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PRINTED Br ELLERTON AND HENDERSON,
PUBLISHED BV J. HATCHARD AND SON, PICCADDLLY.
MDCCCXXXII. .. ^
The object for which the Christian Observer was projected, was to endeavour to promote the glory of God, and the revival and increase of scriptural piety, more •specially among the ministers and members of the Church of England. Keeping this paramount design in view, its conductors, in addition to papers of a directly devotional character, have availed themselves of such topics of interest and importance as might enable them to bring the doctrines and precepts of the Gospel to bear upon all that concerns mankind both in body and in soul. Sermons, however valuable and edifying, are too apt to be laid aside for an hour of leisure, which, perhaps, never arrives; but well-written papers in a periodical work—obituaries; biographies; poetry; discussions on topics as they arise, relative to biblical interpretation, points of Christian doctrine or practice, religious and charitable institutions, and the affairs of churches; with notices respecting the good or evil of new and popular publications; the mercies, difficulties, and theological controversies of the day; and the general aspect and affairs of nations—easily excite attention; and if made use of with a vigilant effort to turn all to spiritual account, may be often rendered more widely serviceable than many ah elaborate treatise in divinity. The latter is reserved for studious perusal; whereas the former recur from month to month, are taken up with avidity, and create a powerful impression by allusions to the peculiar duties, trials, or topics, of the passing hour. In this view the periodical press is au engine of incalculable power; but it is mournful to add, that it has been hitherto chiefly employed for evil rather than good. We bless God that some efforts have been made on the other side, but even to this moment they have been comparatively few and feeble. What, for instance, has been done by the united strength of the whole Christian body in this country to counteract the injurious effects of one of our daily newspapers?
Without meaning any disparagement to other religious periodical publications, we have reason to be thankful that the Christian Observer which was nearly the earliest of them, has been honoured with a share of that best success which consists in being made an instrument of spiritual good. The great increase of pure religion in our own church during the last quarter of a century is known to all, and ought to be a source of heartfelt thanksgiving to the Father of mercies; and many are the proofs which have been afforded us that the pages of this publication have been in their measure among the various means which have been rendered instrumental in promoting that blessed result. We mention it that we may be henceforth stimulated to greater diligence in the work of the Lord, and that our readers may both pardon our errors, and further us by their prayers and assistance ill prosecuting the great cause which we trust both they and we have at heart.
We shall not pass in review the many eventful topics which have occupied our pages during another volume. In several of our opening Numbers we brought before our readers a variety of papers which appeared to us peculiarly useful and interesting incontemplating the malady which had begun to visit our shores.and which now appears, through the mercy of God, to be passing away from us, after a serioui visitation, yet far more light than our sins had deserved.—The discussions which took place relative to the Bible Society, also assumed considerable prominence in our earlier Numbers; and though it would be quite unfair to our fellow-labourers in this great cause to say, in the language of one of our correspondents, that " future ages will have to thank the Christian Observer for saving the Bible Society," yet we cannot but know that the simple facts which we adduced had their share in opening the eyes of many good men who had been misled by incorrect statements. The efforts made to establish another institution having proved abortive, and several in. fluential individuals who had been for a moment estranged from the Bible Society having cordially returned to it, it would be both unnecessary and ungracious to recur to the subject, except to keep it in mind as a beacon, that Christians may learn that their strength is in union, and be on their guard against the devices of