Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

of one whose judgment he is glad of an opportunity of honoring. The present noble president of the British and Foreign Bible Society, Lord Bexley, ad. dressed to the writer, in 1833, a very kind letter concerning this volume, in which he said, “In one important respect, it seems to excel other works of a similar kind, namely, that while the chain of argument is deduced with great clearness and force, no opportunity is lost of giving it a practical application, and of impressing holiness on the heart, as well as conviction on the understanding. The want of this renders many books dry and repulsive, which are much to be admired for sagacity and extent of information.”

In the year 1833, this work was reprinted in England, under the advice and superintendence of the late Dr. Olinthus Gregory, of the Royal Military Academy, whose preface to that edition the author, in affectionate remembrance of his deceased friend, here subjoins.*

C. P. M’ILVAINE.

PRÉFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION.

BY OLINTHUS GREGORY, LL.D.

The English friends of the author of these Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity are unanimous in deciding that they will constitute a valuable

#

A new London edition has recently been issued by the Messrs Seeley. November 12, 1852.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

addition to our sacred literature. On a subject which has been repeatedly treated, and often by men of distinguished talent and learning, much that is es sentially new is not to be expected. Yet the specific purpose for which a work of this kind is undertaken may cause the main arguments to be placed in such a position, while some of the subordinate topics may be exhibited in so strong a light, as to give to the whole an air of light and freshness well fitted to convey high gratification in union with rich instruction. Several, indeed, of the trains of reasoning pursued by the author seem to be entirely original; at the same time that they are conducted with considerable skill, and by their accumulative property, lead to an ultimate issue that must make a deep and salutary impression on the mind of any candid investigator of this ever momentous subject. It may further be added, that the Christian feeling, benevolence, and warmth with which the author conducts his inquiry, in its several stages, honorably distinguish this work from many of its predecessors; while they show that instead of regarding Christian truth as supplying matter for a pleasing speculation, he considers it as that which alone can make men truly holy, happy, honorable, and useful, and transform the world from an aceldama to the paradise of God.

[blocks in formation]

EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY.

LECTURE I.

INTRODUCTORY OBSERVATIONS.

I APPEAR before those who have come this evening to favor me with their attention, as sustaining, under appointment from the University of the city of New York, the office of Lecturer on the Evidences of Christianity. It is but justice to my own feelings, to assure you that I had not thought of entering on so much responsibility until earnestly requested to do so by respected individuals belonging to the council of that institution. I am not without much apprehension of having ventured far beyond my qualifications in acceding to their desires. When I think of the many in this city of much superior furniture of mind and spirit, to whom the office might have been intrusted, and of my own daily and engrossing occupations in the duties of the ministry, leaving so little time or strength for any other occupation however important, it is a matter almost of alarm that I find

* These lectures were delivered when the author was rector of St. Ann's church, Brooklyn, and connected with the University of the city of New York, then recently established

[ocr errors]

myself committed to a series of lectures for which the very best intellect, the soundest judgment, and the most deliberate study, are so much needed. But having undertaken the work, I trust the Lord has ordered the step in wisdom, and, if I seek his guid. ance, will enable me to go forward in a strength above my own; so that I may be the instrument, under his hand, of contributing something to promote the improvement and everlasting happiness of those to whom I may have the pleasure of speaking.

The present lecture will be exclusively of an introductory kind. I pause at the threshold in remembrance of the word and promise of God, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct thy paths.” I would devoutly acknowledge God as the omniscient witness in this undertaking; the only source of wisdom, strength, and blessing, whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed.” May his Holy Spirit, through the mediation of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life,” “God, blessed for ever,” condescend to guide our way and help our infirmities, that all may see and embrace the TRUTH.

The subject to which we are to direct our attention, has engaged the powers of wise, learned, and good men, in almost all ages since the promulgation of Christianity. Minds of every class, and in all do. partments of intellectual occupation, have directly or indirectly, by design or unwittingly, contributed materials for its elucidation. Thus it has come to pass that the difficulty of an appropriate exhibition of

66 from

the evidences of Christianity is rather on the side of selection and arrangement and the just proportioning of arguments, than of their sufficient multiplication To give the various branches of the subject their just ineasure of relief and prominence; to determine whai should be displayed strongly and completely, and what should be sketched with a lighter pencil, and placed in the background of the picture; to adjust the numerous parts in such symmetry as will present the whole with the most undivided and overcoming effect, is a difficulty of no little magnitude, where attention to space and time is of so much consequence as in the present undertaking. The nicest discrimination, the most logical mind, and a talent for extensive combination, may here find room for the exercise of all their powers. The danger is that one will lose himself amidst the wide spread and accumulated treasures of illustration and evidence; that he will fail so entirely in their classification as to see and exhibit them confusedly and unjustly, and for want of a good discipline among his own thoughts will lead out his forces in feeble detail, instead of forming them into compact masses, and meeting the enemy on every side with a self-sustained combination of strength.

Before we proceed to the rain question on which our subsequent lectures are to be employed, it will be well to call your attention to,

I. THE HIGH IMPORTANCE OF THE INVESTIGATION on which we are about to enter. You are to unite with me in examining the grounds on which the religion of the gospel claims to be received, to the exclusion

« AnteriorContinua »