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- PRE FAC E.
ONE of the Greek philosophers instructs his disciples, at the tlose of each day, thrice to review his actions since the sun last rose upon him. This sagacious rule may be beneficially extended from individuals to corporate bodies; and the Conductors of the Shristian OBSERVER desire to pause at this point of their career, and both to institute a scrutiny into their past conduct, and to expose the results of it to their readers.
It is not, however, either upon the merits or defects of our work that we are chiefly disposed to dwell. Of the former, it is not for us to speak. The only praise, indeed, which we are disposed to arrogate to ourselves is, that of having acted honestly and in*pendently in the discharge of what we conceived to be our duty. With regard to our defects, we are most ready to avow them to have been numerous. But as these have arisen from infirmity rather than design, and as no title to infallibility has been as*rted, and no man has been required to assent any further than he was convinced, we trust that neither our deficiencies nor ex“sses will be remembered in anger by any of our readers. Something also, we trust, will be allowed to the peculiar nature of * task. It is not easy, in a feverish state of society, to preserve *self from occasional heat. H is not easy to manage the * and ballast of the machine, when assailed by the blasts of in"ctive, or tossed in the storms of controversy. It is difficult to *, as it were, without passions, to the discussion of a subject which is, perhaps, hurrying the pulsation of half the world. The ity, indeed, is obvious; but still our readers will acknowledge, # they know any thing of themselves, that it is one of arduous Kiformance; and, although we are far from bringing this for**extenuating the evil of those failures with which they may * charge us, we think it ought to be admitted by them as ** ground on which, at least, to abate the severity of censure. This personal scrutiny, however, as we said, is not the point to which we are most anxious to call the attention of our readers. In looking from the point of our present elevation upon the past stages of our career, one circumstance forcibly strikes us; and this is, the favourable state of some of the enterprises undertaken by the Christ1AN Observer. Let us not be thought to arrogate to ourselves the merit of this success; but let the facts, nevertheless, be fairly estimated.
The grand object, then, of this publication, was to extend the dominion and multiply the subjects of true Religion in the land. It would be impossible to form an accurate estimate of the degree in which this design has been accomplished. But still it will be admitted, by all who have attentively considered the subject, that the influence of true Religion, during the last ten years, has become much more widely prevalent. *
A further object was, to rectify the views and ameliorate the character of the more religious members of the Church of England; to guard them against the errors incident either to an isolated and persecuted sect, or to a body advancing in wealth and literature. Upon this design also the blessing of God appears to us to have rested. It cannot be denied, that in some of those excellent and venerated men, who were the means, during the last century, of reviving the dormant spirit of religion in the Church, there was much which was of at least dubious tendency: their designs and intentions were not always as judiciously executed, as they were piously conceived. The men who may be considered as now occupying their station in the Church of Christ, for the most part, not only mean well, but write and speak and act well; and perhaps there is no period in the history of that Church when, speaking generally, the banner of the Cross has been unfurled by a body of Clergy more true to its interests, or more wisely bold in its service. Among other things, the CHRISTIAN Observer has had it much at heart to reconcile the different members of this body to each other; while every fair opportunity should be embraced of obviating the unfounded prejudices conceived against them by other respectable members of the Establishment. The Church has hitherto been divided against herself. It has been, for a succession of ages, the misfortune, if not the crime, of Calvinists and Arminians to mistake one another ; for Calvinists to deny that Arminians can be evangelical, and for Arminians almost to question the existence of a moral Calvinist. Such misapprehensions we have always set ourselves anxiously to resist; and if we are not mistaken, a milder spirit now generally prevails. Each party is beginning to learn that the system of his rival has more correctives than he could have conceived; and that God may be glorified, and souls rescued, by the pious and temperate exhibition of either. We rejoice also to believe that the real character of that part of the Clergy to which we allude is better known, and their excellence more generally acknowledged, than it was at the time we commenced our labours. Another end proposed by the CHRISTIAN OBSERVER, was to supply a sort of stage, on which the productions of pious and cultivated minds might be displayed to the public. And it will not be denied, we think, that in the pages of our several volumes (which we acknowledge with gratitude to our Correspondents), some striking proofs have been given that there is no hostility between serious Religion and Elegant Literature; and that Philosophy and Genius rejoice to take up their cross and follow CHRIST. If we descend from general objects to such as are more specific, the same train of remark may be pursued. The Slave Trade, for instance, was one of the first specific objects to which the labours of this work were consecrated. In the first stage of our career, its accursed fires blazed in almost every quarter of the world. We are now, thank God, occupied in quenching its few and dying embers. Great Britain has en
deavoured, by a public act, to redeem the national character from its foul disgrace—
“To teach the world, that, while she rules the waves,
to avow her former violation of the laws of justice and humanity; to wipe out the blood with which her hands were dyed; and to establish throughout the universe those grand principles of freedom which, under God, are the best ramparts of the throne, the very ark of her own national happiness and virtue. Another specific end of this work was to erect some barrier to the unwarranted attacks of a body of men, invested with the armour of supposed local knowledge, upon the Missionaries of Christianity in the East. We saw that the small opening, by which the Day-spring from on high began to break in upon sixty millions of people, was in danger of being darkened. Such a cause compelled. our interference. And such has been the merey of Providence, that these anti-missionary clamours have subsided; that india eontinues to drink in by drops, as it were, the waters of life; and that the seed is cast into the ground, which may spring up to shelter that vast population from the consuming fires of a superstition, of which their own scorching sun is but a faint emblem* No sooner was Hmdia established in her rights of hearing the Gospel salvation, than the attempt was revived to check that institution which is designed to naturalize Christianity, not only in Hindia, but in the four quarters of the globe. In the controversy which the Bible Society has had to maintain with some distinguished individuals of the Establishment, we find ourselves still engaged. But though the strife is protracted, the victory is, we conceive, by no means dubious. That society, while it continues true to the principles and to the cause in which it is embarked, seems to be placed above the need of defence, and beyond the reach of danger. The cords of its tent are stretched, and its stakes are fixed in almost every point of the compass. Like the electric fire, its infuence darts through every intervening obstacle. Continents are quickening into life:—from the very stones children are raised up tinto Abraham —and we trust soon to see nations arising and shaking themselves from the dust of idolatry or indifference, and putting on the garments of holiness and joy. Feeble, indeed, has been the aid which our arm has lent to this glorious institution; but may that arm wither when it betrays the cause it has more than once been raised to defend Now let us not, in tracing this history of events, be misunderstood as stating them to follow from our interference. Many and powerful have been the engines at work. But we desire to attribute these results to more than human instruments, and to call them nothing less than monuments of Divine Power. In recapitulating them, therefore, we design not to direct the attention of our readers to our own achievements or to those of our fellowtabourers in the same field of service; but to lead them, if they will, to lament with us our incompetence to these high enterprizes, and to commemorate the bounty of Almighty God.
Ascribing however, as we do, these events to Heaven, it is certainly no small consolation to us to see so many of the objects which we had it at heart to promote, thus stamped with the seal of success.
But our readers will scarcely rest satisfied, unless, in addition to this review of the past, we make some pledge for the time to come. We will say, then, with a due regard to the awful uncertainty of the future, that we design, under God, to pursue the path we originally chose. We hope to improve by discipline and experience; to forsake no post which we conceive it our duty to maintain; and to meet vigorously whatever new assaults may threaten our Zion. Some of our objects can never be accomplished but by the regeneration of the world: these, therefore, will never suffer our weapons to rust in their scabbards. New evils will be continually springing up, which we shall always endeavour to stand ready to combat. A peculiar direction also is likely to be given to our labours: a new course of political administration may possibly bring before us many questions, with which the interests of Religion are too intimately bound up not to demand discussion. Should this be the case, we shall not, we trust, shrink from our duty, but shall feel it right to state the general principles of politics (with parties we can have nothing to do), which, however unpopular they may happen to be, are the natural produce of Christianity. Other unexpected topics of inquiry will probably present themselves. In every emergency we shall content ourselves with continuing to aim at the approbation, while we request the aid and countenance, of the wise and good; and, above all, carnestly to implore His favour and blessing,
“Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strain,