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Education is also much improved and extended. Under these circumstances, ignorance is a deep reproach; and a young person who can suffer days and weeks to pass, without taking up a book, is a pitiable spectacle of doltish inanity. Cultivate, then, my children, a taste for reading ; and in order to this, there must be a thirst after information. “Knowledge," says Lord Bacon,
power;" and if it were not power, it is pleasure. It gives us weight of character, and procures for us respect. It enables us to form an opinion with correctness, to state it with clearness, to offer it with confidence, and to enforce it with argument. It enlarges the sphere of our usefulness, by raising the degree of our influence. Other things being equal, that man will be the most useful, who has the greatest measure of information. Here I shall offer some directions for your guidance in the selection of books. Books may be divided into two classes.
First, such as relate to religion.
Of these, the BIBLE of course occupies the supreme place, an elevation exclusively its
It is, as its title signifies, THE BOOK ;-the standard of all right sentiments ; the judge of all other works. Sir William Jones, that prodigy of learning, wrote on the fly-leaf of his bible these remarks: “I have carefully and regularly perused these holy scriptures, and am of opinion, that the volume, independently of its divine origin, contains more sublimity, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains of eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, in whatever language they may have been written." Salmasius, the learned antagonist of Milton, said on his death-bed, “that were he to begin life again, he would 'spend much of his time in reading David's psalms and Paul's epistles.” Whatever books you ueglect, neglect not the Bible. Whatever other books you read, read this. Let not a day pass without perusing some portion of holy writ. Read it devoutly; not from curiosity, nor with a view to controversy; but to be made wise unto salvation. Read it with much prayer. Read it with a determination to follow its guidance where3oever it leads.*
In addition to the bible, there are many uninspired religious books which I recommend. In the class of Biography, Hunter's Scripture Characters is a most fascinating production. Brook's Lives of the Puritans, Gilpin's Lives of the Reformers, Cox's Life of Melancthon, are all useful and interesting. Mr. Williams's Life and Diary will show you how the trades, man may be united with the Christian, and how a man may be busy for both worlds, The Life of Pearce, by Fuller, is an excellent work. Martyn's Memoirs, is the most interesting piece of Biography published in modern times. "Durant's life and Remains of his Son are singularly instructive.
Should you wish to read on Doctrinal Theology, I strongly recommend Dwight's system. On the evidences of Christianity, Bishop Wat-, son's Apology, in reply to Paine : likewise, Bogue's Essay, Chalmers' Historical Evidences, the masterly work of Paley, and Campbell on
I recommend to the young a diligent and serious perusal of Bickersteth's Help to the Reading of the Scriptures; a very valuable treatise.
Miracles, a work which meets the subtleties of Hume.
On Church History, I recommend Burnet's History of the Reformation ; Campbell, for his admirable description of the rise, progress, and spirit of popery ; Mosheim, for his account of the errors and corruptions of the church; and Milner, for his anxiety to trace true piety, wherever it is to be found, amidst the prevailing ignorance and vice of the times. He is however, too credulous, and not so impartial in his treatment of the questions which bear on dissent, as the dignity and candour of an historian require. Jones's History of the Waldenses is a very interesting work.
Secondly, the other division of books includes all the varied classes, which relate to the affairs of this life.
Enjoying, as Britons, the advantages of a political constitution, which is the work of ages, and the admiration of the world, you should acquaint yourselves with its theory, and for this purpose may read Custance's short work, De Lolme's more elaborate and philosophical production, and the first volume of Blackstone's Commentaries, together with a more modern work of Lord John Russel's.
Young men should acquaint themselves with the principles of trade and commerce, and of course should be acquainted with Adam Smith's 66 Wealth of Nations.”
History is a class of reading in which you ought to be at home; and as Britons, it would be to your deep disgrace to be ignorant of the details of your own country. In this department you ought not to be satisfied with mere
facts, and names, and dates, but should read with an eye which discriminates and marks the changes which events introduce into the manners, laws, liberties, and governments of nations. History is something more than a mere chronicle of facts; and our knowledge of its details should be such as enables us to trace the progress of society, and the march of improvement. The history of Goldsmith should prepare you for the larger and popular work of Hume. The beautiful simplicity of Hume's composition, together with his philosophical mode of analyzing character, and tracing events, renders his work peculiarly fascinating: but unhappily, Hume was a confirmed infidel, and must be read with a mind ever upon its guard against the poison which he has infused into his narrative; and his views on the great question of civil liberty were not the most liberal. When you read this author, remember that although you are drinking a pleasant draught from a goblet of burnished gold, there is poison in the cup : happily, the deleterious infusion floats upon the surface, and may be therefore easily detected. An English history, in which there shall be the most sacred regard to the principles of pure morality, evangelical religion, and rational liberty, is still a desideratum in the literature of our country.*
* Some interesting and 'valuable books, entitled “Studies in His. tory," have been published by the Rev. S. Morrel, theological tutor in the dissenting academy at Wymondley. His moral reflections are rather too long, and too much detached from the history. Hume bas so incorporated his infidelity with his history, that it is impossible to read the one without the other. In this way a moral and religious history should be written. To use a simile borrowed from weaving, the religion and the narrative should, like the warp and the woof, be wrought into each other. Where they are entirely detached, young people find the thread of the history too much broken, and leave the comment to follow the text. Mr. Lingard, a Roman Catholic author, is now publishing a very well written history of England, in which his views and feelings, as a catholic, are, however, sufficiently prominent.
The ancient history of Rollin, eloquent, pure, and moral, should be read by every young person. Goldsmith's Greece should prepare for the 'masterly work of Mitford ; and his Rome, for the gorgeous production of Gibbon. Unhappily, the same remark will apply to this latter writer, as to his contemporary Hume; he was an infidel, though in a more covert way than the Scotch historian. If you have leisure and inclination to pursue Roman history, Crevier, who was a pupil of Rollin, has supplied the means, in his "Lives of the Emperors;" and Hooke also, in his Roman History, which is carried down to the death of Octavius. Robertson's historical works are eminently entitled to attention, especially his - Charles the Fifth," the introductory volume of which contains a view of the progress of society in Europe, from the subversion of the Roman empire to the beginning of the sixteenth century; and also presents a masterly survey of the gradations by which the social institutions of antiquity have passed through the barbarism of the dark ages, into all that characterizes the state of modern Europe. Bishop Burnet's History of his own Times, ought to be perused as the work of an author who wrote the narrative of events which he witnessed, whose veracity can be trusted, if not his discrimination.
In the department of English composition, Addison and Johnson, though moral writers, in the usual acceptation of the term, are not always correct in their principles, if indeed the