Page images

structure. He concluded, therefore, to publish them just as they were delivered.

The size of the book must find its excuse in the importance of the subject. It underlies all theology, it enters into all preaching. It modifies all Christian enterprise. It makes the basis of every system of religious education. It determines the type of all piety, it colors all our views of life. It has an important influence on the temper. It has occupied a large space in all theological speculation since the days of the Apostles. To have settled any thing conclusively and for ever, the author does not pretend. He merely offers to the Christian public twenty-four distinct arguments for the rectitude of human nature. To him they seem to have weight. The views to which they lead seem to him more honorable to God, and more hopeful and encouraging to man, than those in which a majority of the Christian world has hitherto acquiesced.

The author believes that the time has come when the popular theology ought to receive a thorough revision. Theology is altogether behind the other sciences. The modes of reasoning which prevail upon it are such as would be wholly unsatisfactory in any other branch of knowledge.

The candid inquirer encoun

ters at once so much prejudice, obloquy, and denunciation, that he gives over in despair. The attempt has been made by the thinkers of ages past to stereotype their own crude and imperfect speculations for all time to come, and to perpetuate to all ages views of nature, of man, and of the Scriptures, which were formed when metaphysics, ethics, and Biblical criticism were in their infancy.

Theology will be the last thing to partake of the progress of the age. But its time must

The doctrines which are thought to be taught in the Bible must be examined anew. It is better that this examination should be made by its friends than its enemies. Justice to the Bible requires that it should be vindicated from teaching doctrines not contained in it, and which are as contrary to its general spirit as they are to reason and the moral sentiments of mankind.


BALTIMORE, April, 1850.

a *

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »