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IT hath appeared to the Author of this book, from more than ten years' meditation upon the subject, that the chief obstacle to the progress of divine truth over the minds of men, is the want of its being properly presented to them. In this Christian country there are, perhaps, nine-tenths of every class who know nothing at all about the applications and advantages of the single truths of revelation, or of revelation taken as a whole; and what they do not know, they cannot be expected to reverence or obey. This ignorance, in both the higher and the lower orders, of Religion, as a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart, is not so much due to the want of inquisitiveness on their part, as to the want of a scdulous and skilful ministry on the part of those to whom it is entrusted.
This sentiment may seem to convey a reflection upon the clerical order; but it is not meant to reflect upon them so much as to turn their attention to the subject. They must be conscious that reading is the food of thought, and thought the cause of action; and therefore, in what proportion the reading of a people is impregnated with religious truth, in that proportion will the conduct of a people be guided into religious ways. We must, therefore, lay our hand upon the press as well as
the pulpit, and season its effusions with an admixture of devout feeling and pious thought. But, whereas men read for entertainment and direction in their several studies and pursuits, it becomes needful that we make ourselves adept in these, and into the body of them all infuse the balm of salvation, that when the people con. sult for the present life, they may be admonished, stealthily and skilfully invaded with admonition, of the life to
So that, until the servants and ministers of the living God do pass the limits of pulpit theology and pulpit exhortation, and take weapons in their hand, gathered out of every region in which the life of man or his faculties are interested, they shall never have religion triumph and domineer in a country, as beseemeth her high original, her native majesty, and her eternity of freely-bestowed well-being.
To this the ministers of religion should bear their attention to be called, for until they thus acquire the password which is to convey them into every
encampment, they speak to that man from a distance, and at disadvantage. It is but a parley ; it is no conference, nor treaty, nor harmonious communication. To this end, they must discover new vehicles for conveying the truth as it is in Jesus into the minds of the people; poetical, historical, scientific, political, and sentimental vehicles. In all these regions some of the population are domesticated with all their affections; who are as dear in God's sight as are others; and why they should not be come at, why means should not be taken to come at them, can any good reason be assigned ? They prepare men for teaching gipsies, for teaching bargemen, for teaching miners; men who understand their ways of
conceiving and estimating truth; why not train ourselves for teaching imaginative men and political men, and legal men and medical men ? and, having got the key to their several chambers of delusion and resistance, why not enter in and debate the matter with their souls? Then they shall be left without excuse ; meanwhile, I think, we ministers are without excuse.
Moved by these feelings, I have set the example of two new methods of handling religious truth-the Ora. tion, and the Argument; the one intended to be after the manner of the ancient Oration, the best vehicle for addressing the minds of men which the world hath seen, far beyond the sermon, of which the very name hath learned to inspire drowsiness and tedium; the other after the manner of the ancient Apologies, with this difference, that it is pleaded not before any judicial bar, but before the tribunal of human thought and feeling. The former are but specimens; the latter, though most imperfect, is intended to be complete. The Orations are placed first in the volume, because the Oracles of God, which they exalt, are the foundation of the Argument, which brings to reason and common feeling one of the revelations which they contain.
For criticism I have given most plentiful occasion, and I deprecate it not'; for it is the free agitation of questions that brings the truth to light. It has also been my lot to have a good deal of it where I could not meet it, and if I get a good deal more I shall not grumble ; for, a book is the property of the Public, to do with it what they like. The Author's care of it is finished when he hath given it birth. The people are responsi