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"Theological Discussion and the History of Theological Opinions" are now added to meet the arrangement already referred to, and an exigency which is believed to exist in our country at the present time.

For a number of years past there has been an extraordinary agitation of the public mind on the subject of theological doctrines. The signal blessing of God upon the churches, in numerous and extended revivals of religion, has been attended with instances of extravagance and enthusiasm. These have been regarded by some with simple regret, by others with alarm and distrust. Opinions have also been broached by bold and zealous preachers, which have been assailed by others as erroneous in principle and of dangerous tendency. Animated discussion has ensued, in which distinguished clergymen and the Professors in several of our Theological Seminaries have taken part. Religious periodicals have assumed these debates, and have thus served to sustain, for a time, the several parties or sectional interests which produced them. In many instances also newspapers have taken up the disputes which have arisen. The combatants have thus exposed themselves to numerous points of attack;—and, being pressed on every side, have been driven, as it were, by a sort of self-supporting impulse, to the unprofitable work of personal defence and crimination. Thus, to a lamentable extent, not only in the weekly sheet, but also in the monthly and quarterly periodical, many writers have seemed almost to lose sight of the principles in question, and have indulged their own excited feelings and amused a portion of the public, (to little profit,) in discussing the men, and not the principles, which at first provoked them to controversy.

Differences of opinion and of practice in regard to ecclesiastical order and discipline, and the forms of benevolent action, have been added to the existing diversities of theological views to separate brethren of the same essential faith and increase the acrimony of their disputes. Distrust and suspicion have thus been promoted and extended, until large portions of the church and of its ministers, who might otherwise walk together in delightful harmony, are divided asunder.

The causes which have produced this state of things are worthy of serious consideration and a candid review. How much of it may be justly attributed to the influence of periodicals and papers, each having a limited circulation and being read only by its own partizans, it is not easy to judge. It cannot be

doubted, however, that many of the calamities referred to have come upon us from these sources. The vehicles of public instruction and discussion, which ought to be bonds of union and peace, have, in too many instances, been the occasions, however unintentionally, of disunion and alienation. This has become not only a real, but an acknowledged evil. The wisest and best men of every school, whose prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved, and made the light of the world, are looking with intense interest for its correction. It can be corrected;—and to many the state of the public mind appears to present a high degree of encouragement to the effort for this purpose at the present time. A large majority of intelligent Christians, of different denominations, it is believed, have become tired of the existing personal warfare. They sigh for the calm and candid discussion of the points of religious truth which have been brought into controversy. They are partizans, not from choice, but by a sort of necessity. And what is that necessity? It is that the conductors of the periodical press have so generally introduced a partizan theology, a partizan benevolence, and a partizan literature. If a reader of one publication of this character drops it, and gives his patronage to another, he gains little or nothing, in this respect, by the exchange, so long as both are alike partizan and exclusive. And this will not cease to be the case, so long as each party in the church shall continue to issue and sustain its own separate periodical. Their readers must submit to be partizans, or by taking them all, at an expense which few can afford, be thrown into confusion, and distrust of all, by the conflicts which they often raise on the simplest principles of Christianity.

The most effectual relief from these embarrassments which can be proposed, it is believed, will be to concentrate in one periodical, as far as shall be found to be practicable, the talent and patronage which have heretofore been devoted to the support of different publications. In this way a work may be produced which shall be truly American, as well as biblical and orthodox, an honor to our country no less than to the cause of literature and religion. Thus associated in the organ of their communications to the public, writers would conduct their discussions with the knowledge of each other's positions, and with a common, and not with a rival interest in the success and usefulness of the work. They would almost of necessity become more guarded and courteous, and, their productions being examined,

not by different editors, without concert, but by a single judge of their fitness, who is equally indebted to all and equally devoted to the interests of all, the temptation and the exposure to wrangling disputes will be vastly diminished. The readers too of such a publication would soon learn that, with all the diversities of views which it might exhibit on the minor and debatable points of theology, there is a unity of essential faith among all who love our Lord Jesus Christ. They would be conscious of the freedom of their own opinions, and of the influence of calm and dignified biblical discussion and exposition to elicit truth and impress it on the mind. A work thus conducted, it might be hoped, next to the influence of associated action to promote the conversion of the world, would tend to make the mass of Christians ONE, in the true sense of the sublime intercessory prayer of our Saviour.

Such a

Whether the Repository shall be made the organ of such a concentration of talent and of salutary influences as are here suggested and invited, they who, under God, have the power to exert or to withhold such influences will determine. The editor, however, is by no means so sanguine as to hope for the immediate coöperation of all parties in the church. result, at once, is rather to be desired than expected. Yet an approximation to it may be practicable without delay. A large majority of our christian scholars and able divines, it is believed, are prepared to associate in the diligent study of the Scriptures, apart from the influence of what may be peculiar in their several creeds and confessions. They are, in fact, thus associated already; and nothing is wanting but a common organ of communication to make it manifest to all. The progress which has already been made in sacred philology and exegesis has brought the mass of the educated upon common ground. They have learned to interpret the Bible according to the common laws of language, and that it is orthodox fearlessly to abide the issue of such an interpretation. Original investigation, therefore, and free and fair biblical exposition and argument must go on and prevail. The strength of the church is in this ;-and whatever else in Christianity is excellent and glorious, it is by the diligent and prayerful study of the Bible by each generation of scholars and divines, for themselves, that intellectual vigor and pure and undefiled religion can be maintained on the earth. But they who thus study the Bible are not divided. They derive their learning from the same original source, and use sub

stantially the same helps. They are ready, unless prevented by party influences derived from other associations, to unite in a common effort to inculcate a knowledge of the Bible and of its doctrines upon others. They have one end in view, and why should they not be associated in their endeavors to accomplish it?

In soliciting the free discussion of all biblical subjects and theological doctrines, it may be proper to remark, to prevent a suspicion of the contrary, that the editor regards the great fundamental doctrines of the christian system as settled. On these he supposes the writers who will unite to sustain the Repository are substantially agreed. They may be viewed, however, in numerous and widely different aspects and bearings, and may be profitably discussed, elucidated and defended. There are, also, numerous secondary and explanatory doctrines, which are matters of opinion, and not essential to the true faith. Yet, in their tendencies, they may affect, more or less, the power of fundamental truths, and thus become the subjects of intensely interesting and important discussion.

The principal fundamental doctrines, on which it is supposed all Christians are substantially agreed, and which are proposed as subjects of investigation and defence in this work, we shall state with some accuracy, to assure our readers, that in the freedom of discussion which we invite, the foundations of religious truth shall not be endangered. To secure a favorable hearing, especially from the great body of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches, as they are at present diversified with shades of differences in theological opinions, our statement of doctrines has been copied from the correspondence between Dr. Woods and Dr. Beecher in 1832, as published in the "Spirit of the Pilgrims," Vol. V. p. 496 seq. In this statement the two distinguished and enlightened divines above named express their cordial agreement. They also express it as their united opinion" that, with few exceptions, the ministers of the orthodox Congregational church in New England, together with most, if not all of the Presbyterian ministers, throughout the United States, will give their full assent to this statement." They also regarded it as " a solid basis of ministerial fellowship and cooperation." It is as follows:

1. Being and Attributes of God.

God is a Being of infinite perfections, both natural and moral,



and, in consistency with his unity, exists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

2. Decrees and Providence of God.

The design of God in all his works is the manifestation of his glory in the holiness and happiness of a moral kingdom. His plan for the execution of this design comprehends the creation of a universe of free, rational, accountable, and immortal beings, under the government of perfect laws perfectly administered.

The purposes of God are, like his nature, eternal, wise, just, good, immutable, and universal, extending to, and implying the certainty of, whatsoever comes to pass; and yet, by his providential administration, events are so ordered, that they" fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently;" and so that "thereby God is not the author of sin, nor is violence done to the will of the creature, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established." The providence of God extendeth itself to the "sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.'

3. Original Rectitude and Fall of Man.

Our first parents were in the beginning holy, after the image of God, to the exclusion of all sin; but by transgression they lost all rectitude, and became as depraved, as they had been holy.

4. Consequences of the Fall upon the Posterity of Adam.

In consequence of the sin of Adam, all his posterity, from the commencement of their moral existence, are destitute of holiness and prone to evil; so that the atoning death of Christ, and the special, renovating influence of the Spirit are indispensable to the salvation of any human being.

* Confession of Faith.

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