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The year now closing has been crowded with events of signal importance and of prophetic aspect. Nothing human seems fixed and stable; everything within the horizon of the church and the world is in commotion, and the fermenting mass, like the tremulous agitation in the original chaos of the unformed earth, is the antecedent of a new order of things. Wars have shaken the Continent of Europe, and rumours of war still excite the nations. Every empire, jealous of its neighbour, replenishes its arsenals, marshals its hosts, and stands ready to do battle. The demon of war taxes the resources of science to augment his power of destruction, and the most formidable weapons of death are exhibited side by side with the implements of industry and the latest achievements of art. In spite of peace societies, the sword vies with the ploughshare, and the polished rifle with the pruning-hook. Politics have become a seething mixture of incoherent and repellent elements, brewing sedition, and intoxicating the brain of the plebeian and the senator. Popery, though stricken at its head, is vigorous in its extremities, and fanatically jubilant even in the shadow of death. Protestantism, which once gave its martyrs for the truth, now desecrates their tombs, and, harlot-like, flaunts with the Man of Sin. Meanwhile, however, education is spreading, science advancing, and religion achieving new triumphs. If we have formalism at home, we have spiritual victories abroad ; if truth has a chequered course in Christendom, it has a glorious career in heathendom. Pagan temples are being deserted, grim idols are pulled down from their pedestals, the iron bonds of caste are becoming dissolved, the funeral pyres of the widow are becoming extinct, and every missionary society is enriched with the Divine blessing and multiplying its converts. Nor is the land where apostles laboured and the blood of the first martyrs was poured forth, left to perpetual desolation. A new era is setting in there. The blight of the false prophet is melting away from the East, and the locusts that rose like a cloud from the sulphurous pit, and for ages settled on the fair fields of Palestine, are being dispersed by the breath of the Lord. The Moslem receives the Bible, the child of the wild Arab is taught to lisp the name of Jesus, the weary-footed Jew is bending his steps to Palestine, and the faded churches of Syria are being revived and quickened into new life. Many facts illustrative of these hopeful and encouraging signs have been given in our Magazine for the current year, and the faith and zeal of our readers must oft have been stimulated by the records of the passing months. We shall continue to supply this soul-stirring material, and trust the hearts of our friends will be expanded more and more by that enlightened catholicity, that liberal and enlarged philanthropy which begets a healthy interest in every Godlike enterprise and every advancement in the kingdom of Christ at home and abroad.
And now, beloved friends, what shall be our circulation in the coming year? On the whole, we have no complaints to make respecting your generous and faithful efforts in the year now ending. In a few instances there may be a degree of supineness and neglect; but imperfection, we know, belongs to human nature, and its manifestation in this and other forms, in a few sporadic cases through a community of myriads, may be expected as a matter of course. We therefore pass them by with a nod of charitable and hopeful recognition, and present our hearty thanks to the generous thousands who have cheered us by their bland smiles, and helped us by their active support. We respectfully and earnestly solicit their continued favour and valuable influence, and cherish the hope that the circulation of both our periodicals for the coming year may be in advance of the past. And this we urge with the greater confidence and hope, because we speak not in the interest of self, or for any personal advantage, but on the broad ground of Connexional interests. The Magazines, dear brethren, are your own.
Devonshire Road, Forest Hill, London, S.E.,
November 15, 1867.