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the various classes of civil society. These views, though then rejected by many as visionary, and altogether incompatible with the proper ends and preservation of the benefits of civilized life, have since met with very general acceptance, and, in some cases, been deemed not unworthy to obtain even the favourable attention of the legislature.
But what is of still more importance, he was well taught in the school of Christ. He was thoroughly versed in the Holy Scriptures, which, to use his own expression, were “ very precious” to him, and always held in very high estimation. He firmly believed in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God,-in the atoning efficacy of his sacrifice upon the cross, and in all his offices and works both for us, and in us; and, by obedience to the Light of Life, the illuminating, renovating Power of the Holy Spirit,--to Christ in his spiritual
appearance, he realized in himself the benefits conferred upon mankind by the sufferings and death of the Saviour. By a variety of preparatory baptisms, he was, on the one hand, given to see the depths of Satan, and on the other, richly instructed in the mysteries of the everlasting kingdom of God. Thus trained and exercised he became abundantly furnished, , and qualified to enter upon the arduous service, to which he believed himself divinely called ; and proved himself to be, as his Journal largely testifies, " a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”
The Editors, therefore, contemplating the character of the Author in this two-fold light, indulge the hope that the history of his life, written by his own hand, and minutely unfolding the energy and operation of that Grace by which he was what he was, will be found interesting to persons of every class, especially to the really religious under any name, but in a peculiar degree to those who profess to believe in the same doctrines that he was engaged so strenuously to preach. To the promulgation of these doctrines he steadily devoted upwards of forty years of his life,-a life which exhibited throughout “ an example of suffering affliction, and of patience," evincing him to be, both in principle and practice, a genuine disciple of his Crucified LORD,—a real CHRISTIAN.
In presenting this Edition to the Public, the Editors deem it only fair to say that it has been collated with copies of the first and third. The alterations from the latter of these are slight, and relate principally to punctuation, to transposition in the construction of some sentences, and occasionally to the omission or insertion of a word or two, which appeared needful to give clearness to the sense of the Author. Especial care has, however, been taken in every instance not in the least to misrepresent his meaning.
THE PREFACE ;
A SUMMARY ACCOUNT OF THE DIVERS DISPEN
SATIONS OF GOD TO MEN,
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD TO THAT OF OUR PRESENT
AGE, BY THE MINISTRY AND TESTIMONY OF HIS FAITHFUL
DIVERS have been the dispensations of God since the creation of the world unto the sons of men ; but the great end of all of them has been the renown of his own excellent name in the creation and restoration of man: man, the emblem of himself, as a God on earth, and the glory of all his works. The world began with innocency : all was then good that the good God had made: and as he blessed the works of his hands, so their natures and harmony magnified him their Creator. Then the morning stars sang together for joy, and all parts of his works said Amen to his law : not a jar in the whole frame, but man in paradise, the beasts in the field, the fowl in the air, the fish in the sea, the lights in the heavens, the fruits of the earth ; yea the air, the earth, the water, and fire worshipped, praised, and exalted his power, wisdom, and goodness. O holy sabbath! O holy day to the Lord !
But this happy state lasted not long : for man, the crown and glory of the whole, being tempted to aspire above his place, unhappily yielded against command and duty, as well as interest and felicity; and so fell below it, lost the divine image, the wisdom, power, and purity he was made in. By which, being no longer fit for paradise, he was expelled that garden of God, his proper dwelling and residence, and was driven out, as Vol. I.
a poor vagabond, from the presence of the Lord, to wander in the earth, the habitation of beasts.
Yet God that made him, had pity on him ; for He seeing he was deceived, and that it was not of malice, or an original presumption in him, but through the subtilty of the serpent (that had first fallen from his own state,) and by the mediation of the woman, man's own nature and companion, (whom the serpent had first deluded,) in his infinite goodness and wisdom found out a way to repair the breach, recover the loss, and restore fallen man again by a nobler and more excellent Adam, promised to be born of a woman ; that as by means of a woman the evil one had prevailed upon man, by a woman also He should come into the world, who would prevail against him and bruise his head, and deliver man from his power: and which, in a signal manner, by the dispensation of the Son of God in the flesh, in the fulness of time, was personally and fully accomplished by him, and in him, as man’s Saviour and Redeemer.
But his power was not limited, in the manifestation of it, to that time ; for both before and since his blessed manifestation in the flesh, He has been the light and life, the rock and strength of all that ever feared God: present with them in their tempta. tions, followed them in their travels and afflictions, and supported and carried them through and over the difficulties that have attended them in their earthly pilgrimage. By this Abel's heart excelled Cain's, and Seth obtained the pre-eminence, and Enoch walked with God. It was this that strove with the old world, and which they rebelled against, and which sanctified and instructed Noah to salvation.
But the outward dispensation that followed the benighted state of man, after his fall, especially among the patriarchs, was generally that of angels; as the scriptures of the Old Testament do in many places express, as to Abraham, Jacob, &c. The next was that of the law by Moses, which was also delivered by angels, as the apostle tells us. This dispensation was much outward, and suited to a low and servile state ; called therefore that of a schoolmaster, to point out and prepare that people to look and long for the Messiah, who would deliver them from the servitude of a ceremonious and imperfect dispen