A BODY OF DIVINITY: Being the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion
To the Christian Reader:
Christian Reader, I do here present and commend unto thee a book of great worth and singular use, which was written and finished above thirty years since: the Author whereof is well known to be so universally eminent in all Learning, and of that deep knowledge and judgement in sacred Divinity; that he transcends all eulogies and praises which I can give him. I commend it unto thee (Christian Reader) under a two-fold notion.
The first respects the subject matter of this whole Work, which is of greatest excellency; as being The sum and substance of Christian Religion, upon which as a most sure foundation we build our faith, ground all our hopes, and from which we reap, and retain all our joy and comfort in the assurance of our salvation. Which as at all times it is most profitable to be read, studied, and known, so now (if ever) most necessary in these our days, wherein men never more neglected these fundamental principles, as being but common and ordinary truths, and spend their whole time, study, and discourse about Discipline, Ceremonies and circumstantial points; and herein also not contenting themselves with those common rules, and that clear light which shines in the Word; they are only led by their own fantasies, daily creating unto themselves diversities of new opinions : and so falling into sects and schisms they break the bond of love, and fall off from the communion of Saints, as though it were no Article of their Creed; and being in love with their own new Tenets, as being the conception and birth of their own brains, they contend for them more then for any fundamental truths; and not only so, but also hate, malign, and most bitterly and uncharitably censure all those that differ from them in their opinions, though never so conscientious and religious, as though they professed not the same faith, yea, served not the same God, nor believed in the same Christ; but remain still aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and in comparison of themselves no better then Papists, or at the best but carnal Gospellers.
The second notion under which I commend it respects the Work it self, or the manner of the Authors handling it, which is done so soundly and solidly, so judiciously and exactly, so methodically and orderly, and with that familiar plainness, perspicuity and clearness, that it gives place to no other in this kind either ancient or modern, either in our own, or any other Language which ever yet came to my view; in which regard I may say of it, as it is said of the virtuous woman; Many have done excellently, but this our Author exceeds them all. I will add no more in the deserved praises of this Work, but leave it (Christian Reader) to they self to peruse and judge of it, commending thee to the Word of Gods grace and the good guidance of his holy Spirit, who is able to build thee up in fruitful knowledge, to lead thee into all truth, to direct and support thee in the ways of godliness, and to give thee an everlasting inheritance among the blessed.
Yours in the Lord Jesus Christ,