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INTRODUCTORY

ESSAY,

&c.

THE

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The “ Private Thoughts on Religion” of the late Rev. Mr. Adam, of Wintringham, which are here republished, are inestimable. They are the produce of a very pious, a very acute, and a very honest mind. It is not a volume which charms by the force and purity of its style, by the closeness of its reasoning, or the tenderness of its persuasion. It is not a detail of evidences, nor a series of discourses. It was not even designed for publication; and partakes, therefore, of the disadvantages inseparable from merely private papers. The language is plain, and sometimes coarse. The topics are detached and unconnected. Some of the expressions are brief, and even obscure, and others strong and unguarded. But with all these, and perhaps some other defects, the thoughts are so acute and penetrating ; they spring from such a mature knowledge of the Holy Scriptures ; they open the recesses of the human heart with such skill and faithfulness; they lift up so boldly the veil which conceals the deformity of our motives; and the whole conception of Christianity which they exhibit, is so just and so comprehensive, as to render them a most valuable monument of practical and experimental divinity. Such a writer as Mr. Adam takes us out of our ordinary track of reading and reflection, and shows us ourselves. He scrutinizes the whole soul; dissipates the false glare which is apt to mislead the judgment; exposes the imperfections of what is apparently most pure and inviting; and thus teaches us to make our religion more and more spiritual, holy, solid, practical, humble, sincere.

His observations on the corruption of our nature are undoubtedly most humiliating, and may at first repel even some pious readers. But when his style and manner of expression on this subject are become familiar, and his full and elevated idea of Christianity as the remedy of it, is apprehended, this momentary dislike will yield to admiration and love. The reader will find that there is such a deep knowledge of scriptural truth in these remarks, illustrations so new and striking, drawn from a variety of sources, and so holy a tendency in every part of the statement, that he will peruse it again and again with increased advantage, and growing conviction and esteem.

The characteristic of the entire volume is depth of scriptural and experimental know

ledge. It requires, therefore, thought and

' time in order to be appreciated. But it will amply repay both. And it may perhaps be-affirined, that there is no work of modern divinity which is more likely, under God's blessing, to elevate and purify the standard of religious sen, timent in those who study it,

It is, indeed, objected by some persons, that to aim at a profound knowledge of the doctrines of Christianity, is to involve oneself in a maze of controversy, to chill the best affections of the heart, and to check the progress and the consolations of the bumble penitent. It is added, moreover, that the blessed Spirit of God is the only effectual teacher; and that refinements and metaphysical inquiries, in religion tend to quench his sacred influences, whilst they lead to no satisfactory results.

To this it may be replied, that to pursue theological questions in the manner of the schools, would indeed be open to the objection now advanced. But this is far from the method of Mr. Adam in the work before us. He aims not at establishing a system, or, defending minute, and doubtful points in religion. He plunges into no controversies. He pretends to no discoveries. He makes no show of inetaphysical acuteness. The deep knowledge which he recommends is that of the Holy Scriptures, well considered in all their parts; weighed, com

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