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Another circumstance proves their importance and even necessity. The facts which are the basis of geological reasonings can be known to the majority even of well educated persons, only by testimony; as, in the greater number of instances, they are to the author himself. To bring forwards, therefore, the statements of the most competent authorities, in their own words, is due to the right position of the subject and to the satisfaction of the reader. Should it be objected, that some of those citations contain reasonings and opinions, besides statements of fact; the reply is that they are the reasonings and opinions of men who thoroughly understood the grounds upon which they are built; and that, therefore, the inferences which such men have seen to be just, are intitled to stand in the next line of authority to their testimony as eye-witnesses and labourers in the great field. It involves no disrespect to the multitude of pious and intelligent persons, to say that they cannot form an independent opinion upon many subjects in Natural Philosophy. It is no dishonour to accept the conclusions of NEWTON and his followers, though we confess ourselves unable to read the Principia.
(BY THE COMMITTEE OF THE CONGREGATIONAL LIBRARY.)
THE "CONGREGATIONAL LIBRARY," was established with a view to the promotion of Fcclesiastical, Theological, and Biblical Literature, in that religious connexion with whose friends and supporters it originated. It was also designed to secure a convenient locality for such associations as had previously existed, or might hereafter exist, for the purpose of advancing the literary, civil, and religious interests of that section of the Christian Church to which it was appropriated. Without undervaluing the advantages of union, either with Evangelical Protestants, or Protestant Nonconformists, on such grounds as admit of liberal cooperation, it was nevertheless deemed expedient to adopt measures for facilitating the concentration and efficiency of their own denomination. In connexion with these important objects, it was thought desirable to institute a LECTURE, partaking rather of the character of Academic prelections than of popular addresses; and embracing a Series of Annual Courses of Lectures, to be delivered at the Library, or, if necessary, in some contiguous place of worship. In the selection of Lecturers, it was judged proper to appoint such as, by their literary attainments, and ministerial reputation, had rendered service to the cause of divine truth in the consecration of their talents to the "defence and confirmation of the gospel." It was also supposed, that some might be found possessing a high order of intellectual competency and moral worth, imbued with an ardent love of biblical science, or eminently conversant with theological and ecclesiastical literature, who, from various causes, might never have attracted that degree of public attention to which they are entitled, and yet might be both qualified and disposed to undertake courses of lectures on subjects of interesting importance, not included within the ordinary range of pulpit instruction.
To illustrate the evidence and importance of the great doctrines of Revelation; to exhibit the true principles of philology in their application to such doctrines; to prove the accordance and identity of genuine philosophy with the records and discoveries of Scripture; and to trace the errors and corruptions which have existed in the Christian Church to their proper sources, and, by the connexion of sound reasoning with the honest interpretation of God's holy Word, to point out the methods of refutation and counteraction; are amongst the objects for which "the Congregational Lecture" has been established. The arrangements made with the Lecturers are designed to secure the publication of each separate course, without risk to the Authors; and, after remunerating them as liberally as the resources of the Institution will allow, to apply the profits of the respective publications in aid of the Library. It is hoped that the liberal, and especially the opulent, friends of Evangelical and Congregational Nonconformity, will evince, by their generous support, the sincerity of their attachment to the great principles of their Christian profession; and that some may be found to emulate the zeal which established the "Boyle," the "Warburton," and the "Bampton" Lectures in the National Church. These are legitimate operations of the "voluntary principle" in the support of religion, and in perfect harmony with the independency of our Churches, and the spirituality of the kingdom of Christ.
The Committee deem it proper to state that, whatever responsibility may attach either to the reasonings or opinions advanced in any Course of Lectures belongs exclusively to the Lecturer.
Blomfield Street, Finsbury, October, 1839.
WITH the intention and hope of promoting the inseparable interests of science and religion, the Committee of the Congregational Library publish this second edition of these Lectures, in a smaller form, and at the cheapest rate that can be afforded.
The author has felt himself bound to review every part of the book with close attention. In respect of the sentiments, he has not found reason to change any thing but he has endeavoured, in many places, to remove obscurity or difficulty by alteration of words, insertion of clauses, or addition of sentences. He has also introduced, in the Supplementary Notes, Dissertations upon topics of great importance, and which have a close connexion with the general subject.
In many instances, among the notes, the new matter is pointed out by prefixing two words; but, this notification has been overlooked; and, with regard to small insertions, it was scarcely practicable.
Sept. 4th, 1840.