« PreviousContinue »
Truth, I can only hope you will excuse by attributing it to the natural desire of perpetuating the remembrance of a Connexion from which I have derived much happiness and honour. It is indeed impossible for me to indulge a Sentiment of Pride, on account of the literary Acquirements by which you are so highly distinguished'; but I shall always esteem it as a ground of the highest Exultation, that I have been thought worthy of your Friendship and Patronage. With the warmest Feelings of Affection and Gratitude, and with the most fervent Prayers for the Preservation of your Life, so invaluable to the World at this awful Crisis, I shall ever remain,
MY DEAR SIR,
Your most sincere and devoted
friend and servant,
THE great deficiency with respect to professional knowledge, which I frequently found in the Candidates for Holy Orders, suggested the idea of the following Work. In consequence of the system of Education at présent (a) pursued in our Universities previous to the first Degree, and of the short interval between the admission of young men to that Degree, and their offering themselves to the Bishop for Ordination, it too often happens, that they have not applied them, selves to theological studies to the extent which might be wished. It would be easy to recommend
(a) Since this was written, the University of Oxford has introduced a new and admirable system of Examination for the degree of Bachelor of Arts; and has made a certain quantity of theological knowledge a primary and indispensable qualification. I trust that the Sister University will ere long adopt a similar regulation, and with equally good
Books, provided there were time and inclination to peruse them; but it is difficult to point out such as should contain that portion of knowledge which every Ministerof Religion ought to possess, and which might be read and understood within the period usually allotted to Preparation for Holy Orders. I thought therefore that I could not better employ the little leisure which the duties of this very extensive diocese allow, than in compiling ashort Work, which mightsérve at least to convey general ideas upon some of the most important branches of Christian Theology.
In considering the plan to be adopted for this purpose, the subject appeared naturally to divide itself into three parts–The Old Testament, the New Testament, and our own Establishment. It is not necessary to adduce any arguments to prove that a person who professes himself willing to become a Minister of the Church of England, ought to be acquainted with his Bible, and that he ought to know the peculiar Doctrines which it will be his indispensable duty to inculcate : these are points which will readily be granted
In treating of the Old Testament, I have begun with proving the Authenticity and Inspiration of the Books of which it consists, and have entered into these subjects at considerable length, but I trust not more fully than their importance demands. They form a material branch in the evidences for the truth of the Christian Religion, as the Old Testament is in fact the foundation of the New. In the second chapter, I have given a very brief account of the contents of the several Books of the Old Testament, and have mentioned their respective authors, and the times when they lived. In the historical books, I have stated the period which they comprehend, and the principal facts which they relate; and in the prophetical books, I have enumerated the prophecies they contain, and the few particulars which are known concerning the prophets themselves. The third chapter is an Abridgment of the History of the Old Testament; and as à connexion between the Old and New Testaments, and to make the historical part of the New Testament more intelligible, the history of the Jews is continued down to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. The fourth and last chapter of this part contains an Account of the Jewish Sects, not only of such as arę mentioned in the Old and New Testaments, but also of those which were known at any period among
the Jews, although their names do not occur in Scripture. I doubted for some time whether this chapter ought to be placed in the first or second part ; but
consideration it appeared better to include it in the first, because all the sects here noticed originated within the period contained in the preceding chapter, and the knowledge of the principles of some of them is necessary to the right understanding of the New Testament.
The first chapter of the second part is upon the Canon and Inspiration of the Books of the New Testament, and corresponds to the first chapter of the first part. The thirty following chapters contain a separate account of the Books of the New Testament. I have there stated the grounds for believing that each book was written by the person to whom it is usually ascribed,