The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 53
A strong desire to benefit those classes of persons who are generally pretty numerous in communities where more than an average amount of worldly ambition and enterprise is combined with a certain amount of intelligence—and where also unfortunately Christain lukewarmness is only too apparent, a desire, I say, to do all in my power for these has led me to write this short pamphlet. Those I chiefly refer to are generally called "honest doubters," men who evidently are exercised in their thoughts on that all-important matter—their relations to their Creator, but who, I am sure, are generally deceived in two ways. They attempt to settle by "reason" alone those things which it cannot do, but which its simple function is to point to that way by which, to any one in real earnest, alone can certainty and happiness be ensured. They also judge Christianity, not for what it is in itself and what it will do for them personally, but from what any one who chooses to call himself a Christain lowers it to, or tries to—they often unwisely conclude that all church and chapel-goers are Christians, and judge Christianity accordingly. If a man represents himself as a perfect arithmetician and we find out that he is ignorant of the multiplication table, do we condemn arithmetic? Because colonial surveys are frequently incorrect (always more or less so) do we conclude that measuring on trigonometrical principles is fallacious? So, even true Christians are but men, while nominal Christians, who are often regular churchgoers, no more belong to Christ than does the most violent infidel.
To that other, and also numerous class of men whose intelligence leads them, while admitting a Creator, to stoutly contend for the rights of the created to lay down what their duty is to that Creator, and regard as a gross absurdity the notion of the Creator's having the right to do so (because a school is solely for the children's benefit the children naturally should dictate what the master should teach them or not teach them!), to that class I can only say that they need not think for one moment that I am fool enough to suppose that anything I can write or prove will in the slightest degree change their opinions. They meet in a club perhaps, and by cast-iron arguments prove Christianity a myth, and yet perhaps the same men page 4 another evening when seated comfortably in the midst of their own families would admit (if they are open to admit anything) that there are some things which while far more essential to human happiness than polemics are still scarcely fit for, or even open to discussion, much loss to be strictly defined and settled by any intellectual controversy. If such is the case with the human affections, a hundred times more so is it with the Divine affections, which just as surely exist, but which are not drawn forth until we know and have God, any more than the human affections appear till there is a wife or child to bring them forth.
However, as the preface is already out of all proportion (but somehow I never did care much for tape, especially when of a red color!) to the subject itself, I will finish by saying that I have changed both tense and person several times, for I like liberty, and it also enables me to write plainly throughout.