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THE following discourses on Church History are a considerable part of a course of Theological Lectures, delivered in Marischal College. The Author had transcribed and revised them, and was every year making considerable alterations and additions to the Work. For more than the last twenty years of his life, his Lectures to the Students of Divinity occupied the greater part of his time, and those now offered to the Publick were distinguished as the most curious and entertaining branch of the whole. By the hearers, and many others, the Publication has been called for with a degree of earnestness, which now seldom attends the appearance of a theological performance. Those who have read the other writings of the Author, will naturally expect here something of that clearness of apprehension, and acuteness of investigation, so eminently displayed in the Dissertation on Miracles, in answer to Mr. Hume. And such as are acquainted with the subject; will admire the Author's well-digested learning, and will readily perceive the importance of an accurate historical deduction of the progress of church power, and the establishment of a hierarchy, and how clear and decisive it is, in all that may be termed the hinge of the controversy between high church and others. Seldom, very seldom indeed, has the subject been treated with the perspicuity, candour, and moderation, which distinguish the writings of doctor Campbell.
THE SACRED HISTORY.
I INTEND that the subject of the present, and some succeeding Lectures, shall be the Sacred History, the first branch of the theoretick part of the theological course which claims the attention of the student. This is subdivided into two parts: the first comprehends the events which preceded the Christian era, the second those which followed. The first, in a looser way of speaking, is included under the title of Jewish History, the second is what is commonly denominated Church History, or Ecclesiastical History. I say in a looser way of speaking the first is included under the title of the Jewish History: for, in strictness of speech it compriseth several most important events, which happened long before the existence of the nation of the Jews. Such are the creation of the world, the fall of man, the universal deluge, the dispersion of the human race, the call of Abraham, and those promises which gave to man the early hope of restoration. But as all the credible information we have on these topicks is from the Jews, and intimately connected with their history, and as little or no light can be derived from the Pagan histories, or rather fables, that have a relation to ages so remote, it hath not been judged necessary to have a regard to these in the general division. It seemed more natural and commodious to allow all that part of sacred history which preceded the commencement of the christian church, to come under the common name of Jewish.
Need any arguments be used in order to evince, that every theological student should make this, at least, as far as the biblical records bring us, a particular object of his application? In every view we can take of the subject, it is suitable, in some it is even necessary. Let it be observed, that all the articles of our faith may be divided into three classes. Some may not improperly be denominated philosophical, some historical, and some prophetical. Of the first kind, the philosophical, are those which concern the divine nature and perfections, those also which concern human nature, its capacities and duties; of the second kind, the historical, are those which relate to the creation, the fall, the deluge, the Mosaick dispensation, the promises, the incarnation of the Messiah, his life, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, the descent of the Holy Spirit, the mission of the apostles, and the several purposes which, by these means, it pleased the divine Providence to effectuate ; of the third, or the prophetical kind, are those which regard events yet future, such as the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the human race, the general judgment, eternity, heaven and hell. As therefore a considerable portion of the christian faith consists in points of an historick nature, it must be of consequence for elucidating these, to be acquainted with those collateral events, if I may so express myself, which happen to be connected with any
of them by the circumstances of time and place. But this knowledge is of importance to us not only for the illustration of the christian doctrine, but for its confirmation also. When the religion of Christ was first promulgated throughout the world, as the difficulties it had to encounter would have been absolutely insurmountable, had no other than ordinary and human means been employed in its favour, it pleased God, by an extraordinary interposition of providence, in the gift of miraculous powers, to ensure success to this great design, in defiance of all the powers of the earth combined against it. But no sooner was the strength of the opposition broken, insomuch that the friends and the enemies of Christ came, if I may so express myself, to stand on even ground, than it pleased heaven to withdraw those supernatural aids, and leave this cause to force its way in the world, by its own intrinsick and external evidence. I would not by this be understood to insinuate, that the christian cause hath not always been under the protection of a special and over-ruling providence. I would not be understood to signify, that any external means whatever could have given to our religion its full effect on the hearts and consciences of men, without the internal influences of the divine spirit. I only mean to ob