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But Your Lordship will not take the confession amiss, that I have another object in view ; that I trespass on your indulgence a little further, as it may seem of some preliminary advantage, to notice briefly the circumstances, which led, first, to the conception, and, gradually, to the design and execution, of this inquiry into the rise of Mahometanism, and the real causes of its
These circumstances I can communicate to no living friend with so much propriety as to Your Lordship; since it was under your roof, and early in the period of that domestic intercourse, which, through a course of years, it has been the privilege and happiness of my life to enjoy, that the subject of the present work engaged my serious attention.
For a considerable time, I had read and thought on the Mahometan
apostasy, purely for my own satisfaction. But, while my judgment readily acquiesced in parts of the explanation offered by approved authorities, to account for the case of Mahometanism, there remained still the painful conviction, that some of its most important features were left wholly unexplained. The most popular English work on the subject, the eloquent Bampton Lectures of the late Dr. White of Oxford, impressed me as labouring fatally under this defect; notwithstanding the frequent acuteness of the reasoning, and the general force and beauty of the style. Nor was it possible to rest satisfied with the view of a subject so momentous, presented by a volume which was always supposed, and, by the appearance of a late publication, has been completely proved, the product of different pens: the materials of which, contributed by minds the most unlike, in power, in principles of reasoning, and in their views even of the Christian scheme, necessarily lay under the disadvantages of a dubious and divided parentage; in some parts, the chief arguments being inconsis
tent with each other ; in more, appearing inconsequential in themselves.
Disappointed, after a careful and patient survey, by what had been done to clear away
the difficulties of a movement so important, — the greatest revolution of the world, connected with the history of the church, my persuasion was unshaken, that, whether the case were explicable or inexplicable by human judgment, the true elucidation would hereafter be vouchsafed, and would triumphantly justify the revealed wisdom and goodness of God.
It was early in the year 1820, that a train of thought, suggested by these last reflections, arose in my mind, which soon expanded into the outline of a work on Mahometanism. In the winter of that year, the subject was incidentally mentioned at Abington Glebe, where
then resided, in the course of an evening conversation with Your Lordship and a common friend.*
* The Rev. William Phelan, D.D. then Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin.
For the satisfaction of that friend, on the following morning, the first hints of an inquiry were briefly noted down; and, thenceforward, my reading became directed to the collection of the necessary materials, and my thoughts to their orderly disposal and digestion.
Deeply conscious how much I need Your Lordship’s indulgence, and that of readers in general, my conscience at least acquits me of haste or indeliberation, in sending forth the following imperfect pages.
It has been my study, throughout, to advance nothing which had not been previously meditated : I have endeavoured still to make reading subsidiary to reflection; and, according to the example of an eminent English worthy, “ to find in books, godfathers for my thoughts.” It has, further, been my constant aim so to correct erroneous notions of Islamism, as to open or enlarge our practical facilities for the propagation of the Gospel.
The plan of the work may be stated in few words. The principle on which the whole argument rests, is first presented in general terms; and then confirmed and elucidated through a series of inductive proofs. The Introduction contains the announcement of that fundamental principle; the proofs of it will be found in the succeeding sections. With a view to the preservation of order, several topics of importance have been transferred to the Appendix, at the close of the second volume.
In the distribution of the notes, a method has been adopted, differing somewhat from those in ordinary use. Notes of moderate length, and of more immediate value to the argument, have, together with nearly all the references, been placed at the foot of the page. The larger and more discursive annotations have been disposed at the end of the work. It is hoped, that, by this arrangement, the clearness of the general statement may be aided, without any sacrifice of solid information.