« EdellinenJatka »
The following Treatise had been designed, and was in a forward state of preparation for the press, before the Bishop of London announced in the House of Lords, his intention to bring the subject of Oaths, as now administered in England, under the notice of Parliament; when his sentiments were cordially hailed by the Lord Chancellor. The effect of this announcement on my mind was far from discouraging. I received it as an intimation that the present time opened a favourable opportunity to any one who believed that he was able to assist in throwing light on this important, but ill-understood subject. It warned me, indeed, of a fact, which under other circumstances might have deterred me from carrying my design into execution—that the powers of master-minds would be brought to bear on the questions which I had been pursuing; but I was encouraged, nevertheless, by a hope, that if the result of my labours were now made public, they might not be altogether fruitless.
In publishing these pages, I am anxious not to be understood as offering a theoretical system, complete in all its parts, and exhausting the subject either in its principles or its details. Were some one of more adequate abilities and greater leisure to undertake such a work as would be worthy of a place among the lasting productions of the age, (and certainly the subject would amply deserve the best thoughts, and the time of the most able among our writers,) it would be a source of much satisfaction to me, were I allowed to hope that my own researches had been in any way made subservient to such an undertaking. My object is altogether practical: and it will be fully secured if I shall have contributed in any measure to excite among Christians an interest in the subject more commensurate with its moral and religious importance, than now seems generally to prevail; and shall have been able to assist others in forming a right judgment on the present state of oaths among us. I entertain no doubt, that inquiry, if rightly conducted, must, under God's blessing, lead to good.
To many of my friends I am gratefully indebted for advice and assistance; and although this is not the place for expressing my thanks to them individually, I must be allowed to make one exception, because I could not otherwise satisfy my own sense of what is due from me, on a point which must be interesting to us all. In the British Museum, not only was I readily supplied with such of its rich stores as I could myself inquire for; not only was every facility afforded me of carrying on my researches in my own way; but most valuable information, new clues, and important suggestions, were voluntarily and kindly offered me; and a lively interest was shown in the success of my pursuit, such as was equally honourable to the officers of that institution, and beneficial and gratifying to myself. This spirit appeared to reign throughout the establishment, and I shall always feel indebted to every member of it, to whom I made any application, or with whom I had any intercourse. Still, from Sir Henry Ellis, and Mr. Panizzi, I cannot withhold my especial acknowledgments. The extent and depth of their knowledge seemed to be equalled only by the pleasure and satisfaction which they felt in imparting it.