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HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY.
BY GEORGE W. BURNAP,
PASTOR OF THE FIRST INDEPENDENT CHURCH OF BALTIMORE,
OF WOMAN, &c.
CUSHING & BROTHER, 206 MARKET STREET.
BELIEVING as I do, that the Scriptures contain a revelation from God, and that they are the main source of all that is most valuable in modern civilization, the only sure ground of hope for man here and hereafter, I have ever esteemed them the worthiest subject of study and investigation. To understand the sacred records completely, and to comprehend the wisdom of the Divine plan, which arranged the time, the place, and the circumstances of the advent of the Author and Finisher of our faith, has never been granted to any human mind. To the understanding of this most interesting subject any original inquirer may contribute something, and he has the satisfaction of knowing that no particle of truth is ever lost. However humble the source from which it emanates, it is cast into the common treasury of the human mind, and does something to help
forward the grand approximation towards the truth, which is constantly going on while the ages roll away.
The first requisite to the understanding of the New Testament is a thorough knowledge of the circumstances, opinions and expectations of the age of Christ and the Apostles. When these are ascertained, the darkest passages become plain and intel ligible. We learn immediately to draw the necessary distinction between substance and form, between the essential truths of Christianity, and the mode of representation by which they were adapted to a particular people, between figures of speech and literal statements, between logical proof and analogical illustration, between the language of the heart and affections and that of the reason and intellect, between what is fundamental and eternal, and what is accessory and transitory.
But the most precious fruit of biblical research, is the entire prostration of the walls of sectarian prejudice and exclusiveness. No one can proceed far without discovering, that the principal controversies which have divided the church, have been upon points either unimportant in themselves, or entirely foreign to Christianity. A moderate degree of criti