Breckinridge’s Theology -- By: Anonymous
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The portion of this work now before the public consists of two octavo volumes, of 524 and 697 pages respectively;
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to which, we are told, a third may be added. The author has long been a leading presbyter in his denomination, and, somewhat more than twenty years ago, bore a prominent part in the schism which rent the Presbyterian church in twain. Dr. Breckinridge commenced his public career as a lawyer; and was at one time honored, we have been informed, with a military title. He certainly brought into the church something of the atmosphere of the forum and the camp; and it was owing, in no small measure, to the remarkable tone which he gave to the controversy, that the rupture just referred to was successfully driven through. For the past six years, he has occupied the chair of theology in a western Seminary; and in these volumes presents himself before the world as a candidate for the honors of a theological teacher.
Dr. Breckinridge opens his book with stating, that he had “thought it would have been of great advantage to mankind, if it had happened that each century of the past had left to us in a distinct form, its systematic view of divine truth, according to the general attainments of that age, and the general faith of the earnest Christians thereof.’’ But this has not been done; and “what we have really received from the past,” “appears to me [the author] to leave theology as a pure science of positive truth, in the disordered condition of many inferior sciences, and more really than they, needing to be restated in a form as far as possible general, but at the same time simple, natural, and complete.” Thinking that the spirit of Orthodox Christianity, at the present day, “is not unsuitable to such an attempt,” and that “the type of Christian life” in the Old School Presbyterian church “affords some advantages towards its execution,” Dr. Breckinridge is further encouraged in his undertaking by the belief, that “such an endeavor springing from the midst of that-immense reaction toward the divine life in man, which signalized that church in this age,2 retrieving its destiny and modifying the Christianity of our times, might not be without its
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use — if it could survive;” and he supposes, to quote his own words again, “there are special reasons why, holding the views I do, occupying the position I hold, and led by Providence as I have been, my brethren who have exacted this service at my hands might be excused,” etc.
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