Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1861, by the

Boston REVIEW COMPANY, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.



VOL. I.—JANUARY, 1861.–No. 1.




HERE is the title of Origen's greatest work. A Latin translation still exists under the name “Libri de Principiis," or “Books of Principles." No other uninspired production has wrought such changes in the state of the Church, or so revolutionized the form of Christian Theology. It made the influence of its author upon the ecclesiastical world to be mightier than that of Constantine upon the civil. For fourteen centuries it was the seed-plot of theological investigation and debate.

That Tepi Apy contains errors and absurdities no one will deny. But, according to the Indian proverb, “ A diamond with some flaws is still more precious than a pebble that has none.' And whatever blemishes and inconsistencies it may be thought to have, it accomplished one great and good work: it contributed powerfully to the study and acknowledgment of principles.

Such a good and great work needs to be accomplished for the present age. Just now the theological skies of New England present striking omens of the need of, and the desire for, a return to the safe anchorage of first principles.

Sacred birds are flying both on the left and on the right, and the priests of augury should be looking out of their windows.

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There is boding evil in the popularity of those printed sermons, with their speckled and mottled theology, which have flooded the country of late. Like the iron money of Lycurgus, they are bulky and cheap. While the sermons have been the astonishment of good and thoughtful men, the indiscriminate greediness with which they have been swallowed by multitudes in the churches, with lappings and gappings for more, have grieved and. alarmed them.

There is threatening in the scantiness and vagueness of modern church creeds, as well as in the sensitiveness and querulousness with which, in many quarters, the simple inquiry about them has been received. Lengthening the denominational zeal, and the external forms and activities is no compensation for shortening and diluting the creed ; for the tree dies not for want of branches and leaves, but for lack of nourishment to its roots. That so many young men are applying for licensure and ordination who possess almost the smallest modicum of definite and positive theology, evidently relying upon rhetorical style and popular address for their success, certainly portends no good to the Redeemer's cause. Ignorance, in this case, is not only injustice to the world, but ruin to the Church.

While those memorable councils at North Woburn, at Hartford, and Manchester, revealing the possibility and the reality of youth passing up from pious families, through our boasted Sabbath schools, and even through the full course of our popular theological seminaries, without even settling in their hearts the first principles of piety and religion, such as Inspiration, Probation, Atonement, and Judgment, are dark signs of approaching apostasy, bitter conflicts, and separations. That is a weighty aphorism of Coleridge, “ He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all."

But perhaps the darkest and saddest omen to be seen is the contempt and ridicule which some professed ministers of the Gospel pour upon the fundamental principles of the Gospel-system, and upon all who adhere to them and defend and preach them. In their ordination-vows, they have sworn, upon the altars of the Church, that they will “ give heed to the doctrine,"

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