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effort to set forth a systematic plan of Christian apologetics. I may say, therefore, that this translation does in a certain way carry back to England a production whose first beginnings took their rise in that country.
The three main sources of Modern Doubt in respect to the chief points of Christian belief and verity, may be found in some of the vaunted principles and assumed results of metaphysical philosophy, historical criticism, and natural science. With the first (Lect. I.–V.), and in part with the second of these sources (e.g. the modern critical theories of the gospel history and the origin of early Christianity, Lect. VI.-VIII.), I have dealt in such a way that the whole argument is made to turn on one main central point, the Scriptural and Christian conceptions of the Divine Nature. It has been
It has been my chief endeavour, by treating first of the fundamental relations between Reason and Revelation in Lect. II.), and discussing the non-scriptural conceptions of modern Speculative Theology (Lect. III.), to lead on the inquirer's mind to this one great central idea (as carefully developed in Lect. IV.), and then to avail myself of the positions so obtained in dealing with the question of miraculous agency (Lect. V.), and other points made matters of dispute by our modern negative historical criticism. In the lecture on Reason and Revelation I have purposely avoided entering on the subject of the Inspiration of Scripture. My motive for such abstinence was this. I believe the decided separation (and not mere distinction) now established between the idea of Revelation on the one hand, and that of Scriptural Inspiration on the other, to be a real gain for modern Dogmatic Theology, though by the popular mind the terms are still regarded as almost identical in meaning Another motive for such omission was, that I have long determined, and still hope to be able, to deal with the general question of the Inspiration of Scripture and special points therewith connected (e.g. the genesis and credibility of particular books), as well as with the objections raised by the votaries of natural science to Scripture teaching on such points as the Creation, the Deluge, the Descent of Man, etc., in a second series of Apologetic Lectures. The preparation of such a course I have already undertaken, and its completion as soon as may be, in the midst of other arduous professional
duties, I shall endeavour constantly to keep in view. The present English translation of this my first series differs from the second German edition of 1870, partly by the curtailment of various passages which seemed likely to be of less interest for English and American readers, and partly by some minor additions, and the mention of important works which have since appeared on either side.
It is now becoming more and more evident every day that Christian faith stands in need of a more extended line of defence, addressed in various suitable forms to the different sections of modern society. Whereas, when in former times objections were raised to the truths and facts of Christianity,— first in England, then in France, and finally in the German fatherland,—it was generally assumed that the challengers of Revelation ought to bear the burden of proof, the tables are now turned, and those who still believe anything are called on to justify their presumption in doing so. Experience, moreover, amply shows that countless as are the smaller apologetic writings composed for some special purpose or occasion, they are almost invariably short-lived, while more comprehensive works covering the whole ground are as yet by no means numerous. Popular works, moreover, in defence of Christianity, calculated to meet the needs of uncultured readers, however much good they may do in their own sphere, cannot satisfy the wants of the thoroughly educated, who, more intimately acquainted with the arguments on the other side, feel that a victory too easily won really leaves the battle unfought.
It is true that professed apologists, like Luthardt (whose lectures are well known by translations both in England and America), have addressed themselves in some respects to these higher needs.
Still I have found many intelligent laymen who were far from being satisfied by a few remarks on certain cardinal questions, such as the relations between Reason and Revelation, the pantheistic and other philosophical conceptions of God, the possibility of the miraculous, etc., much to the point as those remarks might be; and from this I have been led to conclude that in some quarters a need was still felt of something beyond what had hitherto been effected by Christian apologists. This need I would fain meet by my treatment of these fundamental questions in the present work. Inclinations
and wants differ greatly. Some-and these form the majority -wish to have everything compressed into the smallest possible compass, and their wants are already well attended to. But others--if not, perhaps, very many amongst the laity—are willing to expend time and trouble in studying the disputed points. To such I trust these lectures may prove of some service. They are not, it will be seen, intended to be “popular” in the broadest meaning of the word. They are primarily addressed, not to the great body of uncultured or half-cultured readers, but to earnest-minded inquirers among the really cultivated, who are accustomed to think logically, and whose mental powers I have accordingly in some passages pretty severely taxed. I have, however, throughout endeavoured to make myself widely intelligible, as well as to preserve the scientific character of the work; and I venture to hope that it may be of some use to students of divinity and other younger men at our universities generally, by conducting them to at least a preliminary acquaintance with the most important theological questions of the day. Infidelity is now, both in Germany and elsewhere, especially fond of vaunting itself as being science" par excellence; and the influence exercised by the deluge of anti-Christian literature and journalism threatens to lead many from among our educated circles to ignore the fact that a Christian science and philosophy still exists to do battle for the claims of Christian faith. At such a time it is both our duty and our privilege to witness more particularly to men of thought and culture among us, and to give them clear and thorough proofs that in Christ are indeed “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge;" that unbelief, in fighting against Christ, rejects the truth, and that in rejecting the truth it contradicts science. Doubly necessary must this be in an age which evinces more and more clearly that all the great intellectual, political, and social “ questions ” by which society is agitated, must finally be resolved into the one great problem of the truth of Christianity.
Towards the fulfilment of this ennobling apologetic task, I would fain contribute my own humble efforts. I have everywhere endeavoured to acknowledge what is true in the views of my opponents; and that the more, because I not unfrequently missed such acknowledgment in other apologetic works. Error
is always assuredly a mixture of truth and falsehood, nor can it be overcome so long as the elements of truth which it contains are unacknowledged, and not carefully separated from what is false. On the other hand, I have sought strictly to avoid unreal compromises—such as those attempted by a certain school in Germany-between Christianity and modern thought, believing, as I do, that they must invariably result in detriment to both sides; nor have I ever knowingly allowed myself to polish off the sharp angles of the One Corner-stone. Everywhere have I found it necessary fearlessly to indicate the fundamental conditions, both moral and religious, for the reception of our faith, and at the same time to maintain in its full force the distinction between “believers and unbelievers,” which our opponents have of late attacked more boldly than ever. It is a sad token of religious laxity and indefiniteness that men should try to efface the clear line of demarcation here drawn by Scripture, and to change the decided colours into mere shades. If there be no essential difference in this matter, then there is none at all, and the whole strife has been waged in vain!
No genuine apologetic science can neglect this distinction; but for that very reason it cannot expect to succeed in bringing back at once the world as a whole to a belief in Christianity. Things moral and spiritual cannot be mathematically demonstrated, still less can divine truths. He who said, "My thoughts are not as your thoughts," has embodied in His words and actions a far higher logic than that whose principles Aristotle laid down. The acceptance of His truths cannot be forced on any by mere reasoning; least of all on those who have not the will to believe, and who therefore have never inquired earnestly as to the way. Even oral lectures in defence of Christianity, as far as my experience goes, are but rarely visited by persons of the latter class. The greater part by far of those who attend such lectures consists of professed believers and church-goers; and they, too, are the chief readers of apologetic works. In them they seek for armour against the attacks of infidelity, or for instruction which shall enable them to attain a clearer insight into the grounds of their belief. But even if such works should pass comparatively unnoticed by confirmed sceptics, yet should
furnish weapons to those who still hold to their faith, strengthening their courage and enabling them to fight the good fight; this would be a full reward for the labour expended on them, and a good service rendered to the Church of Christ.
In conclusion, therefore, I would in all humility commend these feeble efforts to the Lord, that He would accompany them in their workings, both among friends and enemies, with His benediction. If what I have written should not avail to bring back many doubters to the faith, it may, nevertheless, instruct believers as to the certainty of the convictions which they have embraced, the stedfastness of the foundation on which they stand, and assure them of a complete and final victory. The Lord needs not us or our efforts in His cause. He who in His own person is the Truth itself, is at once Faith's argument, Faith's object, and Faith's pledge of ultimate triumph. Only His people must believe in that triumph if they would one day share in it, and that the more confidently when the course of this world seems to render it most improbable. Their faith, indeed, in Truth's final victory is already that Victory's inauguration !
Boxy, January 1876.