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vile, but common phrases, sometimes to be found in good authors; like shooting at rovers, having a month's mind, currying favour, dancing attendance, and many others.
So much for the canons of verbal criticism, which properly succeed the characters of good use, proposed in the preceding chapter, for the detection of the most flagrant errors in the choice, the construction, and the application of words. The first four of these canons are intended to suggest the principles by which our choice ought to be directed, in cases wherein use itself is wavering, and the last four, to point out those farther improvements, which the critical art, without exceeding her legal powers, may assist in producing. There are, indeed, writers who seem disposed to extend her authority much further. But we ought always to remember, that as the principal mode of improving a language, which she is empowered to employ, is by condemning and exploding, there is considerable danger, lest she carry her improvements this way too far. Our mother-tongue, by being too much impaired, may be impoverished ; and so more injured in copiousness and nerves, than all our refinements will ever be able to compensate. For this reason there ought, in support of every sentence of proscription, to be an evident plea from the principles of perspicuity, elegance, or harmony.
TO YOUNG STUDENTS."
THE Compiler of these elements of the English language, takes the liberty of presenting to you a short address. He presumes it will be found to comport entirely with the nature and design of his work ; and he hopes it will not be unacceptable to you. It respects your future walks in the paths of literature; the chief purpose to which you should apply your acquisitions; and the true sources of your present and future happiness.
In forming this Grammar, and the volume of Mustrations 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 heart-felt satisfaction of knowing that you are cherishing the hopes, and augmenting 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, nor 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.
* To those who are engaged in the study of this Grammar.
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 welldirected exertions, for the promotion of truth and goodness amongst men.
But if you counteract the hopes of your friends, and the tendency of these attainments; if you grow vain of your real or imaginary distinctions, and regard with contempt, the virtuous, unlettered mind; 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 corrupting 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.
Whilst you contemplate 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; devote yourselves to the acquisition of knowledge and virtue; and humbly pray to God that he may bless your labours. Often reflect on 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 piety will be regarded by him as acceptable offerings, and secure to you his favour and protection
Trusting in the goodness of the Almighty, may you never suffer your minds to be too much depressed with the view of your imperfections. Though our frailties and depravity may be very great, and deeply affecting, yet true repentance towards God; faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and the gracious aid of the Holy Spirit; are abundantly sufficient to strengthen and purify our hearts, and to render us acceptable to the Father of mercies. And we have the comfortable promise, that He will favourably regard the prayers of his children. Whatever therefore may be your difficulties and discouragements, 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.
In your pursuits of pleasure and amusement, it will be happy for you to select those only which are innocent and allowable, and which leave behind them no sorrowful reflections. You may rest assured, that how flattering soever the vain enjoyments of the world may, for a time, appear, they will finally disappoint the expectations of their votaries; that all the advantages arising from vicious 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