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WESLEYAN-METHODIST PERIODICALS FOR 1871. THERE are now not less than six Monthly Periodicals issued from the Conference Office: namely, the one in the hands of the reader, the “City-Road Magazine,” the Christian Miscellany," the “ Sunday-School Magazine," the “Early Days," and the * Methodist Messenger." Of these, the City-Road Magazine " and the Methodist Messenger" appear at the beginning of this
" year for the first time; the former being substituted for what has been known as the “Sixpenny Edition ” of the present Magazine ; while the latter is a fresh effort towards providing wholesome reading for the masses of the people. So comprehensive a provision, month by month, of publications adapted to the religious wants of the community, is not made, we believe, by any other denomination of Christians. These serials are among the comparatively few which are distinguished by their avoidance of meretricious attractions : not only are the fictitious and the sensational excluded from them, but also the products of a certain handling of even religious topics which borders upon the spirit and style of fiction. Their purpose, to speak still more precisely, is to maintain in the press, so far as Methodism can influence it, a tone that shall be the just resonance-for truth, in all its applications, responds to itself in subtile harmonies--to that which is heard, in reference to revealed truth and personal religion, from the Methodist pulpit.
The arguments for “concession " to what is termed - the spirit of the age," though often skilfully disguised, are a request, in effect, to keep practical religion in the background of literature; to reserve the specific doctrines of Christianity, as it deals with sinners, for sermons on Sundays; to rub off all angular points in revealed truth that make the “natural man" uneasy ; to make nature, and art, and science pleasant to the intellect before they are sanctified to their true purposes by the renewal of the heart. Civilization even yet largely fails to be a handmaid to the religion which induces it: its fairest fruits too often prove apples of Sodom. In these days of material prosperity, lengthened national peace, social “ progress," what is not piquant is dull ; what is not VOL. XVII. - FIFTH SERIES.
richly spiced and highly seasoned, though confessedly good for more sober times--for occasions when the spiritual, the heavenly, the eternal really must, by stress of circumstance, come into consideration-is unacceptable to multitudes. To the popular taste, our standard English secular authors are themselves, it is said, becoming insipid ; how much more books and publications whose aim on the face of them is to set forth “the things that be of God." Into the stream of bitter waters only a revived Christianity, a quickened Church of Christ, can cast the healing "tree" and the purifying salt.
THE WESLEYAN-METHODIST MAGAZINE has long held a place among religious periodicals, and it has always aimed at one object. With regard to its “ deposit," it will be well understood, its voice must still be one, its testimony unbroken. The same theology, the bame illustrations of practical piety, the same readiness in laying all intellectual achievements at the feet of Him in whom “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," will not fail, we trust, to be displayed in its volumes in future, as they have been now for almost a century past. Every successive generation has its peculiarities ; every writer and thinker his “gift ;” and in the great spiritual temple itself no two "lively stones,” it may well be, are in all points alike. Still, though many voices have been heard to expound in these pages one THEME, they have all been tremulous with the inspiration of an identical experience of its power and blessedness; though many minds have sought to array Wisdom in her glory and strength, the ideal present to them has evidently been the same,—that which is always given along with a personal knowledge of Him whom to know is both wisdom and “ length of days," “ durable riches and righteousness.” We have no wish to go beyond this : short of it we cannot be content to come. If the prospect is pleasing with regard to the continued usefulness of this Magazine, it is because contributors to its contents hold the writing cheap, however striking or attractive in other respects, that does not openly harmonize with the true objects of Christianity, and with the “mind of the Spirit.”
Where many are equal in zeal, it seems invidious to mention a few; where a few bear the larger share of the burden, it seems unfair not to particularize their exceptional services. The Editor is here in a dilemma ; in which perhaps the "courteous reader" will allow him to remain ;-the more readily as the well-known initials or signatures of most of his collaborateurs leave no doubt as to whom acknowledgments are due for valuable articles which from time to time they furnish. Yet “ honour to whom honour :' no one ought to be unaware that the series of papers, “ The
Prayers of St. Paul," which enriches our last volume, and which is continued in the one now commenced, is from the pen of the accomplished Theological Tutor at Didsbury. To this quarry of suggestive thought on the true nature of the spiritual life, as illustrated in the personal experience of the great Apostle, the attention of every theological student among our readers is particularly invited.
THOUGHTS FOR THE NEW YEAR.
The year opens with gloom hanging over the nations. As we write these words, the war which has spread desolation over some of the fairest districts of France still rages; and should it close ere the sweet calm of the Lord's day leads in the New Year, it will have left effects that will be long and painfully felt. The interruption of commerce,—the crushing losses sustained by individuals and families,-the disturbance of political relations,-the neglect, in many places, of the pursuits of agriculture,—will seriously affect the prospects of the nation whose territory has been the scene of this sanguinary conflict, and will extend their influence to other nations of Europe. Throughout Germany, as well as throughout France, families will be clad in mourning: for many a home has been bereft of its head, and of the youths whose energy was its hope and joy. When the exultation of victory, on the one hand, and the humiliation of defeat, on the other, shall have ceased to be vivid emotions, the deep sorrows of bereavement will depress many hearts, and cast a dark shadow on the earthly career of some who, twelve months ago, looked forward to a bright and happy life. As we reflect upon the scenes through which Europe has been passing, we may well stand in awe of the Divine judgments. It is from the throne of God that the lightnings and thunders which make the earth to tremble issue forth ; and it is His hand which directs or controls the entire course of events, so as to make it subservient to the purposes of His moral administration. In the presence of this widespread misery we may well renounce the pride with which the civilization of our age has sometimes been regarded. However polished the surface of society may be, there are evil passions deeply seated in the human heart, until it is renewed by the Spirit of Christ; and when these passions are roused into fierce activity, they lead men to trample on the dearest rights of their fellows, and make this earth a scene of strife and desolation. Indeed, it seems vain to hope that the fearful sacrifice of human life which this war has involved, and the untold sufferings which it has occasioned, will cause the nations henceforth to recoil from such sanguinary contests. The ambition of princes, or of communities, overlooks the sorrows which war inflicts upon mankind. At this very moment new complications are arising in the European political system. The hour of the deepest agony of the gay metropolis of France, and of the utter prostration of the power of the French people, has been chosen by the colossal Empire of the north for the revival of claims which may possibly kindle the flames of war throughout Europe. Dark clouds everywhere gather over the political horizon; and it may well be that men's hearts should “ fail them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth."
In the position of the Church of God, and in the moral state of the world, there is very much to awaken the solicitude of the thoughtful and devout. But it may, perhaps, be said, that, in regard to these things, with one or two exceptions, the year that has just closed has not witnessed any essential difference. The same tendencies enfeeble the direct spiritual action of Christ's professed people ; the same forms of error are diffused, and the same controversies still rage. Christianity is exposed to similar assaults from some who form their scientific theories without a distinct recognition of God as the universal Creator and Lord, in Whom
we live, and move, and have our being." The revived earnestness of some who minister in a Protestant Establishment is still combined with the assertion of principles, and the adoption of practices, which are closely allied to Papal error. During the past year, indeed, two great events have taken place, affecting the Romish communion. The monstrous dogma, that infallibility resides in the one man who may chance to be the Bishop of Rome, has been openly proclaimed ; and just after the issuing of that dogma as an article of faith, the temporal power of the Papacy has suddenly fallen. But though the former of these events will probably check many thoughtful and earnest men in their progress towards Rome, and may, indeed, produce a schism in the Romish Church itself, the grand error, common alike to Popery and to Ritualism, is still maintained, and is still widely diffused,—that the Christian salvation is to be realized through the arrangements of a sacerdotal and sacramental system, instead of through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, uniting the soul to Him, so that it is accounted righteous by the Father, and receives the new life of the Spirit. Meanwhile, the masses around us are almost untouched by the aggressive agencies of the Church; and an open neglect of God, and indifference to His government, characterize multitudes who cluster around our sacred edifices, but to whom those edifices present no attraction. The foreign missionary work of the Church is advancing, though, we fear, slowly; and one of