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The best, because the only efficient, defence, against these fatal extremes of credulity and disbelief, is obviously to be found in that reverence for the Holy Scriptures, that assured belief of their inspiration, which is the result of modest and careful inquiry. Let this be universally encouraged. We fear nothing in the cause of the Bible, but lukewarmness and apathy; we ask nothing of its adversaries, but candour and justice. Let all search the Scriptures, and the issue can scarcely be doubtful. Those who had believed at the dictation of others, would then say with the Samaritans, (John iv. 42,) “ Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we have seen him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world;" while objectors, by such a course, would be convinced, or, at least, staggered and silenced.
The Bible is a universal boon to mankind; and we who believe in its inspiration should do our utmost to give it extension and effect.
It is not written for any particular nation or age. It does not depend for its authority or its vouchers upon any church or all churches. It stands upon its own peculiar evidences; and no more requires the endorsement of the church to make it current, than the sun requires the authority of the astronomers to warrant our belief in its existence, or our perception of its light and heat. The Bible belongs to the world, like the air, the ocean, the rivers, and the fountains of water. It is a common light, a common blessing, the imperishable heir-loom of humanity: our whole inheritance lies there. No party can claim any special property in it; none has any right to monopolize it, or dogmatize upon its contents. It adequately vindicates its own claims, by the light, and truth, and love which never forsake it. Happily it has long since achieved for itself an emancipation from the priestcraft which had restricted its circulation, and dictated its import to the world. It has since been gradually diffusing its light, and advancing towards that universal dissemination which its own prophecies foreshow as certain, and the auguries of these times indicate as near. Great and auspicious events to mankind seem to be travailing for their birth-hour. But whatever character they may give to the eras which have yet to revolve, our own times have received their appropriate stamp; they can hardly miss the designation of the Bible AGE. Happy will it prove for ourselves, if we are found as diligent in studying the contents of The Book, as we have been zealous in promoting its circulation.
(BY THE COMMITTEE OF THE CONGREGATIONAL LIBRARY.)
The “ CONGREGATIONAL LIBRARY” was established with a view to the promotion of Ecclesiastical, Theological, and Biblical Literature, in that religious connexion with whose friends and supporters it originated. It was also designed to secure a convenient locality for such associations as had previously existed, or might hereafter exist, for the purpose of advancing the literary, civil, and religious interests of that section of the Christian Church to which it was appropriated. Without undervaluing the advantages of union, either with Evangelical Protestants, or Protestant Nonconformists, on such grounds as admit of liberal co-operation, it was nevertheless deemed expedient to adopt measures for facilitating the concentration and efficiency of their own denomination. In connexion with these important objects, it was thought desirable to institute a LECTURE, partaking rather of the character of Academic prelections than of popular addresses, and embracing a Series of Annual Courses of Lectures, to be delivered at the Library, or, if necessary, in some contiguous place of worship. In the selection of Lecturers, it was judged proper to appoint such as, by their literary attainments and ministerial reputation, had rendered service to the cause of divine truth in the consecration of their talents to the “ defence and confirmation of the gospel.” It was also supposed, that some might be found possessing a high order of intellectual competency and moral worth, imbued with an ardent love of biblical science, or eminently conversant with theological and ecclesiastical literature, who, from various causes, might never have attracted that degree of public attention to which they are entitled, and yet might be both qualified and disposed to undertake courses of lectures on subjects of interesting importance, not included within the ordinary range of pulpit instruction. To illustrate the evidence and importance of the great doctrines of Revelation; to exhibit the true principles of philology in their application to such doctrines; to prove the accordance and identity of genuine philosophy with the records and discoveries of Seripture; and to trace the errors and corruptions which have existed in the Christian Church to their proper sources, and, by the connexion of sound reasoning with the honest interpretation of God's holy Word, to point out the methods of refutation and counteraction, are amongst the objects for which “ the Congregational Lecture” has been established. The arrangements made with the Lecturers are designed to secure the publication of each separate course, without risk to the Authors; and, after remunerating them as liberally as the resources of the Institution will allow, to apply the profits of the respective publications in aid of the Library. It is hoped that the liberal, and especially the opulent friends of Evangelical and Congregational Nonconformity will evince, by their generous support, the sincerity of their attachment to the great principles of their Christian profession; and that some may be found to emulate the zeal which established the “ Boyle," the "Warburton," and the “ Bampton” Lectures in the National Church. These are legitimate operations of the “ voluntary principle” in the support of religion, and in perfect harmony with the independency of our Churches, and the spirituality of the kingdom of Christ.
The Committee deem it proper to state, that whatever responsibility may attach to the reasonings or opinions advanced in any course of lectures, belongs exclusively to the Lecturer.
CONGREGATIONAL LIBRARY, Blomfield Street, Finsbury, Nov. 1837.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
Traces of a universal deluge-- The covenant with Noah-The Rainbow,
&c.- Tower of Babel-Confusion of languages-Origin of Nations
Tripartite division of mankind— Traditions of the place whence the
human tribes originally diverged-Principal divisions of the human
family-Prophecy of Noah respecting the national character and condi-
tion of the races derived from his three sons, &c. .
HUMAN NATURE, AS
CORROBORATIVE OF THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF THE FALL, AND ITS
Adaptation of the mental and moral economy to the social relations and
personal interests—The doctrine of a moral apostasy—How it may be
expected to affect our nature--Evidenced by suffering, both mental and
bodily –Traces of social and individual degradation, combined with
vestiges of primitive excellence-Man's practical aversion from moral
goodness-- Yet sentimental approbation-Objections and speculative
theories considered-Contrarieties and contradictions in human nature-