ADVERTISEMENT TO THE FIRST EDITION.
THE present Volume originated in the following way: It was brought home to the writer from various quarters, that a prejudice existed in many serious minds against certain essential Christian truths, such as Baptismal Kegeneration and the Apostolical Ministry, in consequence of a belief that they fostered notions of human merit, were dangerous to the inward life of religion, and incompatible with the doctrine of justifying faith, nay, with express statements on the subject in our Formularies; while confident reports were in circulation that the parties who advocated them could not disguise even from themselves their embarrassment at those statements. Moreover, it was suggested, that, though both these lines of doctrine had in matter of fact been continuously followed out by the great body of our divines for two centuries and more, yet such historical considerations did not weigh with men in general against their own impressions; and that nothing would meet the evil but plain statements on the subject argued out from Scripture,—statements which, if not successful in convincing those who refused to trust Tradition and the Church, might at least be evidence to the world, that the persons so suspected did themselves honestly believe that the doctrines of our Articles and Homilies were not at variance with what they thought they saw in the Services for Baptism, Holy Communion, and Ordination, and in other Forms contained in the Prayer Book.
These considerations have led the writer on, first to deliver, and then to publish, the following Lectures, in the hope that he might be thereby offering suggestions towards a work, which must be uppermost in the mind of every true son of the English Church at this day,— the consolidation of a theological system, which, built upon those formularies which were framed in the 16th century, and to which all Clergymen are bound, may tend to inform, persuade, and absorb into itself religious minds, which hitherto have fancied that, on the peculiar Protestant questions they were seriously opposed to one another. Such have been the occasion and the object of these Lectures; and if in them, or in anything else he has written, there be what readers consider more severe or contentious than such an object admits, let them impute it to his firm belief that no wound is cured which is not thoroughly probed, and that the first step in persuasiveness is decision.
Since they were delivered, Mr. Faber has published his work on the " Primitive Doctrine of Justification," with a special reference to Mr. Knox's opinions. Thus the writer finds himself engaged in a discussion even more delicate and anxious than he had anticipated; but, as he originally drew up his remarks without reference to either of those respected authors, so he has judged it best not to take part in a dispute which in no sense belongs to him, and very little to his work. How far he assents to Mr. Knox, how far to Mr. Faber, will there appear; but while the points from which he starts are different, so too are his arguments, as being drawn not from Primitive Christianity but from Scripture.
Another recent work on Justification, Dr. O'Brien's Sermons on Faith, should also here be mentioned, from the station and reputation of the Author; though no reason has occurred for alluding to it elsewhere, as it does but advocate, in opposition to Bishop Bull and the greater number of English Divines, the pure Lutheran theory, which has been sufficiently considered in these Lectures, as far as it fell under their scope.
March 12, 1838.