A Premonition To The Reader

Gentle Reader,

That thou mayest not be tired with longing to know what errors, and doctrines destructive to Christianity, Mr. Fowler in his feigned design of Christianity, hath presented the world withal; and that thou mayest even in the entry, see that which more fully is shewn in the house: namely, of the contradiction that is in his book, to the wholesome doctrine of the church of England, while he stands a minister of the same, I have thought convenient, instead of an epistle, to present thee with those doctrines contained in his; and that are refuted by the book that thou hast in thy hand. The which also, I hope, will be a sufficient apology for this my undertaking.

His Doctrines are these:

  1. That the first principles of morals, those first written in men's hearts, are the essentials, the indispensable, and fundamental points or doctrines of the gospel (p. 8, 281, 282).
  2. That these first principles, are to be followed, principally, as they are made known to us, by the dictates of human nature: and that this obedience is the first, and best sort of obedience, we Christians can perform (p. 8, 9, 10).
  3. That there is such a thing as a soundness of soul; and the purity of human nature in the world (p. 6).
  4. That the law, in the first principles of it, is far beyond, and more obliging on the hearts of Christians, than is, that of coming to God by Christ (p. 7-10).
  5. That the precept of coming to God by Christ, &c., is in its own nature, a thing indifferent, and absolutely considered neither good nor evil (p. 7, 8, 9).
  6. That Christ's great errand, in coming into the world, was to put us again in possession of the holiness we had lost (p. 12).
  7. That John the Baptist, the Angel that was sent to Zacharias, and Mary, preached this doctrine, and so also did Malachi the prophet (p. 13).
  8. That Christ by saving us from sin, is meant, not first, his saving us from the punishment, but from the filth, and from the punishment, as a consequence of that (p. 14, 15).
  9. That Christ's work, when he was come, was to establish Only an inward real righteousness (p. 16).
  10. That Christ's fulfilling the law For Us, was by giving more perfect, and lighter instances of moral duties, than were before expressly given (p. 17).
  11. That Christ's doctrine, life, actions, miracles, death, resurrection, ascension, and coming again to judgment, is all preached to establish us in this righteousness (chap. 2-8).
  12. That it is not possible a wicked man should have God's pardon (p. 119).
  13. That it is impossible Christ's righteousness should be imputed to an unrighteous man (p. 120).
  14. And that if it were, he boldly affirms, it would signify as little to his happiness, while he continueth so, as would a gorgeous and splendid garment, to one that is almost starved (p. 120).
  15. For God to justify a wicked man, &c., would far more disparage his justice and holiness, than advance his grace and kindness (p. 130).
  16. He saith, men are not capable of God's pardoning grace, till they have truly repented them of all their sins (p. 130).
  17. The devils, saith he, have a large measure of these attributes of God; as his power, knowledge, &c. (p. 124).
  18. That Christ did himself perform, as our example, whatever he required of us to do; yea, that he trod himself EVERY step of our way to heaven (p. 148).
  19. The salvation of Christ, first, consists in curing our wounds (our filth) and secondarily, in freeing us from the smart (p. 216).
  20. That pardon doth not so much consist in remission, as in healing; [to wit, our filth,] (p. 216).
  21. Faith justifieth, as it includeth true holiness in the nature of it; it justifieth AS it doth so (p. 221).
  22. That faith which entitles a sinner to so high a privilege as that of justification, must needs be such as complieth with all the purposes of Christ's coming into the world, &c. And it is no less necessary that it should justify as it doth this (p. 222).
  23. He wonders that any worthy man should be so difficultly persuaded, to embrace THIS account of justifying faith (p. 222).
  24. There can be no pretence for a man, to think that faith should be the condition or instrument of justification, as it complieth with, only the precept of relying on Christ's merits for the obtaining of it (p. 223).
  25. It is, saith he, as clear as the sun at noon-day, that obedience to the other precepts must go before obedience to this (p. 223).
  26. He shall be his Apollo, that can give him a sufficient reason, why justifying faith should consist in recumbence and reliance on Christ's merits for the pardon of sin (p. 224).
  27. He will take the boldness to tell those who are displeased with this account of justifying faith, that in his opinion it is impossible they should Once think of any other (p. 225).
  28. The imputation of Christ's righteousness, consisteth in dealing with sincerely righteous persons, as if they were perfectly so, &c. (p. 225).
  29. The grand intent of the gospel is, to make us partakers of inward real righteousness; and it is but secondary, that we should be accepted as before (p. 226).
  30. It is not possible (he saith) that any other notion of this doctrine should have truth in it (p. 226).
  31. Whatsoever is commended by the customs of the place we live in, or commanded by superiors, or made by ANY circumstance convenient to be done, our Christian liberty consists in this that we have leave to do them (p. 242).
  32. For our refusing to comply with these, can hardly proceed from any thing, than a proud affectation of singularity, or at best from superstitious scrupluosity (p. 242).
  33. Those ministers hinder the design of Christianity, that preach up free grace, and Christian privileges, Other Ways than as motives to obedience, and that scarce ever insist upon any other duties than those of believing, laying hold of Christ's righteousness, applying the promises, &c. (p. 262).
  34. But to make the Christian duties to consist either wholly or mostly in these, &c., is the way effectually to harden hypocrites (p. 262).
  35. Those ministers do nothing less than promote the design of Christianity, that are never in their element, but when they are talking of the irrespectiveness of God's decrees, the absolute [ness of his] promises, the utter disability, and perfect impotence of natural men, to do any thing towards their own conversion (p. 262).
  36. He is the only child of Abraham, who in the purity of his heart obeyeth those substantial laws, that are by God imposed upon him (p. 283).
  37. There is NO duty more affectionately commanded in the gospel, than that of almsgiving (p. 284).
  38. It is impossible we should not have the design of Christianity accomplished in us, &c., if we make our Saviour's most excellent life, the pattern of our lives (p. 296).
  39. To do well is better than believing (p. 299).
  40. To be imitators of Christ's righteousness, even of the righteousness we should rely on, is counted by Mr. Fowler, more noble, than to rely thereon, or trust thereto (p. 300).

READER

I have given thee here but a taste of these things; and by my book but a brief reply to the errors that he by his hath divulged to the world: Ay, though many more are by me reflected than the forty thou are here presented with.

God give thee eyes to see, and an heart to shun and escape all these things that may yet come to pass, for hurt, and to stand before the Son of Man.

Thus hoping that this short taste may make Mr. Fowler ashamed, and thee receive satisfaction, touching the truth and state of this man's spirit and principles; I rest,

Thine to serve thee in the gospel of Christ,

J. Bunyan