« PreviousContinue »
THE Compiler of these elements of the English language, hopes it will not be deemed inconsistent with the nature and design of his work, to make a short address to the young persons engaged in the study of it, respecting their future walks in the paths of Literature, and the chief purpose to which they should apply their acquisitions.
In forming this Grammar, and the volume of Illustrations connected with it. the author was influenced by a desire to facilitate your progress in learning, and, at the same time, to impress on your minds principles of piety and virtue. He wished also to assist, in some degree, the labours of those who are cultivating your understandings, and providing for you a fund of rational and useful employment; an employment calculated to exclude those frivolous pursuits, and that love of ease and sensual" pleasure, which enfeeble and corrupt the minds of many inconsiderate youth, and render them useless to society.
Without your own best exertions, the concern of others for your welfare, will be of little avail: with them, you may fairly promise yourselves success. The writer of this address, therefore, recommends to you, an earnest co-operation with the endeavours of your friends to promote your improvement and happiness. This co-operation, whilst it secures your own progress, will afford you the beart-felt satisfaction, of
knowing that you are cherishing the hopes, and aug. menting the pleasures, of those with whom you are connected by the most endearing ties. He recommends to you also, serious and elevated views of the studies in which you may be engaged. Whatever may be your attainments, never allow yourselves to rest satisfied with mere literary acquisitions, ror with a selfish or contracted application of them. When they advance only the interests of this stage of being, and look not beyond the present transient scene, their influence is circumscribed within a very narrow sphere. The great business of this life is to prepare, and qualify us, for the enjoyment of a better, by cultivating a pure and humble state of mind, and cherishing habits of piety towards God, and benevolence to men. Every thing that promotes or retards this important work, is of great moment to you, and claims your first and most serious attention.
If, then, the cultivation of letters, and an advancement in knowledge, are found to strengthen and enlarge your minds, to purify and exalt your pleasures, and to dispose you to pious' and virtuous sentiments and conduct, they produce excellent effects; which, with your best endeavours to improve them, and the Divine blessing superadded, will not fail to render you, not only wise and good yourselves, but also the happy instruments of diffusing wisdom, religion, and goodness around you. Thus improved, your acquisitions become handmaids to virtue; and they may eventually serve to increase the rewards, which the Supreme Being has promised to faithful and well-directed exer. tions, for the promotion of truth and goodness amongo But if you counteract the hopes of ycur fmends, and the tendency of these attainments; if you grow vain of your real or imaginary distinctions, and regard with contempt, the virtuous, unlettered nind; if you suffer yourselves to be absorbed in over-curious or trifling speculations; if your heart and principles be debased and poisoned, by the influence of corupting and pernicious books, for which no elegance of composition can make amends ; if you spend so much of your time in literary engagements, as to make them interfere with higher occupations, and lead you to forget, that pious and benevolent action is the great end of your being: if such be the unhappy misapplication of your acquisitions and advantages-instead of becoming a blessing to you, they will prove the occasion of greater condemnation ; and, in the hour of serious thought, they may excite the painful reflections,--that it would have been better for you, to have remained illiterate and unaspiring; to have been confined to the humblest walks of life; and to have been even hewers of wood and drawers of water all your days. tration to you, as a striking and beautiful portrait of virtue : with his most cordial wishes, that your hearts and lives may correspond to it; and that your happiness here, may be an earnest of happiness hereafter.
Contemplating the dangers to which you are exposed, the sorrows and dishonour which accompany talents misapplied, and a course of indolence and folly, 'may you exert your utmost endeavours to avoid them! Seriously reflecting on the great end for which you were brought into existence; on the bright and encouraging examples of many excellent young persons; and on the mournful deviations of others, who once were promising; may you be so wise as to choose and follow that path, which leads to honour, usefulness, and true enjoyment! This is the morning of your
life, in which pursuit is ardent, and obstacles readily give way to vigour and perseverance. Embrace this favourable season ; deyote yourselves to the acquisition of knowledge and virtue; and humbly pray to God that he may bless your labours. Often reflect of the advantages you possess, and on the source from whence they are all derived. A lively sense of the privileges and blessings, by which you have been distinguished, will induce you to render to your heavenly Father, the just returns of gratitude and love: and these fruits of early goodness will be regarded by him as acceptable offerings, and secure to you his favour and protection.
Whatever difficulties and discouragements may be found in resisting the allurements of vice, you may be humbly confident, that Divine assistance will be afforded to all your good and pious resolutions; and that every virtuous effort will have a correspondent reward. You may rest assured too, that all the advantages arising from vicijus indulgences, are light and contemptible, as well as exceedingly transient, compared with the substantial enjoyments, the present pleasures, and the future hopes, which result from piety and virtue. The Holy Scriptures assure us, that “ The ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and that all her paths are peace :” “ that religion has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come:" and that the truly good man, whatever may be the condition allotted to him by Divine Providence, " in all things gives thanks, and rejoices even in tribulation.”—Some of these sentiments have been finally illustrated by a celebrated poet. The author of this address presents the illus
" Know then this truth, fenough for map to know,)
Virtue alone is happiness below: