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I SHALL not regret that the following chapters have been committed to the press, if, by the blessing of God, they should, even in a single instance, become instrumental in producing a conviction that there is no real necessity for looking to novels, romances, and plays, in order to discover what is stirring in incident, exciting in action, or interesting in the opportunity of studying human nature under a variety of forms and aspects.
To hear some persons talk upon these points, it might be supposed that the Bible had not, in its whole contents, a single page of historic matter-that it did not present a single incident on which a thoughtful mind could moralize--and that there was an utter destitution of material for that study of human nature which is so essential to the satisfactory formation of character. Such persons, therefore, profess themselves to be under the necessity of seeking in other volumes that which they affirm that the Bible does not supply. How far their representations are founded in truth may be
ascertained by a careful and candid examination of the structure of the Book. The diligent student of the sacred volume will feel himself in a position to prove that for everything which is ordinarily adduced as giving attractiveness to books for which the Bible is forsaken, there may be found corresponding features of interest in the Book of inspiration. For in its descriptions and narratives the machinery of life looks as unmanageable and incomprehensible, and its processės are wrought out as variously and as marvellously as the most devoted reader of romance could desire. Here, certainly not less than in volumes of another kind, the smooth is most strangely interwoven with the rough—the alteration is made quite suddenly from the low to the high-the reverse of fortune quickly exchanges the bright for the gloomy-and the schemes of men so unexpectedly disappoint all previous plotting and contriving, that the strongest emotions of the reader's heart are brought into activity. Over these pages the mind may be as much fascinated by the succession of incidents which excite, and by the quiet onward flow of existence which lulls and tranquillizes, as in the delineations drawn on pages of a lighter tendency. There is this advantage, too, in regard to the Bible, that in the perusal of its touching and often startling narratives, we are saved from the intrusion of the thought, “ But, after all, it is not true,"—a remembrance which is sometimes very awkward and unwelcome, in the midst of the excited emotions which the extravagance of some work of mere fiction has called up. Over how many portions of the Scripture history must an impartial judge pronounce that “truth is stranger than fiction”! Of all books, too, which were ever written, none meets the student of human nature-the inquirer who is anxious to know what man is, and what he can be
what he can do—what he is intended for-how he can come up to his Maker's purposes concerning him, or how he may fail in this great objectwhat dangers threaten him—what facilities are afforded him ;-no book will meet the inquirer proposing such questions for personal and practical purposes with so much promise as the Bible. Its illustrations of human nature are so numerous and so varied, drawn from so many sources, and exhibiting man under such diversity of circumstances, that to attempt the formation of personal character without a perpetual reference to its pages, would be to act as unwise and absurd a part as that man would act, who, pretending to desire proficiency in any branch of science, should content himself with merely reading some lighter books, in which the subject was professedly “made easy,” and should never trouble himself to study, nor scarcely to look into, the standard works in that particular department.
I have selected the history of Saul as a Scripture study, because I believe that it will furnish ample confirmation of the views which have just been stated. Especially will it be found useful to the young, as a