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properly to follow, or at least to accompany, not to precede, that of revelation. Our own speculations ought to be controlled and regulated by a divine revelation, when it is once ascertained that a revelation exists: they should not be left to range unlimited and unassisted, on a subject on which God has Himself decided that man is not competent of himself to judge rightly. And if Reason be for some time enthroned as sole judge and lawgiver, she will not afterwards readily resign her seat, and submit her decisions, to Revelation; but will often exercise an undue interference. It is sometimes complained, that the mind is unduly biassed in its judgments by continual reference to the authority of the Scriptures; and the complaint is just, if the Scriptures are not the word of God: if they are, there is an opposite and corresponding danger to be guarded against; that of suffering the mind to be unduly biassed in the study and interpre

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tation of the revealed will of God, by the deductions of unaided reason.

Respecting the peculiarities about to be noticed, various misconceptions are afloat, according to the diversity both of the several points in question, and of the habits of mind of different individuals: a circumstance may be either utterly overlooked and disregarded;—or it may be supposed not connected with, or not peculiar to, our religion, while in fact it is so;-or its importance may be under-rated. This variety in the errors to be guarded against, must give rise occasionally to a corresponding variety in the topics dwelt on; and the necessity of thus shifting the attention successively to different quarters, may, it is feared, give a desultory and interrupted appearance to some parts of the work: but the inconvenience is one which cannot be entirely avoided, when it is necessary, within a moderate compass, to maintain and illustrate, with a view to different descriptions

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of readers, several different positions, all intimately connected with the main object.

Numerous, indeed, and various are the misapprehensions which have prevailed (not to advert to heresies which have been formally stigmatized as such) respecting the peculiarities of the Christian religion : for as on the one hand many deny to the Gospel much of what belongs to it, or refer to the religion of nature, much that belongs exclusively to Christianity, so, on the other hand, many, and sometimes even the same, persons attribute to the Gospel revelation what forms no part of it; or represent that as peculiar to it, which really does lie within the reach of natural reason. A familiar instance of this last is the representation given by some of the doctrine of the corrupt nature of man; which they represent as a truth resting on revelation, and claiming to be acknowledged as an article of faith not discoverable by reason: whereas daily ex

perience sufficiently proves it; and though there are still, and ever will be, some who will not learn from experience, men of sense, in all ages, seem to have fallen little, if at all, short of the truth, in that point. The history indeed of the fall of man is revealed in Scripture; but the actual condition of man, though often adverted to, can hardly be said to be revealed in Scripture, any more than the truths, that the sun shines by day and the moon by night. The origin of evil, again, not a few are apt to speak of, as explained and accounted for, at least in great part, by the Scripture accounts of "sin entering into the world, and death by sin;" whereas the Scriptures leave us, with respect to the difficulty in question, just where they find us, and are manifestly not designed to remove it. He who professes to account for the existence of evil, by merely tracing it up to the first evil recorded as occurring, would have no reason to deride the absurdity of an atheist,

who should profess to account for the origin of the human race, without having recourse to a Creator, by simply tracing them up to the first pair.

Errors of this class, however, the nature of my design, in the following Essays, will only allow me to notice slightly and incidentally: the principal object proposed being to guard against those of the opposite description; which tend to the depreciation, and ultimately the neglect, of Christianity, by keeping out of sight, or under-rating, many of its great and important peculiarities.

Bishop Warburton's "Divine Legation" is a work too well known to require that a distinct reference should be made to it in every place in which I have availed myself of his learning and ingenuity. I can hardly be suspected of wishing to impose on the public as my own, what I have borrowed from an author who has so long been before them. To have exhibited clearly

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