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Examine their WAYS and their HEARTS, and turn speedily to the LORD.

VOL. V.

Published in the Year 1692.

A

سم

THE

INTRODUCTION.

READER,

Bferving the prevailing power of prejudice, and the too great eafinefs of mankind to be imposed upon by defigning perfons, and especially on the fide of uncharitablenefs, (fo depraved is the nature of man) and confidering alfo what mifchievous effects that evil has produced among too many of all forts of people, to the hurt of civil as well as religious fociety, by the coldness, jealoufy, uncharitablenefs, and animofity, even to hatred and perfecution, (the very contrary and reverse of the true Christian religion) that have thereby abounded; we have the lefs wondered at the hard treatment we, as a people, have fuffered from other perfuafions, almost all of them having in their turn, fome, I hope, ignorantly, others, I fear, wilfully, mifreprefented our principles, mifgiven our plain meanings, and called their own ftrained interpretations, aye, and their downright perverfions too, our faith and religion: and thus dreffing us in the bear'sfkin, the credulous have been excited to look upon and treat us as hereticks, feducers, blafphemers, and what not; while (bleffed be God) our aim and bent have been the very power and work of religion upon our fouls, that we might be God's workmanship through Chrift Jefus, his bleffed Son and heavenly Agent; taking this to be the very life and foul of true religion; the effect and fruit of the divine nature, which makes us Chriftians indeed here, and fits us for glory hereafter. And because we have chosen retirement, moderation, felf-denial, which to be fure are the folids and inwards, the fpirit and substance of religion, and have therefore waved and fequeftered ourselves from more outward and pompous communions, offence has been taken at us, and we have been

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difingenuously reprefented to the world: on which account I have published this little treatise, for the fake of others, as well as in our own vindication, but theirs especially that are under prejudices from vulgar abuses. I would intreat fuch to confider, that if it be an evil to judge rafhly or untruly of any fingle man, how much greater a fin it is to condemn an whole people and if the matter about which the judgment is made, renders it more or lefs evil, certainly to condemn the religion of an whole people in the lump, which at once comprehends their faith, worship, and morals also, must be, if falfe or mistaken, as great an injuftice as can well be committed; and the Almighty will not hold them guiltlefs that have been fo uncharitable and injurious to their neighbours. And this we have frequently lamented as our great unhappiness, above all that our enemies have been able argumentatively to urge against us, that we are yet unknown of those that stick not to condemn us. But they must certainly be inexcufable, with just minds, that will take our belief at our enemies rather than at our own hands, who beft ought to know what we believe. But it will be the business of this little KEY to explain the pretended obfcurity, and fhew the difference between our principles, and the vulgar account and apprehenfions, and thereby open a way into fo clear and plain an understanding of our true principles, from our enemies perverfions, that we hope, with God's bleffing, all impartial inquirers will be fatisfied of our holy and Chriftian profeffion: and this we also earnestly defire for their good, that as we have been called of God, out of the evil of the world, to be a people to his praise, through his grace, fo none may ftumble or be offended at the truth we testify of; but feeing the excellency of it, by the peace and purity it leads into, they may embrace it, and walk in it; which is the best way to end controverfy, and obtain the great and true end of religion, the falvation of the foul.

A KEY,

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