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Testament, as “ the gospel of glad tidings," with · out knowing, that if one is the casket, the other is the key, which displays the treasure in the clearest point of view.
The value of scripture history, as the only authentic account we possess of the earliest
ages, and the most instructive mirror of man, is, perhaps, not yet estimated as it ougbt to be; for in it only we contemplate characters and events recorded without prejudice or partiality. To invite young persons, who are yet unapprised of the pleasures and advantages within their reach, to begin the delightful study, the following elements are offered, with the unaffected diffidence which becomes so imperfect a work. A connected view of the principal narrative of the scriptures, with very brief illustrations from authors of acknowledged credit, is all that is attempted. The sublime doctrines of Christianity are stated simply as they occur, without examining the sources from which they are drawn. The answers to questions incidentally thrown in to enliven the story, can hardly pretend to the dignity of argument, to prove what is assumed in these “ Conversations," as the corner stone.
To talk of scripture doctrines in our social circles now, is just as fashionable as it is to be a member of a Bible society; for in our age of wonders, we are all philosophers and all philanthropists~ the title, therefore, of this little book will lead some to expect that sort of discussion to which they are every day accustomed. They will be entirely disappointed. The flippancy and temerity with which the most abstruse questions of scripture are introduced into familiar conversation, is as irreverent as it is absurd, and ought to be discouraged. Let us endeavour to ascertain, with a seriousness corresponding to the magnitude of the subject, the authority on which these truths are given to us, and if we find, as we certainly shall, that they will bear the severest scrutiny, let us acquiesce in silence, while we humbly feel their superiority to our limited reason.
That faults may be discovered in this performance, there exists not a doubt in the mind of the author. They might, perhaps, be extenuated by adequate apologies: but they who take upon themselves the office of instructors, have but little right to insist on the lenity of the public. An anonymous work may anticipate candour, because it owes nothing to the adventitious weigbt of reputation.
Nor is there, in our liberal times, any hostility to a female pen to be deprecated. The moral and intellectual sphere of women has been gradually enlarging with the progress of the benignant star of Christianity ; but it was reserved for the nineteenth century to honour them beyond the circle of domestic life-to form them into societies, organized, active, and useful, in the most excellent pursuits. Still, let them ever remember, that whilst here they may be permitted to emit one in vigorating ray,—there it is their duty and their privilege to shine.
CONVERSATIONS ON THE BIBLE.
CATHERINE. Have we not your promise, mother, that you would converse with us on the history of the Bible ?
FANNY. I join you, Catherine, for conversation. It is to me more impressive than reading; and in this instance especially, it will diminish the trouble of travelling through so large a book.
Mrs. M. Trouble, my dear daughter! It should be the greatest pleasure, as it is your unspeakable privilege, to possess, and be able to read that book. Your curiosity should be awakened to desire a more intimate knowledge of a record, which speaks truth without error, and opens to man his origin and destiny. You will find it not less entertaining than instructive.
Fanny. That is all very true, I confess. I never fail to find entertainment in the Bible as well as instruction. Yet whenever I undertake to read it regularly through, I am interrupted by many things which seem, at least to me, to be irrelevant. What I want, then, is a
synoptical. elucidation of the story, with its general relation to the several parts of the Bible.
Mrs. M. I will endeavour to give you such a view, though I may not accomplish it so well as I could desire. The subject is exceedingly interesting, for the Bible is not only the oldest book in existence, but it contains an account of the creation of all things, and a history of mankind from the beginning. To read it regularly through, however, is not the most advantageous manner of collecting the substance or design, for the books are not all placed in the order or time in which they were written, and in some instances they are so arranged as to interrupt the narrative; yet no part is irrelevant, as you have suspected, but every thing contributes to one ultimate end. You have been habituated to the reading of this invaluable work, so that in a very brief narrative of its contents, I must necessarily repeat a great deal that you already know.
CATHERINE. I often think I am acquainted with the whole ; but when we are examined, we all discover our ignorance. A general view of the story and system, I think, would impress our memory and enable us better to understand the several parts; for you will admit that the Bible is a difficult book-even the import of the name is not obvious.
Mrs. M. All that we are required to understand as a rule either of faith or of practice, is abundantly clear. Some doctrines are indeed mysterious, but as we can prove them to have proceeded from infinite wisdom, we may well yield our assent, although we are unable to reduce them to the level of our finite minds. They may be mysterious, because they are in their nature incomprehensible to us. There is, nevertheless, this advan