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FOR THE YEAR 1806,
THE FIFTH VOLUME.
PRINTED BY C. WHITTINGHAM,
103, Goswell Street;
TO WHOM COMMUNICATIONS, POST PAID, MAY BE ADDRESSED.
WHEN the Conductors of the Christian Observer began their labours, they grounded their claim to public favour, principally, on the assurance which they gave of its being their main purpose to extend the influence, and increase the efficacy, of those Christian principles which convey, to fallen man, his only hope of salvation. They will not pretend to say how far they have redeemed this pledge ; but there are circumstances, independent of the growing demand for their work, which lead them to believe, that they are not considered by their readers in general as having forfeited it. This persuasion will not fail to animate their future efforts.
One object which the CONDUCTORS of the Christian OBSERVER have endeavoured uniformly to pursue, has been to abate the acrimony of theological debate ; and to induce those “who agree in the essentials of our most holy faith,” “ to put away from them all rancour of religious dissension,” as well as all unfounded suspicions of their brethren, “ and to fulfil our blessed Saviour's commandment of loving one another as he hath loved us *.” That some improvement, in this respect, is visible in the religious world, since the commencement of their labours, they cannot doubt. Probably many causes have concurred in producing this favourable result: yet they are willing to hope that it may have pleased the great Head of the Church to render
* Prayer appointed to be used on the 19th of October 1803, being a day of public fasting and humiliation.
their work in some small degree subservient to its production. To him be the praise !
The CONDUCTORS of the CHRISTIAN OBSERVER find an additional source of satisfaction in the gradual dininution of those vehement prejudices, which assailed their under1.aking at its outset, and for a time impeded its success. If the groundless and contradictory clamours of “ Calvinism” and“ Arminianism” have subsided, they are disposed to attribute the circumstance to an increasing conviction, among religious persons, that the questions which agitate the partizans of these two systems are comparatively unimportant, and little affect the foundations of our common Christianity; and that therefore, on such topics (to use a trite but significant expression) good men may agree to differ.” It has been with the view of bringing Christians to this wise and beneficial determination, that they have employed so much of their time in correcting the mistakes and misapprehensions of writers on both sides of this endless controversy. And although they may have seemed to many, to neglect, in the eagerness of polemical discussion, the paramount interests of practical piety; yet they acted from a belief, that in order effectually to promote those interests, and to call men off from the angry contentions in which they were engaged to the cultivation of a spirit of Christian unity and peace, it was necessary to impress strongly on their minds the comparative unprofitableness of the speculations which excited their animosity, and fully to expose to them the errors and misrepresentations, the prejudice and want of charity with which both parties were sometimes chargeable. They derive comfort, in looking forward to the future, from the hope that it will no longer be requisite to divert an equally large share of their attention from practical objects to those of a controversial description.
Had any thing been wanting to confirm the CONDUCTORS of the Christian OBSERVER in the view they have given of the question which has now been alluded to; a view, as they