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PREFATORY NOTE.

BY REV. W. SYMONDS.

THE title of the volume now presented to the reader will best express its character. "Sketches and Essays," which it appears from the Author's statement, have been written at intervals extending over a period of twenty years, (though several are of very recent date,) and in their present collected form now first published.

In these pages the Author has evidently sought to bring the results of his reading, observation, and experience, to bear upon the work of general instruction; and by presenting them in what he hopes will be found both a pleasing and instructive form, to advance the cause of truth and righteousness.

In submitting his work to public acceptance, he does so with the full consciousness on the one hand, that purity of motive, and benevolence of intention, cannot be accepted as palliatives to literary defects; and on the other hand with the hope that, as a contribution to the literature of the day, it may be found so free from their existence as not to hinder the accomplishment of the end designed, and prove at the same time both interesting and instructive to the general reader.

At the Author's solicitation, I have given the several compositions a careful perusal, and have no hesitation in bearing testimony to their fitness for general usefulness; and should be pleased to learn their reception had, in every way, answered the Author's expectations. Pershore, February, 1864.

W. SYMONDS,

RECOMMENDATORY NOTE,

BY THE REV. JOHN TURNER WADDY.

IT is with great pleasure that I have perused the various pieces now presented to the public. Although the several articles are varied in their character, and entirely disconnected, each being complete in itself, yet there is a oneness of purpose which runs through the entire volume. In these days of "Sensation Novels," and books made to please, it is exceedingly refreshing to meet with a book like "LEISURE MOMENTS," which labours solely to do good. Here is no laboured diction, no attempt at rounded periods or flowing rythm; but a simple, earnest setting forth of truth, by argument, illustration, and appeal. The "Essay on the Mind," &c., and the beautiful, earnest letter "To the Friends in the Vale of E-.," will recommend themselves to the careful and thoughtful attention of the reader. This book is well fitted to occupy those " LEISURE MOMENTS," which all have occasionally at their disposal; and which these Essays will enable them profitably to use. I hope that the work will meet with such a reception as it merits.

JOHN T. WADDY,

WESLEYAN MINISTER, WORCESTER.

History an Important Branch of Study.

One of the ancients observes, that " History is like a mirror, in which we behold the virtues and vices of men, and are thereby taught what to follow and what to avoid."

Were it not for the world's historical records we should be ignorant, not only of the state and condition of society in past ages, but of those great principles which were in operation by which the present aspect and bearings of men and things were produced. The past would, in fact, be a total blank, and the present altogether inexplicable. But history consociates the past with the present and the present with the past. We can thus follow the various actors on the theatre of the world in their perambulations; their private or public capacity;—and the blessing or curse, the honour or dishonour which they were to their country, and how society now is affected by such characters.

By history we have an opportunity afforded us of ascertaining (at least to some extent) the motives by which the leading men of the past were prompted to do

-or cause to be done-certain things. But history is of paramount importance when viewed in the light of unfolding, as it does, the purposes and overruling providence of Almighty God.

By it we see how He has so ordered and disposed of events, consistently with His own nature and intentions, and man's free agency, that His purposes have been accomplished. By history we also discover the relative and comparative responsibility of the several and various parties concerned in any great or trifling movements, and the effects of such. As a man's actions are not confined to himself, nor to his own time, but pass from himself to others directly or indirectly under his influence, and handed down to future times, either in a physical, social, or mental sense, he must, and is accounted responsible to God for the evil he does-personally-or causes to be done. It is the transmission of moral forces or principles, which are as certain as the transmission of forces applied to any series of material substances, which makes man so fearfully responsible to God.

By history we are indirectly taught the unchangeableness of the Divine Being; that, from generation to generation, 'midst the rise and fall of empires, and the frail mutability of His creatures, He has ever been immutably the same. Viewed as a sequel to revelation, the value of history is infinitely enhanced. Though it does not prove the Bible to be true or false, yet it manifests its truthfulness, and stamps it with the force and weight of divine authenticity. As the history of generations and of the world moves on to a boundless futurity, we see first one, and then another of the prophetic statements come to pass; and, at the same time, we learn how God's purposes respecting the future destinies

of mankind ripen and are being accomplished. Again, we have shown to us, in striking contrast with the ordinary methods adopted by men, this glorious truth, which is a luminous display of the greatness of God, that He has generally accomplished the greatest results by (in man's judgment) the most insignificant agency; that the very circumstances which the heathen world thought would render their respective systems formidable and invincible, were so overruled by the Lord of Sabaoth, as to undermine, sap, and finally subvert them. It justifies the ways of God to mankind, and his dealings towards them by connecting together the various links composing the grand chain of events.

But while history in general is so interesting, instructive, and edifying, it is the individuals composing it which give to its different parts their peculiar charms and impressiveness. How strikingly varied, how deep some of the shadows in the moral landscape! Everything connected with the wise, the good, and the truly great, and noble of every age, has a peculiar attraction. While in the shade of the old oak which they planted, or under which they were wont to sit, the very chair in which they were accustomed to sit when they conversed with their family, friends, and others, or wrote and defended those principles of piety for the promotion of God's glory in the earth; the very pen which they last handled, and the very letter which they last wrote; the several peculiar incidents of their lives; the time, the place of their birth, and the circumstances connected with their death;

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