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PUBLISHED BY PEIRCE AND PARKER,
No. 9 Cornhill.
H. C. SLEIGHT.
So long ago as the year 1807, I published "Three Lectures on Romans iv. 9-25. designed chiefly to illustrate the nature of the Abrahamic Covenant, and its connection with Infant Baptism; with an Appendix, on the Mode of Baptism."It was my first publication: and, after the lapse of seventeen years, I have seen very little reason to alter or to modify the general principles of that work.-A Review of it appeared, in the end of the same year, from the pen of the late Mr. Archibald Maclean of Edinburgh, a man held in just estimation, not by his own party only, but by all who knew him, for natural acuteness of intellect, close application to the study of the scriptures, and general consistency of character. I was satisfied that my main positions were unshaken by the objections of counter-reasonings of the reviewer; and the chief consideration that prevented me from then replying was, the time that it would necessarily occupy, which, I thought, might, on the whole, be more profitably employed. I am not now sure, whether this was a correct judgment.
A desire has repeatedly been expressed to me for the republication of these lectures. I could not, however, think of publishing them again in the same form. The great business of an expositor, I am fully aware, ought to be, to give a clear view of the scope, or main design, of the writer whom he expounds, and to show how his reasonings establish, and his illustrations elucidate, the point of which he treats. All matter that is not immediately
relevant for this end, ought to be either omitted entirely, or very sparingly introduced ;-if touched, not dwelt upon. The reason why this principle was departed from in the lectures, was one which I then thought, and still think, sufficient to justify the deviation. It is obvious, that the same principles, which a writer lays down, as the foundation of the conclusions which it is his object to establish, may often, with equal fairness, be made the basis of other conclusions, besides those which are at the time in his view; and principles settled by Divine authority it is, on this account, as well as for the sake of the inferences actually deduced from them, of the highest consequence to ascertain. We then have at least determinate premises; and have only to show how they bear us out in our deductions. Now, it may happen, that at the very time when a minister, in the regular course of exposition, arrives at a particular passage, the minds of fellow-christians, in his own religious connections, or more extensively, may be occupied and agitated by subjects which, though not immediately connected with the doctine which it is the writer's direct object to establish, may yet have a very intimate connection with the facts and principles brought forward by him for its confirmation. In such circumstances, it is surely warrantable for that minister, whilst he shows how these principles bear upon the writer's immediate object, to lay hold of them for a separate purpose, and, even, at some length, to dwell on the particular subject respecting which he feels it to be of consequence to settle the minds of his hearers. The only proper question, in such a case, would be, whether the principles were fairly stated, and whether the conclusions from them were legitimately deduced. Such was precisely the state of things, when the lectures in question were delivered. But I am sensible, that the same reason which justified, the introduction, at the time, of discussions on the Abrahamic covenant and infant baptism, to a length so disproportionate in illustrating the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, would hardly justify the republication of the lectures at a distant period, when the principles can be taken by themselves, and the argument separated entirely from that of the Epistle.