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TO THE FIRST EDITION.
THIS volume, like that already published under
the title of An Introduction to the New Testament,' contains lectures delivered in the ordinary course of instruction to my class in the Divinity School of the Dublin University. The character of the audience addressed in such lectures renders necessary a mode of treatment different from that which would be suitable in a work originally intended for publication. A lecture does not aim at that completeness which is demanded by the purchaser of a book, who expects to find in it all the information he needs on the subject with which it deals, and who objects to be sent to look for it elsewhere. The teacher of a class of intelligent young men cannot but feel that the knowledge which he can hope to communicate to them directly is insignificant in comparison with what they will acquire by their own reading, if he can only interest them in the study. He has no wish to save them the trouble of reading books, and thinks it would be waste of time to spend much in telling them what they are likely to read for themselves elsewhere. It is not his duty to write a new book for their use if he can refer them to sources whence the same information can be satisfactorily obtained. And he naturally adopts a colloquial style as best adapted for retaining the attention of the hearers of a long viva voce lecture.
On account of the differences I have indicated, I had not thought my lectures suitable for publication in their actual form, though I at times entertained intentions of writing theological works for which these lectures might supply materials. But time went on without my finding or making leisure to carry any of my contemplated projects into execution; until, three or four years ago, I found reason to consider the possibility that if I were to die leaving lectures behind me, the pious zeal of some of my friends might cause them to be published posthumously. I felt that if any of my lectures were to be printed, I should much prefer that it were done before they were quite out of date, and while they could have the benefit of my own revision. So I determined to try the experiment of printing some of them; and I selected those on the New Testament, as being on the subject most likely to be generally interesting. Having found by experience that there was no likelihood of my casting my lectures into any different form, I sent them to be printed just as they were, though in the course of their passing through the press I found so many points omitted, or imperfectly treated, that I was led to make additions which considerably increased the bulk of the volume.
The favourable reception which that volume has met with has encouraged me to print another series of lectures. For the reasons stated in the Introductory Lecture, I do not expect the subject to be so
generally interesting as that of the former volume; and yet I have in the same lecture given reasons for considering the investigation to be one that ought not to be neglected. But I frankly confess that I have had more pleasure in that part of my professorial work which engaged me in the defence of truths held in common by all who love our Blessed Lord, than when it was my duty to discuss points on which Christians differ among themselves. It has, however, been a pleasant thought to me, that in the present series of lectures I was doing what in me lay to remove what is now the greatest obstacle to the union of Christians. There is, I think, abundant evidence that at the present day the pressure of the conflict with unbelief is drawing Christians closer together. When we regard the state of mutual feeling between members of the Anglican Church on the one hand, and on the other the Greek Church, or the German Old Catholics, or the Scotch Presbyterians, or the Scandinavian Churches, I think we can discern in all cases a growing sense that there are things in which we all agree, more important than the things on which we differ. And the prospect is not altogether unhopeful that, by further discussions and mutual explanations, such an approximation of opinion might be arrived at that there would be at least no bar to intercommunion. But as the Roman Church is at present disposed, there can be no union with her
except on the terms of absolute submission; that submission, moreover, involving an acknowledgment that we from our hearts believe things to be true which we have good reasons for knowing to be false. The nature of the claims of Rome clearly shuts out
that possibility of reconciliation in her case which may be hoped for in other cases from retractations or mutual explanations; so that, by every effort to bring about the withdrawal of these claims, we are doing something to remove the main obstacle to the reunion of Christendom.
I am not so silly as to imagine that any perceptible effect can follow from adding one to the many demonstrations that have been given that the claims of which I speak are unfounded. But no false opinion can resist for ever the continual dropping of repeated disproofs. We may point out instance after instance in which papal authority has been given to decisions now known to be erroneous, and in each case some ingenious attempt may be made to show that the attribute of infallibility did not attach to the erroneous decision; but sooner or later men must awake to see that the result of all this special pleading is that, whereas they expected to find a guide who would always lead them right, they have got instead a guide who can find some plausible excuse to make every time he leads them wrong. I do not think it absolutely impossible that, under the pressure of historical disproof, some such modification of the theory of Roman Infallibility may eventually be made as will amount to a practical withdrawal of it. The theory of Development, which has now found extensive acceptance in the Roman Communion, involves the belief that the Church of the present day is, in some respects, wiser than the Church of earlier times. When that theory has been itself a little further developed, it may be found to give the Church the right to review the decisions of earlier times, and to abandon claims