An Author has three points to settle: To what sort his work belongs, for what description of readers it is intended, and the specific end or object, which it is to answer. There is indeed a preliminary question respecting the end which the writer himself has in view, whether the number of purchasers, or the benefit of the readers. But this may be safely passed by; since where the book itself or the known principles of the writer do not supersede the question, there will seldom be sufficient strength of character for good or for evil to afford much chance of its being either distinctly put or fairly answered.

I shall proceed therefore to state as briefly as possible the intentions of the present volume in reference to the three first-mentioned points, namely, What? For whom? For what?

I. What? The answer is contained in the title-page. It belongs to the class of didactic works. Consequently, those who neither wish instruction for themselves, nor assistance in instructing others, have no interest in its contents.


II. For whom? Generally, for as many in all classes as wish for aid in disciplining their minds to habits of reflection; for all, who desirous of building up a manly character in the light of distinct consciousness, are content to study the principles of moral architecture on the several grounds of prudence, morality, and religion. And lastly, for all who feel an interest in the position which I have undertaken to defend, this, namely, that the Christian Faith is the perfection of human intelligence,--an interest sufficiently strong to insure a patient attention to the arguments brought in its support.

But if I am to mention any particular class or description of readers, who were prominent in my thought during the composition of the volume, my reply must be; that it was especially designed for the studious young at the close of their education or on their first entrance into the duties of manhood and the rights of self-government. And of these, again, in thought and wish I destined the work (the latter and larger portion, at least) yet more particularly to students intended for the ministry; first, as in duty bound, to the members of our Universities: secondly, (but only in respect of this mental precedency second) to all alike of whatever name, who have dedicated their future lives to the cultivation of their race, as pastors, preachers, missionaries, or instructors of youth.

III. For what? The worth of an author is estimated by the ends, the attainment of which he proposed to himself by the particular work; while the value of the work depends on its fitness, as the means. The objects of the present volume are the following, arranged in the order of their comparative importance.

1. To direct the reader's attention to the value of the science of words, their use and abuse, and the incalculable xliv advantages attached to the habit of using them appropriately, and with a distinct knowledge of their primary, derivative, and metaphorical senses. And in furtherance of this object I have neglected no occasion of enforcing the maxim, that to expose a sophism and to detect the equivocal or double meaning of a word is, in the great majority of cases, one and the same thing. Horne Tooke entitled his celebrated work,

winged words: or language, not only the vehicle of thought but the wheels. With my convictions and views, for

that is, words select and determinate, and for

that is, living words. The wheels of the intellect I admit them to be: but such as Ezekiel beheld in the visions of God as he sat among the captives by the river of Chebar. Whithersoever the Spirit was to go, the wheels went, and thither was their Spirit to go: for the Spirit of the living creature was in the wheels also.

2. To establish the distinct characters of prudence, morality, and religion: and to impress the conviction, that though the second requires the first, and the third contains and supposes both the former; yet still moral goodness is other and more than prudence or the principle of expediency; and religion more and higher than morality. For this distinction the better Schools even of Pagan Philosophy contended.

3. To substantiate and set forth at large the momentous distinction between reason and understanding. Whatever is achievable by the understanding for the purposes of worldly interest, private or public, has in the present age been pursued with an activity and a success beyond all former experience, and to an extent which equally demands my admiration and excites my wonder. But likewise it is, and long has been, my conviction, xlv that in no age since the first dawning of science and philosophy in this island have the truths, interests, and studies which especially belong to the reason, contemplative or practical, sunk into such utter neglect, not to say contempt, as during the last century. It is therefore one main object of this volume to establish the position, that whoever transfers to the understanding the primacy due to the reason, loses the one and spoils the other.
4. To exhibit a full and consistent scheme of the Christian Dispensation, and more largely of all the peculiar doctrines of the Christian Faith; and to answer all the objections to the same, which do not originate in a corrupt will rather than an erring judgment; and to do this in a manner intelligible for all who, possessing the ordinary advantages of education, do in good earnest desire to form their religious creed in the light of their own convictions, and to have a reason for the faith which they profess. There are indeed mysteries, in evidence of which no reasons can be brought. But it has been my endeavour to show, that the true solution of this problem is, that these mysteries are reason, reason in its highest form of self-affirmation.

Such are the special objects of these Aids to Reflection. Concerning the general character of the work, let me be permitted to add the few following sentences. St. Augustine, in one of his Sermons, discoursing on a high point of theology, tells his auditors--Sic accipite, ut mereamini intelligere. Fides enim debet praecedere intellectum, ut sit intellectus fidei praemium. Now without a certain portion of gratuitous and (as it were) experimentative faith in the writer, a reader will scarcely give that degree of continued attention, without which no didactic work worth reading can be read to any wise xlvi or profitable purpose. In this sense, therefore, and to this extent, every author, who is competent to the office he has undertaken, may without arrogance repeat St. Augustine's words in his own right, and advance a similar claim on similar grounds. But I venture no further than to imitate the sentiment at a humble distance, by avowing my belief that he, who seeks instruction in the following pages, will not fail to find entertainment likewise; but that whoever seeks entertainment only will find neither.

Reader!--You have been bred in a land abounding with men, able in arts, learning, and knowledges manifold, this man in one, this in another, few in many, none in all. But there is one art, of which every man should be master, the art of reflection. If you are not a thinking man, to what purpose are you a man at all? In like manner, there is one knowledge, which it is every man's interest and duty to acquire, namely, self-knowledge: or to what end was man alone, of all animals, endued by the Creator with the faculty of self-consciousness? Truly said the Pagan moralist,

e caelo descendit,

But you are likewise born in a Christian land: and Revelation has provided for you new subjects for reflection, and new treasures of knowledge, never to be unlocked by him who remains self-ignorant. Self-knowledge is the key to this casket; and by reflection alone can it be obtained. Reflect on your own thoughts, actions, circumstances, and--which will be of especial aid to you in forming a habit of reflection,--accustom yourself to reflect on the words you use, hear, or read, their birth, derivation and history. For if words are not xlvii things, they are living powers, by which the things of most importance to mankind are actuated, combined, and humanized. Finally, by reflection you may draw from the fleeting facts of your worldly trade, art, or profession, a science permanent as your immortal soul; and make even these subsidiary and preparative to the reception of spiritual truth, "doing as the dyers do, who having first dipt their silks in colours of less value, then give them the last tincture of crimson in grain."

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