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FAMILIAR LETTERŚ Ć
TO A GENTLEMAN,
A Variety of Seafonable and Important
Subjects in RELIGION.
By JONATHAN DICKINSON, A. M. Minister of the Gospel at Elizabeth-Town, New Jersey.
To write the same Things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe, Phil. iii. 1.
I have written briefly, exhorting and testifying, that this is the true grace of God wherein you stand, i Pet.
- Even as our beloved Brother Paul also, according to
the Wisdom given to him, 'hath written unto you. As also in all his Epistles, speaking in them of these Things, in which are some Things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable, wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures unto their pain Destruction, 2 Pet. iii. 15, 16.
** D UNDE? Printed in the Year M.DCC.LXXII.
141. m. 72 3
THE P R E F A G E. T HE irregular heats and extravagancies of
1 fome late pretenders to extraordinary attainments in religion, their imaginary divine impulses, and extatick raptures, with other effects of their disordered fancies, have cast fuch å blemish upon the Christian profession in the eyes of unsettled and unthinking people; that it is well if too many are not in danger of cal. ling Christianity itself into question, from the manifestly false pretences, and enthusiastick flights of some, who have put in a claim to so eminent experience in the divine life. It is therefore thought needful, as well as seasonable at this time, that a brief and plain confirmation of the Christian religion be sent abroad among our people, to establish them in the foundation of our eternal hope. This has been my special motive to the publication of some of the first of the enfuing letters.
On the other hand, whether for want of duIy distinguishing between delusive appearances, and the genuine effects of an effufion of the HoLY SPIRIT, or from whatever cause, such his been the violent opposition of fome to the late revival of religion in the land, that the doctrines of special grace and of experimental piety feem now by too many not only rejected and oppofed, but even treated with contempt, under the opprobrious character of new light; as if they had never before been heard of, or professed among us. This I take to be one of the darkest symptoms upon this land, that we have ever yet seen. It must on that account be
not unseasonable, to represent to our people in a clear and distinct view, the experiences of vital religion, which are necessary to constitute them Christians indeed. This is aimed at in the publication of most of the following letters.
The danger we are in of prevailing Antinomianism, and the actual prevalence that it has already obtained (especially under the name of Moravianisin) in some parts of the country, is a fufficient justification of the attempt I have * made to set the foundation error of the Antinomians in a true light ; and to discover its dangerous tendency.
If any are inclined to censure me, for troub. ling the world with new discourses upon such subjects as I had publickly treated on before ; particularly the evidences of Christianity, the Jovereignty of divine grace, faith and justification: They may consider, that these are most important points, and deserve the most particular illustration, that there is at this time a special call to remove the objections against them out of the way ; and that this is now attempted in a different manner, from my former difcourses on these subjects; and, I trust, with tome additional evidence to the truth.
If any of my readers are so curious as to ens quire, to whom these letters were directed ; it is sufficient answer, that they are now by the press directed to them ; and if they can improve them to their spiritual advantage, it will answer the end of their publication. May the blessing of GOD attend them to this purpose !
Let. X. The Characters in Rom. vii. distinctly illufa