Owen - BX9315 O81

FftLFACE. tone of stumbling, and a rock of offence unto them that stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto they also were appointed. There is nothing in him, nothing wherein he is concerned, nothing of him, his person, his natures, his office, his grace, his love, his power, his authority, his relation unto the church, but it bath been unto many a stone of stumbling, and a rock of of- fence. Concerning these things have been all the wo- ful contests, which have fallen out and been managed among those that outwardly have made profession ofthe Christian religion. And the contentions about them do rather increase than abate, unto this very day; the dismal fruits whereof the world groaneth under, and is no longer able to bear. For as the opposition unto the Lord Christ in these things by men of perverse minds, bath ruined their own souls, as having dashed them- selve in pieces against this everlasting Rock; so in con- junction with other lusts and interests of the carnal minds of men, it hash filled the world itself with blood and confusion. The re-enthroning of the person, Spirit, grace, and authority of Christ in the hearts and consciences ofmen, is the only way whereby an end may be put unto these woful conflicts. But this is not to be expected in any degree of perfection, amongst themwho stumble at this stone of offence, whereunto they are appointed, though in the issue he will herein also send forth judgment un- to victory, and all the meek of the earth shall follow after it. In the mean time, as those unto whom he is thus a rock of offence, in his person, his Spirit, his grace, his office and authority, are diligent and rest- less, in their various waysand forms, in lesser or high- er degrees, in secret artifices, or open contradictions unto any or all ofthem, under various pretences, and for divers ends, even secular advantages some of them, which the craft of Satan bath prepared for the ensnar- ing of them, in all ways of opposition unto his glory; so it is the highest duty ofthem unto whom he is pre- cious, whose principal design is to be found built on him as the sure foundation; as to hold the truth con- cerning him, his person, Spirit, grace, office, and au- thority, and to abound in all duties of faith, love, trust, honour and delight in him; so also to declare his excel- lency, to plead the cause of his glory, to vindicatehis honour, and to witness him, the only rest and reward of the souls of men, as they are called, and have op- portunity. This and no other fa the design of'the ensuing trea- tise, wherein as all things fall unspeakably short ofthe glory, excellency, and sublimity of the subjects treated of; for no mind can conceive, no tongue can express the real substantial glory of them; so there is no doubt, but that in all the parts of it, there is a reflection of fail- ings and imperfections from the weakness of its author. But yet I must say with confidence, that in the whole, that eternal truth of God, concerning the mystery of his wisdom, love, grace, and power, in the person and mediation of Christ, with our duties towards himself therein, even the Father, Son, and eternal Spirit, is pleaded and vindicated, which shall never be shaken by the utmost endeavours and oppositions of the gates of hell. And in the acknowledgment of the truth concerning these things, consists that faith in an especial manner, which was the life and glory the primitive church, which they earnestly contended for, wherein and where- by they were victorious, against all the troops of stum- bling adversaries, by whomit was assaulted. In giving testimony hereunto, they loved not their lives unto death, but poured out their blood like water, under all the Pagan persecutions, which had no other design but to cast them down, and separate them from this im- pregnable rock, this precious foundation. In the de- fence of these truthsdid they conflict in prayers, studies, travels, and writings, against the swarms of seducers, bywhom they wereopposed. And for this cause Ithought to have confirmed the principal passages of the ensuing discourse, with some testimonies from the most an- cient writers of the first ages of the church; but I omit- ted that course, as. fearing that the interposition of such passages might obstruct, insteadof promoting the edi- fication of the common sort of readers, which I princi- pally intended. Yet withal I thought it not good utterly to neglect that design, but to give at least a speediness of their sentiments about the principal truths pleaded for, in this preface to the whole. But herein also I meet with a disappointment; for the bookseller having unex- pectedly unto me, finished the printing of the discourse itself, I most be contented to make use of what lieth already collected under my hand, not having leisure or time to make any farther inquiry. I shall do something of this nature the rather, be- cause Ishall haveoccasionthereby to givea summary ac-