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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 perinanent 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, bistorical 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 inportant 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 a 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 hereafter 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 bas been almost from its commencement. It 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. Its theology, as well as its literature, is designed to be distinctively biblical.
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 bis 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 koowledge 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,