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It is not without hesitation that I have collected and republished these Essays,' scattered over a period of nearly twenty years. Not only do several of them relate to events which have almost passed away from memory, but they belong to the successive phases of theological conflict, which, however absorbing for the moment, are of all subjects the most fugitive. Nor can I forbear to call to mind a solemn warning which, at one of those moments in life when even slight things are remembered, fell from a distinguished preacher-afterwards a dear and honoured friend-who, addressing a band of youthful candidates for ordination in the Cathedral of Oxford, after enumerating the great realities of theological study and of practical life which ought to occupy the thoughts of an English clergyman, added impressive words to this effect :- Avoid 'controversy, if possible. Few have ever entered into controversy without repenting of it. I might enforce this by many arguments. But I will content myself with repeating what I 'have already said, Few have ever entered into controversy 'without repenting of it.' I cannot plead in my own case an exception to this rule. Even if, in these occasional Essays,' there had not been words written which I could have wished to recall, and (I may add) which I have in this republication recalled, the mere expenditure of time and labour on things which perish with the using can never cease to be a matter of regret to anyone who feels the duty and the privilege of labouring not merely for the present hour, but (as far as may be) for the time that shall follow. And it might have seemed better to let the dead bury their dead,' and not revive again the ashes of extinguished fires.
Still there were reasons which suggested to me that, having been, I may truly say, against all my natural inclinations,