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IMPROVEMENT OF THE MIND.
VARIOUS REMARKS AND RULES
COMMUNICATION OF USEFUL KNOWLEDGE.
P R E F A C E
The author's name, which is prefixed to this book, renders it altogether needless for us to say any thing in order to recommend it: and we need not assure any judicious reader, who has been conversant with Dr Watts's writings, that this is the genuine work of that excellent author ; for he cannot fail of discerning the doctor's easy style, and beautiful manner of expression in every page. We esteem it an honour done us by that truly great man, that he was pleased, by his last will, to entrust us with his manuscripts which he designed for the press; however, he lived to publish several of those himself, after his will was made, so that not many remain to be published by us. Some indeed there are remaining, which be did originally intend for the press, but bis broken state of health did not permit him to finish them, and they are left too imperfect to be ever published. Of this sort, among others, is the larger discourse on psalmody, which he gave notice of his intention to publish in the preface to the second edition of his Hymns, when he withdrew the shorter Essay on that subject, which was annexed to the first edition. There are also among his manuscripts some tracts relating to a doctrinal controversy, which the doctor had been engaged in, but which the world seems to be tired of : so that, most probably, this second part of the Improvement of the Mind, with the Discourse on Education, and some additions to the Reliquiæ Juveniles, are all the posthumous works of Dr Watts that will ever be printed.
As to this work in particular, a considerable part of it was corrected for the press by the doctor's own hand ; and as to the rest of it, he did not leave it so far unfinished as should, in his own judgement, discourage the publishing it ; for be bas left this note in a paper along with it, “ Though this book, or
" the second volume of the Improvement of the Mind, is not so far finished as I could wish, yet I leave it
I among the “ number of books corrected for the press ; for it is very easy " for any person of genius and science to finish it, and publish “ it in a form sufficiently useful to the world.” The corrections we have presumed to make are comparatively but few and trivial; and when now and then it was thought needful to add a line or two for the illustration of any passage, it is generally put in the form of a note at the foot of the page. It
may perhaps be expected we should make some apology far delaying the publishing of this book so long after the author's death ; a book that has been so much expected, and so earnestly desired, as appears by several letters found in the doctor's study, from eminent persons and from learned societies. There are various causes that have contributed to the delay, which the world need not be informed of ; but the remote distance of our babitations, and the multiplicity of business in which each of us is statedly engaged, are circumstances pretty generally known, and which we hope will be admitted in excuse for some part of the delay, and some part the booksellers must answer for. However we are the less solicitous to apologize for not publishing this book sooner, as we are satisfied it will be welcome now it comes ; and that those who, upon reading the first volume, have so earnestly desired the second, will not be disappointed when they read it.
We have only to add our most sincere wishes and prayers, that a book so admirably suited to improve the minds of men, especially of the rising generation, and to promote universal goodness, as this appears to be, may be attended with a blessa ing from on high.
The chief design of the former part of this book is to lead us into proper methods for the improvement of our knowledge ; let us now consider what an
the best means of improving the minds of others, and of communicating to them the knowledge which we have acquired. If the treasures of the mind should be hoarded
and concealed, they would profit none besides the possessor, and even his advantage by the possession would be poor and narrow, in comparison of what the same treasures would yield, both to himself and to the world, by a free communication and diffusion of them. Large quantities of knowledge acquired and reserved by one man, like heaps of gold and silver, would contract a sort of rust and disagreeable aspect, by lying in everlasting secrecy and silence ; but they are burnished and glitter by perpetual circulation through the tribes of mankind.
The two chief ways of conveying knowledge to others are, that of verbal instruction to our disciples, or by writing and publishing our thoughts to the world.