Page images


history of those deeds which rouse the spirit as with a trumpet.* We shall not conceal any thing, or distort any thing. We shall ena ble all who seek for knowledge to judge for themselves. The wider they inquire, the deeper they examine, the more clearly will they discover the ignorance, as well as the wickedness, of those who seek to turn them from the Faith and Loyalty of their fathers. They will find their truest happiness and honour in the privileges of Englishmen and Christians.

But while our principal attraction will consist in those selections which we make from the best writers, and while we confer a great benefit on the Labouring Classes, by putting such real knowledge within the reach of their time and their purse, we shall not neglect to pay attention to whatever may be of immediate utility to them in their particular station. Brief maxims of prudence-hints for economy in housekeeping-directions for the management of children—and such other information as may increase their comfort and respectability, will form a part of our plan. However good men may differ as to systems for improving the condition of the Working Classes, they all agree that the truest improvement is that which, springing from themselves, makes them more virtuous, and therefore more contented. The same principle will direct our own humble endeavours.

The difficulty of sometimes finding the sort of knowledge we seek, in a shape sufficiently short and plain, will render it necessary that some of the articles should be expressly written for this work. The only merit we shall seek in such writing will be that of being sincere and intelligible. The only object we shall propose will be that of rendering our readers wiser and better. We proceed with our duties cheerfully, because we believe that sound knowledge is the best security to preserve the character of the Plain Englishman.

The Christian Monitor;

NO. I.

Live while you live, the Epicure would say,
And seize the pleasures of the present day;
Live while you live, the Christian Preacher cries,
And give to God each moment as it flies:
Lord! in my view may both united be-

I live in pleasure when I live to Thee.'-Doddridge.

THE Commencement of a New Year must produce reflections of infinite importance to a serious mind. Every hour which rolls on brings us nearer to that day when it will be solemnly asked of us how we have employed the present life. Like travellers on a weary pilgrimage, this day presents to us a resting-place, where for a moment we may stop and look back upon the path we have trodden, and consider what progress we have made on our journey. Has our course been straight? Have we steadily pressed forward? or, have we loitered by the way, and allowed ourselves to be seduced from the great business of human life by the allurements of pleasure, or by the exclusive pursuit of some great worldly object?

These are questions which every one should ask himself, when arrived at a new stage of his career; and when he reflects upon the unsteadiness of the course he has hitherto pursued, he will, if a wise man, resolve to set out afresh, firmly determined to persevere to the end, and repair his past indifference and neglect by the earnestness and vigour of his future exertions.

Considerations like these have prompted us to make some effort for the benefit of the labouring classes of our fellow-countrymen at the opening of a new year, which may in some degree atone for the inattention we have hitherto shewn them. Reminded of the responsibility which lies upon us to employ to the best advantage the faculties entrusted to us, we hasten to offer such assistance as we are able to contribute to the great cause of Religion and Loyalty; and if, in the execution of this duty, we should succeed in obtaining the good opinion of our readers, we are not without hope of rendering them some real benefit; some amusement, accompanied with instruction; some information which may assist them to perceive and acknowledge the high value of those institutions, sacred and political, which were designed to secure the great national blessings we enjoy

in common.


New Year's Day is welcomed with mutual congratulations all over the world. It is a season for the exchange of friendly tokens of kindness. Every one meets his neighbour with some declaration of goodwill. But these expressions are too generally limited to the good things of this world: to health and riches, and long life to enjoy them. Eternity seldom mingles in such salutations: they extend not beyond the grave. "May you spend the present, and every future year, to the honour of God, the welfare of your fellowcreatures, and your own eternal advantage,' would be indeed a benediction becoming Christian Friends when they meet upon the arrival of a New Year; but how gloomily would this be received in place of that lively and joyous tone of address with which we commonly greet each other on this anniversary.

People too often consider this merely a period of festivity. To ring out the old year, and ring in the new, while midnight revelling, drinking, music, and dancing, keep the whole village waking, is the ordinary method of bidding welcome to the 1st of January. It is true, that a social meal among our children and friends—a table spread with unusual comforts-is by no means ill suited to a time of the year which compels us to seek much of our amusement within doors. It is an honest delight to an industrious man to be able to welcome a neighbour to his fireside and hearty cheer. Amidst the happy circle of his family such a visitor will be received with a smile of benevolence, which will warm his heart long after the little festival is over.

But the Christian will consider New Year's Day as bringing some> thing more than the return of an annual feast. He will teach his children to look upon it as a solemn day of rejoicing for all the blessings they have received in the year that is past. He will remind them that there is one year more of a short life now gone, and that none can tell what portion remains behind. Though health and strength and spirits may be theirs, he will recall their memory to many around them who, while yet able and blooming, have been carried off, sometimes at a very short warning, and often without preparation. Filled with such remembrances, he will invite them to join with him in devout prayer, that they may not thus waste year after year without improvement. He will tell them that days and months and years glide along, while man trifles with these precious moments: that although warned by frequent examples of the rapid decay of human life, the careless and the dissolute still put off serious reflection, persuaded they will be spared for that imaginary leisure in which they may prepare for hereafter.

If an inhabitant of another world, who was previously acquainted with the great scheme of Providence for Man's Redemption, were permitted to come down to this earth, what expectation would he form of the scene before him? Having been apprised that he was about to visit a race of sinful men, placed here in a state of trial, would he not expect to find them anxious to make the most of this gracious opportunity to regain the favour of the Deity? Knowing

that this sinful race had been spared by an extraordinary act of divine mercy, would he not suppose this great event would be the constant subject of their contemplation? Understanding also their nature was so corrupt that they could do no good thing of themselves, but that spiritual help was offered to all who asked it, would he not suppose they would joyfully and earnestly implore it? And, lastly, having learnt that their lives on earth were to last but a very short term, while their future lot was to endure for ever, would he not be prepared to see them little careful of this world, but fixing their whole regard upon the next?

Having formed such expectations as these, with what amazement would the stranger survey the scene which the moral world presented to his view. When the first tumult of surprise and wonder was over, how inconceivable would be the contradiction of all he witnessed to all he had been taught to expect. He would see mankind divided into numerous classes, engaged in every possible variety of occupation and pursuit. But though thus diversified by station or by choice, he would find them governeḍ by one common principle of worldly interest. He would per

ceive that this world was their idol, the first, almost the exclusive object of all their thoughts, of all their esteem, of all their exertions; while the prospect of the world to come was carefully avoided-its recompense disregarded-its threatenings forgotten; the consideration of every thing connected with eternity abandoned, for the most part, to the care of a particular profession, whose members bore no proportion to the great body of the people. Though surrounded with the most admirable proofs of the Creator's power, he would discover among his creatures little dread of his vengeance. Supported by his daily providence, he would witness but very feeble gratitude for his bounty. Supplied with the most ample revelation of his will, he would observe little disposition to examine or to obey it, Saved by the atoning blood of a Redeemer, he would grieve to behold the prevailing insensibility to such an astonishing proof of divine love. And warned by the voice of God himself to prepare for judgment, he would perceive little anxiety, and less preparation, for an event which was to determine all their hopes of happiness for ever.

If this be a true picture of human life, and the experience of our readers will justify the representation, surely it is of immense importance to stop for a moment in the midst of our worldly pursuits, and seriously consider why we allow ourselves to partake of this general disregard to religion-this general devotion to the world. The explanation is simple:- We do not make religion the business of our lives. While we are ready to acknowledge that the Deity has placed us here only as in a state of probation, we lose sight of it in practice, and act as though futurity was little concern of ours.

One great use of marking the change of seasons is to make them a standard to measure our progress in piety, If, at the close of the past year, we cannot discover that we are become more active in our benevolence, and more serious in our devotions, than we were at the beginning, does it not shew that in our religious concerns, to say the

least, we have been standing still, while we have been advancing one year nearer to eternity? Many steady persons thus go on from year to year, unmoved by the remonstrances of the preacher, satisfied with a sense of their own security, because they charge themselves with no gross offences. Such men are serious in every thing but religion. 'They rise early and late, take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness.' The duties of their calling, the cares of a rising family, the difficulties with which they have to struggle, press heavily upon their minds. They are seldom seen to smile; all is gloom and sobriety and thoughtfulness with them. Yet these persons will be surprised to learn that they are no more to be considered religious men than the careless and the profligate, so long as worldly interests engross their whole thoughts, and Christian motives have no place in their hearts.

Now, to any such man, it is highly important to consider the necessity of marking his progress as years revolve, with a view to religious improvement. However grave and diligent, however honest and industrious, if piety be not the principle of all his conduct, that man has much to do before he die. Multitudes thus deceive themselves, who give nothing to God but a small portion of the Sabbath, and yet call themselves Christians. But religion is not to be assumed like our best apparel on a Sunday, and laid by for the rest of the week. The love of God must habitually warm the heart: the fear of God must steadily controul the thoughts: pardon and help are daily to be prayed for; and prayer alone can make a man pious, Religion never comes of itself. People live on under this sad delusion, and fancy, as they grow old, they will naturally become religious, No mistake is more miserable: none more fatal. Thousands have thus risked the loss of Heaven; and thousands more refuse the benefit of their sad example,

Let us then commence a New Year with better views and firmer resolutions. Let us be truly Children of God. Religion is not the concern of the clergy alone, it is the main business of every man, and must be interwoven with all his affairs: it is the true solace in affliction-the only restraint to passion or pride-the best remedy for discontent. He that takes a serious view of the dangers attendant upon rank and riches will bless God that he is not exposed to such great temptations. We remember who said, 'How hardly shall a rich man enter into the kingdom of Heaven.' This alone is enough to subdue every envious thought in our bosoms; for what serious man would hazard his salvation for all the world could give? But there are trials for all. The poor have their temptations as well as the rich. They who are born to daily labour are as accountable for their time as those who, heirs to independence, are not called to work with their own hands. If life be considered in a Christian view, some of our readers may perhaps be surprised to find how equally all ranks and conditions of men are tried by the various circumstances peculiar to their respective stations; and could they see into the hearts of others, little reason would appear for the jealousy and repining, which now disturb the tranquillity of mankind,

« PreviousContinue »