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I did not intend to put a Preface to this Work; but, now that it is finished, I find so many things in it which stand in need of the reader's indulgence, that I think it well, at the entrance, to warn him of them, and to bespeak his patience.
The first half of the book was written under the disadvantage of frequent interruptions, which I am sensible have very often broken the thread of thought and interest; and with regard to the entire work, it has happened, chiefly I confess from my own fault, that
every sheet was printed as soon as it was written, so that I never saw it, nor could judge of it, as a whole, until the last sheet came from the press.
From these causes have proceeded defects in the arrangement, and frequent repetitions, besides other faults, which are now beyond the reach of correction, and which I feel, must hang a drag on many parts of the book.
Nevertheless, I am not without hope that the reader who is interested in the subject, will find in the book that which will repay him for the trouble
of going through it. Not that he will meet with any deep thinking in it, or any striking speculations; for I have throughout kept the place of a commentator or expositor, confining myself entirely within the range of the written word and human consciousness, and scarcely attempting to touch the metaphysical questions relating to Free Will and Necessity ; but I think he will find in it a satisfactory view of what is meant by Election in the Bible, and satisfactory proof that the passages in the Bible on which the commonly received doctrine of that name rests, do indeed teach something very different. He will also find, that, though I have treated the subject simply as a Scriptural one, yet, in doing so, I have never forgotten that the Scriptures were given, not to supersede or stand in place of the rational conscience, but to awaken and enlighten it, and consequently that no conviction as to their meaning ought to be considered as rightly arrived at, unless confirmed and sealed by the consent of the conscience, that is, unless such conviction be of the nature of a perception of truth, and not a mere submission to authority; and that therefore I have always felt it incumbent on me, to explain the views which I bring from Scripture, in the light of the rational conscience, that is, to show the relation which they bear to it.
I have entered largely into the subject of Conscience, and the adaptation of the Scriptures to it, and into the consideration of those general and elementary views of the condition of man, as a moral