Page images
PDF
EPUB

in the notes. In regard to translations from the Hebrew, the author has been anxious to avoid the affixing of meanings to words from conjecture, plausible fancy, or mere analogy: he has rigorously adhered to the literal signification of terms and phrases as evinced by the fixed use of the language and its cognate dialects.

It is conceived, also, that another advantage will accrue from this circumstance; namely, that it will, in some degree, put the English reader into the situation of one who is critically acquainted with the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. With this view the practice has been extended to the passages which are incidentally quoted, as well as to those which form the direct grounds of ar gument. In every instance, the reader will regard a departure from the terms of the authorized version, as an endeavour to express, with as close a conformity as the difference of languages will permit, the precise sense and the very turn and phrase of the original.

With respect to the position of the notes, some difficulty has been experienced. Their number and length would have made it inconvenient to place them at the foot of their respective pages ; and to have relegated them to the end of the volume, would have been removing them too far from their points of reference. A middle course is therefore adopted: the smaller notes are put at the bottom of the pages, and the longer ones are annexed to the chapter or section to which they belong, with the title of Supplementary Notes. As, however, it was necessarily left to the printer to make this discrimination, a few instances have occurred in which it has not been made exactly in conformity with the author's ideas. This inconvenience will be guarded against

in the second volume.

The author had conceived the intention of pointing out, in the whole course of his work, the agreements or differences between his own positions and arguments, and those of former writers

who have maintained the same general views. But he soon found that this would be almost an endless task, and by no means of utility sufficient to compensate for the loss of time and labour which to execute it fully would have occasioned. Experience also taught him that it was most favourable to the free and satisfactory course of his own thoughts, to derive them, as much as possible, from the proper and original sources, without being either aided or obstructed by the productions of other minds.

A copious Index will be given at the end of the second volume.

The indulgent reader will forgive a few lines of a personal character, which the long delay of the publication of this volume seems to lay the author under the unwelcome obligation of adding. The design of the treatise was conceived, and its plan formed, before the publication of Mr. Belsham's Calm Inquiry. When that work appeared, the writer was urged to draw up a reply to it. It appeared, however, to him that such a reply might be best combined with the execution of his previous design. He does not repent the having acceded to the demands of his friends, but he does indeed regret that he permitted any intimation of the intention to go abroad : for the unexpected and apparently unreasonable delay of the work has not only been unspeakably vexatious to his own feelings, but may have contributed to prejudice the cause. This delay, he must be allowed to protest, has arisen from no perception of insuperable difficulties, from no failure of conviction as to the truth of his argument, or its importance to the cause of pure religion, and from no disinclination to the labour of research and reflection : but it has

been occasioned solely by the infelicity of his circumstances. Had he been able to bestow upon this work as many months of unbroken time, as have elapsed of years since it was begun, it would long ago have been completed. But far different has been his condition. To the ordinary duties of a pastor, performed he too well knows with much imperfection; to those of the theological tutorship in the Academy at Homerton ; and to the endless avocations which are the unavoidable lot of a dissenting minister in or near the metropolis, unless he can resolve to shut his heart and to refuse his share of time and toil to the strongest demands of public beneficence and Christian duty : ---to these, it has been his lot to have, in addition, a large measure of disabilities and hindrances from private duties and amictions. These have consumed the fragments of time, and have kept the capacity of exertion constantly filled. These have produced such disappointments of hope, such destruction of hours, such weariness and discouragement of mind, as, notwithstanding the conviction of truth and the obligations of promise, have often induced him to throw aside his work for many weeks and months, and have scarcely allowed any other than short and unfavourable pittances of time for pursuing it. When the will to labour has been inost vigorous, the necessary

« PreviousContinue »