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of religion would at least have the advantage of appearing disinterested, as it proceeded from the pen of a layman, It is, I am aware, extremely ridiculous for those who adopt the prescriptions of their physicians, and act upon the advice of their lawyers, although they are professional, to object to defences of Christianity from the pens of Clergymen because they are professional; yet, absurd and uncandid as the objection is, it is often advanced: it is therefore

proper to meet it; and at times to show that there are those who cannot on such occasions be actuated by any love of worldly applause, or any thirst after emolument, but who feel sufficiently interested about Religion, and are sufficiently convinced of its powerful tendency to improve the conduct of individuals and to augment the general stock of happiness, to step for a little while out of their more appropriate province, to plead its cause. Such defenders of revealed religion there have been in all ages; yet they have not been so numerous as to render it improper or indecorous to increase their number: especially as the old prejudice still continues to operate with unabated energy; and there are many persons from whom the claims of Christianity receive a more respectful attention, when they are urged by one who is neither “a clergyman” nor a methodist.”

There have long existed several valuable essays on the Evidences of Christianity; and we now possess in the English language especially, the treatise of Dr. Paley, which all Christians consider as an honour to our age and nation. Had a luminous statement of the Historical Evidences been all that was aimed at or required, I should at once have referred my friend to Dr. Paley's as standard, and, I believe, unanswerable, work; and never have troubled either him or the public with any remarks of mine on the subject of religion. But it is very possible, and indeed very common, for men to be Christians in name and theory, and infidels in practice ; to profess a belief in Christ, and in heart to deny him ; to acknowledge him as

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Messiah, and to refuse to obey him as king; to avow the warmest admiration of the New Testament, and to despise and ridicule every thing in it which is characteristic and peculiar, and which constitutes it a summary of that “ truth” which alone " can make us free" from the dominion of sin and from the punishment due to it. This I consider as the most striking and lamentable error of the present times; and it is, therefore the more remarkable that such an error should not have been frequently and pointedly exposed. To adopt the language of an admirable living writer-" While the outworks of the sanctuary have been “ defended with the utmost ability, its interior has been “ too much neglected, and the fire upon the altar suffered « to languish and decay. The truths and mysteries which

distinguish the Christian from all other religions, have « been little attended to by some, totally denied by others; “ and while infinite efforts have been made, by the utmost “ subtlety of argumentation, to establish the truth and

authenticity of revelation, few have been exerted in com“ parison to show what it really contains."

Now the deficiency here adverted to is that which I have endeavoured to supply. I have attempted to exhibit in small compass a view, not merely of the Evidences, but of the distinguishing doctrines, and principal binding duties of the Christian Religion. I have endeavoured to show that Christianity is not so contemptible and bungling a fraud as some infidels have represented it to be; and to point out at the same time many palpable and enormous absurdities into which Infidelity precipitates its votaries. But this I reckon the least important part of my undertaking, though I humbly hope it may have its uses. The facts of Christianity are only so far momentous as the doctrines are momentous which are suspended upon them. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ would be no more to us (I mention it with reverence) than the death of Socrates, were it not that he suffered as a sacrifice for sin ; and his


resurrection of no more importance to us than the emancipation of a butterfly from its crysalis, were it not for the assurance that “even as he has risenso shall all his faithful followers. have therefore entered pretty much at large into the establishment and defence of the leading doctrines which distinguish Christianity from all other religious systems. In the choice of these I have kept almost entirely out of sight the higher points which separate the Arminians and Calvinists; while I have attempted to illustrate and confirm, as essential, those grand doctrines in which both Arminians and Calvinists, and indeed the great majority of Christians, differ from the Socinians. The truth is, that upon most of the questions which have long divided, and still continue to agitate, the Christian world, my mind is nearly in a state of perfect neutrality: so that I cannot bring myself to attach much importance to any question which is not obviously favourable or unfavourable in its moral tendency, or which does not appear to me fundamental, that is, which does not in some way affect the grand doctrine of man's redemption through the crucifixion of “ the Son of God.” With all Christians who in this respect “ hold the head," and live conformably to the doctrines they profess, however they may be separated upon minor topics, I am anxious to maintain, and long to see universally prevail, the “unity of the spirit in the bond of

“ peace.”

I am willing to hope, indeed, that this spirit is gaining ground among us; and that many men are beginning to act upon the persuasion that every controversy agitated in the Christian Church upon points of inferior moment, causes a deduction, and in numerous instances a very serious one, from the regard paid to the really impor'e.nt objects of faith.

In attaining the objects proposed I have not aimed at elaborate composition, or the elegancies of style: believing that if my professional employments did not tend greatly to render success in such an attempt improbable, my real in. ability to dazzle by splendid imagery and profuse embellishment would. I have endeavoured to reason clearly and fairly; have availed myself of every argument I have met with in other authors that has met my purpose; and have endeavoured to compress them into small space; and have, farther, had occasional recourse to some arguments which it is probable would not readily present themselves to any one who was not moderately conversant with scientific topics ; these, it may be added, were frequently suggested by the consideration, that the gentleman for whose use they were originally written had successfully engaged in scientific pursuits.

I know not whether it may be necessary to apologize for the frequency and extent of my quotations from Scripture, especially in the second volume. Let it be recollected that the main object of that volume is to teach the doctrines of Scripture ; that is, to show what they are, to exhibit them faithfully: and to effect this without being allowed to cite the language of Scripture, would be, as Mr. Boyle long ago remarked, “ to challenge a man to a duel, and oblige him s not to make use of his best weapons ; or to compel him to

prove the torrid zone habitable, and not make use of " the testimony of navigators.” Besides, the maxim of Chillingworth, though old, has not yet been proved absurd ; namely, “ that we cannot speak of the things of God, better “ than in the words of God.”

I would fain hope that my numerous references to other authors, or quotations from them, will not be ascribed to a desire to make a parade of extensive reading. My acquaintance with the works of other writers, and especially on the subject of religion, is, in truth, far less than it ought to be ; and my object in such frequent references and extracts has been either to direct the attention of young men of reading to standard works on topics which my plan would not allow me to treat so fully as I wished, or to confirm and fortify my own sentiments by the authority of many whom the world in general consider as learned, wise, and, therefore, highly worthy of regard.

Lastly, I beg to remark, that I hope and trust the freedom of my occasional animadversions upon theologians from whom I differ on several topics discussed in these letters, has in no instance arisen from contempt of them, or their opinions, from uncandid interpretations of their language, or from unworthy personal feeling. My business has been to attempt to refute sentiments which I deem erroneous and dangerous, as well as to establish those which appear to me true and beneficial. It is possible, I am persuaded, to feel the strongest conviction of the errors certain men may hold, without cherishing a particle of ill will against those who hold them. And surely it is perfectly fair and perfectly candid, when theologians of a certain class endeavour to divest Christianity of almost every thing which (as I conceive) is peculiar to it, pride themselves upon the skill and dexterity with which they effect this, and triumph over what they denominate the irrational and contracted tenets of others; to turn the tables upon them, and to show that their system is clogged with its full load of absurdities and contradictions; that their mode of translation, if adopted universally, would rob the New Testament of its whole spirit, energy, and perspicuity; and that by stripping the Christian system of its peculiarities, they deprive it nearly of all which renders it of consequence whether a man be a believer or an unbeliever. Under the influence of these sentiments, I shall conclude by adopting the language of Dr. Jortin on another occasion : the following disquisitions " are designed, slight and imperfect as “ they are, for the service of TRUTH, by one who would be

glad to attend, and grace her triumphs: as her soldier, if “ he has had the honour to serve successfully under her


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