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TO THIS EDITION.
In compliance with the suggestions of several friends, the Author has endeavoured to render this Work more suitable to the young by some diminution of its size. To effect this, he has altogether omitted the Introductory Essay on the Divine Origin of Christianity, which had no necessary connexion with the remainder of the volume; and which with some additions it is designed to publish in a distinct form. He has carefully revised the whole of the Guide, and by omitting occasionally a few words, or a few lines, by abbreviating some quotations, and by transferring some passages from the text to the notes in a smaller type, has materially reduced the size and price of the work, without rendering it a mere abridgment of the former edition. The number of chapters is lessened, but this arises not from the omission of any chapter, but from remodelling, and as the writer apprehends improving, some parts of the arrangement, and thus combining two chapters into one. This remark principally applies to the first six chapters of the first edition, which form the first three in this. If the Author may venture to express his own opinion, it is, that this edition, in consequence of its more compressed form, will be found better adapted than the former edition to promote the spiritual benefit of the generality of young readers.
W HILE, my young friend, a few fleeting years will fix
you in that awful world, where the business of life will no longer engage, and its amusements will have no power to charm; while every moment hurries on your final hour, and every beating pulse beats nearer to the last; while endless ages rise in solemn succession before you, and death, at the door, is ready to introduce you to those unbounded and amazing scenes ;-O what is worth a thought except the favour of God, and glory in the heavens! O what is worthy of a moment's care, compared with making your calling and election sure! to this momentous subject I now solicit your attention. The design of another little volume, * which I have addressed to the young, is to urge them to make that religion their choice, which renders its possessors rich in poverty, and happy in affliction ; secure in danger, and triumphant in death. In this the principal design is the benefit of those who have found the path of peace. May I address you as such a happy person ? Are you a partaker of that grace, which comes from God, and leads the soul to him ? Is he your Father and your Friend? Is the blessed Jesus your Saviour? Can you contemplate heaven as your home ? and read your title clear to an everlasting mansion in that happy country, which lies beyond the stormy sea of time? If you can, rejoice in the Lord always. The things unseen will not deceive you. They will not perish, when all that is seen shall fade, and droop, and die. Let
• Persuasives to Early Piety.
PREFATURY ADDRESS. earth, if it will, be all delusion, for heaven is all reality. Let all below be treacherous shadow, for all above is enduring substance. If, my young friend, through grace, those unseen realities are your portion, the cross of Christ your glory, and heaven your home, still you have need to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To be a Christian indeed is widely different from what multitudes suppose. The Christian character, as delineated in the Scriptures, is one of a most peculiar and elevated nature. It rises almost as much above the ideas apparently entertained of it by many professors of the gospel, as it does above those of the careless followers of the world. In times like these, when no prison opens its doors to receive Christian victims as its prey, when no flames call for martyrs to glut the persecutor's rage, it is an easy thing to profess religion : and if to add to that profession a character fair in human sight, and an attention to religious privileges, were sufficient to constitute a Christian, many would deserve that exalted name; but all this, and much more than this, will not constitute a Christian. A Christian in reality, as described by the Spirit of God, is one whom grace makes free, and enriches with a thousand blessings; whom grace prepares for glory, and allures to heaven; whose chief business is with the things beyond the grave. He is a new creature in Christ Jesus ; a child of God; a member of Christ; a stranger on earth; a traveller to glory; a future companion and equal to the angels of light; an heir of heaven; even here one of that family that will all meet at length before the throne of the Most High; and whose love and hatred, hopes and fears, desires and tempers, life and conduct, will bear a likeness to the new and happy relations he sustains. Such is a Christian. -How different is the religion which produces this change in an immortal being, from that cold, formal, uninteresting thing, which the world esteems religion. Is this, my young
PREFATORY ADDRESS. friend, the character which you sustain ? or do you view it as one too highly elevated for your desires and aims? If you do, will you in the last hours of life maintain the same opinion ? When this momentary scene of care and vanity is closing upon you for ever; when it no longer matters what you suffered or what you enjoyed; when the overwhelming scenes of the eternal world are ready to burst upon your soul, will you then think that piety could be too elevated, or the Christian upon earth too nearly like the Christian in heaven? If you do seriously believe that, in your dying moments, you will think it possible to be too pious; if you do indeed believe that, when going to meet your God, you will think it possible to love, or serve, or honour him too much; then slight the advice this little book contains. If you can suppose that when you have plunged into the unseen world, and are fixed in happiness or woe for more myriads of millions of years than there are drops in the ocean; that then you will think you could be too earnest, too prayerful, too diligent, in preparing for an everlasting state; if you can indeed think so, then read no further. But if, instead of this, you feel convinced, that when you die and come to meet your God, you will think all faith weak, all love cold, all diligence carelessness, all labour idleness, and all piety scarcely worth the name, compared with that faith, and love, and zeal, and piety, which the eternal God, the eternal Saviour, an immortal soul, and an endless heaven demand; if you will think so;—and will you not as surely as you are born to die?-then aim at nobler piety than that which satisfies so many! Stay not m the vale beneath, but, as at death you will wish to have done, soar to the heights above. O learn to live as having soon to die, that you may die assured of living with God for ever!
The principal object of this little book, is to assist you in your Christian pilgrimage, though at times it may contain a few lines more suitable to those who are strangers to religion,
PREFATURY ADDRESS than to those who have embraced the gospel; for perhaps some that know not God, may glance over the following pages.
Let the writer be permitted to add, that in drawing up this small volume with the design of assisting youthful piety, he has endeavoured to draw instruction from the Sacred Volume, that only fountain of real wisdom.
That holy book declares, that neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. To his all-important blessing the writer therefore now commends this little volume.
Derby, July 16th, 1823.