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In presenting the January number of the Sixth Volume of the Methodist Magazine to its friends and patrons, we ask the liberty of taking a brief view of the events and transactions which have passed before us, and which may have a tendency to excite our gratitude, and to animate our zeal, as well as to stimulate us to perseverance.
That we live in a very eventful period of the world, seems to be a general impression, especially on the Mind of the Christian community. That agitated state of the civilized and political world, which so convulsed the nations, and was productive of such disastrous results, particularly in many parts of the Old world, has been succeeded by that tranquility which is peculiarly favourable to scientific, moral, and religious improvement; and this political calm appears to be seized upon with no small avidity, by a very great proportion of the Christian and literary world, to extend the boundaries of moral and religious knowledge. By following the impulse thus given to the human mind, the horizon of true science is becoming more and more luminous, and through this perspicuous medium the Sun of Truth emits its quickening and renovating beams over the provinces of the moral world.
One most happy effect of the march of science and religion is, the weakening, and, in some instances, the breaking down, the thorny hedges of sectarian prejudice and jealousy, so that the different denominations of Christians not only look, but sometimes leap, into each other's folds, and partake of their respective pastures, without the danger of contracting a disrelish for their own. And thus the pure streams which water Immanuel's land, instead of being claimed as the exclusive right of one, are considered, like the literal seas, the common property of all, the sects. This friendly intercourse, if it do not degenerate into in=
difference for the distinguished doctrines of Christ, nor produce the fatal spirit of lukewarmness, will not only soften that asperity towards each other so destructive of mutual love and harmony, but also command a powerful influence over the skeptical mind, favourable to the future progress of Christianity:
When we turn our attention exclusively to the religious world, we see much to strengthen our faith, and to animate our hope, but something to humble us, and much to call forth more vigorous exertions. Extending our views to the Old World, wę hail with pleasure the gradual progress of Christianity on the scorching shores of Africa, the land so long destined to be the sport of European despots, and of American peculation-Even the despised and depraved Hottentots are included in the circle of Christian benevolence. Asia, once the cradle of literature and religion, but long since shrouded in the darkness of superstition, and oppressed by the boldest of impostures, is now witnessing the return of gospel light and peace; and although, through the powers that be, and the deep-rooted prejudices of the natives, the labour is great, and the progress of the gospel slow, yet an earnest of future success is already given, by the manifest sanction of the Most High to these incipient attempts at evangelization. The SouthSea Islands are echoing with the liberating sound of salvation in the name of Jesus: even New-Holland, the depot of the wretched and the guilty, is not forgotten before God; while the West-Indies, where the wretched captives from Africa, so often the cruel sport and prey of lordly task-masters, are rallying round the standard of Immanuel.-How long shall the name of COKE,--the zealous, the active, the disinterested COKE,-be associated with those institutions which are instrumental in conveying the Christian's cordial to the depressed sons of Africa! And neither will Asia soon forget that the broad ocean, which divides its extended shores from the islands and continents of Europe, entombed the body of the man, who was traversing its waves, to preach Jesus and the resurrection to the deluded sons of Mohammed. Even now, the effects of his exertions are seen blossoming and ripening in the three great quarters of the globe; for while we trace the hasty steps of the “ Little Doctor," on the continent and islands of Europe, and follow him to his watery grave in the Indian Ocean, we would not forget how often he floated across the Atlantic to the favoured shores of America, more favoured still on account of his “ errands of love."
We mean to make no invidious distinctions. But we could hardly avoid, while our minds were led to Asia, and more especially to the West-India Islands, (such is the association of ideas, paying a tribute of respect to the man, who had laboured so assiduously to promote the salvation of these outcasts of men, during his active life,-a life so closely interwoven with every missionary enterprize. Other brave souls could be mentioned, whose brows
are decked with an imperishable crown, shining with many a precious gem, gathered from the rubish of heathenism, which, polished by Christianity, will sparkle with eternal rays of glory. A SWARTZ, a BUCHANAN, with many others, with whom it would be an honour to be associated, might be mentioned, and whose names will be pronounced by each succeeding generation, with an eclat heightened by the inspiring sound of the Redeemer's Namea name to which they are indebted for all their celebrity, and for all their success in the Missionary cause. And neither will AsBURY, the apostle of America, be soon forgotten by his numerous sons in the gospel, and his many spiritual children.
Recalling our minds from beyond the seas, and surveying the different sections of our own continent, we are not less cheered by looking through the perspective of Missionary operations. Although, as might have been expected, some obstacles have reared their heads to impede the progress of the zealous missionary, yet, by being encountered with that spirit which Christianity inculcates, they will gradually yield to its superior claims, and secure an ultimate triumph to the power of truth. The “ mountains shall fall, and vallies shall rise,” and thus a “high way shall be opened for our God," even in the barren wildernesses of Anierica. The soul of an Elliot, a BRAINERD, appears to animate some of our modern missionaries, and leaping over the hills and vallies, they make them echo with the warning voice, Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Even the distant Indian tribes, to whom we owe so much, are listening to the sound of salvation, and are becoming charmed with the beauties and glories of “Immanuel, God with us." The Osages, the Wyandots, the Creeks, and the Cherokees, are added to the number of Indian tribes, who are beginning to hail Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, and as their Almighty Redeemer. And how wide a field is thus opened for the full display of American philanthropy, and of its missionary enterprize! Surely this wilderness inay yet blossom as the rose. The whole of the heathen Tribes, who inhabit our Northern and Western wilds, present an imperious claim, a claim both of justice and of benevolence, upon the combined energies of American Christians, and so loud and commanding is the voice of want, of spiritual ignorance and moral wretchedness, that, to disobey, is to incur guilt and condemnation. But the successful experiment which has been made, of introducing the gospel among these brethren of the forest, seems to be a pledge of future success.
While these encouraging appearances present themselves on the theatre of foreign and domestic missions, how stands the case with us at home? What is the present state of “pure and undefiled religion” within the bounds of Christendom? Perhaps it might be extremely difficult to answer the question with that accuracy which would be satisfactory; but, from the best means of
information we possess, we have reason to believe that true gode
liness is on the advance. The numerous accounts of religious ... revivals, published in the various miscellanies of the day, are, we
think, sufficient vouchers for the correctness of this opinion. The continual increase of Bible, Tract, Missionary, and other benevolent institutions, while they declare the destitute state of many portions of our country, and loudly proclaim an increase of misery in others, are also sure indications of that enlarged benevo. lence which forms the peculiar characteristic of the Christian phi" lanthropist. These, with the auxiliary means which are used in subserviency to their ulterior design, cannot but have a powerful effect upon the public sentiment, and will doubtless produce results correspondent to their nature, and to the motives with which they are prosecuted. · These are some of the flattering prospects which are presented through the various publications of the day. And how rapidly are these perspectives multiplied! A Religious News-paper, would have been a phenomenon not many years since ; but now, the groaning press throws them out in almost every direction. Must not these flying messengers, so far as they are conducted upon evangelical principles, tend to improve the moral taste, to widen and illuminate the horizon of Christian knowledge and experience? If this effect be not produced, there must be some radical defect in the manner of using and applying these various means of literary and religious improvement.
But we have only viewed the bright side of the subject. That, we may not deceive ourselves with false appearances, and flatter ourselves that the work is done when it is only just begun, let us look, for a moment, at the dark side. If we cast our eye over the map of the world, we shall find a great proportion of it still held under the iron-hand of religious despotism, and groaning beneath the weight of barbarian ignorance and superstition. Looking beyond the north Pacific Ocean, we behold the extended shores of Asia, containing a population of, as is estimated, 500,000,000, who, with the exception of a very few, are cringing to the heavy yoke of the sons of Ali, or tamely bowing to the double-principled god of Zoroaster, or otherwise passively submitting to the imaginary deities of Paganism. And what shall we say of poor Africa ? Many of its interior regions are rendered so inaccessible to the stranger, that no Christian traveller has been able to explore them. Who, therefore, can tell how thick the darkness, or how deep and widespread the moral misery of those inhospitable regions ! Shall we count there 40, or as some say, 150,000,000 of inhabitants ? And though its pyramidical cape, where dwell the Hottentots, is visited by the messengers of Christ, and some few other places
are included in the circle of Missionary enterprize, yet the great : mass of the population of this gloomy quarter of our world, are