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probable causes. Again, that monetary crisis through which the commercial world has just passed, bringing desolation with it to many a “home and hearth”-this has called attention to our banking system, and led to a discussion of the principles which should regulate its issues. But while our friends have been interested in the discussion of subjects of present and practical importance like these, they have not been indifferent to others which take a higher range, and are of a more recondite character; hence the nature and relationship of Mind and Matter, Christianity and Sectarianism, have been fully considered, and
"Set in all light by many minds,
To close the interests of all.” The beneficial influence of these discussions cannot for a mo. ment be doubted; and though they have excited considerable interest as they have appeared in our monthly parts, we rejoice to be able to present them to the public in the more enduring form of a volume, firmly believing that, as we thus give
“The strength of some diffusive thoughts,
Both time and space to work and spread,” we are promoting the best interests of society, and furthering, in some staalt slagree, at least, the:ultimate triumph of Truth.
We need add no more by way of introducing this volume to the general publiğ; but we súst gratefully acknowledge the kindness of manj friends. in- enabling us to make it what it is ; and we earnestly: invite the co-operation of all to render its successor stille more worthy of the high objects and honourable career of the “British Controversialist” of the present, and the “ Impartial Inquirer" of other days.
I New Year's Glance : Retrospective and
"The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together. Our virtues would be proved, if our faults whipp'd them not; and our crimes would despair, if they were not cherish'd by our virtues." --Shakespeare.
The opening of a New Year is one of those divisional epochs which so clearly mark off the lapse of time as to cause the thoughtful to pause and ponder. The end of any period, and the beginning of that which succeeds it, afford ample materials for reflection, How much the more seriously then shall we reflect when we arrive once more at the commencement of one of those divisions of time which serve so forcibly to remind us of its fleetness, and to impress us with a sense of its uncertainty and brevity.
At the beginning of a year one naturally look:s back. We were hardly prepared it should end so soon: Half that which we purposed at its opening has not been accomplished. How much we have done that we ought not to have done, and left undone that we ought to have done. The year has not found time enough for us to work out all our plans; and this becomes more and more so, as years roll on. “We spend our years," says the Psalmist, “as a tale that is told !" And Pope has beautifully alluded to this idea in the lines
“ Years following years, steal something every day:
At last they steal us from ourselves away.” As we look around the happy hearth at this festive season, per il haps some seats are vacant which last year were filled by thos u we dearly loved. The older we grow the more numerous wibecome the ties of those who have gone before us; and the fac of whose presence in the realms of bliss, will often fix our wan dering thoughts when nothing else can do so. Those of us who
are of riper years, know much of this : the young know little ; and perhaps it is well it is so. Still there are few of us who at this festive season will not have moments of sad and solemn thoughtfulness. The wife, the child, the son, the sister, the aged and the venerated parent-where are they? Where are the friends of our youth? Where are the companions of our schoolboyhood?
“ Time rolls his ceaseless course. The race of yore,
How are they blotted from the things that be!” With some the duties of daily life are so absorbing, that it is only at such times as these that they have the leisure, if they had the disposition, to look calmly around them, behind them, before them, and within them. The strife for life engrosses all their attention ; they have not the leisure to brood o'er imaginary evils, and to fret and fume at ills that ne'er may come to pass. The active man marks off the year ; “ Alas !-how fast it flies !” he says, and with a sigh he hurries on, plunging, chin deep, at once into the duties of the next. The Christian, too, marks off the year ;-how far he has fallen from what, by this time, he had hoped to be! Yet he takes courage, relying on his sure support, and looking calmly and hopefully forward to the year to come. There is none so wretched as the idle, when the lapse of time is thus marked off. It is a weariness unto them. They exclaim, with the imprisoned huntsman,
"I hate to learn the ebb of time
From yon dull steeple's drowsy chime !
Inch after inch, along the wall !" With such, time does not even "amble ;" it marches solemnly and wearily along. How many of us will say, as the year comes to a close, “ How much shorter it seems than the last !" It is so. Up to twenty seems an age; the rest a dream--a sbadow-the morning cloud-the mist which the sun chases fast away :
“ The more we live, more brief appears
Our life's succeeding stages ;
A year, like passing ages.
Proportioned to their sweetness.”
Having looked behind and around, let us look within us !
“Know thyself,” said the philosopher of antiquity; and the modern poet versifies it thus :
“Know then thyself. Presume not God to scan:
The proper study of mankind is man.” Where periodical self-examination is conducted honestly and searchingly, it cannot fail to exercise a very beneficial influence on personal character. How stand you on January 1, 1858, as compared with January 1, 1857, and the Januaries which preceded it, going gradually back to childhood's years! Has your inner life been progressive or retrogressive ? One or the other it must have been, for there is no stagnation. The moment you cease to struggle upwards, you are gliding downwards, gently and almost imperceptibly it may be, but none the less surely. It would be impertinent, perhaps, to suggest in detail the subjects on which your self-interrogatories should chiefly dwell, but one or two may be briefly hinted at. What has been your progress, morally, mentally, spiritually ? Leave exceptional matters quite out of the question. What has been the tone of your thoughts and of your actions, during 1857,-good, bad, or indifferent ?better or worse than in 1856? What have you learned ? What have you communicated to others? How have you redeemed or squandered the precious moments which you had to spare from the toil for daily bread? Have you, by energy and industry, and the general character of your demeanour, improved or deteriorated your professional and occupational position ? Is your employer better or less pleased than formerly? Are your customers conciliated or offended? What has been your result for the year, taking all things into account, a profit or a loss? Do you stand in a better or a worse position ? Think of this! Redouble those exertions which have brought success, and avoid, with more than former caution, all that has had an opposite tendency.
In looking within, it also becomes us to reflect, by our own bright winter fireside, upon the friendships and the enmities of the year. Go through the list of old friends,--have any of them been alienated, or lost altogether! Take your new friends,-are they worthy of your friendship, and deserving of your confidence ? This is the season peculiarly fitted for the forgiveness of offences, for the acknowledgment of errors, and the reparation of injuries. The injunction of Scripture is, “ Let not the sun go down upon thy wrath ;" but this, alas ! is often suffered to pass unheeded; and many impiously pray that God will forgive them their trespasses as they forgive them that trespass against them,—that is, in truth, not forgive them at all! The new year, we say then, is a season peculiarly adapted for letting bygones be bygones, for shaking hands, and for resuming friendships. It is also a season when many new friendships are formed, and
when, therefore, young men should be more than ever on the watch.
It is a season, moreover, for the exhibition of the cheery and genial side of human nature. It is a time to dance, and sing, and feast, and relieve the poor. This present winter will be one of peculiar hardships and distress; for as the store cast into the water produces circles which spread and spread till they become invisible by their faintness, though yet existing, so the mercantile crisis through which we have passed, beginning with the great houses, must spread through the smaller ones ; and by the stoppage of large factories, tens of thousands will be starving, and without employment, so that the distress will reach the lowest of the low. For such, it is the duty of those whom God has blessed, to make provision as well as they can. This is a season which is peculiarly suggestive of large and generous sentiments towards all our fellow-creatures. It is a season which reminds us of the duty of unselfishness; of the fact that we should live not to ourselves alone :
"Not to myself alone,"
“Not to myself alone I sparkling glide ;
I scatter life and health on every side,
My gladsome tune;
In droughty June."
“ Not to myself alone.”
Its tongue, its soul, its life, its pulse, its heart
In earth's great chorus to sustain ihy part.
And self disown;
"Not to thyself alone.”
These duties are beautiful in theory, but how much more delightful are they when carried into practice! How universally is the theory recognized, and yet how rarely, comparatively, is the practice carried out! These are truisms-common-places, says the reader. Granted. But it is just these commonest and most generally admitted duties that require the greatest vigilance and the greatest earnestness on the part of those who wish to sce them more generally attended to. “ Live to my neighbour !” says one, “ Who is my neighbour ?" Need we refer the ques. tioner to the beautiful parable of Jesus Christ for a reply ! " Who is my neighbour!”—