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AT the close of another annual volume, it may be proper for us to look back upon the year past, and to examine soberly the tendency and the effect of our labors. Charged with the management of a religious magazine, which is pretty extensively circulated, we ought not only to exercise a spirit of candor and caution generally, but also to seize every suitable opportunity of re-examining our pages. Know thyself is an exhortation of great moment to every man; but upon the conductors of religious periodical works, and indeed upon all writers on religious subjects, it presses with peculiar obligation. Persons of these classes should carefully scrutinize their motives, their temper, their habitual feelings; and if these are pure, dispassionate, and benevolent, it may be inferred that they will not produce writings of a dissimilar character. May we ever feel the responsibility attached to our situation; and may the tendency of our exertions be as salutary, as the cause in which we are professedly engaged is sacred and interesting
Our readers will not forget, we hope, their own responsibility. Should they find us teaching any false doctrine, or leading them astray from the path of duty, they are bound to reject our conclusions in every such instance. They will not, however, for a single error condemn a volume; nor magnify a mistake, or an inadvertency, into an incorrigible fault. Above all, they will not, we are ready to persuade ourselves, neglect any plain duty, which may have been urged in our work to their entire conviction, and which is forced home to their consciences by the most awful sanctions.
The present age is really an age of great improvements, after making every reasonable allowance for prejudice in favor of our own times. It is to be remarked, however, that those who make the greatest boast of their supe. rior illumination are not always favored with the true
light; and that the careful observer of Divine Providence, the studious, unobtrusive, prayerful reader of the Scriptures, is much more probably in possession of genuine wisdom, than those who trust themselves to modern discoveries and new inventions.
Among the improvements of the present day, the increase of able writers, and discriminating readers, is de. serving of particular notice. Perhaps our country does, not yet come in for a large share of
this increase; but in Great Britian no preceding age has seen one tenth part of the number of persons belonging to these two classes, which could now be enrolled and formed into a literary phalanx. On all great moral, religious, and political subjects, the most powerful minds are busily and continually engaged, and real knowledge is continually increased. The amazing events of the last quarter of a century seem to have given a new character to the human intellect. The fierce volcanic fires, which seemed to burst through the fissures of a world crumbling to ruins, have been succeeded by gentler flames, whose kindly influence cheers, enlightens, and blesses mankind. We are far from implying by these observations, that the great mass of literary productions are of so favorable a character. In the present state of the world, it must be expected that the press will be throwing upon the public much corrupt speculation, and much spurious morality. No remedy will be found for this evil before the general prevalence of truth at the introduction of the millennium.
Another great improvement is observable in the fact, that Christians dwell less upon the forms and more upon the substance of religion, than has usually been the case in preceding times. Hence results an uncommon union in promoting the cause of Christ both at home and abroad; a union which, we trust, will continue, and increase till the kingdom of God shall be established through the world.
To our correspondents we cheerfully return thanks for their assistance, and resign to them their full proportion of whatever merit this volume possesses.
Boston, May 20, 181$.
T TAL ESSAYS, INTELLIGENCE, &o. &o. CONTAINED IN THIS
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