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Story of my life continued.-Results of my expulsion.-Fierce fighting.-Des-
The steps by which I gradually returned to Christ.-Lectures and sermons on
THE object of this Book is, First, to explain a portion of my own history, and, Secondly, to check the spread of infidelity, and promote the interests of Christianity. How far it is calculated to answer these ends I do not pretend to know. I have no very high opinion of the work myself. I fear it has great defects. On some points I may have said too much, and on others too little. I cannot tell. I have however done my best, and I would fain hope, that my labors will not prove to have been altogether in vain.
I have spent considerable time with a view to bring my readers to distinguish between the doctrines of Christ, and the theological fictions which are so extensively propagated in His name. It is exceedingly desirable that nothing should pass for Christianity, but Christianity itself. And it is equally desirable that Christianity should be seen in its true light, as presented in the teachings and character, in the life and death of its great Author. A correct exposition of Christianity is its best defence. A true, a plain, a faithful and just exhibition of its spirit and teachings, and of its adaptation to the wants of man, and of its tendency to promote his highest welfare, is the best answer to all objections, and the most convincing proof of its truth and divinity. And the truth, the reasonableness, the consistency, the purifying and ennobling tendency, and the unequalled consoling power of Christianity, can be proved, and proved with comparative ease; but to defend the nonsense, the contradictions, the antinomianism and the blasphemies of theology is impossible.
I have taken special pains to explain my views on the
Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures. I am satisfied that no attempts to answer the objections of infidels against the Bible will prove satisfactory, so long as men's views on this subject go beyond the teachings of the Scriptures themselves. To the fanciful theories of a large number of Theologians the sacred writings do not answer, and you must therefore, either set aside those theories, and put a more moderate one in their place, or give up the defence of the Bible in despair. I therefore leave the extravagant theories to their fate, and content myself with what the Scriptures themselves say; and I feel at rest and secure. The views I have given on the subject in this work, and in my pamphlet on the Bible, are not new. find them in the works of quite a number of Evangelical Authors. The only credit to which I am entitled is, that I state them with great plainness, and without reserve, and that I do not, after having given them on one page, take them back again on the next.
How far my friends will be able to receive or tolerate my views on these points, I do not know. I hope they will ponder them with all the candor and charity they can. I have kept as near to orthodox standards as I could, without doing violence to my conscience, and injustice to the truth. I would never be singular, if I could honestly help it. It is nothing but a regard to God, and duty, and the interests of humanity, that prevents me going with the multitude. It would be gratifying in the extreme to see truth and the majority on one side, and to be permitted to take my place with them: but if the majority take sides with error, I must take my place with the minority, and look for my comfort in a good conscience, and in the sweet assurance of God's love and favor.
In looking over some manuscripts some time ago, belonging to a relation of my wife's father-in-law, I found the following story of a dream. Some have no regard for dreams, but I have. I have both read of dreams, and had dreams myself, that answered marvellously to great realities; and this may be one of that kind. In any case,