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PERIODICAL publications on moral and religious subjects, have advantage, in some respects, over voluminous productions. Many who would not be at the pains of reading a volume, will read brief essays with avidity. By these, if extensively circulated, moral and religious instruction, may with facility be diffused among all classes of society.
In a view of human depravity, it is not surprising that some boldly attack, and openly reject divine revelation ;— while others, in a more covert way, manifest the same unfriendly disposition to it, by endeavoring to soften down the doctrines and precepts of the Scriptures, in order to accommodate the christian system to the feelings of the natural heart. Both have been indefatigable in their exertions.Novels, tales, reviews, newspapers, and magazines have been employed as vehicles of error-as means to propagate and establish sentiments calculated to destroy all true morality, and genuine christianity.
Ir is therefore the duty of all who are friendly to Divine Revelation in its purity and extent; and all who wish well to the kingdom of the LORD JESUS, and the salvation of creatures formed for eternity, to unite their endeavors to diffuse and establish that system of truth contained in the Word of God. In this way something may be done to counteract the pernicious practices of evil men and seducers.·
"The sons of Belial in a time of declension are numerous and daring. Emboldened by impunity, they have declared themselves independent both of God and man, and are leagued by a common interest, and a common feeling, to defend their usurped immunities. They are watchful and zealous, and the moment an effort is made to" check the progress of error and iniquity, "every mouth is open, and their clamors, and sneers, and threatnings, and lies, like the croakings of Egypt, fill the land."
"There are times when no voice may be silent, nor any hand idle which can aid the great interests of scriptural religion. Such a time is the present. It is the dictate both of reason and revelation to redeem the time because the days are evil. No man can tell what an extent of ruin the efforts of those, or a considerable number of those, who love the truth, may avert from their families, from their country and from the church of God."
To throw something into the common scale is the design of the Utica Christian Magazine. This work will fulfil its task by discussing topics which may prompt the spirit of research-and by diffusing religious information. It will contain, as far as practicable, short and plain illustrations of the great doctrines and precepts of Christianity; the distinguishing marks between true and false religion; occasional addresses to churches and families, and to different characters, proper to be read in conferences; a history of the churches in the newly settled parts of the state from their first establishment, containing, as far as may be, an account of all past revivals; religious intelligence respecting the state of the church in all parts of the world, particularly accounts of revivals of religion, and of the labors and successes •of missionaries among the heathen, and in our new settlements; the signs of the times, shewing wherein the prophesies are now fulfilling, and what are the tokens of the near approach of the latter day glory of the church; accounts of the lives and dying experience of persons eminent for piety; explanations of difficult passages of scripture; a review and recommendation of such books as may be particularly useful
in churches and families; answers to important questions, and to cases of conscience, which may be seriously stated for explanation; together with such extracts and selections, from other Magazines, as may be deemed useful.
Utica, July 1, 1813.
From the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine.
An Historical View of the first Planters of New-England.
Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father and he will shew thee; thy elders and they will tell thee;-for the Lord's portion is his people: Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness : he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
FEW subjects can be more deserving of attention, than the character and history of our forefathers. Aside from the intrinsic importance of the subject, we can never be unmindful that to them we are indebted for all those moral and civil institutions which constitute the basis of our social happiness. We do no more than build upon their foundation. In reference to the enjoyment of social and public blessings, it could never be said more truly, than of the present people of NewEngland, I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored and ye entered into their labors. To the fortitude, to the labor of our ancestors, we are indebted for the inheritance of these fruitful fields, which were cleared by their toil and defended by their valor. From their wisdom and virtue have we received a more precious heritage in those social institutions, civil, moral, and literary, which are the source of our undisturbed prosperity. From their piety, their faith, their prayers, have been transmitted to their descendants, that order, improvement and purity of our churches, with all those ecclesiastical regulations and religious institutions, which now constitute the distinguishing ornament of this portion of our country.
To produce in the children a laudable desire of imitating the virtues of the fathers, to awaken a just sense of the worth of the privileges which we enjoy, especially, to raise our gratitude to God, from whom all blessings come, is the design of a few Essays on the Character and Institutions of the Fathers of New-England. For this purpose it will be necessary to take an historical view of the Puritans, previous and subsequent to their settlement in America; and to add
such remarks as may be necessary to the elucidation of the subject. The historical account will be taken not from the writings of panegyrists, but from authentic documents, some of which are in very few hands. Authorities may be occasionally brought into view, but a constant reference will not be thought necessary.
It has been often said, that the first planting of New-England was for the sake of the undisturbed enjoyment of the privileges of the gospel of Christ. The testimony of one of the first English adventurers to America is thus recorded:"One main end of all these undertakings was to plant the gospel in these dark regions of America." To this, an early historian of our country adds, "I am now to tell mankind, that as for one of these English plantations, [meaning NewEngland] this was not only a main end, but the sole end upon which it was erected."-Our Fathers desired to serve the true God according to his own appointment. This they could not do in their own country without great molestation. In the western wilderness, therefore, they sought and found those privileges, which were denied them in the land of their nativity.
Among the first English Reformers, whose names will live in grateful remembrance in the latest annals of the church, there was a difference of sentiment with regard to the lengths of Reformation, to which it was expedient for them to proceed. Some were of opinion that they ought to take the word of God for their only guide, and having broken off from the communion of the Church of Rome, endeavor to form their churches, exclusively, according to the model appointed by Christ and his apostles. Others thought it expedient to retain so much of the form and usages of the Church of Rome, as was not manifestly inconsistent with the holy Scriptures; and in things termed indifferent, to make no material innovations. The latter opinion, finally prevailed, and principally for two reasons: One, that the minds of men might not be shocked by the greatness of the change, and so refuse to espouse the cause of the Reformation; the other, the indulgence of a hope, that a union might still be effected between the Catholic and the Reformed Churches.--Each of these opinions could be supported by plausible and sound arguments; and, when we consider the state of things at the time, it is not to be wondered that the sentiment of those who contended for a partial Reformation finally prevailed. When we consider also, the danger of unfettering the minds of men by loosening the bonds of established institutions, we shall be very cautious in saying they did not