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We have endeavoured to keep to the spirit of a Divine precept, and please our readers, for good, to their edification. How far the endeavour to please has been successful, it is for them to say; but we have reason to believe that it has not altogether failed, and have not only been encouraged by frequent expressions of satisfaction, but are still supported by the only certain evidence of acceptance, a very extensive circulation. Our labour has been constantly guided by the desire to edify; and if the articles of this " Miscellany” have contributed to quicken holy emotion, and to strengthen Christian principle in those who have read them,-if their weight has been felt in the balance of a better judgment against impiety, Romanism, and infidelity,— this labour will be crowned in eternity. We pray that it may be so honoured, and offer our humble effort to Him whose blessing alone can give it any worth.
To several of our brethren in the ministry, and to some of our lay brethren, the best thanks for their valued contributions are due, and are hereby presented. The number of contributors, we rejoice to find, increases; and we confide in them for a continuance and enlargement of their offerings to the common service. But as their number must be inevitably thinned by death, and other causes, from year to year, we venture to bespeak for the year coming the assistance of others also, who will do well to consecrate their pens to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let those whose deep interest in great truths or in vital controversies, or whose knowledge of instructive incidents, or whose connexion with the institutions and the labours of Methodism, enables them to enrich our pages, recollect that it is scarcely less a duty to communicate knowledge, advocate truth, and bear witness against prevailing error by the pen than by the voice. If their heart is full, and their mind absorbed in any matter of general importance, let them sit down at ease, and without an overstraining effort, or affectation of authorship, commit their information or their thoughts to paper. If communications intrinsically valuable are not quite in order for the press, we will endeavour to make them so.
If they are, much the better. And if any material be not suitable, it shall drop quietly, and without offence to the writers, into oblivion. And when, as is always the case, more papers are sent of some particular kind than can be made
use of consistently with the usual arrangement of this "Miscellany," the best of them only will be admitted, of course, and the non-appearance of others is not to be understood as necessarily indicating any marked dissatisfaction. The very system of Wesleyan Methodism demands cooperation ; and it must be acknowledged that no other periodicals in the kingdom have been sustained by spontaneous contributions so long and so effectively as ours. We would earnestly recall attention to this fact, and remind all who are conscious of ability to write acceptably that they possess a talent which must not be buried; and that by the pages of the “ Christian Miscellany," especially, they may speak to a vast multitude, not only in Great Britain and Ireland, but on to the utmost bounds of the British Empire itself.
The cheering knowledge that, after years of deadening dissension, the mass of Methodism is rising into renewed life, and that the Holy Spirit of God is maintaining His hold on our congregations, and revisiting our people with peace, love, and unity, gives us unutterable encouragement. We have sought to provide interesting and profitable reading for their families, and assure them that this will continue to be our great aim. please God to add His blessing, and to seal upon their heart the lessons that from the pages of successive Numbers may be directly taught, or incidentally suggested.
YEARS SPENT AS A TALE THAT IS TOLD. "We spend our years as a tale that is told.” (Psalm xc. 9.) This sentence is ascribed to Moses, the reputed author of the instructive Psalm in which it is recorded, and in which he discourses with impressive solemnity on the mortality of man, and the sovereignty of God. Here we are taught that life is the gift of God, and that for the continuance of life men are daily indebted to Him; for He who bestowed the blessing can at any moment take it away. Should Ile
say, "Return unto the dust, ye children of men,” no might nor multitude could prevent, and by no wisdom or craft could the mandate be eluded ; so absolutely is the creature dependent on the will of the Creator. And yet there is a sense in which even those who “move in God” may say, "my life," "my days,” and “our years." Such language has the sanction of inspiration, and has been employed by the wise and good. To ascertain the way in which years may be accounted ours, is of weighty, practical importance. Those who say, either by word or work, " The years are our own, and we have a right to dispose of them as we please," greatly err. Such language savours of Atheism, living without God in the world; of rebellion, renouncing the government of God; and of a proud and haughty spirit that would act independently of God. No; with the gift of "our years," a valuable trust is bestowed, a serious charge is given, and an awful responsibility is annexed.
а Years are ours as a talent to be employed. There are certain duties to be fulfilled in them, there are certain works to be performed in them, and certain purposes to be thereby accomplished. If these be neglected, guilt the most fearful is contracted ; but if observed, real good is gained, and the design of God's gift is answered. Nor is it possible for this talent to be buried, or laid aside. It will be spent, and must be occupied ; if not for good, at least for evil; if not well used, it must be abused; if not made a blessing, it will prove a tremendous curse. Years cannot pass without influence on our interest : they must affect us for happiness or misery.
Years are ours as a favour to be improved. There is no necessity that the talent should be perverted from the purpose for which it was intended. It may be turned to good account; and is so, by all who value it, and employ it as a favour received from God.
our years” are all designed to be ; and such continued years will be, to all who carefully improve them, by devoting them to the best purposes, by obtaining in them all required good.
Why are they mine? The Teacher who came from God has answered this question. They are ours, not only that we may take thought what we shall eat, or what we shall drink, or wherewithal we shall be clothed, but that we may seek “ the kingdom of God, and His righteousness;"- that is, not to limit