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Russia,-a nation to whose firmness and exertions the Continental States are so much indebted for the restoration of their independence.
It is, however, to those who are zealoussy concerned for the circulation of the word of God, and the diffusion of Gospel truth among the nations, that he conceives the following pages will be chiefly valuable.
His object, accordingly, in publishing this volume, is to exhibit a view of the principles of the church of Russia, in the only unexceptionable way in which this object can be accomplished, by affording the Russian divine an opportunity of stating himself what are those principles which have been so long misrepresented by travellers and others ignorant of his language, who have drawn their conclusions from external ceremonies, and have imputed to the Russians a system of faith in many respects the creature of their own imaginations.
This statement of doctrines, important as it is in itself, becomes still more interest
ing, when viewed in connection with the institution of Bible Societies in Russia ; as it will enable the religious public in this country to estimate more truly the effects likely to be produced by the circulation of the Scriptures in that empire; effects which must always be considerably regulated and modified by the exposition of the leading truths of revelation acknowledged by the establishment of a country.
The treatise of Christian doctrine, which is the subject of the following translation, was written by Platon, late Metropolitan of Moscow, and first published in 1765. Since that period it has gone through many large editions, and has been introduced into almost every place of education in the empire. It was strongly recommended to the translator by some of the first dignitaries of the Russian church, as containing a just view of the doctrines believed and taught in their communion.
The translator has endeavoured to state faithfully the ideas contained in the original, and has not unfrequently sacrifi
ced elegance to perspicuity. He holds himself answerable only for the fidelity of the translation, not for the accuracy of the writer's definitions and sentiments.
Notes were requisite on some passages, either where the text required illustration to the English reader, or where the quotations from Scripture appeared more apposite in the Slavonian than in the English version.
The Preliminary Memoir will give a concise view of the present state of the ecclesiastical establishment in Russia ; and particularly of the education of the clergy, a point so intimately connected with the prosperity of true religion.
The Appendix contains an account of the origin and present condition of the Russian dissenters, derived from the best Russian publications, as well as from personal observation and enquiry; and, with regard to one interesting sect, from a Russian manuscript, with which the Author was favoured by a Nobleman of distinction in that country. The particulars in this narrative be
ing, of course, new to the English reader, it is hoped they will be found satisfactory. The Author trusts that this publication, by affording a more accurate idea of the doctrines and present state of the Russian church than has hitherto been given, will have the effect of exciting in the British nation a lively feeling of Christian regard for the inhabitants of that extensive empire, and will suggest additional motives to unwearied exertion, and fervent prayer in behalf of its numerous tribes, that the fundamental object of the St Petersburg Bible Society may soon be obtained, and “ each tribe put in possession of the word of God in its own language.”