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My hunible labour was begun long ago. I ask nothing for it but the belief that it has been executed with such judgement as a wholly unlearned person could exercise ;at all events, with such care and reverence as the matter itself, much more than the hope of praise or fear of criticism, suggested to me.
My sole object has been to put together all that presented itself to my own heart and mind as most persuasive, consolatory, or elevating, in such a form and order as to be
easy of reference, conveniently arranged and divided, and freed from matter either hard to be understood, unattractive, or unprofitable (to say the least) for young and pure eyes.
I am fully aware that there are defects of arrangement, some few repetitions, and the like. Few will perhaps be aware how much patient labour has been employed to bring it even to such a degree of perfection as it has now acquired.
The variety of styles, and the change of persons and times, often rendered the difficulty of making the passages on a given subject (extracted as they are from every part of the Bible,) read with any degree of continuity and coherence, almost insurmountable. Traces of this will be seen.
I have not affected to go in search of other—perhaps better-interpretations than the translation in common use offers. In my own total ignorance of the original, I might but stumble on blind guides. I must confess, strange and paradoxical as the opinion sounds in this age, that I have no confidence in the usefulness of half-lights on any subject-least of all on this; and it appeared to me that any faint and partial glimmerings I could catch from the works of others, would profit little, and might mislead much.
I have omitted the narrative parts of the Bible, because they have been so often extracted and published, that I thought it needless to swell my volume with them.
Some brief sketches of the general history and fortunes of the Jewish nation, as rehearsed by David in his songs, will however be found at the end.
The Apocryphal Books are, I believe, little in the hands of the young; yet they contain passages of great beauty and splendour, and precepts which cannot too often be recalled. I have therefore subjoined an Appendix extracted from them.
The reasons which have confined my selection to the Hebrew Scriptures are so obvious, that it is not needful to enlarge upon them here.
London: November, 1832.