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THE following Treatise originated in the expression of some doubts respecting the authority derived from the Scriptures for Social Worship by individuals whom the Writer knew to be persons of real integrity and conscientious Christians ; doubts which were occasioned by recent publications on the subject. It consists of the substance of three Sermons, designed chiefly to afford those who heard them the means of forming a correct judgement concerning the degree of encouragement given to this practice by the New Testament especially: the result of the investigation necessary for this purpose wasincreased surprise that any dispute should ever have arisen on the subject. Several friends were of opinion that this little work is calculated to be useful; and it is in conformity with their advice that it is now published. Though there is not the slightest probability that any
efforts to restrain the exercise of our
social affections and capacities in rendering united homage to the supreme and universal Benefactor, will ever be followed by extensive and permanent effects, yet as far as they do succeed, the advocates for public worship cannot but consider them as highly injurious, since they appear to strike at the root of the influence of religion on society at large. The well known maxim“ obsta principiis” holds good in religion and morals not less than in medicine ; and, however limited may be the probable extension of what appears to us to be pernicious error, strenuous and persevering exertions in any cause will usually obtain considerable success. To throw whatcheck we can, therefore, upon the early progress of such error, is an attempt the design of which at least will meet with approbation. Others have written with great ability in defence of social worship ; but a new publication on the subject, occasioned by new circumstances, may possibly be read by some individuals to whom it may be useful, when the former, whatever be their merits, are laid aside.
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