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In a prefatory address, it is not uncommon for the author to assign reasons for his undertaking, to advertise the substance of his work, to obviate vulgar prejudices, and to apologize for his defect in the execution of his design, or conciliate the candour of the public. But when, as in the present instance, a book has been published in periodical parts, and the principal parts have been sometime in the hands of the purchasers before the preface is actually written, such an address would be merely formal.
It is already known that the Lectures recently delivered and published by the Rev. John Grundy, comprise, with some original matter, the arguments and objections commonly urged by the Socinians against what he justly, but inconsistently, calls “the principal doctrines of Christianity:" and that this work was originally intended to be a preservative against the errors which he has zealously and industriously laboured to disseminate. The manner in which this defence is conducted is now before the religious public, who have rendered all apologies un. necessary by exercising that candour to which the author wished to appeal, and which he now feels it his duty gratefully to acknowledge.
This acknowledgment is not, however, intended to be made to those who have adopted Mr. G.'s creed, without imitating his candour: some of whom will probably confess that it would not be very appro
priate. “Liberality of sentiment” is sometimes only another name for bigotry: and “calm inquiry" is often confined to one side of a question. The author does not need to be informed that many of them regard his opposition to their prejudices as a sufficient proof of his “illiberality;" that others of them condemn him without a hearing, because he has attempted to vindicate what they "never will believe ;" that some of them lay aside the preservative, after five minutes' examination, because " he sets out on principles very different from theirs ;" or that they knew beforehand, from his denomination, that “he is one of those fanatics." As these are not the men who are “ willing to become fools, that they may be made wise," he confesses that to them he has no apology to offer. He can only pray that “God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, may shine in their hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
There is one subject on which he thinks it providential that he has this opportunity for explaining himself. According to credible report, at a provincial meeting of Unitarian ministers, recently held at Monton Green, in the vicinity of Manchester, Mr. G. was pleased to announce that "his main arguments are left untouched." The arguments which he has adduced in his Lectures, may be separated into two classes. Many of them bear upon the statements here intended to be vindicated. To these, it is hoped, the reader will find, in the work before him, a direct
But others of them are levelled against such statements of the doctrines in question as the author did not feel himself under any obligation
to defend. These are probably what Mr. G. calls his “main arguments.” Every man, who is not a volunteer in faith, entertains his own opinion on the scriptural truths which he holds in common with his brethren: and while he modestly declines to dictate to others, he may reasonably be allowed to vindicate the general doctrines according to his own modification of them, without being made responsible for the precision of those statements from which his opponent imagines himself to derive considerable advantage. To answer directly this class of Mr. G.'s arguments, would be to vindicate those human systems which he has selected as the most vulnerable, instead of that Divine system of “truth which abideth for ever.” The only legitimate method in the present case, therefore, was to state the doctrines under discussion in what the author thought the most scriptural manner, and to support his own statement. If by such a statement his opponent's objections be fairly obviated or evaded, they are answered effectually though not formally ; for the light of truth alone is sufficient to dispel the shades of error. In this way Mr. G.'s main arguments are really touched ; and some people think that the touch is like that of Ithuriel's spear.
E. H. Manchester, April 29, 1814.