Walter Marshall’s Gospel-Mystery of Sanctification was originally published in 1692 and by the end of the 18th century had been republished at least eleven times, the twelfth edition being published in 1811. It has been praised by many including the Scottish Marrow-men Ebenezer and Ralph Erskines. Robert Trail wrote:—
“I think that Dr. Owen’s excellent book of Justification, and Mr Marshall book of the Mystery of Sanctification by faith in Jesus Christ, are such vindications and confirmations of the Protestant doctrine, against which I fear no effectual opposition. Mr Marshall was a holy and retired person, and is only known to most of us by his book lately published. The book is a deep practical, well-jointed discourse; and requires a more than ordinary attention in reading of it with profit. And, if it be singly used, I look upon it as one of the most useful books the world has seen for many years. Its excellence is, that it leads the serious reader directly to Jesus Christ, and cuts the sinews and overturns the foundation of the new divinity, by the same argument of gospel holiness by which attempts have been made to overturn the old. And, as it has already had the seal of high approbation, by many judicious ministers and christians that have read it, so I fear not but it will stand firm as a rock against all opposition, and prove good seed, and food, and light to many hereafter.”
It is with the hope of introducing the good seed, food and light found in Marshall to others that this short abridgment is offered. Originally published in 1766 annoymously, it is thought to be the work of William Cudworth. But as Cudworth died in 1763, the history of this abridgment and its author is left unclear. Also included are Cudworth's 'Aphorisms on the Assurance of Faith', and James Hervey's assertions and sermon on 'The Way of Holiness.' Both these author's benefited greatly from Marshall's work, and it is hoped that their included works may serve as a helpful illustration and illumination of Marshall's thoughts.