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of mankind, that it commands universal respect. The Pilgrims were public spirited from the highest motives, and to the greatest extent. Had it not been so, the American colonies would have sunk into semi-barbarism, instead of rising, as they regularly did, in the scale of improvement.
The Pilgrims had gained a true knowledge of human nature. They embraced no vain theories. They tried no Utopian experiments; even in circumstances, where, to philosophical minds, let loose from the Bible, the temptation to experimenting would have been irresistible.
It was because our ancestors possessed these great qualities, that they were able, simultaneously, and at the very moment of entering the wilderness, to accomplish three of the grandest objects, which ever attracted the attention of men as social beings, and as preparing for an endless state of existence hereafter. These three objects were the establishment of a civil government, which proved the strongest, the least burdensome, the most free, and the most faithfully administered, that the world had ever seen,—the provision for universal education, so that all the people might read the word of God, and understand their true interests,—and the provision for public worship, so as to bring the plain and faithful teaching of religion within a moderate distance of every man's dwelling. These things had never been done before, in so perfect a manner.
And when we look at the improvements of more than two centuries, in those respects where improvement has been greatest, what do they all amount to, but a very moderate use of those advantages, which were derived from the wisdom and public spirit of our fathers ? On the subject of education, for instance, what more enlarged and thorough plan could be devised at the present day, than that every neighborhood should have its school, at which every child should be expected to attend? The college, too, founded in the very infancy of the state,—what a testimony it bore to the foresight, and zeal, and well-directed enterprise of the founders ? and though now in disastrous eclipse, it will yet shine forth, and repeat the honorable testimony to admiring ages, which shall rise up in long succession, and call its early patrons blessed.
We have made this hasty reference to the claims of the Pilgrims upon our reverence and gratitude, principally for the sake of explaining our reasons for the name we have chosen; and not because we supposed it possible, in so short a compass, to do justice to the talents and virtues of these illustrious men of whom the world was not worthy. A more deliberate survey of the character and actions, by which a foundation for a vast empire was so skilfully laid, will probably occupy some pages of a future number.
In the course of the preceding remarks, the terms orthodox and orthodoxy have been used; and doubtless it will be expedient to use them, in many instances, hereafter. It seems proper, therefore, to explain the meaning, which we attach to them.
To avoid tedious circumlocution it is necessary to describe classes of men, or of opinions, by a single epithet: and this, when fairly done, far from being an evil, as some have thought it to be, is in fact a great convenience. Thus, in the present case, we shall have-occasion to speak of men in our community, who agree in receiving a certain system of religious doctrines. How shall this body of men be described, unless by applying to them some epithet, which, from long established usage, has a definite meaning, and which, when thus applied, leaves a correct impression upon the mind of the reader? Shall we be obliged to repeat the doctrines, which we believe, as often as we refer to them? So clumsy an expedient will not surely be recommended.
In selecting a term, by which to designate that class of doctrines, usually called the doctrines of grace, or the doctrines of the reformation, we do not find any which is preferable to the word orthodox; nor any which is more fair and proper, either as it respects our adversaries or ourselves. They will not accuse us of begging the question, merely because this word is derived from two Greek words, which signify correct opinions. Nor will they imagine that we are so silly as to contend, that our opinions are of course correct, merely because we call them so. We do indeed believe them to be correct, but for weightier reasons than their having a good name attached to them. We speak of Unitarians; but we do not mean to admit, that those who have assumed this name are the only believers in the divine unity. The orthodox have uniformly, and without a single exception, believed in this cardinal doctrine of revelation; and any implication, or insinuation, to the contrary has always been unjust. Still, as the term Unitarian is now understood, there seems to be no danger in using it.
If it be asked, What do the orthodox believe, and how is the term now to be understood ? we answer; that from the reformation, (and there is no need that we should go back further,) a certain system of doctrines has been called orthodox. These doctrines contain, as we believe, the great principles of revealed truth. Among them are the following : viz.
That, since the fall of Adam, men are, in their natural state, altogether destitute of true holiness, and entirely depraved :
That men, though thus depraved, are justly required to love God with all the heart, and justly punishable for disobedience; or, in other words, they are complete moral agents, proper subjects of moral government, and truly accountable to God for their actions :
That, in the unspeakable wisdom and love of God, was disclosed a plan of redemption for sinful men:
That, in the developement of this plan, God saw fit to reveal so much concerning the nature and the mode of the divine existence,
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as that he is manifested to his creatures as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and that these Three, each partaking of all the attributes of the Deity, and being entitled to receive divine worship and adoration, are the one living and true God:
That the Son of God, laying aside the glory which he had with the Father from everlasting, came down from heaven, took upon himself man's nature, and by his humiliation, sufferings and death, made an atonement for the sins of the world :
That in consequence of this atonement, the offer of pardon and eternal life was freely made to all; so that those, who truly repent of sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, will be saved :
That men are naturally so averse to God and holiness, that, if left to themselves, they reject the offers of salvation, and neither repent of sin nor truly believe in a Saviour :
That God, being moved with infinite love and compassion, sends forth the Holy Spirit, according to his sovereign pleasure, by whose beneficent energy an innumerable multitude of the human family are renewed, sanctified, and prepared for heaven; while others are suffered to pursue the course which they have freely chosen, and in which they obstinately persevere till the day of salvation is past :
That God, in his providential dispensations, in the bestowment of his saving mercy, and in his universal government, exhibits his adorable perfections, in such a manner, as will call forth the admiration and love of all holy beings forever :
That believers are justified by faith, through the efficacy of the atonement, so that all claims of human merit, and all grounds of boasting, are forever excluded :
That the law of God is perpetually binding upon all moral beings, and upon believers not less than other men, as a rule of life; and that no repentance is genuine unless it bring forth fruits meet for repentance, and no faith is saving unless it produce good works :
That those, who have been renewed by the Spirit, will be preserved by the power of God, and advanced in holiness unto final salvation : and
That Christ, as the Great King of the Universe, the Lord and Proprietor of created beings, will judge the world at the last day, when the righteous will be received to life eternal, and the wicked will be consigned to endless punishment.
The foregoing propositions have been drawn up in haste, neither in the words of Scripture, nor of any human creed, nor with any design of exhibiting exact theological precision. We much prefer, on ordinary occasions, to express our views of religious truth in an unrestrained, popular manner. In this way, the Scriptures announce religious doctrines; and, in this way, the same great truths may be communicated by different writers and speakers, who will naturally fall into an almost infinite variety of expression. We do not insist, that others should adopt our form of words; but we have no doubt, that the obvious meaning of these words is in accordance with the Bible, and can be sustained by an appeal to that infallible test. It is unnecessary to add, that we have not attempted to present the reader with a summary, which should comprise all the important truths of revealed religion.
These doctrines, and all others necessarily connected with them and forming a part of the same system, have been received in all churches and by all individuals, who have been understandingly called orthodox. These doctrines we believe, and in them we rejoice. We believe them, because we think them to be clearly revealed in the word of God, and not because they have been held and defended by such men as Luther and Calvin, Hooker and Owen, Baxter and Edwards, however pious and eminent these individuals may have been. We call no man master. We submit to no man's authority. We hold ourselves bound by the law and the testimony; and if any man's arguments or theories will not abide this ordeal, they are to be rejected. Our motto is, Let God be true, but every man a liar.
It is common for the projectors of a new periodical publication to give a general outline of the several classes of subjects, which they intend to embody in their work. To this practice there seems to be no reasonable objection. We therefore proceed to specify some of the larger divisions of subjects, which will solicit the attention of our readers : premising, however, that we are not scrupulous to present these divisions, in the order of their relative importance; and that all are not to be expected in every number.
From what we have already said it is apparent, that a principal object in the establishment of a new magazine is the promotion of truth; which is to be done not only by explaining what the truth is, and proving it when explained, but also by exposing error, eren though we should be obliged to speak boldly and plainly, of artifice and sophistry. Discussions of this kind are what is usually called controversy; and against religious controversy some serious and reflecting persons have formed a prejudice, which, however ill founded, should be regarded with tenderness. Some of the reasons, why we think religious controversy may be, and often is, lawful, expedient, and an imperious duty, are the following.
1. Men are exceedingly prone to fall into error on religious subjects. This is evident from Scripture and the whole history of mankind. But such error is highly injurious to the souls of men, and should therefore be exposed, that as many guards as possible may be set up against it. These guards, when set up in season, do actually accomplish their end.
2. The example of prophets, apostles, and the Saviour himself, warrants a resort to controversy, whenever the interests of trutlı require it; and of this exigency a well instructed disciple is to
judge, as well as of any other. The prophets made all the arts and practices of idolaters as odious and contemptible as possible. Our Saviour exposed all the perverse doctrines and unauthorized traditions of the scribes and pharisees, although such an exposure was in the highest degree mortifying and exasperating to their minds. The apostles spoke with great severity of the heresies rising in their day, and warned the church against others, which were subsequently to appear.
Is it said, that the prophets and apostles were inspired, and that our Saviour was the fountain of wisdom itself? True; and on this very account their example is perfect, and may be safely followed; unless, indeed, it be assumed, that uninspired men cannot distinguish error from truth, and therefore have no right to be confident in any thing, nor to express an opinion either for or against any position. But if universal skepticism, in regard to all the great doctrines of religion, is to be the favorite system, where is the use of revelation? There is no more arrogance in deciding that certain doctrines are erroneous, absurd, and demoralizing in their tendency, than there is in deciding that certain other doctrines are true, consistent with each other, and salutary in their influence. Indeed, we may safely go further, and affirm, that on many subjects, it is easier to decide that certain doctrines are wrong, than to ascertain satisfactorily what is right. Error is very apt to be palpable, variant, and easily exposed; whereas the truth, in cases where revelation has not made it clear, may elude the researches of the keenest human intellect.
3. The inspired writers directed the church, in all future ages, to contend for the faith, to expose lurking heresies, and to silence gainsayers. When Paul said of ‘many vain talkers and deceivers,' that their “mouths must be stopped,” he doubtless intended that their errors should be refuted, in so decisive and unanswerable a manner, that nothing more could be said ; and a thousand times, since the days of Paul, the abettors of error have been effectually silenced.
4. The success of the Reformation is an illustrious attestation to the value of religious controversy. What could Luther have done, if he had been forbidden to say any thing about error in doctrine, or in practice? How could he have taught the truth without aiming a deadly blow at error? How could he have gained the public ear, or attracted the public eye, if he had not fearlessly exposed the enormous abuses of the Papal system?
5. Controversy has always been the great instrument of recovering individuals and communities from the dominion of error. Ignorance never enlightens itself. Prejudice never corrects itself. Abuses never reform themselves. Depravity never purifies itself. In all these cases, there must be an extraneous and opposing influence, or there can be no remedy. We would not intimate, that all