« 上一頁繼續 »
himself of all that is necessary to the success of his undertaking,-he is not only indiscreet and blameable, in thus pretending to communicate what he does not understand, but he incurs no small risk of being accounted sinfully presumptuous in venturing to touch high and holy things without becoming preparation, in daring to sully their purity and brightness with unconsecrated hands. But more than this,-be makes himself answerable for any injury to the present or eternal peace of his fellow-creatures, which, through want of information that he ought to bave acquired, and of caution that he ought to have exercised, he may be instrumental in producing.
Under the influence of feelings arising naturally out of such reflections, -deeply and solemnly impressed with the responsibility, which he incurs, -painfully sensible of his own many deficiencies, and of his inability to perform, even to his own satisfaction, the task wbich he has imposed upon himself, the Author of the present work is at the same time perfectly aware, that the one in which he is engaged is of no small importance and extent, --for it embraces the entire scheme of human redemption, and the whole circle of Christian obligations; of no inconsiderable difficulty,--for its province is categorically to affirm the truth with
kept in view,--and the means which have been adopted to attain that end.
The attention of the Author was, not long since, directed by particular circumstances to a close investigation of the principles of the Reformers of the Established Church of England, and of the state of public opinion, relative to certain controverted points of theological inquiry, at the different dates subsequent to the Reformation, which form, as it were, æras in the ecclesiastical history of the kingdom. He was unwilling to remain altogether idle, when the weakest co-operation might be serviceable to the cause of sound religion; and, that he might not be so, he at first proposed to put together a short harmony of the chief works which he had consulted. He was desirous to impart to others the satisfaction and instruction he had himself received, in observing the perfect unanimity which prevails between those reverend martyrs, by whose judicious, persevering, and well-expended labour, the foundation of the Protestant Church of this country was actually laid,--and their eminently learned and pious followers, who perfected the plan, and raised the goodly superstructure which stands, even to the present day, an object of general veneration and regard to the Christian world. He
was, however, led on insensibly to compare again the principles and opinions of these great and exemplary men with the one unerring standard of Truth, the text of Holy Writ, and with the doce tripes inculcated in the admirable Liturgy of the Church of England. With these materials before bim, the Author was inclined to enlarge his original scale ; for he bad often found occasion to regret in the course of his own reading, that there was no unexceptionable book, at least not any one with which he was acquainted, that afforded a connected and compendious view of Christian Faith and Practice upon the principles of the English Church, resembling the work put forth, by authority in the Church of Scotland, comprehending a Confession of Faith, a larger and a shorter Catechism, directions for public and family worsbip, and a form of Church Government. Such an one had frequently appeared to him a great desideratum ; and he accordingly determined to devote a period in which his time and thoughts were unoccupied by the care of souls, and latterly, by any professional engagement, to the endeavour to supply, so far as a private and unaccredited individual might, the deficiency he had seen cause so often to lament.
He has em. ployed the time which he was at any rate bound