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BY AN ASSOCIATION OF GENTLEMEN.
FOR THE YEAR
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY S. CONVERSE,
FOR THE EDITOR
THE Con .ctors of the CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR, take the opportunity presented them by the commencement of another year of their labours, to solicit the aid, both of the talents and patronage, of those who are united in the great doctrines of the Reformation.
At no period since the commencement of this publication, has the union of the friends of these doctrines appeared more necessary; and the assurances of friendly regard and assistance, which, from various quarters we have received, induce us to believe that at no period has this union appeared more probable.
To illustrate the necessity of united effort, we need only remark, that the enemies of the doctrines of the Reformation are collecting their energies, and meditating a comprehensive system of attack, which demands on our part a corresponding concert of action. In addition to this organized system of attack, there are individuals in every part of our country who are filling the land with cavils against the doctrines of grace, calculated to unsettle the minds of multitudes, and if it were possible, to deceive the very elect. This ubiquity of indefatigable assault, seems to require a like ubiquity of indefatigable defence. Is it not time then to lift up an ensign which may be seen from east to west, and from north to south, and to sound a trumpet of alarm which shall draw around the standard of our Captain the defenders of his faith? For our part, we cannot meditate on the preparations of the enemy without solicitude, or endure the thought that the battle axe should ring on the gates of Zion before a sentinel awakes, or a note of preparation is heard within.
It seems evident, that such a periodical work as the exigences of the church demand, can be sustained only by great and united efforts. By men of learned leisure it cannot be supported, for no such exist in our country. Must it not then be sustained by those who are compelled to redeem their time and double their diligence for that end. But to support it permanently in this manner is it not indispensable that the pressure be allowed to rest on a more extended base ? A small number of men may make great efforts for a short time, but who can sustain through protracted years, an effort which puts constantly in requisition all his energies at their highest point of exertion ?
Were it practicable to meet the exigences of our country by five or six periodical publications in different places, why should the labour and expense of defending the truth be multiplied many times, when it can be done with far greater ability by a single united effort? So far as writers are awakened to more vigorous exertion by the prospect of appearing in the presence, and labouring for the benefit of thousands, a work to be read by the great body of the church, must exert a powerful influence in calling forth the utmost reach of talent. And would not the interest excited in the community at large by such a work, give to it a peculiar and commanding influence ?
Two difficulties only have occurred to us as to the permanent support of such a work; the one is a sensibility which may be awakened by the admission of different views respecting some points of doctrine, the other a natural feeling entertained by every good man who is deeply engaged in professional and local duties, that his hands are already full and that he can do no more. As to the first difficulty, we are prepared to believe that the exercise of a christian spirit on the part of the writers, and the conciliatory influence of the department of reviews, with a small share of christian magnanimity and forbearance on the part of the readers, will render the work more instructive and satisfactory, than a publication accommodated exclusively to the senti
ments of any one part of the church. Indeed, if the day is ever to come wher o the watchmen shall see eye to eye,” with whom is the approximation to commence if not with those who are least asunder, and whose hearts are most cordially disposed to union, and how can that union be effected except by a temperate statenient and discussion of conflicting sentiments ?
As to leisure for promoting the general interests of the Church, which lie beyond the sphere of professional labour, we have out-lived the day, in which we expect to find any such period of leisure between us and the grave. Those duties are important and sufficient to occupy the time of every man; but the question is, can our immediate professional duties, and the more general duties of our humble spheres, be lawfully allowed to engross our whole strength and time. There is indeed a providential course of things which will hold on its way to great and good results unwatched and unanticipated, except by God himsell; when local duties are faithfully perfornied throughout the church, and no enemy is combining into plans of extensive reach, all those general causes of a disasterous influence which can be brought to bear on the interests of the church. But never, we believe, have the enemy been left to control and pervert all the great springs of action and influence in a community, without a deplorable prevalence of errour and prostration of truth.
To avert so great a calamity, the result of plans so deliberate and comprehepsive, of causes so powerful, of an executive energy recently awakened into such constant and vigorous action, we feel ourselves called upon in common with the friends of vital religion, in every part of our country, under a sense of common danger, and duty, taking into view the religious interests of this great and growing nation for centuries to come to lay aside all prejudices, if we have any, to forego in part the demands of local avocation, and even to lay upon ourselves additional burdens, that we may at once meet the enemy which is coming in like a food, and fight on the threshold, the battle of the Lord.
It is by no means our expectation that the Christian Spectator will become extensively a controversial work, much less that its exertions will be directed exclusively against any one party. To illustrate and defend the doctrines of grace, from whatever quarter they may be assaulted, to give a wider range to their practical influence, and to array in one impenetrable phalanx all who stand forth in their defence, are the high objects to which we would concentrate our feeble efforts, and urge the co-operation of our brethren.