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In the present Edition, several notes have been added, and some others have been enlarged; a number of verbal amendments have been made in the style; and the illustration of ] John v. 20. the text of the Discourses on the Divinity of Christ, has, in compliance with the suggestion of a Reviewer in the Christian Herald, been transferred from the second to the third Discourse. Were the Author to say that he has not been gratified by the commendations bestowed on his Work, in that and in other publications, no person would give him credit for any thing else than affectation. He has only, therefore, to express his regret, that the strictures of other censors of literature should not have appeared in sufficient time to enable him more extensively to avail himself of them, for the improvement of the Volume.
Glasgow, April 17th, 1815.
THE FOURTH EDITION.
For a considerable time before receiving intimation from my publishers of the call for a new Edition of these Discourses, I had formed the purpose of enlargement, on one point especially, -the doctrine of Atonement,-which had appeared to my own mind to admit of it with advantage, if not even to require it. In conformity with this purpose, considerable additions have been made to one of the Discourses on this all-important subject; and an entirely new Discourse has been introduced, on a very interesting collateral topic,-the connexion between the doctrine of our blessed Lord's Divinity and the sufficiency and efficacy of his sacrifice; or, in other words, on the question whether that sufficiency and efficacy arose exclusively from the appointment of God, or, along with such appointment, from the intrinsic value of the offering; -and whether, consequently, the Divine dignity of the Redeemer being admitted, a redemption of inferior worth was at all supposable, or possible:-a discussion, from which I should be sorry that any reader were scared by the appear
ance it may have to his mind of unprofitableness or presumption; for, if I may at all judge of others by myself, it will be found, in no inferior degree, under some especially of its aspects, both interesting and beneficial, and, withal, in perfect harmony with that unpresuming lowliness of spirit, which shrinks from intruding into the "secret things that belong unto the Lord,"-from attempting to penetrate beyond the sacred limits of Divine discovery.
It subsequently occurred to me, that, as I had no intention of re-publishing my Reply to Mr. Yates's Vindication of Unitarianism, there were some portions of that Volume which might with advantage be transfused into the text and notes of the Discourses; that by this means the original work might be rendered more complete, and by consequence, as I hoped, more acceptable and useful. This has accordingly been attempted. It may readily be conceived, however, that such transfusion was not without its difficulties. That which occurs in its appropriate place in one work cannot always, without a somewhat troublesome process of assimilation and adjustment, find a natural and easy position in another: and few things are more unseemly and offensive to taste, than a patch-work of this description, where the diversity of texture is apparent, and the joinings either manifest, or but clumsily and awkwardly concealed. I flatter myself with having accomplished this part of my task pretty successfully :—at least I think there is reason to hope, that those inserted passages will elude the observation of the reader, (unless he be a very lynx in quick discrimination), which, in glancing through the Volume, have generally eluded the Author's own.
-In consequence, however, of the difficulty stated-(a difficulty greatly enhanced when the transferences are to be made from a work of personal controversy, where the matter of which the Author wishes to avail himself is inseparably mixed up with references to the arguments, and citations of the words, of a particular opponent),—I have been constrained to leave behind a great deal which I should otherwise willingly have used:-so that if the "REPLY" ever possessed any value, it may be said still to retain the larger portion of it.
The fancy, I believe, has been sported at least, if not seriously entertained, by some visionaries in medical physiology, that by the transfusion of the blood of one animal into the veins of another, a transference of constitutional temperament might be effected, and the dispositions of different creatures altered and modified at pleasure; that in this way, amongst the tribes of the brute creation, the description might be literally verified, of " the wolf dwelling with the lamb, and the leopard lying down with the kid ;" and that, among human subjects of the experiment, the tempers of the irascible and violent might be happily mollified by a liberal depletion from the fiery and impetuous current of their own circulation, and a proportionally copious injection from that of more sweetblooded and gentle natures.-I have of course more faith, and so I presume will my readers, in the possibility of transfusing temper from book to book, than from person to person. The heat of controversy is proverbial; the necessity of repressing its inflammatory tendencies must be felt by every one who engages in it; and, in spite of all wishes and resolutions to the contrary a little bad blood will occasionally be generated,
and allowed to flow, and to irritate the system. That some small portion of such distempered secretion should, on both sides, have found its way into the current of the controversy alluded to, will not be matter of wonder. When the too general character of theological disputation is considered, the entire absence of it would have been a juster, although a more pleasing, ground of surprise. The evil is one, of which the combatants themselves are not seldom, through the deceitfulness of the heart, hardly conscious. To their own minds they call it spirit; and they fancy it to be no more than becoming spirit,-included in compliance with the divine injunction to "contend earnestly for the faith:"-and, from their acquaintance with human nature, and their observation of facts, they are well aware how much it is relished by others, and how stagnant and lifeless controversy is felt to be without it. For reasons of the same description, readers themselves also are but partial judges,-very generally estimating the proportions of the evil complained of, and assigning them to the several disputants, (unless in those few and flagrant cases in which the difference is so marked as to force itself on universal observation and acknowledgment) according to the predisposition of their own minds, and the sides on which they have respectively ranged themselves. It is not for me, then, to say a word respecting the degree to which, on either side, the eagerness of opposition might chafe and inflame the blood, in the controversy between my quondam antagonist and myself. Whatever measure of this evil candour may conceive justly imputable to myself I sincerely regret; and I hope that, in the process of transfusion, I have succeeded in