TO All our BRETHREN Of the Church of ENGLAND.
§. 1. IN relation to the Controversies concer∣ning Gods Grace and Decrees, nothing was ever Superior, in my thoughts, to the feare that the great Interests of Religion, Christian practise, and particular∣ly that of Charity, might be obstructed by them.
§. 2. It hath long been the Complaint of pious and learned men, (of the justice whereof, if formerly we had, we cannot now reasonably retain any doubt,) that the crude and unwary treating of these, and (from thence derived,) an hasty premature perswasion of their being in Christ, (assisted by a beliefe of irrespective Decrees, and Grace irresistible, and no possibility of interrupting their justified estate,) was apt to contribute to the presumtions, and se∣curities, and finall impenitences of some men, Page [unnumbered] who having most loudly renounced the power, choose yet not to quit the forme of Godli∣ness.
§. 3. And for the heares, and uncharitable distempers, which the managing of these contro∣versies particularly have been guilty of, we need not look abroad among the Dominicans and Jesuites, Jansenists and Molinists, for proofes. Our own Region hath not of a long time failed of evidences. The old weapon of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, crying down for carnall men and here∣ricks, Pelagians and Semipelagians, Pa∣pists, Socinians, and what not? (even rifling the Poets Hell to fetch out Titles for their ad∣versaryes,) hath never been more nimbly taken up, and vigorously handled, then in these dayes.
§. 4. And as if fewell to dissentions were still wanting, it hath been the endeavour of some to suggest this jealousy, and clancularly to infuse it into the minds of men, that they which op∣pose unconditionate Decrees, &c. (and pre∣tend to think they effectually serve the ends of Christianity thereby,) have entertained such vehe∣ment dislikes, and aversations to all that Scheme of doctrines, that they retain no charity to the maintainers of them, though they be in other things as constant, obedient sonns of the Church of England, as any; and when opportunity shall assist their designe, will take care rigorously to fence their communion from them, and whatever Page [unnumbered] the accord be in other doctrines, (wherein our Church is eminently concerned against the common Adversaries,) will proceed finally to exterminate and exclude them.
§. 5. The Consequences of this perswasion, once imbibed, be it never so causelesse and unpro∣voked, how noxious and inauspicious they may prove to all that are on either side concerned in them, what leven of bitter zele and animosityes it may cause to ferment in the minds of some, what blasts and improsperityes it may bring on the endeavours of others; and, betwixt both, what detriment to the true and solid ends, whe∣ther of Religion, or Reformation, (the squa∣ring of our lives according to that other, more sublime, patterne in the mount, Mat. v. the inhaunsed, transcendent, indispensable Lawes of Purity and Peaceableness,) I shall not here need to set forth, every man's sagacity serving him competently to make this discove∣ry.
§. 6. Yet was it not a rationall hope, that the bare disclaiming and renouncing so great a guilt, would be admitted to the purgation of those, against whom it had been suggested and believed. It therefore seemed to me more sea∣sonable to tender an ocular demonstration of the contrary, by bringing my Lamb, or Turtle, (my offering to the Temple of Peace,) and really exemplifying the charity and accordance, that may readily be attained between dissenters, Page [unnumbered] when minds prepared with meekness, and love of the Truth, wheresoever they meet with it, can take courage to deny themselves, and so to deposit prejudices, and instead of names and shadowes, to give themselves up to the entire guidance of that light which shines in Scrip∣ture.
§. 7. In order to this end, it seemed not im∣proper, to offer at this time to publick view the present Sentiments of the Judicious Dr. Sander∣son, the Regius Professor of the University of Oxford, (and the rather, because some ma∣nuscript Tables of his former thoughts, and some passages from his Sermons, long since preach∣ed, and now republished, have been made use of, to gain authority to those Doctrines which he is now far from owning,) and briefely and per∣spicuously to annex unto, and compare with them, those Amicable and Pacifick Reflexions, which may hope to gain the unanimous consent of all true Sons of our Venerable Mother, the Church of England, whose chiefe aime it hath alwayes been to discountenance divisions and fractions, and occasions and fomenters of those, especially singular Doctrines and Novell Articles of Faith, and in a Catholick har∣monious charity, to plant Primitive belief, and zele of good workes, and so instead of the empty Forme, the full power of Godli∣nesse.
Page [unnumbered]§. 8. What is so largely added on that one head of Prescience, had some appearance of ne∣cessity, to repell a shaft borrowed of late from the Socinian's quiver, who having resolved it im∣possible for God himself to for esee future Contin∣gents, have given disputers their choice, whe∣ther they like best, bluntly to deny God's Presci∣ence, and so, at his cost, maintain their own Liberty, or more piously to maintain Presci∣ence, and then give it the same force of evacua∣ting all Liberty and Contingency, which Pre∣determination of all events was justly accused to draw after it; The mistake very dangerous on either side, and the temtation equally fitted for both, if it were not timely obviated.
§. 9. That these ensuing Discourses may be effectu∣ally successfull to the designed end, of advancing the threefold interest of Truth, and Peace, and Uniforme Christian obedience, that it may supplant the Vineger by the Oyle, the Nitre by the Balsome, and procure, by consent of Liti∣gants, a solemne Supersedeas, if not Conclusion to debates, (an aversion to these heathen Agones, which afford nothing, but to the combatant blowes, and leaves to the conquerour,) above all, that it may provide us, by this truce, a greater vacancy for the continued exercises of reall Piety, and engage us to make diligent use of it, (to adde, as to our Faith vertue, (or courage,) so to our Godlinesse brotherly-kindnesse, and to * that the yet higher ascent and accomplishment of Page [unnumbered]charity,) that it may compact us all into that uni∣on that most succesfully contributes to our growth, and so possess us of that qualification, to which immarcessible joyes are awarded by our Righ∣teous Judge, shall be continually the prayer, as in the following sheetes it hath been the sincere single endeavour, of
Festo Omnium Sanctorum.
Your-fellow Labourer H. HAMMOND.