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The preparation of the twelfth Number of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine for the present year being finished, the usual prefatory remarks have now to be supplied.
One part of this duty the Editor always performs with pleasure. His chief work has been the selection and arrangement of materials; and to those who have supplied them, his cordial thanks are very respectfully presented. Few periodicals, perhaps, are honoured with a larger number of correspondents than the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine ; a number which is not affected even by the melancholy ravages of death. Since the Editor was intrusted with his important charge, he has been repeatedly called to experience the pain of recording the removal of those who had oft afforded valuable assistance ; but, as the veterans have passed away, younger, and not less efficient, labourers in the same field have been raised up. It may be, in a great degree, owing to circumstances of this kind, that the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine owes the rich variety, and undecaying freshness, by which the Editor believes, with humble thankfulness to Almighty God, its pages are characterized. He speaks thus with the greater confidence, because he speaks of the labours of others. Numerous as are the restrictions imposed of necessity upon the Editor, and limited as, in some respects, must be the range of his subjects, it would neither be surprising nor censurable if, occasionally, the appearance of sameness and repetition should occur ; but, with such a number and succession of correspondents, similar subjects are presented under different aspects, old principles are shown in new connexions and developements, and the attractiveness of novelty is secured, without the sacrifice of truth.
It is frequently a source of pleasing satisfaction to the Editor, in the midst of labours which never cease to call for anxious attention, to be able to reflect that between himself, his correspondents, and the great body of his subscribers and friends, there exists a decided communion of principle and feeling, object and plan. They are all convinced that that diffusion of sacred truth, which is at all times so essential to the well-being of man,---whether considered individually or socially, and in reference to the present or to the future,—is, at the present day, more necessary than ever; and that it is loudly demanded, not only by the wants, but by the very mistakes, of mankind ; demanded the more urgently by those almost regularly recurring periods of suffering, to which society seems as if it were inevitably exposed, and which are sometimes expedited by the means which are designed to prevent their approach, and aggravated by the remedies which sought to effect their cure. Every where complaining both of suffering and disappointment, man, more than ever, needs to be taught the truth, by neglecting which all his sufferings are produced. Most mistakenly has it been thought that religion only related to the concerns of another world; and that the concerns of the present were to be transacted without any reference to it, and upon principles such as a wisdom, merely human, might supply.
The oracles of God testify that " godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come ; and that the same Gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation, because therein is the righteousness of God revealed, is, exclusively, “the doctrine which is according to godliness." To secure, therefore, the well-being of man in the entire breadth and length of his spiritual and immortal nature, by this truth, in all its evangelical peculiarities, he must be influenced ; and in proportion to its diffusion, will be the disenthralment, the melioration, and the progress of society. The delightful pictures of social tranquillity and happiness presented to us by the sure word of prophecy, are placed in immediate connexion, as of effect with cause, with the universal extension of the “ knowledge of the Lord.”
This is the object which is continually sought in the pages of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine. Whether to its biographical, its theological, or its literary portions, the reader may look, he will still find his attention directed to that system of religion of which the cross of Christ is the expressive symbol. During the past year, it has been judged necessary to bear distinct and repeated testimony to this. One of the most dangerous forms of religious error has, latterly, been so embodied into system, and elevated into the characteristic of a distinct party, as to call for especial notice. Always heretical, it has now become a heresy. Its principles were the commencement of the first declension and apostasy. Its seeds were mingled with the wheat in the English Reformation, and the produce has always deformed the field. But now it has assumed a new position, claiming to be exclusively the Church of Christ, and the only depository of salvation; and with an energy worthy of a better cause, it employs a widely-diffused instrumentality to obtain a triumphant dominancy. Animated by no hostile feelings against the Church, but rather, upon principle, desirous of her true prosperity, it becomes the duty of Wesleyan Methodism to bear explicit and frequent testimony against these evils in its pale ; and viewing the Church as a national Establishment, employed by the State for the public benefit, to call upon its rulers to take their stand on the great principles of the Reformation, as declared in those official documents which prove the character of the original compact. Attached as we are to the genuine principles of spiritual order, and recognising, as is done in the rules of Methodism, the value of liturgical solemnity in public and sacramental worship, it is the more incumbent on us to protest against these errors, that it is in our power to do so without running into the opposite, and equally dangerous, extremes of enthusiasm and disorder.
The task allotted to us is one of difficulty; but our confidence-under God-reposes on our correspondents and friends. The valuable assistance and encouragement, as well as the kind forbearance, which we have experienced for so many years, will not, we are persuaded, be withdrawn from us in a period so full of important interest as the present. We assure them that, to the utmost of our power, we shall endeavour not to be undeserving even of their increased support.
November 22d, 1841.