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LEADING AND MOST IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES
NATURAL AND REVEALED
DIGESTED IN SUCH ORDER AS TO PRESENT TO THE FIOUS AND REFLECTING
MIND, A BA818 FOR THE SUPERSTRUCTURE OF THE ENTIR?
SYSTEM OY THE DOCTRINRS OF THE GOSPEL
BY THE REV. SAMUEL STANHOPE SMITH, D.D. L.L.D.
DATE PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE OF NRW-JERSET.
District of Nest-Jersey, ss.
BE IT REMEMBERED, that on the twenty-fourth day of August, is the fortieth year of the Independence of the United States of America, Deare & Myer, of the said district have deposited in this office, the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words following, to wit :
" A Comprehensive View of the leading and most important principles of Na“tural and Revealed Religion, digested in such order as to present to the pious *and reflecting mind, a basis for the superstructure of the entire system of the “ doctrines of the Gospel. By the Rev. Samuel Stanhope Smith, D.D. L.L.D. “late President of the College of New-Jersey"
In confoi mity to an act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, “ AD act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprieters of such copies, during the times therein mentioned ;" and also to the act, entitled, “ An act supplementary to the act, entitled an act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the cop jes of maps, charts and hooks, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and etcbiog, historical and other prints."
No doubt can exist in the mind of a judicious christian, but that the Sacred Scriptures comprise the most complete development of the entire system of our holy religion. But the extent and variety of information which they embrace, the loose and narrative style in which a great portion of them is written, and the picturesque and poetic imagery in which others are clothed, have presented an occasion both to ingenious and to feeble minded men, to build upon them a multitude of contending opinions, each supported by detached expressions collected from these divine 'oracles, or by interpretations, either plausible or forced, imposed upon their language. Divines, in order to correct or restrain this ambiguous diversity of sentiment, have endeavoured to reduce the whole of the doctrines of the sacred writings to certain definite principles, arranged in scientific order, so as mutually to illustrate and support one another. This would have been a scheme sufficiently rational, if system writers had confined their object to digesting the diffusive and expanded phraseology of the scriptures into a few simple and connected propositions, intended to present the substance of the whole to the mind, under one view. But their design has become so mingled with the discordant theories of different writers, that their extended discussions on each topic have often destroyed the simplicity of the gospel, and led their readers, as well as disposed the writers themselves, to substitute human reason for the word of God. IRstead f presenting a brief analysis of the doctrines contained in the Bible, they have too frequently attempted to make their respective explanations of the system of divine truth an entire library of theological science : -It has occurred to the author that it would be desirable to students in that sphere of knowledge, to have its principal subjects distinctly pointed out, and clearly illustrated, in a short compass, in order to direct their future inquiries, and so to guard their future addresses from the pulpit, from blending discordant opinions; that they should, in no point, err against the general system of evangelic truth. He further hoped that such a compencious view might usefully aid the private christian, in examining the sacred scriptures, and pursuing throughout the whole the connected thread of christian doctrine.
These are the objects to which his attention has been chiefly directed in the following discourses, designed to embrace a very compendious scheme of the leading principles of Natural and Revealed Theology. When these leading principles are fixed they become centers in which all the doctrines in that branch of the scia ence naturally inhere, and diverging from which, they are easily traced by the judicious reader. This design very early occupied his mind, while pursuing his own studies under the superintendence of that eminent and learned divine, the late Rev. Dr. Witherspoon. At the request of a number of young men, in the year 1772, graduates of the college, at that time residing in the institution for the prosecution of their theological studies, of whom the author was one, the doctor was prevailed on to commence a course of lectures on this subject, which he continued once a week till the Autumn of 1773, when different objects of pursuit in life attracting the greater portion of the class, it was of course dissolved. The doctor had