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thou hast superadded the gift of revelation; having, from time to time, communicated to mankind, by thy servants the prophets, the most useful information concerning thy nature, perfections and government, concerning our duty here, and our expectations hereafter. And we more especially rejoice that, upon every occasion of thy gracious intercourse with mankind, thou hast represented thyself to us as the proper object of our reverence, love, and confidence; as a being of boundless goodness, and the greatest compassion to those frailties and infirmities to which it has seemed good to thy infinite wisdom to subject us ; as one who expectest no more of us than thou hast enabled us to perform; and who, upon our sincere return to our duty, art ever ready to extend the freest mercy and forgiveness towards us, even after our most aggravated and repeated offences.
We thank thee, more especially, for the last and most perfect revelation of thy will to mankind, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, in whom it hath pleased thee that all fulness should dwell; who has established upon the surest foundations, the great and important doctrines of the proper unity and mercifulness of thy natue, and thy unrivalled supremacy with respect to himself, as well as to all other beings, and all other things; and who has likewise given to us the most satisfactory assurance of a resurrection from the deacł, confirmed to us by his own death and resurrection ; whereby we are encouraged to expect, thal, because he lives, we shall live also.
It has seemed good to thy unsearchable wisdom, (which permits the rise and continuance of evil, in order, we doubt not, to bring about the greatest good,) that this most excellent religion, so honourable to thee and so beneficial to mankind, should, by means of the base artifices of some, and the general ignorance which lately overspread the world, become grossly corrupted; whereby such opinions have prevailed among the professors of christianity, as greatly dishonour thy nature, imply the most unjust reflections on thy righteous moral government, and are highly injurious to the virtue and happiness of men. How has the gold become dim, how is the most fine gold changed!
The great and important doctrine of thy divine unity has been generally abandoned, and objects of supreme worship multiplied. Thy messenger and sera vant, the ineek and humble Jesus, who upon all occasions referred his wisdom and mighty works to thee, his God and Father, speaking and acting by bin, has been advanced to proper equality with thyself; and even his mother Mary, and innumerable saints and angels, have likewise been addressed as if they were, omnipresent, beings. By thus dividing thy being, robbing thee of thy essential attributes and perfections, and distributing them among a multiplicity of inferior beings, depraved and unworthy notions of thy moral character have consequently prevailed, and many of the evils of idolatry have been introdueed ainong the professors of that religion which acknow. ledges but one living and true God, even thee our Father in heaven, and one mediator, the man Christ Jesus.
Having divested thee, in their imaginations, of the most amiable of all thy attributes, even the essential placability of thy nature, they have represented thy free mercy to penitent singers as purchased by the blood of thy innocent son. Forgetting that thou art good to all, and that thy tender mercies are over all tby works, and also that thou, the righteous Lord, lovest righteousness, they have ascribed to thee an arbitrary and unreasonable partiality. in favour of some of the human race, and a most cruel and unjust sevepity towards others, as eondemning them to everlasting torments for crimes of which they could not be guilty, and expecting of them that which thou hadst not enabled them to do. And baving lost the idea of the purity of thy nature, and thy regard to moral righteousness as the only just ground of acceptance and favour with thee, they have had recourse to unmeaning and even base and mischievous superstitions, as compensations for their non-ohservance of thy holy commandments.
To confirm all these, and innumerable other cor.. ruptions of thy holy religion, supreme authority has been openly usurped, by men, over that church in which thou hast given all power to our Lord and Master Jesus Christ ; and those of thy faithful ser-. vants who have justly refused to submit to their usurpa. tions, have by them been subjected to the greatest hardships, and even persecuted unto death ; so that these temporal anti-christian powers are drunk with the blood of thy holy martyrs.; We deeply lament this almost universal departure
from the true faith of thy son's gospel, the stop that has by this means been so long put to the propagation of christianity among Jews, Mahomedans, and Heathens; and the prevalence which it has occasioned of infidelity and profaneness in christian countries. ;
But we thank thee, who, in thine own due time, wilt, we doubt not, bring light out of all darkness, and order out of all confusion, that, in several christian countries, many of these corruptions and abuses have been reformed, and that anti-christian tyranny is every where giving place to the power of truth, and the just liberties of mankind in thinking and acting for themselves in all matters of religion.
For these great and invaluable blessings we are, under thee, indebted to the strenuous labours of thy faithful servants, who have not accounted even their lives dear unto them; but, for the love of thy truth, have renounced all worldly advantages, boldly asserting their christian liberty, and holding themselves accountable to none but thee, the sole and immediate Jord of conscience, and to the great shepherd and bishop of souls, acting by commission fron) thee, Jesus Christ.
We adore the wisdom of thy providence in bringing about the restoration of useful learning, and making it subservient to the reformation of thy church; so that thy servants, having recovered the genuine but long forgotten sense of the scriptures, were able to discover the false grounds of the reigning superstition, and of the ecclesiastical tyranny of their times.
Grant that, by a continued and diligent study of the same word of thy truth, we may, in due time, be led to the full discovery of every remaining corruption of our holy religion, and be brought to receive the whole truth in the love thereof. · Hasten, we entreat thee, the approach of that glorious time, when, according to the faithful and true writings of thy servants the prophets, our holy religion shall recover its primitive purity and efficacy ; when thou alone, as the only true God, a being of perfect rectitude, spotless purity, and essential goodness and mercy, shalt be the object of supreme wor. ship; when thy creatures of mankind shall have recourse to no method of rendering themselves acceptable to thee, but unfeigned repentance for their transgressions of thy Jaws, and a sincere endeavour to conform to them for the future, in a course of upright intentiovs. and worthy actions through the whole of their lives; and when no apprehension of arbitrary decrees shall alarm the fears of the humble, or encourage the presumption of the confident.
Dispose all who profess the christian name to study the scriptures of truth with unprejudiced minds; and inspire all those who attain to the truth with a just zeal for the propagation of it, as far as thy providence shall give them ability and opportunity to do it. May neither the love of popular applause, of- filthy lucre, or any worldly advantage ;-way neither the fear of man, of reproach, or of death, be: a snare to them, and binder them in this work of love ; and may ibey