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PREFACE.

After completing forty volumes, of which one hand has now traced five-and-twenty annual Prefaces, far from finding any exhaustion of suhjects for consideration, they seem from year to year to increase hoth in numher and magnitude; so that it is difficult to select from among them a few topics of the most pressing interest.

In looking hack at the events of the past year, we are reminded of the fourth decennial census of the population; and as former ones were noticed in our pages, we cannot perhaps hetter close our present volume, than hy offering a few remarks suggested to our minds hy that of the present year.

The practice of numhering the people of a land, is not only of high antiquity, and of ohvious usefulness as a hasis for legislation, and as connected with a great variety of questions of civil, moral, religious, political, and international interest; hut it is directly of divine sanction. We mention this, hecause some persons have erringly regarded it as an act of presumption highly offensive to God; and even a clergyman, acting under this mistake, suhjected himself to a penalty for refusing to ohey the law which commanded him to give an account of the names and ages of his family. Such a misconception is the more extraordinary, seeing that one of the hooks of Sacred Writ takes its name from the divinely-directed enumerations of the Hehrew population. We read (Numhers i.) that in the second year after the deliverance from Egypt a reckoning was commanded to he made of the males from the age of twenty to sixty; that is, of the portion of the people "ahle to go forth to war," and which amounted to 603,550. This enumeration did not include the Levites; who were afterwards numhered separately (Numhers iii.), from one month old and upwards. In the same chapter we read of the enumeration of the first-horn males of each family from one month old, the numher heing 92,273. There is further (Numhers iv.) an enumeration of the male descendants of Levi, through his three sons Kershon( Kohath, and Merari, from twenty years of age to fifty; that is, of those who were in vigour for the service of the sanctuary, and who amounted to 8580. These details completed the first general census after the deliverance from Egypt.

We might mention, if we were commenting on the facts, several special lessons to he learned from these particulars, one of which is, that whereas only those of the males who were neither juvenile nor

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