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be omitted in the enumeration of books which tend to form the tone and character of a Christian minister; and from many of Baxter's practical treatises, from Doddridge's Rise and Progress of Religion, Scougal's Life of God in the Soul of Man, and similar works, he may learn how truth is to be brought home to the heart in its most solemn application; and how the doctrines of the Gospel may be most effectively used for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
The Selection from the Works of the British Divines, formed by the Rev. C. Bradley,* and the series more recently published in Edinburght include many valuable treatises of this sort, which it may not otherwise be easy to obtain separate; and the many minor works, which, either as re-publications of detached parts of authors, or as
* Select British Divines, edited by the Rev. C. Bradley
+ Select Christian Authors, by Chalmers and Collins.
original productions, are continually issuing from the press, offer very important resources to those who can exercise discretion in the use of the materials presented to them. Unquestionably exceptions may be made to some treatises in almost every collection, and to some expressions in almost every treatise ; but these exceptions are frequently as much matters of taste as of judgment; and the reader sometimes revolts from an expression because it is peculiar, as much as if it was untrue. But even where the difference is real, it is not necessary, in order to derive useful instruction from a book, to coincide in all its statements. Much may be learned from many authors without any entire surrender of the judgment to their opinions; and it is to be hoped that the man who has once settled his mind on the foundation of the Church and her Articles, may be trusted with different views, without any danger to the soundness and consistency of his own
faith. We might even add, that unless he takes this sort of liberty in his studies, and overcomes the offence which he feels at statements or language which differ from his own, his field will be unnecessarily narrowed, and that he never will possess that wide and extensive acquaintance with the subject which is desirable.
It is probable that expressions may occur in some of the treatises above alluded to, as well as in many valuable works of the earlier divines, which savour of the bias of the time and circumstances at which they were written, and which it would not be expedient to adopt. But the good predominates in a large proportion. Truth is frequently stated with great correctness, and with considerable power, even in those works which seem most objectionable on these grounds; and it is not too much to hope, that a moderate exercise of discretion, may enable the student to select that which is profit. able, while he rejects that which is questionable or injurious.
History of the Church, external and in
ternal.—The means for prosecuting the study. Histories, memoirs ; caution to be used in the study of biographical notices.
In speaking of doctrines we have made some allusion to history; for in truth, the history of the Church of Christ is properly a history of doctrines; the rise and fall of these being in this case the events which it is the principal business of the historian to trace and to delineate. But the history which is here to be studied, is limited in its extent. Instead of being occupied in recording those multiplied changes which the will of man has been endeavouring to produce on the surface of the earth ; it is engaged in watching and describing the various agencies by which our Maker has been accomplishing the one great object of his purpose, the redemption, the restoration of mankind. In the earlier period of the world, this history therefore is confined to the state of the Jewish people, the nation which God chose as the depository of his will, as the instrument of its final accomplishment. From the period of the Christian era the channel is widened; the stream flows on, gaining width and depth as it advances, and comprising within its space the records of nations innumerable; and thus we feel that it will increase, till the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord, and one history shall suffice for all the posterity of Adam.