Page images

this case altogether wanting; and a recurrence upon every point to first principles becomes inevitable, where all the foundatious of faith are to be laid afresh. This being the discipline through which, by the infinite

of God,—and


it prove also to His endless glory!—the author of the present volume was led to a knowledge and belief of the truth, and to an ardent desire, happily granted him in God's own good time, to be permitted to enlist in the service of “ Christ's church militant here in earth,” it followed as a natural consequence, that when, recently, by the publication of the Tracts for the Times, and other writings of a like tendency, a variety of questions came to be raised, which had long been suffered to repose in silence, he should at once refer them all to the test of those first principles, on which every proposition of truth in his mind was directly and immediately founded.

Overjoyed at first at the vindication of the sovereign ascendancy of truth, which those writings appeared to promise, and in the same measure saddened by the unsound and earthly basis, on which that ascendancy was made to rest more and more, the more fully the views of those writers were unfolded, he has been wholly unable to withdraw his mind from the absorbing interest of the questions at issue. In the discussion of those questions with those around him, he has thought he could often discover much perplexity arising to their minds from a want of direct reference to first principles, from a leaning upon convictions perhaps never very accurately defined and investigated, but rather taken for granted on the strength of associations imbibed in early youth, and subsequently endeared and sanctified by a life of faith. It thus occurred to him, that the disadvantages of altogether a different kind, under which he himself had laboured in the earlier

part of his life, might possibly be turned to account for the advantage of his fellow-members of the body of Christ, and that an exposition of his views on the questions now in agitation, might possibly suggest to them profitable points for consideration and useful trains of thought. Should he be mistaken in this supposition, he will, he trusts, have done no farther harm, than to incur the censure of those who may uncharitably attribute to egotism the publication of a work, which has been undertaken under an imperative sense of duty; while, on the other hand, he reckons confidently upon the indulgence of all that have ever felt

under any circumstances called upon to break through the restraints of personal feelings and considerations, for the sake of bearing their testimony, however humble, to the truth. Should he, on the other hand, have been fortunate enough so to bear his witness in this matter, as to assist any of those whose minds are in doubt and difficulty, in clearing up and confirming their views, he trusts that his attempting to do so will not be accounted an act of presumption, but will be attributed to a sincere desire on his part, according to “the measure of the gift of Christ” vouchsafed unto him, to discharge his solemn duty, and exercise his high privilege, of " setting forth the glory of God, and setting forward the salvation of all men.”

Of the details of his performance the author has little to say. In order to keep the chain of the main argument unbroken, he has disposed of minor and collateral points in the notes; and a few matters, which necessarily exceeded the limits of a note, have been relegated into an Appendix.

His references to Scripture might by some be thought unnecessarily copious; they who think so, will, he hopes, excuse the small interruption offered to their eye in the perusal of these

pages, in consideration of the tedious labour the author has undergone in the allegation and subsequent verification of so large a number of texts; a labour to which he subjected himself for two reasons : first, to enable his readers at once, and without further trouble, to turn to the context of any word of holy writ introduced by him in the course of his argument; and, secondly, to guard himself against the almost inevitable consequence of adducing Scripture without due regard to the context, viz. that a sense is given to the words of inspiration which was never intended to be conveyed, and cannot on examination be sustained : an evil which cannot be too much deprecated, nor more effectually checked, than by regular, and in a manner compulsory, reference in every case to the passage in its original connexion.

Should any be disposed to find fault with his style, as being in some parts too involved, he trusts the fastidious in such matters will do him the justice to bear in mind, that in treating of a subject like the present, it often becomes unavoidably necessary to gather a number of thoughts into one focus, because their distribution into detached and easy sentences would take off the very force and point of truth. As a number of rays diffused in parallel lines never afford that powerful light, which is obtained by their concentration upon one point, so likewise a conclusion of truth which follows after a succession of separate statements of the different premises upon which it is founded, is much enfeebled in comparison with the effect produced upon the mind, when all those premises are brought to bear, as it were in converging lines, upon the summary point to be established. The labour of both writer and reader is in that case well bestowed.

In the concluding chapter especially, the author has ventured to touch upon various views and practices at present prevalent in the church, and to advert to them even in the language of remonstrance. This could not be avoided, without frustrating the very object he had in view in entering upon his task, which was to show, that in order to render the Anglican church, what every branch of the church of Christ ought to be, an efficient vessel of the Spirit of grace and of glory, she stands in need of no new importations, no modifications of her form and constitution, either from the spirit of the age, or the spirit of antiquity; all that she requires is, that her ministers and her members generally should fully and

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »