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There is a peculiarity in the state of the public mind, which consists in a sort of brutish insensibility. Never was there, in the memory of the living generation, so general a spirit of utter indifference to the things of eternity and of God! As to the multitude, it can hardly be called Infidelity or Scepticism. Infidelity, strictly so called, is a more elevated, intellectual, and reflecting thing. There is more of manhood about it. It pays to religion the homage of at least a little seeming attention. Infidelity, of the old philosophic stamp, professed to reject the claims of Christianity either on the ground of its alleged inherent absurdity, or the want of proper evidence; whereas the temper of the present times rejects the thing in the lump, without regard of sense, evidence, or effects. It is a sort of grovelling Atheism, with which neither the understanding nor the affections have aught to do. It bears the closest resemblance to the extraordinary description recently given by the American Missionary in Greece, of the present intellectual and moral state of the Greeks.

If such be the state of things, then, the question comes to be, What is to be done? Is the Church of Christ to give itself up in despair as to the power of the dire and all-crushing calamity ?—Is she to submit to her condition, as if it were the decree of fate, against which it were vain and mad to struggle? We trow not! The path of duty is clear; all that is wanted is a disposition to walk in it. The Church requires to repent, and do her first works; she has but to lay aside her sloth and carnality, her towering pride and worldly conformity,-to shake herself from the dust,—to put on her beautiful garments, and lay hold of the strength of her Lord. Yes! as to the remedy, there is neither mystery nor doubt; it is at hand, and the mode of application is simple and easy. This is not a matter about which the true friends of Zion require to be concerned. No, not the remedy, but the disease. To work the general conviction that there is a malady, and that it is deep-seated and wide-spread, this, this is the point; and he who shall succeed to effect this conviction, will prove himself a benefactor of no mean order. The lesson all have to learn is, that the death of which we speak, is personal; it is primarily an individual affair. There can be no revival that does not touch individuals. Individuals thoroughly awakened, everything, in effect, is then accomplished; domestic and Church revival will speedily follow. Fellowships will be filled with the fire of heaven; and, shining in the beauties of holiness, they will be both seen and felt by the world around. A glorious day that shall behold such a result! When shall it once be? Why not now? Are the faithful to wait till the disaster receives further augmentation, and the difficulty be doubled? Far be it! Rather let the Church, through all her borders, wake immediately! Let the trumpet of Reform everywhere sound, and the dead rise to call upon the name of the Lord! For the year to come, God being our helper, we hope to double our diligence, and still further to adapt our labours to the great work of helping on the spiritual resurrection, wherever our voice may be heard. To this end we ask our friends again to aid us in filling up the numerous blanks made by death, change, and emigration; and may the blessing of the Highest prosper them and their labours! J. C.

Nov. 20, 1851.



In sending forth the Eighth Volume of the CHRISTIAN WITNESS, and the Sixth of the CHRISTIAN'S PENNY MAGAZINE, it is deemed proper respectfully to address a few words to all, whether individuals, families, pastors, or churches, who have hitherto interested themselves in promoting the circulation of these Magazines. Of their general merits it is considered needless here to speak; that point has long since been settled by their general acceptance, both in Great Britain and in the Colonies. The fact of their extraordinary and unexampled circulation sets at rest all questions as to their adaptation to meet the wants of the Churches. Moral influence, from its very nature, is a matter which it is impossible exactly to ascertain, and to reduce to any standard of measurement; but it is conceived to be impossible that such a flood of varied and adapted truth as these Magazines have been continually pouring forth upon society, can be other than largely and permanently beneficial. While, as a whole, they have been uniformly constructed with the express view of promoting the spiritual welfare of mankind,-and to that end, fully charged with Gospel doctrine,—there has been an endeavour to make them bear, with point and energy, on practical questions, and such as affect the interests of Protestant Nonconformity. While they have generally breathed an ample measure of Christian charity towards all other Denominations, and been forward to advance every cause calculated to promote the welfare of the Churches,-no matter with whom originating, or by whom conducted,-they have been most unflinching, on the one hand, in defence of true Scripture Protestantism, and, on the other, of Evangelical Nonconformity. All public questions, of ascertained merit, have ever obtained from them a steady and vigorous advocacy, while matters of another or a doubtful description have either been quietly eschewed, or boldly opposed.

There is another view of the subject-although, doubtless, a secondary one-in which it is interesting to contemplate these Publications, and which, more especially, comes within the province of arithmetic-the pecuniary results. Owing to the illness of two Officers, at the moment we are going to Press, we have been unable to get exact particulars; but we believe the matter will stand thus: the Total of the clear Profits, we presume, will be considerably upwards of £9000. Of that sum £3,166 have been expended in aid of Aged Ministers, in needy circumstances, and £5,500 have been funded, to aid younger brethren to insure their lives for an Annuity, on attaining the age of Sixty Years.

This sum, it is submitted,—although, indeed, but secondary, compared with the spiritual, which was the primary object,-is far from an unimportant consideration. It is believed that by no other means would it have been practicable for the Congregational Union to have raised so great a sum within so brief a period, and that without spending any portion of the public contributions in working the scheme. The good already thus effected on behalf of men who have spent their days in advancing the glory of Christ, is such as to excite the liveliest satisfaction; and the benefits which will accrue from the Insurance for Annuities will extend to the close of the present generation, and, in its happy effects, much further.

Thus much it has been considered proper to state, by way of a foundation for the plea now to be presented to the Friends of the Magazines. It will be readily perceived, that on a circulation so vast, the annual loss, from death, removal,

emigration, and other circumstances, must necessarily be very great; and, consequently, that the Publications may maintain their ground, there must be a continual accession of New Subscribers. The doings of death alone have been awful! The readers of the CHRISTIAN WITNESS who are now in the grave, were they alive, would form the population of a considerable town! The point for consideration, therefore, is, By what means this is to be best effected? and to the Writer this seems a very obvious question, resolving itself solely into THE ZEAL OF FRIENDS! That which, at the first, carried the Magazines to such an elevation, can alone sustain them. The Editor may continue, as he doubtless will, to discharge his arduous duties with diligence and zeal, and even augmented energy,-drawing on the experience of the past, with a view to improve the future, and having done that, he can do little more; but unless more be done, the Magazines cannot, by possibility, maintain their position. He may thus merit continued, and even increased success, but he cannot, with absolute certainty, command it; while neither can the Publisher nor the Committee materially aid him. For the power of extending the circulation all are comparatively helpless, except the individual friends, families, and pastors of the Churches, on whom, instrumentally, everything depends. In this work, happily, however, every reader has power-power which he has only to exert in order to multiply subscribers on every side.

On this subject it is not to be inferred that, because so much has been already done, little remains to be accomplished. Families innumerable, connected with Nonconformist Churches, have never yet seen either of the Magazines, and hence they have failed to enjoy the personal and domestic benefit they were so eminently calculated to confer. From out of this hitherto unbroken ground a body of Subscribers ten times greater than the Magazines have ever enjoyed might, without fail, and without difficulty, be obtained in the short space which has still to elapse before the closing of the present year. The Writer cannot think of a higher benevolence than would be the endeavour to bring these multitudes under the healthful action of these Publications. The good which, to all such, might flow from it, none can tell; not to mention the advantages which would thence arise to the Churches of Christ. There are, in the judgment of the Writer, few fields in which Christian philanthropy might reap so rich a harvest. The Writer thinks that, if anything could add to the staple and standing considerations by which the circulation of these Publications might be recommended, urged, and enforced,—it would be the present state of the Church and the world. This is an age of great events, and it is probable that great changes are at hand,-events and changes for which the Church of God should be prepared, and for which knowledge alone can prepare them.

It may be permitted, on the present occasion, to the Writer, to give utterance to certain thoughts which have occurred to him on the subject of the circulation of Denominational Literature. There can, in his view, be but one opinion as to the desirableness of its diffusion to the utmost possible extent, both within and without the Community. There can be no reason to desire for it a place anywhere which does not equally hold as to the desirableness of its having a place everywhere. Costly volumes and Quarterly Reviews must, from the nature of the case, be limited to a Class; but even that class should have no other limit than that of means. Now it is the special boast of the Magazines, that poverty presents no barrier to their circulation throughout the vast mass of families. Even the poorest, by a very little management, could bestow the small sum of a penny a week, or fourpence a month, for the CHRISTIAN WITNESS, and PENNY MAGAZINE, which, united, present, for that trifle, the matter of a considerable volume-a volume often sold for five or six

shillings. These publications, then, may find a place in almost all the families of the Denominations; and since this is both desirable and practicable, the Writer submits, that no means should be left untried to accomplish it. But, in respect to such means, very little can be done by any central action; if realized at all, it must be by local influences. Individuals may work wonders in this way; but it will not be safe to leave it to individual zeal, even were persons of the proper stamp to be counted by thousands instead of tens. Nothing great, general, and permanent, can spring from efforts of this description. Were the raising of funds for the British and Foreign Bible Society, or the London Missionary Society, or any other public Institution, to be left to the optional efforts of individuals, utter ruin would be the certain and speedy result. Nothing can be done to purpose without organization, systematic endeavour; but in the judicious use of this, it is impossible to say what might not be effected. These Magazines furnish a very encouraging example; their extraordinary circulation, in a very great measure, arose from this wise arrangement.

Matters, in respect to this subject, have hitherto been, in a great measure, left to take their own course, and the results but too plainly demonstrate the impolicy of longer continuing such a course. Those principles, which, in everything else bearing any analogy to this subject, with proper system, are worked so effectively, cannot too soon be applied. It strikes the Writer, that in every Congregation there ought to be what might be designated an Officer of Publication, a man of intelligence and observation, zealous for the diffusion of truth, and thoroughly acquainted with the Church and Congregation. It should be the special business of such an Officer to take care, that the Whole People should have in their hands, annually, a list of all the Periodical Publications, Quarterly, Weekly, or Monthly, of the Body, and also a list of the Works on divers subjects, which are on sale. This Officer, in all points, acting in concurrence with the Pastor and the Deacons-and who might, indeed, be one of the Deacons himself; and if so, so much the better-might be surrounded with a Committee of Assistance, among whom the Congregation might be divided, canvassed, and supplied with all the Publications for which they might be subscribers. The Writer is satisfied that in this thought there is the germ of a system, which might be made to work wonders. It might bring the great mass of the mind of the Community under the combined action of its whole Periodical Literature. If there were difficulty in commanding a Committee that would work effectively, then the remedy is obvious: a person might be appointed, corresponding with the well-known and everywhere most useful character, designated Colporteur, who might keep up a regular periodical intercourse with the entire congregation, and not with them only, but with families on all sides, among whom, in this way, he might work a world of untold good.

On these subjects the Writer might enlarge, but he forbears. It is hoped that enough has been said to fix attention, where it may be needful, on the general question of the circulation of the Magazines, to enlist the benevolent services of such as may not have hitherto embarked in the matter, and to call forward afresh all those to whom the Publications have been already laid under great and lasting obligations. The Writer leaves the matter to the intelligent zeal of the faithful, and commends it to the blessing of God.

Nov. 25, 1851.


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