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THOUGHTS FOR THE NEW YEAR. It is scarcely possible for a thoughtful Christian to enter upon a new year without a serious review of that which is now numbered with the past, and without looking forward with mingled emotions to the unknown future. While anxious solicitude should be banished by the assurance of God's special providential care, and the bright hopes which, in some periods of life, and in some circumstances, gladden the heart, should be chastened by the thought of the uncertainty of earthly comforts,--there should be a profound impression, deepening as the years roll on, of the value of life, of the preciousness of opportunities of service to Christ, and of the certainty that our moral acts are moulding our character into its permanent form, and preparing us for the associations of eternity.
The circumstances under which the year opens are, in several respects, favourable; though there are some dark clouds on the political horizon. There is reason to hope that the great Powers of Europe are increasingly disposed to cultivate and maintain peace. In the East, indeed, events have occurred which have awakened the solicitude of statesmen, evincing, as they do, the unsound condition of the Turkish Empire, and pointing to the probability of its speedy dissolution; while the condition of the Christian populations under the sway of the Sultan is a matter for grave anxiety. Unhappy Spain is still torn with civil war; and the day seems far distant when it will enjoy repose, and realise the blessings of order and liberty combined. Our own country continues to enjoy a large amount of prosperity, and is enabled to exert a beneficial moral influence upon many of the nations. Her colonial dependencies are every year increasing in importance; and the vast region of India, which God has given to our beloved and honoured Sovereign, affords a fine field for wise administration and benevolent effort, as well as for direct endeavours to win its teeming millions to Christ. The expressions of loyalty and personal regard with which the Prince of Wales has been welcomed in our eastern Empire, may well encourage the hope that it will be bound yet more closely to this land; and we unite with tens of thousands in the earnest prayer, that the royal
VOL. XXII. - FIFTH SERIES.
visit may promote the best interests of the nations there brought under our sway.
But it is only a passing glance that we wish now to take at the state of political affairs, and the relations of the nations to each other. We turn to some of the events of the past year which have had a direct bearing on the interests of the kingdom of God.
Foremost among these, we must place the visit of the American Evangelists to several provincial towns, and especially to the metropolis. Among the resolutions of the last Conference there was one, passed with great cordiality, though the limited time which remained, when it was brought forward, prevented a discussion of the subject in all its bearings,—“That the Conference recognises the hand of the Lord in the recent visit of Messrs. Moody and Sankey to this country, and rejoices in the wide and eminent success with which their labours have been crowned, in the revival of the spiritual life of the Churches, in the conversion of a great multitude of souls, and in awakening a sympathy with the Gospel among large masses of our population.” These are sentiments in which our people will heartily concur; but there are one or two aspects of the subject which deserve careful consideration,
One of the most remarkable features of the evangelistic work carried on by these eminent revivalists, especially in the metropolis, was that their visit was prepared for by conferences between large numbers of ministers of various Christian denominations, and by united prayer that the blessing of God might rest on their labours. They came not alone,-the Churches standing aloof from their efforts : they came to a body of people anxious to realise spiritual good, and to witness the conversion of the careless and ungodly ; and they were surrounded by ministers who were willing themselves to retire into the shade, if only the arm of the Lord were made bare, and men were brought to Christ. It was beautiful to witness the spirit which was manifested in some of the meetings of ministers held to prepare for the services of these honoured brethren in London. Differences of temperament differences even of judgment
-were overborne by the common conviction, that it had pleased the Lord Jesus Christ specially to use this extraordinary agency; and men of culture, and men of power, were willing to range themselves under the guidance of others who made no pretensions to extensive culture or profound theological knowledge, and to labour with them for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom. The abundant blessing which came down on many of the assemblies which were gathered, appeared to us to have been given in answer to the union of Christ's people in prayer, and their common readiness to renounce themselves, that He alone might be exalted.