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The work will meet the wishes of those who have not the command of much time for private engagements. And this is the case with many in our day, not only from the avocations of civil life, but even from the calls of religious beneficence. More leisure, indeed, in many instances, may be secured, by earlier rising, and by more skill, and order, and diligence, in the management of all our affairs: yet the period in which we live, is peculiar; and the calls of God to labour in doing good, in so many civil and sacred charities, leave it not our duty, to retire and read by the hour as our forefathers did.
He hopes a book of this nature will be a suitable companion to those whose advanced years and infirmities will not allow of deep, and laborious, and lengthened perusals. What is preferable for them, is something easy, and short, and very Scriptural. It is observable how much more aged believers delight in God's word, than in reading any other works. It is their “ necessary food,” and their “dainty meat,” when their appetite for other things fails. It is their solace, when the evil days are come in which they have no pleasure. It is their support, and their reliance in weakness and weariness; and they use it, not for amusement, but for relief only. Thus we have seen a man walking forth gaily in the morning, carrying his staff under his arm, or twirling it in his hand
but worn with the toils and fatigues of the day : we have seen him returning home in the evening, leaning and pressing it, at every weary step.
The work also will suit the afflicted. Retirement and devotion seem congenial with trouble ; and the sufferer naturally turns to them for succour and comfort. But many of the distresses of life prevent or abridge the resources they render so desirable and needful. What changes have many experienced, by losses and reductions ! They are called from freedom and ease, to the care of thought, the shiftings of contrivance, and the exertion of labour. Where now is the leisure they once enjoyed, for their secluded employments of piety? Their hours of composure are fled, and have only left them hurried and broken moments. They can only sip of the brook in the way.
May the author presume that he may be of some little service to some of his brethren in the ministry: not only by aiding their retirement, as Christians—and they have to save themselves, as well as those that hear them—but by throwing out hints that may lead them to think for the pulpit, and furnishing, occasionally, outlines of discourses, which they can have the merit of filling up?
He cannot also but wish to be useful to another interesting class-the sources of our future families, and the hopes of our churches. Here he is tempted to insert an extract from one of the letters he received, stimulating him to this undertaking. The name of the writer would add weight to his remarks; but it is suppressed, because he is not apprized of the liberty now taken-and his hints were not intended to meet the public eye. This excellent, and learned, and judicious friend thus expresses himself—“I have ventured to put upon paper, the idea I have conceived of a series of daily contemplations or reflections, which, among others, shall be adapted to be put into the hands of intelligent and educated youth. I have a sincere veneration for the intentions of Bogatzky, and other similar authors : but there is such a paucity of thought, such a poverty of expression, such a narrowed range of ideas, such a ringing of changes, incessantly, on a few topics, without gracefulness, or variety; as to render the books exceedingly unattractive to the present rising generation. In these cases, I conceive we are bound to provideas far as we can ; that the food presented to their minds may not disgust, by the manner in which it is served up; and that, when we put important truth in their way, it should be encumbered with as few external obstacles as the case will admit. Good sense, you have lately told us, is good taste : and that, I consider, is both good sense and good taste, in devotion, which would present to every mindwithout the sacrifice of a particle of Divine truth,
such an exterior as may invite, rather than repulse. He who has once been effectually gained over to the love of the Gospel, will retain his affection for it under a very homely form; but he who has yet to be won, will require of us some attention, as to our first addresses, to his understanding and his heart.—My view, then, my dear sir, is, that the selection of texts should involve the whole range of revealed truth; and should present it in that combined form in which the Scripture exhibits it: where doctrine, and duty, and privilege, blend, like the colours that form the pure brightness of light: where religion is never exposed to view, as a bare skeleton; but as endued with all the properties of life, and in actual existence. Pithy sayings; wise experiences; urgent examples ; faithful warnings: should revolve daily beneath the eye; and shew the reader, all that religion has done for others; all it aims to do for him; and all the evils that result from the absence of her beneficence. Testimonies, also, such as that of Chesterfield to the Vanity of the World, which he had so fully tried; dying experiences, such as that of Rochester ; confessions of the value of religion, such as are found in the Letters of Burns ; and passages from eminent and striking lives : might be introduced, in your own way, briefly prefaced or commented upon. Thus the whole might allure, by its variety ; interest, by the reach of thought to which it leads; and profitably keep
before the mind of youth, amidst daily temptations, what religion can do for them, and what the world and other things never can do."
Perhaps, however, if I am not accused of vanity, in making this extract from my correspondent, I shall be chargeable with imprudence, in publishing a recommendation, which, though I admire, I have so much failed in following.
Percy Place ; Dec. 26th, 1828.