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the truth is in many places evil spoken of-he may perceive crime and error increasing rather than diminishing—he may perceive the pretended wise ones of the earth mocking the counsel of the devoted servants of the Lord : bnt amidst all this, Jehovah can make the wrath of man to praise him—he reigns over all; and whilst the politician may endeavour to trace the probable effects of certain legislative enactments and national movements, and lose himself in the shadowy mystecism of his own speculations, the student of the Bible, the believing servant of God, can look up with confidence to his Creator, as having in his hand the fate of nations, and wielding with the arm of omnipotence the eternal destinies of the countless millions of his intelligent creation. Though we should behold the most unpropitious events taking place around us, though we should have to lament that Popery, and Infidelity, and recreant Protestantism have entered into an unholy league against the interests of evangelical Christianity-still the voice of faith whispers to us, be not terrified, the cause of Christ is the cause of the omnipotent, and it must prevail. Whatever. changes, therefore, may take place in our own land, or in the nations around us, no matter how they may menace the prosperity and welfare of the church of Christ'; whatever combinations of powers may for a time arrest the progress of evan-' gelical Christianity, and threaten it with ruin and overthrow; whatever wars may be waged against those who maintain their allegiance firm and unshaken to the Lord of hosts-all these events can be looked upon with placidity by the believer; for though he may deplore the evils of the prevalence of error and the carnage and devastation of war, he knows that the cause to which the warmest and holiest affections of his heart are devoted, is secure. When we look, then, to the future, and when our anticipations of it are clouded with the forebodings of melancholy, our prayer should be, in the stillness of the devout submission of the heart,“ thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven;" “for thou, O Lord, doest according to thy will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth."
Another thing which must strike us in reviewing the present aspect of society, is the extensive spread of knowledge throughout almost every ramification of the community. We rejoice in its extension, we regard it as the handmaid of Christianity; but like every blessing of a gracious providence, it may be abused. Its progress has been hailed by some as bringing in its train the blessings of liberty, and the emanci
pation of the human mind from the thraldom of superstition. But we fear that in many instances error, and scepticism, and infidelity have been disseminated alongst with it. If the knowledge which is being spread throughout the world instil not into the mind of man the sentiments of devotion and pietyif it be not made subservient to the interests of religion—if it assist not in making those who attain it better men and better Christians, it deserves not the name—it is worthless-it is foolish. It is like the destructive winds of the east which breathe upon the beauty and loveliness of nature, and in a moment they are withered and destroyed ; it sends forth its pestilential contagion, and moral principle, and social distinctions, and religion, and liberty are blighted before it. This is no imaginary monster conjured up to terrify and affright -it is no ideal case, whose existence is only problematical--it has occurred in our own days; and we have only to direct our readers to revolutionized France* for a proof of its realized existence. When that country might have become the centre of the free political system of the world, when it had annihilated the power of the
oppressor, the first bud of liberty blighted as it burst forth--then did a race of men arise, whose despotism was more appaling, and whose cruelty was more bloody and diabolical than any
atrocities which civilized Europe had ever before witnessed ; men whose knowledge was such as I have described; men who felt not and who owned not the power of moral principle, who enshrined the image of their own polluted reason in the place of the divinity; men who converted France into a shambles, and her people into the victims of their butcheries-and what did they leave behind ? Did they leave liberty, happiness, or religion ? No! All had 'fled the desecrated soil, and the genius of freedom and the spirit of pure religion were constrained to
and bedew with their tears the desolated land. Such are the effects of vain, infidel knowledge upon a nation, and we need not stop to point out all its dire consequences to individuals. It is only like muscular power to the banditti; it renders its possessor a greater scourge to society. But the question may be asked-do we therefore condemn true knowledge, or would we cramp the exertions of man, when directed to its attainment? No, we would not; we look upon the attainment of true knowledge as one of the greatest sources of earthly hap
* We allude to the period following the revolution of 1798.,
piness to man, as the noblest support of
and undefiled religion, and as the surest and most powerful weapon
with which to guard a nation's happiness and independence. We mean a knowledge which is compatible with, and founded upon, the revelation of God: give us this in the man who is engaged in the avocations of the world, and he will perform all his social and moral duties with zeal and with integrity; give us this in the Christian, and we dread not the weapons of the sceptic or the infidel. The spread of true knowledge never has, and never can injure the doctrines of the Gospel
. We would rejoice to see every man's mind stored with knowledge; but we would rejoice still more to see that based upon the
truths of the Bible, and regulated by its doctrines and its laws.
In casting a glance over the events of the year which is now near a close, we have one cause of gladness--we allude to the mitigation of that pestilence which has lately afflicted and terrified our land. It has perhaps now fulfilled its commission, it has smitten the thousands to whom it was sent, the Lord has stayed his hand, and the voice of wailing and of sorrow has been hushed. But has the effect which such an awful warning was calculated to produce really taken place ? Have we with heartfelt humility and contrition humbled ourselves before our God? have our voices been uplifted in thanksgiving that we have not been numbered amongst its victims? have we turned from the evil of our ways ? and have we with sorrow for our sins sought the salvation of the Lord ? Has each one of us humbled himself at the foot of the cross of Christ, and exclaimed, in all the fervour of the deepest devotion, Lord be merciful to me a sinner? Alas ! but too few of us have acted thus. We have again returned with stout hearts to our worldly avocations, the voice of Jehovah in the pestilence is now to us like a dream, we have forgotten its warning, and we are again the thoughtless, careless creatures that we were before. What a mercy is it that we are still left in the land of the living ?--that we have still an opportunity remaining to us of studying the things that belong to our everlasting peace. If, then, our hearts have not yet been humbled, let us call upon the Lord for his Spirit to renew them, and implore of him that he would lead us in the path of righteousness, even for his own name's sake. At the commencement of this year we heard of the ravages of Cholera amongst others, and we dreaded its approach—it came upon us, and many bave fallen before it as it pursued ita fitful but
relentless career;-it may perhaps again return with still greater malignity and still more deadly violence; and will we slumber on till it comes upon us in all the carelessness of fancied security ? No, let this not be our conduct; let us be constant in our unwearied applications to the throne of grace, for grace to help us in every time of need, to strengthen our hands in the work of the Lord, that we may be enabled to adorn in all things the Gospel of God our Saviour; and so, that should we be smitten with its destructive poison, we might be enabled to exclain, in the firm assurance of faith,
even iu the midst of all our torture and our anguish—“Lord Jesus receive my spirit.”
But this has not been the only evil which has brooded over our country during the year-misery, arising from want and destitution, has retained its dominion over many of the memo bers of our community; and though our fields have waved in all the gladness of plenty, still are there many who have participated not in its blessings, and have tasted not of its abundance. We look not for the primary cause of this evil alone in the state of trade, or as produced by certain legislative enactments injurious to the interests of commerce; but we regard the demoralization of our population as the efficient agent of the production of that misery which so extensively prevails throughout the community. Wherever there is a demoralized or depraved population, there will also be in that place, sooner or later, a suffering people; and on the contrary, wherever we find a religious and a virtuous population, we will universally find an industrious and a happy people. This is no idle, unsupported theory—it is a fact which has been confirmed by the history of every successive generation of our species. It is sin that brings misery upon man, and it is the prevalence of immorality which establishes the influence of suffering over a famished and destitute population. Legislative enactments may for a short time meliorate, but they cannot eradicate the evil—it will return again with redoubled violence, when the temporary relief which they afforded has passed away; and unless the people of these realms be turned from the evil of their doings, unless the hallowed influence of religion exercise a righteous dominion over their hearts, the efforts of the legislator will be powerless and vain. The reform which will alone substantially benefit the country must be a moral reform, men must become Christians, not in name only, but in spirit and in truth"; the truths of the Bible must influence their hearts, before prosperity or happiness can shed their bland influence over our country, or the present evils be meliorated or removed. What, it may be asked, are those crimes of which we complain? We require not any ingenuity to help us to an answer. Do we not see in
every district and corner of our land the Sabbaths of the Lord profaned? is not his holy name blasphemed by many in every grade of society ? are not his laws trampled underfoot ? and are not licentiousness and intemperance stalking with unblushing effrontery through our streets ? Is not blood bedewing our land, and, as it sinks into the earth, calling upon heaven for vengeance? We need not farther enumerate-a load of guilt is on our land; and unless timely repentance avert the doom, the desolating scourge of heaven's displeasure shall spread ruin and woe throughout it. It becomes us, then, to humble ourselves before our God, to confess our guilt and reverence his laws, and to implore of him who suffered for our sins to send forth his Spirit in its converting power, that the wicked may forsake his
and live. The Lord can turn the hearts of the children of men as he turneth the rivers of waters; and it should be our earnest prayer, that he would farn our hearts and the hearts of our countrymen from the desire of sin to the love of holiness and the belief of the truth.
With the varied associations, however, which present themselves to us at the close of another periodical revolution of our world, there are feelings connected, perhaps in the great majority of minds, more of an individual than of a general or national character. As we cannot stand still in the moral world, but must be either progressing or retrograding, so also is it with respect to the circumstances or feelings that have occurred to us during the year that is now fast passing away to join the vast period of duration which has already elapsed. None have come to the close of this year in precisely the same circumstances, and actuated by precisely the same feelings, as he did when he stopped to reflect upon the termination of that which has immediately preceded it. Something has occurred to gladden his soul with joy, or to cast the sombre shade of gloom and of melancholy around it. Prosperity may perhaps have brightened the path of some; they may have basked in its sunshine and rejoiced in its smiles ; they may have had their path strewed with flowers, and no voice of sorrow nor no pang of woe may have cast a cloud over their brow. Their onward course may have been like the placid stream, waveless and unruffled as it winds its way through vales smiling with plenty, or vallies blooming in-love