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FOR THE YEAR 1824,
THE TWENTY-FOURTH VOLUME.
PRINTED BY ELLERTON And henderson,
PUBLISHED BY HATCHARD & SON, 187, PICCADILLY; TO WHOM COMMUNICATIONS
IN LONDON, BY SEELEY & SON, FLEET STREET; AND SHERWOOD, NEELY, AND JONES,
AND BY ALL OTHER BOOKSELLERS, AND BY THE NEWSMEN,
WITH devout gratitude to the Author of all mercies, we record, that the past year has been one of unusual prosperity and public union; and we trust and believe that its general progress has been auspicious in the promotion of that universal kingdom of peace which the Saviour of the world came upon earth to establish.
If we cast our eyes upon the state of our own country, we have much to be thankful for, both as concerns the political and the religious aspect of the times. There exists very widely a desire of recurring to sound principles, and of modelling upon them a corresponding code for practice. We have seen this exemplified in the marked departure which has taken place of late, in our public relations, from the stern and oppressive policy of some of the continental courts; and which has induced our Government to resolve on acknowledging the independence of the South-American States. We have seen it in the extirpation of many of our national prejudices, and the liberal and enlightened system which has begun to be acted upon in our commercial and internal relations. We have seen it especially in the hopeful beginning already made towards redressing the flagrant wrongs of a race of men, our fellow-creatures and fellow-subjects, who, till within the last two years, were viewed only as born to stripes and slavery, in interminable succession. Would that we could say all has been achieved that humanity implored, or justice demanded! but still a beginning has been made; their rights are acknowledged; their cause is powerfully advocated; the public are awakening to the importance of the question; many hundred petitions have been already presented to the legislature on their behalf; the authorities of the country allow the justice of their claim, and are pledged to give it effect; and prejudice and mistaken self-interest will in vain endeavour ultimately to frustrate the great work of their final emancipation. Our readers will have observed, and we trust not with dissatisfaction, that a considerable number of our pages have been devoted, during the year, to the elucidation of this great question. As Christian Observers, we have thought it demanded and deserved a large share of our attention; for not only are the honour of our country, the rights of humanity, and the civil and physical welfare of unborn millions of our fellow-creatures at stake, but also their spiritual and immortal interests are involved; and these especially ought to awaken in all sincere Christians a large portion of that sympathy so widely and so beneficially exerted in behalf of " Jews, Turks, and Infidels," in order" to bring them home to Christ's flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites." We are happy to record, as another instance of that right feeling to which we are alluding, the extension of episcopal establishments to the West Indies; but it must depend chiefly upon the vigilance of the Christian part of the public at home, whether this, or any other, measure, however salutary in itself, shall really secure those great objects which it was intended to promote, and which ought to be kept steadily in view.
Turning our attention abroad, and still confining it to affairs more immediately civil, yet in their future bearings closely connected with the moral and spiritual condition of the human race, we see in Greece the most hopeful progressive advances towards a state of public freedom, with all the blessings which follow in its train; and throughout South America, with one exception, the attainment of that invaluable blessing; even the slave population being allowed to enjoy its advantages.
Returning homewards, and directing our view to those objects which most directly interest a Christian Observer, we perceive a steady progress in our great charitable and religious institutions, and the addition of nes
ones to their number. Among these we cannot refrain from particularising a Society formed during the year for the extensive establishment of a advantages which we cannot now pause to enumerate, but which ought to be most strongly impressed upon the mind of every enlightened philanthropist. In our own church a spirit of scriptural piety is, we trust, greatly on the increase. Her outward pale has been strengthened during the year by the erection or opening of various new churches: may the accession of truly faithful pastors and spiritual worshippers to her ranks be proportioned to the nominal range of her jurisdiction!
Throughout the world, the powerful effects of the religious institutions which owe their origin to this highly favoured country, become every year more apparent. To adduce individual proofs, would be to recapitulate the substance of those delightful memorials of Bible, Missionary, Educational, and other humane and charitable societies, which occupy so many pages of our miscellany. To these we must refer our readers in detail; deeply grateful to the Author of every good gift, that our eyes have been permitted to behold things which "prophets and righteous men desired to see, and did not see them, and that our ears have heard things which they wished to hear, but did not hear them."a> war" to afuotio", But we must not close our eyes to less pleasing topics; for neither abroad nor at home have the annals of the year been wholly on the side of improvement. The free diffusion of the sacred Scriptures, and of universal education grounded upon them, has met with widely extended opposition. We might here remind our readers of various circumstances, still fresh in their memory, which most painfully prove, how strong has been this spirit in our own Western colonies, as respects the oppressed classes of their community. We might turn to the edict of the Grand Signor to the fulminating bull of the new Pope; and to the recent history of France, Spain, Ireland, and other Roman-Catholic countries, in which the cause of the Bible, and of scriptural education has been discountenanced or condemned. We might proceed to specify other unfavourable symptoms we might even turn to the high seat of legislation itself, and ask, why, in this age of improvement, so much is still suffered to remain unimproved? Why, in this age of professed. liberality, is scriptural piety so often illiberally stigmatised as cant and hypocrisy? Why, when the physical comforts of the species and the arts of social life are studied with the most elaborate refinement, should the care of the› immortal soul, the
every recognition that men have souls to be cared for,
and that the despised outcast of Africa is heir to an immortal des tiny, be designated with the badge and brand of contempt? Why, when we are munificently devoting a new offering of half a million of money to build temples for the service of God, should his Sabbaths be so negligently guarded, not to say profanely despised, that our towns and villages are desecrated by ordinary traffic on that day, while those who desire more Christian regulations fear to agitate the subject before the assembled wealth and wisdom of the nation, lest the hostility of some and the indifference of others should aggravate the evil which it was intended to restrain?
But we forbearLife is at best but a chequered scene; we are not to expect unalloyed or uninterrupted good: it is much, if with great labour and deep anxiety, something is added to the, mass of human piety and happiness, something subtracted from that of suffering and sin. It has ever been our anxious wish that our miscellany should bear its part, however humble in this great co consummation; and we earnestly entreat the prayers and kind assistance of our readers and valued friends and correspondents, that our endeavours may not be wholly in vain !