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EXTRACTS COVERING A COMPREHENSIVE CIRCLE OF
RELIGIOUS AND ALLIED TOPICS,
GATHERED FROM THE BEST AVAILABLE SOURCES, OF ALL AGES AND ALL SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT;
AND ILLUMINATIVE FRAMEWORK :
CLASSIFIED AND THOUGHT-MULTIPLYING LISTS, COMPARATIVE TABLES, AND ELABORATE
INDICES, ALPHABETICAL, TOPICAL, TEXTUAL, AND SCRIPTURAL
EDITED BY THE
VERY REV. H. D. M. SPENCE, M.A.,
REV. JOSEPH S. EXELL, M.A.,
XV. CHRISTIAN DOGMATICS (Concluded)
18 AND 20 ASTOR PLACE.
APTER considerably curtailing the eschatological articles, room has been found in the present volume for the remainder of the Christian Dogmatic main section. With a view to remove the inconvenience which might arise from the impossibility of this section-on account of its size and importance—appearing in a single volume, a syllabus of the whole is given on the two following pages, and also an entire index in the appendix.
In order to render this part of the work manageable, not only have the antecedent department of Christian Apologetics, and the subsequent department of Ethics in its distinctive form, been separately treated, but relief sections, such as those for "The Divine Attributes," "The Titles of the Holy Ghost," etc., have been formed.
It is believed that this arrangement has several advantages. Without wishing to narrow a right breadth of view in religion, it must be conceded that the main fundamental and moral truths of Christianity are usually not sufficiently viewed as a connected system, with each part related to every other as well as to the sum total. By a judicious use of the Table exhibiting the classified contents, the place of any truth in Christian theology proper can be readily found, and light be reflected upon it from its allied topics. By this means the teacher will be enabled to throw fresh interest into well-worn and, may be, not very attractive homiletical themes. Besides, connected teaching will be assisted by the progressive and continuous presentation of leading doctrines of faith and practice. The Divisions F to I, in particular, which treat of the means of grace, Christian excellences, duties and privileges, together with the ultimate rewards, cannot fail to be useful to those accustomed to take courses of sermons, either during special seasons, as Lent, or on other suitable occasions. At all events, though the student may be oppressed with endless theological treatises by authors, who often do little more than re-echo in slightly altered tone the sentiments of their predecessors in the same field; still the comprehensive study of the practical duties of the Christian life cannot be pursued from any single treatise. Indeed, not overmuch sermonic help really exists in extant theological works, either of a doctrinal or practical character. For the former prove either too professional or polemical ; while the latter are too hortatory, mystical, or specific in treatment.
In the selection of the extracts for the present volume much thought and pains have been expended in fixing guiding principles. It has been considered best to omit, as far as possible, excerpts which would delight the mere theological philosopher, or the humanitarian religionist who eschews dogma altogether. In the place of cold and uninviting dogmatic utterances, as well as of vapid sentimentalism, there have been inserted quotations, of Christian truth, earnestly and lovingly proclaimed. From the enlightened, vigorous, and devout writers of different schools of thought, as represented in these pages, some new or clearer light, it is trusted, will dawn upon the reader. Truth, when freed from narrow statements, is always discovered to be many-sided; and its hidden beauties are not the possession of any one order of mind, of any one class, of any one nationality, or of any one age.
This Section has been prepared with a deepening sense of the fact that the catholicity of Divine Revelation shows itself alike in the Gospel being simple enough for the comprehension of each individual mind, as also in its being so sublime and profound as to require, under Divine guidance, the catholic mind of the whole body politic of Christians for its complete realization, and for the exhibition of its infinitely varied and various aspects.