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It is with no little diffidence that the Writer of the following pages ventures to submit them to the public eye. She comes « in weakness and in fear, and « in much trembling."
She is fully aware that whoever pretends to institute an enquiry into the Character, and especially into the Writings, of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, in a manner at all adequate to the dignity and excellence of both, should possess many and high requisites to which she can make out no fair title. It would, however, be entirely superfluous to iusist on her incompetency to the of such a work, on her deficiencies in ancient learning, Biblical criticism, and deep theological knowledge ; because the sagacity of the reader would not fail to
be before-hand with her ayowal in detecting them.
It may, however, serve as some apology for the boldness of the present undertaking, that these little volumes are not of a critical but of a practical nature.
On the doctrinal portion, more especially, of Saint Paul's Epistles, such a multitude of admirable discourses have been composed, that to have attempted to add to their number without reaching their excellence, would have been as unnecessary as it might have been presumptuous. On the practical part also, much has been ably and usefully written. Dissertations, commentaries, , treatises, and sermons, however, though of superior merit, have not worn out the subject; and elucidations of his writings, whether they relate to doctrine or to practice, cannot, in any point of view, be undertaken without exhibiting new proofs of those inestimable treasures they contain.
They are a golden mine, in which the diligent workman, the deeper he digs, the more he will discover ; the farther he examines, the more he will find. Rich veins, hitherto unheeded, will overpay his labours, will continue to pour out upon him their fresh abundance of
precious ore. | Even the present explorer, who had no skill to penetrate his depths, has been sometimes surprised at the opulence, which tay upon the surface, and of which she had not before, per. haps, fully estimated the value.
There are, it is true, passages in the works of this great Apostle, (but they are of rare occurrence, and bear no proportion to such as are obvious,) which have been interpreted in a different and even contradictory manner by men, who, agreeing in the grand essentials of Christianity, may be allowed to differ on a few abstruse points, without any impeachment of the piety on either side. If one must be mistaken, both may be sincere. If either be wrong, both doubtless desire to be right; and, happily for mankind, we shall all be ultimately tried by a Judge, who is a searcher of the thoughts and intents of the heart; in whose sight the reciprocal exercise of Christian charity may be more acceptable than that entire uniformity of sentiment which would supersede the occasion of its exercise. What I know “ not, teach Thou me,” is a petition which even the wisest are not too wise to offer; and they who have preferred it with the most effect, are, of all others, the