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version; and to confute by its own principles, when fully understood, the objections which have been claimed to spring from them.
Nor is the work done, when Learning has thus redeemed itself from the attitude of hostility to Religion. It should not be left as standing upon neutral ground. Science is the natural ally of Revelation. The principles of the one were designed to furnish most valuable aid in establishing and illustrating the doctrines of the other; and I deem it the duty of Christian scholars to do what they can, to have every fresh discovery which learning brings to light, baptized with the spirit of Christianity, and laid at the foot of her altars. The consequence would be not only a stronger faith in the inspiration of the Scriptures, but an increased relish for them, and a more complete knowledge of the truths they contain.
I have seen, with much pleasure, that especially of late this object has engaged the attention of able men. But the field is very extensive, and requires additional labor before it can be brought under adequate cultivation. I would esteem it a privilege to have any share in the work; but I must claim the indulgence of a little time before I engage in it.
My health has suffered from the incessant labors through which I have passed during the last twelve or fifteen years. Leisure and relaxation have become indispensable to me. Indeed I already feel advantage from the respite I have enjoyed during the last few months. I am persuaded, however, that there is no work to which I could more readily or easily turn my attention, than that which you propose. Some of the subjects which would be embraced in such a course of instruction are already familiar to me; on others I have been for years collecting materials which I hope to render useful to the cause of Truth. Your request will induce me to bestow increased care and labor upon them; and if I should be able to prepare a course of Lectures or Essays which may be deemed of any value, I would feel honored to present them to the Public with your approbation and under your patronage. Believe me, Gentlemen, Yours, with sincere regard,
J. M. MATHEWS.
From the time when I commenced the delivery of the Lectures which grew out of this correspondence, they were received with a spirit of kindness for which I am called to express my gratitude; and at the request of many among both the clergy and laity, I have for several years past employed myself in preparing a work which might contribute to show how effectually true learning can be made to subserve the great interests of Religion. It is a task which has called for patient labor; but if I have been so happy as in any degree to clear away the doubts of sincere inquirers after truth, I have an abun. dant reward.
The present volume is in a great measure a review of men who have brought their learning, either, on the one side to assail Christianity, or on the other, to defend it. I have endeavored to do full justice to the attainments and the characters of both; and have been careful to draw my conclusions not only from their published writings but also from their biographies as prepared by themselves or by their chosen friends. I have made it my object to look not only at their productions but at the men themselves; not only at their learning but at their lives.
Here I have derived much assistance from our Period. ical Literature. I had occasion to observe in a previous publication, that the Reviews and Periodicals of our day are no longer to be viewed as mere fingerposts pointing to the stores of knowledge. They are the channels through which many of the best writers pour forth their intellectual treasures, giving us their own views combined with the views of other men, and generally not diluted, but distilled and condensed. It ought to be a source of sincere thankfulness in the mind of every Christian, that whatever might have been the deviations of former times, there is scarce a Periodical in the English language of a high reputation for talent and learning, which does not avow itself as an advocate of Christianity; nor do I know of any subject on which they have shown more ability, than when they have set themselves to analyze the character and the spirit of Infidels and of Infidelity.
I have made several quotations from these articles, and am indebted to them for many valuable suggestions.
I have taken an unusually large space in this volume for notes; and I had thought, at one time, of incorporating much of the matter which they contain, in the body of the Lectures themselves. But as many of those who had heard the Lectures wished them published as delivered, I have complied with their preference. Much that is contained in the notes, however, could not well be dispensed with when the discourses were to be issued as a work from the press.
In our contest with Infidelity, the war cannot be car ried into Africa with too much perseverance and determination. When the spirit and aim of the Infidel are analyzed with a careful scrutiny, "the whited sepulchre" will often be found to be so full of all uncleanness" to furnish an important comment on his creed. It has been too much the practice to consider the rejection of Christianity rather as an error or misfortune, than as a crime. The Bible describes it as heinous sin against God, as a wilful war against truth, and not only against the truth which lies at the foundation of whatever is stable and precious in this world, but against the sacred truth on which rests all our hope for the world to come. In this light I have endeavored to present it, and as I have not shrunk from imputing insincerity and a want of good faith, to the men who have distinguished themselves by their infidelity, I have felt it due both to my readers and
to myself, that the proof of the charge should be within easy reach of the reader. On such points I have accordingly furnished evidence in the notes, which could not so conveniently be introduced into the text of the Lectures.
Besides; as some of the positions which I have taken may seem new, such as the indebtedness of the Greeks to the Hebrews, in science and art; and as many of the authorities by which I sustain the views that I present are not easily accessible, I have extended the notes on such subjects, that my readers might have some of the principal references brought at once before them.
It is not to be expected that in the Lectures which are to follow the present volume, I would presume to cover every branch of science which should be rescued from the hands of infidelity, and shown to be in full harmony with the Scriptures. This must be the work of successive writers. I hope to do part of it; and will endeavor so to classify the subjects which I may that each volume will form a work complete within itself, independently of the others which may precede or follow it. How far I may go, must depend on the good pleasure of Him who has fixed the measure of my days on earth. I have thus far found the employment a source of pleasure, and intend to pursue it as the main object of my future years, in the hope that, with the Divine blessing, it may be somewhat useful to the great cause of inspired truth. In