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Before closing these preliminary remarks, I must acknowledge my obligations to two works, which have been of particular use to me, as they must be to any one treating upon controversial subjects. The first is the Symbolik of my learned friend, Prof. Möhler, the most profound work, if I may coin a phrase, on the Philosophy of Divinity, which our time has produced; the other, better known in this country, is the useful compilațion of Messrs. Kirk and Berington, from which I have in general drawn my quotations of the Fathers.
And now, having nothing further to premise, I commend this little book to the favour and protection of the Almighty, begging his blessing upon both writer and reader; and I commit it to the candid and unbiassed judgment of all who shall take it into their hands; entreating them to lay aside, while they peruse it, all preconceived opinions regarding our faith, if they profess it not, and by no means to be offended with any contradiction which they shall therein find, of their manner of thinking. For, whatever they shall read hath been written with a kind intent, and hath proceeded from a charitable spirit, and wishes to be received and pondered in hearts that love Christian meekness, and long after unity and peace.
THE OBJECT AND METHOD OF THE LECTURES ON THE
RULE OF FAITH.
2 CORINTHIANS vi. 1. “ Brethren we exhort you that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”
It is difficult to say, my brethren, whether the Church of God, in proposing to the meditation of the faithful the epistle read in the liturgy of this day, from which these words are taken, had you principally in view, or us, to whom is committed the ministry of His word. For, on the one hand, you are exhorted, not only that ye receive not the grace of God in vain, but farther, that you give offence to no man, lest thereby our ministry should be blamed. But while these words seem intended to exhort you, especially at this holy season, to attend to those instructions which are delivered for your edification, it must be owned, that the greater portion of the epistle is mainly directed to teach us, what are the qualities whereby the word of God should be recommended, and our ministry distinguished.
And, in the first place, we are commanded to show ourselves worthy ministers of Christ in the word of truth, in the power of God, by the armour of justice, on the right hand and on the left; that is to say, that clothing ourselves, as in mail of proof, with the conviction we feel of the truth of all those doctrines which we deliver, we should stand forth, ready to encounter any opposition which they may meet; that we should urge, with all our strength, and with that innate
which the word of God must always possess, those doctrinal truths which it has committed to our charge. But, while we are commanded thus to preach with power, it is expressly enjoined us, also, to preach in sweetness, and in long-suffering, and in the Holy