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P R E FACE.
ANOTHER year has gone, carrying with it into eternity a multitude-nay, millions of the human race, whose everlasting state is immutably fixed. This vast community of the Dead comprises every stage of existence—all classes of every nation, tongue, and people, under every variety of social, moral, and political condition. Of the Idolater, the Mohammedan, and the Jew, at present, we speak not; nor even of the manifold sections of the so-called Christian Church throughout the earth. We confine ourselves to the inhabitants of this great nation, where the truth of the Gospel is so extensively diffused, that the whole people, if so disposed, might, ere now, have come to the saving knowledge of the Truth. To them much has been given, and of them much will be required. In no other land are the inhabitants laid under such obligation, and, by consequence, clothed with so much responsibility. Possessing the Sacred Scriptures, the Sunday-school, Gospel Ministrations, Freedom of Worship, and in all other respects an abundance of religious privileges, all has been done for them that can be done touching the means of salvation; so that if they perish, the blame will be their own. It is, therefore, affecting beyond expression, to compare means with ends—the moral condition of the country with its religious appliances. It will be more tolerable for the Hindoo and the Chinaman, in the Day of Judgment, than for ungodly Englishmen!
But our primary concern is with all and sundry our friends who have been regular readers of this Magazine. To them we feel that we stand in a peculiar, an interesting, and endeared relation. By becoming our readers, they have honoured us with a place among their teachers. We are, therefore, as in duty bound, deeply concerned for their welfare. We aspire to lead the wanderer back to the Shepherd and Bishop of souls, and to keep all who have returned already near the cross, and at
the footstool. We labour to be helpers of their faith and joy, and thus to strengthen the hands of the Gospel ministry.
In closing the year, we tender special thanks to Contributors and Circulators. We highly prize their services. They are our right hand, our hope! We desire, therefore, the continuance, and, if possible, the increase of their good offices, with a great addition to their numbers. In a circle so large, death and other circumstances are always working change and diminishing numbers, so that constant recruiting is indispensable.
Next to the pleasure of giving a good hint is that of perceiving that it is not in vain. The CHRISTIAN WITNESS and CHRISTIAN'S PENNY Magazine led the way in propounding schemes for Congregational Canvassing; and we are very glad to find that our example has been extensively followed in most communities. Our excellent Scottish contemporary, the United Presbyterian Magazine, for last month, in the course of an address to its readers, has the following:
Let a small Canvassing Committee be formed in each congregation, after recommendation from the pulpit, to wait on every family, and respectfully solicit their support, and they will meet with comparatively few refusals. Other plans have been tried in extending the circulation of denominational magazines, but no one has been so successful as that now suggested. Mere announcement will not suffice. In a case known to the Committee, it was intimated that intending subscribers might put their names in the plate on Sabbath, and only two were received. But, in the same church, Three hundred and Fifty subscribers were secured by waiting personally on the members! If this plan, or some similar one, is pursued, the desired increase will be very readily obtained.
The times in which we live are, in a religious view, most eventful. Even where piety is true, there is reason to fear it is not generally deep. Profession, moreover, has largely outrun principle. To increase the danger, and augment the fear, error is becoming mingled with truth; the pure Gospel is not relished by many, so much as a spurious imitation. What the public demand will, in the natural course of things, be supplied, and thus by degrees the leprosy will spread.
The Age, then, calls for watchfulness, prayer, careful study of the Scriptures, and a steadfast adherence to the old paths.
JOHN CAMPBELL. November 13, 1856.
Go to the Weekly Prayer-meeting.. 10 The Click of the Clock
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Faith's Victory over the World. ... 146 The Bible
The Council Chamber.