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PREFACE.

A Few words to our respected patrons seem

called for, on commencing a new volume of the Magazine. The promises of improvement, which, it will be recollected, were made a year ago, in consequence of the new arrangement of the Board of Missions relating to the work, it is believed have been amply fulfilled by the rich contents of the last volume; among which, are some articles that do honor to our national literature, as well as breathe, in an eminent degree, the holy and beautiful spirit of Christianity. It is proposed, the present year, to improve its appearance still further, by the use of a larger and fairer type in the body of the work; and, although its superintendence has passed into other hands, its columns, it is hoped; will still continue to be enriched by articles from the pen of its late Editor, as well as from various new contributors.

Few periodicals now existing in our country, can claim a more venerable antiquity than this, or a life of more extended and unspotted usefulness. From Maine to Georgia, and from the mouth of the St. Lawrence, to the far west beyond the Mississippi, its pages have conveyed the most solid instruction, the most interesting intelligence; quickening, edifying and consoling multitudes, who, except the Bible itself, have held no other work so dear. And even the devoted missionary, toiling under the sultry sky of Burmah, has greeted its arrival with delight; and its good tidings from a far country,--the country of his kindred and of his youth, the blessed land of revivals, and the radiating centre of missionary effort-have been refreshing to his exhausted spirit, as cold water to a thirsty soul.

The Board of Missions are happy in believing that the encouraging information, and animated appeals which have appeared in this periodical in the course of the last year, have not been in vain in nourishing and increasing the spirit of missions. Their funds have been replenished with contributions, of a kind and to an amount , which show, in the most satisfactory manner, that the labor expended in the improvement of the work has not been in vain. They have the pleasure, also, of acknowledging a very generous increase in the number of subscribers; no one of whom, it is believed, has had cause to regret the patronage bestowed on this official and standard work of the denomination. While they shall spare no pains nor expense to make it every thing that can be desired in a work of this description, they anticipate, with just confidence, a like increase of new subscribers the present year; in order to meet which, several hundred copies will be struck off, beyond the present subscription. They long for the time when the number shall be so greatly multiplied as to bear some better proportion to the value of the work, and to the wants of our wide spread population.

And here permit us to ask,- Is there a family of our denomination, is there a single member of our churches, that can be willing to be without the American Baptist Magazine? Can any religious paper, however excellent, prefer superior claims, or exclude this permanent register of doctrinal, experimental, practical, and missionary knowledge, from the bosom of the family circle, and from the best books of the family library? The present Editor remembers with pleasure the fact, that he became a subscriber for the Magazine when but fourteen years of age; and he cannot now turn over the pages, consecrated by these early recollections, without wishing, in view of their profit and sweetness, that every youthful disciple of the Saviour might enjoy the like precious privilege, for Zion's sake, no less than their own. Indeed, it has long seemed to him, that, as far as possible, in relation to this work, it should be made a point of conscience with every young convert added to our churches, to become a subscriber for life. Since it is written of the Saviour and his kingdom, He must increase; since, therefore, the the work of missions must go on; and this publication, if for that reason alone, must be sustained as the vehicle of the Baptist Board of Missions; why is not this a matter of conscience with every one who loves that holy cause, and is praying with the fervor of principle and feeling, T'hy kingdom come? We submit it to the consideration of all, especially of the pastors of the churches, on whose zealous co-operation so much depends. Let them not fear to take hold of this object with affectionate ardor.

Those who have formerly contributed to extend the circulation of the Magazine, while assured of our warmest gratitude, are earnestly requested to continue and multiply their exertions this year. Contributors, whose articles have enriched the columns of the work in former years, are entreated to continue their favors; that every variety of talent and information may concur in the improvement and elevation of the churches, and the illumination of mankind, wherever its pages shall be found, in this or future years. Well-written Essays, Biographies, Reviews, Poetry, Statistics, Notices of Revivals, &c. will be welcome to our columns. The Editor relies greatly and confidently on the assistance of his brethren to make the Magazine worthy of a place in the many thousand families of our extended denomination. And he deems it not too much to hope that the recent and great increase of our missionaries, and the manifest blessing of God on their labors, will supply, every year, a growing amount of interesting information in that most important department of our work—the Missionary Register.

With these explanations and hopes, this new volume is committed to the blessing of Him whose we are, and whom we serve; to whom alone, be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Editor. Boston, Jan. 1, 1834.

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The turning over a new leaf in the volume of our existencethe commencement of a new year—is wont to be hailed with universal congratulation. All of us, perhaps, have participated in the general gladness, and the general greetings of good will. But, permit us to ask, from what secret causes springs this universal joy? What are those unexplained feelings which, on this day, beat in the bosom of childhood, impart a new animation to the family circle, and warm with momentary ardor, even the cold and wintry bosom of age.

If we reflect, probably we shall discover that these feelings may be traced to two distinct sources, the joy of hope, and the joy of deliverance. It is not alone that we anticipate a happier year than the past; it is also that we have escaped the dangers which threatened to arrest us in the career of life that the thread of our frail being is not yet broken-that we have advanced, where others have fallen in the desolating progress of time. In looking back over the past year, we admit, with more instinctive willingness than at other times, the impressive lesson of our mortality, that we may, at the same time, indulge the delightful consciousness of having one year more triumphed over the danger. Thus every new year's day is, in fact, a silent monitor of the frailty of man; and in its very mirth mingles the mortifying remembrance of that inevitable hour when, to us, time shall be no more.

While, however, we are thus forcibly admonished of the rapid flight of time, the commencement of the new year admonishes us of the sure and certain approach of eternity. If the voice of the new year proclaims the sad truth of the brevity of life and all its joys, the voice of God proclaims, in his word, the no less sure, but sublime and consoling truth, that there is, for all who love him, another and a better life awaiting the close of this. How well is it that these two momentous facts should be remembered together. How fit it is that at the same time in which we are called to realize the vanity of a mortal state, we should be thus seasonably directed to a state that is immortal; and from the very midst of the ruins of time, be enabled to descry the imperishable glories of eternity, and secure them as our own inheritance.

“When Jehovah was pleased,” says Robert Hall, “to command Isaiah the prophet to make a proclamation in the ears of the people, what was it, think you, he was ordered to announce? Was it some profound secret of nature which had baffled the inquiries of philosophers, or some great political convulsion which was to change the destinies of empires? "No; these are not the sort of communications most suited to the grandeur of his nature, or the exigencies of ours. The voice said, Cry: and he said, What shall I cry? Cry, all flesh is grass; and all the goodliness thereof is as the lower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth; because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever.” Instead of presenting to our eyes the mutations of power, and the revolutions of states and kingdoins, he exhibits a more awful and affecting spectacle, the human race itself withering under the breath of his mouth, perishing under his rebuke; while he plants his eternal word, which subsists from generation to generation, in undecaying vigor; to console our wretchedness, and impregnate the dying mass with the seed of immortality. As the frailty of man and the perpetuity of the divine promises is the greatest contrast the universe presents, so the practical impression of this truth, however obvious, is the beginning of wisdom; nor is there a degree of moral elevation to which it will not infallibly conduct us.

“ The annunciation of life and immortality by the gospel, did it contain no other truth, were sufficient to cast all the discoveries of science into the shade, and to reduce the highest improvements of reason to the comparative nothingness wbich the flighi of a moment bears to eternity.

“ By this discovery the prospects of human nature are infinitely wider the creature of yesterday becomes the child of eternity; and as felicity is not less valuable in the eye of reason because it is remote, nor the misery which is certain less to be deprecated because it is not immediately felt, the care of our future interests becomes our chief, and, properly speaking, our only concern. All besides will shortly be nothing; and, therefore, whenever it comes into competition with these, it is as the small dust of the balance."

All objects, we are aware, are illustrated more clearly and vividly by contrast. Our conceptions of their nature are in this manner rendered more distinct, their comparative value is more accurately discerned, and a more powerful and lasting impression is made upon the mind. The light of day never appears so delightful as when contrasted with the gloom of night; nor is the value of life ever appreciated so perfectly, as when in the immediate prospect of

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