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ARRIVED, as we are, at the termination of another year, we beg to present to our numerous subscribers, correspondents, and friends, our cordial thanks for their past favours and assistance, and also to solicit at their hands a continuance of that brilliant and extensive patronage with which we have hitherto been so highly distinguished. We flatter ourselves that we have in some degree been instrumental in creating a taste for reading among many, and also in providing, in some extensive manner, that intellectual aliment which will not fail in promoting the benefit of those classes in society over whom we have been enabled to exert an influence. The power of the press has increased to an almost unlimited extent, and it has bitherto been employed for purposes redolent of evil, as well as of good ; but we regret to say that the church of Christ has not yet accomplished what lies in her power to meet the moral wants of the community, which we think she is bound at least to attempt. We will not at present advert to the extent at which the daily press of the metropolis is circulated throughout the kingdom, but refer to the weekly issues of a number of Sunday papers, three of which amount to not less than 5,369,000 annually, and all, without any exception, are fearfully irreligious and demoralizing. From certain statistics which have been published, we are informed, that one Sabbath-breaking irreligious paper consumed nearly one million more stamps than thirteen religious papers which were published in the same period. A remarkable proof of the progress of Sunday newspaperreading is to be found in the fact, that, since the year 1843, four papers published on that day have arisen, and attained the large circulation of about 110,000 per week; 5,720,000 per year. Let the year's circulation of these be added to those previously mentioned, and we have a total yearly circulation of vicious and Sabbath-breaking stamped literature amounting to 11,089,000. We must now pass to a more fearful subject : the unstamped literature, which is provided with unsparing hands, and conducted on principles so reckless, for the mental amusement of the lower orders of society, is of a still more debasing character and tendency. There are about seventy cheap periodicals, varying in price from about three half-pence to one half-penny. In some of them openly vicious principles are repudiated, but the introduction of French novels is one leading feature of their character, and a great source of their morbid popularity; these are followed by a number of others, which command a yearly issue of about 6,240,000, of an infidel character, and grossly demoralizing. The entire yearly circulation of the different kinds of popular, but manifestly pernicious, literature, presents the astounding total of 28,862,000. Well may we exclaim, “Who will rise up for me against the evil-doers ? or who will stand up for me against the workers
of iniquity ?" Thousands are hourly exposed to the insidious entreaties and blandishments of the vendors of this ungodly trash, who prowl about the alleys and haunts of the metropolis, and under the pretence of selling religious tracts and other godly books, they enter the farm-house, the domicile of the tradesman in our country towns, or the cottage and homestead of our rural population, to injure and destroy. The church must use the press far more extensively than it has hitherto done, and in this way, at least, come to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” The Wesleyan-Methodist BookRoom has furnished its quota of an antidote against the crying evil of which we, in common with the religious world, so bitterly complain. In the year 1846 they published" The Christian Miscellany," the object of which was to furnish a manual of religious and instructive information which should, in a considerable degree, meet the growing expectations of this reading age. Its appearance before the world justified the expectations which had been raised, and it now towers above all its competitors of the monthly press. The following table will give our readers some idea of its present circulation in a few only of the provincial districts of this country :Copies. Copies.
Copies. Bridlington 246 Manchester (20) ...... 256 St. Austle
240 Newcastle-upon-Tyne. 200 Shotley-Bridge 277 Durham 255 Pontefract.. 237 Sleaford......
255 Gateshead...... 272 Poole.......... 200 | Snaith
211 Launceston 224 Ripley
.... 221 Spilsby Lincoln 242 Rotherham 471 | Tadcaster
279 Louth 223 Scarborough ...
310 We are fully convinced that never was such a work as “ The Christian MISCELLANY” more loudly called for than at the present moment. It has been greatly improved since its first publication, in the number of woodcuts, executed specially for it; and it is intended also to accomplish all practicable purposes to render it worthy of the patronage it has already received. Comparatively little has at present been achieved to roll away the reproach from our professedly Christian country; for, after all her energies have been tried, a balance of nearly five millions still remains in favour of the issue of pernicious publications. May this visibly decrease! and if every truehearted and right-minded Wesleyan will address himself to the great work of ameliorating the moral degradation of his country, he will see, ere long, a morning dawn which shall shine more and more unto the perfect day.
THE EXCELLENCE AND BEAUTY OF CHRISTIANITY
CHIEFLY IN RELATION TO ITS DOCTRINES. Eztracted from “ Traité de la Verité de la Réligion Chretienne; par Mons.
J. A. Turretin, Professeur en Théologie, et en Histoire Ecclésiastique à
Geneve." 1.-IN WHICA IS SHOWN THE EXCELLENCE AND BEAUTY OF THE CHRISTIAN
RELIGION CONSIDERED IN ITSELF.
The state of the world under Paganism was as an obscure night, in which a thousand phantoms, taking the place of truth, deceived men, and led them astray. In the midst of this darkness, the writings of certain philosophers occasionally afforded some beams of light. And at the same time there arose, in a corner of the east, a clearness like that of dawning day: I refer to the Judaic law, mingled with many shadows, and limited in extent, but still, heavenly and precious. At last the full day came: the sun arose finer and without clouds ; it was the light of the Gospel. God, having before spoken to our fathers, in sundry times and divers manners, by the Prophets, in these last times has spoken to us by his Son.
This new revelation, far from extinguishing what really is the light of nature, has revived it; far from abolishing the law of Moses, has accomplished and perfected it.* God is always consistent with himself, whether he enlightens us by reason, or whether he condescends to manifest himself to us in any other way. But while human philosophy has been subject to the greatest errors, we have here a heavenly philosophy which is a sure and more safe guide : and while the ancient law left many important truths veiled and obscure, we have now a revelation so complete as to omit nothing which we can justly desire.
Happily, the more the subject becomes interesting to us, the more plain does the way become, and the more do the proofs multiply. In the far antiquity of Judaism, and across the shadows of its law, we may perceive radiations which mark its divinity. But in the Gospel, all is resplendent.
• In his “ Replies to the Orthodox,” Justin Martyr has spoken well on this subject; saying, that in the principles of doctrine, the Gospel differs not from the Mosaic law; but only in this, that the one contains the promises which in the other are accomplished. What is the law? The Gospel anticipated. What is the Gospel ? The law fulfilled. VOL. III.
THE EXCELLENCE AND BEAUTY OF CHRISTIANITY.
We find there the noblest ideas, the purest worship, and facts better connected, and more easily explained, because of the comparative proximity of the times, and the number of the witnesses. We find there, oracles perfectly accomplished, and effects which fully correspond to the grand views of Providence respecting the salvation of mankind. As it is the last revelation which God has designed for man, it has pleased him that nothing should be wanting to prove its certainty, and declare its excellence.
To convince us of this, our examination might have two methods. The one referring to the external testimonies and proofs of various kinds; the other, to the excellence and beauty of Christianity considered in itself. This last might embrace its doctrines, its precepts, and its promises. At present, adopting this last method, we limit our inquiry to the subject of doctrine.
But attention will first be directed to a few introductory remarks. We wish to represent Christianity as it really is. Nothing is so important as the Christian religion ; only, that its true value may be known, and its proper efficacy experienced, it must be taken as it came from the hands of God, not as man may have altered it. Disengaging it from all foreign admixtures, we shall see that there is nothing so grand, so firm, so noble, so simple, as this. It is the daughter of heaven, the older sister of reason, the light of human life, the sure foundation of probity and sound morals, the true principle of admirable conduct. By this may man subdue his passions, raise himself above his natural weakness, and arrive at the blessed immortality which he seeks. Without this, he is a creature feeble, debased, wretched, and mortal.
In examining the subjects before us, though we shall endeavour to do it with exactitude, we pretend by no means to exhaust them. So rich and elevated are they, that our best efforts must always remain below them. Nor do we expect to close the mouths of those who take pleasure in dispute and contradiction. Their disposition must first be altered, and their heart delivered from that secret and vicious inclination which sets them in opposition to the truth. There are persons so given to chicanery, and whose spirit is unhappily so subtle, that whatever subject is presented, they will argue upon it without end. Others are so trifling, that they examine nothing in its depths. While others are so corrupted by worldly passions, that they at once condemn whatever clashes with their pursuits. From persons of such a character what can be expected ? Reason itself speaks to them in vain. They are as little moved by the plainest truths of natural religion, as they are by the appeals of revelation. Both are too serious, too burdensome, for them : they desire to live without constraint, without discipline, without rule. Before they can be Christians, they have to become reasonable. Our inquiry supposes the existence of certain natural principles of religion and conscience, and that truth is to be sought honestly, and in good faith. Where these dis. positions exist, we hope to furnish that which will satisfy the inquirer, whether in the number and force of the proofs that will be adduced, or in the care we shall take to set before him the Christianity of the Scriptures, together with what we hope will be acknowledged to be the fairness of the argumentation employed. Truth has no interest in concealment or dissimulation. From the severest ordeal to which it can be justly exposed, it always comes forth in triumph.
May God, the Source and Author of truth and light, grant his blessing to us in our present endeavours !
(To be continued occasionally.)