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Connection between the Doctrine and Practice of Pri-
N my Proposals for printing this “ History
of the Church of Christ” I promised “An Ecclesiastical History on a new Plan.” The Reader therefore will naturally expect some distinct account of a plan, which, in a subject so generally known, lays claim to novelty, in order that he may judge for himself, whether it appears sufficiently interesting to engage his perusal of the work itself.
It is certain, that from our Saviour's time to the present, there have ever been persons whose dispositions and lives have been formed by the rules of the New Testament; men who have been real, not merely nominal Christians, who believed the doctrines of the Gospel, loved them because of their divine excellency, and suffered gladly the loss of all things, tbat they might win Cbrift, and be found in him*. It is the history of these men which I propose to write. It is of no consequence with respect to my plan, nor of much importance I believe in its own nature, to what external church they belonged. I intend not to enter with any nicety into an account of their rites and ceremonies, or forms of church-govern
ment, + Philip. iii. 8, 9.
ment, much less into their secular history. Even religious controversies shall be omitted, except those which seem to bear a relation to the essence of Christ's religion, and of which the history of his real church seems to require some account. Let not the Reader expect, that the actions of great men (great in a secular view I mean) will be exhibited to his notice. Nothing but what belongs to Christ's kingdom (hall be admitted, and genuine piety is that alone which I intend to celebrate.
It must have struck a careful observer, that such an history is as yet a great defideratum. Malice has been fed even to satiety, by the large displays of Ecclesiastical wickedness. The wildest and the most visionary heretics have filled the historic page, and their follies, both in principle and practice, have been deemed worthy of a particular enumeration. The internal diffen lions of churches have been minutely described. The intricacies and intrigues of Popery, and indeed of every other secular system, which pretends to wear a religious garb, have been developed with a studious particularity; the connection between the church and the state has afforded very ample materials of what is commonly called Church-History; and learning and philosophy have been much more respected than godliness and virtue.