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The following pages have been prepared with reference chiefly to the purposes of family devotion. Many who have been called on to conduct the religious services of a domestic circle, must have felt the difficulty of selecting, in every instance, such passages of Scripture as would be fitted for the purpose intended, by their freedom from obscurity, their unity of subject, and their natural application to the duties of ordinary life. And as the exercise of reading is commonly followed by a prayer, or in some instances by a hymn entirely unconnected in subject with the scriptural lesson, there is danger that the religious exercises should, at their close, leave but a vague and confused impression.
It has been thought that these evils might be remedied, by presenting passages from Scripture of moderate length; with Reflections and Hymns, which, following the course of thought suggested by the extracts which they accompany, may serve to deepen their impression on the memory, the understanding, and the feelings. The aim of the reflections has not been to advance new or striking thoughts, but merely to follow out the most useful ideas presented in the Scriptural extracts : these must for the most part
be such as would occur to every mind. Little originality, therefore, can be expected. Of the hymns, twenty-two are selected from various authors; the rest are original.
The selections from the New Testament present, in a connected series, the events of our Saviour's life. That these should be viewed as constituting a whole, and a clear idea gained of the order in which they succeeded one another, is an object of no small importance, and of some difficulty. That the historical incidents might be exhibited in a connected view, it has been necessary to omit those discourses of our Lord which were not connected with any leading event of his ministry. The system of arrangement adopted by Dr. Carpenter and Professor Palfrey has been observed ; and the edition, by the latter gentleman, of the New Testament conformed to the text of Griesbach, has been followed in the Scriptural extracts. In a very few instances, the liberty has been taken of condensing the text by the omission of verses or words, where it was thought that a judicious reader in a family circle would have felt himself authorized to do the same.
It is hoped that the following pages may afford assistance, not only in family worship, but in private meditation; and, by the arrangement which they present of the events in the life of Jesus, may not be without their use in aiding the labours of the Sunday-school teacher.
S. G. B.
Boston, April, 1832.