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Let those who cannot, or will not, study such articles remember that our Review circulates largely among the professors and students of our literary institutions, and that many of our ministers are capable of appreciating and profiting by the most learned and minute criticism. We have taken measures, which we hope will not fail, to secure a regular supply of such articles, partly original, but mainly translated from eminent foreign sources. Some of our friends, to be sure, have kindly cautioned us against indulging too freely in translations; but it would be simply absurd to impoverish our pages with half-learned and imperfect criticism, while the vast wealth of the German literature is at our command. Of such folly we shall not be guilty, merely to shield ourselves against an idle clamor.
2. The subject of Biblical exegesis will receive a larger share of attention than has heretofore been accorded to it. Short interpretations of difficult and disputed passages of Scripture will be welcome to our pages, and will directly go to fill up our own ideal of the “practical” for the Review. The interpretation of Scripture is the great work of our ministers; and our Journal would be at fault if it did not seek to furnish them aid in this department. The principles of interpretation, both of the Old and of the New Testament, are yet in many respects unsettled; and we hope that our pages will not only afford contributions toward a final settlement of these great principles, but also give illustrations of them in the exegesis of difficult and controverted portions of the sacred writings.
3. Ours is a Methodist Review. It is, therefore, right and becoming that the doctrines and polity of our own church should be fully maintained and set forth in its pages. We think we shall not err, therefore, in endeavoring to secure at least one article in each number specially treating of the faith, organization, usages, history, or discipline, of our own church. Some of these have been, and are, constantly assailed; it is our duty to defend them. Some of them may be wrong; it is our duty to examine, and, if need be, to correct them. On all these topics we shall admit of free discussion, within the limits, of course, of sound prudence and discretion. Nothing is gained to religion, or to the church, by attempts to cut off investigation or to stifle honest opinions. Time was when this was thought to be a Christian duty. There are, doubtless, some who think it such still ; who would shut up men's minds for ever in their own narrow inclosure, putting a barrier to inquiry at the precise point which they have reached, as if wisdom must die with them. To these men every new view of the wants or duties of the church is heresy; and all scrutiny of an old one, presumption. With such we have no sympathy. We have firmer faith in our system than they. We do not fear the closest scrutiny into its organization; we ask the minutest observation of its workings. It is too well-founded to be shaken thereby; it is too flexible, offspring and instrument of Providence as it is, not to adapt itself to the changing necessities of the times. 4. But while Biblical literature, theology, and ecclesiastical interests, will, as they should, have marked prominence, it is unquestionably true that no Journal can have wide circulation among the people that confines itself wholly, or even chiefly, to these topics. The world is all astir. In politics and morals great questions are every day asking for solution—or solving themselves, if answers be not forthcoming. If our Journal is to be “practical” and “popular,” it must seize upon the great practical questions of the church and of the age; it must sympathize with the spirit of the age: and if it cannot be a leader and guide of public opinion, must at least be its index and chronicler. The reign of false conservatism—at once domineering and timid, despotic and servile—we trust is over. It is no longer a mark of wisdom to stand as still as possible, when all the rest of the world is in motion. It is no longer essential to one's orthodoxy that he should forswear all improvement and all progress. And the journalist who either attempts to stem the tide, or even refuses to go along with it, must not repine if he find himself left behind in its course, “solitary and alone.” Yet, on the other hand, we hope to avoid that morbid appetite for new measures which forms some men's substitute for virtue. The men of this stamp think that everything old must necessarily be obsolete. Their watchword is Reform, and it means—Revolution. The novelty of an opinion is, with them, if not proof of its truth, at least a presumption in its favor. They are wonderful contrivers of schemes of reform, and fall in eagerly with every new ism as a new revelation. There is no trusting men who are far gone with this tendency. Should they once grasp the truth by accident, they cannot hold it long enough to make it their own. It is not by such agitators that real progress is made. Breeders of tumult and trouble indeed they may be, but reformers—never. For ourselves, the way is clear. We shall strive to take a “practical" interest in the movements of the world and of the church around us; to keep our readers informed of all great changes; and to seek out the duty of the times for ourselves and for them. We are “set for the defense of the church,” whose servants we are ; and her best and surest defense is to be found
in calling out her energies for her great work of advancing the kingdom of Christ, and in showing that she is not, as her enemies say, a bulwark behind which all forms of social wrong and crime can entrench themselves securely. With the partisan politics of the day we can have nothing to do. All such topics will be rigidly excluded from our pages. But with the great moral questions that now agitate the public mind in both hemispheres the case is different. To these we cannot shut our eyes and be guiltless. At the same time, we must ourselves be judges of the temper, spirit, and aims, of all articles that are submitted to us on such topics; and, in general, shall prefer to select our own contributors upon them. 5. So far as the form of our Journal is concerned, our aim will be to secure the greatest possible freedom and ease of movement. The term “Review” is now-a-days far more generic than it used to be. Criticism on books, in the proper sense of the word, forms but a small part of the matter of the leading Reviews. Of late years the theological journals have generally, and, we think, wisely, thrown aside the trammels which, in form at least, bind the great literary Quarterlies. For our field of literature the formal, stately Review, is about as appropriate as the palace of his Grace of Canterbury would be for a Methodist Bishop's dwelling. As for “keeping up the dignity” of our Journal,—there can be no true dignity where there is no adaptation. Essays, biographical sketches of eminent men, brief criticisms, and free discussions of disputed points, will all be welcome to our pages, without the name of any book stuck at the head. And on the other hand, we shall try to furnish our readers with a fair proportion of critical reviews in the proper sense of the word, and especially with abstracts of books that are either not published in this country at all, or are too expensive to get into general circulation. In view of the class of readers whom it will be our special business to serve, we deem this to be one of our most important and necessary duties. To secure room for these varied topics, it will be absolutely necessary that our articles should be short. An average length of ten pages will be enough : and twenty-five, unless in very extraordinary cases, will be our marimum. If we have extended dissertations on important topics of Biblical literature, history, or criticism, we shall not hesitate to divide and publish them in successive numbers; in no case, however, carrying any discussion beyond the current volume. This may often be the case with the articles designed to be of permanent value, and intended to secure for the bound volumes of the Review a welcome place in every good library. This last is one of our favorite ideals, and we hope both contributors and readers will bear it in mind. Heretofore each number of the Review has been accompanied (not always adorned) by a portrait. On this subject the Book Committee, at their late meeting, passed the following resolution, namely:— “Resolved, That the portraits as heretofore published in the Quarterly Review be discontinued, and that the editor be allowed to introduce portraits or other illustrations at his discretion.” This resolution accords entirely with our own views. The publication of portraits in the Review arose simply from the fact that they had been so issued in the Methodist Magazine, and has always been out of keeping with its character and objects. There is meaning and propriety in illustrating any article that may need or deserve it, either by a portrait, a map, or an engraving of any sort; but to insert a picture without any connection with the subject matter of the work, and often too without any general interest on the part of the community in the person delineated, can be justified on no rational ground that we can conceive of. In monthly journals portraits are sometimes published to gratify a denominational or party taste, and to catch subscribers; but these are aims unworthy of a periodical of the character of our Quarterly. We shall be glad, whenever we have a biographical sketch to offer of any eminent man, living or dead, to illustrate it by a portrait; and in such cases we shall strive to secure an engraving in the highest style of the art. And when maps, plans, or other graphic illustrations, are needed for any special article, we are fully authorized to introduce them, and shall do it on every suitable occasion. We hope and believe that this change will commend itself to the good sense of our patrons. When we tell them that the average cost of the portraits in each successive volume has been as great as that of the literary matter, they will doubtless think, with us, that it will be more judicious to save the money from the pictures, and employ a little more of it in securing strong and able contributors to the Review. 6. The department of Critical Notices will be kept up as heretofore. It will be extended, however, so as to embrace not merely books sent for the purpose by publishers and others, but also new English and foreign works that it may interest our readers to be made acquainted with. We wish to be distinctly understood that our notices in this department must be independent and impartial. Of the books printed at our own establishment, as well as others, we shall endeavor to give fair and just notices. Indiscriminate praise can have no other effect than to destroy public confidence in the truthfulness and honesty of our criticism, and to impair the value of commendation, even when justly bestowed. It seems to have grown into a sort of common law among our periodicals, that all books from our own presses, or from those of our friends, should be lauded of course. It is high time for us to be just to ourselves. And we give our brethren of the newspaper press notice that they may begin with us if they please; if our Journal is liable to censure in any particular, we hope they will bestow it, and we shall try to profit by it. 7. An entirely new feature will be added to the Review in two departments—one for Religious, and one for Literary Intelligence, to be printed in small type and in double columns, at the close of each number. In the first will be collected together such items of ecclesiastical and religious information of permanent value as may be gathered during the quarter in Europe and America. The columns of the newspaper form a bad repertory for such facts as one often wishes to refer to after a lapse of time; and it will be a great convenience to have them collected into a brief compass, and placed where they can always be found. While special attention will be paid to Methodist intelligence in this department, it will attempt also to give a general view of the more important movements of all branches of the Christian Church. Under the head of Literary Intelligence we shall give the titles of all new works of importance either in Europe or America. Summaries of this sort are published in other journals, it is true; but many of our readers have no opportunity of access to them; and it is our duty to furnish them the information. In addition, we hope to be able, by means of intelligent and competent European correspondents, to give timely information of new works in preparation or in press; of all serial publications, and of the most important and valuable foreign journals. With the facilities of the Methodist Book Concern at our command, we ought to be able to furnish this species of intelligence as early and as accurately as any other American journal. We have no reason to suppose that these facilities will be withheld; and although our arrangements may not be perfected soon enough to allow us to do all that we would in our January number, we hope that before the end of the next volume the fullest wishes of our readers may be met. In point of external appearance the Review has always held a very high place, and it is our purpose to add to its beauty if possible. The new series will be opened with entirely new and beautiful type, chosen and cast expressly for the purpose. A paper