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The Westminster Assembly of Divines who were employed in the preparation of the Confession of Faith, which forms a material part of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in this country, were men alike distinguished for their piety and erudition. In every part of the work the evidences of their extreme caution and wisdom are apparent. All the doctrines admitted into it were subjected to the severe test of the only infallible rule of faith, and the phraseology in which they were clothed was chosen with the nicest discrimination. While the matter is remarkably condensed, the style is so lucid as seldom to justify controversy as to its true meaning and intent. Its chief excellence, however, is that it presents a scheme of doctrine which is admirably perfect and consistent with itself, while in each particular it confidently appeals to the word of God for its confirmation.
It may be desirable, however, to have some explanation of the references and allusions to then existing errors, and an amplification and enforcement of the system of truth which it inculcates, and these objects are accomplished in the present Exposition, it is believed, in a manner at once explicit and luminous. In its publication a desideratum will be supplied.
A literal reprint would not have suited the circumstances of the Presbyterian Church in this country, and hence certain liberties have been taken with the original, of which the reader is here advertised.
In no one instance have exceptions been taken to what may be termed the strictly theological views of the author, as these were found to coincide with the generally received doctrines of orthodox Presbyterians in this country; but in reference to the right of the civil magistrate to interpose in the government of the Church, it was found necessary to modify the original. The Westminster Divines had so far imbibed the spirit of the age in which they lived, as to obscure their views of the true independence of the Church, although they had made great advances towards the right doctrine on this subject. The Confession of Faith, as it proceeded from their hands, is still retained by the Presbyterians of Great Britain, When, however, the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in this country was adopted, those features relating to the civil magistracy were modified to suit the genius of our republican principles. It hence