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THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF HOLY SCRIPTURE
REAL STATE OF HUMAN NATURE,
THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD,
IN THE YEAR MDCCCXVII,
THE LATE REV. JOHN BAMPTON, M. A.
CANON OF SALISBURY.
JOHN MILLER, M. A.
FELLOW OF WORCESTER COLLEGE.
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS FOR THE AUTHOR.
SOLD BY J. PARKER, OXFORD; MESSRS. RIVINGTON, ST. PAUL'S
THE following Lectures having been undertaken under somewhat unusual circumstances, (which, however, it is not necessary here to describe,) the Author is unwilling - indeed, has too much respect for the public
to submit them to general perusal without some explanation.
It has been observed, that “ to read a
great deal would be a sure preventive of “ much writing; because almost every one
might find all he has to say already writ“ ten." The Author feels the truth of this observation; and does not doubt, that had his own reading been extensive, this present volume would never have appeared. Why then, under this consciousness, did he venture upon such a work?
He answers, simply because of the possibility of doing good in a situation, in which, if any good may be done, the benefit may be general ; while he thinks it
hardly possible for any loss or injury to fall elsewhere, than upon himself singly. It is probable, that in reality nothing can be said (of that which is sound or valuable) which has not been said before; the presumption against any thing perfectly novel would be, in the first instance, that it was either weak or erroneous. Yet, while this acknowledgment ought certainly to exempt him from the charge of being a despiser of "authorities,” he cannot but think, that much is lost to the cause of true religion by mere following of authorities ; and that a too scrupulous fear of going counter to established opinion (which fear he conceives to be a natural result of much, and the deepest reading) tends to 'restrain independent thought; and leads' insensibly to the error of identifying Scripture itself with human interpretations of it.
Under such impressions he has been led to think, that one of the best chances (húmanly speaking) of contributing---not new, but fresh support to the cause of truth, is likely to be found in the confessions.” (if this term has not been too much dese: crated by some irreverent applications of it) of a believer, who after following, with only his original clew given him, a track and progress of his own, so far as to have gained his convictions by reflection, rather than by much study, has in the end found himself in the highway where others are, , and where he believes established truth to be. In such light, as to its substance, is the present Work to be regarded. The Author entered upon it, in chief part, for this very reason, that he was able to write while his thoughts were fresh ; and while the result of them might both be proposed to judgment, and judged of, independently, without protection or favour. ' He does not speak thus boastfully; but in humility, and fairness. Should the matter of his Lectures be considered unprofitable, it is bis desire that they should perish at once in their own obscurity. On the other hand, if it should be esteemed differently, the greater correspondence with confirmed opinions which can then be pointed out in them will be the greater testimony in their favour. Being conscious that he is no wilful plagiarist, the writer himself is unambitious of