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acquiesced in, whatever be the character of the assumer; for, when it can be shown that conclusions are not warranted by the premises, or that the premises themselves are highly disputable, to offer as a reply, the fact of his being a good man, is as little satisfactory as if the same answer were returned to refute a charge of his ignorance of the classics, or of philosophy. Correct and definite conceptions of revealed truth are highly desirable ; and it is not less our duty, than conducive to our happiness, to cherish no notions as evangelical verities which are not distinctly reflected on the mind from the Sacred Scriptures. But the duty which a man owes to himself, in this particular, is not always the exact measure of that which may be due from him to his fellow Christians. A man should be cheerfully willing to resign any idols * which have been set up in his own mind; yet it may not always be either wise, or expedient, to engage in ejecting them from the minds of others. Many a
• In the sense of Lord Bacon.
Christian adopts a safe and useful course of practice, whose creed might not bear a strict examination; who could not produce sufficient reasons for what he believes, nor analyze and clearly exhibit the principles by which he is conducted; yet, it might be neither kind nor beneficial to inject suspicions, and create perplexities, where the predominant bias of the heart is favourable to the gospel of Christ, and the life is not inconsistent with this profession. Our Saviour gave a lesson of caution and moderation, when he said to his disciples; 66 I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."
The doctrines defended in the two Tracts which stand first in this volume, are acknowledged by Christians in general to be highly important. These small publications had become scarce; and, as in the opinion of capable judges, Mr. Hey had succeeded in treating the subjects with great strength of argument, in a plain and perspicuous manner, it was conceived, that the reprinting of them would be an acceptable service to the
public. As the doctrines of the incarnation and atonement are matters of pure revelation, conveyed to us only by inspired writers, nothing more is incumbent on their advocate than to show that, they are clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures. This the Author has been thought to have accomplished in a manner decisive and unanswerable. Those who demand something more than scriptural evidence,
who require explanations satisfactory to their reason, and consonant with their experience, are in quest of a sort of knowledge which the Bible no where professes to give. The wisdom of God has judged it proper to communicate information to us, on certain subjects, in part only, and this is probably as much as it may concern us to know; for mysteries are not presented to us to be wholly understood, but to be received and believed. To prove that any particular doctrine is contained in the Bible, --to maintain its credibility, and to defend it against opposers, ought never to be confounded with a full comprehension of the subject, and a capacity of explaining it; yet these very different undertakings have not always been sufficiently distinguished, even by persons of much penetration and ability. That “we know but in part,” is a position not less applicable to natural science, than to theology. Our acquaintance with the qualities and properties of organized and unorganized substances is partial and imperfect; few physical phenomena admit of complete explanation ; yet all this is very consistent with much real information, and with that measure of practical knowledge which is sufficient for the purposes of human life. To reject what is cognizable, because it is conjoined with something that is obscure and inaccessible, is just as rational, as if a man should close his eye-lids in the evening, because he has not the light of the sun.
The several Essays on sacred and moral subjects, with the Obituaries, &c. were published, as hath been remarked, at different intervals, in the “ Christian Observer.” It is not certainly known whether Mr. Hey had prepared those which follow page 487 for the press; but, as they all appear to have been the result of serious inquiry and reflection, his friends conceive, that they may not prove unacceptable to those who knew and respected the writer. The considerations on natural and moral ability and inability were principally designed to remove some of the objections, which have been occasionally proposed, against the scriptural doctrines of moral depravity and of divine grace. Those who have directed much of their attention to the abstruse questions connected with the free agency of man, will be aware that the principles assumed in this discourse have been employed for similar purposes, but with various degrees of confidence and success, since the days of Augustine to the present time. In the controversies of the Jansenists, the professed disciples of Augustine, with the Molinists, the discussions on grace were conducted with a subtlety, refinement, and copiousness of argumentation, that has scarcely left room for any addition. The substance of these disputations is exhibited, with much precision and ability, in a posthumous work ascribed to Fenelon, comprised