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antinomian metaphysics have engrafted on the glorious doctrines of grace, we shall deem it our duty to lop off. We shall advocate the Bible as the only infallible rule of faith, over all “inward lights,” traditional creeds or ghostly authority. We shall insist, that wherever Jesus is by his Spirit on earth, there is the true, heaven-blessed church of God; and that wherever the brotherhood of regenerated men have chosen and set apart a minister, with whatsoever rite or ceremony, he is a minister of Christ. We shall claim for parents the privileges of the covenant, and insist that all whom Christ has received, have a right to a seat at Christ's table. As we love the Westminister Confession of Faith and the Catechisms, we shall stand ready to vindicate them from Arminian, Socinian, and infidel assaults on the one side, as well as Antinomian glosses on the other.
Our reviews of current literature we shall design to make intelligent and conscientious; kind to authors, but just to the community. Literary presumption, ambitious pretence, and arrogant ignorance we shall not spare ; but we hope in this department to have a heart of kindness for all, even while we lay “a rod on the fool's back.” An honest inquiry after truth, an honest avowal of conscientious convictions, from any quarter will be treated with respect; and all well meant and effective efforts of authors to do good, on any scale, may be assured of our sincere sympathy.
We shall aim to be rather the exponents of our fathers and brethren than their teachers; to develope our common christianity, rather than claim to speak ex-cathedra, “as those having authority.” Still, for opinions expressed in this review, as we alone control its pages, none can be held legally and logically responsible but the editors. As we “take the responsibility" of this work, we shall receive or reject articles as our conscientious judgments shall dictate. Of course what we regard as dangerous error, in fact or doctrines, cannot have a channel to the public mind through our Review.
It is proper here to indicate the kind of articles deemed appropriate for this work. By weight and worth of matter, and power and beauty of style we should be happy to make it worthy of an intelligent denomination, and honourable to the religious literature of the United States. More than this, we could wish to give it a moral power to press its way to the extremes of our land, marking its track by the broad train of light radiated by its influence. For this we must command the best thoughts of our best and ablest men. Such, north, south, east, and west, on the Hudson, the Ohio, the Mississippi, or the Potomac; in the city or on the prairie, we invite to our aid.
This “ Review” not only demands articles that are truthful, -truisms can be picked up any where,—our articles must be weighty and appropriate. The worth of an article is not settled by the question whether people ought to read it, but whether they will read it. Our great societies measure their usefulness by pages printed. A better test would be their pages read. We have no design to task our printers with profound stupidity, learned dullness, elevated verbosity, rhetorical vapidity, or pious common-place. We want heart, directness, tact, freshness, and power, in our pages.
Every article must have at least one of three qualities, or it will be worthless and unreadable. (1.) It must have a great subject, whose announcement at once arrests and sustains attention. To this class belong many of the facts and doctrines of the Bible. Their intrinsic worth, their mystery, sublimity, or practical appeal to man's fears or hopes, his danger or safety, secures interest. It is easy to invest with attraction an article on Napoleon or Walter Scott. Perhaps few ever criticised the style in which Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphics of Egypt, or Layard narrated the exhuming of Nineveh. Or (2.) An article should have a subject of relative interest in some attraction of the public mind. It is easy at present to get a reading for a paragraph on the search for Sir John Franklin, or the last metempsychosis of the French Republic. It is a science to study the direction of the public gaze, and an art to elevate at the right moment some valuable truth which will rivet attention. Or (3.) an article if it lack intrinsic and relative attraction of subject, should invest minor and common truths with interest by the felicity and fascination of its style. What is the poetry of the Bible but flowers strown to tempt man along the paths of truth and holiness? A crude, prosy, verbose and vapid style, is the sepulchre of many noble thoughts, destined to no resurrection. Truisms in trite language are hardly endurable in a morning call. In a learned “Review” they are an outrage on the public. The less interest in the subject, if it be important to the reader, the more necessary are animation and skill in the writer to wake up attention, Cowper's delineation of the gambols of his pets, and Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow, show the power of style in giving life to minor subjects.
If any be disposed to weigh our present article by the Balances we have given, and find it “wanting," it will not be the first time the beau ideal" has surpassed the execution of the artist, or “the vigor of a war fallen short of the sounding title of the manifesto."
We have spoken frankly, fearlessly, and we hope, kindly. It is no affected modesty, to admit our self-distrust and our willingness to take the counsel of our fathers and brethren in respect to the responsibility we have assumed. We rely on the indulgence of our friends, but more especially on their prayers for us to Almighty God that “his grace may be sufficient for us.” Beseeching the aid of Him “from whom every good and perfect gift cometh,” we consecrate this “Presbyterian Quarterly Review” to Truth, to The Church, and to God.
Art. II.—THE MISSION OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
Any organization, secular or religious, which embodies in itself principles or blessings important to mankind, or indispensable to the developement of God's purposes, has a mission, in accomplishing which, the protecting and assisting power of the Almighty may be confidently expected, whatever influences may be arrayed against it, or whatever perils it may be called to endure. This great truth applies to all the more important secular organizations in past history; to Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and to many in modern times, especially England and our own country. But it applies more emphatically to church organizations in every age. For example, to the Primitive Church, explaining the marvel and mystery of her perpetuity amidst her long and bloody persecutions, ordeals by which early “faith was tried so as by fire, and was found unto praise, and honour, and glory.” So also, to the Catholic Church, which perished not amidst repeated barbaric irruptions, and notwithstanding nameless perversions and abominations, all the blessings she bore in her bosom became the heritage of man. And so also, is the principle applicable to the Church in her Protestant, Puritan and Presbyterian organization.
In the permissive Providence of God, and by agencies, not
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for edification now to trace, we exist as a distinct branch of the great Protestant, Puritan, and Presbyterian family. In common with the rest of that great branch of God's Church, which is in the true line of succession, we are Protestants. As distinguished from Prelatists, on the one side, and Independents and Congregationalists on the other, but in common with other sections of a great family, we are Presbyterians. We are not, however, Reformed Presbyterians, ecclesiastically so called, or familiarly Covenanters; or Associate Presbyterians, usually called Seceders; nor Associate Reformed Presbyterians, a body which owes its existence to an abortive effort to unite the other two; nor Cumberland Presbyterians; nor finally, are we Presbyterians of the basis of 1837 and 1838. As a distinct branch of the Church, we have been exposed to influences, interior and exterior, which have threatened our existence and prosperity. We have experienced “perils from false brethren," we have suffered from extra loving-kindnesses in some quarters, and processes of absorption in different directions. We have been deficient in distinctive church-life, and in some instances, through great anxiety to preserve the unity of the entire body, perhaps, as a denomination, we have been wanting in proper self-respect. We made mistakes, perhaps, in the period of reconstruction, amidst the volcanic phenomena which remained after the eruptions of 1837 and 1838, and we have been losers by the not unnatural and certainly amiable, but unreciprocated tendencies to re-unification, while any honourable prospect of such a result remained. Still we exist, have grown and are growing; at this time the pulses of hope, through the whole body, beat stronger than at any previous period; there is greater homogeneity of sentiment among those who have continued together through the temptations of the past. And we have now an organ, for all who are willing to use it as such, for the expression of our peculiar church-life and distinctive principles.
“At such a time as this” it seems peculiarly appropriate, and amidst the first utterances of our organ, it seems due to our brethren of every other denomination, to give the views we entertain of our Mission, and the reasons for our belief that our Church embodies vital principles and blessings, which render her indestructible until the purposes of God in her distinctive existence have been accomplished. It is no “unpardonable sin,” nor indeed a case of unfrequent occurrence, that individuals or organized bodies do not come at once to a clear con
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sciousness of their own character, or special mission. Abraham was “called to go out to a place which he should afterwards receive as an inheritance, and he obeyed, and went out, not knowing whither he went.” Luther, when he began to oppose Rome, and when he took the solemn step of separation from the old Church, knew not what God designed by him or the Reformation. Whereunto he attained in the way of light, from time to time, he walked by that same rule and minded that same thing, satisfied that if in anything he was otherwise minded than God, or took wrong views of truth or duty, God would reveal it unto him. During the progress of the struggle, he was evidently tempted many times to think it useless to contend for principles, which had being and substance in his soul, against the strong forces of opposition, and the more depressive influence of lukewarmness, rashness, indecision, or wrong tendencies, among his friends. An illustrious prototype, to whom the kingdom had been promised, by covenant and oath, doubtless often felt, during the procrastinated dispensation of discipline, as on one occasion he said, “I shall perish surely one day by the hand of Saul, I can do no better than go over to the Philistines." Yea, a Mightier than Luther or David, “in the hour and power of darkness," said, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” In the temporary ignorance or unbelief of the intention and designs of Providence, we may make mistakes, exaggerate the importance of particular tendencies and duties, go against the higher law of providential leadings, and seek elements of strength in improper channels and combinations. The strong conviction of many of the best and most prayerful of both parties in the Presbyterian church, for a long time, was, that it entered into the plans of Providence to re-combine the elements of Presbyterianism in our Country, unnaturally divided, and each shorn of strength by separation; that both hemispheres were needed to make our real sphere. Not improperly or strangely, therefore, but, in such a reading of the book of Providence, which past analogies served to confirm, with all honesty and sincerity, their hopes and prayers and plans were guided by the prospect of such a consummation; a consummation over which, whenever and however it occurs, angels in glory, and the spirits of just men made perfect would rejoice, and all on earth, who are lifted above prejudice, passion and undue excitement. But whatever may be God's future and ultimate plans, in this respect, no expectation of the speedy occurrence, at least, of