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Conscious therefore, as the Author is, that your character stands in no need of any testimony from him; and aware also of your utter aversion to ostentatious display on your own part, and to the language of adulation in others; yet when he calls to mind his personal obligations for your great kindness at his outset in early life,-in instructing his mind, directing his pursuits, and forwarding his interests with an almost parental solicitude ;-he cannot refrain from availing himself of the present opportunity, to give at least this public expression of his sincere gratitude for all the acts of friendship, which for many years you have uniformly manifested towards him.
Under the influence of these feelings, I beg to subscribe myself, with every sentiment of regard,
My dear Sir,
J. B. SMITH.
The present Work is intended to afford a compendious view of some of the most cogent arguments and evidences whereby the Truth of our Holy Religion may be convincingly demonstrated.
Being, however, only an abridgment of the works of others, it has no pretensions to merit, beyond that of an endeavour to present an outline of what superior minds have fully elaborated; and to exhibit a chain of argument, as to the CREDIBILITY OF REVELATION, arising à priori from the Analogy of Nature; together with the striking CONFIRMATION thereof, deducible from the external and internal evidences in the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel.
Such a work, it had occurred to the Author, might prove no unsuitable companion to a small volume of his, intituled a “ MANUAL of the RUDIMENTS of Theology,” which has already met with a favourable reception from the public. Various circumstances, however, prevented him, for some time, from executing his intention: and it was only after a period of severe domestic trial, that he sought a refuge from morbid feelings, in a sedulous occupation of his mind, during the intervals that occurred in the course of laborious professional duties.
The Volume before the reader is the result; and how far the Author has been successful in his object, must be left for others to determine.
To Students, however, he would observe, that it is far from his intention, in presenting them with a digest of these several authors, to supersede the necessity for their perusal of the originals. On the contrary, his aim has been, merely to prepare the way for such studies; and to aid in fixing the arguments in their memories, by furnishing them with an outline of the principal points.
And with respect to general readers, the Author would persuade himself, that whatever may be its deficiencies, the present work may, nevertheless, be of no small service to those, whose occupations prevent them from more extensive researches; by furnishing them with topics of apposite illustration, and convincing arguments, well calculated to build up and establish them in the faith. At the same time, it is his fervent hope, that he may hereby be the means of creating a taste for such subjects; and of exciting an interest in their minds, that will prompt them to apply to the fountain head for themselves. Nothing will more effectually recompense them for their trouble.
It would be superfluous to speak of the genius of Bishop Butler: his name will descend to latest posterity, as a man of prodigious strength of mind, whose works, as an eminent philosopher, Bacon, has vividly expressed it, “ are full of the seeds of things;" and whose profound sagacity enabled him, as if with the spear of Ithuriel, at once to detect and refute any fallacy in argument; and to establish his own positions beyond the power of infidelity to overthrow. There is, however, a peculiarity in his style and manner, which sometimes prejudices young minds at the outset, and prevents his “ Analogy” from being so generally and fairly read and estimated, as its great worth and importance demand'. Should the Author succeed in softening a prejudice against it, or removing an obstacle to its reception in any quarter, he will have accomplished no unimportant task.
With respect to Bishop Newton, nothing more need be said, than that his celebrated work is a standard one, known to every scholar; wherein he has evinced a singular felicity and acuteness in exhibiting the “ Fulfilment of Prophecy,” not only in the broad lines thereof, but also in the minuter points of coincidence; and has likewise (though with modest diffidence) manifested a penetrating shrewdness of conjecture, in respect to what remains yet to be accomplished.
Dean Graves's work on the Pentateuch is one of which the Author fears he cannot speak in terms sufficiently adequate to its merits. It possesses such a
1 It may be thought that such a work as the Analogy required rather an Exposition than a Digest ; however, it did occur to the Author, that by exhibiting the chief points and heads of argument, he might prepare for a readier comprehension of the whole. And in this supposition he finds that he has not stood alone : that excellent prelate, Daniel Wilson, has preceded him in so doing. But his digest had not been heard of by the Author, till the first half of his own MSS. was in the printer's hands; otherwise, he should not have ventured upon a subject in which such a master had anticipated him.