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The principal design of the present volume, in both its divisions, * is to afford some aid in the work of self-education, to those young Ministers who have had no direct instruction, (except as they might gather it from books,) as to how they might best prepare themselves for the efficient discharge of the important duties which devolve upon them. The reader will soon discover that no attempt is made to lay down a formal plan of study, but only to suggest such objects and principles as may guide him in constructing one for himself,—one

that shall be suited to his own particular circumstances. Even those, therefore, who have been favoured with courses of Theological, Philosophical, and Homiletic instruction, may not find these pages altogether unserviceable, as they propose no pursuits inconsistent with the methods employed to introduce them to the study of “divine philosophy;" but, on the contrary, seek to strengthen the principles which have been already implanted, and more fully to develop them through the agency of a wisely-arranged and diligentlypractised scheme of perpetual self-education.

The Sketches and Skeletons will be of no service to those who, in preaching, make little use of any faculty but their memory. There are persons, it is to be feared, whose chief, though unavowed, object is to obtain credit for the delivery of good sermons. Perhaps they are scarcely aware of the extent to which they are thus influenced. But influenced they are; and no wonder that so unworthy motives should lead to as unworthy practices. They seek in the works of • The first Edition was published in one volume.

others that which they are not able to produce themselves. But the case here contemplated is that of persons who have not much leisure; and who, yet, are willing to use the thoughts of another person, not to save themselves from the trouble of thinking, but to quicken their own mind into activity, and to assist in giving it a right direction. Such persons will read over the outline they have selected, till they have brought their own thoughts on the subject into the same train. They will cast the leaven into the measure of meal, that the whole may be leavened by it.

It is hoped that the portion of the volume devoted to « Sketches and Skeletons” may be serviceable to the private Christian in the work of religious meditation. The “Sketches” (fifty-two in number) may likewise be used as “short sermons," by such families as occasionally practise the reading of sermons in connection with their Sundayevening family devotions.

The hints and suggestions contained in the Dialogue: ara the result of the experience of more that a quarter of a century. The “Sketches and Skeletons” have been taken (on no particular principle of selection) from among the papers which, during that period, have been accumulating: they will therefore be found, it is hoped, practically useful by those who choose to employ them.

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