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A Familiar Ellustration
PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN DUTY.
BY JACOB ABBOTT,
PRINCIPAL OF THE MOUNT VERNON FEMALE SCHOOL, BOSTON.
EDINBURGH: WAUGH AND INNES ;
W. CURRY, JUN. & CO. DUBLIN; JAMES NISBET & CO. AND
HAVING lately received a copy of this work from America, I have been induced to reprint it here, from the effect it produced on my own mind in perusing it. In writing on any subject, it is obviously of the greatest importance to write in such a way as shall keep alive the attention. This is peculiarly necessary in discussing subjects of a religious nature, where, under the mere repetition of common-place truths, however important in themselves, it is so apt to flag. If I may judge, then, from my own experience, this volume is written with peculiar tact in this respect. I felt it to be truly a fascinating book. From the vividness, variety, and originality of the illustrations introduced, I was almost irresistibly compelled to proceed; and I am persuaded the same feeling will be very generally experienced by those into whose hands it may fall. I may add, that, besides this variety, there is such a profound knowledge of human nature of the secret springs of action in the human breastas is rarely to be met with, but which is most happily applied to illustrate and enforce the important topics here discussed.
In the introduction the author shortly states those leading views of divine truth on which the duties inculcated are supposed to be founded. "As to the theology of the work," says he, p. 7, "it takes everywhere for granted that salvation is to be obtained through repentance for past sin, and trust for forgiveness in the atonement of Jesus Christ." The general tone of the publication quite accords with this
statement, and numerous interesting and beautiful illustrations of the peculiar doctrines of the gospel will be found interspersed through the volume. As a specimen of these, among many others, I may refer to that fine representation of the sympathy of Christ, so happily expressed, p. 37, founded on the supposition of Mr. Howard, the celebrated philanthropist, laying aside the comfortable dress of the citizen for the many-coloured garb of confinement and disgrace, thus actually becoming a prisoner for years, that he might be enabled more perfectly to enter into the feelings of the occupants of a dungeon. But the slightest inspection of the table of contents will at once show the reader from what a rich variety of sources Mr. Abbott's illustrations are derived.
Such was the introductory notice prefixed to the first edition of this work that was printed in Britain. As the best proof of the correctness of the opinion of the character of the work as above stated, since that period two different editions of the Young Christian have been published, but either altered or much abridged. I think, however, I am correct in saying, that this is the only edition in which the entire work of the author is to be found. The present is the seventh edition printed in Scotland; and it is now printed at a cheaper price, in the hope that a book so much fitted to be useful will thus obtain a more extensive circulation.
Edinburgh, September 1835.
I. OBJECT OF THE BOOK.
THIS book is intended to explain and illustrate, in a simple manner, the principles of Christian duty, and is intended, not for children, nor exclusively for the young, but for all who are just commencing a religious life, and who feel desirous of receiving a familiar explanation of the first principles of piety. As it is a fact, however, that such persons are generally among the young, that is, from fifteen to twenty-five years of age, the work has been adapted, in its style, and in the character of its illustrations, to their mental habits.
I have, however, looked more towards childhood than towards maturity, in choosing the form in which I have presented the truth, and the narrative or dialogue by which I have illustrated it. A young man of twenty-five will look back to his boyhood, and understand an illustration drawn from one of its scenes, far more easily than the boy can look forward to future life, and comprehend and appreciate allusions to the pursuits of the man. I trust that the reader of mature mind, into whose hands this book may fall, will excuse this partiality for the young.