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District of New-Jersey, ss.
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the seventh day of December,
T ARIOUS considerations have induced the editors of this work to present it to the publick, and solicit its patronage... *, They have observed, not without concern, that almost all the '^ monthly publications caleulated to convey religious knowledge and information have been unfortunately dropt, and that the few which remain, drag on a sickly and precarious existence. From what causes this failure may have arisen would be immaterial, perhaps mvidious to inquire: but it must excite the regret of all the friends to religion, that periodical works of this nature have nearly ceased to circulate through our country; and this fact of course will secure their approbation to any fresh attempt to diffuse religious truth and intelligence in a more promising or permanent shape. By following the track in which their more able predecessors have failed, the conductors of the present work could not presume to look for success:—. They have therefore entered upon an untried course, by cok lecting materials for a quarterly instead of a monthly publication. The superiour advantages of such a plan are obvious to the editors, and they trust they will not be less so to the publick. It will afford room for more ample biographical details, theological discussions, and religious intelligence. It will present to the reader a full and entire view of many important subjects, which in monthly publications must be frequently interrupted, and of course lose much of their interest and usefulness. Iri a pamphlet of sixty or seventy pages caleulated to amuse by variety as well as to edify by instruction, discussion for the most part must be very superficial, and biographical or historical narrative so much compressed, as to leave on the mind faint and lifeless traces of those important lessons which general history, and individual example are intended to inculeate. The conductors, therefore, of this Quarterly Magazine and Repository, have preferred the plan of presenting their patrons with a few important selections, and choice original matter, on religious subjects, to that of loading their pages with a multiplicity of unconnected and desultory paragraphs. Judging from their own feelings, they presume that to a well regulated appetite respecting the high concerns of religion and morals, a few solid articles, though seldom offered, will be more acceptable than the frequent occurrence of a profusion of dainties less caleulated to nourish and invigorate the soul. In this, as ia most other cases, variety is wisely sacrificed to substance;
and the principal end of the conductors is better answered, which, they can assure their readers, is no other, than to contribute their mite towards the diffusion of evangelical knowledge among their fellow Christians of every denomination, and the implantation of genuine piety in their hearts.
At a time when books are multiplied to facilitate among all classes of our citizens the elementary knowledge of useful science, elegant arts, and ornamental literature, shall the principles of divine theology, the only science which" can direct us to real felicity, as our chief end, and conduct us to it by the way of true religion," be confined almost exclusively to the libraries of the learned, or to its professional teachers and students? True, indeed, it is, that few besides professional men have leisure for that extensive reading and laborious investigation which can enable them to penetrate deeply into the theory of religion, into the attributes of its author, the evidences of its truths, and the sanctions of its laws. Yet surely it is the duty of every professing Christian of decent education to aim at being ready, in some degree, to be qualified and prepared "to give an answer to every man that asketh him for a reason of the hope that is in him."
A periodical publication intended to subserve thus far the interests of our common Christianity, cannot fail of being useful, and we trust acceptable also to religious readers of every denomination. That it may fully answer this end, nothing acrimonious, nothing illiberal, nothing fanatical will be admitted into its pages. It will be conducted on the great and leading principles of religion as taught by the primitive church, and restored at the reformation. Scripture alone shall be the standard and criterion of its orthodoxy and ethicks.
"The bible only," says Chillingworth, "is the religion of protestants:" but as many learned and pious divines, while agreeing in the fundamental doctrines of religion, have differed in their interpretation of some scriptural passages of considerable importance, the conductors of the present work deem it necessary to adopt a well known system or body of Christian doctrine, as well to preserve through their pages a unity of design, as to ground the maxims of practical piety and inward religion, which they wish to inculeate upon one uniform, solid and infallible foundation:—Such a system they believe is delivered in the articles of their church, and therefore from what they conceive to be the obvious and literal meaning of these articles, they will never depart. While steering by this polar star, they hope to escape the fate of many who have been wrecked in the ocean of controversy, and to carry with them into the haven of truth the good wishes and prayers, not Only of their own, but of other Christian churches, who with but few exceptions, and those less material, regard these articles with veneration and assent.
The editors will endeavour entirely to discard the sectarian spirit so long at variance with that spirit of unity, and that bond of peace, which ought to constitute the distinguishing marks of all Christian societies. On many subordinate subjects there must be a difference of opinion among Christians; but so many and so important are the points of coincidence among them, that whoever lends his aid to support and enforce them, must surely be engaged in a Godlike employment: irt nothing less, than in promoting the endearing charities of life, in strengthening the bonds of society, and extending the kingdom of love and harmony, which is the kingdom of the Redeemer.
The following article, from the first number of the Christian Observer for January 1802, is inserted by the Conductors of this Magazine, as a specimen of the religious tenets which they mean to countenance always, and occasionally to support.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER.
Sir, In the Prospectus of the Christian Observer we are told, that the Editors chiefly intend to promote the increase of sound theological "knowledge." What do they mean by sound theology? You will say, perhaps, the answer is obvious; for the Prospectus informs the world, that the "Editors are members of the Established Church;" and, with them, sound theology must mean the doctrine of the Church of England. But, Sir, there are various opinions upon this subject; and, there has been much dispute upon the question, What is the doctrine of the Church of England? Will you refer me to the xxxix Articles? But this is the very point in dispute: What is the true sense and meaning of the xxxix Articles? Ask—ask—No, Sir: ask Bishop Jewell, who, as Burnet affirms," had a great share in all that was done in Queen Elizabeth's time, and whose works are a sure commentary on our Articles." But, I would look into no other part of his works than the Apology, to determine the point in question; because in this Apology he professes te give a full and explicit statement of the doctrines, the poblick and avowed doctrines, of this Church—non alienum, aut inutile fore existimavimus, si aperte et libert proponamus
fidcm uostram in qua stamus, et omnem Ulam spem, quam habc mus in Christo Jesu; ut omnes vidtre possint, quid nos tie au&que parte religionis Christians sentiamus—and, I would look no further than to the statement of the doctrines in the Apology, for this reason especially; because the Apology is not, what it is commonly called, Jewell's Apology, but what it is called in the title page, APOLOGIA ECCLESI^E Anglicanje. It was not published bv Jewell, as his private offering to the Catholick Church, but by Queen Elizabeth, at the expense of the Crown, with the consent and approbation of all the Bishops who were then in London, as the Apology of the Church of England: and it was not only approved, after it was published, by the whole Church of England, clergy and laity, but, was regarded by them as their glory and defence.
I wish the Editors of the Christian Observer would print a translation of this statement of the publick and avowed doctrines of the Church of England: and I hope they will explicitly declare, that it shall be their standard of orthodoxy, and what they mean by "sound" theology. And let them declare, that if they admit any thing into the Christian Observer which exceeds this standard, the excess shall be set to the account of the private opinions of their correspondents, and not be regarde'd as their view of the doctrine of the Church of England. If they make this declaration of their principles, and adhere to it, I believe the Christian Observer will meet with encouragement from very many of the clergy and laity, who will readily conspire with its Conductors to promote the increase of "sound" theological knowledge; and I plainly foresee, if they will not avow their adherence to some such standard, the Editors and Patrons of the Christian Observer will be regarded by the publick, and very deservedly, as the agents and patrons of a sect, or party.
Wishing you, and all who are engaged with you in this work, wisdom, prudence, zeal, simplicity, and godly sincerity, the blessing of heaven, and the favour of the publick,
I am, &c. J. S.
*#* Our Correspondent will allow us to improve upon his hint. We wish to state unequivocally the theological principles which will obtain in this work, so far as the sentiments of the Conductors are concerned. We have already drawn the line, towards the close of our Prospectus, between the sentiments of the Conductors and those of their Correspondents, with respect tp the doctrines of Christianity; but it may be asked, what our views of these doctrines are; and it may not be sufficient to reply, "as our Correspondent justly suggests, that they are the views