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THE design of the Selections from the Holy Scriptures, is to aid parents and teachers, in leading the minds of children to an intelligent and profitable acquaintance with the sacred volume.
Part I. which is now published, consists of devotional extracts, taken from the Book of Psalms, and accompanied with short notes and questions.
The editor has begun with devotional extracts, because it is his conviction, that this portion of divine truth is most neglected, in the present system of sabbath school instruction. Yet it cannot be denied that this portion of the bible has, in some respects, the advantage over other parts, as, for example, the historical and the doctrinal. It is the more direct aliment of piety, and few bodies of Christians, except perhaps the dissenters, have been willing to forego the great advantages, naturally derived from having the sacred language of prayer and praise deeply impressed on the memory. Where the mind is early imbued with the material of devotion, the providence of God seldom fails to furnish occasions, on which the heart may make use of this knowledge, and often with the most salutary effects.
This number contains only the more simple and easy psalms. For many of the psalms, in our common version, are too obscure, even for adults, to comprehend. It is certainly very undesirable that children should be employed in committing to memory what they cannot understand, while there is sufficient which is easy and intelligible, and of course much more profitable to them. The advantage of having a judicious selection of the psalms, for the use of children, is of itself sufficient, it is believed, to justify this publication.
The short notes which are added, are intended not to illustrate and enforce the sentiment of the text, but merely to preserve the course of thought from being interrupted by any obscure expression, or by a misconception of the meaning on the part of the reader.
The questions are designed to call the attention to the general subject of the passage, and to the information contained in the notes. Other questions may be proposed by
the parent or teacher, the answers to which are to be learned by the pupil, from the use of an English dictionary, from the reflections of his own mind, or from some previous remarks of his teacher.
There is another peculiarity of this little book, which will commend itself to the intelligent student of the scriptures, and which needs a more particular explanation. It is the printing of the text so as to exhibit the poetic parallelism.
The Book of Psalms is written in poetry. The external form of Hebrew poetry consists chiefly in this parallelism. Though this peculiarity of structure is one of the best guides to the sense, and though it may be exhibited in the English dress, almost as well as in the original Hebrew, yet our translators appear to have had very obscure perceptions of it, and to have entirely disregarded it in their version.
The parallelism usually consists of two lines, similarly constructed, each expressing the same idea, but in different language; comp. Ps. 1:2. 8:4. Occasionally it consists of three lines; comp. Ps. 15:3. 116:8.
Sometimes the first and third lines are parallel, and the second and fourth. This is shown by indenting the second and fourth lines; comp. Ps. 79: 6,9.
Sometimes the first and fourth lines are parallel, and the second and third. This is shown by indenting the second and third; comp. Ps. 1:3.
Sometimes a line stands by itself, or in a similar relation to two or more lines which are parallel. This also is shown by the method of indentation; comp. Ps. 1: 1. 11:6.
Part II. consisting of moral extracts will be delayed some months.
New Haven, March, 1830.
J. W. G.