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Edward Robinson


Few words are necessary to set forth the advantages and usefulness of a work like this,
on the subject of the Bible, as the Bible is the most interesting work to mankind ever written,
so must every work that gives an intelligent and critical explanation of it become indispensable
and valuable to that extent as it is found to be reliable.

In the preparation of this work the editor has been governed by a single idea. — the aim
to make it, to the utmost of his ability, what he should judge most desirable as a companion
to the Bible, a companion, however, not in the sense of a master or equal, but of a minister-
ing attendant. While we glory only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and justly value all,
objects by their relation to him, it is not for us to stand still amidst the mighty stream of ad-
vancement in human affairs.

The present is, not without reason, denominated an age of inquiry. How far profound,
how far impartial, how far governed by the meekness of wisdom, how far springing from the
fervent love of truth and righteousness, we will not say — but still it is an age of inquiry. All
who are acquainted with the movements of the civilized world, must be aware that within the
last fifty years the prevailing systems of metaphysics and morals, and the most important doc-
trines of Christianity, as well as the evidence of Christianity itself, have undergone a rigorous
investigation by some of the ablest minds of an age, than which none, perhaps, has been
more fruitful in great men. The' whole structure of theology, as well as of politics, has been
re-examined from its foundation by the searching spirit of the times. And it is well. The
spirit that is moving on these troubled elements, we verily believe, is the Spirit of God. It
is a spirit that is at once purifying our faith at home, and extending it abroad among all the
nations. Under its quickening influence, Biblical Literature and Criticism have been greatly
advanced. The laws of sound interpretation have become better understood and are more
generally applied in the investigation of the Sacred Volume; though on this point there is
still much to be desired. Great advantages have been gained by the recent spirit of in-
quiry and free discussion. If few new truths have been discovered, many old ones have
been settled and defined, and some crude and impure mixtures purged away. The prac-
tical application of truths has also been more ably illustrated, and we may hope henceforth
to see more and better fruit spring from their belief and inculcation; besides this, good
men of different communions are becoming every day better acquainted with each other,
and a gradual approximation of sentiment and feeling is taking place through the agency
of spiritual revivals of benevolent institutions and associations, and of the religious press.
This fact affords a cheering augury for the future.

In religion, reason makes no real discoveries except as she walks in the clear light of
Divine Revalation. The use of reason in religion is to enlarge our minds to the amplitude
of truth; but the abuse of reason is more common, which would contract truth to the nar-
rowness of our own understanding. One of the chief and undoubted merits of this work is
the bringing together, from a great variety of sources, facts and extracts which serve to illus-
trate the antiquities, manners and customs and geography of oriental nations. The works
of modern oriental travelers have been carefully studied and extensively used. To those
engaged in teaching the truths of religion ; to teachers in the Sabbath Schools, as well as
to the. scholars, it will be found of universal value, for the simple and ready instruction it
contains. It appeals to no sect, but is addressed to the whole Christian Church.

The plan of the work, it will be perceived, is neither doctrinal nor devotional. The
.object of it is simply to illustrate the meaning of the Bible itself, leaving to other occasions
the application of that meaning, as it regards both the understanding and the heart. That
the work may have the effect to facilitate and promote the study of the Sacred Volume
in our land, is now the editor's fervent prayer, as it has long been the object of his
anxious toil.

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