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THE revolution of another year-while it summons the man of business to investigate the state of bis temporal, and the Christian the state of his spiritual, concerns-calls also upon us to review our humble labours, and to acknowledge, with gratitude to our readers at large, and especially our highly esteemed correspondents, the steady patronage which our work has continued to receive.
The past year has not been particularly marked by many public occurrences of either a peculiarly brilliant or of a deeply afflicting nature. Indeed, if we except the decease of our much esteemed Queen, who has departed full of days and of honour, on the one hand, and the royal marriages, with the splendid success of our arms in India, on the other, we believe we shall have noticed most of the principal public events immediately relating to our own country, which we have had occasion to record.
Still, however, the year which has closed upon us has not been an uninteresting portion of our own or of human history. At the corresponding period of the preceding year the principal, nations of Europe appeared to be rather languishing under the debilitating effects of a previous disease from which, with difficulty, they had recovered, than endued with the strength and buoyancy of natural health. Peace, which had so Jately beamed upon the world, after a terrible and long-protracted tempest, had not yet fully dispelled the remaining gloom, or restored the fertility and beauty which had been blasted by ihe preceding storms. But we bless God that very different is our present situation. Upon the continent of Europe the last sword has been sheathed, and the warrior has cyery where returned home to the duties and enjoyments of a more peaceful occupation. With regard to our own country, in particular, we have begun to recover from that state of languor and stagnation which appeared to many persons even more dangerous than the crisis to which it succeeded. Our commerce and manufacturés, we rejoice to find, have, in no inconsiderable measure, revived; the public revenue has increased; and, if we except the embarrassing question of our paper currency, scarcely a cloud of any importance appears at present to impend over the political horizon. For mercies such as these, our readers will unite with us in humble gratitude to Him who is the Author and Bestower of every good and perfect gift. ..
But it is to a somewhat different view of public affairs, and one more intimately connected with the future welfare of the human race, that we wish, at present, chiefly to direct our attention ; for, however deficient may have been the last year in those events which usually fill the pages of history, it has been not ingloriously distinguished by an increasing attention, on the part of nations and individuals, to some of those great questions on which the solid and permanent happiness, both of individuals and nations, essentially depends. The leisure and tranquillity afforded by, peace have been, to no inconsiderable extent, employed in concerting measures which may not only powerfully tend to prevent the recurrence of war, but will doubtless evenbually add much to the temporal and eternal well-being of mankind at large. On the continent, we have seen the leading potentates of Europe assembling in solemn congress, not to aggrandize themselves, or to frame plans of spoliation and conquest, but to watch over the mutual interests of every branch of the great European family, and publicly recognizing, as the basis of their present and future policy, the fundamental principles of the Gospel of Christ. In spite of opposition, we almost every where perceive education extending its influence, and the sacred Scriptures accompanying its steps. The Slave Trade, and, what is still more, the unchristian principles on which it is founded, have received, we trust, some new and signal wounds; and the progress of rational freedom throughout the continent, accompanied by a growing disposition in rulers to concede to their subjects the benefits
of legal and constitutional protection, has been very extensively apparent.
That our own nation has not been behind, in this general movement towards a more improved state of society, will be evident, if we consider the earnest and interesting discussions which have taken place during the last year, not only amongst statesmen, but in the pages of our ephemeral literature, and in almost every circle of private society, relative to our prison system, the state of the poor and the laws affecting them, the abuses of charitable institutions, the necessity of building new churches, the duty of softening the rigour of our penal laws, and the obligation, as well as expediency, of diffusing universally the benefits of a Christian education among the mass of the people. And, though, in the above enumeration we are not referring to strictly religious topics, or to the operations of religious societies, we cannot forbear adding to our list of auspicious circumstances, the public recognition lately given to the cause of Christian missions, by those who, if we may so speak, have, to a considerable extent, the key of the national conscience and the helm of the national opinion in their hands. Among other proofs, a reference to the proceedings of the Society for propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, as detailed in our pages during the year, will shew what important testimony has been borne by that body to the duty and the necessity of attempting, and that on a greatly enlarged scale, the conversion of the heathen world.
We have thus alluded to several of the topics which have occupied our attention during the last twelve months. The more general and ordinary subjects of the different departments of our work scarcely need any particular remark. Our opening pages through the year have been devoted to the strictures of a valuable correspondent on the Socinian heresy; a subject of peculiar moment at a time when that heresy is inculcated with more than usual zeal, and when, in addition to its regular abettors, it is procuring numerous recruits from those members of the almost disbanded ranks of Deism, who think it creditable in this Christian country to make some religious profession, while in their hearts they retain the infidelity which it has happily become so discreditable to
profess. A late Secession, begun upon very different principles, but verging towards nearly the same point, combining in itself some of the worst heresies of Socinianism, with a fanaticism at which the regular Socinian would revolt, has also been touched upon in our pages'; and we have only delayed our promised investigation of it, with a view to catch, if possible, a more correct and steady likeness of an object which no pencil can duly pourtray, while it exhibits its hitherto upsettled and varying aspect. That aspect, however, is now becoming somewhat more decided; and it is an awfal and lamentable fact that the Seceders, differing, as they do, among themselves, in numerous respects, have very generally verged into delusions of an awful kind, affecting the very foundations of our faith, and, amongst other points, denying the Divinity of our Lord himself. We shall not, at present, dwell upon the subject, as we are prepared to discuss it at some length in our opening Number for the ensuing year.
The spirit in which our labours have been conducted, we must leave others to decide upon. Of all accusations, however, we are least willing to admit that of party-spirit. It has ever been our earnest wish and endeavour to steer amidst our literary contemporaries, without wantonly giving, or captiously taking, offence. This wish and endeavour will, we trust, continue to characterize our exertions; and we have only to request, in return, that those who may think it their duty to animadvert upon our pages, and to criticise our sentiments, will honestly and conscientiously represent our real meaning -a measure of justice which we are especially entitled to expect from all who profess to be interested in the cause of our holy religion, and the prosperity of our truly Catholic Church. Where this is the case, however greatly we may have to lament our numerous imperfections, we shall cheerfully leave the result to Him who knows the honesty of our intentions, and to whom we'humbly look for the pardon of our defects.