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The Author feels deeply his obligations for the favourable manner in which his work has been received, and for the notice that has been taken of it in several of the public Journals. From another impression being so soon called for, he has not had time to avail himself of some friendly hints which have been thrown out, and by attention to which such improvements might have been made as to render it more worthy of approbation. Should a third edition be required, he hopes to supply this deficiency. In the mean time he has taken the opportunity of making some slight emendations, chiefly of a verbal nature.
STRANRAER, October, 1834.
The subjects discussed in the following pages, are, without doubt, the most deeply interesting that can engage the thoughts or feelings of men. Of the manner in which they are treated others must judge. To prevent disappointment, it may be remarked, that it was not so much the Author's intention to treat them practically, as to explain, establish, and vindicate them, as grand leading TRUTHS of the gospel of the Son of God, which are, unhappily, much misunderstood, neglected, and impugned in the present day.
The writers, to whose labours he has been indebted for assistance, will be found referred to, and the extent of his obligations acknowledged, in the course of the work itself. He has often, since he commenced this undertaking, had occasion to regret the remoteness of his situation, at a distance from those stores of learning to which he might otherwise have had access, and from which he might have been enabled to enrich his pages.
On the subject of Atonement, writers of the greatest eminence have, in every age, exerted their talents. The labours of Archbishop Magee, and of Dr J. Pye Smith, stand pre-eminent in modern times. The former writer has accumulated a body of proof for the reality of the atonement, which will serve to transmit to posterity his fame for biblical knowledge, acute thinking, and learned research. But, besides regretting that his varied materials had not been arranged in a more orderly and useful form, the friends of true religion have to lament that the opinions of this distinguished author, on some vital points, should have been not only defective but erroneous. These defects of the Archbishop have been supplied by the labours of Dr Smith, who, in his Four Discourses, has given a masterly view of what may be called the philosophy of the Atonement.
There are other writers who treat, some of the necessity, and others of the extent, of the Atonement. But it appeared desirable that there should exist a work embracing a view of the whole subject; so comprehensive as not to fatigue the mind on any one topic, and yet so copious as not altogether to disappoint the serious and anxious inquirer, who should wish to obtain an adequate acquaintance with all the leading branches of this interesting and absorbing theme. To furnish such a work has been the aim of the present writer. He is not aware of the existence of any treatise on precisely the same plan, That of Dr Dewar, he believes, comes nearest to it. This opinion, however, is formed, simply from the title of the doctor's volume. As it appeared after the present undertaking was projected, the Author-whether wisely or not he pretends not to say—abstained from reading so much as a sentence of it, as he did not reckon its publication any good reason why he should abandon his purpose, and he was anxious not to embarrass his mind with any coincidences that might exist betwixt that writer's plan and his own. The subject is of sufficient magnitude and importance to warrant the employment of many minds. It is but a narrow and contracted view that