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which we endeavour to establish our people in the evidences of the gospel.
His object accordingly has been to lead the sincere enquirer, step by step, through the chief arguments which establish the truth and importance of Christianity. He begins with the admissions of natural religion. He then proceeds to point out how men act in common life on all similar occasions. He next shows the real force of the accumulated evidences in favour of the Christian faith; and presses home upon the heart the immense obligation of practically obeying truth so far as it is known.
The immediate occasion of preparing this course of Lectures, was the confirmation, by the Bishop of London, of a large number of young persons in the author's parish of Islington. These it became his most pleasing duty to instruct and further establish in their Christian profession. To assist him in this, he could find no work exactly of the kind he desired. He wanted a full and popular review of the whole argument. The excellent summary of Bishop Porteus was too brief and too much in the form of an essay for his purpose. He was induced therefore to venture on the hazardous measure of preparing the present work. The approbation with which the design was received by his hearers of every class and age, and the circumstance that the bulk of his parishioners were unable to be present when they were preached, led him to consent to their publication. The Lectures are, indeed, necessarily better adapted for the closet than the pulpit.
It should be mentioned that, in the winter of 1819, the author composed and delivered a course of Lectures similar to the present, when he was minister of a parochial chapel in one of the most crowded parts of the metropolis.* This was on a more limited scale. The plan upon which he proceeded was, however, nearly the same; and he was then so earnestly importuned to commit them to the press, that he had made a considerable preparation for doing so, when a state of ill health supervened, which entirely broke up his plan. His papers, however, have very materially assisted him in the present publication. In one respect only an inconvenience has arisen, which he knows not how to remedy, except by the present acknowledgment. His collections being written out in short hand, and often without references, he cannot now always recall the names of his authorities. He has done what he
* St. John's, in the parish of St. Andrew, Holborn.
could in the notes to refer to the chief of them. He need not say, that the Boyle Lectures, Grotius, Huet, Kortholt, Lardner, Stosch, Paley, Michaelis, Less, Warburton, Sherlock, Hurd, Jenkin, Leland, Butler, Porteus, Beattie, Horsley, Van-Mildert, Marsh, Routh, Moncrief, Chalmers, Gregory, have been amongst his principal resources in the first division of the work. To these authors it would be most unjust not to add the name of T. Hartwell Horne, who has not only analysed, with extraordinary diligence, all the principal writers on the Evidences of Christianity, but has supplied the defects of
many of them, by enforcing those moral and religious considerations arising from the intrinsic excellency of Christianity, and the responsibility of man, which, in the author's judgment, are so unspeakably important.
He needs scarcely mention other well-known productions, which he has consulted on the subjects particularly connected with the internal Evidences. Baxter, Bennet, Dewar, Doddridge, Dwight, Jonathan Edwards, Fuller, S. Jenyns, Bishop Law, Archbishop Newcombe, Miller, Scott, John Scott, Owen, Simpson, Skelton, Bishop J. Taylor, Wilberforce,-are names familiar to the theological student. Το those he would add, the Lord Bacon, for the extraordinary thoughts which he has borrowed from that great master of reason.
Several excellent works have been consulted by the author, which have appeared since his abstracts made in 1819; as the able Treatises of Bishop Sumner, Davison, Erskine, Gurney, Benson, Franks, Faber, Harness, Penrose, Blunt, Milman, Taylor, Keith, and The Monthly Lectures for 1827. If any one of these had precisely met the author's wishes for the instruction of his young parishioners, by stating, in a clear and popular manner, the whole argument for Christianity, and applying every part to the conscience, he should have abstained from the present attempt.* But, perhaps, on no subject may a variety of publications be better excused, than on a question like Christianity, on which all our hopes depend, which is wide and extensive as the nature of man, which requires to be re-stated according to the circumstances of the passing age, and where each author, by following his own train of thought, may hope to benefit his immediate circle, and possibly contribute something to the general stores of the evidences of our faith.
* If Bishop Sumner's argument had been extended to the other branches of the subject, and been thrown into the form of Sermons, it would have wholly superseded the present attempt. The same may be said of Mr. Franks' most original and powerful work, and Mr. Gurney's.
The principal new Treatises which have fallen under his notice during the publication of the work, are those of the present Bishops of London and Winchester, and of one of the late lamented Bishops of Calcutta, which is full of important matter, and seems far less known than it deserves * -and those of Messrs. Bowdler, Dr. T. Brown, Channing, Dick, Gerard, Hampden, E. G. Marsh, Taylor, Sheppard, Shuttleworth, Pye Smith, &c.
To these names he has peculiar satisfaction in adding that of an American writer of singular talent, with a good deal of the mind of our Bishop Butler, Mr. Verplanck, whose work abounds with deep and original thoughts.t
In foreign divinity, the writings of Pascal especially have supplied him with invaluable matter. Nor can he avoid mentioning the production of M. Frassynous; † which, abating some parts where the corruptions of his church have affected the argument, deserves to rank amongst the first works of the day.
* Dr. James' Semi-sceptic. † A reprint has not yet been made of this masterly work.
# Défense du Christianisme.