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An apology seems due for the appearance of a treatise like the present, from the pen of one who is
yet young in the ministry. At the same time the author is well aware, that if the manner in which he has handled the subject, fail to afford him the justification of which he stands in need, no prefatory remarks can avail him for that purpose.
Nevertheless, as he would wish his readers to peruse the following pages free from any unfavourable impression, on the ground of what might appear to them, at first sight, the author's presumption in placing before the public his views on a subject so comprehensive and so difficult, he takes leave here briefly to state the considerations from which he has been led to think, that an exposition of those views might not, at this time, be altogether without its value.
Born and educated in another, and in regard to the knowledge of the word of life, far less privileged country, he has arrived, through a process of thought altogether peculiar, at those convictions which, by the unspeakable grace and mercy of God, led him to seek, in the first instance, admission to the communion, and, subsequently, entrance into the ministry, of the Anglican church. How much of the "gross darkness” which covered his mind on the subject of Christian truth to an advanced period of his life, may have been attributable to the truly melancholy state of that church, through whose ministrations he was made a Christian "outwardly,” and how much to the natural disposition of the human mind to “love darkness rather than light,” and to his own individual “hardness of heart,” need not here be inquired into; suffice it to say, that when first “the scales fell from his eyes,” and he discerned that which alone deserves to be called “the truth as it is in Jesus,” his case resembled that of the Gentile philosophers converted to the faith in the early days of the Gospel, rather than that of a person grown up under the influence of Christian doctrines and forms of life, but now only awakened to their vital import. His mind, previously float
ing in the misty and bottomless depths of metaphysical speculation, in eager pursuit of unreal and ever-changing theories, which, like unsubstantial shadows, fitted before him and mocked his eye, under the guidance of an invisible and till then unknown hand unconsciously and unexpectedly alighted on the solid rock of eternal truth. He had known Christianity hitherto by name, as one of the many systems of theosophy, cosmogony, and ethics, which in all ages have divided the suffrages of mankind; he had taken graceless cognizance of it, among the rest, in a general inventory of human opinions ; but never had the remotest suspicion entered his mind, that this same Christianity was in fact “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," and that in it and through it only it was possible for the human mind to attain unto a knowledge of that “absolute truth,” which he had vainly sought for in “the hollow sounds and contrarieties” (the kevopwviai kaì ávrıdéoels) of“ philosophy” and of “science falsely so called,” (the yevdávuuos yvôois). To minds accustomed from the very dawn of consciousness to an acknowledgment, however lifeless and unfruitful, of the supremacy of revealed truth, it must be almost impossible to form an idea of
the revolution produced in the mind, at a maturer period of life, by the discovery, that the whole edifice of opinions reared up carefully, and fondly cherished, through a course of years, is no more than “ the baseless fabric of a vision;" and that the temple of truth, standing indeed on the earth, and built up of materials taken from the earth, is an edifice whose“ lively stones” are hewn, prepared, and fitted in their places, not by any human hand, but by the mighty Spirit of the living God; an edifice in which he is invited to draw near, as a sinner cleansed by the blood of the everlasting covenant, to the Father of Spirits, to prostrate himself in humility and faith, to smite his breast and to confess, “ By the
By the grace of God I am what I am."
Such a transition from the constructive pseudotruth of human philosophy, to the intrinsic truth of religion, revealed from God out of heaven, obviously entails the necessity of a revision and reformation of every conception which the mind had previously formed, and of every principle of thought and action by which it had been guided. The substratum of the common faith, which an early familiarity with the facts, the doctrines, and the principles of Christianity affords, is in