With this number the issues of the OBERLIN EVANGELIST are suspended for the present. We regret that we can say nothing definite in respect to its resumption at any future time. It may be resumed after a few months, or a year; or perhaps a monthly or quarterly may take its place. In any such event, the friends who have stood by the Evangelist to this day, will hear from us again.
The Evangelist closes simply because it is not sustained sufficiently to pay the cost of publication. The war has wrought to its damage in many ways:
(1.) By immensely increasing the demand for news--a demand which the Evangelist never proposed to meet, and which (its location, and that of its readers being as they are,) it never can meet.
(2.) By impoverishing the classes who have been our main dependence--ministers with small salaries; and families generally of small income. On the other hand, the classes whom the war enriches--contractors, speculators, and some manufacturers and traders--are very rarely if ever our patrons.
(3.) By greatly increasing the cost of paper--now become much the heaviest single item in the total cost of publication.
These influences, combining, prove too powerful to be at present overcome.
In some minor respects, the Evangelist may have fulfilled its mission, and so far forth, may therefore retire from the field of Christian journalism without regret. Its specimen number went forth in the fall of 1838; its regular issues commenced with 1839. Then it aimed,
(1.) To represent the religious views of the Faculty of Oberlin College in a practical effective shape, so as to make them a positive power upon the Christianity of the age. As objections were raised, some space was given (perhaps necessarily,) to controversial or rather explanatory discussion, in defence of truths deemed of vital consequence.
In so far forth as there was need of a fair and full exhibition of these views to the thinking minds of the age, it has been accomplished. But their practical application to Christian life and duty, remains yet unfinished--a work which no labor of ours can ever exhaust. Indeed we close the Evangelist under a sense almost oppressive, of the need just now of a fuller exhibition of the true import of New Testament Christianity.
(2.) The Evangelist aimed to plead the cause of the slave from the Christian stand-point of view. One important part of its mission has been to oppose slavery on Christian principles, and to set forth the whole duty of Christian citizens against this monstrous iniquity.
In the outset this little sheet stood on this ground almost alone. Within these twenty-four years, an immense change in this respect has come over the periodical literature of the country--so great that now, instead of standing up alone, we are almost lost from view amid the multitude and the towering prominence of our taller brethren.
God be praised for this, even though it contribute to drop us from the list of combatants in this glorious warfare for Anti-Slavery truth and righteousness!
(3.) The Evangelist has been in many respects an organ of the College and Theological Seminary. When its first No. was sent forth, the College was (for once) too poor and too much in debt to issue its annual catalogue. Now, though never rich, and indeed never quite confortably sustained, and never by any means furnished with all the necessary appliances for the best education, yet it has achieved a great and good work: has made its mark upon this generation; has sent out many noble-hearted soldiers, fairly furnished and quipped for Christ and humanity.
The Evangelist has rendered some aid doubtless towards this prosperity and these results. It has been a sympathetic nerve, binding Oberlin to many praying Christian hearts. There may be less need of its aid now than there was twenty-four years ago. How much the College will miss its aid in future years, we have no ambition to predict.
(4.) We may also name as one of our minor objects, the development and growth of Congregationalism in Ohio. We have never been denominational partizans; but we have been Congregationalists from our deepest convictions, and have improved our opportunities to minister as we could to the better understanding of its principles, to harmony among its friends, and to its growth and effectiveness as a Christian organization.
In these respects we have lived to see great progress. This cause stands on higher and better ground now than twenty-four years ago.
Some things of this sort the Oberlin Evangelist has helped to do which need its aid less now than heretofore. In some respects therefore, its mission may be said to be fulfilled.
But it has wrought in other cherished labors which are by no means finished. It has aimed to be a thoroughly evangelical and purely religious paper. Its idea has been to exclude matter deemed inappropriate for Sabbath reading and meditation. It has sought to minister to the spiritual culture of the heart and to the consequent improvement of the life--to meet the Christian in all his manifold relations and circumstances, with impulses to duty and with the quickening inspirations of divine promise. We have labored much to assure every Christian reader that, taking hold of Christ by faith, he may stand steadfast in duty, victorious over temptation, "strong in the Lord and in the power of his might."
Many have testified to spiritual good received through divine mercy from the pages of the Evangelist, of whom large numbers have gone to their rest in peace, and others are yet pressing on, to be gathered at length with those who have gone before. The evidences of such results have been the best reward which the laborers on these pages have had--the greatest they have sought.
Speaking now personally for ourself, we close these labors with a feeling of sadness and regret. With us they have been more than any other one thing, our life-labor. We have spent upon the Evangelist from its commencement no small part of our best strength. It is with feelings not easily expressed that we think of such labors, sending their results forward to the final judgment and to the world to come. How many must meet us there under the common summons to render our account to our common Lord for our respective agencies as writer and readers of this gospel Evangelist!
To many kind and faithful friends who have contributed to the columns of the Evangelist; to a greater number who have helped to extend its circulation; and to all who have given to it their sympathy and their prayers--we tender the best we have to give--the want and perpetual gratitude of our hearts.
The periodicals that have kindly been sent to us in exchange will please accept our grateful acknowledgments.
We have been deeply sensible to many imperfections in our editorial work. Towards these our friends have been indulgent and forgiving:--may our Divine Master whom we seek to serve be even more so!