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CREATION OF THE WORLD TO THE FULL ESTABLISHMENT OF CHRISTIANITY:
A CLEAR AND COMPREHENSIVE ACCOUNT OF EVERY REMARKABLE TRANSACTION
UPWARD OF FOUR THOUSAND YEARS.
WITH COPIOUS NOTES, CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY,
ILLUSTRATED COMMENTARY OF THE SACRED TEXT.
WITH NUMEROUS ENGRAVINGS.
PART I.- THE OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY.
BY ROBERT SEARS.
PERSONS, WHO HAVE MADE THE SCRIPTU THEIR STUDY.
TWO VOLUMES IN ONE.
114 FULTON STREET, AND 122 NASSAU STREET.
THOMAS, COWPERTHWAIT, AND CO. ; AND B. R. LOXLEY.--PITTSBURGH, PA.: R. G. BERFORD,
THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES AND BRITISH PROVINCES.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1843,
By ROBERT SEARS & EDWARD WALKER,
of New York.
It is impossible duly to estimate the change produced in the world since the rapid multiplication of books by the modern facilities of printing has brought at least some measure of KNOWLEDGE to every man's door. Indisputably, much advantage has resulted from the wide promulgation of Truth; but it may be doubted whether a habit of superficial reading has not also been fostered, and whether the mind, instead of being concentrated on a little which is most important, has not, in traversing a larger field, gathered much that is of no value. Perhaps its fine gold has been alloyed, and its wine diluted with water. Perhaps, when heretofore The Bible was the principal subject of study, its attention has been since diverted from that to merely human expositions.
“ Hast thou ever heard
The Bible, therefore, ought to be the beginning and the end of all religious reading; it is the standard by which everything else must be measured—the touchstone by which every other book must be tried. Other authors are valuable as they direct our attention to this ; they are profitable only as they derive their knowledge from this source. They must make their continual appeal " to the law, and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” The errors which have been introduced into the world have sprung either from the perversion or from the neg, lect of The Bible. Men have put away the divine teacher, and have leaned to their own understandings, or they have not chosen to receive its declarations in simplicity of heart, and have put interpretations upon them which they never were intended to bear. And as even in the best and wisest book that ever proceeded altogether from a human pen, there is much that is uncertain, and much that is imperfect, no man can be assured of his security in the way of truth, unless he is perpetually examining the guides which men have set up, by that light which was given from on high to be a lantern to his path.
We consider the present volume as Scripture itself, teaching the knowledge of its own divine precepts, and urging the practice of them by interesting examples. Young Persons of superior education, whose natural inquisitiveness has been quickened by intelligence, are especially intended to be benefited by it, aiding them in their studies, while eagerly inquiring for sacred knowledge, and seeking, with deeply-felt interest, for a more comprehensive acquaintance with the Oracles of God.
There is not among the many interesting traits of Christian character with which the history of the early Christians abounds, one that stands out more frequently in beautiful and prominent relief, than the tender solicitude and the winning arts which they employed to imbue the susceptible minds of the young with the knowledge and the faith of the Scripture. While they were fondled on the knee, and still watched by the careful eyes of their nurse, the first words they were taught to lisp and articulate were the sacred names of God and the SAVIOUR. And the whole range of nursery knowledge and amusement was comprised in narratives and pictures, illustrating episodes in the life of the holy child, or parables the most simple and interesting in the ministry of Christ. As their minds expanded, they were taught, along with the grand doctrines of Scripture, which, according to the approved fashion of those days, were rendered familiar by apposite similitudes from nature, the Proverbs of Solomon, and those passages of the sacred volume which relate particularly to the economy of life.
Religion, in short, was the grand basis of education, the only subject which, during the first years of life, they allowed their children to be taught; and in order to present it to their minds with the greater attractions, and entwine it with their earliest and purest associations, they adopted the happy expedient of wedding it to the graces of poetry, and rendering it more meinorable by the melody of numbers. From the earliest period of Christian antiquity there were authors who, like Watts in modern times, “condescended to lay aside the scholar, the philosopher, and the wit, to write little poems of devotion, adapted to the wants and capacities of children," and these, set to well-known and favorite airs, borrowed from the profaner songs of the heathen, were sung by the Christians at their family concerts, which enlivened their meals, and by which alone the still and peaceful tranquillity of their homes was ever broken. Ere long, their children were taught common, and frequently short-hand writing, in lines taken from the Psalms, or in words of sententious brevity, in which the leading doctrines of the gospel were stated ; and at a later period, when the progress of toleration allowed Christian seminaries to be erected, the school-books in use consisted chiefly of passages of the Bible versified, and of the poetical pieces which illustrated or enforced the great subjects of faith and duty. The most cel ebrated of these were compositions of the two Apollinaries, grammarians of high reputation in Syria—the elder of whom, in imitation of Homer, wrote the Antiquities of the Jews in heroic verse, down to the reign of Saul, while the first of the sacred story he described in such metrical forms as corresponded to the verses of the Greek tragedians, and the lyrical ballads of Pindar. The department undertaken by his son was that of reducing the history of the evangelists and the epistles of Paul into the form and style of Plato's dialogues; and with so much taste and elegance were both of these works compiled, that on their first appearance they took their place among the most esteemed productions of the Fathers. Besides these, there was a collection of miscellaneous poems on sacred subjects, and in all sorts of verse, by the famous Gregory Nazianzen, in very extensive circulation. By means of these, and of many other evangelical books which have long ago become the prey of time, the Christian youth were intro