Obrazy na stronie

sometimes in that of another. In arranging, the best Harmonies have been followed. Though the numerous and varied selections from the Old Testament have left less room than was desirable for those of the New, it is believed that all of the essential truths of the latter and its chief things are here embraced.

As, in culling the poetry, the chief quest has been for what was fitting and forceful, passages quaint and rugged have sometimes been preferred to such as were more elegant, but feeble and diffuse. Such selections have been mostly made from poets contemporaneous, or nearly so, with King James's revisers of the Bible. And some, perhaps, will be surprised to find how many drafts have been made on the great English dramatist. No thoughtful student of Shakespeare, however, has failed to mark his familiarity with the Scriptures, as evinced by his allusions. and reasonings. Three or four poetical passages appear twice, wholly or in part, in different chapters.

At the end of the volume is an index of all the chapters, showing whence the sacred text has been taken, also the authorship of the poetry, so far as it was known, if not lost in revising. In a separate catalogue the names of most. of the poets are given, with the dates of their births and deaths, when ascertained. The spelling of the poetry has been conformed to that of the Bible, with few exceptions, and with an obvious intent. Last of all, to show the variations of the English language, a single brief specimen of the Holy Scriptures has been printed, as found in six historic versions.

It was deemed fit that a volume designed for general use should bear, in one word, a significant title. As our language failed, one has been derived from the Hebrew. It was found that *, nâbi, the common word for prophet, also means poet, and is applied to one who freely utters impassioned language. By adding a Greek termination,

we have nâbion; and by inserting a single letter, to secure a right pronunciation, we have NAHBION.

Many books have been made, binding the reader to advance by the calendar. There may be advantages in such arrangements; but they do not seem to be thoroughly in keeping with that manly freedom vouchsafed by God under the economy of Nature or of Grace. Rules are good for the ordering of one's life,—the rule being a means, a good life the end, yet it is wiser for him to be ever doing the right thing, which is mostly determined by circumstances that are changeable. As we are enjoined by God, however, to keep every seventh day holy, there may be a routine in its public religious services without any felt bondage. While it is believed that this book is of the best kind for Daily Reading, every one can choose whether he will read one chapter, or several, or only a part of one at a time.

In conclusion, the compiler would frankly avow that, in arranging these precious and beautiful verities, it has been his fondly cherished hope that they might beget tastes so refined and elevated, that the inanities of the popular literature shall be less relished and prized than now and heretofore. And he has ventured to believe, notwithstanding the prevailing passion for duodecimos, and for still more diminutive volumes decked with bright colours and gilt, that this stately octavo will be a cherished and life-long companion, and that it will escape the speedy doom of those butterflies of literature, which, after adorning the table or shelf a few weeks or months, are banished to some dingy and obscure lodgement in garret or crypt, that there may be room for the new-comers in glittering array. Such as it is, this work is sent forth on its mission, the compiler being more hopeful that it will be approved by the matured judgments of the considerate and wise, than heedful of the decisions of hasty criticism. It goes

forth, not as a lately turned literary kaleidoscope presenting commonplace thoughts in new relations; but it meets the eye like the nightly dome, all aglow with the priceless gems of inspired truth and poetic genius, whose beauties, fresh and fadeless as the stars, will never weary the thoughtful reader.


F the reader may wisely ask why this book has been made, it

fairly weigh may be

justify its being. He must not, however, look for a thorough unfolding of the religious and literary excellences of the Biblea work for a large volume-in a brief prelude, nor hope to find the manifold merits of religious poetry fitly set forth within bounds so narrow.

Though it behooves the philosophic sceptic heedfully to study such a phenomenon as the Bible, in order to a becoming selfrespect, no discreet friend of the Scriptures fears that their authority can be lastingly impaired through scientific discoveries, or by just criticism. The chief and unfailing attractions of the Bible are the wondrous originality, scope, and freshness of its truths. It is a flower-garden which the devout reader approaches, not as the analytic botanist does his herbarium, but as a true lover of nature, to be delighted by graceful forms and variegated hues, and to be regaled by fragrant odours. As the latter is cheered by the pearly freshness of the summer's morning, is entranced by genial noontide glories, and is won to peaceful musings by the teeming aromas and the dreamy stillness at evening twilight, so does the earnest and loving reader of the Scriptures find the morning of life's day cheered by sweet hopes, its noon dauntless and assured under the glowing light of the divine teachings, and its evening calm and joyful, as he waits for the approach of a day whose glories no cloud shall dim, and no night shall follow.

But since so much of this book is taken from the Bible, it is worth while to consider what that volume is, and how it should. be treated as containing special revelations from God to men, and as being His best gift to them. Its divine origin and authority are here assumed, not argued! If there be those who regard the accounts of the Creation, the Fall, and the Deluge as mere fables, it is for them to justify their unbelief; if any

think they have such sure and thorough insight of the great world of matter, mind, and spirit, that they know there is no room for God to work otherwise than through natural laws and forces, they ought to be satisfied with the grounds of their knowledge; and if there be those who cannot believe the miracles of the Hebrew Scriptures, while they hold to the truth of those recorded in the New Testament, let them, if they can, maintain their consistency. If the faith of any is overtasked by the story of Jonah's entombment in the whale, they are told in the Gospels that the Saviour treated it both as a fact, and as a symbolic prophecy of His own burial and resurrection. A like toleration may be justly claimed for the large majority of Christians, who hold that God, the Creator of all things, may work, and has wrought, otherwise than through such laws and forces as He has originated. They believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the Saviour of men, because they find His coming and character foreshadowed and foretold by the types and prophecies of the Old Testament. Finding, in the New Testament, that He emphatically declares Himself to be THE TRUTH, they deem it soundly philosophical to regard all other truths subordinate and supplementary. Being there taught that He is "before all," and "head over all," and that "all power" belongs to Him, such Christians, recognizing in that wonderful personage the Messiah of the Hebrews, see ample reason for the constrained separation of that people from idolaters, and for their long and strict religious discipline, that thus He might be duly introduced to the world both as the son of David and the Son of God. It does not disturb the faith of such believers to be reminded that the Jews, so long and highly favoured by Jehovah, and trained to a ceremonial holiness, were exceedingly perverse, and often outrageously wicked; for they also believe that when their crimes culminated in the rejection and crucifixion of their Messiah, and He had cried, "It is finished," and the vail of the temple had been rent in twain, the peculiar mission of that people had ended. At that hour they passed from a state of privilege to one of doom. In former times their ancestors had felt the rod of divine chastisements for correction; but the bitterness of the cup which they had so often quaffed was tempered by the kindness of their faithful and loving Father. In vain was it for them, though He still yearned to show forgiveness

« PoprzedniaDalej »