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library of a literary institution. Some time after, he received a request for another copy, with the reason that the first had got worn out before it ever reached its destination. The explanation was, that an officer of the institution had lent it to a person living in a neighboring village, who was well known among the inhabitants as an infidel, and who had succeeded in poisoning the minds of many in the vicinity against the gospel. God blessed the book to the breaking up of that man's whole boasted system of opinion. He became a Christian, and then sent the volume as a missionary among those whom he had poisoned. When its rounds were done, which were greatly blessed, it was worn out, and a new one was requested for the library.
The author is sensitively aware of the delicacy of his speaking of these things, lest he should seem to regard them with feelings of self-complacency, and to mention them with a view to his own praise. God forbid. How can he take praise to himself for that which is, and must be so exclusively, the work of the mighty power and unsearchable grace of God, as the conversion of a sinner from a hardened infidel to being an humble, obedient follower of Christ? He has three motives in speaking of these things. One is, that he may thankfully acknowledge the goodness and condescension of God in having made use of an instrument so humble and unworthy, for the accomplishment of such a wonderful and infinitely precious end as the turning of immortal souls “ from darkness to
light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” Certainly, when these lectures were composed, and when the author concluded to print them, he little expected ever to be greeted with such accounts of their usefulness as have come to his ears.
Another motive is, that persons may be encouraged to put this, or similar books, into the hands of those who unhappily have taken up with sentiments opposed to the gospel of Christ. There is a mass and a solemnity of strength in the evidences of Christianity, when properly presented—there is visible upon them so distinctly the handwriting of God, that they cannot fail to be exceedingly impressive to any mind that is once induced to consider them. The author is persuaded that professing Christians are too little informed on this subject for their own benefit and usefulness, and that the importance of the general circulation of well-digested, serious, earnest, spiritually-minded works thereon, is not rightly appreciated by the Christian community.
A third motive is, to point out one reason which may account for the fact, that in the circulation of this book and others of the same class in a certain respect which will presently be mentioned, there have occurred so many more instances, not merely of the removal of sceptical doubts, but also of the actual work of God's grace in turning sinners to himself, than have usually been known in connection with books on the evidences of Christianity. No explanation can be found in any greater skill, or weight of
argument–in any new evidences, or any new logical method of arraying what had often been exhibited before. It seems to be in this, that the argument is not presented merely as an argument, abstractedly from the great and infinitely momentous interests which depend upon the conclusion to which the reader shall come, but is kept in close connection with the question, What must I do to be saved ? and thus its whole force becomes a matter of serious and solemn impression, as well as of intellectual conviction. This is seen in the admirable lectures on the Evidences, by Bishop Wilson, and also in the forcible volume on the same subject, by one whom the present writer cannot speak of without an expression of veneration and love for one of the most eminent Christians and philosophers of his age—his deceased friend, the late Olinthus Gregory, LL, D. Those books exhibit gospel truth, as well as prove that the gospel is true. The earnestness of the Christian preacher accompanies the argument of the scholastic
The question stands before the reader as one of conscience as well as of judgment. It seems invested with all that is serious in the worth of his soul and in the consideration of eternity. God blesses such books of evidences more than others, as he blesses those sermons more than others which, though they may be inferior in argument, in talent, in eloquence, have more of the seriousness and earnestness of the gospel. Perhaps the writer may be allowed to insert here, in confirmation of these views, the opinion
of one whose judgment he is glad of an opportunity of honoring. The present noble president of the British and Foreign Bible Society, Lord Bexley, addressed to the writer, in 1833, a very kind letter concerning this volume, in which he said, “In one important respect, it seems to excel other works of a similar kind, namely, that while the chain of argument is deduced with great clearness and force, no opportunity is lost of giving it a practical application, and of impressing holiness on the heart, as well as conviction on the understanding. The want of this renders many books dry and repulsive, which are much to be admired for sagacity and extent of information."
In the year 1833, this work was reprinted in England, under the advice and superintendence of the late Dr. Olinthus Gregory, of the Royal Military Academy, whose preface to that edition the author, in affectionate remembrance of his deceased friend, here subjoins.*
C. P. M’ILVAINE.
PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION.
BY OLINTHUS GREGORY, LL.D.
The English friends of the author of these Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity are unanimous in deciding that they will constitute a valuable
* A new London edition has recently been issued by the Messrs. Seeley. November 12, 1852.
PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION.
addition to our sacred literature. On a subject which has been repeatedly treated, and often by men of distinguished talent and learning, much that is es sentially new is not to be expected. Yet the specific purpose for which a work of this kind is undertaken may cause the main arguments to be placed in such a position, while some of the subordinate topics may be exhibited in so strong a light, as to give to the whole an air of light and freshness well fitted to convey high gratification in union with rich instruction. Several, indeed, of the trains of reasoning pursued by the author seem to be entirely original; at the same time that they are conducted with considerable skill, and by their accumulative property, lead to an ultimate issue that must make a deep and salutary impression on the mind of any candid investigator of this ever momentous subject. It may further be added, that the Christian feeling, benevolence, and warmth with which the author conducts his inquiry, in its several stages, honorably distinguish this work from many of its predecessors; while they show that instead of regarding Christian truth as supplying matter for a pleasing speculation, he considers it as that which alone can make men truly holy, happy, honorable, and useful, and transform the world from an aceldama to the paradise of God.
May 1, 1833.