« PreviousContinue »
The facts of the Bible, on account of their interest and importance, should take the precedence of all other historical facts in the instruction of children and youth. Simplicity and novelty are their prominent characteristics. Many of them occurred while the word was yet in its infancy, and are peculiarly suited to the early developments of the human mind and character. They form those distinct and bold outlines of the actions of living agents of the circumstances in which they were placed, and of the occurrences which affected them, that, with a little filling up of the details to assist and guide the imagination, complete those vivid and graphical pictures of objects addressed to the senses which so absorb the attention, and interest the feelings, of the young and susceptible mind.
They are clothed, too, with the air and majesty of truth. God is the narrator. To the question so often put by childhood and youth, wbile listening to the account of what has happened beyond the sphere of its own observation_“Is it true? Is it true?” we can reply, “Yes, it is all true ; it is in the Bible ; and the Bible is the word of that Being
who tells us nothing but truth, and who will never deceive us.
These facts were communicated by God himself, for the very purpose of giving to us and our offspring a knowledge of his character and will, and of our own character and duty. He is every where the great Actor in them. They transpire under bis immediate inspection and controul. He is often visibly present in some striking or supernatural forms of manifestation, wholly unlike those in which he now exhibits himself to us in his works of nature and of providence. This gives to the Bible narrative an inexpressible grandeur and sublimity, admirably suited to strike the imagination and effect the heart, when all is fresh and budding in the fair dawn of our early being. Then is the propitious time to elevate the opening intellect to some just elementary conceptions of the great Creator and moral Governor of the universe ; and he has given us a book full of facts that can be made intelligible to the youthful mind, expressly to enable us to do this.
It is in connection with these facts, also, that we can, at that period of life, in the easiest and clearest manner, unfold and enforce the doctrines and precepts of divine truth. While the attention is fixed by these facts, and the feelings enlisted, the conscience can be instructed and moved, the heart can be touched and opened, and, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, brought into subjection to the authority of God, and led to love and obey him. Especially can Jesus Christ himself, the beginning and end of the sacred Scriptures, the great
object to which they would lead and direct us, be presented, in the fulness and loveliness of his mediatorial character, to those whose first lessons of religious truth should teach them that they are in perishing need of such a Saviour.
How far the multiplicity of other books, even those that are most excellent in their design and tendency, with which our children and youth are so amply furnished, may be affording certain attractions to withdraw them too much from the habitual and studious perusal of the sacred Scriptures, is a question, to say the least, deserving the serious consideration of all who take an interest in their early piety. Is there no danger, and that not trifling, that works of human invention, and histories of human authority, may thus deprive the word of God and the record of his dealings with men, of that decided pre-eminence in the estimation, the taste, and the deep interest of the young and opening mind, to which it is justly entitled ?
Such considerations, with others of a similar kind, have induced the author to attempt the preparation of a series of volumes, (of which this is one,) the object of which is to promote among the rising generation a stronger relish for the perusal and study of the Bible, with a better understanding of its truths, and a spirit of obedience to its commands. He hopes to do this by such elucidations of the facts contained in its narrative, and such corresponding expositions of its doctrines and precepts, interwoven with the history, and growing out of it, accompanied with practical personal application, as will serve, while it prepares the way
for subsequent more critical investigations, to lead our children and youth, under the blessing of the Spirit of grace, to reverence and love, above all other writings, the Word of God; to become the early disciples of Christ, and to fulfil, in some good degree, their obligations and duties to their Creator, and to their fellow-men.
To christian fathers and mothers, and pious teachers of youth, especially in our Sabbathschools, he begs leave affectionately to dedicate bis labours. To the Source of every good and perfect gift he looks for a blessing upon them, considering that it is a high privilege and honour, to be permitted to feed any of the lambs of the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, or to be instrumental in gathering a single wandering one into his fold.