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WHEN We look around upon our country and behold it enjoying peace, favored with general health, blessed with fruitful seasons, and increasing in population, wealth, and the multiplied advantages of civil society, we cannot but admire the wonderful exuberance, with which Providence has showered down its benefits upon this new world. If we look further, and contemplate the privileges of the Gospel, which are so extensively within the reach of those, who are disposed to value them; if we call to mind, that the pure word of life is preached every Sabbath to a vast number of congregations, scattered more or less thickly throughout our land; and if we consider what an open and inviting field for Christian beneficence lies before those, who have made a Christian profession, we cannot help exclaiming: "God has not dealt so with any nation." To these inestimable privileges may be added, the kind tokens of the divine presence, which are witnessed in the revivals of religion, so happily experienced of late years.
Nothing can be plainer, than that the abundant display of God's bounty to the people of the United States should be accompanied and followed by correspondent feelings and actions on their part. To what noble purposes, then,-to what grand and extended operations of benevolence, should the minds of Christians be directed. How should their hearts glow with an ardent and unceasing desire to fulfil the high duties to which they are called. How constantly should their eyes be elevated to behold the glories of Mount Sion; and how unremittingly should their efforts tend to the triumph of the Prince of peace, and the final overthrow of the reign of darkness and sin.
But why, it may be asked, are these reflections introduced on this occasion? What connexion have they with the preface of a book? We answer, that if the Panoplist has any merit, it consists in the aid which our pages impart to the various plans of Christian benevolence now in operation. The noblest aim to which it aspires, is that of being an auxiliary in the great cause, which now unites the hearts and hands of so many active and pious men throughout the world.
In regard to our own country, it ought to be considered, that now is emphatically the time for exertion. Never was there greater encouragement to beneficence; never was there more powerful stimulus to activity; never was it more criminal to loiter away precious opportunities. On the impulse, which shall be given by the
present generation, depends the character of immense multitudes, in our own country and elsewhere, through succeeding ages. Were the whole Christian community awake and alive to this vast concern, the conversation of the domestic circle, the prayers of associated Christians, and the instructions of the pulpit, would be much more influenced by it than they actually are. If our churches, and all persons, who profess a friendly regard to the cause of Christ, were to put forth their utmost exertions to save a sinking world, as they would do to save themselves from shipwreck, their friends from a pestilence, or a populous city from a general conflagration, the consequences would be inconceivably joyful and glorious. With a divine blessing on such exertions, the spires of spacious churches would soon be seen on the banks of the Ohio and the Mississippi; school-houses would be erected in every neighborhood of settlers in the wilderness; and well endowed colleges, consecrated to the service of the church, would diffuse a powerful and salutary influence over wealthy and populous districts. The Sabbath would soon be universally observed among us; the Gospel would be preached in every part of the heathen world; and, if we may judge from the past experience of the faithful, many, who are now groping in pagan darkness, would become the children of light, and would associate together as worthy and beloved disciples of their great Redeemer. That the Panoplist may in some measure conduce to so blessed a consummation, is our earnest prayer and shall be our constant endeavor.
Boston, December 31, 1817.