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The circumstances which attend the commencement of the presei. volume of the Christian Spectator, require that a few things be said by way of preface. What we have to offer shall relate rather to the plan and object of our labours, than to our success.
It has been the aim of the conductors of the Christian Spectator, from the first, to merge all local and sectarian preferences, in a catbolic endeavour to vindicate the truth. They have felt that a concentration of effort and of influence, on the part of those who beld the doctrines of the Reformation, was demanded by the character of the prominent controversies of the age. Questions touching the distinctive tenets of a sect, may be left to the parties who originate them; but in a controversy which concerns not the peculiarities of this or that denomination, but the fundamental doctrines of Christianity itself, Christians have a common cause, and the vindication of those doctrines is their common duty. And if it be their duty to contend at all for the faith delivered to the saints, it is equally their duty to avail themselves of such means as may enable chem io contend in that manner which shall be most effectual.
Let it be considered then, how a controversy of the kind alluded to—a controversy in which learning, and talents, and influence are to be encountered-can be sustained with most advantage to the cause of truth; whether, by a great diversity of publicatiops, each supported by a local and precarious patronage, and moving in a circumscribed sphere, or by a publication which shall go abroad with the influence of a work, supported by the best talents in the country, wherever found, and read, and approved of by the whole orthodox community. In such a sense as this, a work may be national," even though it be the offspring of no national church, and the object of no state favours.
We are not speaking of what our own, or any American miscellany, has actually attained to, or perhaps ever will, but of what has seemed to us desirable. Nor do we undervalue the many religious publications with which our mails are loaded. In various ways these promote the interests of piety, and we bid them God speed. But while many of them are more or less sectarian, both in respect to their character and their sphere of influence, and many more are simply vehicles of intelligence, do they collectively present such a barrier to the enemies of truth as to leave nothing to be desired? While they gladden the hearts of Christians, do they rebuke error-error propagated at all points, with a bold and restless zeal, and not without assistance of the learned,"—effectually as to render a work of aggregated talent, and of general interest to the community, superfluous ?
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If it may be said, that, in proportion to the ability with which a publication is sustained will be the wideness of its circulation, it may with equal truth be said, that in proportion to the wideness of its circulation, will be the ability with which it is sustained. A work which is read only by a few hundred individuals, cannot, generally, command great literary resources. Great minds love a wide field to act upon. And it is with such a field before them, ordinarily, that they put forth all their strength. The reflection that one is writing for a whole community, and that thousands are to weigh his arguments and canvass his opinions, creates within him that ardour and elevation of mind which alone can prompt him to bis highest efforts. Patronage, we repcat, therefore, is essential to success; and if we have never seen an American religious miscellany which has been waited for, and widely circulated on the other side of the Atlantic, as some foreign periodicals have been on this, it is because we have never scen an American religious miscellany, which could distribute its - 20,000 copies' in a day.
Those who have been acquainted with the Christian Spectator, will be in no danger of inferring from these remarks, that it is exclugively a controversial work. While we have laboured to convince the enemies of truth, we have not forgotten the importance of practical godliness among its friends. Much, it is believed, may be found on our pages, to cdify the Christian ; and something, it is hoped, to interest the worldly-minded—who, though they may be too busy, or too indolent, to give their minds to elaborate discussions, may read occasionally, a lighter essay, and feel their hearts inclined to virtuc.
The occasion reminds is of our obligations to all who have assisted us, either by their talents or their patronage. Expressing our gratitude for these favours, and soliciting a continuance of ihem, we commend our work to Him whose cause we humbly hope to serve, and without whose blessing, all who labour spend their strength in vain.
DERSTANDING AND THE INTERPRE-
GONNEXION BETWEEN SPIRITUAL UN- only by feeling. It is a simple men.
tal sensation, and description can no more illustrate any such sensation to
him who has not felt it, than it can Sous kinds of writiog can be un
illustrate sight to the blind, or sound derstood and interpreted by intellect to the de if. Could we suppose any alone ; others require the united as- one so constituted by nature as pot sistance of intellect and feeling. to be qualified to exercise filial affecWhere the subject is purely intel- tions that in circumstances where lectual, as in mathematical or phi- the minds of others glow with love losophical investigations, be who and gratitude, his mind is a blank; fully comprehends the whole train can language supply the defect, or of ihe intellectual process, is entire
cause him to understand those emomaster of the subject, for he com- tions which never moved bis breast? prehends all which the author in. Or as the joyous freeman exults in tended to communicate. But if the bis blessings and pours forth in all subject be not merely intellectual.but the consciogs dignity of indepenthe powers of intellect are called dence, the deep feelings of his soul, into use merely to describe the can the slave on whom the light of emotions and passions of the mind, freedom never dawned, and whose the language cannot be fully under- breast is a stranger to the exalted stood, unless those passions and aspirations of the other, understand emotions are fell; for so long as the language which describes these these are unfelt, the entire meaning lofty emotions ? But on the other of the author is not apprehended. hand, let the son begin to love his is it not an acknowledged truth, that father, or let the dark mind of the the simple bodily sensations cannot slave be illuminated by the feelings be understood except by sensation? of a freeman, and immediately the Can language cause a blind man to language which describes such feelunderstand the sensations of sight? ings, becomes intelligible. It deCan it bring before him the glories scribes something which has been of the sun, and cause the smiles of felt, and the feelings of the heart the landscape to charm his mind? sympathize with the description. Can he who is deaf, understand the If the feelings do not at the time sensations of hearing ? Can the exist, yet the remembrance of them, language of signs coinmunicate to if they ever have existed, will in him the melody of sounds ?-So measure illustrate the lanlikewise feeling can be understood guage. But most of all, will the
actual existence of them throw a ally discerned ; and again we read flood of light upon the language by of the darkness of the heart, and of which they are described. As the spiritual blindness. The princiheart glows, the language becomes ples already stated, furnish an easy lucid, and the sympathy of feeling explanation of all these modes of complete.
expression, and illustrate clearly the Another fact ought here to be no. nature of this spiritual understandticed : feeling will influence the lan- ing and this spiritual blindness. guage by which it is communicated. Man by nature has no holy feelings. What that influence is cannot per- Whatever else he has of intellect baps be defined, but the fact is un- or of social affection, the love of doubted. There is a colouring, and God is not in him. Sorrow for sin, a glow in the language correspond- faith in Christ, love to the brethren, ing to the state of mind in which it and in short all the emotions of a was uttered. It influences the mode holy mind, have ceased from the of arrangement, and the selection of whole race of man. There is none words of different degrees of intensi- that doeth good, or seeketh afler ty, and causes the accumulation of God, no not one. But on the other similar intensive epithets, and other hand, every exercise of a boly artifices of language indicative of mind is described in the word of different states of excited feeling. God-all the emotions of the sancIf the mind of the reader is excited tified heart, from the first sensation by the feelings which glowed in the of sorrow for sin, to the last emomind of the writer, he will feel all tion of triumphant joy in the dethose proprieties of expression which parting saint, are therein exhibited are descriptive of that state of feeling, with all the fervid eloquence of holy and the glow of the language will cor- feeling. Now, can the mind which respond with the glow of bis own has never felt one of these emotions mind. But on the other hand, if any enter into the spirit of such lanone in a cold and frigid state of mind, guage, or feel its expressive eloattempts to read the language which quence ? No chord will vibrate ; was prompted by excitnd feeling there will be no sympatby of feelnever experienced by himself, he ing, no harmony of soul. This then is entirely senseless of all those is spiritual blindness : and spiritual niceties of expression; nay, there understanding is the reverse of this. will often arise a feeling of repulsion It is the sympathy of the holy between his own mind in its cold in- heart with the language of the Bianimate state, and the glowing lan. ble. By the agency of the Holy guage of a fervid mind. In short, a Spirit, the same feelings are excited mind warm with feelingimpresses its in the renewed heart which glowed own image and superscription upon in those holy men who wrote the the language which it selects, and word of God; and thus their lanthe mind which would correspond guage is understood, because the with this impression, must be like feelings which prompted it are felt. the original.
If now we appeal to facts, and ioThese principles, of extensive quire how and in what circumapplication in the concerns of com- stances spiritual understanding first mon life, are no less applicable to displays itself, and what is its prothe religious world. We read in gress, we shall find an abundant and the Bible of spiritual understanding striking confirmation of these views. and of spiritual discernment ; we Take then the singer dead in tresread of the natural man to whom passes and sins, in childbood or in the things of the Spirit are foolish mature age, and in what parts of the ness, by whom they cannot be un- Bible is he interested ? He can derstood, because they are spiritu- read bistorical parratiops, or the