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CORRECT ideas of God, and of ourselves, are the beginnings of all moral improvement. Such ideas are important, in every department of human inquiry; but more especially so, on a subject where error must affect injuriously, if not fatally, the interests of the soul, and of eternity. These are the interests to which all others should be made the tributaries and servants; and, in endeavouring to guide the minds of those whose character may be supposed to be unformed, great care has been taken to impress upon them a due sense of the value of their spiritual interests, and to advance nothing liable to encourage or permit error, through any deficiency of instruction therein, or that might seem to teach any doctrine, at variance with the approved standards of Christian belief.
The materials of this volume have been gathered from not less than forty authors, acknowledged as possessing the highest distinction for piety and learning. The extracts which have been made generally combine great elegance of language, with pious and practical sentiment. It has been intended,
that, so far as they go, they should serve to establish a correct judgment and taste in composition, and a pure faith and practice in religion. Many of them have been selected from old writers, and it is believed that not a little good will be done, if they should cause the reader to seek a more familiar acquaintance with works which contain the wisdom of the past, and to regard them as the greater lights, in which the later, and—not of consequence, but of fault—the lesser, shine.