At the present day, when books are so easily obtained, there is no need of the excuse of inability to procure them. Circulating libraries are easy of access,—though caution should be used in selecting from them,—and each Sabbath school has a library open for all. There has been much said, and much written about books of fiction, whether they may be read with safety by the young. Fiction as such need not be condemned, though works of fiction should be sparingly read. But if read at all, let them be selected by persons of experience. There is much in the current fiction of the day that is pernicious and unfit for publication.
But if we set aside the light reading, there are standard works enough to furnish reading for one generation. The better newspapers of the day should be carefully read. The newspapers of this week are the history of the world for this week. In each particular branch of literature there are books without number, not only worthy of perusal, but deserving of careful study. In history we have Rollin, Hume, Smollet, Prescott, Macaulay, and Robertson. Philosophy, theology, and science, each in its turn, brings names as illustrious.
But there is one book above all others. Never complain for want of reading while we have such historians as Moses, poets before whom Shakspeare dwindles into insignificance, philosophers of a higher and holier school, and truths that exceed the most astonishing fictions. Where has Scott a heroine that can compare with Ruth? Grand as are the beauties of the Bible, life-giving as is its wisdom, and imperishable as are its truths, it is too frequently left unread.
As a general thing, too much is read; more than can be well retained. One page well read is more beneficial than a whole volume merely glanced over. Never read the second line until the first is fully understood. Make the author’s sentiments your own. In reading history it is highly important you should have a clear idea of the locality where the events occurred. I have found by experience that the best method deeply to impress what I have read, is to have at hand writing materials, and after each reading write out as fully as possible whatever new idea has been presented. But in all that you read, keep in view the great object of your reading,—Self Improvement.
The morning breaks. A hundred voices rise,
In shouts of gladness echoing to the skies.
The happy time draws near, the day is fair,
To festive scenes and rural joys repair.
Bright expectation gleams from every face,
And lighter footsteps bend with eager pace;
Children and parents, pastor, people, all
With one accord obey the welcome call;
And hand in hand, along the path they wind,
As heart responds to heart a greeting kind,
To hold in verdant temples high and broad,
Commune with Nature and with Nature’s God.