« AnteriorContinuar »
[See Frontispiece.] · IT is not more in compliance with custom, than in accordance with my own feelings, that I now address you. The stranger ever labours under a disadvantage, who has no one to introduce him to the society in which he is to move; nor is this disadvantage diminished by his pretending to be a person of consequence. In the present instance, like the painter, who gives us a simple key to his picture, I must be allowed to dispense with ceremony, and proceed to lay before my readers, a short, unvarnished account of myself and family, and then state my reasons for intruding myself into public notice.
THOUGI, in our country, no very profound respect is usually attached to antiquity of lineage, yet I think it not amiss to say, that mine is very ancient. My father. was a husbandman, and about 6000 years ago, dwelt in a beautiful spot in the East. His estate is usually known by the name of Eden. It has ever been a matter of astonishment, of regret and sorrow to our family, that by a foolish bargain our father lost his delightful possessions, which he actually bartered away for a little fruit! He was immediately driven from his home, and his children have ever since been wanderers and pilgrims, having no “abiding city.” Our family was at one time recluced to the small number of eight persons. These lived in the old world; and, on account of an overwhelming deluge, built a vessel in which they came to the new world, bringing
with them two of every kind of animals which now exist. From the time of this voyage to the present, our family has experienced many revolutions and calamities. For an account of these, I must refer you to our family Records, which have been carefully handed down through every generation to the present time: by these it will be seen, that at times we have been in prosperity, and then again almost cut off from the earth.
The most remarkable event in our history, took place about 1800 years ago. It was then seen by the Being who first created our race, that the instructions and commands which he himself had written in our Records, were so darkly understood and so seldom obeyed, that it was necessary to have very material additions and alterations. For this purpose, he commissioned Jesus of Nazareth to act as Mediator between himself and our family. At this time we received a new name, had a new form of government established, and received the assurance, that by faith in Jesus, after all our wanderings here, we might hereafter regain the possessions of our common father; might meet with all our family, and live forever, in the fruition of all that the heart can desire.
For the last 1800 years, our family has varied much as to its appearance and prosperity. For the first three centuries, the cloud of persecution so lowered over us, that had it not been for the almighty power of our Prince, we must have been ruined by the bursting of the storm. But we survived this, to encounter a worse evil. For several centuries, our teachers and rulers took the Records from the common brethren, and introduced many strange and superstitious notions into the family government. The consequence was, that though many went under the name of the Pilgrim family, yet very few were in reality of our household. A darkness was now settled over us, which was pierced by no rays of light. Our leaders successively sat and rivetted the fetters of ignorance upon us, till our limbs were so distorted that no one could have suspected that we belonged to the Pilgrim household. But there was an end too of this. The Founder of our race, raised up a man by the name of Luther, who swept away this darkness as with a magic stroke. He placed one foot on Germany, and the other on Switzerland, and shook the pillars of superstition with the strength of a giant ;—and they tottered, and trembled, and fell! Our Records were again restored to us, and we sprang up from our bed of sloth, and our joy echoed over Europe, like the shouts of a nation of slaves on shaking off their chains.
At the present time, our family are scattered over the face of the carth. They dwell in Europe, in America, and some few are found in Asia, in Africa, and in the Isles of the Ocean. After sitting in supineness for nearly eighteen centuries, we are just beginning to think of obeying the last injunctions of our Prince, who commanded us to translate and carry his words to every people on earth. So much for my family. I now speak of my present design.
It will be recollected that about two hundred generations have already passed into another state since the first existence of our family; and that none but those who possess and believe our family Records, can hereafter enjoy that happiness which is without end. It will also be remembered, that our divine Leader commanded us to declare his name over the whole earth ; and that this has never yet been done. Here, then, is a great duty pressing upon every Pilgrim to accomplish this, we must immediately shake off the sleep of ages, and arise with an energy that will shake the world. To aid in this undertaking, will be one special object of my work. I cannot see all that is doing for the spread of the Gospel, without rejoicing ;-I cannot hear the calls of nations for the bread of life, without feeling-cannot see one and another missionary fall, without sighing—cannot look at a world rushing to ruin, without yearning. If, therefore, I hold a trumpet in my hand, and my readers do not: hear it, they may believe I have no energy to blow it. If I speak with warmth on the subject of missions, it will be because I am in
earnest ;-if with coolness, it is because I am asleep, and you hear only the gibberish of dreams. To spread a missionary spirit-to awaken to missionary action—to re-echo the voice of dying millions for the bread of heaven-and to give interesting intelligence, is one of the main-springs which move my machine.
It may often happen, in the course of my peregrinations, that I shall meet with those who call themselves Pilgrims, yet who have wilfully out their eyes against the flashes of truth, and clothed. themselves with the most specious errors. On such occasions, it will be my constant aim, never, by passion or prejudice, to violate the great laws of love; but to speak in such a manner, that if I could review my writings a century hence, when all my prejudices and passions are cool, I could not find a sentence which I would wish altered. Yet at such times, it will be my duty to speak with firmness and decision. I shall endeavour so to handle the sword, that it cannot recoil on myself; and if my antagonists find it has point and edge, before they cry “forbear," they will do trell tin
examine their most vulnerable parts. There are so many errors under the cloak of the Pilgrim name, at the present day, that it need not be a matter of surprise, if it often becomes my painful duty to open their caskets of lovely delusions, and let out the shadows which they so fondly hug. To war with error is an imperious duty, and they only should shrink from this contest, who are unable to wield the proper weapons. I do not agree with those who pretend it of little consequence what system of faith they embrace. The God of heaven has revealed one correct system; and it is worse than in vain to pretend it is of no consequence whether or not we are guided by it. I consider the doctrines of the Bible, commonly called the doctrines of grace, as necessary articles of faith ; but I shall never be forward to disagree with any denomination of Christians, who believe the great cardinal points of revealed Christianity.
With regard to the plan of my work, I would observe, that though I may have a regular plan of my own distinctly marked out, yet I know not how my readers can be interested to know it, provided they are satisfied with what I place before them. The tastes of readers are so dissimilar, their feelings are so different, and their modes of thinking are so unlike, that it would be too great vanity to presume they will all be pleased with every piece I insert; but if I suit none, I shall have the sorrowful reflection, that my own taste is unlike all others. I can reasonably call upon my various readers for the exercise of candour and moderation; but I ought not, and do not expect to live on the indulgence of the public. If I make ne very high pretentions to learning, yet I hope and trust, in this respect, my readers will never be necessitated to blush for me. If I can throw one beam of joy into the chamber of sickness--if I can support the trembling foot-steps of age, or lead the young from the snares which lie concealed under their flowery paths, and guide them to the road which leads to the chambers of eternal day--if I can accomplish these, my labours will not be useless :—if I fail in any or all of them, I can only regret, that my intentions, though good, were not seconded by a correct judgment.
Those who are willing to furnish me with their favours, and rank themselves under the name of correspondents, will ever meet with prompt attention. By this it is not meant that I pledge myself to publish all or any of their pieces, unless they really merit it. Frankness is a trait of character that I ever admire, and hopesome small share of it may be seen in the pages of my work. I would have it distinctly understood, that I wish none to write or read as a personal favour or compliment to myself. I wish none to write, unless by so doing, they can do good; and none to read, unless they can get good. Nor must my correspondents take offence, if they gometimes find alterations in their pieces. The liberty of altering or rejecting, I reserve solely to myself; for it is to be supposed that he whose business it is to handle the harp, should best know when this or that string is to be touched.
Finally, my readers may rest assured that I deeply feel the responsibility which now devolves upon me. The difficulties which tend to prevent the formation and continuance of a good periodical publication, are many; but I trust mine is not an ardour that will wither at the first obstacle, nor a courage that will droop at the first struggle. I am aware that frailty, in common to works of this kind, must be stamped on my pages. I am also sensible that I am liable to mistakes and prejudices; but, making the Bible the tribunal to which I shall ever appeal, I hope my readers will never have occasion to give me an unwelcome, or an ungracious look, as I make my munthly visits. It is hoped that my face shall never be so marked by sourness or untimely gravity, as to prevent the young from often surveying my features; nor so fawning and airy, as to merit the rebukes of age. If I frown, it will only be where reproof is necessary; if I smile, it will only be to allure. It is my earnest desire to excite the christian to action—to warn from the delusions of errorto invite to the rewards of wisdom-to cherish a correct taste in writing--and so to instruct and guide, that I shall fear to meet the face of no one during my pilgrimage here below, nor tremble to meet any of my readers, at a moment when my labours, and the world in which they were performed, are dissolving before the breath of the eternal Judge.
DECLENSION OF RELIGION IN
IN the course of my pilgrimage, I happened, a few years since, to visit the town of ; and as the place itself was pleasant, and the situation of things peculiarly interesting, at that time, I was induced to remain there a few weeks; for I deem it not inconsistent with my profession to consult occasionally my own inclination and pleasure. What arrested my attention, and induced my stay there, was this; an earnestness of feeling on the great subject of religion, manifested by almost every person. A shover of livine in