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IN the Preface to our twentieth volume", we took a retrospective glance of the general character and events of the fifth part of a century which had then rolled away since we commenced our humble labours. We were enabled to present to our readers, if not a scene glowing with unmingled radiance, yet, upon the whole, such a brightening prospect, in respect to the progress of light and liberty, of humanity and public happiness, of Christian principles and Christian zeal, as served to relieve the many darker shades in the sketch, and to give the assurance of the approach of a more perfect day. No devout reader, we are persuaded, can look back upon the establishment and rapid advance of those benign institutions to which we then adverted, or can contemplate iheir continued and accelerated progress as recorded even in the succinct digests of our present volume, without feelings of delight and admiration; without lively gratitude to the Author of every good gift, for his manifold mercies to a guilty and perishing world ; without fervent prayer that his ways may be speedily koown upon earth, his saving health unto all nations; and, in addition to all, without invigorated zeal, and renewed exertions, and warmer love, and inore expanded liberality in forwarding this glorious consummation. If during the last year, we bave had the melancholy task of recording wars and rumoars of wars; if we have had to lament instances of political selfishness, or crooked policy, or unjust encroachment, or the sacrifice of Christian sympathy and duty at the shrine of a doubtful and short-sighted expediency; if in any instances we have seen power overstrained or popular liberty abused; if we bave witnessed the opposition between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness becoming more fearfully conspicuous, and the latter on any occasion triumphing for a moment over the former; if amidst our domestic events we have had to regret the continuance of distress in some agricultural districts, or the afflictions of the sister kingdom of Ireland, or the awful end of a distinguished statesman, or the removal of many faithful servants of God from their labours on earth to their reward in heaven; if many of our poor are still uneducated, and left destitute of Christian instruction ; if our Sabbaths are still polluted; if many blots still remain in our legislation ; if vice, irreligion, and blasphemy still continue to distil their venom; and if some of those who should be most anxious to repress them are wasting their energies, and afflicting their country, in arresting the great march of improvement, in denouncing whatever is projected or achieved, except by themselves, to train the upinstructed, to retorm the prisoner, to disenthral the slave, to reelaim the vicious, to civilize the barbarian, to christianize the heathen, and to enlighten and bless mankind; and if even in the Christian church itself wbere far the largest share of disinterested zeal and virtue ought to be expected, and where we are happy to believe a large share really exists, not a few of the above evils are to be found;—if the consideration of subjects like these bas too often forced itself upon us in the course of our periodical labours during another year; still while we reflect on the many facts of an opposite tendency which we have bad the privilege of recording, and on the powerful influences which, under the Divine favour, are at work for the lasting benefit of the world, we are disposed to “thank God and take courage." It is certainly a blessing of no inconsiderable magnitude to have had another year of peace; to have witnessed an increase of national prosperity ; to have seen our poor eating cheap bread and clothed with cheap clotbing, and all rauks, with the exception before mentioned,
Oar readers are apprized, that, for the convenience of making the numeral of the year and of our volumes correspond in future with each other, the General Index to the first twenty volumes (which is in a considerable state of forwardness, and inay be expected in a very few enjoying a large share of the comforts of life ;- but what to our minds is still more deliylılful, because it is as it were the seed-bed of far wider and more numerous blessings to future generations, is the growth of that jeligious and moral zeal, of that spirit of disinterested plilaothropy, of thai desire for universal peace and happiness, and of that disposition to conciliation and concord, which are now evidently in powerful operation, both in our own island and in many other parts of the world. Seldom, we are happy to stale, bas a year gone by within the period of our labours less marked by acrimonious religious contioversies among good men ihan the present; and we would sincerely liope ihat this abatement of liosiility (would that thicie liad not been some exceptions !) does not arise from mere accident, but that it is a consequence of the growiog prevalence of sciipiwal principles of love, piely, and candour. It is refresbing to behold Christians njustering with united strengih “ to the battle of the Loid against the mighriy;" and obal not only in Great Britain, or, among those who speak a common language wiih'us on the western side of the Aslantic, (iowa ds whom a valued correspondent in our pages has endeavoureti, in au inieresting series of papers, 10 awaken just feelings of regard and co-operation, but thal, even in less free and less religious countries, Christian principles are widely exteoding; that even South America is spurning ignorance and slavery from ber soil ; that Africa is opening her bosom io civilization and the Gospel of Peace; that Asia is rising io new life, under one beams of the Sun of Righteousness; and above all, ibat Elliope is almost every where enlissing Christians of every tame under ile coninon banner of Their Lord and Saviour for the distribution of his divine word, and the extension of his peaceful triumplas, wherever man and misery are to be found.
What may be llie resulis of these opening scenes of universal peace and holiness, or when we may witness their development, we dare not trust ourselves 10 predict; nor will we at present check the glow of feeling which must arise, in every Christian mind, at the anticipation of these blessings, by av enumeration of the many formidable obstacles which still lie in ile way of their altainment, and which require the conslant pavers and exertions of the Christian world to remove. We will railies conclude our remarks wiib al once congratulating and exhorting ibe younger pa.t of our readers, who are, we trust, desiined not only to behold but Jargely to share iu Ibese triumplis of mercy and religion, Many to whom our earlier volumes were introduced in childhood and youth, perhaps by pious and affectionate parents who have since“ ceased from their labouis," and “whose worhs follow thiem," are now among the active members of anolber generation, and are witnessing a vew succession growing up around item to supply the places which they also must sooù velinguish. On this interesting class of persons much depends. What their fathers laboured, through good report and evil report, 10 begin, it is their happier lot to follow up wirb brigliler and more animating prospecis. These sous and daughter's “of saivied sires" coustilute a lange and important body of per:Ons whose conduct will be measured, not by the world merely, but by the Searcher of hearis, according to the instruccions they have received, and the privileges they bave enjoyed; and double will be their guilt and shaure, if they recede from the ScripTural priuciples in which they were educated, or veglect the duties io which they were so anxiously trained. Let them then resolve first “ 10 give themselves 10 the Lord;" and then let ilien come forward prepared 10 11ead in the steps of iliose who taught ihem how to walk aud io please God, and resolved to carry towards perfectiou what the brevity of buman life, and the feebleness of individual effort enabled those who have goue before only to plan and to commence.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
United States ...... ........, 523 Spain
Society for Christian Kuowledge 527 Ecclesiastical Preserments.
King's Visit to Scotland...... 533 Miscel.—Journey through North
553 United States—“ The Gospel Ad-
* A Time to dance"
563 Relig. Intel.-Christianity in the
596 Pub. Aff-France
Letter of Dr. O'Shaughnessy 601
602 Relig. Com.--Memoir of Dr. Debon
Family Sermon'on Ephes. ii. 4—7 619 America (continued)
Lit. Intel.-New Works..
664 Relig. Intel.-- Church MissionarySo.