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either blindfolded by the delusions of Mohammedan iinposture, or prostrate before the dumb idols of heathenism.
Among the 180,000,000 inhabitants, the estimated population of Europe, it is said that about 90,000,000 are Catholics, 4,000,000 Mohammedans, 2,000,000 Jews, 36,000,000 belong to the Greek Church, leaving only 48,000,000 for the Protestants. If we turn our attention to our own continent, great in extent, but falling far short in a proportionate population, we shall find much to awaken our sympathies. It is estimated that there are about 35 or 40,000,000 of inhabitants in this Western world; 5 or 6,000,000 of these are Pagans, some are Jews, and the remainder, who pro- ; fess any religion at all, are Christians. Of these the United States reckon about 10,000,000, most of whom are under the profession of Christianity. “But we have a little sister”—and what shall be done for her when the Lord shall take away her reproach? The Spanish Provinces of South-America, though professedly Christian, must, on account of the protracted struggle for their independence, be in a deplorable state in regard to religion. The Is Vials of indignation" appear to be spending themselves on this devoted region of our world; and we cannot but call to recollection the ferocious character of that religion which allowed its adherents to practise such horrid barbarities, as the Spaniards inflicted upon the natives of these lands. 0! that the time may speedily come, when it shall no longer be said, “Give them blood to drink for they are worthy.” If ever the time shall arrive when the tree of civil and religious liberty shall be seen waving its top and spreading its boughs over this soil, may it not afford a shadow under which the “man of God” may repose, while he announces “Jesus and the resurrection," in life and purity, unto these people?
Calculating in round numbers, we will allow 800,000,000 of inhabitants in the known world; 210,000,000 of these are supposed to be professed Christians, 45,0000,000 Pagans, 135,000,000 Mohammedans, and 5,000,000 Jews; so that only about one fourth are nominally Christian. This calculation is sufficiently accurate to shew us what we have to do. And if we subtract the many secret infidels, the merely philosophical Christians, and those who openly deride all religion, and set down the number of those only, who are experimental and practical Christians, how exceedingly small would it be when compared to the whole number of inhabitants on this terraqueous globe! This task, however, we dare not attempt. It is the exclusive prerogative of Jehovah to know the heart"He is a God of knowledge, by whom actions are weighed”-and upon this prerogative we presume not to encroach, by endeavouring to estimate the real amount of genuine piety among men.
There is yet another view we would take of the present state of things, and which may tend to excite a cautious watchfulness.
The history of the Church will announce to us the extreme difficulty of uniting a profusion of earthly blessings with the enjoyment of genuine religion; at least, that the former has often proved prejudicial to the latter. It has, indeed, been generally the case--and it affords one proof, among many others, of the degeneracy of our species—that in the same proportion as wealth, and ease, and luxury, have flowed in upon the Church, with their common attendants of external pomp and splendour, pure religion has fast ebbed out. The records of the Church attest this lamentable truth. And now that Christianity is exalted to honour among many of the nations of the earth, it seems reasonable to believe that many give it their countenance who are averse to its self-denying requirements. Considering it a safe and easy ladder on which they may ascend to honour and renown, and actuated by the same motives of ambition, as those which excite the ardour of the warrior in the field of battle, or the man of science who runs his philosophical race, others are now mounting upon the pinions of Christianity with a view to receive the courtly adulations of their fellows. These persons, especially if they be men of wealth and character, will exert an influence over the minds of honest-hearted Christians, and, if not guarded against, will infuse less or more of their spirit into the councils of the Church. In the midst of all these temptations from without, the simple-hearted Christian, conscious of the rectitude of his own views, before he is aware of it, is brought into bondage to the opinions and to the influence of the men of the world; and seems to forget the admonitory language of his L rd, "My kingdom is not of this world.” It is well to see our danger, that we may guard against it.
Another evil which appears to arise out of the present state of things is, the danger of contracting a false taste, in mental and spiritual things; of being dazzled with that which is amusing, showy, and which presents an external splendour, rather than having our hearts fed, and our understandings strengthened, with that which is sacred, weighty, and permanently useful. It would seem as if a new era of novel and romance were about to commence ; and some of these candidates for literary fame, suiting their dishes to the taste of their readers, are sure to mix religion with every other ingredient with which they load our tables. We speak not of such publications, which, like some of the “Poems of lord Byron,” and many of the tales of the “Waverly Novels,” carry their own antidote with them, whenever they fall into the hands of those who are able to separate the precious from the vile; but of those professedly moral and religious; and which, at the same time, are compounded with so many marvellous adventures, erroneous sentiments, and irreligious sayings, that the poison is swallowed for the sake of the honey. Nay, we may go further still. Every one is upon the alert to do, or, at least, to say something
and something good too. Hence, through the medium of the press, that useful conductor of information, journals, letters, travels, religious novels, &c. &c. are pouring.forth in every direction; and in our large towns and cities especially, societies of so many kinds, embracing such a vast variety of objects, are springing into existence, that the attention is almost distracted with their number and variety. Under these circumstances, so dazzling, all wearing the appearance of so much good, how are we to guard : against that sort of mental derangement, that spiritual dissipation, which is so incompatible with the patient and persevering investigation of sober and solid truth! Are we not already approximating to the spirit by which the ancient Athenians were induced to be continually inquiring after something new? The new book, the new preacher, the latest intelligence--from Europe, from Asia, Africa, and from the different parts of our own domains—so engross the attention, that it is to be feared the old book, the book of God, the old preachers, Jesus Christ and his apostles, and the old intelligence, which came from heaven, declaring to mankind that “ God and man were reconciled,” are almost forgotten. And so volatile have become our minds, in consequence of the light trash upon which we have fed, that we can hardly have patience to plod through a sermon of the 17th or 18th century, that golden age of divinity; and such men as Barrow, Taylor, Sherlock, Baxter, Alleine, Wesley, Fletcher, and others which form such a bright constellation in the evangelical firmament, are laid aside for the ephemerial publications of the day.
We mean not, however, to censure the avidity with which religious information is circulated and read. We only wish to guard against its abuse. “No man having drank the old wine, straightway desireth new; for he saith the old is better.” We rejoice, indeed, in the increase of Missionary zeal, and of religious publications, and the information with which they come charged. But it would be well to examine, whether we may not be tempted to make a temporal gain of godliness, and whether the reading of such kind of information be not rather an amusement than otherwise, so that we insensibly contract a disrelish for that which is inore substantial. But we can only touch lightly upon each head; for we already feel the pressure of some of the evils which we are endeavouring to avoid.
From this general and cursory view of the present state of affairs, can we commence the New-Year better than,
1. To offer up our grateful acknowledgments to the Author of our being, for the profusion of blessings we enjoy? for what God hath already wrought, and for the encouraging prospects before us, as well as for the ample means we possess of literary and religious improvement ?
2. Seeing that so large a proportion of the moral world is yet enveloped in darkness, would it not be an acceptable sacrifice, for
each individual, at the commencement of the year, to devote something daily or weekly for missionary purposes ? to devote himself more exclusively to the service of God? to offer up his fervent prayers through Jesus Christ, for the enlargement of His kingdom in the world?
3. To secure the complete triumph of religion, would it not be well to enter upon a more vigorous exertion to diffuse its influence in the immediate circle of our acquaintance? While we are looking abroad, for the widening and lengthening of Christ's kingdom, let us not be unmindful of those around us. They demand our first efforts; and if they will not hear, “lo we turn to the Gentiles.” And that we may guard against worldly pomp and glory, let us begin, and continue, to be more pointed in our appeals to the conscience, sparing neither rich nor poor, neither the aged nor the young; and, in the meantime, evince by our deportment, our own abstraction from the “ pomps and vanities of this wicked world," and our unreserved devotion to Jesus Christ. 1.4. The present generation is passing away. Who are to suc
ceed? Our children. 0! what a motive does this consideration present, to urge us forward, that we may press our inquiries after the best means to guard them against the contagion of vice, and early to imbue their minds with religious truth. And can we enter upon another year with a more acceptable offering in our hand, than that of the rising generation, accompanied with a generous resolution to devote inore of our time to their instruction, and more of our prayers for their salvation ?
If these resolutions accompany us to the throne of grace, in the beginning of this year, may we not hope for a more diffusive spread of evangelical principles, as well as an increase of grace in our own souls, and an enlargement of the kingdom of grace and peace at home and abroad?
Perhaps it might be expected that, in this address, we should say something of ourselves as Editors, and something to the patrons, of the Methodist Magazine. In respect to ourselves, we have not much to say. We desire, however, to express our thankfulness to the adorable Author of all our mercies, that, in. the midst of the calamities with which our city has been afflicted, we are permitted to behold the commencement of another year; and that, if we may judge from the increased demand for the Methodist Magazine, our labours in this department of our duty, have been, in some measure at least, acceptable and useful. And we would furthermore say, that it shall be our endeavour, to fill its pages with such matter as may render it more worthy of the extensive patronage it is obtaining; and that we sincerely hope that it may ever be an organ of correct information, of sound orthodoxy, and a medium of liberal principles, as well as a strenuous advocate of those doctrines from which the Christian sys
tem derives its characteristic peculiarity. The Methodist Magas zine must be, as we have before observed, a harbinger of peace, a depository of rigid truth, and a defender of the doctrines and government of the Methodist Episcopal Church, if the reputation of its character is to be sustained, and its usefulness perpetuated. Even brethren, who agree in the grand essentials of Church order and discipline, and in the cardinal points of doctrine and experience, may differ in points of minor importance, or some peculiarity of government, and in the non-essentials of religion ; but we do not think it either necessary or expedient, to introduce these differences into the pages of the Magazine, and thereby call off the attention of our readers from the more substantial things, to the disputes of ecclesiastical combatants.
We wish not, however, to be misunderstood on this point. We mean not to exclude a defence of those doctrines by which we have ever been distinguished as a Church, whenever they may be assailed so as to render a defence necessary: neither would we refuse a reply to any writer who may assault any part of our government, if he do it in a way, and through a medium, that would not render even a triumph disgraceful: but we mean that those angry disputes, originating from mere difference of opinion on certain rights, and ceremonies, in which a man may believe or not believe without affecting his conscience, or of endangering his standing as a Christian: we think our readers would not thank us for detailing those controversies in the pages of our Magazine. We may have opinions of our own, in some sense peculiar to ourselves, on some obscure points of doctrine, or on some points of Church government; but we should not feel ourselves justified, as Editors of the Methodist Magazine, to obtrude these opinions, through this medium, upon the public. These observations may satisfy some of our correspondents as reasons for not inserting certain communications, and likewise give to others an apology for not noticing their unmanly strictures. We hope that this organ of the Methodist Church will never be the , echo of slander, nor be filled with the wind of defamation and abuse. Those who delight at having their ears grated with such sounds, we leave to enjoy the music among themselves.
Notwithstanding the increased demand for this Miscellany, yet, in proportion to the number of our Church members, and those who attend upon our ministry, its circulation is exceedingly limited. Why should it not travel every circuit, enter into every house, and be read by every individual capable of reading, and thus be the bearer of glad tidings to every heart? We can urge this plea with greater earnestness, and, we would hope, with greater effect too, because we have no individual interest to serve in so doing, any further than as we are “members of the same body, and partakers of the same hope.” And we cannot but