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THE object of the following Work is to supply a hand-book for Devotional Reading, which may be used either in private or at the Family Altar.

All elaborate and argumentative criticism has, as much as possible, been excluded; and the Extracts, which have been taken from a variety of sources, irrespective of class or party, aim to exhibit some of the practical applications of the passages they are brought to illustrate, without either perverting or ignoring their textual and legitimate import. In their selection, preference has uniformly been given to such as were felt to be both pertinent and impressive, and the greatest care has been taken to prevent a single repetition.'

Doubtless, some of the Illustrations will be deemed redundant, and others too lengthy: but it has been considered, that what may fail to instruct and interest some readers, may afford both pleasure and profit to others; and that those Illustrations which seem objectionable in point of length, possess, in general, the recommendation of superior excellence. The insertion of the very lengthy citation from Howe, on 1 Chron. xvi. 48, is justified on the ground that it is one of the principal designs of the Work to promote the observance of the much-neglected duty of Family Religion, and that there is, probably, nothing in the language superior to Howe's forcible appeals on this subject. It is believed that no serious reader will desire its omission.

All Quotations which it has been found difficult to verify are classed as Anonymous.

It was at first intended to issue the Work in one Volume, excluding that portion of Scripture to which the Illustrations do not apply; but the size of the Book would have been found very inconvenient, both for use and reference, in comparison of six portable volumes; and, moreover, the insertion of Holy Scripture in its connexion and integrity, gives the Work a completeness and an intrinsic value which it would not otherwise possess.

It is hoped that Sunday School Teachers may glean from the Book' suggestive hints,' which they can amplify at their own discretion for the benefit of their classes.

May the Great Head of the Church vouchsafe His blessing!



December 16th, 1867.




N the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.


The phrase 'In the beginning' is universally expressive in the Scriptures of the commencement of created or finite existence-the beginning of time, when, as Matthew Henry observes, the clock was first set a-going.' 'The heaven and earth' is a Jewish phrase, denoting the universe and all things which it contains.-Dwight.

Philosophers have had great debates about the formation of the world; some asserting its eternity, others forming the most ridiculous notions of its being made by chance, or a concourse of atoms: but this first verse of our Bible clears up all the difficulty. In the first page of this sacred book a child may learn more in an hour, than all the philosophers in the world learned

without it in thousands of years.Orton; A. Fuller.

The being of God is here taken for granted. All arguments to demonstrate it are invalid. The best of them, founded on the dependence of every effect upon its cause, is self-destructive. The most convictive argument, perhaps, on the subject is that of Jonathan Edwards, which has been more fully developed by recent philosophers, viz., that the human mind cannot form a conception of non-existence.-L.

The word here rendered 'God' is plural, and is joined with a singular verb; this grammatical anomaly has, with reason, been thought to intimate the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead. -Scott.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

and affecting emblem of man's fallen and degenerate condition, in which he is destitute of every holy principle, until renewed by the energy of the Holy Spirit.-L.

The earth, viz., that part of it which was designed for the habitation of man, had been brought, by a succession of volcanic and other physical changes, into a condition of 'superficial ruin,' affording, in that state, a just * And God said, Let there be light: The great charm of this passage lies in the vivid impression it gives us of the Divine omnipotence, nothing apparently intervening between the Divine will and its accomplishment. With God 'to will is to effect, to determine


and there was light.

is to perform.' This impression is very greatly enhanced by a consideration of the rapidity with which light travels. In one second of time, in one beat of the pendulum of the clock, a ray of light travels over the space of 192,000


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