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Under these circumstances the appearance of a Theological series, edited as well as written by the most distinguished luminaries of our Anglican Church, gave
1, gave the author hopes that some writer of acknowledged learning and ability, would have availed himself of so obvious a channel for conveying, in a cheap and compendious form, such materials as would furnish ordinary readers with means of reply, when exposed to insinuations or arguments from the host of miscellaneous objectors by whom our establishment is assailed. Disappointed in these hopes, the author was led to think, (on being invited to undertake some contribution for the work just mentioned,) that the task which he had expected to see fulfilled by others had better be performed imperfectly by himself, than remain unperformed altogether. He accordingly prepared the present volume with a view to its insertion in that valuable and well-timed miscellany. When afterwards he ascertained from the Editors that their plan necessarily restricted each volume to one subject, and required that doctrine and polity should be discussed in separate publications ; he was apprehensive that whatever might be the case with others who enjoy the enviable talent of giving popular interest to the dryest subjects, he would not himself be able, (throughout an entire volume of the description required,) to fix the attention of the general reader on Church polity alone. He has thought it therefore advisable, with the concurrence of his excellent friends, the reverend Editors of the Theological Library, to publish the following dissertations in their present independent form.
The kind of publication which the author thinks most likely to be useful is of such a rudimental and familiar character, as may be perfectly intelligible to ordinary understandings, and although, in these pages, quotations in the original languages of Christian antiquity have been occasionally made, such passages will not be found essential for comprehending his line of argument. They have rather been introduced from a desire to prove himself correct, and to prevent the least suspicion of unfairness. If in any instance his translations have been imperfect, the reader of education will have no difficulty in discovering the error.
Writing as the author at first intended, for a work published in London, and designed for members of the English establishment, he assumed in general the language of an English clergyman; though the present sphere of his professional labours is without the territorial limits of the Anglican church. He has been induced to continue this method of communication, not merely as more convenient, but also from the respect which he naturally entertains for the establishment in Scotland; the reputation of whose ministers, for eloquence and talent, as well as piety, forms'a pure and sacred source of honour to his native country.
In the first of the following dissertations on the subject of Church polity, he has stated as succinctly as that extensive subject would permit, the whole argument for Episcopacy, both from Scripture and antiquity. Without referring to individuals, in the present day, who have written against this important Apostolical institution, he has endeavoured to condense their objections, and to offer, (in a manner impossible to be thought personally offensive,) a satisfactory refutation.
Next to Church polity he considered forms of Divine worship to require discussion. On this topic he has confined himself at present to a general view of Liturgies. Another treatise in continuation, (for which he has already collected materials, and
which bears a particular reference to the Church of England liturgy,) may, he conceives, be more advantageously laid before the public at some future opportunity, after the doctrines have been vindicated, of which that liturgy must be regarded as an invaluable compendium.
As the chief weapon of assault in the hands of the Romanist is the assumed authority of his Church, the next subject introduced is Infallibility. Under this title the author has enumerated the various and insuperable difficulties which beset the Romish assailant in his assertion of that lofty claim: opportunity at the same time is taken of bringing forward and exposing other not less dangerous pretensions; and of pointing out, from the canons of the Church of England, a safe and Scriptural guide for the attainment of religious truth.
The last dissertation here published is on the doctrine of Mediation. The greater number of heretical opinions at the present day, and, indeed, at all times throughout Christendom have arisen from regarding in a partial and confined view the great principle of atonement; and from limiting attention to one only among the offices of Christ. As the office of Mediator includes them all, a dis
cussion of his Mediatorial character is calculated
to repel on either side, the aggressions of our Socinian and Antinomian adversaries. Throughout the whole essay general expressions are systematically employed, and all allusion to those articles of belief respecting which the members of the Church have adopted different explanations, is carefully avoided.
Thus four subjects have been chosen for vindication in this volume. First, the form of Church polity in the English establishment; secondly, our received mode of Divine worship; thirdly, the rules for the attainment of sound doctrine; and fourthly, the leading doctrines themselves, which the observance of those rules has led the Church to adopt and promulgate.
Other topics in addition to those just specified might have been introduced; but the author, besides a natural dread, at his first appearance before the public, of abusing unreasonably the patience of his readers, feels desirous for the present to confine himself to general and introductory branches of ecclesiastical discipline. On one subject, however, connected with establishments, he feels assured that any
efforts from him must be for ever super