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Church Members Magazine.
It is seriously to be apprehended that remissness in family religion, relaxation of domestic authority, and the adoption of
He enforced, as of great importance, the forming of Habits of Application. The idea of teaching everything as play
The sun has once more finished his annual circuit, and thus completed another Volume of the CHRISTIAN WITNESS, which we now dismiss with a few prefatory words.
Approaching the boundary which separates the Old from the New Year, it behoves us to cast a glance backward, to mark the movements of Providence in things which have been; and forward, if possible, to descry some of the probabilities of the year approaching.
On looking back, we see much that deserves to be noted, from its bearing on “the kingdom which cannot be moved." The War now being waged claims primary attention. The aspect of the battle-field is greatly changed now from what it was at this time last year. In the meanwhile, terrible events have occurred; thousands and tens of thousands have been slain or cut off by disease. Great advances have also been made by the Allies in the work of death and desolation-advances deemed to constitute the glory of the Nations; but which, viewed in themselves, excite horror and and anguish among the children of the Most High God! The only thing the Christian finds to redeem such events, in any degree, is the hope that they may be opening the path to a solid and lasting peace. There seems ground to believe that such is the fact, although we regret to say there is no prospect that the day of tranquillity is near at hand. It would seem as if this war had been permitted as a chastisement to the Nations, and that its object is not yet fulfilled. There are no signs either of the humiliation of Russia or of the giving in of the Western Powers; and hence there is every ground to fear that an ocean of blood has yet to flow, and that hundreds of millions of treasure have yet to be wasted. Russia is so fortified by nature, by climate, and by semi-civilisation, that the idea of her subjugation is utterly precluded. Her seeming weakness, in some respects, is her real strength; her trade and commerce were so scanty as hardly to deserve the name.
Her barbarity, in the matter of endurance, renders her more than a match for civilisation. Her poverty is fully able to cope with their riches. If her means are small, her wants are few. Active, she is generally vanquished; passive, she is generally victorious. In a war of endurance, she has only to avoid fighting ultimately to overcome; the worst is to be feared for the Western Powers. Such a war will cost Russia comparatively little; it will cost the Allies incalculably much. So far as mere human vision can carry us, we see nothing that betokens a speedy end. Nothing can bring deliverance but the interposition of the wisdom and the exercise of the power of the Most High.
While War has been raging, the interests of Peace, to an extent never before known, have been advancing. The year now closing will be memorable to the latest ages in relation to England and France. The reciprocal visits of the Sovereigns of both countries are events without parallel in modern times. The compacts of their predecessors were always grounded upon the narrow basis of common hate, or of matrimony, and were consequently of an evanescent character. Their union was an affair of courts, not of peoples ; it is now an affair of both ; and the probability is that the ages will be many before France and England will ever again embark in mutual hostilities. There seems, indeed, reason to hope that this is the foundation of a union which is, in its progress, to comprise all the kingdoms of the earth. This view alone helps to console the Church of God
and the people at large for the manifold calamities of the present war, which, in the course of a wonder-working Providence, has led to the happy junction.
The year now closing has not been distinguished by anything that is remarkable at home. Although trade has not been particularly flourishing, and provisions have been very high, tranquillity has generally prevailed. The rage for emigration has greatly abated, partly from the increase of labour, and partly from the discouraging intelligence which has arrived from Australia, showing the mischiefs of overdone speculation, and an excessive number of unsuitable emigrants. The religious means of Australia have been considerably increased in the course of the year; and although difficulties have been augmented from the convulsions which took place in Melbourne, the work of God is steadily advancing. Things generally require time to consolidate, after which emigration will be resumed; and thus, by degrees, the vision of Australian grandeur, politically, commercially, and spiritually, will be fully realized.
With respect to the future, while at home there may be nothing absolutely to depress, there is certainly much to awaken solicitude. The spirit of the world is breaking forth with great force and determination against the Institutions of Christianity. More especially is this the case in London, now becoming more and more the model for the other towns and cities of the realm. The Christian Sabbath is in jeopardy, and with it everything! The present year has been distinguished by some extraordinary events in connection with it, and it seems highly probable that the coming year will yield a vast increase in the efforts of the enemies of the Sacred Day. It behoves Christians, therefore, to be on the alert, and prepared for every emergency. But while it is their duty to endeavour to arrest the increase of temptation to Sabbath desecration, and so to prevent the opening of the Crystal Palace, the Museum, the National Gallery, the Theatres, and other places of public amusement, the great thing is to abate the desire for such pleasures, by reducing the numbers of ungodly men through the publication of the Gospel. This ought to be the main object of pursuit-everything else is but secondary and auxiliary. The great necessity, therefore, of the times is a thorough and universal revival of true piety. The necessity of this, and the means of its attainment, are, therefore, the principal subjects which demand the intense and prayerful attention of every section of the Church of God.
Such are the views and feelings with which I close the labours of the present, and desire to enter on those of the next, year. By the help of God, I hope to take my full share of labour and responsibility in the coming conflict. But, “who is sufficient for these things?” Sufficiency is of God alone! I, therefore, beg of my devout readers co-operation in all possible ways-by influence, by contributions of intelligence and articles, by the adoption of means for the diffusion of the Magazine, and in particular by prayer, that I may proceed under the influence of a baptism from on high, that shall impart all the wisdom, strength, grace, and guidance, needful for the great work in which I am engaged.
With cordial thanks to all friends for confidence, kindness, and help throughout the year now closing, and most sincerely wishing for them and theirs every blessing, I remain, as ever,
Their devoted friend and faithful servant, November 20, 1855.