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It is much to be feared, that both these classes are very numerous, and the hope of being of use to them is the primary object of the author in laying these sermons before the public.
Hence in all his reasonings he has seldom sought for any proof beyond the simple averment of the Bible, “ thus saith the Lord,” or, '“ thus saith the Prophet, or Apostle,” being more satisfactory to the persons for whom he has written, than any evidence which can be derived from 'man's best understanding of abstract principles.
Hence also he has quoted largely from the sacred text; more largely perhaps than is altogether suited to modern taste.
That the Scripture is at perfect unity with itself, and contains no real contradiction, no one who admits the inspiration of its various writers will deny: and yet it will perhaps be almost as universally admitted, that the Scripture seems to be at variance with itself, and presents to our understandings many apparent contradictions.
The mode adopted by some writers of ap
parently reconciling these difficulties, by qualifying the strong language of Scripture on both sides, and thereby exhibiting a semblance of unity which contains nothing strong, appears to the author of this volume, to be unscriptural in itself, and exceedingly detrimental in its consequences. The edge of the Spirit's sword is blunted by it, and falls with delusive gentleness upon the sinner, failing to inflict a deep and alarming wound : and the balm of Gilead is diluted by it, and administered with so little of its native richness, that it fails to effect a complete and permanent cure. Surely it were better to take the word of God as we find it, and give it free course
on every side, to explain away nothing, but exhibit its various statements and remonstrances in all their uncompromising and unreconciled broadness, and cheerfully to submit to the charge of being inconsistent.
In many things the Bible explains itself; and in them to refuse to be systematic, would be (to say the least of it) affectation. But where the Bible does not explain itself, to aim
at an intelligible system, is much worse than affectation. It is the justly reproved presumption of attempting to be wise above what is written.
An experienced father sometimes reasons with his children, that he may teach them to reason: at other times he makes unexplained statements to them, and gives unexplained commands, that he may teach them to believe his word, and submit to his authority. Thus hath God dealt with us: wherefore diligence and humility become us.
With these views the author has written, but of his success in adhering to them, he must not himself pretend to judge.
Desirous as of course he is, that his book should be generally useful, he has endeavoured to avoid every thing which might give needless offence, and thereby prevent its general circulation. He is forced, however, to feel the justice of the remark, that in the estimation of many “godliness is puritanism, and orthodoxy is repulsive moroseness, and the pure doctrine of the apostles is fanatical and disgusting vulgarity ?”* and from such charges, on such grounds, he has no desire to defend himself.
Finally, he implores for every reader of these pages, the powerful blessing of that eternal Spirit, without whose enlightening grace, no man living can read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the meaning of the holy Scriptures, to the saving of his soul.
Albury Rectory, May, 1825.