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Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1842,
BY ABEL TOMPKINS,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.
GEORGE A. CURTIS,
N. ENGLAND TYPE AND STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY, BOSTON.
In preparing the following work, the chief aim of the author has been conciseness-to compress as much information as possible on the important subjects investigated, into a book of suitable size for Sabbath schools. How far he has succeeded in accomplishing this object, he leaves for others to judge. That a Class Book of this description was greatly needed in our denomination, there can hardly be a doubt. It is well known that the advocates of the popular religious errors of the day depend almost entirely upon the parables for the support of their sentiments. Take these parables out of their hands, and there are but few plain declarations of Scripture to which they could resort in proof of their forbidding doctrines. Let any discerning individual attend but for a short period, upon the preaching which is now very singularly termed evangelical, especially in seasons of revíval, and he will readily perceive that a repetition and a literal construction of the highly figurative language of the parables, are the chief means resorted to for the purpose of arousing the fears and blinding the judgment of the people. Children and youth are exceedingly liable to be erroneously impressed and led astray by these means. It is to throw around them a shield of light which shall defend them from these influences, that the following pages have been prepared.
Although we have already two excellent works on the parables, yet from their size and expense, it is not to be supposed they are within the reach of the great mass of Sabbath school scholars. And even if they were, it is doubtful whether they could be induced to peruse treatises of this elaborate description, in such a manner as to impress the contents upon their minds effectually. But it is different when the parables are placed before children as a study. In committing the explanations to memory, the scholar must necessarily acquire a fund of information which he would not be likely otherwise to obtain, and much of which he will re
tain through life. The author has given to the parables the constructions which generally prevail among Universalists. And it has been his object to simplify his explanations and bring them within the comprehension of children, as much as the nature of the case would admit. Let none say the lessons are too easy for Bible classes and the higher classes in the Sabbath school. When the knowledge imparted is valuable, is it possible to make it too plain and simple? It is believed the most advanced scholars, in committing these lessons, cannot fail to obtain many facts which will greatly assist them in forming and maturing their religious opinions.
A few of the minor parables have been omitted. This has been done to avoid making the work too large and too expensive. Those omitted, however, are so plain that few can misunderstand them, and none can turn them to the support of error. In the parable of the Unclean Spirit, it has been thought proper to treat briefly on the general subject of demoniacal possessions. The same course has been pursued in those parables where the words hell, unquenchable fire, devil, etc., are found.
The author would take this occasion to acknowledge his indebtedness for 'many suggestions, in preparing this Catechism, and for the opinions of several learned commentators, to those valuable works, Whittemore's and Ballou's Notes on the Parables, Paige's Selections, and Balfour's Inquiry. He would especially refer scholars who desire a more full explanation and illustration of the Parables, to the two former of the books above named.
That these pages may have a tendency to throw the light of God's truth into many young minds, is the earnest prayer of THE AUTHOR.
DANVERS, APRIL, 1842.
ON THE PARABLES.
Q. From whom did the Jews descend? A. They descended from Abraham, the ancient servant of God.
Q. From what did they derive their general name of Jews?
A. From Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, whose descendants became the most numerous of the tribes of Israel.
Q. Where do we find the sacred history of the Jews?
A. In the Old Testament.
Q. Where can the profane history of the Jews be found?
A. In the works of Flavius Josephus.
Q. Who was Josephus ?
A. He was an eminent Jewish writer, who was born a few years after the advent of Christ.
Q. To what period does he bring down the history of the Jews?
A. To the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 70.
A. They are entitled to great credit, and have universally received it, on account of the acknowledged learning and integrity of their author.
Q. Why is his history of the overthrow and destruction of Jerusalem, and of the wars and calamities
which preceded and accompanied that important event, entitled to entire belief?
A. Because he was an active participator in these transactions, and an eye-witness of much that he relates.
Q. Which of the Jewish tribes occupied Judea, in the days of the Saviour?
A. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
Q. What had become of the other ten tribes of Israel?
A. They had been carried into captivity by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, 740 years before Christ, from which it is supposed they never returned.
Q. What was the political condition of the Jews at the advent of the Redeemer ?
A. They were in subjection to the Roman government. About 40 years before the birth of Jesus, Judea fell into the possession of the Romans, who placed Herod the Great, an Idumean, upon a throne, to rule over it as king.
Q. What was their religious condition at the same period?
A. They had departed from the purity of their ancient religion, and were influenced more by traditions than by the instructions of Moses and the prophets. Q. How did the Saviour describe their corruptions?
A. "Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."
Q. What were the principal sects among the Jews at the advent of the Messiah?
A. The Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. Q. Who were the Pharisees?
A. They were a sect which arose after the Babylonish captivity. They had become very numerous and popular in the days of Jesus.