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In the prosecution of this work, the Conductors particularly solicit, and hope for, the support of the Clergy, who are labouring in their respective parishes to advance the knowledge and practice of pure and undefiled religion. They likewise hope to receive communications from many of the Laity, who are concerned for the best interests of mankind.
The materials for this work will be subject, before publication, to the review of a Committee. It is hoped, therefore, that Correspondents will permit slight alterations to be made in the phraseology of a paper, when it shall be deemed expedient; and this liberty will always be supposed to be granted, unless expressly withheld. It is hoped also, that no apology will be required for declining to insert any paper not strictly conformable with the plan of this publication. The Conductors are determined to admit nothing harsh nor intemperate towards any sect of Christians; nothing implying disaffection to the Government, in Church or State; nothing which can have the remotest tendency, in their apprehension, to promote scepticism or infidelity, or to undermine the essential truths of Christianity; and though they will encourage discussions of the subordinate points, upon which real Christians may differ, as long as such discussions are conducted with candour and charity, they cannot be considered as adopting the particular sentiments of their Correspondents, upon these subjects, as their own.
The Work is intended to contain as follows, viz.
1. Religious Communications, comprising Religious Biography; Biblical
2. Miscellanies, comprehending interesting Particulars respecting the State
4. Intelligence, Literary, Philosophical, &e. &c. containing Notices of in-
5. A Select List of New Publications.
6. Religious Intelligence; being an Account of the Institution and Progress of Plans for promoting the Cause of Religion and Morals at home, and propagating the Gospel abroad.
7. A View of Public Affairs, British and Foreign.
8. An Obituary.
THE Conductors of THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER began thefr work, in the humble hope that it might be instrumental, through the divine blessing, in disseminating more extensively the genuine principles of THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND, which, as they conceive, exhibits in her public documents an accurate representation of the faith delivered to the saints by OUR LORD and his Apostles. It was their purpose also to defend Christianity from the attacks of infidelity, and the misrepresentations of ignorance; to expose the tendency and counteract the influence of false opinions. both in religion and ethics; to endeavour to raise, to the just and scriptural level, the standard of morals, in the depression of which the speculations of modern theorists had combined with the maxims of a corrupt world; to discountenance and vigorously oppose every vicious and immoral practice; to inculcate sentiments of subordination, loyalty, and true patriotism; to remove, or at least to soften those unhappy prejudices and groundless jealousies which have so much disturbed the peace of the Church; and strenuously to promote the exercise of mutual forbearance, and of all those holy, heavenly, and devout affections which the Gospel requires us to cultivate. How far they may have fulfilled these intentions, they will not presume to decide; but they have satisfactory grounds to believe, that in some important respects their labour has not been in vain. If, however, with such objects in view, they shall be found to have betrayed, in any instance, a temper at va
riance with their profession, they trust that the circumstance will furnish to their readers, as well as to themselves, a motive to additional watchfulness, circumspection, and self-distrust.
The Conductors of THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER have deeply regretted, that the nature of the publications, which they have been called to review, should have necessarily led them so much into the thorny path of theological controversy; and they would cordially rejoice, could they entertain a hope of being speedily extricated from its entanglements. Sensible, however, that polemical discussions, even when found necessary to the maintenance of Christian verity, and conducted with the utmost caution, are apt to generate in the minds of both writers and readers feelings very dissonant from the meekness and gentleness of Christ, they are the more anxious, with a view to counteract this tendency, that an increased attention should be paid to subjects of practical use and importance, and that by delineating the nature and genuine fruits of Christian faith, and detecting every departure from Christian love, they themselves and their readers should be excited to more frequent and careful self-examination. We cannot be too often reminded that our spiritual state is to be estimated, not by our skill in theological contests, nor merely by our zeal for certain tenets however essential; but by our love to God and our devotedness to his service; by our active and unwearied benevolence; by our victory over sin, the world, and the flesh; by the purity of our motives; by the heavenly tendency of our affections; by our relish for divine and spiritual occupations; by the rectitude of our conduct; by the unfeigned humility of our hearts; in short, by the growing resemblance we bear to Our Blessed Master."
At the present awful moment of national suspense and danger, which, reasoning from scriptural rules of judgment, we are bound to regard as unequivocal manifestations of the divine displeasure, the Conductors of THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER feel more deeply than ever the importance, of calling men off, not merely from a profligate or worldly course of life, but from wasting their time and thoughts on those unessential topics, which, while they amuse us with the conceit of our being religiously occupied, have no tendency to mend the heart and reform the life-to raise the soul to
God and to prepare it for death and judgment. Earnestly solicitous that men should learn that it is of infinitely greater moment to be real Christians than acute controversialists, the Conductors of THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER wish that their work should constantly exhibit the important doctrines of the ruined state of man by nature, and of his recovery by divine grace; of justification by faith and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit; of the unsearchable love of Christ, and of the obligation of every one no longer to live to himself, but to Him who died for him :-that the uniform tendency of their publication should be to awaken the careless sinner; to encourage the penitent, and direct him where to look for pardon and peace; to enlighten the understanding by a just display of the duties we owe to God and man; and to enforce upon the conscience the awful sanctions of the Gospel:-then, whatever be the reception of their work in this world of darkness and error, it will not fail to meet with a favourable reception at his hands who came to establish a kingdom of righteousness and peace on the earth.
We beg leave to take this opportunity of suggesting to our correspondents, that the important cause, in which the Christian Observer is engaged, may derive considerable advantage from the occasional introduction of that lighter species of writing which amuses while it instructs, and which is, perhaps, better adapted than any other for marking the discriminating features of different characters, describing living manners, exposing fashionable follies, scrutinizing those false sentiments which are current in the world and are industriously propagated in many popular works, and exhibiting those lesser inconsistencies, which, without impeaching the sincerity, too often impede the usefulness of religious characters, and excite an unjust prejudice against their principles.
It only remains for the Conductors to express their gratitude to the public for the increased sale which their work has experi
* The remainder of this pargraph is expressed nearly in the words (they could find none more suitable) employed by a correspondent whom they highly esteem, and whom they would rejoice to see more frequently contributing to fill their pages. See the present volume, p. 754, 755.
enced during the last year, and to solicit the favour of their future patronage. To the contributions of their correspondents they feel themselves to be indebted for much of the success which they have met with in their undertaking, and they earnestly request a continuance of the same liberal aid. They commend their work to the prayers of its friends, and they implore the Great Head of the Church to crown with his blessing their feeble endeavours to promote the influence of TRUE RELIGION,