LAST  month we  spoke  of  the  very  common 

error into which the  youth  of  our day 

run, namely,  of being in too  great  haste to 

become  men  and  women,  when  in  reality 

they  are  only  boys  and  girls.  It  is  best 

for  children  and  youth  to  appear  simply 

what they are.  To reach forward  in  their 

feelings  ahead  of  their  years,  and  appear 

what  they really are  not, leads to  the formation 

 of  a  superficial  character.  Such 

are most  likely to  be superficial in  all  they 

do.  We will  at this  time speak only of the 

common error  of a superficial habit  of reading. 

The  majority  of  the  books  issued  from 

the American  press,  are so  unreal  as  to  be 

totally  unfit for  youth  to  read.  And very 

many  of the religious  books  of our  time  are 

filled with what  we  choose  to  style  insipid 

religious fiction.  Any  book,  the  influence 

of which  is  to  lead  the  reader  to  simply 

chase the story through it, without  seeking 

to reach to the depth of the author's meaning, 

 is injurious to the mind of the reader.

We  cannot  better  give  our  views  upon 

this subject  than in  the following from  the 

valuable  work,  entitled,  " Sprague's  Letters”:  

" And the first suggestion which I would 

offer  on  this subject is,  that  all your  reading 

should be,  as far as  possible,  with  some 

definite  object  other than merely to  occupy 

your time.  If you have no  object  in  view, 

you may be sure  that  you  will  accomplish 

none;  and thus your reading will be at best 

a mere  waste  of  time,  and  not  improbably 

will be fraught with positive intellectual  or 

moral  evil.  When you take up  a book,    

decide if you  can,  from its  title, or its table of 

contents,  what  good  purpose  you  can    

accomplish  by  reading  it,  what  faculties  of 

your mind  it will  be  likely  to  improve,  or 

what moral dispositions to refine or elevate; 

and having settled this point, if the book  be 

worthy  of  your  attention,  you  can  hardly 

fail to  be benefited by reading it.

"Another remark  closely connected with 

the preceding is,  that you should  never    

allow  yourself  to  read  without  reflection. 

There is  no  habit more  easily acquired than 

that of occupying the  eye  merely  upon  an 

author,  and  leaving  the  mind  to  its  own 

wanderings;  and there is scarcely any habit 

which,  in  the  end,  more  completely    

un-strings the intellect,  and renders  it

  incapable of  commanding  its  own  powers.

  The  legitimate design  of reading  is,  not  to  

supersede,  but to  assist reflection not to  put 

the faculties to sleep,  but to  brighten  them 

by  active  exercise.  Different  books,  it  is 

acknowledged,  require  different  degrees  of 

mental  exertion;  but you  may  take  it  for 

granted,  that a book which is  not worth the

labor  of some  thought,  is  not worth  the   

labor of reading.

"Whatever book you may have in hand, 

let your mind be just as  intensely employed 

as  is  necessary to  enable you  to realize  the 

full  advantage of reading it;  that is, to    

enable  you  to  comprehend  its  full  meaning, 

and to  give it,  so  far  as  may  be  desirable 

for practicable, a lodgment in your memory. 

if you find your thoughts  at  any time   

wandering obstinately from  your  author,  and if 

no  effort will  bring  them  under  your    

control,  so  that  you  can  read  to  advantage, 

and such  cases  will  sometimes  occur  from 

mere physical  derangement, better lay aside 

your book  than to  continue reading  in  this 

attitude  of  mental  vacancy.  You  will  be 

none the wiser for what you  read,  and  you 

may be forming  an intellectual  habit which 

will  diminish  your power  of  acquiring   

wisdom  in more favored  circumstances.

"It follows, from the remark  just made, 

that  you should  be  on  your  guard  against 

reading too much.  There is such a thing as 

a diseased intellectual appetite, which crave 

an  excess  of food,  and is  only satisfied  with 

devouring everything that comes in its way. 

But to  indulge  such  an  appetite were  just 

as  preposterous  as  to  think  of  nourishing 

the  body  by  taking  a  quantity  of  food 

which should  altogether  exceed  the digestive 

powers  of  the  system.  If you  would 

read  to  advantage,  you  must  incorporate 

what you read with  your  own  thoughts,  and 

gather from  it  materials  for  future  reflection. 

But this  you  can  never  do,  if your 

whole time is  occupied in reading,  or if you 

take up  one volume  after  another  in  such 

rapid succession  that  your mind  can retain 

no  distinct impression of the contents of any 

of  them.

"Some  of  the  minds  which  have  shone 

most  brilliantly,  have  been  but  little   

occupied with  books,  being far more  

conversant  with their own  thoughts than  the

  thoughts of  others.  Remember  that  a  few

  books carefully  read,  and  thoroughly  

digested,  and used  as  helps  to  intellectual

  exertion,  will  be  of  far  more  use  to  you 

 than scores  of  volumes  which  are  gone  

through  with  little  thought,  and  the  contents

  of  which  either  instantly  pass  out  of  the

  mind  or  remain  in  it  an  indigested  mass  of    


The Bible is  a  book  of infinite value.  It 

is a matter-of-fact book.  It speaks  of  real 

things.  It has to  do  with  the  sober  realities 

of this  life,  and  distinctly points out the 

humble way to  the  life  to  come.  It  is  a 

book  of  practical  lessons.  It  teaches,  in 

the  plainest terms,  what  the  youth  should 

do,  and what they should not  do.

The Bible is just the book  that all young 

people  should  read  attentively.  Its  style 

is so real,  and its  instructions so  pure,  that 

while it can harm no one, it is sure to benefit 

all who read it attentively and  prayerfully. 

We  earnestly recommend  the youth to read 

the Bible,  and  to  cultivate  a  love  for  reading 

 this  book  of  books.  And we  will  here 

lay down  this  one  rule,  that  if  by reading 

other pleasing  and  exciting  books,  the    

interest in  the Bible  decreases,  the  reader  is 

most  certainly  being  injured  by  common 

reading.  Therefore, when  young  persons 

find their love for  the Bible decreasing,  and 

at the same time  love for  common  reading

increasing,  they should,  to say  the least, be 

more select in their common reading.  They 

should  read  less,  reflect  more,  and  should 

cultivate a love for the precious word of God.

J. White