Images de page
PDF
ePub

It is related that King James, after perusing Calderwood's Altare Damascenum, or defence of Presbyterianism, sat for some time looking very pensive. “Let not that trouble your Majesty," said one of his bishops to whom he explained his sadness ; "I shall soon answer it.” “Answer what, man?" replied the King. “THERE IS NOTHING HERE BUT REASON, SCRIPTURE

AND THE FATHERS."

THIS VOLUME

IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED

TO THE

PRESBYTERIAN, CONGREGATIONAL, REFORMED DUTCH, GERMAN

LUTHERAN, METHODIST, AND BAPTIST DENOMINATIONS,

[blocks in formation]

PREFACE.

As a sufficient demand has been made upon the patience of the reader, in the body of this work, it will not be increased by any lengthened preface. All that will be done, therefore, will be to offer a few words of explanation.

As to the necessity of the work, nothing need be said. This is now universally admitted. A renewed and thorough discussion of the great principles involved in the exclusive assumptions of prelacy, is forced upon us by the open and repeated assaults made by this bold enemy, upon the rights and privileges of all other christian denominations. The conviction is therefore general, that this controversy must become the leading topic of the age. Manuals are needed, ecclesiastical catechisms are needed, tracts, sermons, and discourses are needed, and treatises, like the present, are also needed. The one does not supersede the other, nor render it the less necessary. Let every man, in his place, and according to his opportunity, come up to the help of the cause of truth, charity, purity, and liberty, against a power which is once more forging for us the chains of spiritual despotism and superstition.

The aim of this work is catholic, and not sectarian. The author appears as the advocate, not of a party, but of all nonepiscopal denominations. He includes under the term presbytery, those generic principles which are common to Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Reformed Dutch, Lutherans, Baptists, and Methodists. In some points he will be found differing with members of each of these bodies, but most generally he hopes to be found agreeing with the liberal-minded of them all. He would reclaim for all these parties the application, in a wide sense, of the term presbytery. He would thus hope to draw closer the bonds of christian truth, harmony, and affection, by which we are leagued together. This work he offers to them all, as a peace-offering—an Irenicum-and a challenge to greater union and coöperation against our common foes. Our differences are few, compared to our points of agreement. They are as nothing, when once contrasted with those walls of separation, by which prelatists and Romanists would exclude us from any inheritance in Israel. The Philistines are upon us. They have vowed the destruction of our citadels. They build their hopes upon our disunion. Divided we fall, but united we are sure of victory. Shall we not, then, rally around the standard of our common principles, and pour our united forces upon our common enemies, for the defence of our common rights? If this work shall in any measure foster this spirit, and promote these ends, the labors of its author will be rewarded. It was, of course, necessary for him to speak as a presbyterian, in the strict meaning of that word, and in many cases to draw his illustrations from this denominational system, to which he is conscientiously attached, and to explain and defend it against misrepresentations. But, in the main arguments of the work, there will be nothing, he hopes, to offend any.

The design of this work was to condense the substance of the innumerable treatises which have been written on the subject, and to arrange their various topics in a more complete and comprehensive order, so as to present them in as perfect, clear, and satisfactory a manner, as the limits of a single volume will permit. How far the author has succeeded, he leaves the reader to determine. He hopes that in the arrangement, in many of the arguments, in many of the topics introduced, and in the whole spirit and bearing of the work, there will be found sufficient originality to interest those who are most familiar with the subject. No expense has been spared in collecting in London, and on the Continent, all that is valuable, and that was procurable, on this great controversy. Of the toil undergone for years past, in perusing, collating, and digesting these works,

« PrécédentContinuer »