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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY 653006

ASTOR, LENOX AND
TILDEN FOUNDATIONE.
R
1311

L

W
THEN an attempt was made, eight years since, to establish a

religious work which should so far unite the feelings of the Christian community as to secure its permanency, it was regarded by many as but the repetition of an experiment which had uniformly failed. The Christian Spectator has however held on its way. It has gradually widened its circulation and increased its influence, till it has obtained such a hold on the public estimation as promises, with the divine blessing, to perpetuate its usefulness.

At the close of the eighth volume it has been deemed expedient to commence a new series. An opportunity is thus furnished for some modifications of the plan of the work, which seemed desirable, as well as some improvement in its mechanical execution.

It was thought necessary, at the commencement of the Christian Spectator, that the principles on which it was to be conducted should be stated with great distinctness. In the original prospectus its friends pledged themselves that it should be the advocate of that system of doctrines which has generally prevailed in the Congregational and Presbyterian churches; and that, while in consistency with the true spirit of Protestantism, a proper latitude of discussion should be allowed, the work should not be suffered to inculcate essential error. To these principles they will still adhere.

That the Christian Spectator may long continue to be identified with the progress of truth and righteousness in our land, and its establishment long be remembered with gratitude in the churches, is the earnest prayer of its conductors.

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In this way

IMPORTANCE OF THE DOC- respecting the being and attriTRINES OF THE BIBLE AS CON

butes of God are true, the preNECTED WITH ITS PRECEPTS. cepts to fear, and love, and obey

him, are not only not obligatory, The doctrines of the Bible are but they are without meaning. So statements of facts. For example, if the doctrines of human sinfulness, the doctrine of the trinity is the and of an atonement for sin by the statement of a fact respecting the death of Christ, are not true, there mode of the divine existence. The is no ground on which to enjoin the doctrine of God's eternal purposes precepts, to repent, and believe, is the statement of a fact respect- and hope for pardon. ing the divine administration. The we might enumerate all the leaddoctrine of human depravity is the ing doctrines of the Bible, and find statement of a fact respecting the that there are corresponding precharacter of man.

cepts, which, without these docThe statement of any historical trines, are, in every respect, nugafact may be called, in the technic- tory; and we may safely say, that al language of theology, a doctrine. if the doctrines of the Bible, considTheologians have selected some of ered as a statement of facts, are the most important and peculiar not true, then the precepts of the facts stated in the Bible, and given Bible, considered as a system of them, by way of eminence, the ap- rules for regulating the conduct of pellation of doctrines : thus the men, are neither obligatory, nor facts stated in the Bible respecting even intelligible. the lost condition of man, and But the doctrines of the Bible are the gospel method of saving him, not important on this ground mereare appropriately denominated, the ly, that they make the precepts inEvangelical Doctrines.

telligible and obligatory ;--these These doctrines of the Bible are doctrines give the precepts all their a divinely authorized statement of efficiency. On the ground before facts ; and, in many instances, of taken, the precepts of the Bible, if facts of which we could not be the doctrines are not true, appear certified in other

way

than by like the enactments of a legislative revelation. As a mere subject of assembly, made on the hypothesis knowledge, therefore, these facts that a certain class of beings and are most worthy of our attention. facts exist, when, in reality, no such But, in addition to this circum- beings and facts ever did exist, or stance, these facts, or doctrines, were supposed to exist, or expectlay the foundation for all the pre- ed ever to exist. There evidently cepts of the Bible,-making the would be no real or conceivable precepts intelligible and obligatory. reason for such enactments. On the Unless, for instance, the doctrines ground which I now take, the pre

any

cepts of the Bible, if the doctrines everlasting life.”-“God commend. are not true, appear like the laws eth his love towards us, in that of such an assembly promulgated while we were yet sinners Christ without being accompanied by a

died for us.”

Now this fact that penalty, or any other suitable in- God first loved him, and has manducement to obedience. In the ifested his love in so affecting a former view, the precept enjoining manner, cannot but be a powerful repentance, for example, might be motive to induce man to obey the the subject of contemplation ; but precept which enjoins love to God, if it was not preceded by the doc. Man may also be powerfully affecttrines that God exists as a lawgiv- ed by objects which are placed in er, and that man has transgressed prospect before him, and which he the divine law ;-ur, if there was naturally desires. This suscepti

-not previously a knowledge of these bility is appealed to in the doctrines two facts,--the precept would be of the gospel. The happiness of unintelligible :-and if the natural heaven is represented as beyond claims of God to the love and obe- what eye hath seen, or ear heard, dience of man were not previous- or heart conceived. The nature of ly seen, the precept would appear this happiness is summarily describunreasonable. Now, in any case, ed by saying, that when Christ to secure obedience to a precept, shall appear the Christian shall be something more is necessary than like him, for he shall see him as he merely that the precept have a is. Such a hope leads a man, in meaning ; and in case where the the language of the Bible, to purify person to whom the precept is give himself, both by the nature of the en is so averse to the duties en objects on which it fixes his mind, joined by it, as man is to the duties and by making him strive to avoid enjoined by the precepts of the Bi- everything which would prevent ble, something more is necessary his attaining to this blessedness. for the purpose of securing this But the doctrine which is adapted obedience, than merely that the most directly to enforce all the precepts be reasonable. The ap- precepts of the Bible, and to operpeal to man's understanding is ate as the most solemn penalty for unsucessful :. You must, therefore, all transgression, is the doctrine present something which shall op- of a future punishment. erate as a motive by appealing to These doctrines of a future state his feelings. This power of oper- of reward and punishment cannot ating on the feelings of man is that fail to give efficiency to the prein which the great importance of cepts which are to regulate the the doctrines of the Bible is most conduct of men. They make a clearly manisest. It arises from the twofold appeal to his interest, and adaptation of these doctrines to thus, by awakening his hope and the nature of man, and to the par- fear, they dissuade and deter him ticular precepts which they are de- from sin.--.The doctrine which signed to enforce.

teaches the love of Christ in sufMan has a susceptibility of being af- fering for sinners, is no less effifected by goodness, exhibited in acts cient in producing a hatred of sin. of kindness done to himself, and by It is an apprehension of the goodsufferings endured for his sake. This ness of God, and a familiarity with susceptibility is appealed to by the it, in all its aspects, which leads doctrines of the Gospel in such lan- inen to repentance. guage as this ; “God so loved the But in order to make the docworld, that he gave his only begot- trines of the Bible produce their ten Son, that whosoever believeth proper effect, they must not be viewin him should not perish, but have ed as matters of mere speculation.

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