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The purpose for which this little book has been prepared is one that should commend it to many Christian households. The practice of family worship is of greatest value, not only because it helps to keep alive a reverent and devout spirit in the family, but also because it affords a simple and natural means of promoting the study of the Bible. The influence of a daily reading of Holy Scripture, carried on in common by members of the household is sure to increase their familiarity with, and their love for, the Word of God, and to store their minds and hearts with memories and associations which will be precious to them as long as life endures.
But in the rush and pressure of modern life it is difficult for the head of the family to make the necessary preparation for conducting such a reading with intelligence, and with a continuous purpose and plan which shall give some unity to the daily exercises. The editor of this book, a layman who has had a long experience in practical Christian work, and who has found in his own household the great worth and wisdom of family worship, has had the happy thought of giving to others the benefit of that which he himself has learned. He has made a selection of appropriate Bible readings from the Old and the New Testaments, arranged in chronological order, and covering the entire Bible. With each of the selections he has included a Psalm, or a portion of a Psalm, in order that the devotional element of Scripture may always be represented. These verses from the Psalter could be read responsively if any family should desire to use them in this way. The prayers which are added at the end of the book are intended to be used purely as an aid to devotion, and not in any way to interfere with the spirit of free and spontaneous prayer.
The book is in no sense denominational or sectarian, but is meant to express and promote the spirit and the practice of simple, thoughtful, helpful worship in the bosom of the family and around that unseen altar which should be the shrine of every household.
I count it a privilege to write these brief words of introduction for this book, and to commend it warmly to those who do not wish to forget or neglect in their homes the sweet and hallowed custom of united daily devotion in the reading of God's word, and the offering of common prayer.
HENRY VAN DYKE.
Daily Bible reading, with family worship, morning or evening, or both, formed one of the foundation stones on which this nation was built. Our God-fearing forefathers believed in God as he had revealed himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; they were like the Christians in Berea, whom the apostle tells of (Acts 17, 11) who were “more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so", and they sought to guide their actions by the Bible.
In making selections of scripture day by day for personal reading or family worship, it is often difficult to find readily just a suitable portion, and so, after turning over the leaves of the Bible in search of something which has come to mind, and not finding it quickly, one often recurs to a passage more familiar, or to a psalm. So it happens that the same selections are read again and again, perhaps without much consideration, and in this way large portions of God's word, which are truly beautiful, instructive, and inspiring, are very seldom if ever noticed. In this way also, there is little knowledge gained of God's dealings with his children of old, and the grand and edifying lessons to be obtained from the history of God's chosen people are not properly learned by subsequent generations.
In preparing the following pages the attempt has been made to include as much as possible of the beautiful and wonderful words of the Bible, and to cover the history contained therein, in an attractive form, wholly in the exact words of the sacred book. The great difficulty has been to choose from the vast treasures therein, portions of suitable length for reading or for family worship, for every day of the year, and also to cover the entire Bible: for every book has been drawn from, except the Song of Solomon, the spiritual significance of which it is difficult for many to appreciate. The King James' version, the Bible of our forefathers, as issued by the American Bible Society has been used, as more likely to attract the ordinary reader than that of subsequent revisions. Care has been taken to preserve the italics, indicating words not found in the original and supplied by the translators.
The Biblical narrative has been followed exactly, and no portion transposed, except as now to be mentioned. The books of Chronicles, as duplicating some of the earlier records, have been woven into the story, and the prophets have been assigned, as far as possible, to the periods to which they belong. In this way a more definite and connected idea is given as to the motives of their prophetic utterances and warnings from God, and a clearer conception is obtained of the course of events and the reasons for their sequence.
Also in regard to the Epistles, as they often throw light upon the Old Testament, passages from them are interspersed throughout the book, with the idea of impressing the lessons indicated, or making
clear some thought. They also serve to give relief and a pleasant change occasionally from the continued consideration of Old Testament topics.
As the Psalms represent the more purely devotional part of the Scriptures, the attempt has been made to include a greater or less portion of them with each daily reading, except when the neccessary length of the section has prevented. This has been a very difficult task, as they had to be greatly divided in order to secure the proper length for the page; practically all the psalms are used, many of them twice. In certain instances it has been possible to assign portions of the psalms in such a way as to throw light upon other Scripture. Illustrations of this are found in the connection of the psalm of Moses with the story of his life, the fifty-first psalm in connection with David's sin, and his other psalms with phases of his life, the Babylonian psalms with the periods of captivity, etc.
The life of Christ has been arranged mainly according to the harmony of Davies and Robinson, so that the account given in the four gospels are interwoven according to their chronological order. The story of the last day of Christ's life and the resurrection has been compiled from the four Gospels according to the plan of Mimpriss, in the exact words of Scripture. The book of Acts naturally follows, and God's last message to his children, in Revelation, closes the readings.
It is the earnest hope and prayer of the compiler that God's Holy Spirit may use this humble effort, in the direction of creating greater interest in this wonderful Book, the Bible; also that the sections of it here presented may lead to a study of the very large remaining portion, and to a deeper love of and gratitude to our Heavenly Father, who would have all his children know, love, and trust Him and his Son Jesus Christ. Each selection, including the psalm, for every day, can easily be read aloud slowly in less than five minutes, which surely is not much time to give daily to a consideration of God's message to man.
As some, who would like to have daily worship at the family altar, may not feel equal to making spontaneous prayers, there has been added a selection of prayers of the church and others, which will aid in overcoming the difficulty. The compiler is greatly indebted to the Presbyterian Board of Publication for permission to use some prayers from the book of Common worship copyrighted by them. He is also under great obligation to Dr. van Dyke for kindly consenting to endorse, by his introduction, a work which might not otherwise receive full consideration, as coming from an unknown layman.