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PREFACE.

IN looking back to the occurrences of any considerable period of buman existence, it is an interesting, though sometimes a painful duty, to reflect upon the prevailing cast and colour of its incidents, with a view to examine what materials they may bave furnished for the permanent welfare or injury of mankind. To the larger part of the world, the lapse of days and years is marked chiefly by the vestiges of local and personal events—by the ordinary vicissitudes of individual prosperity or misfortune. The Christian adds to his calendar the memoranda of his spiritual progress or decay, while, on looking back, he exclaims with devout acknowledgment, “ Hitherto the Lord bath helped me :” “Surely goodness and mercy bave followed me all the days of my life.”

Every Christian observer, while he employs the last of these modes for the immediate cultivation of his heart, will particularly wish to adopt the first for the enlargement and regulation of his general views. He would desire to regard the events which mark each successive period of time, as parts of one great and comprehensive plan, the real bearings and tendency of wbich can be discovered by us only as they are gradually unfolded and interpreted by the succession of events. Here the bistorian, if guided by principles which acknowledge the moral government of God, will find a wide and interesting field for bis researches. Taking some leading proposition as his thesis-such, for example, as the intended subserviency of the occurrences of time to the ultimate development of that Divinely-revealed system which joins time with eternity—he may be able successively to trace the preparatory measures, the proximate causes, the auxiliary circumtances which have contributed to the final issue. Viewing so tbe Redemption of mankind in connexion with the gradual etension and triumph of the Gospel, and the final fullment of the glorious prediction, “ The kingdoms of the earth shall be

come subject to our God and to his Christ,” as one principal design of all the long train of events which have crowded the page of history for nearly six thousand years, he would retrace with new interest the slowly progressive, but unerring tendency, of the whole course of the Divine dispensations towards this stupendous consummation. The page of sacred writ will furnish ample materials for this truly philosophical as well as devout contemplation; nor will more modern bistory refuse to yield its valuable aid in the sacred research. To take our own country alone, what an interesting volume might not the Christian philosopher, who should unite sufficient enlargement of mind with fervent and saber piety, compose ! under the title of “ The Providential History of Great Britain.” Events, many of them in themselves trivial, some of them painful and disgusting, would assume new importance from their connexion with the ulterior result; as wbat to the cursory traveller seems but a scanty and insignificant rill, if traced on in its progress, will perhaps be found the source of a mighty river, that fertilizes a continent with its waters.

In detailing contemporary occurrences, the periodical narrator dares scarcely venture on this ample field. The incidents of the hour necessarily cause a strong sensation in the bosoms of those whom they immediately affect; but time only can prove what will be their remote consequences. The streain may expand and ramify, or it may silently evaporate and be forgotten. On this account, among others, we dare not often assume the office of prediction : " we know not what a day may bring forth ;” and though in our periodical visits to our readers we could constantly wish, as far as possible, to write in the character of impartial Christian observers, and to represent things rather as they will appear in the pages of temperate history, than as they are seen through the distorted medium of contemporary prejudice and party, we are not sorry, at the end of a year, to have an opportunity of looking back upon our monthly lucubrations, and of presenting a summary estimate of the general character of another period of the world's duration, now added to the imperishable records of eteroity. We

e are not, however, about to attempt the extensive fligh which these remarks may seem to portend. But, taking less excursive view, and confining ourselves to the religios and political events of our own shores, it is impossible no to anticipate, that many of them must have more than a tempo

rary effect upon the future welfare of this world. To select but one department, we cannot have witnessed the moral machinery invented or perfected within the last few years-we cannot call to mind our new systems of education, our Bible, Missionary, and other charitable societies so widely extending and so deeply taking root, with the efforts of statesmen and private citizens, of laics and divines, to enlighten, to refine, to christianize the world-without feeling a strong hope that these circumstances are destined, by the superintending providence of God, to advance the great consommation to which we bave alluded. Amidst all the changes of empires and the alternations of national and individual fortune, there seems a steady march of improvement, and progress towards the ultimate well-being of the human race.

Our country has not been without its vicissitudes during the past year. At its commencement the political atmosphere was becoming more serene, a few clouds only excepted, which it was hoped might disperse without producing material injury. The effects of peace were beginning to be felt. Our senators were already turning their attention to subjects of moral and domestic improvement; and their deliberations upon our criminal law, our prison system, the laws affecting the poor, the great question of general education, our game-laws, savings banks, friendly societies, lotteries, and a variety of other points, bave furnished materials for future proceedings of great importance to the welfare of the country.

Soon, however, other questions pressed upon their attention. The embarrassments of our currency were widely felt, and required all the wisdom and fortitude of Parliament to apply the only remedy. A stagnation began also to be experienced in our foreign commerce, the effects of which were severely felt throughout our manufacturing districts, and were apparent also in the diminution of the public revenue, which it became necessary to meet by the imposition of new taxes. In the mean time, evil-minded men took advantage of these circumstances, to spread disloyalty and disaffection among the labouring classes. Nor was this the whole, or, to a Christian spectator, the worst part of the evil. Blasphemy went land in band with sedition, and the same menaces which threatened the throne of our earthly monarch were levelled no less against Him who is the Sovereign and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Forgotten blas

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