« AnteriorContinuar »
of course, been necessary for me largely to refer to that sacred Book, to the test of which all religious opinions are rightly brought, since it was given by inspiration of God, and contains a divinely-authorised record, both of the doctrines which we ought to believe and of the duties which we are required to practise. In thus referring to the Holy Scriptures, I have often found occasion, on critical points, to appeal to the decisions of various commentators, both ancient and modern. While, however, I have not hesitated thus to avail myself of the well applied learning and useful researches of these writers, I wish to take the present opportunity of expressing my conviction, that, for the most important practical purposes, the common English version of the Bible may be understood with sufficient precision without the aid of the critic or the annotator. Above all, may it ever be remembered, that if the Scriptures of Truth are to make us “ wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus," that spiritual eye must be open in us, which alone is capable of a just and efficacious perception of their divine contents : for it remains to be an incontrovertible truth, that as no man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him, “ the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”
INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER TO THE SEVENTI EDITION..
In presenting to my young friends and the public at large, a new edition of the “ Observations,” I wish to make a few remarks on its contents, as well as on some subjects with which they are connected, and which I deem to be of vital importance to the welfare of our religious body.
First, with respect to the language and style of the volume, I have endeavoured to simplify many of the sentences, and have exchanged a number of long words of foreign origin, for others which are at once shorter and plainer. The experience of more than ten years, since the work was first published, has convinced me of the importance of aiming, as far as possible, at a simple style, that the meaning of the writer may be clear to all men ; and especially to a large class of readers, who have not enjoyed the opportunity of much mental cultivation, but to whom religious truth, in all its branches, is, I trust, increasingly precious.
Frequent complaints having been made to me of the title of the work, I have ventured in the present edition to take the somewhat unusual step of changing it; and for the term “ Peculiarities," in the title page, I have substituted “ Distinguishing Views and Practices."
The reader will observe that in the present edition, I have added some new passages and notes, which I have marked with a double asterisk. These are the results of farther reflection and observation; and will, I trust, be found to strengthen the several arguments to which they are attached. I propose also to add, as an appendix to the volume, a brief essay on one part of our system, which, although it is of considerable importance, I have not hitherto noticed- I mean the nature, origin, and effect, of our Christian Discipline. I am persuaded that the more diligently our young friends enquire into the subject, the more they will find cause to believe, that our plan of discipline was very wisely formed, and that its provisions, in their scope and intention, truly agree with the order of the gospel. May they be led to place a right value on its wholesome checks, and to account the protection which it affords them, one of their happiest privileges !
In confining my attention, in the present work, chiefly to those points in religion, by which Friends are distinguished from other bodies of true Christian believers, nothing can be farther from me than any desire to throw into the shade those fundamental doctrines, in which all such believers agree. To unfold these doctrines, and to prove their truth from