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Tas theory and practice of Christianity are as distinct as the theory and practice of medicine. Few persons are eminent in both. The busy theorist has not time to practise; and the busy practitioner has not time to theorize. We teach that right thinking must precede right speaking and right acting; but should we stop at the end of right thinking, and be satisfied with ourselves, we should prove ourselves to be wrong thinkers of no ordinary type.
We have had the Gospel and Christianity restored on paper and in speech: we want to see them living, moving, and acting on the stage of time, on a larger scale and with more brilliant light and power than has hitherto appeared. To this great end we supremely devote, this second volume of the New Series.
The times are yet truly degenerate. It is, indeed, an age of improve ment in every thing but moral and religious living. New roads, canals, cities, and projects innumerable engross the attention of the community; and benevolent schemes, domestic and foreign, have almost exhausted the copiousness of our vernacular for suitable designations. Against all these improvements we utter no complaint; but we do say, that the great multitude of professors are as carnal, selfish, sensual and worldly as ever: that living, talking, acting religion-vital piety-heaven-toned, heaven-taught, heaven-inspired piety and virtue are not the characteristics of the Christian profession in the present century; nor ever will they be while there is so much opinionism and sectarian contentionso much party spirit and party zeal as now urge the movements of ecclesiastic bodies. Multitudes, indeed, yearly assume the Christian Dame,
and of these we doubt not there are many excellent spirits determined for eternal life; but what are these to the great aggregate! How few congregations, neighborhoods, families, and even individuals, are living as though they were seeking the eternal city—the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens as though they earnestly desired the coming of the Lord and the glories that shall follow!
To extend the Christian profession, rather than to elevate it, has been too much the spirit of modern enterprize. To extend it is, indeed, most desirable and most oonsonant to the suggestions of the Christian spirit; but few seem to apprehend that to elevate it is the surer and speedier way to extend it. The boundaries between the church and the world are not sufficiently prominent to strike the attention of the truly inquisitive. The heavenly character of Christ's religion is so deeply veiled under the garb of expedient conformity to worldly maxims and worldly interests, that it is too dimly seen to command the attention of even those who ardently seck for some substantial joys to fill an empty mind.
Our brethren in the cause of reformation are indeed surrounded with some unpropitious circumstances. They began with theory, and their opponents are determined always to keep them in it. The reformer is too often regarded as the assailant, and the objects of his benevolence feel as though they ought to stand upon the defensive. So have we been often regarded. But while we earnestty contend for the faith anciently delivered, we ought to remember that even that faith was delivered for the sake of its living, active, and eternal fruits.
We say that we intend the second volume to have a supreme regard to the practical side of the questions introduced. It will no doubt be . still somewhat controversial. While error, immorality, and impiety are on earth, every good man must, less or more, be a controversialisi. Not to be a controversialist is not to be a Christian in such cases. But a controversy for opinions, for abstractions, is only an abuse of the freedom of speech-and of this sort there have been already many thousands too many. Whatever can purify the heart, enlarge the soul, refine the manners, and elevate the aspirations of Christians, we regard as fairly practical. And in order to personal excellence and happiness, there is nothing more direct and potent than a full discharge of relative duties. On these, then, we must labor more and more; for of this species of labor we daily perceive a growing, a rapidly increasing need.
The passion for wealth and power was never more active and impetuous in any community than it now appears to be in these United States. The very frame of our government, our constitution, laws, bills of rights, are all occasionally defied, and trodden under foot, and threatened with utter prostration and ruin at the impulse of these passions. Mobs, arson, murder, in order to put down offensive opinions, or to prevent the discus, sion of them, are now the order of the day; and all opinions are fast becoming offensive which impede, even by the restraints of civil institutions, the passion for wealth and power.
Such, alas! being the facts, the undeniable facts, too well proved already in surrounding society, how, we ask, ought Christians to watch and pray that they may not be abandoned to temptation-that they may be kept pure and unspotted from the vices of this age? To those desirous to make their calling and election sure, we desire to lend a helping hand in the following volume.
A. CAMPBELL, December 6th, 1837.
Nosx but the Author of human nature could have suggested such a moral code as the Christian Scriptures have promulged to the world. The reason is obvious. A perfect and infallible knowledge of the whole constitution of man, as an animal, intellectual, and moral being of all his relations to that whole universe of which he is a part, is essentially prerequisite to the author of a perfect moral system. For, in our estimation, a perfect moral system is one adapted to human nature in all its attitudes and relations to the universe. Now such a knowledge of the human constitution, and of the whole universe, no mere man, however gifted by nature, or cultivated by art, has ever possessed. Therefore, a perfect moral code out of the Bible is not to be expected or found in all the learning and science of the world.
But we need not to assume the peerless endowments of the Author of the Christian moral code, in proof of the superexcelJency of the system: for the impress of Omnipotence is not more clearly stamped upon the miracles, nor the attributes of Omniscience more legibly written upon the doctrine, than are infinite purity, wisdom, and benevolence inscribed upon the morality of the Gospel. The Divine excellence of its moral precepts as
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loudly proclaim its celestial descent, and as irresistibly command the homage of the heart, as the sublime originality of its conmunications, and the unparalleled glory of its supernatural and monumental attestations. In one word, its faith, its morality, and its miracles' are, to the eye of the most enlightened reason, equally original, heavenly, and divine.
The moral institutes of the most cultivated and refined lawgivers of the Pagan world were all more or less defective in three respects—they wanted truth, notive, and authority. As it respected truth, the requisitions themselves were sometimes in the nature of things wrong, or were not in harmony with the whole universe; as respected motives, they were not only oftentimes false, but even when true and proper, they were too weak for the strength of human passion; and as respected the lawgivers or authors of those systems, they wanted authority--their jurisdictin was restricted to the outward actions—they took no cognizance of the fountain whence issue all the actions of men, and had not the power to reward and punish in accordance with merit and demerit. These three advantages the Christian system possesses above all others:The things commanded are in their own nature right and good, because in harmony with the whole universe, as well as with the whole constitution of the individual; in the second place, the motives are addressed to the whole nature of man, and superadd to the present utility and fitness of things, an augmentation of bliss in the enlargement of his capacities for enjoyment, and in the future elevation of his rank, condition, and circumstances; and in the third place, the supereminent dignity of the Author of the system, and his almighty ability to retribute to every man in accordance with all his thoughts, words, and actions. These elevate the Messiah's code of morals incomparably above all the systems of all men, in all the ages of the world. Compared with the wisdom, simplicity, purity, and systematic harmony of the institutes of Jesus, the systems of the moral
sages and the most profound theories of the ethical philosophers of the Pagan nations, are weak, puerile, and inefficient.They are like the feeble and remote twinklings of the most dis. tant stars, in contrast with the bright and glowing effulgence of a midsummer noon.