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SECOND SERIES, NO. I.—WHOLE NO. XXXIII.
By the Editor.
IT has been the fate of most periodical publications in our country, whether political, literary or theological, to be of short continuance. They have been commenced, each in its turn, to meet an exigency. As the exigency has ceased, the periodical has passed out of existence or assumed a character supposed to be better adapted to the changed position of things.
Such a result was to be expected in a condition of society so rapidly advancing as that of the North American States. A few years only, in most sections of this country, produce such changes in the number of the population, their wealth, and the state of education, as demand new facilities of supply and improvement. Institutions of learning have thus been multiplied, each of which has been anxious to avail itself of the influence of a separate periodical to subserve its own interests, as well as to promote the general cause of education. Other sectional or party interests have often been found to conflict with each other. These too have demanded, for a time, the support of rival publications which have ceased with the occasions that produced them; and the conductors of the periodical press, like other men, are not suffered to continue by reason of death. Their works fall into the hands of new proprietors and editors, whose
talents and relations fit them for other spheres of real or supposed usefulness, and thus the identity of their publications, though continued with no change of name or of declared object, is frequently lost in the progress of events.
There are, however, certain departments of knowledge, which the periodical press is adapted to promote and which are of universal and perpetual interest to mankind. Religion, sacred philology, morals, politics, the natural sciences, etc. are of this sort. For the support of instruction adapted to these and similar subjects, the exigency, in an advancing state of society, never ceases. The demand is perpetually growing, and to meet it in the best manner, periodical publications are essential. Whatever changes may be produced in the external form of these publications, and in their modes of discussion, by the causes already noticed, in some form, and in a manner adapted to their end, they must be sustained, or society will retrograde.
Yet, even in regard to topics of universal interest and necessity, it may not be wise to continue a periodical for many years in an unbroken series. However ably conducted, and however valuable may be its contents, when it is extended beyond ten or twenty volumes, the work becomes heavy. Many, who do not possess the means to purchase the whole, would gladly own a portion of it. But so long as it is continued unbroken, it is the same work, whatever changes it may undergo. The purchaser knows not where to break the series, and whatever portion of it he may procure, he will possess but a fragment of the whole. To obviate this inconvenience, and at the same time to preserve the value of the entire work for such as are able to own it, experience has taught the conductors of the press that it is wise, as often as the termination of every ten or twelve years, to interrupt the series of their periodicals and commence. them anew. This is convenient for purchasers and subscribers. It also furnishes a proper occasion for any change in the name or character of a work, which circumstances may render expedient, the better to accomplish the object of its continuance.
The editor, who is also now a proprietor of the Repository, has been induced, by the foregoing considerations, to commence a new series with the present Number. It will not, however, be a new work. The new series is a continuation of the old, with only such changes in the plan of the publication, (not affecting its leading characteristics, and objects,) as have been suggested by considerations of support and usefulness. The
principal object of this measure is to accommodate new subscribers who may not feel able to purchase the former volumes of the work.
The BIBLICAL REPOSITORY was commenced in 1830. Its object was to collect and embody matters of permanent value relating to the literature of the Scriptures and to questions growing out of that literature. Articles to some extent were also inserted pertaining to sacred rhetoric, historical theology and other subjects adapted to promote the advancement of sound biblical and theological learning. The work was conducted four years under the charge of Professor Robinson, then of Andover, its founder and original editor, whose learned labors received the high approbation of eminent christian scholars and divines in this and in foreign lands.
In January, 1835, the Repository passed into the hands of Mr. B. B. Edwards, as editor, who continued to conduct it with distinguished ability until January 1838. Since that time it has been under the charge of the present editor, and has reached its twelfth volume.
In the hands of Professor Edwards both the plan and the size of the Repository were enlarged by uniting with it the "American Quarterly Observer," and by embracing the principal topics to which that work had been devoted. These were the discussion of those principles of literature, politics, morals and religion, which are of general interest and are recognized as such by the mass of Christians. With this enlargement of plan the work received a considerable increase of subscribers, which have continued, with but little variation in number, to the present time. It has, however, never been well supported, though highly valued by the learned and intelligent generally.
The object of its founder was to produce a work distinctively and mainly biblical. The christian public having failed to sustain that original design with sufficient liberality, the object of all subsequent arrangements has been, without changing materially its biblical character, to give such enlargement and variety to the work as to make it more acceptable and useful to the mass of the intelligent and the educated, and thus to secure that increase of pecuniary patronage which is essential to its ample support.
It has been the aim of the present editor, as well as of his immediate predecessor, by concentrating the largest possible
amount of talent and patronage in one publication, to augment the power and usefulness of the periodical press. In one respect this object has been attained to the full extent of their reasonable expectations. A work has been produced which holds. a high rank in the estimation of learned and christian scholars both in this country and in Europe. It has already become so interwoven with the American Biblical and General Literature, and, to some extent, with the important theological discussions of the times, that no biblical scholar or clergyman can well do without it. It is extensively quoted in Lexicons and other learned works, and is not only a valuable, but almost an indispensable appendage to a good theological or biblical library. In this respect there is no lack of material or of talent to continue the work with the same elevated character, and greatly to increase its permanent value. The editor is assured of the coöperation of a sufficient number of the best writers in this country, and of some in foreign lands. His principal solicitude is to obtain such an increased circulation of the work as shall enable him to afford a suitable compensation to writers, and in other respects to sustain it on a liberal scale.
To secure a still greater union of talent, as well as support, to the Repository, the present proprietors have purchased the subscription list of the "QUARTERLY CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR," heretofore published in New Haven, and have induced the proprietor of that work to discontinue its publication from and after the commencement of the current year. As many of the learned and talented writers, whose contributions have hitherto sustained the high character of that publication, will be expected hereafter to enrich the pages of our work, it is hoped that most of the readers of the Spectator, who are not already subscribers to the Repository, will transfer to the latter the patronage which they have heretofore given to the former.
In thus entering upon field which has heretofore been occupied by another publication, the editor is aware that he has assumed new responsibilities of great delicacy and importance. He has, however, in making this arrangement, carefully avoided coming under any obligations in regard to positions heretofore maintained, or opposed, in the Spectator. His responsibilities will extend only to such articles as shall be offered for publication in his own work, of the propriety of whose introduction he will be the sole judge. In this way it is hoped that a profitable direction will be given to some existing controver
sies, while new discussions may be commenced with great promise of usefulness and harmony. Writers will be relieved from the embarrassments of any personal conflicts or misunderstandings, into which they may have fallen in the support of former positions, and will be encouraged to commence anew the discussion of such topics as shall be judged important to the illustration of the christian system. The editor, in the mean time, (if he may be permitted, informally, to assume that office,) will serve his brethren, as Moderator, to decide all points of order among the contributors to the work. He will not, however, be responsible for the correctness of every sentiment which may be advanced by writers. As a general rule, each article will be published with the name of its author, who will be held responsible for the defence of his own positions, while the editor will guard against the introduction of articles of hurtful tendency, or which contain sentiments unworthy of a candid discussion in a work of this character. He thus proposes to allow as much freedom of inquiry and discussion as can be reasonably desired, and at the same time to preserve that courtesy and personal respect between writers of differing views, which is as essential to the highest usefulness of their productions, as it is to the preservation of harmony and brotherly love among the writers themselves.
By the expressions of approbation which have been received from all to whom the foregoing suggestions have been submitted, the editor is encouraged to expect the happiest results from their accomplishment. After much deliberation, therefore, and a consultation with his brethren, as extensive as has been in his power, he has determined on the following enlargement of the plan of the Repository. It will bereafter be denominated, as in the present No., THE AMERICAN BIBLICAL REPOSITORY. Devoted to Biblical and General Literature, Theological Discussion, the History of Theological Opinions, etc.
In thus extending the title of the work the editor designs to express more fully, in the first of the explanatory clauses, what the Repository has been almost from its commencement. has never been wholly biblical, but has embraced general literature and other matters of permanent value. These characteristics it is proposed still to retain, and to make the first of them, as it ever has been, a prominent and leading characteristic of the work, to whatever variety of topics it may be extended. theology, as well as its literature, is designed to be distinctively biblical.