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THE PUBLISHER's PREFACE.
Tas flattering manner in which the First Editioš * this Work was received by the Christian world, has encouraged the Publisher to bring forward a second; and, he flatters himself, that in doing so, he engages in an undertaking which will be equally acceptable and useful. The subject which Mr. Brown handles, is of very considerable inportance at any time : it is especially interesting in the present days , and the fulness and ability with which he has treated it, must give his performance a strong claim on the attention not only of those who hold the same general principles which he so powerfully maintains, but of those also who hold a different system. The former it provides with a clear and accurate statement of the reasonings, by which their opinions on Church Government are to be justified to their own minds, and de.# nod against the attacks or insinuations of others ; while, so is idior, it affords a body of argument, which, though it way prove insufficient to change their views, is yet unquestiona'y entitled to their impartial and attentive consideration. The controversy, indeed, between Presbyterians and Independents, is not quite so vehement in its spirit as it was when Mr. Brown's Work was originally published; but it still exists both in a speculative and a practical form ; and perhaps this production may be more serviceable than at the period of its first appearance, in determining the merits of that controversy, now that mens’ minds are less heated by passion, and better qualifted to take a calm view of whatever is stated on either side, while yet they are not so much cooled as to be in any measure indifferent to the issue of the question. On these accounts, the Publisher hopes that the Neto Edition of Mr. Brown's Vindication of Presbytery, will be Javourably received by all those who take an interest in the topics which it professes to discuss, and to whom, from the complete exhaustion of the first impression, it has for a long while been almost inaccessible.
The Reviewers of this valuable Publication speak - thus:–
“v, are glad to see a second edition of Mr. Brown’s work, and chearfully embrace the opportunity now afforded us, of stating the opinion which we are disposed to entertain of its merits, and of recommending it to the attention and perusal of our readers. We may observe, in general, that it is extremely valuable, both for the matter which it contains, and for the manner in which it is executed; that it is by far the ablest work of the kind which we have met with ; and that it may be read with great advantage, not only by those whose sentiments it supports, but even by those whose sentiments it opposes. “Mr. Brown has given us a very full and very dispassionate treatise ;-full, without being tedious ; and dispassionate, without being tame and insipid. He has given us what Warburton, laying aside his Episcopalian prejudices, would have called a “well-rea. soned and judicious” performance. Instead of filling his pages with mere declamation, which is so easy and so useless; or of indulging in retorts and reproaches, to which he had ample provocation ; or of amusing us with attempts at wit and humour, which are tee often most unwarrantably employed to break the force of truth ; or of diverting our thoughts from the main point, by introducing those extraneous remarks, which are frequently resorted to, in order to conceal a poverty of argument;-he has set the subject fairly and distinctly before him, he has followed it closel; through all i's windings, in the spirit of calm steady investigation, and never allowed himself to be tempted either by caprice or by disficuity, to deviate from the course which he has wisely chosen. Throughout the whole, our author has shewn himself to be we!!! fitted for the task which he has undertaken. We see evident to. kens of a very accurate and extensive knowledge of the controversy in which he has engaged—an attainment the more difficult, on account of the variety of forms assumed by the Independent churches. We observe great acuteness in discerning both the weak and the strong points of his opponents’ reasonings, and great skill in exposing the one, and in overturning the other. We remark a display of learning, which could only be acquired by a patient study of the original scriptures, and a laborious research into the writings of the fathers; and what is of still greater moment, our author seems to have a precise understanding of the learning which he brings forward, and makes a fair and happy application of it to the various propositions which he is desirous to illustrate, or to establish. But that which strikes us as chiefly characteristic of his controversial talent in this case, is the coolness and intrepidity with which he encounters every argument, and every objection that is orged by the other side. He shews no disposition to evade a single point, the consideration of which is essential or conducive to a
full and impartial discussion of the question. There is not a strong hold of Independency, however well fortified, against which he does not advance, and there is not a position on the ground of Presbytery, however fiercely attacked, which he does not defend, with the most undaunted courage, and the most perfect composure. Most other controvertists, when they are strongly opposed, become afraid, and shrink from the combat ; when they meet with difficulties, they get disconcerted, and run off to smoother ground ; when they see formidable preparations for receiving
in them, they are discouraged, and stand aloof. Mr. Brown is
never afraid of opposition—never disconcerted by difficulties, —never deterred by the appearance of resistance and danger. -In every part and stage of the controversy, he is cool, collected, and unshaken. Nor does this proceed, as his opponents may perhaps allege, from a blind and presumptuous confidence in his own prowess. We observe no symptoms of such a temper. But we see very well; that our author has a clear and comprehensive view of the field in which he contends—that he is conscious of possessing a decided superiority, both in the goodness of his cause, and in the efficacy of the means which he has for maintaining it—and that nothing, in addition to these, but prudence, fortitude, and perseverance, appear to him to be necessary for ensuring ultimate success. “That Mr. Brown has actually and completely, succeeded, we are perfectly satisfied. Independents, it is true, will hold a different opinion of the result; and we shall never be so arrogant or
uncharitable, as to impute this to any thing but a want of that
conviction in their minds, which Mr. Brown’s volume was intended to produce. We shall not, however, think them entitled to much credit for their judgment or their candour, if they do not allow, both that our author's weapons are powerful, and that he has wielded them with peculiar force and skill. Such a concession. is so obviously reasonable, that very few, we are persuaded, will refuse to make it.”—Edinburgh Christian. Instructor, No. 17.
“We are acquainted with no work in our language on this subject, which embraces such a variety of topics—brings forward such a mass of information—exhibits such cogent arguments—or contains such a minute examination of objections, both from reason and scripture, as the one now before us: Nor do we think many will, after carefully and candidly perusing it, deny that it is a trea. tise of merit, and does great credit to its author. Even Independents, however much they may feel some of the pointed reproofs, and stubborn facts which are presented to them, will acknowledge, that it deserves their most serious and attentive study.”—Religious
: Monitor, No. 39, page 190.
The following Letters were origin illy intended as a Reply to Mr. Innes only. On farther reflection, however, it appeared to be proper, not to restrict these inquiries to a review of that writer’s sentiments, but to consider also what had been said by the more ancient and able advocates for Independency. In our researches after truth, it should always be our concern to know what is said, and not merely who says it ; and certainly Independents cannot object. ji, in examining what has been advanced by their joresent champions, we iikewise consider the more jearned and ingenious arguments of their enlightened predecessors. It is requested to be remarked, that it is the principles only, and not the practices of Presbyterians that are here defended. The advocate for Presbytery i. certainly no more bound to vindicate the latter, in -order to establish the former, than the advocate for Christianity is bound to prove that the conduct of Christians is blameless and praise-worthy, in order to shew that Christianity is divine. It is Footer, alone as exhibited in the scriptures for which we here contend, and it is on this ground alone that we can impartially review and compare it with Independency. Let it be further considered, that if the errors which appear in the conduct of Presbyterials, with regard to government, are better known than those of Independents, it is owing, in a great measure, to the superior publicity of their courts. While none but members are allowed to attend the meetings of the latter, and while the strictest secrecy marks their proceedings in general, none are commonly prohibited from hearing the deliberations of the former. if the unistakes of Presbyterians then are more gene