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FOR THE YEAR 1827,
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IN looking over the Numbers of our present volume, we perceive, amidst a variety of articles not reducible to any particular class of topics, several important subjects which have recurred with considerable prominence, and to which we may briefly advert as in some measure a key to the contents of the volume.
In our Review Department, a very large space has been devoted to notices of works on ecclesiastical history, and particularly to the rise, the progress, the excellencies, the deficiencies, and the results of the Protestant Reformation. Mr. Scott opened the way for our discussion of these topics, in reference to Germany; Bishop Kaye led us back to the early annals of the church; Mr. Soames brought us homeward to the days of our own Edward the Sixth; Dr. M'Crie and M. Llorente exhibited to us similar struggles, though soon overpowed by the iron hand of dominant Popery, in the very fastnesses of Italy and Spain; while the memorialists of Arminius and Bishop Hall unveiled to us mournful scenes of very much the same moral aspect in the bosom of Protestant Holland and England itself. To offer to our readers the reflections which force themselves on our thoughts from the retrospect of these varied scenes, would be to re-write the articles to which we allude. If they will study these monitory topics as they deserve, they will find them fraught with instruction; they will discover much of the weakness and frailty of mankind even at his best estate; they will perceive the unspeakable evils which result from the introduction of self-will, and party spirit, into religious discussions; they will learn to dread and deprecate the unhallowed blending of political intrigues, and of all merely secular interests and prejudices, with the pure and spiritual doctrines and ritual of a Christian church; they will perceive the duty of lively gratitude to God for the religious privileges so largely bestowed upon our own nation in the present age, and for the establishment among us of a church founded upon scriptural and apostolical principles; while they will learn the necessity of a constant recurrence to the Bible itself as the only fountain of spiritual illumination, and of a dependance upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God to lead us into a knowledge of all things necessary for our salvation.
Turning from our Review Department to the contributions of our respected correspondents, we perceive that their attention has been strongly directed to two subjects,-the bearings of unfulfilled Prophecy, with es
pecial reference to the second advent of our Lord; and to the prevalence of a class of doctrines which, under the notion of promoting the advancement of the Gospel, and the conscious happiness of the Christian, would banish the very idea of "duty" as a restriction upon the believer's "privileges," making faith its own evidence, and "assurance of salvation" the test of being saved. We will not add to what our correspondents have said upon these subjects, except briefly to remark, that, in refe rence to the first of them, we believe that no hypothesis which human ingenuity can frame has yet been able, in its applications of unfulfilled Prophecy, to go much beyond those simple outlines of faith and hope which are common to the wise and pious of all ages and nations, in regard to the glorious events of that day when "the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ;" and with respect to the second, that Christianity has made duty itself privilege, and obedience reward, so that the freest exhibition of mercy, the most clear exposition of the doctrine of justification by faith, and the most glowing statement of the blessings which result from the adoption of the believer into the family of God, are quite compatible with reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may grow by the spiritual nutriment of the sacred word, thoroughly furnished to every good work.
There is another subject which, from its momentous character and the various aspects under which it may be viewed-whether religiously, morally, politically, charitably, or economically-has found access into every department of our miscellany: need we say, that we mean the unchristian and inhuman institution of Slavery? To readers of a right heart and a sound mind, none of our pages, we feel assured, have been more welcome than those which have been designed to diffuse information and promote the public zeal on this most affecting subject. We trust that upon the whole the prospects of the unhappy slaves in our colonies are beginning, however slowly, to brighten: but much, we might say all, remains to be effectively carried into practice; and our readers may therefore expect that we shall still have occasion to devote many a page to the elucidation of this great moral and religious question.
The arena of Public Affairs, which, at the close of our last volume, was more than usually tranquil, has been since a scene of almost unprecedented violence and party warfare. We shall not here recapitulate the calamitous events which have given rise to this new aspect of our domestic and foreign politics; but we most deeply lament the effects. Oh that He who is the author of peace and the lover of concord, who alone maketh men to be "of one mind in a house," may allay the contentions which have broken out among us; and unite all ranks and degrees of our countrymen in one common desire to promote the welfare, temporal and spiritual, of all mankind.