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PRINTED FOR WILLIAM COLLINS;
WILLIAM WHYTE & co, AND WILLIAM OLIPHANT, EDINBURGH ;

W. F. WAKEMAN; AND WM. CURRY, JUN. & co. DUBLIN;
WHITTAKER, TREACHER, & ARNOT; HAMILTON, ADAMS, & co.

SIMPKIN AND MARSHALL ; BALDWIN & CRADOCK ;

AND HURST, CHANCE, & co. LONDON.

MDCCCXXIX.

520 • E26 1829

Printed by W. Collins & Co.

Glasgow.

INTRODUCTORY ESSAY.

Of all the works from the pens of those who have the clearest right to be esteemed the wisest and the best among men, and which have been presented in this series of Select Christian Authors,' various as have been their topics, and widely different the cast of thought, and the characteristic talent, of their authors, it is no extravagance to say, that not one of them has failed to furnish evidence, direct or implied, sufficient to put an end to all rational doubt upon one subject; the depraved condition of our common nature, in its moral susceptibilities and faculties. The consciousness which lives, even if it slumbers, in every man's breast, the voice of experience and observation echoed from all times, and from every abode of men upon the earth, and the solemn testimony of God's own inspiration, are sources of proof which can never be stopped up; and which can be eluded only by that disbelief, which has the property of perverting or concealing every degree of moral demonstration : for it is, in fact, the chief exercise of that depravity itself, the very evil to be deplored, the very basis of our criminality

and infatuation; and vain would it be to expect, that the self-blinded and self-loving principle should pronounce its own condemnation.

Yet, with all this, there is a natural aspiring of the heart after religion; an unconquerable longing, a restless effort, for an enjoyment which, obscure and undefined as it may be, draws forwards the mind to the future, the invisible, the eternal; in a word, to a connexion of man with his Creator and Ruler. Mournful vestige of a perished goodness! Indelible mark of the property, and the right, and the never-relaxed hold, of a righteous God!

We find, then, in our nature, and its inevitable circumstances, principles of contradiction; an intellectual mutiny, a war of reason, feeling, and fact; a state of things, within every man's competency to detect, which loudly cries of disorder and ruin. No wonder is it, that mankind ransack heaven and earth to find religion, while they reject that which alone is religion; no wonder that, wanting all the time a god to sooth and comfort them," they have not liked to retain the true God in their knowledge;"> no wonder that “they hold the truth in unrighteousness;" or that they cling to " a form of godliness,” while they “ deny its power.”

But this is not to be always the state of things. Our evidence of the divinity and certainty of Revelation, embraces a very wide extent of exhilarating prospect, with regard to its diffusion and influence. Christianity alone, of all the progressive disclosures of the true religion, and of all the varieties of that which is false, is fitted to become the universal religion. Its facts and doctrines are certain and ap

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