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PREFACE.

On completing the tenth volume and the tenth year of our editorial labours, we solicit the indulgent attention of our readers, while we briefly advert to the origin and design of our work, the manner in which it has been conducted, the patronage it has received, the obstacles which have impeded its circulation, and its present position and prospects.

At the time this Miscellany was commenced, although there were several periodical publications whose general tenour was that of friendliness to the Presbyterian church, there was not one in which her peculiar doctrines, government and discipline, were advocated, and her institutions and operations specially commended to publick favour and patronage. It was to supply this deficiency, which was perceived and lamented by many who cherished an ardent attachment to our church, that the Christian Advocate,--succeeding to the Presbyterian Magazine-was brought before the publick. In the Prospectus to this publication, it was promised and it is believed the promise has never been broken-that the general contents should be such as were calculated to gratify all, to whom the doctrines of the protestant reformation were precious; at the same time, nevertheless, it was distinctly intimated, that the Miscellany would be strictly Presbyterian in its character, scope and bearing. Such a publication, it was clearly foreseen, was to look for its principal support to the ministers and members of the church whose interests it professedly sought to promote; and a sanguine expectation was indulged-more by the friends of the editor than by himself—that the support would be large and liberal. This anticipation has never been realized; and why it has not, may deserve a short inquiry.

We believe that we may affirm without reserve, that there is not an institution in the Presbyterian church which this Magazine has not advocated, nor a controverted doctrine of our standards which it has not defended, nor a dangerous innovation on our ecclesiastical order which it has not resisted, nor a benevolent enterprise of the Presbyterian body which it has not commended, and earnestly endeavoured to aid and urge forward. Why then, it may still be asked, has the patronage of this work been always so much less than was expected and predicted at its commencement? To any who may be disposed to make a short answer to this inquiry, by saying that the want of talent apparent in our work, accounts at once and sufficiently for its lack of patronage, we only reply, that in this opinion we know that they who offer it, differ from a good number of the best judges in our country, who are still our steadfast patrons and constant readers.

We have not a doubt that one, and a very influential cause, that our subscribers have not been more numerous is, that this Miscellany has not contained so much light reading, as was necessary to attract and gratify the popular taste. °It was believed that there was already too

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much of this sort of composition current in our religious community; and that the passion for it needed to be corrected, and not to be fed and cherished, by all the friends of good taste and sound religious sentiment. This was distinctly stated in the first number of our work. Now, when it is considered that of those who read religious publications at present, they are a small minority who prefer the cultivation of the understanding before the excitement of the feelings, or the gratification of the love of novelty, and that out of this minority the most of our subscribers were to be obtained, it may not appear wonderful that they have not become multitudinous. We have frequently said, and do verily believe, that we might have more than doubled the number of our subscribers, if we would have consented to make our magazine the repository of articles addressed to the imagination, rather than to the intellect --of blood-stirring narratives, interesting tales, eloquent declamations, striking anecdotes, pleasing epigrams, and pungent repartees; yet all of a religious or moral tendency. We are not hostile to every thing of this character, and have not utterly excluded it; but we resolved from the first, and have abided by the resolution, that our work should be characterized by compositions of a far different nature and tendency. Again. Shortly after the commencement of our work, religious newspapers, of which previously there were, we believe, not more than three or four in the whole United States, began to increase, and have continued to multiply from that time till the present. The contents of these papers, being far more adapted to the popular taste than the essays and discussions which have filled the greater part of our pages, and each paper making a demand, which it was not easy to resist, on all within its own vicinity who could patronize any periodical; the effect in preventing subscriptions to our work, and in withdrawing them after they were made, has been great-has indeed been the chief reason why our list of subscribers has always been far less than it would otherwise have been.

We think it proper here to state explicitly, that we have suffered but little, from the course we have pursued in the ardent controversy which has agitated the Presbyterian church for the last three or four years. There has been some loss and some gain on our subscription list, from this cause; but if there is any balance against us, it is one of very small account. The editor even feels that he owes an acknowledgment to many of those whose sentiments and opinions he is aware that he has opposed, for their candour, and the continuance of their patronage; and he flatters himself that he sees in it the evidence, that while the matter of what he has written in the controversy, has not been in accordance with their views and wishes, the manner has not been highly offensive-has been as temperate and guarded as it was reasonable to expect from an opponent.

No truly-our number of subscribers has of late been diminished, chiefly from the ranks of our friends-our professed, and often, we believe, our real friends. Since we began to write this preface, we have received the following communication, which will help to explain our meaninge

" Nov. 17th, 1832. Dear Sir,-I intend, in future, to take the Presbyterian, and as I cannot well afford to take both it and the Christian Advocate, I wish you to discontinue sending me the Advocate, after the expiration of the present year.

“I am, with sincere respect,

“ Your well wisher,

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This is a fair sample of many letters we have received within the last eighteen months; except that it does not, as has been done in some specimens which we could exhibit, immoderately praise our work at the moment of abandoning it. Let it, however, be understood that we have no hostility to the Presbyterian. No one did more than the present writer in establishing that paper; and although he has never written a single sentence that has appeared in it, since the second month of its publication, yet he has always regarded and treated it with friendship. He was warned by some of his friends from the first, that it would operate to the disadvantage of the Christian Advocate; but others maintained that it would prove an auxiliary and not a rival. The former opinion has been verified, and the latter falsified, by the event. An entire mistake has, we believe, contributed not a little to this result. It has been erroneously supposed that there was such a connexion between the Advocate and the Presbyterian, that it made no difference to us if our publication lost a subscriber, provided the other gained one. The fact nevertheless is, that there is no connexion whatever, and never has been, between these two publications; farther than that both have aimed at the promotion of the same cause: and it is also a fact, that our loss by the transferring of subscriptions from the Advocate to the Presbyterian, has been the most serious we have ever experienced—so serious, that if it goes on much longer, at the rate of progress which it has made for some time past, the Christian Advocate must fall for the want of support. This is the plain truth, and we have thought it was time to tell it plainly. We have no wish to diminish the subscription to the Presbyterian. We wish it to be fourfold as large as it has ever been, provided it is not obtained at our expense. But against all increase from this cause, we do respectfully, but earnestly protest and remonstrate. We appeal to our friends, whether it is reasonable that what we have done through friendship, courtesy, and a desire to furnish a weekly vehicle of useful information, and of speedy counteraction to statements and reasonings, adverse, as we believe, to the true interests of the church to which we belong, should be turned—we say not designedly, but yet in fact-to our own loss and editorial annihilation. We remind them that the Christian Advocate for a long time stood alone, in contending for sound Presbyterianism; and we ask them, whether, if it now falls, its fall will not be a loss to the church, which no publication at present extant will fully supply? We risk any imputation of vanity which we may incur by putting this question, for it is a question which we believe our friends have not considered, and we think they ought to consider it seriously.

If then we be inquired of, as to our wishes in reference to the concern before us, we say that our answer has already been given in substance. We wish that each of the publications of which we have spoken, should be far more liberally patronized than either of them has hitherto been: and we believe that this is perfectly practicable, if their present patrons will act discreetly, and make some vigorous exertions in their favour. We are well aware, as already stated, that the popular taste at present is in favour of religious newspapers; so much so, as to threaten to supersede all other periodicals of a religious character. We would hope, however, that there are yet many individuals in the Presbyterian church who would deprecate such an event; persuaded that if it should be realized, both literature and religion would materially suffer. Who can deny that there are many essays published in the pamphlet form, of greater length, and of greater

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depth too, than are proper for newspapers? Nor is it to be overlooked, that pamphlets are more easily preserved, by being bound into convenient volumes, than folio sheets-often of the largest size. We think that those who are able to do it, should take both the publications in question; and that those who are really unable to take both, should take that which they deliberately believe will be of the greatest and most lasting advantage to them and their families: and finally, we ask, that those of our subscribers who have not yet deserted us, and who think that we ought to be sustained, would each endeavour to obtain at least one new subscriber to the Christian Advocate; a request which we are persuaded may generally be complied with, without great exertion or much difficulty.

We cannot close this preface-which indeed we have written with more reluctance than almost any thing else that we ever wrote-without recording the goodness of God, in sparing till the present time, with some remaining capacity for service, a life which, at the commencement of our editorial undertaking, we did not expect would last till we should have completed half the number of volumes which we have actually laid before the public. We think we are called, and we feel that we are disposed, to set up our EBENEZER, saying, hitherto hath the Lord helped us;" and to confide in that goodness and gracious aid which we have so richly experienced in time past, to uphold and bless us, in all that awaits us in time to come. Earnestly requesting for ourselves and our work the valued prayers of our readers, we for the present bid them adieu-imploring for them the best blessings of our common God and Saviour.

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