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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1832, by JONATHAN LEAVITT, in the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.
JOHN T. WEST, PRINTER.
Every revival of religion confirms the truth that the natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit. The awakened and the converted, whatever may have been their previous means of knowledge, need to be instructed in the essential doctrines of Christianity. In one important sense, the language descriptive of spiritual renovation applicable to both classes: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. In the vast and unexplored field which opens before them, they meet with many perplexities, and are subject to many doubts, and fears, and temptations, through the want of spiritual knowledge. It is obvious therefore, that while there are books for the young on every practical subject, it is vastly more important that they should be established in the doctrines which constitute the foundation of practical piety.
The press has indeed issued sermons, and tracts, and essays enough on doctrinal subjects, but it is believed that something is yet requisite, more specially adapted to the capacity of the convert, and the inquirer after the way of salvation. They have, in general, neither means to purchase, nor time to read a theological library. If they had—in their present state of ignorance, it might prove but a hidden treasure. They are anxious, the one class to know the evidence of “good hope through grace;" the other to ascertain immediately what they must “do to be saved," and therefore need to have the principal truths of the gospel exhibited in a small, and intelligible compass. It has appeared somewhat surprising, that, in this prolific age which has facilitated the progress of the learner in every branch of human science, there should not have been prepared some elementary book on Christian doctrines, for the many whom God is daily adding to the church.
The following manual has been undertaken at the request of friends whose judgment there is no reason to distrust, and from
the conviction, strengthened by much experience in revivals, that something of the kind is greatly needed, and if properly executed cannot fail to be extensively useful.
The author is fully aware that he has assumed a responsible task in this day of biblical and doctrinal investigation. But his principal object is not to settle controversies: it is to guide the anxious inquirer, and the young disciple by the plain dictates of that Word, which-understood and obeyed—will become a lamp to their feet and a light to their path, conducting them ultimately to perfection in knowledge and holiness.
Every important doctrine cannot be exhibited, consistently with the design of the work; but those doctrines will be considered which become the first subjects of practical inquiry, and which being admitted, will involve the admission of all the truths necessary to be believed as a means of salvation.
As it regards any original development, or application of truth, the writer may safely affirm that "he aspires to no loftier character than a guide through channels which, although intricate, are certainly not new."
NEW-YORK, May, 1832.