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We now commence the nineteenth year of our editorial labors and the thirty-first of our public ministrations in the cause of religion.Not to have committed errors in so long a time, in so many and so various efforts, and in so many conflicts with infidels and sectarians, would be an exemption from the present conditions of humanity-to which we neither can, nor will, make any pretensions. Touching these errors, whether they respect persons or things, be they few or many, we humbly ask the forgiveness of the heavenly Father, as we forgive from the heart all that have trespassed against us in word or deed.
It is difficult to engage in controversy and not to be actuated, or at least appear to be actuated, by the feeling of enmity or the spirit of rivalry. To avoid this, both in reality and in appearance, I have found it necessary never to contemplate an opponent in the light of an enemy, or of a rival; and therefore I have not in my mind the idea of a rival or an enemy in the person of any living man, friend or alien.I feel it my solemn duty to expose and oppose the opinions, claims, and pretensions of men, in whatever attitude they may stand to me, just so far as I think them injurious to the cause of truth, piety, and humanity, without any unkind feeling to their persons, or any other desire than that of their personal holiness and happiness.
It is admited on all hands, that we have brethren that have gone astray as prechers, as teachers, and as editors; and if they have done much good, they have also done much injury to the cause of reformation. All clam equal freedom of speech, and of writing what they please; and, perhaps, with equally good intentions and equally selfapproving motives: still it follows not that all are equally competent to instruct, equally free from error and equally worthy of public confidence. Yet in reference to such persons a difficulty arises of no easy decision, viz.-Whether it is better to suffer every one to do all the good and all the injury he can, or timously indicate the evil and admonish him of it. The former is suffered at the risk of much public injury-the latter, at the hazard of the private friendship of the errorist. From a retrospect of all our publications, I have learned that some men can assume the chair of the critic and the seat of the censor with singular good grace and good fortune, who cannot endure a hint with that graceful ease and cheerful acquiescence with which they administer their own rebukes to others.
There needs a censor of the Reformation Press just as much as a church needs a bishop, a family a head, or the literature of England and Scotland the London and Edinburg Reviews. But he that would aspire to the invidious chair, besides a large annual tax of public and private censure, would have to incur the risk and hazard of losing the esteem and affection of some worthy brethren, to whom a single censure or reproof would be more intolerable than a hundred plaudits.Long, then, as I have seen the need of this, I dared not to assume the ungrateful office. True, indeed, I experimented a little in one or two cases; but the parties soon engaged the sympathies of a few whom they beguiled to cry out, Proscription and the fear of a rival!
It is curious and interesting to enumerate and retrospect the periodicals that have, since our commencement, arisen to plead the cause of reformation. To trace their characters and fortunes, and to compare them with one another, would, but for the ungrateful task, be profitable to all concerned. I will, however, mention their names, and leave their characters and fortunes for other times and for other hands. In the United States we have had The Christian Messenger, The Christian Preacher, The Christian Reformer, The Christian Publisher, The Christian Panoplist, The Christian, and The Primitive Christian. We have had The Inquirer, The Evangelist, The Apostolic Advocate, The Gospel Advocate, The Disciple, The Berean, The Morning Watch, The Heretic Detector, The Highway of Holiness, and The Journal of Christianity. In Nova Scotia we have had The Christian Gleaner; in Upper Canada, The Gospel Vindicator; and now we have in New Brunswick The Christian. In Old England we have had The Millennial Harbinger, and have now The Christian Messenger. These, added to The Christian Baptist and The Millennial Harbinger, make our periodicals, living and dead, equal the twelve Patriarchs and twelve Apostles in number, only that while the former arose at intervals during eighteen centuries, the latter occupied not quite as many years.
Now that there has been amongst these a very great harmony in many important points, is most true; but it must frankly be confessed that it would be very difficult from some of them to ascertain what are the clear and distinctive attributes of that reformation for which, as a party, we contend; and that far from aiding that cause, some of them have been a serious injury to it, must, in all candor, be a knowledged. Yet when we consider the facility with which, in this age of improvement, any one may appear before the public as a teacher or a writer, it is a matter of wonder and of thankfulness that so mu good, with so little harm, appears to have been achieved. Twthirds of the whole number have indeed completed their testimony, finished their labors, and gone to rest.
In the present volume some points claim our special attention: such as, the necessity of a more conciliatory spirit towards the more evangelical professors-the necessity and practicability of the enjoyment of larger measures of spiritual influence-education in all its branches, domestic, scholastic, and ecclesiastic-and especially the coming of the Lord.
To promise little and do much, is the true philosophy of a prudent editorial course. Having much on hand, and much in purpose, we only promise our determination to be as useful and interesting as possible to all our readers. A happy new year to all our readers, happier and more prolific of good to the world than the last, is the prayer of their sincere friend the Editor. A. CAMPBELL.
Book of books, book of ages, book of wonders, book of life, boɔk of God! Thy moral wonders, like those of Nature, have never yet been told. No man has ever seen them all. The antiquities of Nature and the futurities of things, the origin of man, his sublime nature, his marvellous relations, his infinite obligations and glorious destiny, are thy favorite and delightful themes. Immeasurably thou transcendest all the metes and boundaries of human knowledge. Thou coverest the whole area that divides eternity, and penetratest far into an infinity that is past, and an infinity to come. Thy first page has inscribed upon it the generation of heaven and earth, and thy last page foretells the creation of new heavens and a new earth. The spreading out of these heavens date thy first chapter, and after folding them up the expansion of new heavens, new worlds, and new creations, date thy last. Between these the history of man, in all his incomparable fortunes, good and bad, is faithfully and infallibly written. God himself, the source of universal being-the father of eternity-the spring of all life, and the fountain of all bliss, is revealed upon thy pages in full and perfect adaptation to the capacity, conditions, and circumstances of fallen humanity. Thy first lesson to fallen man intimates a coming of the Lord in human flesh for man's redemption, and thy last assures him of his coming in divine glory, as the final arbiter of the immutable doom of angels and of men. If the universe be the work of an almighty hand, assuredly thou art the work of an Almighty Mind! O Lord, inspire our hearts with the admiration and love of thee!
History and prophecy, in a most felicitous alternation, travel hand in hand through all the leaves of the book of human destiny. No other volume presumes to foretell the future-none dares to narrate the
VOL. V.-N. S.
things that shall be hereafter but the Book of Inspiration. This is an attribute of the Bible, to which the Korans, the Zendavestas, the mythologies of Grecian and Roman superstition dare not so much as to pretend. The Book of all Ages, fearless of all scrutiny, challenging the chronicles of all nations, attempts the disclosure of all human destiny by giving us the faithful records of the past and the certain visions of the future. The times to come are written out with the unerring certainty of an Omniscient Eye, to which the past, the present, and the future are equally evident and certain. But it is more difficult to read the future than the past; and to comprehend the things that shall be, than to understand those that have been. The believer of the Bible has, however, an immense horizon. The sceptic is but the occupant of an atom of the universe for the term of a moment compared with the Christian, that native of heaven, and pilgrim of time, whose mental peregrinations far transcend the beginnings and the endings of all that is finite, and launch into systems of nature and of grace commensurate with the perfections of God, and enduring as eternity itself.
History terminates with the grave, while prophecy animates us with the radiant hopes of a bright and boundless future. The three words, "and he died," complete the last sentence in the biography of the most venerable antediluvian as they do that of the infant of a day; while the life-inspiring words, "the dead shall revive," is the prefatory oracle of new and more magnificent creations which the last chapter of earth's history announces to the world. As the telescope not only augments and brightens the visible constellations, but introduces us to suns and their systems invisible to the naked eye, so prophecy opens to our mental vision systems and operations of wisdom and power, of justice and grace, of such transcendant brightness and glory as to eclipse the most brilliant scenes that time has spread upon its canvass. But the immense field must be surveyed piece by piece; and, at present, one prophetic object superlatively elaims our attention. That prediction which, if not the signs of the times, certainly the voice of the people, calls up to our consideration, is the personal return or coming of the Lord.
But this "blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ," is to be contemplated in all its references to the whole chart of time, to those five great spirits that are now moving upon the face of the waters, viz.-Bibleism, Mahometanism, Papalism, Paganism, and Atheism. The fortunes, conflicts, and
Papalism includes sectarianism of every type. The sectarian conflict is, 'Who shall be Pope? Who is infallibly right? Judaism, though a distinct, is not a rival power. Its bounds are fixed by Abraham's blood.