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MANY excellent books for Young Men are already before the public. Dr. Hawes' 'Lectures to Young Men,' Waterbury's Considerations for Young Men' and 'Letters to a Young Christian,' Abbott's 'Young Christian,' Dr. Alcott's Young Man's Guide,' Mr. Muzzey's Young Man's Friend,' are all highly valuable and useful works. That so strong an interest is awakened in the character and prospects of our young men, and that so many of them are disposed to forego the allurements of idleness and dissipation, and to seek that intellectual and moral improvement which will render their future lives honorable and happy to themselves and useful to the world, is surely one of the brightest omens of our day.
It is the design of the following pages to contribute something, in addition to what has already been done, to AID this noble class of young men in the prosecution of their object. The reader will find that I have
not entered upon preoccupied ground. This work is not a repetition, in a new form, of what is contained in other books for young men ; it embraces, in the main, other topics, or presents considerations in addition to those embraced in previous works.
The several chapters are a connected series, designed to conduct the mind forward in the most natural course. It has been my first object to awaken in our young men a due sense of their responsibilities and duties; next, to point out to them the nature, means, and uses of knowledge, and to encourage their pursuit of it; next, to show the nature and value of right principles, and how they may be known and formed; next, to illustrate the importance of early habits, point out right habits and the way to form them upon sound principles; next, to disclose a method of ascertaining the nature and truth of religion, by experiment and induction. Considering the sacred Scriptures as the only sure support of virtue and religion, I have next proceeded to prove their authenticity, genuineness, credibility, and inspiration. To this topic, the reader's special and repeated attention is earnestly solicited. Supposing that some, however, may not have been persuaded to enter upon the way of virtue and religion, I have next proceeded to exhibit the imminent dangers of young men, and the evils which they may be instrumental of bringing upon themselves and others, by a
course of profligacy and sin; next, the good which they may secure to themselves and to their fellow-beings, by a course of virtue and religion. This is followed by a chapter upon completeness of character, embracing the various topics of health, including cheerfulness, exercise and recreation, regular hours, cleanliness, diet, drink, medicine; also of business; of refinement and politeness; of entertainments; of marriage; with a conclusion upon the Christian balance of mind.
I fear that the grave subjects will demand a more severe attention than some will wish to give, and that the secular topics may by others be deemed unnecessarily minute and trifling. As to the grave subjects, their nature demands a serious and earnest attention; as to the lighter and more secular topics, though they include many particulars in themselves trifling, yet they have much to do in completing the character and in promoting a man's usefulness. I have endeavored to say nothing which is not of sufficient importance to be said in a work like this, addressed to young men.
The reader will perceive that I have not aimed at literary beauty; it has been my simple design to exhibit important truth so clearly as not to fail of being understood. If an obscure or ambiguous sentence shall be found on these pages, it will not be because the writer has not endeavored to avoid it—sometimes, perhaps, at the expense of rhetorical taste.
I have endeavored to write in view of the maxim, that "Thoughts are the sons of heaven, and words the daughters of earth.”
The work contains but few anecdotes; they are introduced simply for illustration and proof. None of them are fictitious or embellished; they are known facts. This statement is merely for the reader's information, and not intended as an objection to allegorical or fictitious exhibitions of moral truth, when they are so understood.
I have endeavored to adapt the style to the variety of subjects. Every person accustomed to writing, will sympathise with the difficulty of doing this, and will be indulgent to partial failures.
Throughout the book I have generally used the first person, considering this the true and proper style of address; and it is hoped that my young reader will not consider the plain, direct, preceptive manner which I address him, as expressing the dictatorial and dogmatical air of a teacher, but the unconstrained confidence and simplicity of a friend.
It is but a humble mite, reader, which I pretend to give you; and if you should see fit to receive it with candor, and should in any measure derive advantage from it, you will richly reward your unworthy friend and servant,