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ADDRESS TO OUR READERS.
THE beginning of a new year always affords an opportunity of making such changes in serial publications as may appear to be desirable. We have, therefore, availed ourselves of the issue of this number of our Magazine to give effect to a desire which we have for some time cherished, and by the changes, which the reader cannot fail to notice in its "getting-up," to make it rank with the best monthlies of our times. The zealous co-operation of our publishers has enabled us to accomplish our wish in such a manner as cannot fail, we should think, to gratify all our friends, and to assure them that everything that can be done will continue to be done, to make the BAPTIST MAGAZINE worthy of the denomination to which it belongs.
For we are not to be numbered with those who think it best that there should be no denominational publications issued by the several Christian communities of this country. In saying this we need scarcely disavow any satisfaction in the relation of those communities to each other, for we regard the estrangement and alienation of Christians, on the ground of ecclesiastical differences as a dishonour put upon
the Redeemer, and a grievous scandal before the world. But we feel that the estrangement which does exist, instead of forming a reason for the suppression of denominational magazines is a powerful argument for their support. In all communities, unhappily, there are to be found those who, when speaking to their neighbours, affect to represent the body to which they belong, and who by their intemperance of language, and unfairness of dealing with an opponent, very seriously injure the cause for which they plead. It is desirable, therefore, to have some means of correcting the false impression which such excited disputants create, and we know of no better means at present than the denominational magazines which are issued every month from the press. In these we may look for a fair statement of the issue which is raised by the several denominations in their respective creeds or usages, and a succinct arrangement of the arguments which are relied upon to decide it. Addressed to the understanding and the conscience, through the eye rather than through the ear, they do not rouse hostile prepossessions so readily as spoken debates, and leave their
readers free to test in every way the fairness of their statements and the conclusiveness of their logic. A well conducted magazine, therefore, not only reflects the calm and deliberate judgment of the body to which it belongs, upon all topics of difference between its members and other Christians, but necessarily tends to form the habit amongst its readers of weighing with the impartiality of judges, every argument by which they seek to uphold their own opinions, or to overturn the reasoning of their opponents. It will be our endeavour, therefore, in times to come as it has been in times past, to discuss in the pages of this Magazine all questions in which, as Baptists, we are not at one with our brethren, in such a manner as shall prove our earnest desire to be found always on the side of truth, and to win them over likewise.
Every one is aware that the existing ecclesiastical arrangements of Christians in this country are giving rise to the most serious debates. In the controversy which exists between the adherents of the State churches and the members of the free churches of this kingdom, we wish to take our proper share. The pages of this Magazine will accordingly discuss the several questions which may arise in this matter, and seek to answer them as questions of religion, rather than as questions of mere national policy. We shall strive to develope Evangelical Nonconformity in
churches, and in our readers generally, because we are sure that men will never act rightly as politicians until they are well-instructed Christians. If we only succeed in inducing our readers to study the State church controversy by the light of Revelation, we shall know no fear as to their earnestness and real in acting the
citizen in relation to it, as becometh the Gospel of Christ. Their influence will then be employed in support of the truth from the highest motives. Parents will not be indifferent about the proclivity of their children to an unscriptural and an intolerant Establishment, and we shall be spared the pain of seeing good men act as if there were no principles for their guidance in such matters in the Word of God.
Our desire, therefore, will be to foster the growth of Nonconformity by using the true sayings of God to determine the judgments we should hold and express upon all questions in debate between State-churchmen and ourselves; and we hope that we may be of service at the same time also to those who have cast us out from their communion, by recalling their attention to the law and the testimony, as the true standard of appeal in all questions of religious life and practice.
As opportunities occur,it is intended to discuss in a similar manner the social questions of the times in the hope of creating such a healthy public opinion as may effectually assist in the diffusion of true religion. The apathy with which such questions are frequently passed by, may be, in some degree, accounted for by the fact that they have been but little attended to in religious publications; but the time is come when Christians should feel that nothing can be a matter of indifference to them which in any way affects the influence of the gospel upon our fellowmen.
In the hope of enlisting still further than at present the sympathies of the young folks in our congregations and families in our work, we have made arrangements for the publication of tales written with an earnest and religious purpose. It