Page images

the vigilance and activity of the Magistrates, and by the zealous co-operation of all those of my subjects whose exertions have been called forth to support the authority of the laws.

"The wisdom and firmness manifested by the late Parliament, and the due execution of the laws, have greatly contributed to restore confidence throughout the kingdom; and to discountenance those principles of sedition and irreligion which had been disseminated with snch malignant perseverance, and had poisoned the minds of the ignorant and unwary.

"I rely upon the continued support of Parliament in my deter mination to maintain, by all the means intrusted to my hands, the public safety and tranquillity.

"Deploring, as we all must, the distress which still unhappily prevails among many of the labouring classes of the community, and anxiously looking forward to its removal or mitigation, it is in the mean time our common duty effectually to protect the loyal, the peaceable, and the industrious, against those practices of turbulence and intimidation, by which the period of relief can only be deferred, and by which the pressure of the distress has been incalculably aggravated.

"I trust that an awakened sense of the dangers which they have incurred, and of the arts which have been employed to seduce them, will bring back by far the greater part of those who have been unhappily led astray, and will revive in them that spirit of loyalty, that due submission to the laws, and that attachment to the constitution, which subsist unabated in the hearts of the great body of the people, and which, under the blessing of Divine Providence, have secured to the British nation the enjoyment of a larger share of prac tical freedom, as well as of prosperity and happiness, than have fallen to the lot of any nation in the world."

This conciliating and paternal speech was received with that unanimous feeling of satisfaction which its sentiments demanded. The gracious assurance of his Majesty that, while he committed the bereditary revenues of the Crown to the disposal of Parliament, he was not desirous of any increase in those establishments by which the splendour and dignity of the Throne are supported, was acknow, ledged by all parties as a noble example, calculated to produce a feeling of patience under every privation. The usual addresses to the Sovereign were unanimously voted in both Houses.

The attention of the Legislature has been occupied since that period by questions of the highest importance. Amongst the sub jects of the highest moment may be considered the Petitions of the great commercial interests of the nation, for alterations in the system of our foreign trade. It was long ago demonstrated by Adam Smith that the system of prohibitions and restrictions with which the commerce of all European countries is encumbered has the necessary consequence of diminishing the wealth, by contracting the natural resources of every state; inasmuch as each is forced upon the esta blishment of some manufacture which could be better bought of its

[ocr errors]

neighbours, whilst it neglects the extension of those natural advantages which it derives from its soil and the habits of its people. But while the existence of such artificial systems are to be deplored, it is to be remembered that all our social relations are founded upon them; and that their sudden' removal would create a greater distress than their continued existence. It is for philosophy to suggest the best principles, and for policy to accommodate them to existing circumstances. An anecdote of Dr. Adam Smith and Mr. Burke aptly illustrates this distinction.

Dr. Smith reproached Mr. Burke for not at once proposing the abolition of the laws against forestalling, and asked what prevented Parliament from passing an act to declare forestalling free? Mr. Burke, in reply, remarked, that the Doctor, in a professor's chair, might go to work with a question in political economy as he would with a propotion of pure mathematics, but that the case was very different with statesmen. They must look to the conflicting interests which required to be reconciled, and the prejudices which must be removed, before any improvement could be adopted.


While the merchants are petitioning Parliament to establish the principles of free trade, the agriculturists are equally solicitous that the trade in corn should be subjected to stronger restrictions than are at present imposed upon it. This is an instance of those conflicting interests, between which the Legislature must interpose its moderation and its prudence.

[ocr errors]

It is with considerable pain that our duty compels us to notice the fearful example of the just severity of the laws, which has been presented in the execution of Thistlewood and his wretched associates. Of the deep criminality of these men there can be no question. They were participators, and eager participators, in a plot of the blackest character, manifesting such a depravity of principle, as might have been thought impossible to have existed in Christian and a civilized country. Their conduct at the last fatal moment, abhorrent to every good feeling, manifested the source of their depravity-a wild and profligate abandonment of Religion. It has been attempted to palliate the guilt of these men, by shewing that they were excited to their atrocities by a spy. This statement rests upon assertion, and not upon proof. But we apprehend that there is little moral difference between the suggestion and adoption of a plan of treason and murder; that every man who has paid the penalty of his crime in the willing reception of such propositions, has suffered a just condemnation; and that every unconvicted person who has lis tened to such suggestions without delivering the author up to justice, has incurred a guilt which the most scrupulous conduct in future life can alone redeem. The nation in general is thankful to that Almighty Providence," from whom no secrets are hid," that the country has been spared the commission of such a crime; and that a band of ruffians have not been permitted to plunge into such a career as constituted the disgrace, the misery, and the horror of the French Re volution.

May 29, 1820.

[ocr errors]


The Christian Monitor;



LECTURE V.--New Testament-Account of the several Books.

And he said unto his disciples, Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. So then, after the Lord was received up into Heaven, they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them with signs following. Mark xvi. 15, 19, 20.

THE Book of the New Testament which contains the whole of our blessed Saviour's instructions, may be considered in four separate divisions :

First, An account of his life and ministry, as related in the four Gospels.

Secondly, An account of the acts and proceedings of his holy Apostles, in spreading abroad the Christian Religion after his return to Heaven.

Thirdly, A collection of Epistles, or Letters, written by St. Paul, and others, of Christ's chosen teachers; addressed to the different societies of Christians who had newly become believers in the faith and,

Fourthly, The Revelation of St. John; being an account of certain wonderful visions, with which he was favoured by God, making known to him many extraordinary events, in proof of his Religion, which should happen in the world, even to the end.

The word Gospel signifies "glad tidings," and well expresses the joyful information which was given to mankind, concerning the glòrious salvation which Christ thus came to obtain for us. These Gospels were composed by four different persons, called the Evangelists, or messengers of good; viz. St. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It will be proper to give you a short account of each. It should be noticed beforehand, however, that these separate accounts were written by their respective authors at different times and places, and though they relate the history of the same distinguished person, many circumstances are told by one, which are left out by another from causes which will be easily explained.

St. Matthew wrote his book about five years after the ascension of

[blocks in formation]

Christ to Heaven, or, as we date from our Saviour's birth, in the year 38. The manner of his being chosen a disciple he mentions in the 9th chapter. Matthew was a publican, or tax-gatherer, an office in great disrepute among the Jews, which fully shews our blessed Saviour's purpose of giving no worldly advantages to those whom he appointed to teach his Religion. This book was written in Hebrew, but afterwards translated into Greek, which had become the general language of the country after the conquest of Alexander; the other Gospels being all composed in that tongue. St. Matthew's Gospel was drawn up for the immediate information of the Jews: he is therefore more particular than the other Evangelists in referring to the prophecies of the Old Testament respecting our Saviour's coming, and makes frequent mention of the customs and ceremonies of the Jews, which were to them naturally familiar. With great judgment he begins his account, by shewing that Christ was descended from Abraham, tracing up his family to that patriarch, to whom God (as Moses informs us), had promised this great distinction, and was consequently most likely to convince the Jews that Christ indeed was their promised Messiah.

St. Matthew seems to have attended his divine Master constantly through his ministry. He therefore speaks as an eye-witness of those events he records. The full account of our Saviour's beautiful Sermon on the Mount, in the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters, is peculiarly valuable, as containing in itself a complete body of instructions for our general conduct.

St. Mark was not one of the twelve Apostles; nor does he relate the events he describes, as having been a witness of them himself. But his authority is not the less certain; for we are informed the disciples were accustomed to meet at his house; and in their society, therefore, he lived in familiar intercourse. We know also, he was the faithful companion of St. Peter, whom he accompanied to Rome; during which time, about the year 65, he composed his Gospel, under the direct authority and assistance of that eminent Apostle; for this reason, in the early times of Christianity, his was often called the Gospel of St. Peter.

It was expressly written for the instruction of the Romans who had received the Christian faith, and therefore less commonly refers to things peculiar to the Jews than the Book of St. Matthew; often explaining such as he does mention for the information of those who were strangers to their customs. Mark was the nephew of the Apostle Barnabas,* whom, with others of the disciples, he attended on their different journeys, while teaching the faith in distant countries. As his account is very like that of Matthew, it probably was in his hands at the time he wrote, though many things are left out, and some added, which that author does not mention.

St. Luke, whose Gospel next follows, also wrote the history of the Acts of the Apostles, of which I shall hereafter have occasion to speak.

Acts xii. 25.

He was not one of the twelve Apostles. He is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Colossians, as being by profession a physician, and therefore doubtless a man of some learning. His style shews more skill in writing-than that of the other Evangelists. The Gospel of St. Luke is addressed, as well as his account of the Acts of the Apostles, to Theophilus, a person probably in high esteem among the Christians of his time; and he professes, in the beginning, to have written it for the purpose of giving a correct account of our Saviour's life and ministry, in place of some histories then current, which, being unauthorized by God's holy inspiration, were not worthy of credit. The history of St. Luke is considered to have been addressed to the Gentile converts, probably in Greece, for whose benefit many things are therefore explained, and was written about the same time that St. Mark's was addressed to the Roman converts. It remains only to be added, that St. Luke was the companion of the Apostle Paul, in those laborious journeys which he undertook for the advance. ment of the Christian faith, and delivers his Gospel therefore with the most undoubted authority. Indeed, it was the belief of the earliest Christians, that St. Luke "put into his book the Gospel preached by St. Paul.'

The Gospel according to St. John was written much later than the three former, being composed in his old age, about the year of our Lord 97.

The other Gospels by that time being well known, and handed about among the societies of Christians, St. John passes over many circumstances of our Saviour's life, and rather confines his history to those particular events, of which he was himself a witness, or tells us of such things as were not noticed by the other historians. It will be remembered, that John was the favourite companion and bosom friend of our blessed Saviour; that he remained with him to the last, and was the only one of the disciples who (we can certainly know) was present at his crucifixion, which he therefore describes in a very full manner. He was the person to whom our Lord gave the care of his mother, upon that solemn occasion. He also, with St. Peter, was the first witness of his glorious resurrection to life; and his evidence to all these facts is therefore of the highest authority. St. John was the brother of St. James, whom Herod afterwards destroyed. They were poor fishermen, whom Christ chose out as two of the twelve Apostles at the beginning of his ministry, giving them a name, signifying the sons of thunder, in token of their eminent zeal for his service. In reading these Gospels with due attention, it will be your business to compare them frequently with each other; things which appear difficult, and not easily understood in one, are oftentimes very well explained by referring to the account given by another of the Evangelists; which, when thus placed together, throw a surprising light upon the whole of the sacred story. You will also consider, that these writings are nearly 1800 years old, and that they were composed for different purposes, and for different societies of Christians. You must not look into them for what would now be considered a regular

« PreviousContinue »