« Prev APHORISMS Next »


On that which is indeed spiritual religion.

In the selection of the extracts that form the remainder of this volume and of the comments affixed, I had the following objects principally in view:--first, to exhibit the true and Scriptural meaning and intent of several articles of faith, that are rightly classed among the mysteries and peculiar doctrines of Christianity:--secondly, to show the perfect rationality of these doctrines, and their freedom from all just objection when examined by their proper organ, the reason and conscience of man:--lastly, to exhibit from the works of Leighton, who perhaps of all our learned Protestant theologians best deserves the title of a spiritual divine, an instructive and affecting picture of the contemplations, reflections, conflicts, consolations and monitory experiences of a philosophic and richly-gifted mind, amply stored with all the knowledge that books and long intercourse with men of the most discordant characters could give, under the convictions, impressions, and habits of a spiritual religion.

To obviate a possible disappointment in any of my readers, who may chance to be engaged in theological studies, it may be well to notice, that in vindicating the peculiar tenets of our Faith, I have not entered on the doctrine of the Trinity, or the still profounder mystery 113 of the origin of moral evil--and this for the reasons following. 1. These doctrines are not (strictly speaking) subjects of reflection, in the proper sense of this word: and both of them demand a power and persistency of abstraction, and a previous discipline in the highest forms of human thought, which it would be unwise, if not presumptuous, to expect from any, who require aids to reflection, or would be likely to seek them in the present work. 2. In my intercourse with men of various ranks and ages, I have found the far larger number of serious and inquiring persons little, if at all, disquieted by doubts respecting articles of faith simply above their comprehension. It is only where the belief required of them jars with their moral feelings: where a doctrine, in the sense in which they have been taught to receive it, appears to contradict their clear notions of right and wrong, or to be at variance with the divine attributes of goodness and justice, that these men are surprised, perplexed, and alas! not seldom offended and alienated. Such are the doctrines of arbitrary election and reprobation; the sentence to everlasting torment by an eternal and necessitating decree; vicarious atonement, and the necessity of the abasement, agony and ignominious death of a most holy and meritorious person, to appease the wrath of God. Now it is more especially for such persons, unwilling sceptics, who believing earnestly ask help for their unbelief, that this volume was compiled, and the comments written: and therefore, to the Scripture doctrines, intended by the above-mentioned, my principal attention has been directed.

But lastly, the whole scheme of the Christian Faith, including all the articles of belief common to the Greek and Latin, the Roman and the Protestant Churches, with the threefold proof, that it is ideally, morally, and 114 historically true, will be found exhibited and vindicated in a proportionally larger work, the principal labour of my life since manhood, and which might be entitled, "Assertion of religion, as necessarily involving revelation; and of Christianity, as the only revelation of permanent and universal validity."

« Prev APHORISMS Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection