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SHORT ESSAYS, DISCOURSES, MEDITATIONS, AND

PRAYERS.

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LONDON:
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY ;

Instituted 1799.
DEPOSITORY, 56, PATERNOSTER ROW, AND 65, ST. PAUL'S

CHURCHYARD; AND SOLD BY THE BOOKSELLERS.

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PREFACE.

“ OF making many books,” according to the adage of Solomon, " there is no end.” Travellers, however, cannot be burdened with many; and those who leave these shores for the purpose of settling in distant lands, if provided with them, are likely to experience so much of difficulty the conveyance of them from place to place as to render them of little service. To such it was conceived that a portable volume, containing in. formation in a condensed form, on topics of great importance, which are treated of at length in a variety of publications, and especially on those points of religion which it may be needful to have revived and strengthened in their minds, in the absence of accustomed religious means and ordinances, would be a great desideratum. The present is an attempt to supply such a volume, originating in a suggestion made to the author to the above effect, and in a representation of the want that is felt of such a compendium by persons already so situated.

It is surely most desirable that the early settlers in our colonies should be persons whose minds are well stored with religious knowledge, and imbued with its principles; and that they should be provided with all necessary helps for the maintenance and expression of them in the new and strange situations and associations in which they may for a time be placed. Upon them will depend, in a great measure, the tone of sentiment and feeling prevailing among those who shall come after them, and who may, in process of time, form, in several places, large and flourishing communities. If, along with the laws and institutions of the mother country, they shall transmit to them her scriptural knowledge, her Protestant faith, and her long-established religious usages, they may prove to be the founders of a race that will be no discredit, but a great honour to the land that gave them birth.

In the earlier chapters of the work, the design of the writer (the author's son) has been to combine as large an amount of interesting information as possible, in a very limited space, with accompanying reflections or suggestions, tending to connect all our knowledge and researches with the great Author of nature. While, therefore, considerable pains have been taken to condense as much of congenial science in a popular form as the space would permit, equal care has been employed to present the whole in a Christian light. All the subjects bear on the object of the book, and its probable readers; and some recent researches have been rendered as popular as

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possible. Although these early chapters are popular, they are also accurate. They can be read with advantage on the far journey, on the long voyage, or even at the fire-side. It is hoped that these chapters may stimulate to further research, and, most of all, suggest exalted views of the Great Being whose infinite wisdom, resources, and skill they are intended to illustrate.

The greatest stress, however, is laid on the religious portion of the volume, and the aids afforded by it for public and private devotion. Where God is not acknowledged and openly worshipped in our social circles, families, and neighbourhoods, the only solid basis is wanting for a superstructure of peace, and concord, and true prosperity Them that honour me,” is his own declaration, I will honour; and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”

The extension of our colonies, in this case, would eventually confer a benefit on mankind, compensating abundantly for the sacrifices made on the part of those who have helped to people them, and whom, in reference to no small portion of them, nothing less than a hard necessity could compel to the enterprise. Divine Providence employs a variety of means to compass its ends; and the superabundant population of countries in a high state of civilization, and of religious knowledge and improvement, leading to the dispersion of many of their inhabitants to different parts of the world, may be one of no slight importance in accomplishing the foretold evangelization of the globe.

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