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E. F. wisheth a most plentiful increase of spiritual wisdom, and all necessary

graces for the discharge of his duty, to the glory of God, and the good of his people.


The rod of God's judgments hath been now long upon us, which we by our

manifold sins have procured, according as it is said concerning Jerusalem, (Jer

4:18), "Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee." And have

we any just ground to hope, that till the cause be taken away, the effect will

cease? Can we expect that the Lord will turn away his judgments, till we turn

away from our sins? And can we turn away from our sins before we know them?

And can we come to know our sins any otherwise than by the law? Doth not one

apostle say, that "sin is the transgression of the law"? (1 John 3:4). And doth not

another apostle therefore say, that "by the law is the knowledge of sin"? (Rom

3:20). Surely, then, a treatise, wherein is shown what is required, and what is

forbidden, in every commandment of the law, and so consequently what is sin,

must needs be for this cause, and at this time, very seasonable. But yet, alas! that

although there be ever so many treatises written, or ever so many sermons

preached upon this subject, yet do they either remain willfully ignorant of their

sins, or else, though they know them, they will not forego them, but rather choose

willfully to wallow on in the mire of iniquity, so sweet and dear are their sins unto

them. But what, then, must they be suffered to go on without restraint? No; God

forbid. Such persons as the law and love of God will not constrain, such must the

execution of justice restrain; upon such must the penalty of the law of the land,

being grounded upon God's laws, be by the civil magistrate inflicted. And for this

cause it is that the king is required, "When he sitteth upon the throne of his

kingdom, to write him a copy of the law of God in a book," (Deut 17:18). And

for this cause it is that the civil magistrate is called "the keeper of both tables"; for

says Luther, on Galatians, p. 151, "God hath ordained magistrates, and other

superiors, and appointed laws, bounds, and all civil ordinances, that if they can do

no more, yet at least they may bind the devil's hands, that he rage not in his bond

slaves after his own lusts." And hence it is that the apostle, speaking of the civil

magistrate, says, "If thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the

sword in vain," (Rom 13:4). Wherefore, Right Honourable, God having called

you to wield the sword of authority in the most famous city of this kingdom, I, a

poor inhabitant thereof, the author of the ensuing Dialogue, have, through the

advice and persuasion of some godly ministers, and through the consideration of

the suitableness of the subject with our place, been moved to take the boldness to

offer this work to your worthy name and patronage; not that I do conceive your

Honour is ignorant of your duty, nor yet that I see you to neglect your duty, for

your Christian integrity in your place, and your zealous forwardness to reform

things amiss, by punishing of evil doers, doth to me witness the contrary; but

rather to encourage your Honour to continue your godly course in the ways of

well-doing, and to advance forward in paths of piety, being more swift in your

motion now towards the end of your race—your year I mean, that so your

Master, Christ, may have cause to say concerning you, as he once did concerning

the church of Thyatira, "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith,

and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first," (Rev

2:19). Yea, and that it also may be said concerning you, "Well done, thou good

and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee

ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord," (Matt 25:21).

And so most humbly begging of your Honour that these my poor labours may be

accepted, and that under your Honour's name, they may go forth into the world,

and praying the Lord of power, and the God of all grace, to multiply his Spirit

upon your Honour, with all the blessed fruits of the same, I take my leave, and

rest your Honour's most humble servant to be commanded,

Edward Fisher

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