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If we do not address our readers at much length on the present occasion, it is not because topics are wanting on which to expatiate, but because they are too numerous and important to be discussed in a few prefatory sentences. Never, during the period since we commenced our labours, has there been an era of more serious aspect to a Christian observer than the present. Whether we look at home or abroad, whether we contemplate the religious or the secular concerns of nations, there is in operation a spirit of restless activity, of change, of insubordination ; on one side, of zealous piety, on another of utter indifference, on a third of active wickedness, the mingled effects of which He only who sees the end from the beginning can anticipate. And may He overrule all-even circumstances the most apparently adverse - to his own glory, and the present and immortal interests of his frail and sinful creatures.
Not, then, from indifference, but advisedly, and from the magnitude and variety of the solemn topics which press upon us, and cannot be duly touched upon in a brief survey, we refer our readers to the pages of the present volume, and to the purposed discussions of another, for our general views of the mighty subjects which at this serious era almost bewilder and overwhelm the moral and religious observer. Whether the events of the past year bode greater good or evil, is a question every where agitated; especially by those who, apart from religious or political faction, take the word of God as their guide, and consider, in the passing events of the world, not merely what relates to the rise and fall of empires, but the eternal interests of the human soul. That there is cause for alarm, who will deny? But, as respects the causes of alarm, so far as they affect religion, we discern them in two quarters, the extreme of each other. On the one hand, infidelity, both in its more insidious and in its most daring ruthless form, is making constant inroads upon nominal Christendom; destroying, we would hope, Popery, but at the fearful expense of replacing it with Deism. On the other, the professed friends of the Gospel are divided among themselves; some are cold and unexcitable, while others are excited to extravagance and enthusiasm, leaving only the middle ranks to contend both with foes and professed friends against the common enemy. But these middle ranks of the spiritual legion are, we trust, both numerous and firm; men equally opposed to the vagaries of the days of Cromwell and the impieties of the reign of Charles the Second; men sound in the faith, valiant for the truth, and utterly removed from vain and rash speculations, which mislead the weak of the flock, and minister occasion of triumph to the common enemy.
And when we behold how mercifully such men are raised up among us in increasing numbers, we do not, we will not, despond. Never had the cburch of Christ, under the banner of the Captain of her salvation, more wise, devoted, and faithful soldiers of the Cross, than in the present day ; never was so much done for the spiritual instruction of mankind; and, allowing for the occasional effervescence of our weak nature, always apt to be led astray, and most in days like these, never perhaps was there, upon the whole, a larger number of pious, judicious, and well-judging persons, to exert themselves, by the blessing of God, to rectify what is wrong in the civil or religious aspect of the times. To such persons, both in Great Britain and in other lands, is committed by the Great Head of the church, no slight responsibility: they have to stem the torrent of the wicked, and to guard against the errors of the good. As husbands, as parents, as masters, as instructors, as magistrates, as subjects, as statesmen, have to perform a most solemn duty to their country and their God; and woe will be upon them if in an exigency like this they slumber at their post.
So far for warning-warning, we humbly think, not needless or inappropriate. Yet ungratefully should we neglect the lesson to be derived from the past mercies of Divine Providence, if we did not add, that clouds as black as any which good men seem now to discern in the sky, have passed away, and been followed by genial influences, which He who can bring good out of evil is ever able to evoke from conflictions the most disastrous. This is not the first time in which it has been mournfully predicted that the civil organization of society was fearfully in peril, and religious institutions tottering to their fall. In many a former year have we had to contend with such morbid predictions ; nor are we inclined to listen to them now. It is enough that we see sufficient of evil to excite humility, to stimulate to duty, and to lead to prayer, to seriousness, and to dependence upon a stronger arm and a better promise than any thing human; but beyond this it is not for the Christian to be urged by the feverish excitements of eventful times. Viewing also the final purpose for which all things were created, and the consummation to which they are tending, he may gather, we think, not only from the aspect of the seasons, which is always doubtful, but from the pages of inspired prophecy itself, much to cheer and gladden his beart amidst all the “chances and changes of this mortal life.”
With this we take leave of our subscribers and correspondents for another year; only requesting from them, what sincerely we offer for them, sincere and earnest prayer that our mutual intercourse during another year may be abundantly blessed for instruction and the building up of the church of Christ.
We take this opportunity of recurring to a subject which has given us much discomfort, because it seemed to involve us in a charge of negligence and postponement of promise : we allude to the proposed General Index to our first twenty volumes. It is not necessary to trouble our readers with the several causes of delay which took place. It may be sufficient to state, that the engagements of the Editor and his immediate friends not allowing of their preparing it, the work was transferred to two or three clergymen in succession, whose vocations increasing upon them, caused each of them, after much delay, to relinquish it. It was once nearly completed, as we announced, but not in a satisfactory manner ; and we therefore preferred having the whole reconstructed, even at considerable expense. We were not willing to consign it to an ordinary bookseller's index-maker, as the classification of theological subjects in particular, to be what we wished it, required a person acquainted with technical divinity. .
Thus has it occurred that, since the index was first projected, ten new volumes have been completed. It has therefore been suggested to us, and we think correctly, that it would be better now to drop all idea of the intended index to the first twenty volumes, and at some future time to construct one for the whole work up to the time of publication. We therefore request our readers to consider us as rescinding our pledge for the first twenty volumes. When it shall be considered desirable to have a general index for the whole, we will not allow them to be again disappointed by delay. Magazine volumes being lettered in the binding by the date of the year, and not the number of the volume, no chasm will appear in our readers' sets ; though to make the numeral of the volume correspond with the year of the century, we passed over, from 1820, vol. xix. to 1821, vol. xxi.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Pue. AFF.- President Jackson ; French
Chambers ; Temperance, &c.; Hawkers;
RELIG. COM.- Introduction to the Apoca-
lypse.. Fam. Ser. on Psalm xvii. 15.. Evan-
ii. 10 ..............................129 150
PUB. APF-Parliament; State of the Coun-
try; Ireland ; Tithes; Law; Slavery; Fi-