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HE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE was first projected on a small scale, by way of experiment. It has now been continued two years; during which time, many considerations have occurred to convince the Publishers, that it would have a more extensive circulation if enlarged, and made to contain a greater variety of matter. With a view to this object, they have determined to put themselves to much additional expence, by employing an Editor, who is to devote a great share of his time to collecting materials, and superintending the press. On this improved plan, the Magazine now makes its first appearance, and solicits the attention of the public. Under these circumstances, it is deemed expedient to insert a more diffuse account of the main design in view, than could be comprised in a Prospectus.
PERIODICAL publications, under the title of Magazines, have, for many years, been circulating in most parts of the world, where civilization and the light of the Gospel have come; but until very lately they have been chiefly directed to general literature and amusement. They have been very justly considered as convenient repositories of fugitive pieces, which, though not worthy of appearing in a volume by themselves, yet merited to be preserved in some shape or another. Within a few years past, several have appeared in England and this country, principally designed to dif fuse religious knowledge, and impress society with the importance of the Christian doctrines and institutions. When it is considered that the great and solemn truths taught in the Gospel, and the duties which it enjoins, in order to maintain their influence over men's minds, at the present day, have to contend against corrupt passions and perverse desires, aided by the wit and cunning sophistry of many men, whose learning and ingenuity entitle them to considerable attention; it is worthy of high commendation, that so many of the friends of genuine piety and morality have availed themselves of this convenient vehicle of communication, and extensive influence over society. The means, which either the wisdom of God or of men has heretofore provided for the propagation of divine truth; the preaching of the Word, and administration of the Sacred Ordinances, it must be seen, are in a degree losing their influence; for
many will not put themselves in the way of these things. Hence every expedient, which promises any hope of success, should be adopted by all those who feel themselves obliged, from special engagements, or inclination, to diffuse a thorough knowledge of that faith, on which their own hopes depend; and to preserve, as far as possible, its influence among others. We have indeed the Divine promise, that God's Church shall always have a place and name in the world: But this promise, like many others, implies a command that we use our endeavours. Human exertions must co-operate with the Divine aid, in this case, no less than when God promises, that seed-time and harvest shall not fail. Convinced of this truth, for several years past, men of piety and virtue, if by any means they might gain some to listen to the great things of eternity, have been extensively circulating such publications as the present.
In an attempt o imitate so worthy an example, a number of gentlemen of the Protestant Episcopal Church, mostly clergymen, have agreed to unite their labours: This occasions the work to be denominated The Churchman's Magazine: Not that it is to be devoted solely to the defence and propagation of the doctrines and tenets peculiar to that Church; but it is intended to embrace a more extensive view. There are many fundamental points in which all Revelationists agree; and may therefore all harmonize as fellow-labourers together. To inculcate faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and practical obedience to his commands....to explain and enforce on men's minds the great doctrines of the Fall, the Atonement, the Resurrection, and Day of Account, must coincide with the views of all who call themselves Christians. At the same time, it is not to be understood, that any point deemed essential by the Episcopal Church will be sacrificed to an undistinguishing and levelling charity, which holds all opinions as alike acceptable to God. However much it might be desired, that all would unite in every thing which they severally deem fundamental; yet, as such an event is not suddenly to be expected, every one must be left at liberty to use those talents, and that measure of reason, which God has given him, for the conviction of those whom he may think to be labouring under error and mistake. The utmost that ought to be expected is, that the controversy, where any exists, be conducted with good temper, candour and moderation; without needlessly wounding the feelings, or calling into exertion the passions or prejudices of any one. Such is intended to be the manner of conducting The Churchman's Magazine, wherever consistency requires things to be said not accordant with the faith of other denominations. And if occasional notice should be taken of those who altogether reject Revelation, and set up reason as the standard of truth, they are assured of being treated in the mild spirit of the Gospel.
THE better to illustrate the genuine doctrines of Christianity, it is proposed to have frequent recourse to the early fathers of the Church. Divine truth being one and always the same, we are to look for it only in the Word of God: Still, however, the sentiments and usages of those who lived in and near the time when inspiration was given, are to be received with veneration, as a standing com
mentary on the dictates of the Holy Spirit. However we may concede to modern ages the merit of adding much to natural science; with respect to that which came from heaven, we have reason to fear it has been perverted and obscured by vain philosophy and oppositions of science, falsely so called. It therefore cannot but be useful to tread back our steps, and examine the sentiments and views of those who first enjoyed the light of the Gospel.
THE opinions and customs prevalent in any age of the Christian Church, ought to be an interesting object of contemplation; and therefore, with sketches of history, they will occupy occasionally a place in the Magazine.
REMARKS on difficult and obscure passages of Scripture, with illustrations of the beauties of style in the sacred writers, and whatever may tend to inspire a taste for reading and understanding the Bible, will be frequently inserted.
PAINS will also be taken to obtain historical views, general and particular, of the past and present state of the Episcopal Church in our own country.
To these topics will be added Essays Devotional, Practical, and Moral....Thoughts on Education, a subject meriting the attention of every one who wishes well to religion and the good of society; and Biography; for which, it is believed, our own country can furnish many subjects; and such, when they can be obtained, will always have the preference.
AND, not altogether to neglect those readers who look for amusement, some notice will be taken of general literature....New Publications, especially in Divinity and Ethics, will be examined....Accounts of Associations and Institutions for the promotion of science and religion, will be inserted....Useful Discoveries in the arts, and their authors, will be recommended to public notice: And further, to afford rational amusement, a page or two in each Number will be devoted to Poetry, either original or selected.
. In publications of this kind, original matter is not always to be expected; a free use will therefore be made of what is already extant from the press; taking care to make the selection from among such works as may be presumed not to have obtained a general circulation in this country. Contributions from gentlemen of leisure, who may be disposed to lend their aid in carrying on the work, will be thankfully received, and duly attended to by the Editor and Pubfishers; always reserving a right to judge of the expediency of altering or altogether rejecting what may be thus received; and promising to use candour and impartiality in the exercise of that right.
AND now, having thus sketched the outlines of the plan on which The Churchman's Magazine will be conducted, it only remains to assure the reader, that nothing will be admitted, which, under the idea of amusement, can, in the slightest degree, offend against decency. No countenance will be given to the loose and relaxing opinions prevalent in the world, which tend to set men's minds afloat with respect to the great concerns of religion; and to make them think it a matter of indifference what they believe and profess. On the contrary, the main object will be, to inculcate the fundamental doc
trines of the Gospel, without regard to sects and denominations, into which Christians are unhappily divided. Among these doctrines will be reckoned, The corruption of man's nature by the Fall....Redemption and Restoration by Jesus Christ the Son of God, who was both God and man.... The necessity of God's Holy Spirit operating on the heart, that it may bring forth the genuine fruits of faith and gospel obedience....And that God has instituted a visible Church on earth, with its ministry and sacred ordinances; by the instrumentality of which, the operations of the Holy Spirit are promised, and to be expected. Wherever these doctrines are faithfully taught and duly received, the spirit of Christianity will prevail. It is believed they will make way to the hearts of men, and holiness, righteousness and peace, will follow; to the glory of God, and the welfare of society.
HAVING these ends always in view, the reader is assured of fidelity and exertion to make the work interesting and useful. Sensible that it must stand or fall by its own deservings, no pains nor labour will be spared, which promise success, in collecting materials suitable to the end in view. Of the fulfilment of these engagements, the public must judge. They have now an opportunity. A specimen is in their hands. To them the ultimate decision is cheerfully submitted.
THOUGHTS ON THE NEW YEAR.
THE commencement of a New Year cannot but excite, in the pious and contemplative mind, many serious and useful reflections. It is a returning season, which should arrest the attention of every one: It should divert the miser from the contemplation of his bags; the worldling from his eager pursuits; the man of pleasure from his debauch; the statesman from his schemes of ambition; and the philosopher from his airy visions. How rapid the flight of time! How exact and orderly the course of the year! How infinite the wisdom that contrived, and how almighty the power that urges on the wondrous system, period after period, not varying a single second of time! Too vast the conception, to be clothed in adequate words; too immense for human imagination to grasp! He sitteth on the circuit of the heavens, and the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers. He commanded, and the sun shone in his splendour: He spake the word, and the earth began to wheel his mighty round: He sitteth above all; and with infir:ite ease, and perfect uniformity, wields in his hand the boundless whole. Thousands of years have rolled away, and no disorders have intervened, for all was pronounced very good. He who made, perfectly knew, and perfectly contritrived the various parts. No clashing force impedes the motion of the spheres; but round and round they roll in harmonious concert ; sustaining, and being sustained, by that all-pervading impulse, whose essence is known only to the Creator.
Ye who doubt the being of a wise first cause, come hither; be silent, and listen awhile to the instruction of the returning year. Can all this harmony proceed from a blind, unmeaning, and undesigning fate? Can senseless matter have jumbled itself into such
exact order? To believe it, requires the greatest stretch of faith: To hesitate, in so plain a case, is indicative of such perverseness as every one should blush to own. Ye who call not in question that God rules and guides the helm of material things, yet heedlessly overlook his government of the intellectual world; of his rational creature man, come and receive instruction. He who rules in such excellent order, in one case, must prescribe to himself a no less perfect system in the other. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? He hath promised rewards to the obedient, and threatened the disobedient with punishment; and just so sure as he brings about days and years, he will fulfil his words. Days and nights follow each other; the year pursues its course, and would do so in spite of all our endeavours to impede its progress; it comes to an end in its stated time: Just so God carries on his government of the moral world. Strive as we will to elude his notice, or impiously trample on his authority, it is to no purpose, but our own condemnation. His eye is about us, and spieth out all our ways: Our resistance is no check to the operations of his hands; they are ever uniform, and the same. Art and dissimulation may conceal iniquity from men, or force prevent its punishment; but day unto day, and year unto year, are so many moni tors, that God is not thus to be defied, nor his unchanging will controuled. The great year of providence and grace is rolling on, and shall come to an end in God's time; when the whole intellectual world shall see and know that his administrations have been uniformly directed to one end, and guided by an eternal rule of right. However to our present short sight there may seem to be disorder and irregularity; yet, when all the dispensations of heaven, with regard to men, shall come to a close, in the day of account, it will be seen that there has been the same harmony, the same unity of design, the same undeviating progress, toward the glory of God, and the good of his faithful servants, as we observe in the flight of time, to close the natural year. Hence, to every rational mind, the season thus speaks and expostulates-Are you also pursuing the same end? Is your conduct guided by the same unerring rule, and directed to the same object? While days and nights are passing away, in uniform succession, are your thoughts, desires and actions, alike uniform, and all very good? Time hath moved unremittingly forward to the close of another year; but have not you often slumbered and slept instead of pursuing your course? Have you not often wandered out of the direct road? Have you not sometimes gone backward instead of advancing? And while you thus linger in your progress towards the stature of perfect men, do you expect ever to reach that blessed region, where times and seasons, days and years, shall be no more?
The year that is past may well be represented as adopting the more explicit language of an affectionate and faithful friend, when taking leave of us forever, and saying: Make a solemn pause; look back, and examine what you have been doing, since you walked the journey of life in my company: What sins have you committed? In what evil habits have you indulged? How many times have you given way to immoderate anger, to malice, to envy, or revenge?