« PreviousContinue »
of the right of voluntary associations, and will freely discuss the principles involved in this right. At the same time it will cherish and maintain a charitable and catholic spirit and bearing towards the friends and supporters of other organizations, however objectionable in form, for benevolent purposes.
Natural history, geology, astronomy, etc., are acknowledged to be of more or less importance in illustrating the facts and the truths of revelation. They are therefore interesting to the christian scholar. « The works of the Lord are great,” says the Psalmist, “sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.” Many of the facts, also, of natural science have been forced away from their due connections and relations and made to subserve the cause of infidelity. They have been mingled, in distorted shapes, with the learning of more than one profession, and, through the medium of popular authors and lecturers, bave been made to exert a perverting influence not only upon the mass of the community, but upon the minds of many of the intelligent and the educated. On these accounts, therefore, as well as on account of their essential importance, the facts and principles of the natural sciences require to be understood. They should be thoroughly investigated by all such as would defend with ability the truths of revelation against the cavils of skepticism. 'Articles on the leading topics of natural science will accordingly be invited from such as are especially engaged in these studies.
Mental science will also find a place in the Repository. It cannot be doubted that well digested and discriminating views of the powers of the human mind, clearly stated, would do much towards settling many of the points now in controversy between theologians of different schools. There are fixed principles in the science of mind on which, considered by themselves, all intelligent men agree, and certain mental phenomena, the existence of which is supported by the testimony of universal experience. These constitute the foundation of the science ; and existing, as they do, in nature, and being admitted by all, whence has it occurred that so many conflicting theories have been formed by different authors ?
It is admitted by all writers on this subject that most of the confusion which exists has arisen from indefiniteness in the use of language. Each succeeding author, therefore, feels himself bound to define with accuracy the terms which he is pleased to use, that he may, at least, be consistent with himself. His
definitions, however, differ in some slight degree from those of others of equal authority. Disputes are thus originated, in which each contends for the definition which is adapted to sustain his own theory, and the common sense of mankind and the true nature of the subject is not perfectly reached by any of the contending parties. To us it appears plainly that the true remedy for these evils is not only accuracy of definitions, but agreement in definitions. In the most important fixed principles of the science all are agreed. Why should they not agree in their definitions ? If a system of mental philosophy is ever to be formed which shall be worthy of all acceptation, there must be this agreement. But in order to produce it, writers must cultivate the habit of placing themselves in each other's positions, and of thus approaching the several topics embraced in the science at the various points of access in which they present themselves to other minds. The periodical press furnishes the happiest facilities for the comparison of views which is here suggested, and it is hoped that the contributors to the Repository will not be slow to avail themselves of these facilities.
Our work will also be open to the free discussion of all questions of morals. Moral and religious sentiments have a natural sympathy with each other. Christianity recognizes this sympathy, and blends them in her precepts of love to God and love to man. Moral science, therefore, rightly understood, is but another name for Christianity in its application to the affairs of men. It is a part of the religion of every Christian to understand and perform his duty to all with whom he is associated in life, however remotely. The subject of christian morals, therefore, is one of universal interest to mankind. And it is not only every man's bighest interest, but his duty to seek proper instruction in regard to bis moral obligations.
It has been justly remarked that “the law of duty, in the abstract, is simple, and not liable to be mistaken ; but its applications are often complex and delicate, requiring the exercise of a strong and cultivated reason.” The idea of duty, in every case, must be fully comprehended, or the authority of duty cannot be strongly felt. When it is considered, therefore, that our moral obligations are infinitely various, that they comprehend the whole range of our duties to God, to ourselves and to our fellow men, it will be manifest to every reflecting mind that they open a field for the deepest research and the most interesting and profitable discussion. The mutual duties which result
from the social relations, the duties of individuals to society, those of society to individuals, and those of different societies or communities to each other, must all be considered. Much is probably yet to be learned in regard to each of these departments of duty. And free institutions, as they greatly increase the sphere of efficiency, proportionably enlarge not only the sphere, but the variety of duties, both of individuals to society and of society to its members. The duties of societies, states and nations to each other demand also the special consideration of moralists.
Political economy, therefore; in all its departments, should be discussed as a branch of christian ethics. The politician, the magistrate and the statesman, no less than the private citizen, owe allegiance to the moral law. Though their individual duties are various according to the relations which they severally sustain to society, the same general principles pervade the whole, and are designed to govern the intercourse of nations, as well as of individuals. That “social selfishness," which, in every country, is cheered and flattered by the name of patriotisın, which has led the mass of every nation to merge their individual in their social responsibilities, and thus to justify acts and feelings from which, as individuals, they would shrink with abhorrence, finds no sanction in the system of morals which we propose to advocate and defend. Nations, as well as individuals, are bound to honor one another, and, in all their intercourse, to observe the law of love.
Each nation, however, is bound to sustain its own institutions and to guard its own interests against the encroachments of burtful influences, both from within and from without. As Americans, therefore, we shall not fail to defend and support, according to the measure of our ability, American institutions, so far as they accord with the code of morals inculcated in the Bible. Education, both common and professional, the Sabbath and its ordinances, the right of free discussion and inquiry on all subjects of interest to the nation and to mankind, the various societies of our country for benevolent purposes, etc. will each find an advocate in the Repository, as occasion may require.
The criticisin of books is a department of labor in which the editor hopes to make the Repository highly useful to the general reader. It is not his purpose to devote a large portion of the work to Reviews, properly so called. Productions of this sort will be occasionally inserted on subjects and authors of spe
cial interest and importance. Our remarks upon books will be generally classed under the head of “ Critical Notices,” the object of wbich will be to furnish the reader, in as few words as possible, a clew to the leading topics of the most important publications which shall issue from the press both in this country and in Europe, with such opinions of their merits or defects as we may judge it suitable and useful to express.
This department of the Repository will be hereafter somewhat more extended than it has been in the foriner series of the work. It is proposed to furnish in each No. a Quarterly list of the most important new publications. This we shall make as complete as shall be practicable, and publishers will greatly oblige us by furnishing for our use the titles of their books, or the books themselves, as soon as they are issued. In this way we shall endeavor to keep our readers apprised of the productions of the press from time to time, and to aid them in forming a correct judgment of the merits of such works as shall invite their attention.
To the notices of new publications will be added in each No., such literary and miscellaneous intelligence, as shall appear to be of special interest and of permanent value to the christian scholar. We shall thus aim to make our work an interesting miscellany, a repository of useful knowledge and of articles adapted to promote the advancement of sound biblical and theological learning, as well as to elevate the standard of general and professional education in all our institutions. We shall bope also to contribute something to advance the cause of morals and religion in our country generally, and to promote the purity and peace of the American churches, as well as their christian efficiency in the several works of benevolence and pbilanthropy which now invite their exertions and animate their hopes.
ON SOME OF THE CAUSES OF THE CORRUPTION OF Pulpit
By Rev. Leonard Bacon, Pastor of the First Church, New Haven, Conn.
THERE is always some touch of melancholy in the feelings, however pleasant, with which we revisit scenes once familiar, but grown strange by long absence. The changes that take place around us, and in our own persons, come on successively, and, for the most part, gradually; and if there is now and then some sudden and violent shock which agitates us for the time, we soon recover ourselves, and the mind in all its habits becomes adjusted to its new circumstances, and ceases to realize how great is the difference between what is, and what was. Thus we pass along from one period of life to another; everything is changing around us; we ourselves are changing continually; and yet we are ordinarily little conscious of the rapidity of our progress. But when, in mid lise, we come back to the scenes of youth, the changes of half an age crowd at once upon the consciousness; and the pleasure of reviving the past is tipged with melancholy.
Fifteen years ago, I parted here with my theological classmates. I find myself standing where I stood when as a class we bade farewell to these hallowed scenes. The same walls are around me. The same windows look out upon the same broad landscape. The same sort of an assembly is before me, the old, the young, the learned, the venerable, the lovely ;and in the assembly, how many of the same forms and faces, looking to me, almost as they looked that day. But all are not
* (This Article is the substance of an Anniversary Discourse, pronounced by Mr. Bacon, in the chapel of the Theological Seminary, Andover, Mass., Sept. 4, 1838, before the Porter Rhetorical Society. This will account for several remarks which it contains and the form of address which it preserves throughout.
We have thought it proper also to retain the touching introductory remarks of the author. Though local and personal, and especially adapted to the occasion that produced them, they are too rich and various in their allusions to be objected to, even by readers who are strangers to the scenes to which they refer.- ED.)