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New-York Miffionary Magazine,
Repofitory of Religious Intelligence.
ANY ferious perfons have lately expreffed a regret, that no publication, devoted to the conveyance of religious intelligence, exifts in the United States. While the preffes throughout the union are teeming with literary and political journals, they have lamented that no convenient medium is found for conveying to the public information relative to the state of the Church, and the profperity or decline of that kingdom whofe interefts they efteem more important than thofe of any temporal fovereignty. This deficiency is the more to be regretted, as, from the fcattered state of our American churches over an immenfe territory, communication between them is rendered difficult, if not next to impracticable, by any ordinary means. Hence it is that the ftate of religion in one part of our country is rarely known to thofe refiding in another. The moft illuftrious triumphs of grace are heard of only in a fmall circle: and fome of the most interesting articles of information, refpecting the difplays of Divine power in the converfion of finners, and the promulgation of evangelical truth among the heathen in our own land, have been altogether unknown among ourselves, until they reached us through the medium of foreign pub
The work is defigned to embrace, and convey to the public, every species of interefting religious intelligence, The proceedings of the three very refpectable Miffionary Societies which have been formed in the United States, and of fuch others as may hereafter be formed, will claim our first attention, and will be fully exhibited to our readers, from time to time. But, befides thefe, it will come within our plan to receive and communicate every article of information, from whatever domestic fource, which refpects the progrefs of the gofpel, or which tends to difplay the power of Divine Grace on the hearts of men-accounts of revivals of religion-of remarkable individual converfions-of the organization of new religious focieties-of important proceedings in ecclefiaftical judicatories-and, finally, of all events and transactions which will have a tendency to bring the members of Chrift's body better acquainted with each other, and to knit their hearts together in love. But the work will not be confined to domeftic objects: all miffionary, and other religious intelligence, from beyond the Atlantic, will be carefully fought for, and early inferted. For this purpose an extenfive foreign corref pondence will be established, and every exertion made to give as complete an exhibition as poffible of important events in the Chriftian Church, in every part of the world. The patrons of this work may rely that the utmost care will be taken to avoid thofe polemic difcuffions which would have a tendency to irritate and divide them; and that it will be conducted in fuch a practical, and, for the most part, in fuch an historical manner, as to unite all who are attached to the great doctrines of grace.
The publisher is well aware that the plan which he has sketched is extenfive, and that the task of executing it will be arduous. He has made arrangements with fome gentlemen of refpectable character, who will ftatedly aid him with communications, and with their advice. He would farther folicit the patronage of the friends of religion in every part of the United States;
and would especially intreat thofe who may be able to furnish, from time to time, articles of intelligence, or any other materials for the propofed work, to forward them to him without delay. He trufts a generous public will not permit fuch an undertaking to be fruftrated for want of pecuniary fupport; and that none who love the profperity of Zion will withhold from its pages thofe communications which might gladden the hearts of the pious. Above all, he would implore that divine bleffing on the work, which alone can render any plan fuccefsful, and any exertions useful.
An Account of the Infiitution, Progrefs, and prefent State of the New-York Miffionary Society.
N the autumn of 1796, a number of ministers in the
which were then, and had been for fome time, making in Great-Britain, to fpread the knowledge of the gofpel among the heathen, became impreffed with the duty of making a fimilar attempt in America. After repeated confultations on the fubject, they took meafures to engage in the plan a number of clerical brethren in the vicinity, and private chriftians in the city, of different denominations. Of thefe a general meeting took place on the first day of November in the above-mentioned year; on which occafion the Rev. Dr. M'Whorter, of Newark, delivered a difcourfe on the " Bleffednefs of the Liberal," which has been fince published. The auditory was large and folemn, and the collection made on the occafion was very handfome. At this meeting, the gentlemen prefent agreed to form themfelves into a fociety for fending the gofpel to the frontier fettlements, and among the Indian tribes in the United States. At the fame meeting the Society agreed to a Constitution and Addrefs, which were foon afterwards published, and which, we prefume, our readers have feen.
Soon after the Conftitution and Addrefs were publifhed, the attention of many Chriftians, in different parts of the United States, was roused to the important object contemplated by the Miffionary Society-Many communicated their approbation of the plan, and fome diftant churches fent forward liberal contributions for its fupport and execution.
The next annual meeting of the Society took place November 7th, 1797. This meeting was general and folemn. In the evening of that day the Society adjourned to the Old Presbyterian Church, in Wall-street, where a fermon, fuited to the occafion, was delivered by the Rev. Mr. Mafon, of the Scots Prefbyterian Church, in Cedar-ftreet. This fermon has been fince published. There has feldom been feen, in the city of New-York, a more crowded, attentive, and ferious auditory than that which attended its delivery. The collection made after fermon, was large, and did great honour to the liberality of the citizens of New-York.
What was done by this important and laudable affociation between the time of its firft inftitution, and the annual meeting in November, 1797, will appear by the following report of the Board of Directors, which was then made, viz.
After the organization of the Society, the firft care of the Directors was to aim at laying a broad and folid bafis for future operations. The frontier of the States, and the Indian country, exhibiting an extenfive field of Miffionary efforts, required great attention, while they prefented confiderable difficulty. That a plan of Misfions might be devised with judgment, and executed with fuccefs, it was neceffary to obtain correct information of both. A committee of inquiry was accordingly appointed for each of thefe purposes, and directed to prepare their reports as fpeedily as the nature of their bufinefs would admit. No printed documents fupplying them with fufficient materials, they were obliged to have recourfe to individuals fcattered throughout the country, and many of them difficult of accels. From
thefe and other impediments, the committees have not yet been able to accomplish their object.
A correfpondence has alfo been opened with the leading Miffionary Societies in Britain, but no communications from them have hitherto been received.
An inftitution fo novel in this country, and fo much beyond the ordinary habits of religious enterprize as the prefent Miffionary Society, could hardly expect to enjoy immediate and univerfal fupport. Yet it is not without peculiar fatisfaction that the Directors find, that in proportion as it is underfood, it recommends itself to the approbation and affection of Chriftians of different denominations. Refpectable additions have been made to the number of members; and both congregations and individuals have evinced their anxiety for its prof perity, by liberal and unfolicited donations to its trea fury. The funds amount, at prefent, exclusive of all charges, to nearly one thousand dollars; which, though a fmall fum for any weighty undertaking, deferves to be viewed as an encouraging commencement... 11
The directors have thought themselves warranted even by exifting circumftances and profpects, to appoint a committee to prepare, at their leifure, a fet of inftructions for Miffionaries, and to look out for fons proper to be employed in the fervice of the Society. They are not without pleafing hopes, that the head of the church will raise up, from time to time, candidates, endowed with a Miffionary fpirit, who will glow with zeal for the falvation of the Heathen, and count it a diftinguished honour to carry among them the fweet favour of his name.
Inquiry has already been addreffed to them, to afcertain whether it comes within the defign of the Society to educate pious and promifing youth exprefly for miffionary labours. No office would be more gratifying
to them, as they are perfuaded that nothing can more congenial to the end of the Society, nor to the wishes of its members.
The Directors feel a peculiar fatisfaction in observing,