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Members of the Established Church,
THE YEAR 1840.
In writing our annual Prefaces, we have often found how difficult it is to abstract the mind from circumstances of minor and transitory importance, in order to read the present page of human history as it will be read in future days; not as an isolated record, but with its context, and in its relation to the past and the future. Every nation, every political party, every sect, every individual, is apt to view the aspect of society with the microscope rather than the telescope. A local success, a partial reverse, causes hopes or alarms not warranted by the occasion, as if the destinies of mankind were dependent upon every minute triumph or disappointment. Right indeed, in one respect, it is that we should be thus individualized and localized; for our immediate duties and dangers, with our joys and our sorrows, are first at home; and if things are going on wrong in our own neighbourhood, we ought not to be satisfied though all the rest of the world were in a state of prosperity and improvement. The beggar at our gate, the Sunday school in our village, the doctrine at our parish church, are not to be viewed as nothings, because there are nine hundred million human beings in the world. It argues no injustice in our benevolence-provided we do all we can, which is not a common case—if we devote more for Bibles, schools, and churchbuilding, where from proximity and personal obligation the duty presses closely upon us, than for a mission in China, though the desolation there extends to nearly a third of the human race. The largest heart oftentimes can impel but a short and puny arm.
Far therefore should we be from regarding as preposterous the warm interest excited by minute statistics, passing controversies, and local affairs of weal or woe. But though, for duty, we must look chiefly to our own immediate vineyard; for a clear knowledge of any large question—such, for example, as the progress which the Kingdom of Christ is making in the world—we must grasp large induction. Let some false and dangerous doctrine be broached! What zeal to put it down ! What controversies! What alarming, and alas ! true, statements of the souls which it may ruin, more especially if we