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PREFACE.

ONDUCTO

RISTIAN

ERVER

WHEN the Conductors of the Christian Observer began their labours, they grounded their claim to public favour, principally, on the assurance which they gave of its being their main purpose to extend the influence, and increase tbe efficacy, of those Christian principles which convey, to fallen man, his only hope of salvation. They will not pretend to say how far they have redeemed this pledge ; but there are circumstances, independent of the growing demand for their work, which lead them to believe, that they are not considered by their readers in general as having forfeited it. This persuasion will not fail to animate their future efforts.

One object which the CONDUCTORS of the Christian OBSERVER have endeavoured uniformly to pursue, has been to abate the acrimony of theological debate ; and to induce those “who agree in the essentials of our most holy faith,” « to put away from them all rancour of religious dissension,” as well as all unfounded suspicions of their brethren, “ and to fulfil our blessed Saviour's commandment of loving one another as he hath loved us *.” That some improvement, in this respect, is visible in the religious world, since the commencement of their labours, they cannot doubt. Probably many causes have concurred in producing this favourable result: yet they are willing to hope that it may have pleased the great Head of the Church to render

* Prayer appointed to be used on the 19th of October 1803, being a day of public fasting and humiliation.

their work in some small degree subservient to its production. To him be the praise !

The CONDUCTORS of the CHRISTIAN OBSERVER find an additional source of satisfaction in the gradual dininution of those vehement prejudices, which assailed their undertaking at its outset, and for a time impeded its success. If the groundless and contradictory clamours of “ Calvinismand“ Arminianismhave subsided, they are disposed to attribute the circumstance to an increasing conviction, among religious persons, that the questions which agitate the partizans of these two systems are comparatively unimportant, and little affect the foundations of our common Christianity; and that therefore, on such topics (to use a trite but significant expression) good men may “ agree to differ.” It has been with the view of bringing Christians to this wise and beneficial determination, that they have employed so much of their time in correcting the mistakes and misapprehensions of writers on both sides of this endless controversy. And although they may have seemed to many, to neglect, in the eagerness of polemical discussion, the paramount interests of practical piety; yet they acted from a belief, that in order effectually to promote those interests, and to call men off from the angry contentions in which they were engaged to the cultivation of a spirit of Christian unity and peace, it was necessary to impress strongly on their minds the comparative unprofitableness of the speculations which excited their animosity, and fully to expose to them the errors and misrepresentations, the prejudice and want of charity with which both parties were sometimes chargeable. They derive comfort, in looking forward to the future, from the hope that it will no longer be requisite to divert an equally large share of their attention from practical objects to those of a controversial description.

Had any thing been wanting to confirm the CONDUCTORS of the CHRISTIAN OBSERVER in the view they have given of the question which has now been alluded to; a view, as they

conceive, perfectly coincident with that of our Church ; it would have been found in a work, proceeding from high authority, which has recently issued from the press. The friends of evangelical theology, no less than those of the oppressed African race, have occasion to regret the loss of the distinguished talents of the late Bishop of St. Asaph : but he has left behind him a memorial of his theological opinions *,

which will not carry with it the less weight, when the cir• cumstances are considered under which it has met the pub. lic eye. The CONDUCTORS of the ChristiAN OBSERVER will embrace another opportunity of making their readers fully acquainted with this seasonable production. In the mean time they will observe, that could they have emulated the eloquence of this learned and lamented prelate, they would gladly have chosen the same language in which to have enounced the same sentiments. With him they would say to their fellow Christians in general, but especially to the clergy of the land ; " Leave these barren disquisitions. Apply yourselves, with the whole strength and power of your minds, to do the work of Evangelists. Proclaim to those who are at enmity with God, and children of his wrath, the glad tidings of Christ's pacification. Sound the alarm, to awaken to a life of righteousness, a world lost and dead in trespasses and sins. Lift aloft the blazing torch of Revelation, to scatter its rays over them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death : and guide the footsteps of the benighted wanderer into the paths of life and peace.”

The Conductors of the Christian OBSERVER have inti. mated, on many former occasions, that it was their great ain to recommend to their readers a plain and practical religion; and that they should feel themselves greatly indebted to such correspondents as should aid them in their design. They likewise suggested, that this important end might be much promoted, by the occasional introduction of that ligher spe

* Charge delivered to his clergy in the month of August, 1806. Hatchard.

cies of writing, which amuses while it instructs, and which may therefore serve to conciliate the attention of the intelligent youth of both sexes to the concerns of religion; an object which is certainly of immense moment, and yet often of extreme difficulty. They have reason indeed to be grateful for the many valuable contributions which they have received to both these departments of their miscellany. They hope however to be excused, if they venture to call on their correspondents for continued support, in a cause which, they do not hesitate to say, is worthy of their best exertions. Ut

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At the close of the Number for December (p. 798) the Conductors of the CHRISTIAN OBSERVER have stated the ground on which they have thought themselves entitled to increase the price of their publication. What they have there said, they doubt not, will prove satisfactory to every considerate mind; and to that they refer their readers. They have now only to renew their acknowledgments to their correspondents for the able assistance afforded by them, and to the public for its liberal patronage; and again to express their anxious desire, that the efforts which they employ to advance the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom, may obtain his approbation and blessing, and may tend to his glory.

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