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Prefatory note.

The title-page of the following treatise indicates that it was published in the year 1644; but in the second chapter of “The Review of the True Nature of Schism,” in this volume, it is stated that the date is a misprint for 1643. The work is dedicated to Sir Edward Scot, in whose family, it would appear, the author had for some time resided, and who had offered him some “ecclesiastical preferment” when it was vacant. Owen here declares himself to be in sentiment a Presbyterian, in opposition to Prelacy and Independency. He afterwards changed his views on church-government; but in the work on schism, to which we have just referred, he declares that, on the subjects under discussion in this treatise, his principles had undergone no essential change: “When I compare what I then wrote with my present judgment, I am scarce able to find the least difference between the one and the other.”

Two chapters of the work are occupied with a statement of the provision made for conducting religious instruction and worship under the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations. An interesting chapter follows on the spiritual priesthood of all believers, as destructive of the superstitions tenet which invests the office of the ministry with esoteric virtue and sanctity. The several ways under which men may be constrained, under an extraordinary call, to impart religious instruction publicly to others, are next considered. The treatise closes with an assertion of the right and obligation of private Christians to conduct certain kinds of divine worship, without interfering with the official functions of the Christian ministry.

The tractate to which he alludes, “De Sacerdotio Christi, contra Armin. Socin. et Papistas,” is described as not yet published, and seems never to have been published. It may have supplied part of the long and valuable exercitations on the priesthood of Christ prefixed to the Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, as, from the slight allusion to it in this treatise, the same topics appear to have been handled in it. He refers, also, in the close of this treatise, to an answer, drawn up for the satisfaction of some private friends, to the arguments of the Remonstrants for liberty of prophesying. Mr Orme supposes this unpublished document to be identical with the “Tractatus de Christi Sacerdotio.” We are not aware of any grounds for supposing such an identity. The subjects which these unpublished tracts seem to have discussed are obviously different. — Ed.

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