THE subject handled in the following Lectures enters so deeply into the whole scheme and objects of Divine Revelation, that no apology can be required for directing public attention to it; at any period, and in any circumstances of the church, it may fitly enough be chosen for particular inquiry and discussion. But no one acquainted with the recent phases of theological sentiment in this country, and with the prevailing tendencies of the age, can fail to perceive its special appropriateness as a theme for discussion at the present time. If this, however, has naturally led to a somewhat larger proportion of the controversial element than might otherwise have been necessary, I have endeavoured to give the discussion as little as possible of a polemical aspect; and have throughout been more anxious to unfold and establish what I conceive to be the true, than to go into minute and laboured refutations of the false. On this account, also, personal references have been omitted to some of the more recent advocates of the views here controverted, where it could be done without prejudice to the course of discussion.
The terms of the Trust-deed, in connection with which the Lectures appear, only require that not fewer than six be delivered in Edinburgh, but as to publication wisely leave it to the discretion and judgment of the Lecturer, either to limit himself to that number, or to supplement it with others according to the nature and demands of his subject. I have found it necessary to avail myself of this liberty, by the addition of half as many more Lectures as those actually delivered; and one of these (Lecture IV.), from the variety and importance of the topics discussed in it, has unavoidably extended to nearly twice the length of any of the others. However unsuitable this would have been if addressed to an audience, as a component part of a book there will be found in it a sufficient number of breaks to relieve the attention of the reader.
The Supplementary Dissertations, and the exposition of the more important passages in St Paul’s writings in reference to the law, which follow the Lectures, have added considerably to the size of the volume; but it became clear as I proceeded, that the discussion of the subject in the Lectures would have been incomplete without them. It is possible, indeed, that in this respect some may be disposed to note a defect rather than a superfluity, and to point to certain other topics or passages which appear to them equally entitled to a place. I have only to say, that as it was necessary to make a selection, I have endeavoured to embrace in this portion what seemed to be, for the present time, relatively the most important, and, as regards the passages of Scripture, have, I believe, included all that are of essential moment for the ends more immediately contemplated. But several topics, I may be allowed to add, very closely connected with the main theme of this volume, have been already treated in my work on the Typology of Scripture; and though it has been found impracticable to avoid coming here occasionally on the ground which had been traversed there, it was manifestly proper that this should not be done beyond what the present subject, in its main features, imperatively required.