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independent states; and we have witnessed the first fruits of its baleful success, in arresting the march of improvement. With respect to Spain, indeed, it was impossible not to admit that there were many and great defects in the constitution of government which it adopted. Still, it was obviously susceptible of amendment; and, at least, it removed the obstructions which previously existed to the general diffusion of that knowledge which must, before long, have produced the most extensive and beneficial moral effects. The slave and the prisoner were beginning, to feel its benign influence. Even Popery itself, though recognized as the exclusive religion of the state, must have soon had its worst deformities exposed by the light of increasing education, and by the hallowed principles of the word of God, which, under the influence of a free press, must, in despite both of Infidelity and of Popery, have found its way to the hands and hearts of the people. These opening prospects, for the present, have closed in darkness and degradation; and this hapless country has again been consigned, for a time at least, to the gloom of the dark ages of intellectual ignorance, civil thraldom, and popish superstition.
And what is the state of our nearer neighbour, France? To our minds, this country presents a somewhat humiliating spectacle. Spain has been the victim, France the asserter and the agent of tyranny. And the same spirit which has led to the extinction of the rising liberties of Spain, is producing its effect at home. Encroachments have already been made, and more, it is said, are meditated, on its boasted charter; while that more sacred Charter, that blessed volume, which discloses to a weary and fainting world "the glorious liberty of the sons of God," is beginning to be frowned upon and discountenanced. The schools of mutual
instruction which at one time, under the cordial sanction of the `Government, seemed to promise a rapid increase of knowledge, and an extensive promulgation of the pure principles of the word of God, are now discouraged; Bible Societies are made to feel the same chilling influence; while the mummeries of Popery, and the abject servilities of civil and religious bondage, are inculcated, as the weighty matters of the Divine law, by the once proscribed Jesuits, now restored not only to protection but to favour.
In short, throughout continental Europe, there has been at work a spirit which, unless defeated by its own incautious violence, or overborne, as we doubt not it ultimately will and must be, by the wider diffusion of knowledge and sound principles, would uproot all that is most valuable to man, whether as concerns his_temporal or his eternal existence. In no respect do we view the ope
ration of this spirit with more regret than in the strenuous efforts made of late in various parts of the continent, to chain down that palladium of liberty and religion-the Press. Our own happy country is, at the present moment, almost the only spot in the old world where man may with impunity speak, and write, and print, as he pleases, provided he does not injure his neighbour, or outrage society.
Happily, however, for the human race, co-extensive, and more than co-extensive, with the cloud which envelops so many of the ancient nations of the European continent, is the bright dawn which is rising in the Western world. It would seem as if human freedom and happiness, like the stream of post-diluvian population, had gradually followed the daily circuit of the sun, and had at length penetrated even to the farthest shores of America itself. If we look at the Northern division of the Western World, we there find the principles of British liberty and pure Christianity preserved and perpetuated, not only in the continental possessions of our own country, but by the descendants of our own forefathers in the extensive circuit of the United States. The Southern continent also is consolidating its liberties, and opening wide channels to the inlet of knowledge, and the diffusion of scriptural Christianity. And, even as respects the islands which intervene between these two continents, in the British portions of them especially, we are persuaded that a voice has gone forth within the past year, which shall not be overpowered till European piety and humanity shall have gradually and safely, but effectually, delivered their shores from the foul reproach of slavery, and reared in that house of bondage a temple to Him with whom is no respect of persons, and who shed his blood for all nations of the earth, without distinction of clime or colour.
With earnest gratitude to God we record, that the various benevolent institutions which have for their object this and every other work of Christian mercy, and which reflect so much honour on our age and country, have during another year made a steady progress, both in the affections of their friends and in the subversion of the kingdom of sin and darkness. The Bible, and the cause of the Bible, are continuing their triumphant course; Christianity is penetrating the high places of pagan idolatry; the East and the West, the North and the South, are receiving the welcome message of salvation; and each new station, won from the power of the god of this world, is becoming an additional centre of action around which to extend the triumphs of the Cross into the surrounding abodes of spiritual desolation.
And if, amidst the general progress of the Church of Christ mili
tant upon earth, we may be allowed to turn aside to that particular part of it with which we are immediately connected, we cannot but congratulate our readers upon the extension of the principles and the formularies of our own scriptural church. Our clergy, missionaries, foreign chaplains, and the lay members of our church, are widely diffusing her primitive doctrines and discipline; our Prayers and Articles and Homilies are from day to day following the track marked out for their admission, by the circulation of the Bible, and the labours of Missionaries among the heathen; in India, the beneficial exertions of our church are increasingly felt; in Western Africa, that church has reaped some of her most delightful fraits; the importance of strengthening her pale in our West India colonies, is now generally acknowledged; and not least among our own Transatlantic brethren in the United States, her influence is spreading, and has sought out the religious necessities of mankind, to the very verge of civilized existence, amidst the waters of Ohio and the forests of the farthest West. These are bloodless triumphs; the harbingers, we trust, of yet more glorious achievements! May every succeeding year prepare the way for the universal extension and establishment of the Redeemer's kingdom!