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A T a time, when Infidelity and Irreligion abound Ti on the one hand, and Popery and other heretical tenets are making large strides upon the Reformed Religion on the other; it hath been thought necessary, by many serious persons, of all the Protestant Denominations among us, to oppose a torrent of wickedness and delusion, which threatens to bear down all before it. The Judgments of GOD, which seem to hang over us as a Nation, and the dreadful scourge of war, with which we are already visited, may justly be imputed to the prevailing iniquity of the times, the dissoluteness of our public principles and manners, and the open disregard for the LORD OF Hosts, which so many among us, in practice if not in words, have dared to avow. We have reason to tremble as a nation, under the awful visitations of the ALMIGHTY; and to fear, that, unless a reformation of our general conduct take place, and a greater regard be paid to the interests of Religion and Truth, we shall be afflicted with yet heavier dispensations, and that what we see already, is only the beginning of sorrows.
With this view it hath been suggested, that (as nothing makes stronger impressions upon the mind than Example) a Review of the Lives and Principles of the most Eminent Persons in the Protestant Churches, from the beginning of the Reformation to the present day, might be a providential means of assisting, at least, in giving a check to this general inundation of infidelity and false opinions. The attentive perusal and consideration of what those great and good men maintained, suffered for, or died in possession of; may, in the Hand of GOD, be instrumental in leading others to follow their example, and at least deter many from reviling and contemning those peculiar principles of the Protestant: Doctrine, which their Indolence or their Ignorance have not suffered them to understand. It may safely be said, that nothing has contributed so much to the reception of impious or superstitious tenets among us, as the spiritual darkness of our present enlightened age, which indeed has made great improvements in the knowledge of every thing but one-and that is, the One Thing Needful. Our Youth are trained up, according to the fashion, in the ignorance and contempt of every thing sacred; and no man is allowed either sense or discretion, unless he is quite at ease with respect to religion, and indifferent to the great concerns of eternity. In short, to be polite, in the common acceptation, is to be profane ; and to gain a character of understanding and honour, a man must affect to despise the conscientious purity of the gospel, and openly disregard the AUTHOR of all Wisdom. What can be hoped for from maxims like these; but what we have already found ; viz. Irreligion on the one side, and spiritual error on the other? And these, we may expect, will draw upon us (as they did upon the Churches of Asia) the dreadful scourges of GOD, by outward calamities, and in the progress of inward blindness or abandonment.
Every man, therefore, who has any concern for the glory of GOD, the purity of the gospel, and the best interests of posterity, will readily (we should hope) give his earnest encouragement to a work, which seems calculated for these important purposes, as well as his own edification. It is a FAMILY-Book, and may be put into the hands of youth, both for their information as a History, and for their profit as an Instruc