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admit. There is also much in the peculiar features of the present times which calls for renewed effort in this department of theology. A spirit of universal inquiry has been awakened. The enemies of revealed truth are busily scattering the seeds of scepticism and infidelity. Lowering, or, to speak more properly, annihilating statements respecting the supernatural phenomena which the Scriptures exhibit, are liberally made by a pseudo-rational party of various grades and distinctions. Extravagant and untenable theories are advanced by some of the professed friends of revelation ; while a revival of pretensions to inspiration and other miraculous endowments still continue, in some measure, to disturb the peace of the church. . It has been presumed that, in contemplation of all these circumstances, an attempt to subject the dogma to a fresh process of historical and exegetical investigation would at least be considered justifiable, though, in the judgment of some, it might not prove successful.
To the difficulties which attach to the subject the Author has not been insensible. They have been felt by all who have preceded him, and
would certainly have deterred him from venturing to encounter them, had it not been for a conviction, produced almost at the commencement of his inquiries, that some of the most formidable do not necessarily adhere to it, but are the result of unwarranted hypotheses, or strained and false interpretation.
It was originally his design to confine himself to the more limited question respecting
the exertion of supernatural influence on the minds of the sacred writers; but he soon found that justice could not be done to that particular division, without specially examining the statements of Scripture respecting the modes in which God otherwise revealed himself to the chosen messengers and other recipients of his will. He, therefore, extended his plan so as to make it embrace the whole range of revealing influence, and has not scrupled to employ the term inspiration in this its most comprehensive meaning.
The results of his investigations he now submits to the decision of the candid, in the humble hope that, by the blessing of God, they may subserve the cause of truth by confirming the faith of some, and recovering others from the baneful influence of sceptical and unsettled notions, or the equally dangerous tendencies of a bewildering and perplexing fanaticism.
(BY THE COMMITTEE OF THE CONGREGATIONAL LIBRARY.)
THE “ CONGREGATIONAL LIBRARY” was established with a view to the promotion of Ecclesiastical, Theological, and Biblical Literature, in that religious connection with whose friends and supporters it originated. It was also designed to secure a convenient locality for such associations as had previously existed, or might hereafter exist, for the purpose of advancing the literary, civil, and religious interests of that section of the Christian Church to which it was appropriated. Without undervaluing the advantages of union, either with Evangelical Protestants, or Protestant Nonconformists, on such grounds as admit of liberal cooperation, it was nevertheless deemed expedient to adopt measures for facilitating the concentration and efficiency of their own denomination. In connection with these important objects, it was thought desirable to institute a Lecture, partaking rather of the character of Academic prelections than of popular addresses, and embracing a Series of Annual Courses of Lectures, to be delivered at the Library, or, if necessary, in some contiguous place of worship. In the selection of Lecturers, it was judged proper to appoint such as, by their literary attainments and ministerial reputation, had rendered service to the cause of divine truth in the consecration of their talents to the “ defence and confirmation of the gospel.” It was also supposed, that some might be found possessing a high order of intellectual competency and moral worth, imbued with an ardent love of biblical science, or eminently conversant with theological and ecclesiastical literature, who, from various causes, might never have attracted that degree of public attention to which they are entitled,
and yet might be both qualified and disposed to undertake courses of lectures on subjects of interesting importance, not included within the ordinary range of pulpit instruction. To illustrate the evidence and importance of the great doctrines of Revelation ; to exhibit the true principles of philology in their application to such doctrines; to prove the accordance and identity of genuine philosophy with the records and discoveries of Scripture ; and to trace the errors and corruptions which have existed in the Christian Church to their proper sources, and, by the connection of sound reasoning with the honest interpretation of God's holy Word, to point out the methods of refutation and counteraction, are amongst the objects for which " the Congregational Lecture has been established. The arrangements made with the Lecturers are designed to secure the publication of each separate course, without risk to the Authors; and, after remunerating them as liberally as the resources of the Institution will allow, to apply the profits of the respective publications in aid of the Library. It is hoped that the liberal, and especially the opulent, friends of Evangelical and Congregational Nonconformity, will evince, by their generous support, the sincerity of their attachment to the great principles of their Christian profession; and that some may be found to emulate the zeal which established the “ Boyle,” the “ Warburton," and the “ Bampton” Lectures in the National Church. These are legitimate operations of the "voluntary principle" in the support of religion, and in perfect harmony with the independency of our Churches, and the spirituality of the kingdom of Christ.
The Committee deem it proper to state that, whatever responsibility may attach either to the reasonings or opinions advanced in any Course of Lectures belongs exclusively to the Lecturer.
CONGREGATIONAL LIBRARY, Blomfield Street, Finsbury, August, 1836.