The title of the present volume will sufficiently explain its character and design. Unlike the previous productions of the same pen, it presents no continuity of subject- each chapter forming a uniting link in the chain of the discussion; but it exhibits a variety of themes, having no essential relation to each other, except that which the rays of light may be said to possess- each flowing from the same source, and converging to the same center. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Sun of the Christian system. He is the Fountain and the embodiment of all divine and spiritual truth. Every truth proceeds from, and leads to, him. The mind is furnished with real knowledge in proportion to its advance in the 'knowledge of Christ Jesus'. We hesitate not emphatically to affirm, that there is absolute darkness in the soul of man- be his attainments in human knowledge profound and brilliant as they may; if "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has not shined in his heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Oh! what is the real value of all his boasted knowledge apart from this?

What though the philosopher has ransacked all the mysteries of nature, if he is yet ignorant of the God of nature, as revealed through Christ? What though the astronomer revels amid the glories of the material heavens, if he is experimentally unacquainted with the path by which he may arrive at the glories of the heaven of heavens? What though the geometrician may be able to measure all quantity, if he has not bestowed a serious thought upon the measureless eternity upon which he is soon to enter? And what though the physician, skilled in the science of healing, is able to baffle every form of bodily disease, if he has no knowledge, in the cure of his own spiritual distemper, of the balm that is in Gilead, and of the Physician who is there? We ask, what real good, as it regards themselves, does it avail ? None whatever. See the vanity of all human knowledge, weighed with the momentous interests of an eternal world, except that which makes us it wise unto salvation.

It has been the aim of the writer in the following pages to exhibit this all-important truth, prominently and in various points of light. The work, in consequence, may be found to address itself more immediately to an unrenewed state of mind, or to a mind theoretically, but not experimentally, acquainted with the gospel, than perhaps may please the taste, or realize the expectation of some. Nevertheless, the writer trusts, that minds matured in grace may here and there obtain a glimpse of Jesus and of his truth- dim and imperfect though it may be- which, with the accompanying blessing of the Holy Spirit, will instruct and comfort, sanctify and stimulate the soul in the heavenly way.

It is proper briefly to allude to the history of this work. Scotland is its birth-place. It contains the substance of a few discourses which the author delivered from the pulpit of different Christian denominations, during a recent visit to that magnificent and interesting land. Yielding to the desire of several, for whom he cherishes the tenderest Christian love- albeit, in this instance, he may not commend the partiality of their judgment- they are snatched from assigned oblivion, and now appear in another, and a permanent form. The author has no idea that the solicitation of friends to publish is always a valid plea for inflicting a new volume upon the public. Nor has it in the present case, he thinks, blinded his eye to the very imperfect manner in which he has performed his task. And yet but for this prompting, which he would sincerely trace to a higher influence, he had never undertaken it. If, however, the same blessed Spirit who condescended to speak by these truths from the pulpit, will, to the same extent, speak by them from the press, the utmost wish of the author's heart will be granted. He cannot refrain from saying, that his work is literally ushered into the world upon the breath of prayer. The intimations which he has received from various quarters, of the especial and fervent supplications which have been made in its behalf, encourage him to hope that much glory to the Lord will accrue from this feeble production of his pen.

The author cannot close this allusion to the origin of his volume, without being permitted to remark, that one, who earnestly pleaded for its publication, has since then passed away from earth, to the world of full revelation, of complete holiness, and of perfect love. The event has had the effect, he trusts, of imparting to his own mind, in tracing these pages, more vivid and realizing views of eternity. Strange though it may appear, he has felt a consciousness of her nearness, more palpable and sweet, than when last he bowed with her at the throne of grace, and in the midst of her own domestic circle. The home of the glorified is of more easy access, in the spirit's travel, than any home of earth. In the realization of faith, and in the anticipations of hope, and in the yearnings of love, Heaven is a nearer point. It is with the immaterial that we have communion; it is with mind that we converse; it is with spirit that we blend. And the more full their development, and the more complete their nature, the sweeter is the communion, and the higher is the enjoyment. And yet, though thus exercising that "faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," we are forced to exclaim, "O the mystery of the invisible world! Where are the loved, the beautiful, and the holy, who have flitted from us and have disappeared? Do they know us- do they see us- do they attend us- do they love us still?

But this we do know- that they are holy and happy, for they are with Christ, and are like him. And of this, too, we may be well assured, that to us the awful mystery will soon be explained; and we who are now wondering at the departed, will be 'wondered at,' for we shall mingle with the 'spirits of just men made perfect,' 'knowing even as we are known.'

But let us follow her, as she followed Christ. She loved the Lord- she lived for the Lord- and she waited and looked for the coming of the Lord- and now she is forever with the Lord. She needs not these partial and shadowy 'glimpses of the truth as it is in Jesus;' for the full, the unclouded vision of the Lamb is hers. She has passed within the veil, where the Forerunner had for her entered, and she has 'come to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant,' and she sees him, not 'through a glass darkly,' -but face to face. Her posture was always that of a lowly sinner, leaning in simple faith upon the atoning work of Immanuel. Her natural amiability and loveliness, great and admired as they were, never concealed from her view the plague of her own heart, nor beguiled her from the great truth, that only as she stood in the righteousness of the incarnate Son, could she appear with acceptance in the presence of the holy Lord God.

Never was there an instance of more entire laying down of self at the foot of the cross, drawing from it the motives that led to a simple and unreserved surrender to the Lord. Thus clothed in the "righteousness of God," we believe that she is 'without fault before the throne,' adoring the grace that brought her there.