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PREFACE

TO

THE THIRD EDITION.

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The various Criticisms to which these Lectures have been subjected since the publication of the last Edition, seem to call for a few explanatory remarks on the positions principally controverted. Such remarks may, it is hoped, contribute to the clearer perception of the argument in places where it has been misunderstood, and are also required in order to justify the republication, with little more than a few verbal alterations, of the entire work in its original form.

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On the whole, I have no reason to complain of my Critics. With one or two exceptions, the tone of their observations has been candid, liberal, and intelligent, and in some instances more favorable than I could have ventured to expect. An argument so abstruse, and in some respects so controversial, must almost inevitably call forth a considerable amount of opposition; and such criticism is at least useful in stimulating further inquiry, and in pointing out to an author those among his statements which appear most to require explanation or defence. If it has not done more than this, it is because the original argument was not put forth without much previous consideration, nor without anticipation of many of the objections to which it was likely to be exposed.

At present, I must confine myself to those explanations which appear to be necessary to the right appreciation of the main purposes of the work, on the supposition that its fundamental principles may be admitted as tenable. To reärgue the whole question on first principles, or to reply minutely to the criticisms on subordinate details, would require a larger space than can be allotted to a preface, and would be at least premature at the present stage of the controversy, while the work has in all probability not yet completed the entire course of criticism which a new book is destined to undergo if it succeeds in attracting any amount of public attention.

In the first place, it may be desirable to obviate some misapprehensions concerning the design of the work as a whole. It should be remembered, that to answer the objections which have been urged against Christianity, or against any religion, is not to prove the religion to be true. It only clears the ground for the production of the proper evidences. It shows, so far as it is successful, that the religion may be true, notwithstanding the objections by which it has been assailed; but it cannot by itself convert this admission into a positive belief. It only calls for an impartial hearing of the other grounds on which the question must be decided.

When, therefore, a critic objects to the present argument, that the

presence of contradictions is no proof of the truth of a system ;” that “we are not entitled to erect on this ethereal basis a superstructure of theological doctrine, only because it, too, possesses the same self-contradictions ;” that “the argument places all religions and philosophies on precisely the same level; ”- he merely charges it with accomplishing the very purpose which it was intended to accomplish. So far as certain difficulties are inherent in the constitution of the human mind itself, they must of necessity occupy the same position with respect to all religions,--the false no less than the true. It is sufficient if it can be shown that they have not, as is too often supposed, any peculiar force against Christianity alone. No sane man dreams of maintaining that a religion is true because of the difficulties which it involves: the utmost that can reasonably be maintained is that it may be true in spite of them. Such an argument of course requires, as its supplement, a further consideration of the direct evidences of Christianity; and this requirement is pointed out in the concluding Lecture. But it formed no part of my design to exhibit in detail the evidences themselves; a task which the many excellent works already existing on that subject would have rendered wholly unnecessary, even if it could have been satisfactorily accomplished within the limits of the single Lecture which alone could have been given to it.

But granting for the present the main position of these Lectures, namely, that the human mind inevitably and by virtue of its essential constitution, finds itself involved in self-contradictions whenever it ventures on certain courses of speculation; it may be asked, in the next place, what conclusion does this admission warrant, as regards the respective positions of Faith and Reason in determining the religious convictions of men. These Lectures have been charged with condemning, under the name of Dogmatism, all Dogmatic Theology; with censuring “the exercise of Reason in defence and illustration of the truths of Revelation ;” with including "schoolmen and saints and infidels alike” in one and the same condemnation. Such sweeping assertions are surely not warranted by anything that is maintained in the Lectures themselves. Dogmatism and Rationalism are contrasted with each other, not as employing reason for opposite purposes, but as employing it in extremes. The contrast was naturally suggested by the historical connection between the Wolfian philosophy and the Kantian, the one as the stronghold of Dogmatism, the other of Rationalism. The religious philosophy of Wolf and his followers, whose system, and not that of either “schoolmen or saints,” is cited as the chief specimen of Dogmatism, was founded on the assumption that philosophical proofs of theological doctrines were absolutely necessary in all cases. “He maintained,” says a writer quoted in the Notes, " that philosophy was indispensable to theology, and that, together with biblical proofs, ą mathematical or strictly demonstrative dogmatical system, according to the principles of reason, was absolutely necessary.” Dogmatism, as thus exemplified, is surely not the use of reason in theology, but its abuse. Unless a critic is prepared to accept, as legitimate reasoning, Canz's demonstration of the Trinity, cited at p. 232 of the present volume, or the more modern specimen of the same method noticed at p. 51, he must surely admit the conclusion which these instances were adduced to prove; namely, that the methods of the Dogmatist and the Rationalist are alike open to criticism,“ in so far as they keep within or go beyond those limits of sound thought which the laws of man's mind, or the circumstances in which he is placed, have imposed upon him.”

ness,

All Dogmatic Theology is not Dogmatism, nor all use of Reason Rationalism, any more than all drinking is drunken

The dogmatic or the rational method may be rightly or wrongly employed, and the question is to determine the limits of the legitimate or illegitimate use of each. It is expressly as extremes that the two systems are contrasted : each is described as leading to error in its exclusive employment, yet as being, in its utmost error, only a truth abused. If reason may not be

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