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Be in earnest.

your happiness, determine, deliberately and understandingly, whether you will adopt it or not. Do not leave it to be decided by chance, or by your own accidental feelings of energy or of indolence, what course you will take in reference to a subject so momentous as the question of religious duty. I fear, however, that notwithstanding all that I can say, very many, even among the most thoughtful of my readers, will close this book without deriving from it any permanent good, either in their conduct or their hearts. It will have only produced a few good intentions, which will never be carried into effect, or arouse them to momentary effort, which will soon yield again to indolence and languor.

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There is no impression that I more strongly desire to produce in these few remaining pages, than that you should be in earnest, in deep and persevering earnest, in your efforts after holiness and salvation. If you are interested enough in religion to give up the pleasures of sin, you lose all enjoyment unless you grasp the happiness of piety. There are, at the present day, great numbers in whose hearts religious principle has taken so strong a hold as to awaken conscience and to destroy their peace, if they continue to sin; but they do not give themselves up with all their hearts to the service of the Savior. They feel, consequently, that they have lost the world; they can not be satisfied with its pleasures, and they are unhappy, and feel that they are out of place when in the company of its votaries. But though they have thrown themselves out of one home, they do not, in earnest, provide themselves with another. They do not give all the heart to God. No life is more delightful than one spent in intimate communion with our Father above, and in earnest and devoted efforts to please him by promoting human happiness; and none is perhaps more unhappy, and prepares more effectually for a melancholy dying hour, than to spend our days with the path of duty plain before us, and conscience

A great proportion of life gone.

urging us to walk in it, while we hang back, and walk with a slow and hesitating step, and look away wistfully at the fruits which we dare not taste. Do not take such a course as this. When you abandon the world, abandon it entirely; and when you choose God and religion for your portion, do it with all your heart. Outrun conscience in the path of duty, instead of waiting to have your lagging steps quickened by

her scourge.

Once more. Much less of life is left to you than you generally suppose. Perhaps the general age of the readers of this book will be between fifteen and twenty, and fifteen or twenty years is probably, upon an average, half of life. I call you young, because you are young in reference to the active business of this world. You have just reached the full development of your powers, and have consequently but just begun the actual work of life. The long years that are past have been spent in preparation. Hence you are called young-you are said to be just beginning life, understanding, by life, the pursuits and the business of maturity. But life, if you understand by it the season of preparation for eternity, is more than half gone;-life, so far as it presents opportunities and facilities for penitence and pardon-so far as it bears on the formation of character, and is to be considered as a period of probation-is unquestionably more than half gone to those who are between fifteen and twenty. In a vast number of cases, it is more than half gone, even in duration, at that time; and if we consider the thousand influences which crowd around the years of childhood and youth, winning to piety, and making a surrender to Jehovah easy and pleasant then, and on the other hand look forward beyond the years of maturity, and see these influences losing all their power, and the heart becoming harder and harder under the deadening effects of continuance in sin, we shall not doubt a moment that the years of immaturity make a far

Closing address to parents.

more important part of our time of probation than all those that follow.

You do right, then, when you are thinking of your business or your profession, to consider life as but begun; but when you look upon the great work of preparation for another world, you might more properly consider it as nearly ended. Almost all moral changes of character are usually effected before the period at which you have arrived, and soon all that will probably remain to you on earth will be to exemplify, for a few years, the character which in early life you formed. If, therefore, you would do any thing in your own heart for the cause of truth and duty, you must do it in earnest, and must do it now.

I have intended this book chiefly for the young, but I can not close it without a word at parting to those of my readers who have passed the period of youth. If the work shall at all answer the purpose for which it is intended, it will, in some instances at least, be read by the mature; and I may perhaps, without impropriety, address a few words. respectfully to them.

You are probably parents; your children have been reading this book, and you have perhaps taken it up because you are interested in whatever interests them. You feel also a very strong desire to promote their piety, and this desire leads you to wish to hear, yourselves, whatever on this subject is addressed to them. I have several times in the course of this work intimated, that the principles which it is designed to illustrate and explain, are equally applicable to the young and the old. It has been adapted, in its style and manner only, to the former class; and I have hoped, as I have penned its pages, that a father might sometimes himself be affected by truths which he was reading during a winter evening to his assembled family; or that a mother might take up the

Their co-operation.

Ways in which they may co-operate.

book purchased for her children, and be led herself to the Savior by a chapter which was mainly written for the purpose of winning them. I do not intend, however, to press here again your own personal duties. I have another object

in view.

That object is to ask you to co-operate fully and cordially in this, and in all similar efforts to promote the welfare of your children. If you have accompanied them through this volume, you will know what parts of it are peculiarly adapted to their condition and wants. These parts you can do much to impress upon their minds by your explanations, and by encouraging them to make the efforts which are required. The interest which a father or a mother takes in such a book, is a pretty sure criterion-nay, it is almost the very regulator, of that felt by the child.

If you notice any thing in the volume which you think erroneous, or calculated to lead to error; or if there is any fault which your child discovers and brings to you, with a criticism which you feel to be just, do not deny or attempt to conceal the fault because it occurs in a book whose gen

eral object and aim you approve. Separate the minute imperfections from the general object and design of the whole; and while you freely admit a condemnation of the one, show that it does not affect the character of the other, and thus remove every obstacle which would impede what is the great design of the book, to press the power of religious obligation in its most plain and simple form.

On the other hand, do not magnify the faults which you may find, or think you find, or turn off the attention of your children from the serious questions of duty which the book is intended to bring before the conscience and the heart, to a cold and speculative discussion of the style, or the logic, or the phraseology of the author. A religious book is in some degree entitled to the privilege of a religious speaker.

Religious example of parents.

Parents easily can, on their walk home from church, obliterate all serious impressions from the minds of their children, by conversation which shows that they are looking only at the literary aspects of the performance to which they have listened. In the same manner they can destroy the influence of a book, by turning away attention from the questions of duty which it brings up, to an inquiry into the logic of an argument, or a comment upon the dullness or the interest of a story.

There is one thing more which I may perhaps without impropriety say. Your religious influence over your children will depend far more on your example, than upon your efforts to procure for them good religious instruction. They look to you for an exemplification of piety, and if they do not see this, you can not expect that they will yield themselves to its principles on your recommendation. Your chil dren, too, must see piety exemplified in a way which they can appreciate and understand. To make vigorous efforts for the support of the Gospel-to contribute generously for the various benevolent objects of the day-and even to cultivate in your hours of secret devotion the most heartfelt and abasing penitence for sin, will not alone be enough to recommend piety effectually to your children. They look at other aspects of your conduct and character. They observe the tone of kindness or of harshness with which you speak-the tranquillity or the irritation with which you bear the little trials and disappointments of life-your patience in suffering, and your calmness in danger. They watch to observe how faithfully you perform the ordinary duties of your station. They look with eager interest into your countenance, to see with what spirit you receive an injury, or rebuke what is wrong.

By making faithful and constant efforts to live like Christians yourselves, and to exhibit to your children those effects

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