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PREFACE.

It has been the Writer's object in this book, to exhibit the operations and-the result of good and evil principles and dispositions. This he has done, not by pictures drawn by the imagination, but in facts. The scriptural pieces contain faithful illustrations of the sacred narratives; and, in the other sketches, the reader is presented with real incidents, and the lessons which they enforce. There is a power in truth which is felt in no embellishment. In moral painting, simplicity and fidelity are

the best instruments foreffect; and the utility of any scene is lost, when the suspicion is excited that it is either too fine or too horrible for reality. The characters are taken from various scenes, to show that religion can adorn every age, and bless every condition; and that, in every sphere, the hope of impunity in sin is vain, and that its wages are shame, misery, and death.

Some of the incidents may appear too unimportant for detail; but to an uncorrupted taste, nothing is more pleasing than nature and goodness in their simplest forms. In various publications, religion in the lower orders of society, has been exhibited in association with hypocrisy, and with enthusiasm-its forms have been made the disguise of knavery, and its impulse represented as leading to extravagance and presumption ; and it

seemed no unnecessary opposition to such statements, to show it guiding to wisdom and probity in the common scenes of life, and attended in all its movements by integrity and peace. Whatever defects may mark the execution of these Sketches, they have this to give them value, that the incidents detailed are literally true; and if goodness here appears amiable, it is drawn with no borrowed or ideal charm.

That this little work may lead to the profitable study of human life and character, and that it may be blessed for warning to the simple, and for excitement to the pious, is the sincere wish of the writer, and will be his best reward.

HENRY BELFRAGE.

Falkirk, July 1, 1822.

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