This volume is designed for the use of those who have neither the time nor the opportunity to study larger works on theology. In preparing it, my aim has been to present the system of Christian doctrine with plainness and brevity and to demonstrate, at every point, its truth, and its tendency to sanctify the heart. Men who have inclination and talent for deep research, will prefer more elaborate discussions than mine; but if the novice in religion shall be assisted in determining what is truth, and what the proper use to be made of it then the chief end for which I have written will have been attained.
In delineating divine truth, we may exhibit it in different aspects and relations. We may view it as coming forth from God, with supreme authority. Or we may exhibit it as a system revealed by Jesus Christ, all the parts of which beautifully harmonize with each other, and cluster around the doctrine of the cross, the central point of the system. Or we may exhibit it as entering the human heart by the agency of the Holy Spirit, and transforming it into the image of God. This last view I have labored to render prominent in these pages.
The moral and religious principle in man needs a suitable influence for its development and perfection and such influence, this book finds in the truths here presented. The adaptedness of a doctrine to produce this effect it regards as a proof of its truth and divine origin; and it accordingly deduces the articles of faith, to a great extent, from the inward exercises of piety. But this is not the only method relied on for demonstrating their truth. Other sources of religious knowledge have been examined, and especially the holy Scriptures in which the truth of God is directly made known. To this holy book, as the highest standard, the last appeal is always made; and the harmony of its decisions, with the deductions from our inward experience is carefully observed for the confirmation of our faith.