« AnteriorContinuar »
SAMUEL BRENT, Esq.
HEN I first announced my inten
tion of undertaking the private tuition of youth, you immediately entrusted me with the care of your fons, and thus placed me in the important province of an instructor of the rising generation. To you, therefore, I respectfully inscribe this little publication; which is chiefly designed for their benefit and improvement. No original work of mine could have laid an equal claim to your patronage and attention.
To have the minds of youth furnished with the principles, and made acquainted with the Spirit of the Christian religion, would prove, I am persuaded, the most effectual preservative against the infidelity and the uncharitableness of the present age.
Accordingly in the Sketch of the Denominatioils of the Christian World, I have attempted to state the general doctrines of revealed religion ; the opinions by which its fects are discriminated, and the purposes to which diversity of religious fentiment should be applied. The very candid manner in which this work has been received by all parties, together with its rapid and extensive fale, demands my warmeit thanks; and has, indeed, emboldened me to proceed to the completion of the plan which I had there, in part, executed.
In this second publication, (which is a sequel to the preceding, and which is now humbly presented to the public) I have brought together and concentrated into one focus, the testimonies of certain respectable Protestant writers, in behalf of the rational and pacific fpirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Infidels, especially those of the present day, are pleased to affert, that the Chriftian religion prohibits the exercise of reason, demands an implicit faith in the doctrines it promulgates, and establishes, among the weak and the credulous, a fyftem of uncharitableness, intolerance, and persecution. Hence they think themselves justified, not only in withholding their asient to the evidence it proposes; but in characterizing it by epithets of marked reprobation. This, however, is a palpable misrepresentation of its genius and tendency. For from these testimonies of the firm and enlightened advocates of revelation, unbelievers may learn, that it is worthy of a divine origin, and deserving of universal acceptation; zealots may be taught how to conduct themselves towards their brethren of different sentiments, while the united declarations of this most respectable cloud of witnesses form an eloquent and an useful comment on the injunction of our blessed Saviour to his difciples, A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.
Very considerable pains, fir, have been taken in selecting and transcribing the subsequent testimonies. But of the weight due to the several authors, we Mall judge according to our own peculiar sentiments. It is not, therefore, expected that the approbation of every reader will be obtained, though I have been careful to admit no one writer, who has not, in his day, been distinguished for his genius, his literature, and his piety. Most persons will here meet with their favourite authors; and to me, in the execution of the prefent work, it was a matter of indifference whether they were of Paul, or of Apollos, or of Cephas, provided they were of Chrift. It may be also added, that I have not availed myself of every theological writer which might have been procured; nor have I inserted every paragraph in behalf of candour and unanimity, which is to be found in the writings of the authors which are here introduced. Indeed my chief defign is to thew the avowed enemies, and to remind the bigoted professors of revelation, that wise and good men, of all denominations, have in their calm and collected moments considered the right of private judgment, in