TO THE HON. HIRAM DENIO, LL.D.
A judge of the court of appeals of the state of New York
It is partly from the memory of our early friendship, and partly because I can better express the design of this work in this way than by the usual form of a preface, that I have asked the privilege of dedicating it to you.
We began life together. We were both in a comparatively humble but respectable position, and we have been both directed by an overruling hand in paths which we did not at first contemplate. Both, when we left our homes to seek an education, designed to pursue the study of the law; but in our professional pursuits, and in the general course of our lives, we have been led in different ways. You, by talent, by industry, by integrity, have risen to that position deservedly high which you now occupy as one of the Judges of the highest court of our native state. My thoughts were early turned to a different profession, and my steps have been directed in another course. Both of us have been prospered; and now, when we have reached that period of life in which we cannot but be looking forward to its close, I have a pleasure in referring in this manner to the time when we began life together, in connecting your name with this book.
It is true that in this work, designed to illustrate the relation of the atonement to law, I have travelled somewhat out of my profession, as I have from the usual course of my studies. I know the danger of doing this; and I think it not improbable that you will detect things in this feature of my work which a professional lawyer would have avoided. But I have never ceased to feel an interest in the profession which was the object of my early thought and purpose, nor have I ever ceased to feel that personally it would be to me the most attractive of all the callings of life, save that one in which I have spent my days. I have wished to commend the great doctrine of the Christian atonement to a mind accustomed to contemplate the nature and the obligation of law. It is no secret to you that my own mind was early skeptical on the whole subject of religion, and I may say to you now that on no doctrine of the Christian faith have I found that early skepticism give me more embarrassment than on the doctrine of the atonement. This book is the result of my best efforts to meet the difficulties, in this aspect of the subject, which have occurred to me, and which have so much perplexed me.
I have supposed that there were other minds in the same state in which my own has been, and that they would gladly welcome an attempt to solve their difficulties on this great subject. In preparing this work I have had in my imagination such a mind constantly before me, and have endeavoured _ with what success others must judge _ to answer the questions which I have supposed a mind of that class, and in that state, would be disposed to ask.
You will not regard it, I am sure, as an improper reflection if I use the plural form and say that we are now approaching the period when our earthly labours must terminate. In the subject considered in this book we have a common interest, and in the great doctrine which I have attempted to illustrate and defend, I trust we have a common belief, as furnishing the ground of our hope of a better life; and though on the nature of law and government I could hope to say nothing which would be worthy of your attention, yet on the method adopted in the plan of redemption of meeting embarrassments which are universally felt in administering justice, and in dispensing pardon, I may, perhaps, have said something not wholly unworthy of your regard. However that may be, the sending forth of this volume to the world _ perhaps the last which I shall ever submit to that indulgent public for whose favours I cannot be sufficiently thankful _ furnishes me an opportunity of expressing the earnest wish that the evening of your life may be as serene and happy as its mid-day has been prosperous and honoured; and of giving utterance to the hope that, as we began life.together, with similar aspirations in regard to this world, and with similar views on the subject of religion, we may end it with the same hope of a future life founded on the atonement made by the Redeemer, and that to us, in a higher state of being, what is now dark even in that work may be made bright as the noon-day.
I am, with the highest respect,
Sincerely and truly yours,
Philadelphia, Oct. 26, 1858.
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