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- Author: Thomas Ralston
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Ralston, Thomas - Elements of Divinity (Theology) 1.0
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Elements of divinity: Or, A course of lectures, comprising a clear and concise view of the system of theology as taught in the Holy Scriptures; with appropriate questions appended to each lecture
THE former treatise by the author, styled “ELEMENTS OF DIVINITY,” related exclusively to the DOCTRINES of Christianity. When that work was published, it was his purpose, at no distant day, to prepare a second volume, embracing the EVIDENCES, the MORALS, and the INSTITUTIONS of Christianity, comprising in the two volumes a complete system of Bible Theology. Since the issue of the first volume much of his time and labor has been devoted to such research and investigation as he deemed important to the better accomplishment of his original purpose.
As he progressed in the work, he became convinced that for the perfecting of his plan it would be necessary to revise and enlarge the first volume, not only by farther elaborating many portions of it, but by adding thereto eight or ten chapters of new matter.
The first part of the work now offered the public comprises the matter contained in the “Elements of Divinity,” in a revised, improved, and more elaborated and systematic form, together with eight or ten chapters entirely new, on topics merely glanced at in the former volume. The second third and fourth embrace the Evidences, Morals, and Institutions of Christianity-topics entirely omitted in the former work.
The more natural order in the presentation of the great themes embraced in this work, would have required the Evidences of Christianity to occupy a position at the commencement. But as the great staple, Doctrines of Christianity, are more important in their nature, and less intricate and perplexing to most Christians, as well as more essential to the young minister in the beginning of his labors, it was deemed the better plan, in view of utility, to devote Part I. to the Doctrines, reserving to Part II. the Evidences of Christianity.
The object of the author in this work is not the production of a more orthodox critical, learned, or elaborate treatise on Theology than any with which the Church has already been blessed, but one better adapted to popular use in the present day. The theological writings of Stackhouse, Pearson, Dwight, John ****, George Hill, Richard Watson, and others that might be named, have been extensively used, and are a rich legacy which we trust will never cease to be appreciated by the Church. But while these noble productions are learned and elaborate, and are, doubtless, destined to an immortality of fame and usefulness, it must be admitted that there is a felt want of the present day which they do not, they cannot, meet.
All good judges have pronounced the “Institutes” of Watson a masterly production, admitting it to be the best presentation and defense of Christian doctrine, in its Evangelico-Arminian type, ever exhibited to the religious public. It is too noble a monument to the genius, theological learning, and logical acumen of that ablest divine of his age, for the fear to be entertained that it will ever cease to be appreciated. It will always continue to be read and studied with care by the intelligent lovers of Wesleyan. Theology, whether ministers or laymen. But it is well known that there is now an important demand of Methodism in this country which “Watson’s Institutes” are not calculated to meet. It is impossible that a work written in England, near half a century ago, can be fully adapted to the state of religious controversy in the United States at the present crisis.
Since the great works on Theology of which we have made mention were written, the status of theological belief, and the base of religious polemics, have been materially changed. Calvinism, one system of theological opinion which was so critically examined and so ably refuted in the “Institutes” of Mr. Watson, has undergone, in this country especially, a great modification, both as to the form in which it is set forth, and the method in which it is defended by its adherents. To meet this new state of things, a more modern work is needed, and one prepared with an eye to the controversy which has been so rife between Calvinistic divines of the New and the Old School type.
Besides, during the last thirty or forty years, not only has great advancement been made in science, but some startling and radical theories, connected both with philosophy, and religion, have been zealously paraded. The insidious guise in which some of these heterodox principles are often presented, renders them but too imposing to communities not well instructed in theological doctrines. The “Institutes” of Mr. Watson were written without reference or applicability to these pernicious phases of error, and, of course, do not furnish the proper antidote to the evil. In the work now presented, the modern phases of Calvinism as developed in the United States-the distinctive doctrines of that denomination termed Campbellites, or Reformers-together with the infidel principles of modern German Rationalism, have been specially considered.
The important desideratum which it is the object of the author to supply, is a text-book of Wesleyan Arminian Theology, no less solid, thorough, comprehensive, and critically accurate than any of. those referred to, and yet better adapted to popular use-a work more systematic and concise in form, more simple and perspicuous in style, and less interlarded with antiquated terms and the technicalities of the schoolmen-a work whose striking characteristic shall be Theology made easy; which, in style and method, shall not only be pleasing and easy to young persons, private Christians, and theological students, but adapted to ministers of all grades. Such are the characteristics of the work which it has been the author’s aim, to the best of his ability, to produce.
While in all the various branches pertaining to mere physical and intellectual science the master-minds of the age have gone forth in active and energetic search of improved methods of rendering those studies pleasing and easy, it is remarkable that in Theology, the greatest and most important of all sciences, so little effort has been made in this direction.
The science of Divinity is a sublime system of positive truth, and should be set forth in an easy, natural, and connected form; and, like Grammar, Astronomy, Chemistry, or any other science, it should be presented in consecutive chapters; and, for the convenience of study and examination should have appropriate questions appended to each chapter.
The author takes pleasure in recording his thankfulness to God and to the Church for the encouraging notices and kind reception with which his former work has been favored. In presenting the present more elaborate work, though it has cost him much more labor and research than the former, and may possess more intrinsic merit, yet such is the character of some of the topics discussed, that he cannot reasonably expect it to receive an equal degree of unqualified approval and commendation. On the Doctrines of Christianity there is a remarkable unity of faith among ministers and members throughout all the connections and modifications of Methodism. But in reference to the Institutions of Christianity, embracing the Government and Polity of the Church, there is less harmony of sentiment. Hence, as this subject, in its various and important aspects, is discussed in the work now issued, it is impossible, whatever may be its character that it should escape criticism, animadversion, or even opposition, from certain quarters.
Leaving an intelligent and indulgent public to decide how far he has succeeded in accomplishing his object as herein specified, he submits this work for their examination, praying that all who may favor it with a perusal may be guided into the knowledge of all saving truth through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen!
T. N. RALSTON ELEMENTS OF DIVINITY Thomas N. Ralston, D.D.
Table of Contents
PART 1.-DOCTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY.
BOOK 1.-DOCTRINES RELATING TO GOD.
1. The Existence of God
2. The Attributes of God
3. The Divinity of Christ
4. The Personality and Divinity of the Holy Spirit
5. The Holy Trinity
6. The Creation
7. Divine Providence
BOOK 2.-DOCTRINES RELATING TO MAN.
8. The Primeval State of Man
9. The Fall of Man-The Divine Administration Vindicated
10. The Effects of the Fall of Man-Penalty of the Law Considered
11. The Effects of the Fall of Man-Depravity-The Doctrine Defined and Proved
12. Depravity-Objections Considered
13. Depravity-Objections Considered-Moral State and Legal Relation of Infants
14. The Moral Agency of Man
15. The Moral Agency of Man-Objections
BOOK 3.-THE REMEDIAL SCHEME-ITS PROVISIONS.
16. The Atonement-Its Necessity
17. The Atonement-Its Nature-Patriarchal and Mosaic Sacrifices
18. The Atonement-Its Nature-Expiatory Character of the Death of Christ
19. The Atonement-Its Extent-Various Theories Exhibited
20. The Atonement-Its Extents-More Modern Phases of Calvinism Examined
21. The Atonement-Its Extent-The Arminian View Exhibited and Proved by Scripture
22. The Atonement-Its Extent-Predestination, Election, Foreknowledge, and Sovereignty
23. The Atonement-Its Extent-Election and Predestination-Special Scriptures Examined
24. Calvinism and Arminianism Compared
BOOK 4.-THE REMEDIAL SCHEME-ITS BENEFITS.
25. The Influence of the Holy Spirit
26. Repentance-Its Nature, Means, and Necessity
27. Faith-Its General Import-Justifying Faith Considered
28. Justification-Its Nature Considered
29. Justification-False Theories Refuted-Justification by the Imputation of Christ’s Active Obedience Considered
30. Justification-False Theories Refuted-Justification by Christ’s Active and Passive Obedience Taken Together, Considered
31. Justification-False Theories Refuted-Justification by Works Alone, and by Faith and Works United, Considered
32. Justification by Faith only, Illustrated and Proved
33. Justification by Faith only-Objections Answered
35. Adoption-Witness of the Spirit
36. Perseverance of the Saints
37. Christian Perfection
BOOK 5.-THE FUTURE STATE.
38. Immortality of the Human Soul-Philosophical Objections Considered
39. Immortality of the Human Soul-The Doctrine Established
40. The Resurrection of the Human Body
41. The General Judgment
42. Future Punishment of the Wicked
43. Future Happiness of the Righteous
PART 2.-EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY.
BOOK 1.-PREPARATORY EVIDENCE.
1. Introduction-Importance of the Subject, and Method of Investigation
2. Revelation Necessary to the Knowledge and Worship of God
3. Revelation Necessary to Teach the Origin, Duty, and Destiny of Man
4. The Character of Evidence Proper on the Subject of Revelation- Connection between the Christian Religion and the Bible
5. Antiquity of the Scriptures
6. Authority of the Scriptures-Genuineness and Authenticity of the Old Testament
7. Authority of the Scriptures-Genuineness and Authenticity of the New Testament
8. Authority of the Scriptures-Inspiration of the Sacred Writers-The Sense in which it should be Understood
BOOK 2.-DIRECT EVIDENCE-EXTERNAL.
9. Miracles-Definition Considered
10. Miracles-Hume’s Argument
11. Miracles-The Character of their Testimony
12. Miracles of the Old Testament
13. Miracles of the New Testament
14. The Prophecies of Scripture in Relation to the Jews
15. Prophecies in Relation to Nineveh, Babylon, and Tyre
16. Prophecies in Relation to Messiah
17. The Success of Christianity
BOOK 3.-DIRECT EVIDENCE-INTERNAL.
18. Harmony of the Dispensations-General Consistency of the Bible-Its Analogy with Nature
19. Origin of the Bible-Life of Christ-Style of the Sacred Writers- Adaptation of Doctrines to the Character and Condition of Man
20. Experimental Evidence-Considered in Reference to Men in general, and to Christians in particular
PART 3.-THE MORALS OF CHRISTIANITY.
BOOK 1.-INTRODUCTORY PRINCIPLES.
1. Connection between Moral Philosophy and Divine Revelation-The Manner in which Morals are Taught in the Scriptures
2. Philosophical Theses Exhibited-The Nature of Rectitude-The Ground of Moral Obligation
BOOK 2.-OUR DUTY TO GOD.
3. Love-The Fear of God
4. Prayer-Its Nature and Propriety
5. Prayer-Scripture View-Different Kinds of Prayer
6. Prayer-Form of Public Worship
7. The Sabbath-Its Origin and Perpetuity
8. The Sabbath-Its Change from the Seventh to the First Day of the Week
9. The Christian Sabbath-Its Observance
BOOK 3.-OUR DUTY TO OUR NEIGHBOR.
10. Its General Principles Considered
11. Application of the Law to Special Cases and Conditions-Husbands and Wives
12. Application of the Law to Special Cases and Conditions-Parents and Children
13. Application of the Law to Special Cases and Conditions-Rulers and Subjects
14. Christian Consecration
PART 4.-THE INSTITUTIONS OF CHRISTIANITY.
BOOK 1.-THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH-ITS ORGANIZATION, GOVERNMENT, AND POLITY.
1. Foundation Principles Examined
2. The Apostolic Office
3. Form of Church Government
4. Form of Church Government-Scripture Testimony-The Old Testament
5. Form of Church Government-Scripture Testimony-The New Testament
6. The Highest Governmental Authority-Originally Vested in the Apostles
7. The Governmental Authority-Deposited in the Ordained Eldership
8. The Ministry-Different Orders-Ordination of the Ministry-Its Connection with the Churches
9. The Claims of Independency Examined
10. Written Creeds, Disciplines, and Confessions of Faith
BOOK 2.-THE CHRISTIAN SACRAMENTS.
11. The Number and Nature of the Sacraments
12. Christian Baptism-Its Nature, Obligation, Design, and Efficacy
13. Christian Baptism-Its Subjects
14. Christian Baptism-Its Mode
15. The Lord’s Supper-Its Origin and Nature
16. The Lord’s Supper-The Right to Partake of it Considered
17. Objections to Free Communion Answered