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taken. With this explanation, the editor of the Expositor enters upon his course, and he hopes that he will be enabled to pursue it in humility, yet fearless and free.
The work is not, however, committed to the current of public opinion without its landmarks. Religion is as old as the first promise of God to fallen man. The statute book has long since been made complete by the New Testament. There is not now a novelty to be found; yet the pious inquirer may expect to be daily enriched with discoveries to himself, of those divine truths which are placed on record in the book of God: and it shall be our business to point out the good way, “ the old way that he may walk therein.” In Christianity“ all things are become new” as distinguished from “the old man"—the natural principles and pursuits of unsanctified sinners. The ordinances of religious worship also, are distinguished from those of former dispensations of mercy; but religion itself is new only in its application to us, in midst of our own ever changing circumstances. We all stand bound to the original Christianity. “Having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed and therefore have I spoken.”
The Magazine is, nevertheless, intended to be much diversified in its annual contents. The population of the United States is far from sameness in thoughts and tastes and pursuits: and of every class of persons there may be hearers of sermons, worshippers in congregations, and readers of religious periodicals. Apostolical practice becomes the writer, as well as the instructor by speech in matters of faith and obedience. "I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some.”
Our country has great variety of soil and climate; and yields to the cultivators of the ground alniost every production of the old world. Our mechanics are of all nations and of all arts; and even now, other countries send their adventurous children to our shores and our forests for the purpose of following their respective interests, and of enjoying their own employments and opinions without apprehension of molestation in honorable industry. The citizens of America ought therefore to have, and must, in fact, have great variety in their reading.
The unalterable principles of truth and holiness are not inconsistent with diversified instruction. Nor are the numerous distinctions of creeds and sects appalling to the hopes of those who offer prayer to God for the advent of the time when the watchmen shall lift up the voice---with the voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye." It is as reasonable to expect in this, as in any other region under heaven, the progress and ultimate prevalence of UNIFORMITY in the profession of religion. This sentiment may seem paradoxical to those who have observed political power claiming ecclesiastical supreniacy, and in vain employing force, to make the populace conform to one creed prescribed from the throne. Never have such attempts fully succeeded, where any religious men were allowed to live. Kings and courtiers have hitherto been baffled in all their exertions to establish their own desired conformity, although their means were armies, the reward opulence, and the punishment poverty, exile, or death. There is no element more pliable than popular opinion. None more unyielding to human machination than a good conscience; therefore tyranny, though it commands passive obedience, never can effect uniformity in true religion.* There is more hope of its
* It was a sublime and impressive spectacle which the non-conformist ministers in England afforded on the 24th August, 1662.
growth in the land of freedom. We shall labor cheerfully in its cultivation. If indeed the population of our country be not homogeneous, it is even now making more rapid advances toward similarity of language and of law, of principles and of habits, than is made in any other community in the civilized world. Here mind is left to reason more at liberty from human control. What is alleged against us by men attached to long established usages in older countries, the fluctuation of our schemes is rather favorable to our progress in improvement. Obstinate pertinacity resists improvements of every kind. Immutability in error is a curse. Our rapid mutations are often obviously beneficial; and the capability of altering with facility both opinions and habits of life, is essential to speedy reformation. It is more agreeable to hear ascribed to an American citizen the attribute of mutability, than if he could be compared to an immovable rock of granite, as it regards his own opinions, or declared to possess the fixedness of the polar iceberg in the purposes of his natural heart. Versatility is dangerous; and instability prevents confidence; but obstinacy is no recommendation. To be pliable is child-like; and in a young community it is both useful in itself, and encouraging to the philanthropist. Thus, the husbandman readily becomes a
gave up their pulpits and their livings, in that one day, when the act of uniformity was enforced, rather than submit to violate the rule by. which their conscience was directed. In Scotland, during the same reign, the same principles were exemplified. At the suggestion of Fairfoul, Bishop of Glasgow, an act of council was framed for the purpose of compelling the ministers of the West to submit to Episcopacy. “Upwards of three hundred chose rather to be ejected than comply. Turned out of their homes in the depth of winter, and deprived of their stipends, they exhibited to their disconsolate congregations a firmness of principle which elevated their characters and endeared their ministrations." AIKMAN, vol. 4. p. 503.
merchant or a statesman-the machinist a philosopher--and the man of peace is transformed, at the call of his country, into the captain of a conquering army. Were the American genius fluctuating as the water and uncertain as the wind, while the tides by their frequency and the storms by their celerity continue to restore the equilibrium of the water and the air, and the course of both the elements is watched by a scientific and enterprising people, our hopes of progressive improvement will not be abandoned. We have the same God that dwelt in Zion: the same means of grace which he appointed in other lands; and we have a people of the same description with their fathers, with equal advantages and fewer political impediments in the Christian course. May we not therefore hope for equal if not superior results in favor of that religion which is righteousness and peace? Great is the truth and it shall prevail. “There is one body and one Spirit even as ye are called in one hope of your calling : One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all."
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ: and the Expositor invites for its pages Essays on every subject not inconsistent with evangelical truth, and the order of the New Testament church. Not only shall allowance be made for the different modes in which writers convey edifying thoughts to others; but we shall be happy in exhibiting before the public the different gifts bestowed by the same Lord. If we be at times called upon to contravene what appears in works under review, the law of liberal criticism shall not be intentionally violated. If we often rebuke error and vice, as opposed to the law and the testimony, we shall endeavor to keep in remembrance that both we and they whose works we examine, are men : and shall of course oppose in love, and rebuke in the spirit of meekness: yet with a decision not to be misunderstood. “We are set for the defence of the Gospel.” New exertions in every good cause shall be duly encouraged: but while assiduously cultivating that charity which rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, we shall keep our eye toward the Sun of Righteousness; discard new lights, doctrines, usages, and ordinances of religious worship, not commended to the saints by the word of God. “No man having drunk old wine, straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better."