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my plan, I may now venture to request the reader to abstain from forming a final judgment of any particular section or chapter, until the whole volume shall have passed under his review.
Since, lastly, the views which I have attempted to unfold are of a nature entirely religious, it has of course been necessary for me largely to refer to that sacred Book, to the test of which all religious opinions are rightly brought, since it was given by inspiration of God, and contains a divinely-authorized record, both of the doctrines which we ought to believe, and of the duties which we are required to practise. In thus referring to the Holy Scriptures, I have often found occasion, on critical points, to appeal to the decisions of various commentators, both ancient and modern. While, however, I have not hesitated thus to avail myself of the well-applied learning and useful researches of these writers, I wish to take the present opportunity of expressing my conviction, that, for the
most important practical purposes, the common English version of the Bible may be understood with sufficient precision, without the aid of the critick or the annotator. Above all, may it ever be remembered, that if the Scriptures of Truth are to make us “ wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” that spiritual eye must be open in us, which alone is capable of a just and efficacious perception of their divine contents: for it remains to be an incontrovertible truth, that as no man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him, “ even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”
ON THE GROUNDS OF RELIGIOUS UNION WHICH
SUBSIST AMONG MANKIND IN GENERAL, AND MORE ESPECIALLY
AMONG TRUE CHRISTIANS.
To a series of observations on the particular tenets and peculiar religious advantages (as I deem them) of a comparatively small body of persons, I know of no more salutary introduction than a survey of those grounds of union in matters of religion which subsist, first, among mankind in general, and secondly, among the true members of the visible church of Christ. Such a survey will, I trust, produce the effect of animating our hearts with the love of our neighbour, and will prepare us for a calm and charitable discussion of those particulars which appertain more or less exclusively to our own religious situation in the world and in the church.
I. Let us, then, in the first place, endeavour to form some estimate of the breadth of that foundation in religion, on which we are standing in common with mankind in general. God is the Creator and merciful Father of us all. Christ died for us all. A measure