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defence of them against the popular objections, of that or any other kind, be just or no. Some, it may be, will see reason to conclude that it is; and others, who think that there are many unsurmountable difficulties on our side of the question, may be convinced, that there are difficulties of another nature, as great, if not greater, attending the opposite scheme, which they themselves maintain. But this I rather chuse to submit to the impartial judgment of those who are not disposed to condemn a doctrine, without desiring to know what may be said in its defence.
As to what concerns the work in general, it may be observed, that when I have occasion to illustrate an argument, by making use of any criticism that may be of advantage to it, or to give the sense of ancient writers, either for or against what I have laid down, I have inserted it in Italics in the notes, that it might not appear to be a digression, or break the thread of the discourse.
Though the title of every page mentions only the general subject of the question, there is a table prefixed to each vollume, that comprises the contents thereof, laid down in such a form, as that the reader may easily see the heads of argument, under every question, in their proper method and connexion.
And, at the end, there is an index of scriptures, in which only those are inserted that are either more largely or concisely explained. This, together with the table, was drawn up by a kind brother, which I thankfully acknowledge, as having afforded me more leisure to attend to the work itself. *
As to what concerns the second edition,t it was undertaken at the request of some who did not expect that the former would be so soon out of print. That which gives me great satisfaction is, the acceptance it has met with from many judicious divines and others, in North-Britain ; and I cannot but reckon the honour that the learned professors in the university of Aberdeen did me, in signifying their approbation of it, much more to be desired, than the highest titles that could have been conferred upon me without it.
I have nothing farther to trouble the reader with in this preface; but would only request of him, that, what thoughts soever he may entertain concerning the way in which I have endeavoured to state and defend some great and important truths, he would search the scriptures, and explain them agreeably to the divine perfections, and not think the worse of the gospel, which stands upon a firmer basis, than the weak efforts of fallible men, who use their best endeavours to defend it. If we had not a
.and besides the above-mentioned Indexes there are not added to this edition an a'phabetical index to the whole matters contained in the work.
And the scome reason may be assigneil rohy this third is now offered to the public.
surer rule of faith, than the methods of human reasoning, religion would be a matter of great uncertainty, and we should be in danger of being tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. But our best security against this, will be our having hearts established with grace, and rightly disposed to make a practical improvement of what we learn; and, if we are enabled to follow on to know the Lord with minds free from prejudice, and, if under a due sense of our weakness, we humbly present our supplications to him, who is able to make us wise to salvation, we may then hope to attain to that knowledge of the truth, as it is in Jesus, which shall be attended with peace and comfort here, and crowned with blessedness and glory hereafter.
May the great God, in whose hand is the life and usefulness of all men, succeed, with his blessing, what is humbly offered to his service, so far as it is adapted thereunto, and approved of by him, that hereby it may be conducive to the spiritual advantage of professing families, and the rising generation.
OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
It was not propagated merely by tradition
Quest. III. Of the Holy Scripture.