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4

To the reader.

Alphonsus, king of Spain, is said to have found food and physic in reading Livy; and Ferdinand, king of Sicily, in reading Quintus Curtius: but thou hast here nobler entertainments, vastly richer dainties, incomparably more sovereign medicines; — I had almost said, the very highest of angel’s food is here set before thee; and, as Pliny speaks, “permista deliciis auxilia,” — things that minister unto grace and comfort, to holy life and liveliness.

Such is this treatise, — this, which is the only one extant upon its great and necessary subject, — this, whose praise hath been long in the churches, and hath gone enamelled with the honourable reproaches of more than one English Bolsec, — this, whose great author, like the sun, is well known to the world, by eminence of heavenly light and labours, — this, which, as his many other works, can be no other than manna unto sound Christians, though no better than stone and serpent to Socinians and their fellow-commoners.

Importunity hath drawn me to say thus much more than I could think needful to be said concerning any work of Dr Owen’s; — needful in our day itself, a day wherein “pauci sacras Scripturas, plures nomina rerum, plurimi nomina magistrorum sequuntur;” — “few do cleave to the holy Scriptures; many do rest in scholastic senseless sounds; and most men do hang their faith upon their rabbi’s sleeves.”

This only I add:— of the swarms every day rising, there are few books but do want their readers; yet if I understand aright, there are not many readers but do want this book.

In which censure I think I am no tyrant, which the philosopher names the worst of wild beasts; I am sure I am no flatterer, which he calls justly, the worst of tame beasts, — Καὶ ταῦτα μὲν δὴ ταῦτα.

Let the simple souls (the “paucissimæ lectionis mancipia”) who take the doctrine of distinct communion with the Divine Persons to be a new-fangled one and uncouth, observe the words of the Rev. Samuel Clarke (the annotator on the Bible), in his sermon on 1 John i. 7: “It is to be noted, that there is a distinct fellowship with each of the persons of the blessed Trinity.” Let them attend what is said by Mr Lewis Stuckley, in his preface to Mr Polwheil’s book of Quenching the Spirit: “It is a most glorious truth, though considered but by a few, that believers have, or may have, distinct communion with the three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit. This is attested by the finger of God, and solemnly owned by the first and best age of Christianity.” To name no more, let them read heedfully but the second chapter of this treatise, and it is hoped that then they shall no longer “contra antidotum insanire,” — no longer rage against God’s holy medicinal truth, as St Austin saith he did while he was a Manichee; testifying, in so many words, [that] his error was his very god.

Reader, I am
Thy servant in Christ Jesus,

Daniel Burgess11    See vol. ix., p. 2. [Daniel Burgess was an excellent Nonconformist minister, who was ejected from Collinburn, Wiltshire, under the Bartholomew Act, 1662.] — Ed..


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