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278

Prefatory note.

The two foregoing treatises had appeared in 1657, and in the year following our author had to reply to another work by his opponent Cawdrey, “Independency further Proved to be a Schism.” The latter had been previously engaged in a controversy on the subject of church government with Mr John Cotton, an eminent Congregationalist of New England, to whose work on “The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,” Cawdrey had replied in his “Vindiciæ Clavium,” and in another work, “The Inconsistency of the Independent Way with Scripture and Itself.” A manuscript by Cotton in defence of his book had been committed to Owen, who cherished a respect for his memory, as it was the perusal of his work, “The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,” which led our author to reconsider and modify his views respecting the nature and polity of the church. To meet the last assault of Cawdrey he gave the manuscript of Cotton to the press, and accompanied it with a lengthy preface in vindication of himself from the charges of his opponent. The disproof of the alleged contradictions with which he was reproached is complete, but it cannot be said that there is much of novelty or importance in the statements contained in this treatise. After a lapse of twenty-two years, Dr Owen had again to vindicate his denomination from the same charge of schism, in very different circumstances, and against a more adroit and accomplished adversary. Accordingly, with the different works of Owen on the subject of schism, we have connected his pamphlet on the same subject in reply to Stillingfleet, though the interval just specified ensued before he broke a lance in controversy with the learned Dean of St Paul’s. — Ed.

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