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Ir we do not address our readers at much length on the present occasion, it is nut because topics are wanting on which to expatiate, but because they are too numerous and important to be discussed in a few prefatory sentences. Never, during the period since we commenced our labours, has there been an era of more serious aspect to a Christian observer than tlie present. Whether we look at home or abroad, whether we contemplate the religious or the secular concerns of nations, there is in operation a spirit of restless activity, of change, of insubordination; on one side, of zealous piety, on another of utter indifference, on a third of active wickedness, the mingled effects of which He only who sees the end from the beginning can anticipate. And may He overrule all—even circumstances the most apparently adverse - to his own glory, and the present and immortal interests of his frail and sinful creatures.
Not, then, from indifference, but advisedly, and from the magnitude and variety of the solemn topics which press upon us, and cannot be duly touched upon in a brief survey, we refer our readers to the pages of the present volume, and to the purposed discussions of another, for our general views of the mighty subjects which at this serious era almost bewilder and overwhelm the moral and religious observer. Whether the events of the past year bode greater good or evil, is a question every where agitated; especially by those who, apart from religious or political faction, take the word of God as their guide, and consider, in the passing events of the world, not merely what relates to the rise and fall of empires, but the eternal interests of the human soul. That there is cause for alarm, who will deny? But, as respects the causes of alarm, so far as they affect religion, we discern them in two quarters, the extreme of each other. On the one hand, infidelity, both in its more insidious and in its most daring ruthlegs form, is making constant inroads upon nominal Christendom; destroying, we would hope, Popery, but at the fearful expense of replacing it with Deism. On the other, the professed friends of the Gospel are divided among themselves; some are cold and unexcitable, while others are excited to extravagance and enthusiasm, leaving only the middle ranks to contend both with foes and professed friends against the common enemy. But these middle ranks of the spiritual legion are, we trust, both numerous and firm; men equally opposed to the vagaries of the days of Cromwell and the impieties of the reign of Charles the Second; men sound in the faith, valiant for the truth, and utterly removed from vain and rash speculations, which mislead the weak of the flock, and minister occasion of triumph to the common enemy.
And when we behold how mercifully such men are raised up among us in Increasing numbers, we do not, we will not, despond. Never had the church of Christ, under the banner of the Captain of her salvation, more wise, devoted, and faithful soldiers of the Cross, than in the present day l never was so much done for the spiritual instruction of mankind; and, allowing for the occasional effervescence of our weak nature, always apt to be led astray, and most in days like these, never perhaps was there, upon the whole, a larger number of pious, judicious, and well-judging persons, to exert themselves, by the blessing of God, to rectify what is wrong in the civil or religious aspect of the times. To such persons, both in Great Britain and in other lands, is committed by the Great Head of the church, no slight responsibility: they have to stem the torrent of the wicked, and to guard against the errors of the good. As husbands, as parents, as masters, as instructors, as magistrates, as subjects, as statesmen,
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