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the conflict between these extreme views. He may blush for the extravagant expositions and defences of Christianity, but never for Christianity itself.
There may be nothing new in my ideas ; indeed, I believe there is not. The only novelty is in their publication. They are parts of the unwritten faith of common sense. They may be looked upon by some as old-fashioned, if not obsolete; and I do believe they are, most of them, as old as the Gospel. Very commonplace, too, they may appear to those who delight in what is brilliant or ingenious. But others, I trust, may welcome in them the expression of their own decided, though somewhat undefined, views as thoughtful Christians, who, in the true spirit of general knowledge and science, rejoice to honour the Gospel in its recovered harmony with the other works and ways of God. Surely there is an intermediate position between rejecting the Supernatural in Revelation, and suppressing natural Reason and Conscience in ourselves. That position I endeavour to indicate.
If there should seem to the critical reader to be something of disproportion in the space devoted, in this volume, to certain parts of the Old Testament above others, I have only to say, that, while not attempting the systematic work of an expositor, I have desired to lend a helping hand to the scriptural student in specific instances rather than by mere general rules, and have enlarged upon precisely those parts on which, having myself experienced difficulty, I have also, through the exercise of free inquiry and deliberate reflection, found satisfaction. My book is thus, in some sense, a mental autobio
graphy, as sincere books on great subjects must always be. It has, therefore, true and living proportions in reference to the mind from which it proceeds, however those proportions may vary, in one direction or another, from the average thoughts and needs of those who
I may be allowed to add, that this book has not been hastily written, still less rapidly matured. It contains the gradual and firm convictions of many thoughtful years. I dare not otherwise put it forth among books more boldly theoretical, more dashingly novel, and more startlingly clever, such as form the chief contrast to the dulness and absurdity of theological literature in general. I adhere to the stern code of Authors' Ethics expressed by a thoughtful New-England theologian, namely, that it is “a weighty offence against society to advance and maintain opinions on any important subject, especially any subject connected with religion, without carefully weighing them, and without feeling assured, as far as may be, that we shall find no reason to change our belief.” (Norton's Genuineness of the Gospels, II. 412.) I cannot understand the act of publishing opinions felt by the writer to be loose, crude or tentative. They should be content with privacy till full-grown and matured, whether modified or not. The hint is as good for a theologian's reputation as for a poet's, and more important to his usefulness :
“ Delere licebit
The modern facility of printing makes no difference in the morals of the matter; nor can a second edition cancel the first.
In offering, as I now desire to do, my sincere thanks to the very numerous subscribers, lay and clerical, of very various religious denominations, whose goodly array of names (claiming more than 700 copies) encouraged me to put this book to press, I must give utterance to the peculiar gratification which I have felt in finding from many of their kind letters (especially those of earnest-minded laymen), that a book occupying the ground which mine attempts to do, is felt to be greatly wanted. That I shall be found to have occupied it to the general satisfaction of those who have confessed the want, I may not indeed venture to assure myself; but I sincerely trust I may,
in some degree, have met the necessities of some thoughtful and religious minds.
my second volume (on the Apocrypha and the New Testament) is out, — which will be as soon as is compatible with the care due to it and the time devoted to other duties, I shall take the liberty of intimating the fact by circular to each of the Subscribers to the present volume.
WAKEFIELD, November 20, 1853.
Abraham upon the world through Judaism, Chris-
triarchs. Abraham “gathered to his people.”