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When the author announced the present work, and began to commit it to the press, his object was to attempt little more than to establish, on scriptural evidence, the doctrine which respects the extension of human consciousness into the future world; and on this undertaking he entered, encouraged by many of his friends, who had expressed their desire to have his views on the subject in a tangible form. But, finding that this point had been satisfactorily and somewhat fully discussed by a writer of no ordinary talent,* and knowing that the question in the mere abstract possesses comparatively little claim to attention,
* The late T. Gisborne, A. M.
he determined to treat it chiefly in connexion with the nature and grand designs of christian fellowship, and with the permanent laws and elements of human nature. It occurred to him, that this method would give him the opportunity of bringing forward the subject in its most important bearings, and of rendering it, at the same time, more interesting and useful in its practical and consolatory applications. This enlargement of his plan, and many unlooked-for interruptions arising from the claims of an arduous profession, must form his apology for the late appearance of the following pages.
In venturing on somewhat arduous and untrodden ground,* the author does not advance without diffidence and solicitude before the tribunal of the public-if, indeed, he may be permitted to suppose, that the present volume will secure to itself any attention beyond the circle
* The author is not aware, that the subject of the following pages, in the various relations under which he has viewed it, has been systematically discussed and applied by any single writer.
of his immediate friends. He could have wished, . that a subject so interesting and important as that on which he has employed his thoughts, had been brought forward by a writer possessing more of the requisite ability and matured experience, than can be claimed by one who has not very long girded on his armour and entered into the field of public service. Should it be the opinion of any of his readers, that, in the discussion of some points, he has ventured somewhat daringly on the limits of becoming diffidence, if not trangressed them, he may be permitted to say, that he is not conscious of having made any statements in which he is not substantially borne out, either by the direct or indirect authority of the written word. In some parts of the work, he is aware of an occasional diffuseness and
repetition, which have arisen, both from the circumstances under which it has been written, and from the nature of the undertaking itself. But where the same ideas occur, it will generally be found, that they are applied to different purposes, and presented under different aspects and illustra- . tions.
It is possible, that the following pages may come under the observation of some one or more of that numerous class of persons, who are accustomed to deal out, at random, certain epithets of reproach against those, who are supposed to view religion in a more serious light than themselves. The spirit of the present publication may be regarded by such as savouring of what, in their vocabulary, would receive the appellation of enthusiasm, illiberality, or methodistical preciseness. He would remind them, however, that his chief concern has been to write according to the oracles of God, and he conceives revealed truth to afford the only infallible test, by which to try the opinions of men, and to ascertain the regard that is really due to their disapprobation or to their applause. Yet, should he have the misfortune to provoke the displeasure of any, whose views and feelings on the subject of religion, differ from his own, nevertheless he wishes them well, as members of the same great family to which he belongs himself, and only desires that, as immortals, they may escape the evils, and realize the delightful prospects, to which his publication points.