PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION
This book is published as a contribution to the work in which Dr. Thomas’s life was spent. It is not a mere story, nor a story at all, in the ordinary sense. It is the illustration of a development of Bible truth, which, in the absence of miracle and direct communication from God, has taken years to come to maturity; which the world at large is unaware of; which some part of the professing Christian world, knowing of it, rejects with bitterness; which others have received with joy; which can be conclusively demonstrated as the teaching of God’s word, and quickly seen by any mind of ordinary power, honestly looking into the evidences.
But though not a mere story, the book has some of the interest always attaching more or less to biographical narrative. This may make it specially useful. It will, of course, be available to those already acquainted with the truth of which Dr. Thomas has been the agent of development in this age of the world; but others may be induced to look at the truth in this form, who could not be brought to read a formal demonstration of it. They may thus be made pleasantly acquainted with that which certainly will be to their profit, if they give heed with an earnest mind.
No intelligent person can read through this narrative without being largely interested, not only in Dr. Thomas, but in the Bible controversies in which he so successfully engaged; nor can he fail to be made acquainted to a considerable extent with the Scriptural grounds upon which the Doctor maintained his positions. This result is ensured by copious quotations from the articles and correspondence in which the controversy was conducted at its various stages. Ordinarily, such quotations are dry reading, but the intelligent reader will find that their interest in this case is as exceptional as was the man among his fellows, or the controversy among the public questions of the day. They are decidedly what is described as “racy.” They are vigorous and beautiful in style, even to the point of being sparkling; and the supreme importance attaching to the topics so treated, completes the charm they have over the reader.
Amongst books teeming from the press in the present day, this has a significance which we cannot but think would be thankfully appreciated by thousands of intelligent minds who are tossed to and fro in the religious uncertainties of the day. Called upon to choose between the absurdities of priestcraft and the cheerlessness of a practically atheistic philosophy, they are distracted and heartless, while they hold on, perhaps, with a certain reverence to the Bible which they cannot surrender. Many such have been overjoyed to find an end of their embarrassment in the system of truth hereby presented to notice; and there must be many thousands in English society, throughout the globe, whose experience would be similar; who would find herein the ground on which the difficulties of science on the problems of human origin and destiny, are reconcilable with a full acceptance of the Bible with all its accomplished facts in history, and enlivening hopes connected with the reappearance of Christ and the future of the Jewish nation.
It may be the purpose of God to reach this class in increasing numbers. It may be that the controversy involved in this book may become one of the public questions of the day, as it certainly well deserves (for all other questions are insignificant compared to it). But whether or not, it is the privilege of those who at present have the matter in charge to avail themselves of every means, and use every opportunity within reach, of calling attention to this most important matter. This policy is the explanation of the appearance of this book in the form adopted.
In thanksgiving to God for the man and his work, as the agency of much enlightenment that prevails, and in prayer that thousands more may be brought within reach of the joyful benefit; and, above all things, that the Lord Jesus may quickly reappear to save his people, to disentangle the hopeless affairs of mankind, and bring peace after the great storm, and cause the promised blessing in Abraham and his seed to prevail to the utmost bounds of the world, this work is sent forth by one who is more its editor than its author.
9th April, 1873.
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