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Members of the Established Church.
THE YEAR 1846.
The present condition and prospects of our beloved and venerated communion were too large a theme to descant upon in this brief Annual Preface. For such particulars as have appeared to us most interesting and important, we must refer to the current papers. We rejoice in the continued and increased prosperity of our National Zion, and the manifest tokens of the favour of God upon it, notwithstanding many grievous sins and heavy discouragements. We would not speak invidiously of other bodies of Christians; but the statistics of our Anglican schools, churches, and religious and charitable institutions, evince a striking advance of zeal and efficiency; while, as compared with the increased population, Wesleyanism and Dissent have relatively lost ground. Popery, alas ! has been active and successful; and many perverts have joined it from our own Church ;-a melancholy topic, upon which we have elsewhere written so largely that we will not now dwell upon it. That modification of Popery which has deluded so many of the clergy and laity of our Church, has received some salutary checks; but it still exerts a powerful and dangerous influence, and not the less so because a few of its grosser fopperies have been put down by authority or public opinion. Unscriptural and fanatical views of the effects of the sacraments, and a repulsion from the doctrine of justification by faith, are its leading and most mischievous characteristics; and where these are found, there is essential Romanism, and all that is opposed to the true doctrines and spirit of the Church of England. We must adhere to the genuine principles of the Reformation, or we are no longer a Protestant Scriptural Church; we are only Papists in disguise. “England,” said D’Aubigné,“ will lose all, if she loses the Reformation.”
Yet, upon the whole, we would hope that pure and undefiled religion is advancing in the land. The truth is, that good and evil, the work of God and the devices of Satan, are both so strikingly manifested, that it is impossible to adjust the balance. As one instance among many, the Lord's Day is more extensively observed and more extensively violated than ever ; saint and sinner are contending for the mastery; many old evil customs have died away, and many new ones arisen. Our hope, we say, is that in the aggregate the gain preponderates. Earnestly would we pray that it may be so. But alas ! there is a leavily-weighted adverse scale !