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OF WILLIAM COW PER
THE THIRD AND FOURTH VOLUMES.
No excuse, I am persuaded, need be assigned for publishing two additional volumes of the Remains of Alexander Knox. The interest which the former papers have excited, the demand for Mr. Knox's writings, and the effect which they are producing,—all these are motives which induce me to bring forward more of the thoughts of one who was long busily employed in preparing the future materials for a more enlarged investigation of religious trath.
On the character of the writings which now appear, I must, however, say a few words. The contents of these volumes were left by Mr. Knox in a wholly unfinished state; and, though consigned to the unrestricted discretion of his heir, not one of them was expressly pointed out, as not one had been definitively arranged, for publication. Those in the first of the two volumes are, however, on subjects on which Mr. Knox always designed that his views, when matured, should be known: and the character of the papers in which those views are exposed, is such, as by no means to unfit them for being even thus made public. From the severity of minute criticism I bespeak shelter for them; but to the candour of enlarged minds I commit them fearlessly, on the ground of their merits.
A chief fault, of which I am conscious, rests with me. It is that of repetition,-in some instances, I may say, of tautology. Had the Author made his own selection, he, no doubt, would have avoided this fault. He would have been careful to speak once only, in the same tone, on one
subject; and, in doing so, what he lost in copiousness he would. haye: gained in strength. He would have placed each-object on its proper elevation, prominently in one, : and the best;:point of view.
Bit-an Editor has no such power; and, by consequence, he is reduced to distressing alternatives of choice. Either he must sacrifice matter which he knows to be important; or he must give a portion of it mutilated, and separate from its connexion; or he must fill up a vacancy, dishonestly and insufficiently, in his own weaker and less expressive words. I have no escape from this difficulty, but by publishing whatever has been written, at the risk of occasionally wearying the reader by the recurrence of the same, or very similar sentiments and expressions, in support of similar arguments and views. But this I am willing to risk : the class of readers whom principally these writings will attract, have better objects in view than the excitements of fancy, and the gratifications of taste. Truth is their aim -truth of the highest order, and for the most important of ends: they seek after the more perfect understanding of that revelation which the word of God contains; but which, for purposes as benevolent as wise, the Spirit of God sees fit to shroud for a time; and which, when he lifts the veil, he unfolds in gradually increasing clearness. It is thus that we must be content to penetrate into the recesses of truths which are infinite in their nature, their relations, and their extent. Nor, in this, are we laboriously toiling to no purpose, nor in a way unmarked by footsteps: gradual ascent and frequent reiteration are the very characteristics even of the Divine prophetic teaching. The Spirit of God inculcates his lessons “precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line.” I fear not the blame of repetition from those who have placed the one great object of religious truth before them, and who think nothing tedious that tends to bring them more perfectly to the knowledge of that wisdom which alone makes truly wise.
To such I commit boldly even the recurring thoughts of one who unweariedly, and always with increasing satis