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ADVERTISEMENT.

The Lectures contained in these volumes appeared originally in a monthly Miscellany, of which the author was the editor, and which bore the title of the “ Christian Advocate.” When the various topics which precede the precepts of the decalogue had been discussed, the lectures which contained the discussion were extracted from the Miscellany, and republished in a separate volume. The remainder have never been separately republished, till the issuing of the whole series, at the present time. The preface of the volume heretofore given to the public, has been permitted to stand as it was first printed; because it correctly exhibits the views of the author, in the present as well as in the former publication, explains the nature, or character of the lectures, and points out the manner in which, it is believed, the lectures may be read with the best prospect of promoting the edification of the reader.

PREFACE TO THE FIRST VOLUME,

WHEN PUBLISHED SEPARATELY.

The following Lectures were originally delivered to the youth of the author's pastoral charge. They are to be considered as the concluding part of a course of religious instruction, commencing with children at the dawn of intellect: and the nature and design of the Lectures may perhaps best be explained, by briefly stating the process of which they were the termination.

While memory remains, the interesting scenes will never be obliterated from the author's mind, in which he had before him the children of his congregationfrom the age of three or four years, to that of ten or twelve. They were counselled, and admonished, and prayed with, in language the most simple, plain, and tender, that could be devised; and never did the speaker find the difficulty so great, in addressing any other audience, or in leading any other devotions, as in performing these duties for the lambs of his flock; in adapting his thoughts and his language to their capacities, and becoming their mouth to God. They were all taught some little forms of devotion, suited to their several ages. Some of the youngest, learned the Mother's Catechism; but, eventually, they all committed to memory that on which the Lectures composing the present volume are founded. The children were divided into classes, according to the progress they had made; from those who had learned but four or five answers of the Catechism, to those who could accurately repeat the whole. Of this last description of learners, a Bible class was formed,* which met weekly in the pastor's study. The exercises of this class were introduced by an examination on the Catechism, which they were required to repeat throughout; to this succeeded the recitation of their Bible lesson, accompanied by explanations from the pastor, and the answering of such questions as any member of the class was disposed to propose to him. A short address and a prayer closed the whole. The Catechumens thus instructed, soon, of course,

* This was about eight-and-thirty years ago.

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reached the years of maturity, finished their education, which, in many instances, was of a very liberal kind, and were preparing to enter on business for themselves, and to become heads of families. It then occurred to the author, that he might render an additional service to these youth, as important, probably, as any he had previously performed. This service consisted in addressing to them the Lectures which are now presented to the public. They were delivered to young persons, male and female, who had already been instructed in religion, and the most of whom had been considerably improved by reading and study. They were therefore no longer children. They rather formed an audience more than ordinarily capable of fully understanding the Lectures which compose the present volume. The audience, indeed, soon became pretty large and promiscuous; for the Lectures were delivered in a church, the doors of which were freely opened to all, and many, of various ages and characters, resorted to it; some through curiosity, and some from a real and deep interest which they took in the subjects discussed. Still, the Lectures were addressed exclusively to the youth, who occupied seats by themselves, immediately before the speaker; and he did not scruple to use a freedom and tenderness of language; to assume, occasionally, the tone of parental authority; to refer, frequently, to the years, the prospects, the passions, and the temptations of those who are in the morning of life; to mingle reflections and remarks with his reasoning; to make numerous appeals to the heart and conscience; and to conclude his Lectures with more of practical application, than would have been proper, in doctrinal discussions intended for persons of a different description.

The foregoing statement will serve to inform the reader why the lectures in this volume are such as he will find them. They are not compositions originally intended for the press, but discourses prepared to be spoken to a collection of youth, peculiarly dear to the speaker; for whose spiritual instruction and direction he was responsible; and for whose eternal wellbeing he was deeply solicitous. The whole style and manner of the lectures took their complexion from

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