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meeting the wishes of that respected judicatory of the church, his brethren generally, and the public at large, will judge.
Habitually fond of rigid adherence to system, the writer would have preferred the omission of the Augsburg Confession, as that symbol was neither designed for an epitome of Theology, nor is entirely systematic in its structure. This difficulty was however obviated by mainly pursuing a logical connexion in the arrangement of the subjects, and when any particular article of the Confession did not coincide with this order, referring the reader to its appropriate place in the work. The limits prescribed to himself, precluded as ample a survey of many topics, as would have been pleasing to the writer, and perhaps grateful to some readers. Condensed as the discussions are, they have swelled the volume beyond its contemplated size.
Throughout the whole, it was the author's prayerful effort, to render the work instructive and edifying to the intelligent Christian and theological student; and he hopes it will be found not entirely useless to ministers of the gospel. From the nature of the case, those topics could not be avoided, on which diversity of opinion exists among Christian denominations: and the writer desires those who may dissent from any of the views presented, to remember that he was conducted to their discussion by the nature of his work, and not by fondness for polemical altercation. On matters of non-fundamental importance, Christians should agree to controvert with lenity, and differ in peace. Entire harmony of opinion was not an attribute of the church even under apostolic guidance; nor have we any evidence, that diversity of view on minor points, was regarded as a barrier to ecclesiastical communion. Fundamental errorists, indeed, ought to be the subjects of uncompromising controversy, and of exclusion from church privileges. To this end, as well as to ascertain the fundamental soundness of applicants for sacramental and for ministerial communion, some comparison of doctrinal views is unavoidably requisite. Nor is it a matter of any moment, whether the parties present their views to each other orally; or one, or both, communicate by writing. In either case we have a creed; and, that which is written, possesses some manifest advantages over its oral counterpart. The error of creeds lies not in their being reduced to paper, but in their undue length, and rigour of construction on those minor points which ought not to be embraced in them. There is little doubt that in each of the several denominations termed orthodox, there are and always have been members living in barmony, who differ from each other as much as the symbols of the several churches. As the great Head of the church has so extensively owned the labours of all these denominations; the ground held by them in common should be considered fundamental, and the points of difference regarded in a secondary light as legitimate subjects for free and friendly inquiry. To the amicable discussion of these points even the dissentient reader therefore cannot object; but if a single page of this work be found soiled by acerbity of spirit, or harshness of language, the author will cheerfully join the reader in its condemnation.
In the composition of the following pages, the author aimed at plainness and perspicuity, as being not only the appropriate style of didactic discussions ; but also best adapted to the cardinal design of his work, to convey lucid views of divine truth, in a manner intelligible also to unlearned inquirers.
To his numerous friends, who have expressed an interest in the speedy appearance of the work, the author owes a word of explanation on the cause of its delay. During the first year after he engaged in the undertaking, his impaired health enabled him to do little else than discharge his duties in the Theological Seminary, and attend to the extensive ecclesiastical business and correspondence necessarily devolving on him. During the leisure hours of the succeeding year, the greater part of the work was written: and the manuscript was sent to the printer in the latter part of December. Before the edition had entirely passed through the press, orders were received for all the copies, and a second will be commenced without delay.
In conclusion, the writer would commend this volume to the gracious blessing of that divine Being, by whose kind providence it has been completed, with the ardent prayer, that it may subserve the interests of His kingdom, and prove a blessing to many souls.
Theological Seminary, Gettysburg,
March 10, 1834.
Of God-His existence-Attributes—the Trinity-Divinity of Christ
- Personality of the Holy Spirit-doctrine of the Trinity rational
-Decrees and Providence of God— Plan of the Divine govern-
Natural depravity--its origin--nature-consequences-nature of sin
Baptism-its nature-import-subjects-infant baptism-family bap-
tism--testimony of the Fathers-of general history-mode of