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Letter of William Penn, 153 Fragment,
In undertaking the publication of a work designed to aid the cause of religion and morality, the subscribers are aware of the critical and important duty in which they are about to engage. Numerous religious publications have of late been issued, and have, as is fondly hoped, effected much good; yet, nevertheless, their influence and utility have not been so universal and extensive, as could be wished, owing to two important considerations: first, the copious manner in which they treat on the subjects of religion ; and second, the expense that necessarily attend such voluminous publications. The works here alluded to, though conducted with great judgiment and skill, do therefore fail to excite the attention of those readers who will not afford time to peruse, or who, from indigent circumstances, are unable to patronize them ; consequently one desirable and important object is lost. Another consideration should be noticed, which is, that hitherto the morality and education of children and youth have not received that attention from writers in general, to which the importance of the subject is so justly entitled.
To forego these difficulties--especially that of expense-is one of the objects of the present work; and it is offered on such terms as will put it in the power of all to possess it.—The terms, indeed, are lower than could be afforded, unless it should be well received. The publishers hope, however, that in endeavouring to meet the views of the public-particularly that part, who, from “scanty means," cannot support expensive publications their motives will be duly appreciated, and rewarded by a liberal subscription.
In presenting to the public the first number of the MONITOR, it is necessary to state its design, its utility, and the cause which it will espouse. Its design and utility will be understood, from what has already been said : a few remarks, however, may appear necessary.
It has ever been a subject of serious regret to the friends of morality, that in the various moral publications which have been iêsued, too little regard has been paid to the education and bringing up of children and youth: we are not to be understood as saying, that nothing has been offered on this subject; but that many writers have failed to make their writings sufficiently intelligible and entertaining, to secure the attention of the younger part of the community. To supply this defect, is the design of the MONITOR ; and, while it is directed to this object, the publishers, with the aid of literary gentlemen, will use their best exertions to render it an interesting and valuable publication to all who may patronize it.Concerning its utility, it is almost superfluous to subjoin any further remarks: suffice it to say, that, conducted on the plan here proposed, its utility will be questioned by none.
The cause which it will espouse, is that of religion and morality. No sect will be countenanced or supported by the Monitor; nor will any thing be inserted that is of a controversial nature. All communications (from any quarter) which are moral, religious, entertaining, or instructive, will be thankfully received; but none that tend to the subversion of morality, shall be noticed. On the whole, the publishers are encouraged to hope, that their work will be adequate to the reasonble expectations of its patrons.
It may be fairly presumed, that, at no period, has there been a more favourable opportunity, for the diffusion of correct and useful information, than the present; and is it not now, as heretofore, much needed? The children and youth, particularly,--Have not their morals and education been too much neglected ?-We hope for a reform.
The undersigned have now delineated the plan on which they purpose to publish the MONITOR. They have issued the first number, sooner than was first intended, in order to distribute them, and thereby give the public a specimen of the work. Those, therefore, who shall receive this number, and wish to become subscribers, (not having already subscribed), are requested to make known their intentions, previous to the publication of the next number, which should the subscriptions warrant) will be issued on Saturday, the 14th of June instant.
FARNHAM & BADGER.
Office No. 4 Suffolk Buildings,
Congress Street, Boston,
THE WEEKLY MONITOR,
MORAL, ENTERTAINING AND INSTRUCTIVE..
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 1817.
IQ The first number of the Monitor was issued this day, instead of the first Saturday in July, as proposed in the Prospectus, in order to afford sufficient time, to those who may wish to patronize it, to examine its pages, to judge of its utility, and to subscribe, if they think proper, previous to the publication of the second number, which will be issued on Saturday, June 14th - All succeeding numbers will be published on Saturdays. )
ON THE CHARACTER OF THE DEITY.
To entertain just ideas of the divine character, is of great importance :-It has an influence both on our own character and happi
66 All men, (says the prophet) will walk every one in the name of his God.” Every man has some object of worship, that is, something on which he places his best affections, and from which he expects to derive his greatest happiness. The man who makes the world his idol, will be governed by the maxims of the world, and will sacrifice every thing else, however valuable, to his ruling passion, whether the object of that passion be riches, honors, or sensual pleasures. The necessary consequence will be, continual agitation of mind, arising from the uncertainty of all worldly enjoyments and prospects, followed with ultimate disappointment and misery.
But even the worshipper of the true God will be ordinarily very much influenced both in his temper and conduct, by the opinion which he entertains of his Maker. If he views him as an austeré being, he will probably be such himself. His mind will be Jebased by superstition.--He will be gloomy and unhappy. If, on the contrary he considers his God as a kind and affectionate parent, and man as the offspring of his love, whose happiness he designs, and will ultimately secure to him, he will be likely (if a pious man) to cultivate the same kind and benevolent affections.--And in proportion to his confidence in the wisdom and goodness of his government, will enjoy peace, amid all the changes of the present life.
The ancient philosopher, of whom it was demanded, “What is God ?" and who after long consideration, answered, “ he did not know ;" has been generally supposed to give an evidence of wisdom.--But to me it appears rather an evidence of folly and igno
Could this vain philosopher think by searching, to find out God, or to understand his essential nature ? Did he not know that the essence of every thing, and especially the great cause of all things, is infinitely above our comprehension ?-All we can know of any being is from what is exhibited to our senses. St. Paul was therefore perfectly correct when he said, “What may be known of God is manifest ;” and again, “ the invisible things of him are clearly seen," &c. We can know nothing of God but from what appears in the works of creation, the government of Providence, and the dispensation of his grace through Jesus Christ. Deriving our information from these sources, no considerate man will hesitate to acknowledge, that " verily there is a God, and that he is a being of infinite and ever active goodness." By goodness we do not intend any particular attribute of the Deity, but the effect of all the divine attributes united to form one perfect character. Goodness consists in an active disposition to produce, diffuse, and promote happiness. We say that the goodness of God is forever active, because inactive goodness, if it be not a contradiction in terms, forms only a negative, and an imperfect character ;-whereas God is positively good, agreeable to those words of the Psalmist, “ Thou art good, and doest good," &c.
Happiness is the necessary result of goodness. As God is infinitely good, so he maust be infinitely happy. From these united sprang the universe of beings. Infinite and ever active goodness is exerted for producing and diffusing happiness to the utmost possible extent. All creatures from the highest angel to the meanest worm, are, therefore, the offspring and objects of their Maker's love. Man particularly is embraced in the arms of parental affection. All the divine dispensations towards him are designed to promote his happiness, as the happiness of his creatures constitute the glory of the Creator, and through the medium of holiness, or a conformity to the divine character, we are sure of being made happy, to the utmost limits of our capacity. We pause here for some reflections.
Although the goodness of God implies his design of making his creatures happy; it implies, also, that he will do this only through the medium of holiness; we say it with reverence, but with confidence, that God himself cannot make any of his creatures happy