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principles of morality, which ought not to be instilled into Christians without some correctives, to reduce them to that standard of truth which our religion has taught us.
Good men have the comfort of seeing the custom by degrees prevailing, of sanctifying the public and private instruction of youth, by explaining to them, and making them every day get by heart some passages of scripture, which serve for a rule of conduct in the course of their lives. By these means they lay up insensibly a rich treasure, infinitely more valuable than what ihey inherit from their parents. Though that be sufficient to teach them the whole of their-duty, since the word of God is a fruitful and an inexhaustible fund: yet they may add to it another, which though indeed of less value, is not without its use. What I mean is, they may furnish their memories with the purest maxims, both in prose and verse, which are to be found in profane authors, as we before said the Heathens used to do. These maxims, it must be owned, come to us through suspected channels: but that is no objection to their use, since they are eternal, and flow from the only source of truth and happiness. Those that shall think it proper to teach their children such lessons, will find this collection for their purpose: and it is partly for that reason I have added some verses out of Publius Syrus.
Though man's reason has been much obscured by original sin, yet has he light enough left to trace the great lines of his duty. Those Heathen philosophers, who were content to be guided by the faint lights of the law of nature, gives us sometimes such solid and pure principles of religion, that they seem to be not far from the doctrine of the gospel. And then it is proper to point out to youth the likeness; and to observe what a shame it is that Christians, who have received the inestimable gift of faith, should have less rational sentiments of morality than those of a Heathen. Sometimes, on the contrary, we find in those pretended sages of antiquity such gross errors, that we plainly see how the divine light, without which man sits in darkness, has not shined upon them. And thence we should take occasion to let children know how reason has been weakened and obscured by sin, and how imperfect the morality of the Heathens is. The conclusion of all which is, that it is Jesus Christ whom we should give ear to: that it is the gospel we ought to consult, as a sure and infallible oracle; that .it is the Christian religion only, which has the privilege of showing truth without any of its debasements by error. If therefore any principles of the Heathens should be found in this book, not agreeable to the doctrine of the gospel, we trust the piety and vigilance of the masters will take care to observe to their scholars in a few words, in what particular those principles deviate from it.
There have been Heathens, no doubt, who, persuaded that it was reason which gave man his distinguished excellence and merit, endeavoured to follow it on many occasions, and practised it in several moral virtues. But beside their want of the knowledge and love of the only true God, and Jesus Christ his Son, the only foundation for true solid virtue; some of them, who passed for the most virtuous, lie under the imputation of great vices. Therefore we are far enough from proposing them here as perfect patterns. We report some of their great actions, and wise sayings, without diving into the motives of either, or examining what inconsistences they have fallen into upon other occasions. We generally show their beautiful side, and so far as they may serve for an . example of the virtue we recommend.
If the masters, who may set their pupils to translate this little book, would give themselves the trouble to read in the originals, the lives of the philosophers and great generals, which we have given them but an imperfect knowledge of, they would find there a great many fine things to be picked up, from whence the youth under their care might be insensibly, and very profitably, acquainted with the actions and sentiments of the heroes of antiquity.
It would n6t be improper likewise to let them into some knowledge of the several authors they translate.; telling them, by the bye, as it were, who they were; in what age they lived; and what subjects they wrote upon, &c. It is a great degree of learning, which costs little time, and is sure to be attended with good advantage.
Those masters, who have been well versed in the Ancients, and shall cast their eyes on this collection, will observe, perhaps, that we have omitted several examples and precepts of great beauty. They will be so good then as to supply this defect, by word of mouth, or any other way. For my part, beside the necessity I was under of confining myself to certain bounds in every chapter, I chose the youth should read, some time or other in the originals themselves, certain bright passages, which were too long to-suit my purpose, without being extremely hurt. Some others there are as well short as long, which slipped my memory. For this fault I humbly crave pardon, as well as for all the others I may have been guilty of in this little book: in compiling which I shall think my time happily spent, if it shall please God to give his blessing to it, by rendering it serviceable to youth »
Consensus populorum omnium probat Deum esse.
Animal nullum est prseter hominem, quod habeat notitiam aliquam Dei. At inter homines gens nulla est tam fera, qux non sciat Deum esse habendum, etiamsi ignoret qualem habere deceat. Quoniam vtro in re otnni consensio firma gentium omnium est vox naturx, et argumentum veritatis; confitendum est numen aliquod divinum esse. Cicero 1 De legfb, s. 14. 1 Tuscul. n. 43, 44. ", .
2. Consuetudo disputandi contra Deos est mula et impia, sive id fit serio, sive simulate. Itaque cum Protagoras, sophista maximus temporilms suis, posuisset in principio libri cujusquam, se dubitare an Dii csf ent; jussu