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This work has now been before the public, for the space of four years. It was commenced under an apprehension, that such a work, as this was designed to be, was, at that time, greatly needed in the Christian community, on account of the prevalence of many and dangerous errors, the growing disposition to substitute religious intelligence for doctrinal instruction, both in the pulpit and the press, and the consequent increasing laxity of sentiment and indifference to discriminating truth among the nom inally Orthodox. Such a state of feeling, or rather of apathy, in regard to the peculiar and fundamental principles of the gospel, was thought to wear an alarming aspect towards the interests of practical piety, experimental religion, and sound morals. For it was believed, that the duties of religion are founded on its doc. trines that the truth only, is after godliness-that men are sanc tified by the Spirit through the truth—and that the propagation of error, tends to increase ungodliness, and evil communications to corrupt good manners. It was apprehended, that unless more, much more, should be done, to disseminate, explain and vindicate the first principles of the oracles of God, there was danger, that revivals of religion, on which the hopes of the Church and of the world depend, as they became more frequent, would become more spurious, and that the Churches of Christ, those spiritual buildings, which ought to be constructed of lively stones, would be built up with wood, hay, and stubble. That these apprehensions were not groundless, events have but too clearly shown. The doors of some Churches have been opened to all of decent exterior, who professed a hope; associations and ecclesiastical bodies, making high pretensions to Evangelical purity, have manifested a willingness to extend the hand of fellowship to such as discard or pervert nearly every essential doctrine of the Bible, that of the Trinity excepted; while some reputed revivals have worn a dubious aspect, and are, perhaps, the most extensive and popular of all, has been so conducted, as to be thought to require the interposition of a numerous convention of influential clergy
The sentiment has been advocated and widely diffused, that exhortation, and not instruction, is most proper, in time of a revival-that, at such a season, prayer is more useful than preaching; and that those doctrines of the gospel which are offensive to the unsanctified heart, ought not to be named,lest they should damp the ardor of feeling, and check the efforts of those who are pressing into the kingdom of heaven. And thus "an attempt," which Dr. Beecher says, "may be," it is thought has been made," to wield the Church against herself by corrupting the purity of revivals of religion."
If there was need of a publication of this kind, four years ago, there is, certainly, not less need of it now; when the vehicles of religious news, are multiplying on every side, and the number of doctrinal magazines, instead of increasing with the increase of population and the growth of the Churches, is actually diminishing. The taste of the reading portion of the religious public, is, indeed, so changed, if we may not say, vitiated, that it has been difficult, of late, to obtain sufficient patronage to support a doctrinal mag zine. The Evangelist. printed at Hartford, Conn. a valuable publication, and growing better, failed at the close of its second year. The Christian Spectator, at New-Haven, Conn. though sustaining a respectable literary character, and not charged with "metaphysical niceties," yet for the first five years, at least, was a bill of cost to the proprietors. The Utica Christian Repository, the most able and useful work of the kind, which has appeared in this country, has been discontinued, principally for want of patronage. While a political gazette, a mere literary journal, or religious intelligencer, can find pecuniary support in every village; it is with difficulty that a doctrinal magazine, however well conducted, can obtain a subsistence in all New-England. When one is solicited to subscribe for such a work, his reply commonly is, 'I like the publication well enough; but I take a newspaper, the Herald and the Recorder; which is as much as I can pay for, and more than I can read.'
But, the more difficult it is to find readers and purchasers of doctrinal Magazines; the more needful and important is their continuance and circulation; for the same reason that good preaching is always most necessary where it is most undervalued. But in order to sustain a work of this kind, it is obvious, that some exertion and some sacrifices are indispensable, on the part
of those who feel the importance of contending for "the faith once delivered to the saints," as the only means of arresting the torrent of error, hypocrisy and immorality.
The Hopkinsian Magazine is designed to contribute a mite, in aid of the cause of truth and pure religion. It was commenced, and has been carried on, thus far, under many embarrassThe Editor has been able to do much less than he would, and his correspondents, it is feared, have done much less than hey could, to render the work instructive, engaging and useful. But few, comparatively, have availed themselves of the invitation, which was early given to temperate discussion; a mode of writing, which, more than any other, is adapted to awaken inquiry, excite interest, and elicit truth.
The name, assumed for this publication, was, indeed, unpopular at first; chiefly because the scheme of sentiments which it designates, was so : but, as "honesty is the best policy," and no guile or deception was intended, or deemed justifiable in such a cause; it was thought best, at the suggestion of an aged and eminent divine, to take that name, which was the least ambiguous and most expressive of the thing intended. And it was, and is believed, that the only way to wipe off the reproach which has and been cast upon the name is, to own it, and explain, and prove, apply the system of religious truth and duty, to which it is appropriated. The name, all consistent, genuine Calvinists must wear; and they must wear it as a stigma, unless they' dare confess their belief,' and have the zeal and resolution to bring forth "their strong reasons"-and such, in abundance, they have-for embracing that system of doctrines and duties, for which the martyrs bled, and the reformers contended, whose foundation the immortal Edwards cleared of the rubbish of ages, and whose superstructure has been carried up, in beautiful proportions, by Bell..my, West, Hopkins and Emmons. It is the only scriptural and consistent system and though it may prove like goads to many an unhumble sinner and self-righteous pharisee, yet it commends itself to the reason and conscience of every man, in the sight of God.
The Editor feels grateful for the candid reception generally given to the preceding volumes of this work, with all their imperfections; while he regrets that his own want of leisure and ability, and the less liberal contributions of his correspondents, than were
anticipated, bave rendered the pages less entertaining and instructive than was hoped and desired. The typographical errors which have too frequently occurred, have been owing to the want of a direct and periodical communication with the press; an inconvenience which, it is expected, will soon be removed.
The Editor respectfully solicits the aid of such as approve of the publication, in furnishing materials and circulating the work; which, if he is enabled, without too great a pecuniary sacrifice, still to continue, he pledges his unremitting efforts to render as correct, engaging and instructive as possible. He will hold himself responsible for the sentiments in the sermons and editorial observations only; as other pieces will sometimes purposely contain opinions diverse from his own, with a view to open the door to discussion. May both those who write, and those who read, receive the love of the truth, and be found in the number of the wise, who understand and learn doctrine; and to this end, let both supplicate the teachings of that Holy Spirit, whose Divine office it is to illuminate the understanding by removing the blindness of the heart.