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Now, as the several successive parts of my subject are thus closely connected-as, indeed, a completely fair estimate of any one of these Essays cannot be formed without a survey of them all—I venture to prefer to my readers a very earnest request, that they would so far do me justice, as to bestow an attentive perusal on the whole of the work, and on each Essay in its order.

Throughout the present volume, I have endeavoured to avoid the discussion of any of those points in religion, which can with any reason be regarded as peculiar or sectarian. I have considered it to be, on the present occasion, my sole duty to arrange and unfold the testimonies borne in Scripture to those primary religious principles which the generality of the Christian world unite, not merely in believing to be true, but in regarding as of essential importance to their present and everlasting welfare.

I must also beg leave to remark, that, as there is nothing which can be deemed sectarian in the subjects here brought forward, so I have not, in this volume, been writing as the representative of any particular class or denomination of Christians; but only explaining, as a member (I trust) of the CHURCH OF CHRIST, the result of my own investigations, and the course of my own deliberate religious convictions. Although I am much indebted to several of my friends, who have


kindly examined and corrected this work, no one is responsible for any part of its contents, except myself.

I am aware that, in not a few respects, the execution of my design in these Essays may justly be considered defective. But, amidst numerous avocations of a different nature, I have pursued the object with nearly as much assiduity as circumstances would allow; and I am no longer satisfied in withholding from others the result of my labours. Should those labours be, in any degree, blessed, to the farther diffusion among men of pure, evangelical, truth, I shall have abundant cause of satisfaction and thankfulness.





THE antecedent probability, that, during the course of his government over the world, God would bestow upon mankind a clear outward revelation respecting their nature, responsibility, and future prospects, and respecting that part of his own will and designs, with which they are particularly connected-or rather that he would renew that original revelation which we may suppose to have taken place when man was first created-is a point which will be disputed by no person of reflection, who takes a just view of the attributes of God, on the one hand, and of the spiritual wants of man, on the other. Since God is omnipotent, since he is also holy and benevolent,-lessons which we plainly learn from natural religion,—we may, in the first place, rest assured that he is able to reveal his truth to mankind; and, secondly, we may reasonably believe that he would actually do so, if, on a careful examination of the condition of man, we discover that such a revelation was necessary, in order to our being wise, virtuous, and happy.


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