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stances, in which they mistook the meaning of the Scriptures when reading them in childhood; and the tenacity with which early errors and false impressions, cling to the mind in after-years, must persuade them that the indiscriminate reading of the Bible is not proper for children. It is impossible to resist the inference that some selection or compilation, suited to the state of childish intellect and knowledge, is a necessary book; except indeed in the few cases where parents can personally superintend the reading of their children, and explain such passages as may be obscure, or liable to misconstruction.
In attempting to supply a work of the kind I have mentioned, I have chosen those before spoken of as the basis of the volume, rather than write an original work, for this reason: they are embued with an earnest spirit of piety, which evidently flows from the most fervent feeling, and which I believe to be more happily expressed than any thing I could write.
I need only add that in presenting this work to the public, I have no wish or design to propagate sectarian views. My desire is to lead the young reader to a general knowledge of the Bible, so that he may read it with interest; and in doing so, I have not intentionally insisted upon any set of doctrines deduced from it.
TO THE YOUNG READER.
In this little volume I propose to tell you some of the stories which are found in the Bible. This book consists of two parts,-the Old Testament, and the New Testament.
The Old Testament tells us how God made this great round world upon which we live, with its mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes and seas. It tells us how He covered the land with trees and plants, and four-footed beasts; how He filled the air with birds and insects, and the waters with fishes of a thousand forms.
It tells us how He created mankind, and how they disobeyed Him— how they multiplied and built great cities, and how, at length, the whole world was swept by a terrible flood of waters. It tells us the long and interesting history of the Jews, who inhabited a country now called Palestine, which lies more than four thousand miles from us in a south-easterly direction.
It gives us an account of Moses, Joshua, Daniel, David, Solomon, and many other interesting characters. It reveals to us, in short, the
wonderful story of the first ages of the world; the great events which happened-how men lived, thought and acted; and how God, in that remote period, dealt with mankind.
The New Testament gives an account of Jesus Christ, who must be regarded as the most extraordinary personage that ever appeared on this earth. His story is at once the most wonderful, and the most affecting that has ever been written. He appeared among the Jews about eighteen hundred years ago, for the purpose of restoring that knowledge which mankind had nearly lost.
The Jews, as well as other nations, had their minds turned toward the worship of idols, and their hearts were full of pride and bad passions. Instead of cherishing the love of God and the love of each other, they acted upon principles of resentment and retaliation. "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," was the wicked and cruel rule of human conduct.
It was in this dark and dreadful age, when Christ appeared. It was in this melancholy night of ignorance and sin that He, like the morning sun, began to shine upon the earth, and reversing at once the fashionable doctrines of the age he announced to mankind that beautiful principle of human conduct, "Do to another, as thou wouldst have another do to you”—“ Love the Lord with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself."
What a wonderful discovery was this! Believe me, my little children, this was the greatest, the most beautiful, the most important discovery that has ever been made. It would never have been made by
any mere man. The world had then existed more than four thousand years; empires had arisen; cities had been built; the arts had flourished; learning had prevailed; men of genius had lived; but Jesus Christ alone was capable of discovering and effectually revealing to mankind the golden rule, which should guide us in our conduct towards man, and towards our Creator.
The Jews were at once astonished and offended at what our Savior told them. Though he was very mild and amiable in his manners and personal appearance; though he only went about doing good and preaching good; still, offended by his plainness, and cut to the heart by a feeling that His doctrines were pure, and theirs corrupt, and perceiving that, in adopting His rules, they must give up their pride, their haughtiness, and their vanity, they conspired against Him, and sought to put Him to death. They told cruel falsehoods of Him-they set spies about Him, and finally hired a base hypocrite, named Judas, to betray Him.
Thus Jesus Christ fell into the hands of His enemies. He submitted "like a lamb that is brought to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." He knew that He must die to prove His sincerity and the truth of His doctrines, and save mankind from its ignorance and sin. He could have escaped; but, in that case, mankind would have doubted the great truths He had come to reveal. He therefore permitted the Jews to work out their spirit of vengeance, knowing that if He suffered, we, as well as the rest of mankind, should reap everlasting benefits from His death.
Jesus Christ died on the cross, and His religion has since been spread over a great part of the world. It prevails among us, and is the source of our greatest blessings and purest enjoyments. From His religion, a love of truth, gentleness, and humanity, have sprung; and from this too, we derive our confidence in a future life, and a belief that if we live wisely in this world, we shall enjoy a happy immortality in the world to come.
You will therefore perceive that the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testament, is a very interesting book, and full of the most important truths. In the following pages you will find some of the most remarkable stories which it contains; but in after-days, when you get older, I beg you to make the Bible your constant companion, and look upon it as a good and wise friend, that, if listened to, will guide you to happiness here, and bliss hereafter.