Alexander Campbell The Christian System: CS - 00.4-Preface to the Second Edition

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Alexander Campbell The Christian System: CS - 00.4-Preface to the Second Edition

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THE present edition substitutes, for the first part of the last, a series of essays on the Christian System; and somewhat enlarges on the second. The continual misrepresentation and misconception of our views on some very fundamental points of the Christian system seem at the present crisis, to call for a very definite, clear, and connected view of the great outlines and elements of the Christian Institution; and more especially with a reference to a great question, which we anticipate soon to be the all-absorbing question of Protestant Christendom, viz.--How may schisms cease, and all Christians unite, harmonize and co-operate in one great community, as at the beginning?

Things ecclesiastic are moving forward to a new issue. The Christian system is undergoing an examination in the present day, both as to its evidences and signification, wholly unprecedented since the days of the grand defection. Such an age is always an age of extremes: but things will regulate themselves and settle down on the true foundation. "Many are running to and fro;" and certainly knowledge is on the increase.

The Christian system, as unfolded in the following essays, would, but for the special essays on the "Kingdom of Heaven," "Remission of Sins," "Regeneration," and "Breaking the Loaf," have been more systematically and fully developed. Sundry points are but meagerly discussed in the new essays, because of their recurrence in those elaborate articles which have been so often published. We have, indeed, aimed first at giving a general view, leaving the important details on the most disputable points for those essays.

Instead of the "Dialogue on the Holy Spirit," so generally read and so fully discussed, we have added a few essays on CHURCH ORDER as a part of the Christian system: thus endeavoring to give to the book all the chances of being as useful as possible to those who are desirous of a more perfect understanding of our attainments in Christian knowledge. We speak for ourselves only; and while we are always willing to give a declaration of our faith and knowledge of the Christian system, we firmly protest against dogmatically propounding our own views, or those of any fallible mortal, as a condition or foundation of church union and co-operation. While, then, we would, if we could, either with the tongue or the pen, proclaim all that we believe, and all that we know, to the ends of the earth, we take the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, as the foundation of all Christian union and communion. Those who do not like this will please show us a more excellent way.

BETHANY, Va., June 13th, 1839.