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SELECT CHRISTIAN AUTHORS.
THOMAS CHALMERS, D.D. & LL.D.
PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH,
AND CORRESPONDING MEMBER OF THE ROYAL INSTITUTE OF FRANCE.
WILLIAM COLLINS, SOUTH FREDERICK ST.
LONDON: HAMILTON, ADAMS, & CO.
This volume consists of a series of Essays, contributed in the form of Prefaces to so many of the works of old Christian authors, republished by Mr Collins of Glasgow. They would not have appeared in the present publication, had it not been, that, besides being recommendatory of the Treatises in question, each is taken up with a distinct theological topic, on which we have attempted to bestow an independent treatment of our own.
We esteem it the happy symptom of a wholesome revival in the taste and spirit of the age, that of late there should have been such an increased demand, for the best of those practical writings on Christianity, which made their appearance in the last half of the 17th and first half of the 18th century.
We have heard that Mr ColLINS's Series of “Select Christian Authors," which commenced about fifteen years ago, gave a powerful impulse to this revival. Certain it is, that his enterprize has been successfully followed up by numerous imitations; and it is our delightful confidence, that, both throughout Britain and America, the effect has been, to leaven the public mind anew, with the substantial doctrine, and no less substantial Christian ethics, that flourished at that period—when so many men of profoundest piety, were also men of profoundest acquaintance, both with the lessons of the divine word and with the experimental lessons of human nature.
We cannot look back to that time, which, in spite of all the ridicule that has been awakened by its occasional excesses, was in truth the Augustan age of Christianity in England, without being reminded of the saying that “they were giants in these days”-_a character which they have rightfully earned, not more by their prodigious industry than by their colossal powers, on the strength of both which together, they achieved such an amount of active work, along with such a magnitude and number of massive publications. We know not which to admire most—the labour of their incessant ministrations, both in the pulpit and among families; or the labour of their prolific and profound authorship. It is the combination of the two which raises our admiration into wonder; and the feeling is greatly enhanced, when we contemplate the solid worth and quality of the compositions which they have given to the world.
To estimate them intellectually, account should be taken, both of their great discernment into the meaning of Scripture, and their deep insight into the mysteries of the heart. It was the conjunction of these two which so peculiarly qualified them “ to give a word in season”—to point out the marvellous correspondence which obtains, between the sayings of the Bible and the countless varieties of life and character in the world; or between the characters graven by the finger of the Almighty on the tablet of an outward revelation, and the characters graven by the same finger on the inward tablet of our own felt and familiar nature. In the language of the schools, they were skilful to adapt the objective to the subjective; or, in the more simple and emphatic language of inspiration, to “ manifest the truth of God to the consciences of men.”
But it is in estimating them spiritually, that we come best to understand, wherein it was that their great strength lay. What forms the true secret of their effectiveness, is the unction, or moral earnestness, by which their writings are so manifestly pervaded. The good things which proceeded from them, came from the good treasure of hearts quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Beside that often they were men of firstrate talent, they generally were men of prayer ;