Baxter - BX5207 B3 A2 1696

The Preface to the Reader. orConcerns. But if unjaflly, it is the undoubted right and duty of thofe that can, to clear the Cenfured from all their undue Imputations and Afperlions; andcould I do it for them, my Obligations to, and value for this quondam excellent Hifto- rian and Divine, Ihould not prevent my utmoftcordial Engagementsin that matter, iiamely, to wipe of all AfperGons from the Innocent, or to abate and leffen them, asfar as they arecapable duly of Allays. But let me meet the Reader with thefe cautionary offers. I. Perhaps it may be thought unmeet by font that a Divine lhòuld- turn HiftÚ- rian. Anew. x. Whynot as well asGrotinl, Du Pleffis, Lapis", &c. yea, and King games the Firft meddle with writingabout Sacred Things. ( z. ), Mr. Baxter was neither ignorant of, nor unconcerned in, nor unfit for fach a Work as this ; who knew him better than he knew himfelf ? or did more, intirely fearch into Affairs? or lay under greater Advantages for pious and jut} Informations? ( 3. ) He had no Advantages, nor heart for Gain orHonour by this his Undertaking. It is known he hath refufed Preferment, even by King Charles the Second, but fought for none. ( 4.) Writing of Hiftories rather refer to Abilities than to Office. Men may not govern Kingdoms, Cities, nor Societies, till called thereto by folemn Defignation; be they never fo throughly qualified ; nor, can they adminifter i{i Publick Worfhip till called theretò by Solemn Ordination, or as Probationers in order to that Of- fice. But Men may write for Godand Common Good if they be able fo to do. For their Abilities, Opportunities, and Capacity for Publick, Service, are a Call fufficiently and fafely ró bedepended on. (q.) The Author's Modefly , Humili- ty, and well known Self-denial, and evident Remotenefs from all Pragmaticalnefi and Affe&ation, may well prevent Sufpicionof his Exorbitancy in this his. Enter- prize. And ( 6. ) his great Ability and Concern to ferve the Publick Intereff, when as all poflible help was needful, requifite and grateful, may well implead Etch bold Retorts upon his Undertaking. Who flays for a particular Commiffion to extinguifh Flames, or to give needful Informations of inftant Dangers, or of neceffary Conduct, when great Calamitiesor Mifcarriagescannot otherwife bepre- vented'? a. It is not impoffible that force will judge him too impudent and unworthy in branding Perlons with fuch ungrateful Chara&ers, as do fo evidently expofe the Memory of the Dead and Living, or their Poflerity, and intimate to difgrace. But (t".) Mattersef Fa& notorioully known are fpeaking things themfelves and their Approbationor Dillike from others fhould be as Publick as the Things themfelves. Matters of Publick Evidence and Influence are as the TO of Publick Sentiments, and of the prevailing temper of thofe Communities wherein fuck things were done. And can Civilities of Converfation, or Interefl, or Perfonal Refpe&s and Tendernefs, be an Equivalent with God, to what is expe&ed by him from Bodies Politick, or from his faithful Servants in them. ( z.) The Author blames himfelf as freely, and as publickly confeffeth, and blames his own Mifcar- riages, ashe doth any other. ,(g.) He fpares no Man nor Party , which he faw culpable, and verily thought reproveableon jufl grounds. Nor is he fparing of fit Commendations, nor of moderating his Reprehenfions, where he faw the Cafe would bear it. (4.) He was far from Partiality, and addietednefs to any Party. Good and Evil, Truth and Fallhood, Faithfulnefs and Perfidioufnefs, Wifdom and Folly, Confideratenefsand Temerity, &r. they were refpe&ively commended or difpraifed wherever they-were found, (i.) Though Oliver Cromwell , once Pro- te&or, Dr. Owen, and others, feem tobe£harpyly cenfur'd by him , in the thopgbts - of thole that valued them ; yet let theaffigned Reafons be confidered by the Reader, and let him fairly try his own flrength ineither daving the Matters ofFa&, 'and fo impeach the Truth of the Hiftory : or in juflifying what was done, and fo implead the Criminal Charge ; or in allaying the Cenfureby weighing well how much of their reported or arraigned Mifcarriagesmay and ought to be afcribed to inter Infirmity or Miffake; or by preponderating their cenfured Crimes, with other worthy Deeds and Chara&ers,jyftlychallengingCommendations. For as to Oliver Cromwell,what Apprehenfions and Inducements governed him, and what hold they took upon his Confcience, and how far he a&ed in faithfulnefs thereto, as in defigned reference to God's Glory, to the Advancement of Religion , to the Reformation of a de- bauched Age, and to the Prefervation of thefe Kingdoms from Popery, Slavery, and Arbitrarinefs ( the general Fear and Pleaof there Kingdoms at that time, ) whetherwithout or with good ground, let others judge) is not for me here to de- termine. I have heard much of his Perfonal and Family Stri &uefs and.Devotion: e Of