« EdellinenJatka »
the right kind--not system-makers, but system-breakers; true iconoclasts every man of them.
Reader, I did not trouble thee with a long introduction of myself to thy acquaintance. But after having travelled so long in thy company, it would give me some pain, to think that thou hast no curiosity to learn what induced me to become thy companion. In plain terms, I may reasonably be asked, what induced me to write this book. To which question I would make the following reply.
That I strongly suspect, that some of the ideas contained in this book, would at one time or another, have made their way to the public, under some shape and form. But entertaining an opinion, that if the Father of lights reveals any thing to any man, with an intention that it should ultimately be communicated to the world, he will at one time or another, give a providential call to that man to speak out; I was in no haste to obtrude myself upon the public notice. But when Mr. M'C.'s book (THE BODY OF CHRIST,) came to my hand, I suspected the time was come when I ought to speak out. I accordingly cat-lugged several of his pages for reference, and took up my pen. But when I recollected that I had reasons, peculiar to myself, why I should be the last man in the world to bear hard on a youth, who, in pursuit of what he esteemed truth, had the misfortune to come into collision with Presbyteries and Synods; and when I considered, that since the Synod was yet to pass judgment in the
case, it might be that God had prepared some others to plead his cause, far better than I could do; the pen dropped from my hand neither head, nor heart, nor hand, would move in the business.
During the time that Mr. M'C.'s appeal was under discussion in the Synod, I never once entered the house; but I was often asked my opinion, by several of the members. Of Mr. M'C. I had as favourable an opinion as any of them: of his system, I thought worse than they all. I freely offered my weapons to different members: but no one would have them. Some seemed to doubt their goodness; and I could not teach their use to any body.
The Synod eventually confirmed the sentence of suspension, passed on Mr. M'C. by the Presbytery of Kentucky, on account of his doctrines. But I was informed by every man who attended the debates, that they did not at all refute Mr. M'C.; nor demonstrate wherein he was wrong; but acted entirely on the defensive. They did not strike the Redeemer's flag, but neither did they fire an offensive gun. I do not mention this by way of reflection upon that venerable court; but only as a reason to justify my own procedure, in having troubled the world with the present publication. Mr. M.C. protested against the Synod's decision, and appealed to churches better informed, and to the public at large; and handed me, among others, a copy of his plea.
It was then the trumpet sounded its loudest charge. Ezek. xxxiii. 1. &c.-" Again the word of the Lord came unto me saying, son of man, speak unto the children of thy people, and say unto them, when I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: if
when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet and warn the people; then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning, if the sword come and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head; he heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning. His blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand !”
"So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me !"
Just then I found myself ready, and sprung into the field with what armour I had: how I have acted, let people judge; but let no man ask me farther why I am here.
In respect to the manner of communication, I disembarrassed myself of all the solemn formalities of authorship. And seating myself in my chair, poured my thoughts along, in whatever drapery they thought proper to bring with them. This I am sure is the easiest way for an author to express his thoughts, in the natural order and series in which they spring up in his own mind; and I strongly suspect, that thoughts expressed in this manner, will appear more perspicuous and natural to the reader, than those which are forced into the attitudes and dress of a more technical rhetoric. The real truth, however, is, that it was my own ease I studied.
Perhaps some very grave people may complain that there is too much pleasantry in these pages. With
out presuming to sit on the jury which is to try myself, I would make this simple remark: that I hope it is all of the genuine sort-all of the family of benevolence. Is there a single sentence that can wound the honourable feelings, or hurt the honest fame of any one man, alive or dead? If I thought there was, I would throw my book, now nearly printed off, into the fire, and my pen after it. Is there any thing to disparage the fair pretensions of any one human being? It has escaped me. But since controversial theology has dealt so largely in bitterness and wrath, in sly inuendoes, and tart speeches, was it not worth the trouble of an experiment, whether it might not be seasoned equally well with good humour? But if any man should think that ridicule, fairly and honestly applied, is not a weapon forged, tempered and polished by the spirit of God, and destined to gleam on fields where no other weapon would be of any use; let that man read the 44th chapter of Isaiah, and tell me whether the eagle of the Jewish church was an owl..
The extreme rapidity with which this work has passed under the pen, and under the press, must expose it to just criticism, in respect to the delicate graces of classical composition. I am still more afraid that the same cause may subject it to the censure of occasionally dropping a link in the chain of accurate demonstration. Perhaps, however, some readers will be apt to think, that there is a surplus, an exuberance of proof. And I wish they may think so. It was, however, with every intention in the world, that this plenitude of argument was employed. The general doctrine is of immense importance, and draws after it a train of consequences so vast and momentous, that it became a most imperative duty to place it in a great
variety of lights and attitudes; that those who could not approve it in one, might perhaps approve it in another.
Perhaps some of those who are fonder of contemplating modesty in others, than of practising it themselves, may think that the general tone is too decisive; and that where ideas are exhibited so different from those of so many great and good men, a little hesitation and faultering of speech would have been more becoming. I do assure such, that wherever I had any hesitation, I have expressed it; and where I had no hesitation, I of course had none to express. Surely hypocritical humility is no great virtue, in either man or author! Surely when a man ventures to address the church of God, on the awful subject of her eternal hope, there is something more at stake than his reputation with the public. Has God authorised us to utter his truth in such faultering accents, as may teach the world that we hardly believe it ourselves?
If the public should see cause to condemn the doc'trine herein advanced, I cannot, with truth, and therefore I shall not at all, either in this world or in the next, plead youthful indiscretion as an apology for the error. Boy, and youth, and man, must all go down together. I trod the listed field at first, on all my personal responsibility. I have trodden it now publicly, on all my social responsibility. This must suffice.
And since these doctrines MUST be mine, I give the world fair notice; that whatever strictures may be made upon them, by either tongue or pen, I shall preserve not a sullen cynical silence, but I trust a meek and resigned christian silence. I have thought the cause, and argued the cause as well as I could! That's all.