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and we shall confess, that He is worthy of our highest attachment and regard."
Looking at the generality of schools to which those who are designed for trade are sent, and at which they mostly continue until fourteen years of age, there seems to be a great waste of time, in employing six or seven years, in acquiring little more than the arts of writing and arithmetic, and the knowledge of English grammar.
Considering how many other branches of education, girls acquire in the same time, much useful instruction might certainly be added to the plan of most day schools for boys, were the teachers suitably encouraged. It is to be feared that the Old, and New Testaments, have been for some years almost totally banished from many schools. Great as the objection has been, to their becoming the ordinary means of first instruction in the art of reading, no good reason can be assigned for their being entirely discarded; but, on the contrary, there is much occasion for a judicious introduction of them, to be publicly read; yet not by children who have attained to little capacity of understanding the subjects, as by such, the sense must be grievously marred.
Some hours in every week, should be appropriated, in day schools, to acquiring the knowledge of the Scriptures, by their being audibly read
by one of the best readers of the highest class; and all other operations entirely suspended, to admit of the whole school giving attention. This mode, instead of being considered a task, would prove an agreeable relaxation; and then the masters might direct such other reading as was intended to illustrate the subjects on which the Scriptures had treated.
For young persons, this may be called learning their exercise; for the Scriptures undoubtedly furnish weapons, by which the attacks of sceptics and infidels, upon some of the most remarkable events of sacred history, may be successfully combated by those who have been trained to the use of these arms; while to those who have not acquired some tactical skill, there may be danger of their own artillery being turned against them. It is the more desirable that boys who are intended for trade, may be thus instructed in day schools; because it is not probable, that for many years afterwards, they may have a favourable opportunity of acquiring this kind of knowledge.
The trust reposed in those who keep boarding schools, is of greater importance; they have undertaken much of the charge of forming the minds of the young persons committed to their care. To promote this by reading, it will not
be sufficient that their pupils have free access to books, however judiciously selected; though this may be of material advantage to such of them as are studiously inclined; but it will be necessary to institute public readings, that none may miss of the benefit of religious, as well as moral instruction.
"The excellence of Christianity, and the important end which it proposes, should induce every one to be fully acquainted with Divine truths, by taking a distinct view of its nature and evidences. He will then avoid the imputation of being a Christian, merely in compliance with the prepossession of his parents, or the custom of his native country; he will become one in consequence of a rational preference, and a proper estimation. His conviction of its truth will hereby become solid, and clear; he will perceive the strength of its foundation, and behold the extent of its advantages.
"He will be persuaded that it bears the character and stamp of Divinity; and consequently has every claim to the reception of mankind." For want of this knowledge, there is reason to fear many were carried away by
x Elements of General Knowledge.
the torrent of infidelity, which not long ago, remarkably threatened to deluge the whole land.
It has been justly remarked, that "those who know Christianity chiefly in the difficulties which it contains, and in the impossibilities which are falsely imputed to it; when they fall into the company of infidels, are soon shaken in mind by frivolous objections, and profane cavils; which, had they been bottomed in reason and argument, would have passed by them as the idle wind, and scarcely have seemed worthy of serious notice."
To offer some means of remedying this defect, is the object of the following sketch, which, however imperfect, will furnish variety of information, to those who have not an opportunity of consulting elaborate and voluminous works.
x Wilberforce's Practical View.
IT has been stated in the Address to the Reader, that the attention which, for some years, has been paid to the education of the lowest classes of the community, has greatly increased the number of persons who can read the Scriptures. On this account, the elucidation of various parts of the sacred writings, which have been the scoff and derision of infidels, has become an object of increasing importance; that succeeding generations may not be imposed upon by any ignis fatuus, like that, which, about sixteen years ago, remarkably bewildered and misled abundance of people in England.
To contribute some means of preventing the recurrence of so great an evil, the following compilation is adapted to the use of families, and schools. It contains a historical and biographical arrangement, divided into chapters; comprises numerous extracts from publications of eminence, both ancient and modern, and' is interspersed with a variety of anecdotes and reflections, to render it interesting to young persons of both sexes.