READER,—Upon the perusal of this discourse, thou wilt quickly perceive that these two things are principally aimed at in it by the author: First, to answer in some measure that which is called for by those in power, when they publicly profess they desire nothing more than conviction, and to find out the hidden provocations which either have or yet may bring forth the Lord against these nations, in the way which at present they are in.

Secondly, to remove out of the minds and spirits of the honest party, that still agree in the reason and justice of the good old cause, all things of a private nature and selfish concern (the tendency whereof serves but to foment and strengthen wrath and divisions among them), and in place thereof to set before them that common and public interest, which, if with sincerity embraced, may be the means of not only procuring a firm union among them, but also of conserving them herein.

In order to do this, the author hath not been willing so much to declare his own opinion, or deliver any positive conclusions, as to discuss the business by way of question and answer, and thereby make as near a conjecture as he can of that wherein the several dissenting parts may with better satisfaction meet together, and agree upon a safe and righteous bottom, than to remain at the distance they do, to the apparent advantage of the common enemy, the approaching ruin of themselves, and needless hazard, if not loss, of the cause they have been so deeply engaged in; especially considering that, when once they shall be found beginning to come forth to one another in such a condescending, self-denying spirit, cleansed from the stain of hypocrisy and deceit, they may be well assured that light will spring up among them more and more unto a perfect day; and then those things which at present we have next in view, will prove as shadows ready to flee away before the morning brightness of Christ's heavenly appearance and second coming, through which they will be heightened and improved to their full maturity, to the bringing in that kingdom of his that shall never be moved.

And because an essay hath been already made in a private way to obtain the first thing, that is to say, conviction, which chiefly is in the hand of the Lord to give, the same obligation lies upon the author, with respect to the second, for the exposing of it as now it is unto public view, and therein leaving it also with the Lord for his blessing thereunto.

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