« PrécédentContinuer »
THOU HAST SENT ME.
Whoever may peruse these pages, would do well to begin by seeking a spirit kindred to His, who, under the gathering night of his last agonies, offered this comprehensive petition : Neither pray I for these alone; but for them also which shall believe on me through their word : THAT ONE; as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us : THAT THE WORLD
If our views and feelings accord to this prayer, we shall perceive that no measures can secure its answer, which do not come in collision with at least so much of the present sentiment and conduct of religious men, as constitutes the basis of their divided and distracted condition. Moreover, a heart that truly accords to this prayer will desire peace so much, as to receive with meekness and self-examination, every instance of such collision with its own established habits and convictions. It is the part of humility to suspect that there may be something connected with our own views, feelings or measures to foreclose the answer of this divinely dictated prayer.
The circumstances immediately concerned in bringing this work before the public, will be seen from the advertisemci, on a previous page. The most of it was written with great haste, to have it
ready at the time specified for the receipt of the manuscripts. And should the marks of that haste appear in its present form, it must be considered, that the author felt it to be necessary to ascertain its exact bearings upon the different portions of the spiritual Israel, by subjecting it to their inspection, in order to qualify him for guarding his statements and for putting the work into a form which should best adapt it to the end which he has in view. The longest assignable period of private thought and labor upon it, though it might have secured for him more credit as a writer, would not probably have obviated any of those more prominent faults which may disappoint his hope of doing good. Indeed, though the work has been rapidly written, and amid the pressure of other cares too, yet it is the fruit of long continued thinking and of much careful observation.
We consecrate it to the use of God's people, with this special request, that those who detect or expose its errors, do it solely with reference to prescribing
, more efficacious specifics for healing the dissensions of the spiritual family. We have long proved the blessing and the curse of division,-suppose we now resort to union and brotherly love to see whether the kingdom of Christ and that truth of which we are so jealous, will not flourish quite as well under their influence. Is it not worthy of the experiment ? Perhaps we may find love and unity a more excellent way than division.
We hope our christian brethren will consider, that we have fixed no stakes about which to contend ; and
we trust that nothing we have said will be met in this spirit. It were better that a millstone were hanged about our neck and that we were drowned in the depth of the sea, than that we should add another to the occasions of angry debate, or of unhappy offence to the little ones which believe in Jesus. But should our remarks on any point be esteemed as a signal for war, and met in this spirit, we are quite sure that the blows will all be on one side. We are willing to explain where our meaning is not clear ; to modify our statements where they are shown to be unguarded ; and we may be induced to recant some cardinal principle of our work; but more than this in the form of rejoinder we cannot promise. May Heaven preserve us from converting our efforts at peace into a means of strife.
Rochester, November, 1837.
Set phrases in any subject, but most of all in those of an intellectual and religious character, become, in time, a sort of incrusta. tion to cover the primary elements of truth from our view. Hence; they must be broken up by means of new combinations of thought and expression, that thus our concern may be with ideas and not merely with their signs. This consideration, we trust, will be sufficient to secure us against the imputation of affecting to be singular or original in our use of language, That no confusion, however, may arise in the mind of our readers from this source, we append this explanatory note.
1. The terms, facts, matters of fact, inspired sense, thought, phenomena or subject-matter, revealed statements or materials, and the like, as applied to our subject, we use with reference to the identical meaning or ideas conveyed by the words of Scripture, when interpreted according to the established laws of philology. The sense, or the sum of the sense, which these words convey as thus interpreted, we conceive to be that, and only that, to which God has affixed the seal of inspiration and miracles; and hence, apart from the concurrent light of natural religion upon some of its features, constitutes our only legitimate materials of theological investigation,
2.,The terms, abstractions, nice definitions, articles of "faith, sectarian systems, deductions, organized modes of thinking, and the like, as standing in opposition to the foregoing, we use with reference to two classes of subjects.
1. We apply them to those trains of thought or reasoning, as embodied in articles of faith or otherwise presented, which are founded wholly or in part, upon some axiom of philosophy, some real or supposed law of mind, or other basis existing apart from the sense of Scripture as legitimately interpreted. We do not mean to intimate that an abstraction cannot be true, or that, if true, it is not in its department a matter of fact. That every effect must have a cause, might be called an abstract matter of fact, though there were po two beings in the universe sustaining to each other the relation of cause and effect.
But in the use of these terms, we have in view the results which follow, from reasoning on premises, whether they be true or false, which are foreign to the sense conveyed by the language of the Bible; and then proceeding to adjust our idea of the religion taught in that Book, in some or all of its features, so as to make it suit the principles which we have thus ascertained, as we suppose, to be well authenticated. Take, for example, the incontrovertible axiom that every effect must have a cause ; and then conduct on its basis such a conclusive train of reasoning in regard to the cause of moral action, as Edwards has done in his work upon the Will; still, it would not,' in our view, be safe to employ it in the interpretation