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that the King of Sweden, whom God, as we hope, has raised up to be a most stout defender of the orthodox faith, is at present waging, with all the force of his kingdom, a doubtful and bloody war with the most potent enemies of the reformed religion that your own provinces are threatened with hostile confederacies of the princes your neighbors, headed by the Spaniards; and lastly, that we ourselves are busied in a war proclaimed against the King of Spain. In this posture of affairs, if any contest should happen between your lordships and the King of Sweden, how miserable would be the condition of all the reformed churches over all Europe, exposed to the cruelty and fury of unsanctified enemies! These cares not slightly seize us; and we hope your sentiments to be the same; and that out of and that out of your continued zeal for the common cause of the Protestants, and to the end the present peace between brethren professing the same faith, the same hope of eternity, may be preserved inviolable, your lordships will accommodate your counsels to those considerations, which are to be preferred before all others; and that you will leave nothing neglected that may conduce to the establishing tranquillity and union between your lordships and the King of Sweden. Wherein, if we can any way be useful, as far as our authority, and the favor you bear us will sway with your lordships, we freely offer our utmost assistance, prepared in like manner to be
no less serviceable to the King of Sweden, to whom we design a speedy embassy, to the end we may declare our sentiments at large concerning these matters. We hope, moreover, that God will bend your minds on both sides to moderate counsels, and so restrain your animosities, that no provocation may be given, either by the one or the other, to fester your differences to extremity; but that, on the other side, both parties will remove whatever may give offence or occasion of jealousy to the other. Which, if you shall vouchsafe to do, you will disappoint your enemies, prove the consolation of your friends, and in the best manner provide for the welfare of your republic. And this we beseech you to be fully convinced of, that we shall use our utmost care to make appear, upon all occasions, our extraordinary affection and good will to the states of the United Provinces. And so we most earnestly implore the Almighty God to perpetuate his blessings of peace, wealth, and liberty, upon your republic: but above all things to preserve it always flourishing in the love of the Christian faith, and the true worship of his name. Your high and mightinesses' most affectionate, OLIVER, Protector of the Commonwealth of England, &c.
From our Palace at WESTMINSTER, Aug. ——, 1656.
TREATISE ON CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE.
TO ALL THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST,
TO ALL WHO PROFESS THE CHRISTIAN FAITH THROUGHOUT THE WORLD,
PEACE, AND THE RECOGNITION OF THE TRUTH, AND
INCE the commencement of the last century, when religion began to be restored from the corruptions of more than thirteen hundred years to something of its original purity, many treatises of theology have been published, conducted according to sounder principles, wherein the chief heads of Christian doctrine are set forth, sometimes briefly, sometimes in a more enlarged and methodical order. I think myself obliged, therefore, to declare in the first instance why, if any works have already appeared as perfect as the nature of the subject will admit, I have not remained contented
with them, or, if all my predecessors have treated it unsuccessfully, why their failure has not deterred me from attempting an undertaking of a similar kind.
If I were to say that I had devoted myself to the study of the Christian religion because nothing else can so effectually rescue the lives and minds of men from those two detestable curses, slavery and superstition, I should seem to have acted rather from a regard to my highest earthly comforts, than from a religious motive.
But since it is only to the individual faith of each that the Deity has opened the way of eternal salvation, and as he requires that he who would be saved should have a personal belief of his own, I resolved not to repose on the faith or judgment of others in matters relating to God; but on the one hand, having taken the grounds of my faith from divine revelation alone, and on the other, having neglected nothing which depended on my own industry, I thought fit to scrutinize and ascertain for myself the several points of my religious belief, by the most careful perusal and meditation of the Holy Scriptures themselves.
If therefore I mention what has proved beneficial in my own practice, it is in the hope that others, who have a similar wish of improving themselves, may be thereby invited to pursue the same method. I entered upon an assiduous course
of study in my youth, beginning with the books of the Old and New Testament in their original languages, and going diligently through a few of the shorter systems of divines, in imitation of whom I was in the habit of classing under certain heads whatever passages of Scripture occurred for extraction, to be made use of hereafter as occasion might require. At length I resorted with increased confidence to some of the more copious theological treatises, and to the examination of the arguments advanced by the conflicting parties respecting certain disputed points of faith. But, to speak the truth with freedom as well as candor, I was concerned to discover in many instances adverse reasonings either evaded by wretched shifts, or attempted to be refuted, rather speciously than with solidity, by an affected display of formal sophisms, or by a constant recourse to the quibbles of the grammarians; while what was most pertinaciously espoused as the true doctrine, seemed often defended, with more vehemence than strength of argument, by misconstructions of Scripture, or by the hasty deduction of erroneous inferences. Owing to these causes, the truth was sometimes as strenuously opposed as if it had been an error or a heresy, while errors and heresies were substituted for the truth, and valued rather from deference to custom and the spirit of party than from the authority of Scrip