations of the Christian religion razed and plucked up by the roots, by the blasphemies of some. To dispute and declaim, and write against the blessed Trinity; against the divinity of the