THE train of thought which runs through the following Work has been familiar to the Author's mind for upwards of twentysix years. Nearly twenty years ago, he intended to address the public on this subject; but he is now convinced that, at that period, the attempt would have been premature, and consequently unsuccessful. He took several opportunities, however, of suggesting a variety of hints on the necessity of new-modelling and improving the system of education-particularly in the London "Monthly Magazine," the "Edinburgh Christian Instructor," the "Christian Recorder," the "Perth Courier," and several other publications, as well as in several parts of his former volumes. Of late years the attention of the public has been directed to this subject more than at any former period, and even the British Legislature has been constrained to take into consideration the means by which the benefits of education may be more extensively enjoyed. It is therefore to be hoped, that the subject will now undergo a deliberate and unbiassed consideration, corresponding to its interest and importance.

In endeavouring to establish a new system of education-although every requisite improvement could not, in the first instance, be effected,-yet nothing short of a comprehensive and efficient system should be the model after which we ought to copy, and to which all our arrangements should gradually ap proximate. To attempt merely to extend the present, in many respects inefficient and limited system, without adopting those improvements which experience and the progress of society have rendered necessary, would be only to postpone to an indefinite period what must ultimately be established, if society is expected to go on in its progress towards perfection.

In the following volume the author has exhibited a brief outline of the whole series of instructions requisite for man, considered as an intelligent and moral agent destined to immortality-from the earliest dawn of reason to the period of manhood. But it is merely an outline; for the subject, considered

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in all its bearings, is the most extensive and interesting that can occupy the attention of mankind. Should the present volume, however, meet with general approbation, some more specific details in reference to the subjects here discussed, and to other topics connected with the improvement of society, may afterwards be presented to the public.

Several excellent works have lately been published on the subject of education, some of them recognising the leading principles which are here illustrated. But the author has, in every instance, prosecuted his own train of thought, without interfering with the sentiments or language of others, unless where it is acknowledged. Some of the works alluded to he has not had it in his power to peruse; and the same current of thought will sometimes occur to different writers on the same subject.—The greater part of this work was composed before the author had an opportunity of perusing the excellent treatise of Mr. Simpson, entitled, "Necessity of Popular Education"-a work which abounds with liberal and enlightened views, and which recognises the same general principles which are here illustrated. But the two works do not materially interfere; and the one may be regarded as a supplement or sequel to the other, both having a bearing on the same grand object.

It was originally intended to offer a few remarks on classical learning, and on the system of education which prevails in our colleges and universities; but the size to which the volume has swelled has rendered it expedient to postpone them to a future opportunity. For the same reason, the "Miscellaneous Hints in reference to the Improvement of Society," and the remarks on "Mechanics' Institutions," have been much abridged, and various topics omitted which were intended to be particularly illustrated.

The author intends proceeding with his promised work "On the Scenery of the Heavens," as soon as his present engagements will permit.


November, 1835.


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