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PRINTED BY ELLERTON AND HENDERSON,
PUBLISHED BY J. HATCHARD AND SON, PICCADILLY.
ANOTHER year, an eventful year, has closed; and others yet more eventful may perhaps succeed. But amidst every change and trial, the Christian enjoys repose where alone true repose is to be found: he rises above the storm; he is fixed upon the Rock of Ages; he betakes himself to the bosom of his merciful God and reconciled Father; he has become acquainted with him, and is at peace; and even should the signs of the times portend that" the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity," he enjoys, in the secret intimacies of his soul, that communion and fellowship which are the peculiar privileges of the true believer, and is consoled by that blessed direction and promise, "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chamber, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast."
But is the Christian, therefore, indifferent to the passing events which chequer human history? Are the public concerns of religion nothing to him? Are the affairs of his country nothing to him? Does he take no interest in the rise and fall, the flourishing and decaying of nations? Is it nothing to him whether his fellowcreatures are wise or ignorant, vicious or virtuous, religious or irreligious, miserable or happy? Does he wrap himself up in cold selfishness, or at most in the narrow circle of his immediate friends and relations, and forget all around him? Far otherwise. It may be his sin and his snare sometimes to do so; and the Church of Rome, among other corruptions, placed much devotion in so doing, and tried, but in vain, to elevate the retreat of a monastery into the temple of spiritual-mindedness. But we are linked by an all-wise Providence to our fellows: the poor may help those who are poorer, and the ignorant those who are more ignorant; and in this favoured though profligate day, even the humblest classes may, by means of the multiplied agencies of Christian benevolence, do something for the most distant lands; and many such do, in point of fact, assist the efforts of Bible, Missionary, and Education Societies, in a larger proportion than some of their richer neighbours, and take a lively and intelligent interest in what God is doing throughout the world. But with higher opportunities, higher obligations arise; and there are few comparatively of the readers of a work such as that which records these sentiments, who have not considerable facilities, if duly improved, for benefiting their generation. For this reason, among others, many of our pages during the last, as in former years, have been devoted to the consideration of those general interests of religion, education, charity, and national welfare, which, as Christian Observers, it appears to us our peculiar duty to notice. Our task in this respect during the past year has been often painful. The world at large, our own country in particular, and most of all the aspect of religion among us, have not presented such scenes as could be dwelt upon with unmixed satisfaction, or often without most distressing forebodings. We will not now refer to them, as we could not do justice to the subject in the few lines of a preface, and we may have frequent opportunities of recurring to it. We can only state the general principle on which we have wished to act-namely, to endeavour to discover truth amidst the contentions of party, and by the grace of God to adhere to it, so far as we could discover it, unmoved by the opposite representations or misrepresentations of rival factions, whether in matters of politics, charity, or religion. We are far from saying that we have always been right either in our conclusions or in the spirit in which we have maintained them; but we can honestly say we have uniformly wished to be so, and we would earnestly pray for Divine guidance where we are wrong, and for grace and wisdom to direct us in future. May our readers also pray for us.
There is one portion of our duties which has of late been peculiarly arduous. In former years, our province was rather to endeavour to excite than to restrain: we had