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LIVES AND CHARACTERS OF THE PRINCIPAL PERSONAGES
RECORDED IN THE SACRED WRITINGS;
TO THE INSTRUCTION OF YOUTH AND PRIVATE FAMILIES;
TOGETHER WITH AN
THIRTY DISSERTATIONS ON THE EVIDENCES OF DIVINE REVELATION,
FROM TIMPSON'S KEY TO THE BIBLE ;
A COMPLETE SUMMARY OF BIBLICAL KNOWLEDGE,
CAREFULLY CONDENSED AND COMPILED FROM
SCOTT, DODDRIDGE, GILL, PATRICK, ADAM CLARKE, POOL, LOWTH, HORNE, WALL, STOWE,
ROBINSON, AND OTHER EMINENT WRITERS ON THE SCRIPTURES.
SEVERAL IUNDRED ENGRAVINGS ON WOOD,
SCRIPTURE SCENES, MANNERS, CUSTOMS, ETC.
PUBLISHED BY ROBERT SEARS, No. 122 NASSAU STREET.
BOSTON: SAXTON & PEIRCE, 133! WASHINGTON STREET.
ST. JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK : GEORGE & EDWARD SEARS.
AND SOLD BY THE BOOKSELLERS GENERALLY.
ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1842,
BY ROBERT SEARS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.
STEREOTYPED BY REDFIELD & SAVAGE, 13 CHAMBERS ST. N. Y.
PRESS OF M. DAY & CO......JAMES EGBERT, PRINTER.
IOGRAPHY possesses many important advantages over general history. The principal perhaps of these is the tendency which it has to improve the heart by portraying VirTUE and Vice as they actually appear in the conduct of individuals.
When we contemplate the variegated scenes of public life, as exhibited on the theatre of the world, our minds may be
filled with admiration, but they will often be perplexed with difficulties, and deceived by false appearances. The causes of the most important events are frequently buried in the depths of oblivion, or so confounded in the mazes of party prejudice and political intrigue, as not easily to be explored. Should we, indeed, after much inquiry and attention, obtain a very comprehensive knowledge of what has been transacted in the world since its origin, the acquisition, though undoubtedly very valuable, would not be of much practical utility in correcting our passions, regulating our conduct, strengthening our faith, animating our hopes, or cheering us in this checkered scene of vanity and trouble.
But when we are steadily engaged in considering one character, and have before us an exact and regular view of him in every age and circumstance of life, from infancy to manhood, and in all the various relations which, in the social state, he is called to fill ; abundant matter is presented to us, which, if duly improved, will make both wiser and better than we were before. We behold in men of like passions, and placed in similar situations with ourselves, the advantages which are the result of early piety, of virtuous resolution, of lowliness of mind, and of religious integrity. We may thus see the beauty of holiness” as it were embodied, and exhibiting its graces in a variety of forms and under numerous circumstances, which in the bustle of public life would pass by lost and unheeded. The religious character is contemplated to advantage in prosperity and adversity, bearing the one with an humble and thankful heart, and the other with calmness and resignation. But religion is, probably, seen in its greatest lustre during the dark and dismal hour of death. In that solemn season, when the busy scenes of folly are shut out, when the noise and contentions of the world are no longer heard, when splendid rank and honors are disregarded, whon pomp, and riches, and pleasures bear the glaring and mortifying inscription of vanity and vexation—then does Religion look through the gloom, and as she smiles upon the dying Christian, kindles in the bosom even of the vain and irreligious beholder, a wish to die the death of the righteous, and to have his latter end like his.
In this grand point it is that the excellency of BIOGRAPHY is strikingly displayed, by introducing us not only to the acquaintance of the wise and good in their meditations, and in their labors of piety and love, but also to their dying beds, where we behold the triumph of faith over the fears of death, and see them breathing their souls with joyful hope into the hands of their HEAVENLY FATHER.
In the consideration of such scenes, and not in beholding the bustling events of the world, we learn the true estimate of human life, and the proper end of our being.
This naturally directs us to one of the most distinguished excellencies of the HOLY SCRIPTURES, as abounding with numerous examples of faith and holiness, delineated with the strictest impartiality, all of them powerfully calculated to awaken in us a concern about the best things, and to lead us in the path of righteousness. In a moral sense alone the SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS are the most proper that can be presented for our imitation, because they are represented as they truly were, without any design of extenuating their errors or exaggerating their virtues. No art is made use of to exhibit them to us to the best advantage, but they are shown in their native simplicity, in a great variety of natural situations, and exactly “as men of like passions with ourselves.”
But there is a higher point of view in which the BIOGRAPHICAL NARRATIONS OF THE Bible excel all others; and this indeed must be of the utmost importance. We mean the instruction which we learn from them in the things which concern our everlasting salvation. Morality may be serviceable to us in our connexion with one another as members of the same society ; but it can neither open or maintain a communication with HEAVEN.
That Revelation which God has given to us in his Holy Word alone does this, and while we learn from it the faith which is necessary to salvation, we are presented with numerous instances of persons who have lived and died in the enjoyment of it. By considering their examples then, we not only see the beauty of virtue, and are charmed with the excellencies of an humble, contented, temperate, and pious life, but we gather from them information concerning the "things of the kingdom of God."
We see what animated them in their progress through a troublesome world, what enabled them to resist temptation, to overcome difficulties, to brave persecution, and to encounter even the terrors of death without dismay; not the en. ergies of their own minds, not a philosophical indifference to pain and pleasure, but a comfortable belief of the “great mystery of godliness” which the MESSIAN undertook to accomplish for the salvation of a lost world. In the lives of these Worthies we see the great truths of our religion elucidated, not merely in the morality of their actions, but in the purity of their principles. We see them witnessing a good confession in the darkest times, bearing their testimony to the work of redemption, living by faith upon the Son of God, and dying in the triumphant assurance of His salvation.
He is the centre of the system round which all the luminaries of the Christian Church have moved, both before his incarnation and since his ascension, deriving their light solely from him, and kept in their course by the influence of His grace.
This important doctrine runs through the following pages, and we trust that our readers will not be displeased with us for endeavoring throughout the work to keep their attention constantly alive to this grand object. But though an evangelical turn has been given to every incident where it could naturally be admitted; yet we are not so fond of allegory as to admire the fancy of spiritualizing all objects, institutions, and circumstances mentioned in the Bible. Where a