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OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED, AND MOTIVES FOR
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I STATED in the first letter of the series which I have addressed to you my anxiety to comply with every request you could make; and I have verified my declaration by devoting all the scraps of time I could rescue from the multifarious duties which daily claim my attention to a compliance with the wish you had expressed. You have now added a second request, that I would make
my letters public; and with this also, after long hesitation, I have determined to comply. But in conveying this compliance to you, I must apprize you of the reasons which have led me to it. For though your request had its due weight, yet I thought it to be incumbent on me to deliberate on the subject before I took so serious a step.
In coming to a determination, I have not forgotten that my sentiments might meet with opposition ; nor that, on subjects on which so
little discussion, comparatively speaking, has taken place, I may have ventured, in some ininstances, on untenable ground, or may have expressed myself inaccurately. Especially I am led to fear that this may have been the case by a recollection of the manner in which my letters have been written. I have seldom been able to sit down to the employment with an expectation of an uninterrupted hour ; but have often been obliged to seize on half hours of leisure, leaving paragraphs and even sentences unfinished, and to be resumed when, probably after a considerable interval of time, another half hour might be at my disposal. This, as I believe you well know, has literally been the case. I am therefore apprehensive, notwithstanding your kind
expressions of approbation, that abundant proofs will be found of inaccuracy both in sentiment and style. If it be so, I must meet the consequences, pleading rectitude of intention and hope of usefulness as my only apology.
In order, however, that this apology may avail me, it is necessary that I should state what ground I have for the hope of usefulness which I indulge in giving publicity to my correspondence with you. And I know not that I can better give expression to that hope than in the language of one who was by no means friendly to the views I have taken. The concessions of an opponent are often of great consequence to the support of a cause at issue. Such concessions I find made in the Bampton Lectures for the year 1824, from which I transcribe the following paragraphs.
“ The most singular instance presented by the last century of a return in our own church to the consideration (not perhaps altogether uncalled for) of the typical and spiritual import of many portions of Holy Writ, is undoubtedly to be found in the rise and progress of the opinions termed (after the name of their first promulgator) Hutchinsonian. The pious and ingenious, though highly fanciful, supporters of these tenets, while in affixing with the most liberal, and it must be confessed, uncritical profusion mystical and spiritual meanings to the general text, and even to most individual words and expressions of Holy Scripture, they followed the example of their numerous predecessors in the same career, added to the theory of those predecessors one tenet perfectly, I am disposed to believe, novel and peculiar to themselves. They who had in an earlier day mingled the studies of philosophy with those of theology, had endeavoured to strain and divert the sacred text to the mystic adumbration of their own peculiar theories. But the school of Hutchinson, with an intention certainly more reverential, if not more reasonable, sought to find in the Mosaic records a true and divinely inspired system of physical as well as of spiritual truth, and to apply those records in that which
they believed to be their real and original, though recondite sense, to the correction of all philosophical theories of mere human invention. They appear also to have held, that all natural objects whatsoever, those perhaps especially the names of which are metaphorically used in Scripture, have a pre-ordained connexion with, and are thus designed as permanent and intelligible witnesses to, the existence of their several divine and spiritual antitypes.
Upon the obvious defects of this system, it is unnecessary to dwell; but it should in candour be added (and the assertion may be made without the fear of contradiction,) that to the theological labours of this school our church is indebted for no trifling or inconsiderable benefits. Its advocates earnestly recommended, and diligently practised the study of the sacred language, the comparison of Scripture with Scripture, the investigation of the typical character of the elder covenant, and the perfect and universal spirituality of the new; that they never lost sight of the soundness of Christian doctrine, or the necessity of grounding evangelical practice upon evangelical principles. It cannot be remembered indeed without gratitude, that their views of the Mosaic and Christian dispensations were the views of men of no common intellects or attainments; that to this source, under one yet higher, we owe the Christian spirit which attracts and delights
and edifies in the pure and affectionate ministrations of Horne, which instructs and convinces in the energetic and invaluable , labours of Horsley."
The amiable spirit which the lamented author of the above extract has attributed to the ministrations of Horne,” he has himself most delightfully exemplified in the volume from which the extract is made. I never remember to have met with a polemic work (if indeed the temper which it breathes will admit of its being so designated) more free from áll leaven of bitterness, or more replete with candour and kindness. The loss of the author of such a volume, after preaching the last of the lectures it contains, is one which must be felt by all its readers. But while I acknowledge and admire the liberality with which the author has treated the Hutchinsonian school, I regret that he had not investigated its tenets more closely,p as he would thereby have found that its disciples have expressly disavowed that which he attributes to them, the looking for “ a true and divinely inspired system of physical as well as spiritual truth in the Mosaic records.” They think, it is true, that
* Conybeare's Lectures. Lecture VII. P. 291.
t “My knowledge of the Hutchinsonian tenets is derived chiefly from the works of Jones, and from some latin treatises on the Theory, drawn up, if I am not mistaken, by Catcott. ** P. 294.