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THE Design of a Preface is to state the Object of a Work, and to bespeak the Reader's favourable Attention ; but it is not now necessary for the Conductors of the Evangelical Magazine to explain its nature and tendency. For sixteen years the indulgent Public have afforded their decided Approbation, both of its Plan and Execution; which is the more flattering, as several publications of a similar description have arisen and sunk during that period. Without attempting to depreciate those unsuccessful productions, it may be fairly observed, That they were avowedly, and almost exclusively, devoted (as some others still are) to the Support of distinct Parties of Christians; while this Work, according to the liberal Plan of its First Projectors, continues to embrace the truly serious of all denominations, without entering into the minutiæ of those modes and forms which distinguish, and too often divide, the Christian World. It has constantly been, and will still be, the aim of the Editors to give no offence to any “who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth ;? but, on the contrary, to promote brotherly love, and “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace:” and they cannot but indulge a belief, that their endeavours have already contributed, in some degree, to that valuable End, by introducing to the acquaintance of each other, worthy Individuals as well as Societies of Christians, variously designated, but whose practical godliness and holy zeal evince that they have imbibed the same spirit, and are the genuine disciples of the same Lord.
It affords the Editors great satisfaction to find, that, notwithstanding the Multiplication of Periodical Works of a religious character, this Miscellany not only maintains its reputation, but its circulation continues to enlarge; whereby they are enabled to extend the Half-yearly Distribution of its Profits to an additional Number of the destitute Widows of Evangelical Ministers : — a consideration which, they trust, will not fail to secure the permanent Countenance and Support of the Religious Public.
It is with pleasure and gratitude the Editors reflect on the growing Importance and Utility of that RELIGI, OUS INTELLIGENCE which, by Favour of the Missionary Society, and their own Correspondence at home and abroad, they are enabled to present to the world ; by which, not only the Friends of Truth in the United Kingdom are refreshed and encouraged, but, by its republication in America, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Prussia, Switzerland, and other countries, the Hearts of an innumerable multitude of our Fellow-Chrisa tians are made glad.
The Editors, ascribing all Honour to Him from whom every good gift descends, acknowledge also, with sincerity, their Obligations to the Candour of their numerous Readers, and the Liberality of their Friendly Correspondents ; assuring them, that they will persevere in their efforts to render this Work, in some degree, worthy of the distinguished Patronage it has obtained.
LONDON, Desember 16, 1809.
THE LATE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
Thougu we have already devoted two papers to the history and character of this excellent man, we cannot omit the opportunity afforded us in giving his portrait *, to collect a few more interesting particulars respecting him; especially as Mr. Cecil's Memoirs have been published since ours, as well as a volume of his posthumons works.
To the early part of his life, as circumstantially related by himself, and widely circulated, little could be added.
Such was the early attention which his mother paid to his religious education, that, at four years old, he was not only able to read the Bible, but had learnt by heart Dr. Watts's little Hymns and Catechisms, together with the answers in the Assembly's Catechism ; and she flattered herself with the hope that, in a future period, he might be sent to Si. Andrew's, in Scotland, to be educated for the ministry; but the Lord had designed him for another school.
We have onnitted a circumstance, during the early part of his life, of some importance to the narrative. Having made an appointment to go one Sunday on board a man of war, but coming too late, his companion went without him, and was drowned, with several others, by the oversetting of the boat; but he was much alarmed and affected to think that his life should have been preserved, by a circumstance apparently so trivial and accidental. About this time be also derived sonlu serious impressions from reading Bennet's Christian Orator, and the Family Instructor; but these impressions went no farther than exteruals, and left him open to the temptations of infilelity, which followed.
* Copied, by permission of the executors, from the original portrait, by J. Russell, Esq. R. A. aad eograved by Mr. Collyer. XVII.
Mr. N. had an unexpected call to London ; and, on his rea' turn, when within a few miles of Liverpool, he mistook a marlepit for a pond, and, in attempting to water his horse, both the horse and his rider plunged into it overhead. He was afterwards told that; near the same time, three persons had lost their lives by a mistake of a similar kind.
Wbile he was in his office of tide-surveyor at Liverpool, he had another singular preservation, through being a few minutes too late (though in general remarkably punctual); for during that time, the ship which he was going to inspect, blew up, before he could reach' her, and all on board perished.
In 1764, Mr. N. was ordained by Dr. Green, Bishop of Lin. coln, and appointed, as we remarked, to the curacy of Olney. On this occasion, he relates, that his examination lasted nearly an hour, principally on the chief topics of divinity, in which he honestly avowed his sentiments; and the Bishop treated him with great tenderness and candour.
We have mentioned the excellent Mr. Thornton's liberality, both to Mr. N. and to the poor, through him. Mr. Cecil enables us to subjoin, that on a visit to Olney, soon after their acquaintance commenced, Mr. T. left a sum of money to his disposal, adding, Be hospitable, and keep an open house for such as are worthy of entertainment : help the poor and needy: I will siatedly allow you 2001. a year, and readily send whatever you have occasion to draw for more.' Mr. T. kept his word ; and Mr. N. received from him not less than 30001. while he res mained at Olney.
During Mr. Newton's residence at Olney, he was not only made useful to our admirable poet Cowper, but also to the Rev. Mr. Scott, then Curate of Ravensdale, and now Rector of Aston Sandford; the particulars of which are to be found in a very interesting narrative, published by the latter, under the title of The Force of Truth. Mr. S. it seems, was then far gone in Socinianism ; but by means of Mr. Newton's very judicious correspondence, brought to the knowledge and experience of the truth.
Mr. Newton's Works are well known; and, as they are collecied in a uniform edition, need not be particularized. When he published his first volume of Letters, under the signature of Omicron, he considered the gradations of Christian experience under the characters A, B, and C. A vain young minister, on reading these papers, wrote him, That he had found his own character pourtrayed under that of C, the Confirmed Christian. Mr. N. replied, That he had forgotten one feature in C.'s character, viz. That he never knew his own face.'
In 1799, the University of New Jersey complimented Mr. N. with a diploma ; and a certain author dedicated to him two volumes of sermons under that title ; but he humorously said, he