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Tas small volume which is now offered to the public attention, is meant to be the first of a series, intended for the young. The desire of the author, in entering upon this undertaking, is to bring together, in a simple and connected form, the leading truths of natural and revealed religion, with an outline of Christian evidence, taken in connexion with the leading doctrines of the Christian faith.
With such an outline of sacred truth, he is desirous of combining an inquiry into the laws and principles of investigation respecting the great questions of religious belief;—or, in other words, the philosophy of that process of thought, and that state of mental discipline, which are peculiarly adapted to this highest of all inquiries. For, in this respect it is to be kept
in mind, that, in what may be termed the philosophy of religious culture, there is a peculiarity which is entirely its own. In other departments of knowledge we have to deal with the understanding alone, and have to investigate those laws of thought, and those principles of inquiry, by which it may be conducted to the attainment of truth. But, in the science of sacred things, we require to trace a farther process of the mind, by which truths that have been received by the understanding exert a power over the emotions of the heart, and, through these, on the whole character and conduct in life.
In the religious culture of the young, it is of the utmost importance, that these two processes of the mind should be viewed together, and in their connexion with each other. The memory is first to be stored with the great principles of sacred truth, and the understanding disciplined to a comprehension of its import, and the evidence on which it is to be received. But, when these points have been accomplished in the most satisfactory manner, we have only laid the foundation. The important object which remains, is that discipline of the mind itself, respecting the truths so received, by which they may be placed in circumstances for producing their proper influence in the formation of the character, and the sound culture of the moral feelings of the heart,
The susceptible minds of the young are peculiarly favourable for this high design ;-and perhaps the most promising circumstances in which human efforts are likely to avail in promoting it, are to be found in the privacy and the tenderness of parental instruction. The parent who devotes himself with suitable fidelity to this high duty, will find in it its own reward. New views of divine truth will open on his own mind, as he thus seeks to impress it upon those who are his highest earthly care; and he will find it an occupation calculated to afford the greatest of all sources of interest to the most refined and most cultivated mind. For, what study in mental science can be co
compared with that which is presented to the Christian parent, while he watches the infant mind, as it expands with wonder under its impressions of the Divine character, or melts into deep emotion at the history of Jesus. All other acquirements refer to the concerns of time, —this points to eternity.
Should the work on which the author has thus en-tered be found useful as a manual for this great purpose, he will esteem it the highest distinction that can be conferred upon him. By the favour of the public, his former writings, on a variety of subjects, have attained a most extensive circulation, and have received the most gratifying marks of approval. The ambition that now remains to him, is to have his name associat
ed with those solemn and sacred hours, when the Christian parent calls around him the children of his heart, and feeling all the uncertainty of the life which is passing over them, seeks to raise their minds to a life that is never to end.
An inspired writer, placing before us, in prophetic vision, events which are to come, reveals a scene, the bare recital of which is calculated to fix the most frivolous mind in deep and solemn attention.
“ And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up
the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered