These lectures of Cunningham were first delivered in Edinburgh during the 1840s to first year seminary students who hoped to become ministers in the Free Church of Scotland. They were first published in 1878, some 17 years after Cunningham’s death, on request of his former students.
A new, paraphrased kindle edition is now available on Amazon.
The new preface (by the book’s new editor), in part says this:
The lectures by William Cunningham…, after dealing with some important preliminary matters, became an exposition of the first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith. As such, it is a commentary on the nature of the Bible.
This work is not simply a reprint of William Cunningham’s original theological lectures. They have been paraphrased and revised to make them a little more accessible to modern readers. As such, this work is not a suitable source for academic research or referencing. The originally published text of 1878 should be used for such purposes. I hope, however, that this edited version will give the reader easier access to the theological perspectives of William Cunningham.
The text as I have amended it is still essentially a 19th century document. Many of the forms of expression are from the 1840s. Nevertheless, its language has been ‘straightened out’ by shortening very long sentences, turning passive voice to active in places, and translating the occasional Latin quotations into English. In a few places I have summarised Cunningham’s words rather than rearranged them. I have also made the language more inclusive by replacing the word ‘man’ with ‘person’, or like term, except where I believe Cunningham unambiguously meant adult male person or persons.
Cunningham’s lectures were originally published … to meet a perceived need. Some ministers of the Free Church of Scotland believed that their church was departing from its scriptural and confessional standards. They hoped that these introductory theological lectures, which they had heard from Principal Cunningham during the early 1840s, might aid the cause of Biblical truth.
Much has occurred theologically since 1878, and not all of the changes have been for the betterment of the Christian church. I believe that the theological lectures of William Cunningham can be an encouragement to Christians today – particularly to students of theology – because they state positive truths clearly. They also correct some wrong views about the Bible that are still held and promoted today. Cunningham identified and refuted them some 180 years ago.