1. SOME Verses, it may be observ'd, in the following Collection, were wrote upon the Scheme of the Mystick Divines. And these, 'tis own'd, we haa once in great Veneration, as the best Explainers of the Gospel of CHRIST. But we are now convinced that we therein greatly err'd: not knowing the Scriptures, neither the Power of GOD. And because this is an Error which many serious Minds are sooner or later exposed to, and which indeed most easily besets those, who seek the LORD JESUS in Sincerity; we believe ourselves indis|pensably obliged, in the Presence of GOD and Angels, and Men, to declare wherein Page iv we apprehend those Writers, Not to teach the Truth as it is in JESUS.
2. And first, we apprehend them to lay Another Foundation. They are carefull indeed to pull down our own Works, and to prove, that by the DEEDS of the Law shall no flesh be justified. But why is this? Only, to establish our own Righteousness in the place of our own Works. They speak largely and well, a|gainst expecting to be accepted of GOD for our Virtuous Actions: And then teach, That we are to be accepted, For our Virtuous Habits or Tempers. Still the Ground of our Acceptance is placed in ourselves. The Difference is only this: Common Writers suppose we are to be justified, for the Sake of our Outward Righteousness. These suppose we are to be justified, for the Sake of our Inward Righteousness: Whereas in truth, we are no more justified, for the sake of one than of the other. For neither our own Inward nor Outward Righteous|ness, is the Ground of our Justification. Holiness of Heart, as well as Holiness of Life, is not the Cause, but the Effect of Page v it. The Sole Cause of our Acceptance with GOD (or, That for the Sake of which on the Account of which we are accepted) is the Righteousness and the Death of CHRIST, who fulfilled GOD's Law, and died in our Stead. And even the Condition of it, is not (as they suppose) our Holiness either of Heart of Life: But our Faith Alone; Faith contradistinguish'd from Holiness as well as from Good Works. Other Foundation therefore can no Man lay, without being an Adversary to CHRIST and his Gospel, than Faith Alone, Faith, though necessarily producing both, yet not including either Good Works, or Holi|ness.
3. But supposing them to have laid the Foundation right, the Manner of building thereon which they advise, is quite oppo|site to that prescribed by CHRIST. He commands to build up one another. They advise, "To the Desert, to the Desert, and GOD will build you up." Num|berless are the Commendations that occur in all their Writings, not of Retirement intermix'd with Conversation, but of an intire Seclusion from Men, (perhaps for Page vi Months or Years) in order to purify the Soul. Whereas, according to the Judg|ment of our Lord, and the Writings of his Apostles, it is only when we are knit together, that we have Nourishment from Him, and increase with the In|crease of GOD. Neither is there any time, when the weakest Member can say to the strongest, or the strongest to the weakest, "I have no need of Thee." Accordingly our Blessed Lord, when his Disciples were in their weakest State, sent them forth, not alone, but Two by Two. When they were strengthen'd a little, not by Solitude, but by abiding with him and one another, he commanded them to wait, not separate but being assem|bled together, for the Promise of the Father. And they were all with one Accord in one Place, when they re|ceived the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Ex|press mention is made in the same Chapter, that when there were added unto them Three Thousand Souls, all that believed were together, and continued stedfastly not only in the Apostles Doctrine but also in fellowship and in breaking of Bread and in praying with one Accord. A|greeable Page vii to which is the Account the Great Apostle gives, of the Manner which he had been taught of GOD, for the perfecting of the Saints, for the edi|fying of the Body of CHRIST, even to the end of the World. And according to St. Paul, all who will ever come, in the Unity of the Faith, unto a per|fect Man, unto the Measure of the Stature of the Fulness of CHRIST, must together grow up into him. From whom the whole Body fitly join'd to|gether and compacted (or strengthen'd) by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual Working in the Measure of every part, maketh Increase of the Body, unto the Edi|fying of itself in Love. Ephesians iv. 15, 16.
4. So widely distant is the Manner of Building up Souls in CHRIST taught by St. Paul, from that taught by the Mysticks! Nor do they differ as to the Foundation, or the Manner of Building thereon, more than they do with Regard to the Superstructure. For the Religion these Authors wou'd edify us in, is Soli|tary Page viii Religion. If Thou wilt be Per|fect, say they, "trouble not thyself a|bout Outward Works. It is better to work Virtues in the Will. He hath attain'd the True Resignation, who hath estranged himself from all Out|ward Works, that GOD may work inwardly in him, without any turning to Outward Things. These are the true Worshippers, who worship GOD, in Spirit and in Truth." For Con|templation is with them, the fulfilling of the Law, even a Contemplation that "consists in a Cessation of all Works."
5. Directly opposite to this is the Gospel of CHRIST. Solitary Religion is not to be found there. "Holy Solitaries" is a Phrase no more consistent with the Go|spel than Holy Adulterers. The Gospel of CHRIST knows of no Religion, but Social; no Holiness but Social Holiness. Faith working by Love, is the length and breadth and depth and height of Christian Perfection. This Command|ment have we from CHRIST, that he who love GOD, love his Brother also: And that we manifest our Love, Page ixby doing good unto all Men; espe|cially to them that are of the House|hold of Faith. And in truth, who|soever loveth his Brethren not in Word only, but as CHRIST loved him, can|not but be zealous of Good Works. He feels in his Soul a burning, restless Desire, of spending and being spent for them. My Father, will he say, work|eth hitherto and I work, And at all possible Opportunities, he is, like his Ma|ster, going about doing good.
6. This then is the Way: Walk Ye in it, whosoever Ye are that have believed in his Name. Ye know, Other Foundation can no Man lay, than that which is laid, even JESUS CHRIST. Ye feel that by Grace Ye are saved thro' Faith; saved from Sin, by CHRIST form'd in your Hearts, and from Fear, by his Spirit bearing Witness with your Spirit, that Ye are the Sons of GOD. Ye are taught of GOD, not to forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as the Manner of some is; but to instruct, admonish, exhort, reprove, comfort, confirm and every Way build up one another. Ye Page x have an Unction from the Holy One, that teacheth you to renounce any other or higher Perfection, than Faith working by Love, Faith zealous of Good Works, Faith as it hath opportunity doing good unto all Men. As Ye have therefore received JESUS CHRIST the LORD, so Walk ye in Him: Rooted and built up in Him, and stablish'd in the Faith and abounding therein more and more. Only, beware lest any Man spoil you thro' Philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of Men, after the rudiments of the World, and not after CHRIST. For Ye are complete in Him. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last. Only continue in Him, grounded and settled and be not moved away from the Hope of the Gospel: And when CHRIST, who is our Life, shall appear, then shall Ye also appear with him in Glory!