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THE Views in Theology will continue to be published semi-annually, in May and November, and be devoted chiefly, as heretofore, to discussion on the Doctrines of Religion. Four numbers will form a volume. Those who desire the work, will please to give notice to the publisher, at 142 Nassau-street. Ministers and theological students of whatever denomination, will receive it, if desired, without charge.



IT is one of the most propitious characteristics of the present period, and one that has both acted as a cause, and resulted as an effect, of the great benevolent enterprises to which the age has given birth; that the teachers of the protestant churches of various denominations, between whom, until within a recent period, but little intercourse had taken place, have at length learned to recognize each other as the ambassadors of Christ, instead of the ministers of sectarianism, and become accustomed to interchange the labours of their office, and unite in the great work of enforcing the gospel on those around them, and communicating its blessings to the perishing of other lands. It is a noble and refreshing spectacle. Like brethren of the same family whom some slight differences had unwisely been allowed to separate, but whose fraternal sensibilities needed but a fit occasion to be re-excited, they have at length, recalled by the hand of Providence, again met beneath the paternal roof; the parental blessing bestowed in common has softened their hearts, the reception from each other of the hand of confidence, and the reciprocation of kind

ness have revived their better susceptibilities, rekindled their affection, and given reassurance to the feeling that they are brethren, and need but to fulfill the duties of mutual courtesy, forbearance, and good will, to secure each other's esteem, and prove the instruments of each other's happiness.

Of this freer intercourse, and readier co-operation in their professional labours, the delivery and publication of these Discourses are a result; the greater portion of which are from the pens of presidents of colleges, theological professors, or pastors, both of different denominations, and different and distant sections of the country. The church to whom they addressed them, in soliciting their authors to the task, recognized them as the ministers of the gospel; their acceptance of the invitation involved an acknowledgment of the church and each other, as fellow disciples of Christ; and their concurrence in the discussion of topics, in respect to which many differences exist, and union in giving publicity to their labours, form an additional expression of that mutual regard.

Efforts of this kind are suited to give birth to other good effects beside the promotion of harmony. The expectation of addressing an audience under such circumstances, and of presenting their discourses to the public in conjunction with men of distinguished talents and cultivation, must naturally produce an excitement both of interest and caution, highly propitious to successful exertion; to inspire moderation in the statement of doctrines that are subjects of differences; and care in the task of composition and delivery. The fruits of such an exigence may fairly be expected to form, at least, favourable specimens of the mental resources of their authors. Not to be excited to vigorous exertion, or to put forth only ill-digested efforts, would betray but a

slight zeal in their Master's cause, and a very inadequate respect for the favourable judgment of their fellow-men.

These Discourses accordingly, making fit allowance for their differing advantages of topic, may doubtless be regarded as, at least, fair examples of the relative manner of their authors. Some of the themes offer, indeed, far happier fields than others for discussion, but all enjoy the recommendation of adequate dignity and importance, and are too extensive, rather than too circumscribed, for the limits of a single discourse. They generally exhibit marks of careful composition, and abound with happy examples of graceful diction, dignified sentiment, and vigorous reasoning. They are marked likewise by a caution and moderation in the statement of doctrines, beyond what has usually characterized discussions on such topics; and-apart from the differences that may exist in respect to those are singularly exempt from representations and sentiments that can generally be regarded as objectionable. The only signal exception to this remark occurs in the first Discourse from the pen of Dr. Spring, and is of so extraordinary a character, and so closely related to some of the themes on which I shall have occasion to dwell in the progress of this article, as to merit some notice.

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"There is a single consideration on which I would dwell more largely, if I were not afraid of being misinterpreted and misunderstood. The peculiar character of the age in which we live, furnishes a powerful reason for solicitude in relation to the great doctrines of the bible.

"It is not so much the age of a speculative philosophy that the friends of truth have any thing to fear on that account. It is not the "unhinging subtlety" of the enemies of the cross, that threatens a removal of the ancient landmarks, were it not for the negligence and indifference of the friends of truth themselves. But from some cause

there is a strange apathy to the truth. It is the age of business and not of investigation. It is the age of a charity so liberal, a benevolence so active, an excitement so febrile, that nothing seems to satis fy good men, short of that spirit of mutual concession, which savours of a criminal indifference to all religious opinions. Men from whom the church had hoped better things, are satisfied with very easy and liberal views. Thirty years ago, the church of God aimed at large attainments in grace and knowledge; and in too great a degree to the unwarrantable exclusion of benevolent action. But the order of things is now changed, and at the expense of truth. And yet who would not tremble to say that too much is either done or attempted for the conversion of the world? When we look abroad upon the world, we see that a field of labour is opening that is unspeakably gratifying to every benevolent mind, and such a field as the church never before saw. But is it not possible that this zeal for christian enterprise needs the baptism of an orthodox spirit, and unless it is more deeply imbued with it, must not only fail of accomplishing what it might otherwise accomplish, but scatter in wide profusion, tares among the wheat? Combinations of truth and error, even in plans of benevolent enterprise are of very doubtful tendency. Error has always been willing to go with truth, just so far as truth will go with error; whereas truth ought to go with error no farther than error will go with truth; and even in this apparently safe companionship, truth is very apt to become crippled and lame. If I do not survey the signs of the times through a deceptive and gloomy medium, there are dangers in this matter, to which neither the church, nor her watchmen are sufficiently awake. We should not be surprised, if in this age of business and ignorance, action and concession, it should be found necessary, before the expiration of many years, for another Whitfield or Edwards, to sound the note of alarm to the American churches. Nor do I feel at liberty to suppress these reflections while urging the impor, tance of attainment in christian knowledge.


"Who duly appreciates the intrinsic excellence of truta? Who duly estimates the place it holds in the purposes of divine mercy toward this apostate world ?”

"It is a melancholy fact that orthodoxy is becoming a term of reproach; that steadfastness in the faith requires unwonted self-denial. Unbending adherence to doctrines has already become a burden, well nigh too oppressive to be borne. Doctrinal instruction is becoming unpopular, and is already too cold and heartless for the spirit of the age." pp. 31. 32. 34.

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