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REV. JOHN WESLEY, A. M.
Sir, As God has made you the first instrument in the present revival of religion in these lands, whereby so many thousands have been turned from the evil of their way; as you have laboured, in carrying on this work, for the long space of upwards of sixty years, and with a degree of zeal, diligence, and fortitude, unknown since the days of the apostles : and as you still continue your mighty labours, without the least abatement, though you are now in the eighty-eighth (or as some say, in the ninetieih) year of your age! and especially, as you have always been the great patron of every doctrine of universal grace, and among the rest, of that maintained in the following pages ; on all these accounts. I beg leave, Sir, to recommend this work to your favour and protection, in preference to that of any other. And I farther beg your acceptance thereof, as another (and perhaps the last) proof of my real affection for your person, and also, of the very high esteem I hope ever to entertain . of your very extraordinary character.
However unworthy the performance may be, the subject, Sir, is capable of great service to the cause of truth, as it stands opposed to the popular, and growing error of unconditional perseverance. For if it be fully demonstrated, that that doctrine is no truth of revelation, then it will follow that the doctrine of unconditional election has no foundation in scrip. . ture; from whence it will follow farther, that the doctrine which supposes all things to be unconditionally decreed from eternity, is an unscriptural error: therefore if the pillar of unconditional perseverance is fairly
pulled away, the whole temple of this Dagon comes down of course. · Now the argument, which I have urged in the following pages, does this infallibly. For there, Sir, you will find it demonstrated, that one of the most excellent books of the New Testament is no other than a regular chain of reasoning against the doctrine of unconditional perseverance. And that I may prevent all clamour, and make the argument the more de. cisive, at least, with those in this day, who see more force in the Sayings of their admired authors, than in a number of the most perfect demonstrations; to confute and silence, if not to convince these, I have confirmed my interpretation of those passages on which I rest a great part of my proof, with the testimonies of a great number, both of Calvinists and Arminians: whom I largely shew to agree with me in my account of the SCOPE of the whole epistle. · In doing this, I confess I have not paid any regard to what the calvin. ian writers ought to have said on their own supposition, nor unto what they HAVE ACTUALLY said on various other occasions. It is enough for me, when I say that such words or phrases signify APOSTASY, TOTAL, or FINAL apostasy, that I can find a sufficient number of calvinian writers who say the same; when this is done, no one can expect me to be responsible for the absurdities, and contradictions, with which they so generally abound. · As to the Method, I beg leave to observe, Sir, that the Discourse was originally an extemporary sermon, on the words cited in the beginning; and that when I was prevailed on to enlarge the subject, and fit it for the reception of the public, I resolved to spare myself the trouble of laying down a new plan; the consequence is, that the argument is rather more complex than the subject necessarily requires : seeing, according to this, it would have been sufficient to have shewn, first, that these Hebrews were true believers; and, secondly, that