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at variance with His physical. We may have occasion frequently to trace the beautiful analogy between them, and be led to admire the divine original of both. But in doing so we must still claim supreme authority for the written word: and that we may not be 'misunderstood, or our whole subject, and sources of proof rejected as mystical, we shall devote a chapter explicitly to the character of the objects which form the materiel of our knowledge, and the mode by which it is obtained.
Should there be any obscurity in the language in which it has pleased God to speak, the previous question as to what He actually does say, must be carefully and accurately determined. And in determining this, we shall not perplex ourselves, or our readers, with any learned or labored applications of the rules and principles of Hermeneuties as it is called. Common sense, a knowledge of the original languages in which the scriptures were written, and of the eustoms, manners, and history, &c. which may be necessary to understand the rationale or allusions of its terms, are of principal importance. If criticism becomes necessary, and a demand is made on our philological resources, the reader who is unacquainted with the Hebrew and Greek, shall not be offended by the introduction of things on which he can pass no judgment; but the result of inquiry shall be given in its proper place, while the mode of obtaining that result, or the reasons for maintaining it, shall, to such as may be able and disposed to investigate them, be furnished in notes subjoined. In all controversy, or doubt about the meaning of a passage of scripture, the appeal must be to the very words which the Spirit of God himself has employed, and the signification of those words must be determined by comparing the passages in which they occur, and the manner in which they are used by classical authorities, or those with whom the language was vernacular. Having ascertained the meaning of the words, and relieved the text from obscurity, so that the mind and will of God has been discovered in the plain import of the passage, we shall hold ourselves bound to receive His testimony, without making or entertaining a solitary objection. Whatever is asserted by God claims credence from us, in despite of all imaginations and reasonings to the contrary. It must be assumed as indisputable fact, which, whether we can understand it or not, whether we can unravel its perplexities and solve its difficulties, or must leave it involved in its own native mystery, cannot be rejected or denied, except at the peril of taking from the word of God, and impeaching Him with falsehood. The testimony of Him that cannot lie is evidence, in every case, conclusive and overpowering; and it is more than our souls are worth to doubt, whether it is or can be true, after that God has declared it to be the fact.
Nor shall we admit, for one moment, that there is ground of reproach against us as weak and credulous, though we thus speak. We plant ourselves upon the same solid ground on which the votary of sound philosophy essays to rear his system. He asks not, like the incredulous Jew, “how can these things be?” but his first inquiry is, is it indeed the fact? Afterwards he labors to solve the phenom
Should he fail to do so, he chronicles the fact and waits for further light to aid his investigations. Should he have ransacked the vast store-house of science, and found nothing that would enable him satisfactorily to explain the mystery, and should theory after theory be framed, and then discarded, and not one ray of light beam upon the dark bosom of his theme, yet does he not feel himself authorized to disbelieve what upon sufficient evidence he is convinced is THE FACT.
However it may seem to be at variance with the established laws of nature, or to involve matters altogether novel or inexplicable, he admits the phenomenon, admiring and adoring the vastnesk
and mystery of Nature's works. It is thus, too, that the firm believer in revelation---the biblical philosopher demeans himself. He is perfectly convinced that the bible is the word of God, (and he that is not, has not yet half explored the proofs that crowd upon the subject), and being satisfied that God the Holy One and true has spoken, not all his perplexity can make him for a moment reject the fact. Theorise and speculate he may, and though wearied with his devices to pry into the mystery of the fact, he bows submissively to the majesty of truth-the word of an undeceived and undeceiving God-and lifts his heart in devout and adoring admiration, “0, the depth of the riches, . both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his way's past finding out.”* No more shall he be reproached for credulity and weakness than the loftiest son of science, who, like the comet,
"Takes his ample round Thro' depths of ether; coists unnumbered worlds,
of more than solar glory.” Both may soar on fancy's airy wings, and climb among the higher spheres of God's exalted sway; but both must cease from proud imaginings, and, as they value peace and knowledge too, learn to rest on simple, sober fact—the only difference discernible between them being, that hefore the one, God spreads the mighty efforts of his creative power, and bids him “LOOK AND LEARN,” while to the other He speaks in terms direct and plain, and bids him “HEAR AND KNOW.” But the eye's seeing is not half such satisfying and luxurious evidence, as the heart's believing.
Such are the principles by which it is proposed that our investigations shall be conducted. We may perhaps occasionally find it necessary to refer to them; but after this avowal, such references' need not be frequent or prolix.
* Rom. xi. 35.
Our readers may expect a liberal use of the lively oracles, and they are solieited to come with us to the consideration of a theme of infinite moment to us all; and to come with docile minds and humble hearts. We desire no higher honor than to be instrumental in leading them to the fountain of truth, and inciting them to inquire of the Great “Teacher sent from God,” what He is willing we should know of "the life hid with Christ in God."* And, should it please the great and sovereign Lord of all, to guide any humble and anxious mind, through our feeble efforts, into clearer and admiring perceptions of His own most wondrous work in quickening those who were “dead in trespasses and in sins," and thus creating them anew His workmanship unto good works,t to Him shall be ascribed all the glory. Our own hearts rejoice in every survey of the new creation. Its glory shines with dazzling radiance on our delighted minds, and we long that hundreds and thousands, now in the grave of their corruptions, should waken into life, and come forth to swell the anthems of praise that ascend to “Him that liveth and was dead and is alive for everniore, amen, and has the keys of hell and death.” The utmost we purpose, is, by the light of divine truth, to trace that blessed agency, and that influence of the eternal life-giving Spirit of God, on the mind and heart of man, which are designed to qualify him, alike for usefulness in this world, and glory in the world to come. In attempting so to do, it will not, we hope, be thought strange or uncongenial with our subject, if we take a deliberate and comprehensive view of the character of the glorious agent by whom the life of which we speak is produeed, and of the original and peculiar structure of the · creature man, who is the subject of it. If any of our readers should think, that we escape into the regions of metaphysical philosophy, we hope it will be remembered that * Col. 1.3. † Eph, ii. 5, 10.
# Rer. 1. 18.
it is only because our subject necessarily leads us there, and, we think that, holding in our hand the torch of truth divine, we need not be afraid
“Of wandering in airy mazes lost.” The very topic of a change of heart, requires some knowledge of man's rational and sensitive soul, in order to its faithful exhibition. And it may be profitable for us to trace the influence which a mistaken view of the human mind-a“philosophy falsely so called,” has had in shaping and determining men's notions and practice, on a subject of such high concernment. We ask the patient and candid attention of our readers, and pray that the Spirit of God may guide both us and our readers, into the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.