« PreviousContinue »
THE object of this little selection of passages from Scripture is to place before young people a sketch of the Christian character, as a sort of model to form their own characters upon; at a time of life when they are apt to think they have nothing to do but to attend to their lessons and their amusements. It appears to the Author that the moral character is generally formed too late in life; and that it is the result of chance rather than system, and formed without any model, except that of unconnected and desultory instruction. Whilst we are in a state of pupilage we are apt to think that we have nothing to do in the business of our education but to learn our appointed tasks : and when our pupilage has ended, we fancy that our education has ended too; and that we have nothing to do but to attend to our pleasures or our worldly interests. So that the character is left to form itself from chance impressions and desultory observation, without any defined model, or any precise aim, or any system of principles established in the mind. Our notions of virtue are vague, general, and undefined : and the moral instruction diffused through the different subjects of our studies is so interwoven with other things, that it wants the efficiency of a condensed operation. The Author has therefore thought, that by embodying the Chris
tian character in a little collection of Scriptural extracts, embracing its principal details, he might present to the minds of young persons a model to form their characters upon, from the occasions which the early scenes of life present to them ; and a standard to which they might refer their daily actions for the approval or disapprobation of their own consciences. The habit of making such a daily reference would establish the principles firmly in the mind : and the frequency of their application in the details of common life would, with the Divine blessing, produce by degrees an established character of virtue. this habit was begun, and continued through the whole state of pupilage, our education and moral character would grow up together: and by the
time the former was finished, the latter would have acquired such a consistency, as would enable us to enter upon the functions of manhood with a manly competency.
In making this selection, the Author has attempted to bring into view the principal topics of moral instruction in as concise a form as possible ; avoiding the two extremes of undefined generalities and a burdensome prolixity of details. He considers the proposed model as entirely comprised in the Scriptural extracts, which, in conformity with the practice of the Jews enjoined by Divine authority, he would recommend to be learnt perfectly by heart ; and the observations contained in the succeeding parts as practical and prudential, rather than elementary and fundamental. At the