The word Bible is from the Greek, and means The Book. It is made up of several small books, and when bound in two parts is known as the Old Testament and the New Testament. A Testament is a will; and the Bible is God’s will made for man’s good, and for his guide through life. The Old Testament tells of God’s love and care for the Jews, and His thought of Christ can be traced through all its pages. There is a good deal in the Bible that a child cannot understand, and the queer names make it very hard reading.
It has been the Author’s aim to tell the story simply, and in Bible language, so that the little ones can read it themselves, and learn to love and prize it as the best of all books.
By Rev. William Henry Milburn, D. D.
NO man of his time filled a larger space in the public eye of this country than John Randolph of Roanoke. His eccentricities, audacity and brilliancy, — his pride of birth and race, fearlessness and self-assertion, — his incisive and trenchant speeches set off with sparkling wit, keen satire, fierce invective, clothed in perfect English, and uttered with the style of a master, his sharp criticisms of the faults and short-comings of his fellow-Congressmen, which gained for him the title, “schoolmaster of Congress,” together with his political consistency and fitfulness of temper, invested all his movements and sayings with a peculiar charm for the people. In his earliest years he had been carefully taught by his beautiful mother, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and many parts of God’s Word, until he had them by heart, and yet, in his haughty youth and early manhood he strove to set at naught these teachings: furnished himself with a “whole body of infidelity,” as he styled his collection of the writings of Voltaire and other French authors, as well as British, who strove to abolish the Bible, and for many years it seemed at once his pride and delight to wield the weapons drawn from these arsenals against the truths which make men wise unto Eternal Life, and to jeer with flout and scoff at all he had learned from his mother’s lips. But later on he confessed, with heart-breaking sobs and bitter tears, that with all his arrogance and insolence, his stern resolve to become and continue a Deist, he had never been able to put aside for a single day or night the lessons taught him by his mother, and that the hallowed forms of sound words, learned on her lap or at her knee, had dwelt with him, and were ever sounding in his ears, to admonish, counsel and reprove. There have been few more pathetic scenes than that in which Randolph came to die; a gaunt old man, old before his time; worn out by misery, shrivelled and haggard, sitting upright in his bed, covered by a blanket, even his head enveloped and his hat on top of it; unutterable despair looking out at his eyes, his pinched lips and squeaking voice uttering, “Let me see it; get a dictionary; find me the word Remorse.” A dictionary could not be found. “Write it; I must see it,” he almost shrieked with failing voice. The word was written on his visiting card below his name; he demanded that it should be written above as well. The card was handed to him. “Remorse, John Randolph of Roanoke, Remorse.” With horror in his face and that card in his hand, his eyes staring at the word, he breathed his last. From that mournful death-bed seemed to come floating the solemn words, “Take fast hold of instruction; keep her; let her not go, for she is thy life,” and “He that sinneth against wisdom wrongeth his own soul.”
Long centuries ago, a young man of aristocratic birth, handsome person, polished manners, brilliant and highly cultivated intellect, was walking, on a day in the reign of the Emperor Julian, by the bank of the river Orontes, not far from the stately city of Antioch, the Paris of that age, — and saw something floating in the stream. The branch of a tree enabled him to drag it ashore; it proved to be a copy of the sacred Scriptures; Julian, the mad master of the world, had issued an edict, annexed to which were heavy penalties, that all copies of that book should be destroyed. The young man who drew the manuscript to shore had been taught the lessons of that volume from a child, by his pious mother, Anthusa; but he had thrown off the yoke of his mother’s faith; had become a devotee of heathen philosophy, poetry and rhetoric, and at the same time steeped himself in the licentious pleasures and dissipations of the Grove of Daphne, the Hippodrome and Theatre, and resolved that “the man Christ Jesus should not reign over him.” He opened the parchment, some words on the page caught his eye; they were familiar, yet shone with a new light and were armed with irresistible power: he read on; his mother’s prayers were answered; he embraced the truth, bowed his neck to the yoke he had foresworn, and the volume he rescued from the flood became a treasure-trove for the world, — through fifteen centuries alike in the east and west, — that man has been known as St. John Chrysostom, the “Mouth of Gold,” one of the most saintly and eloquent preachers, whose life, genius, sufferings and death for conscience’s sake adorned the history of mankind.
Not far from the same time, a young man bathed in tears lay writhing in agony under a fig tree in the garden of his house at Milan. His devout mother, Monica, in their Numidian home, had taught him the way of life written in God’s Word; but as he grew to manhood he strove to shake off the influence and authority of her instruction; became a libertine, reached forth to grasp the crown of heathen eloquence and learning, and for more than ten years wrought steadily to undo the sacred work his mother had performed for him as a child. But the lesson she had taught him lay deeper than his surging passions, imperious intellect, and haughty will, and because of their power over him he could find no rest night or day. He journeyed to Carthage, Rome, Milan, the chief cities of the western world, to study art and eloquence, to drench his soul with the pleasures of sense and lay the ghost of his disquiet; but in vain. In his anguish under the fig tree he heard, or seemed to hear, again and again, “Take it up and read, Take it up and read.” Springing to his feet, he ran to a friend near by who was reading the Word. Seizing the volume, his eyes rested on the words, “Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provisions for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” The birth-pangs of his conversion were ended; he found peace in believing; and that incident makes an era in the history of the world, for that man was none other than Saint Augustine, the influence of whose writings has swayed with more might than that of an imperial sceptre the destinies of western Christendom for ages. “Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them,” saith the Lord, “I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man which built his house upon the sand; and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Woe to Randolph! he heard and would not, and his house fell, and great was the fall of it. Mankind with one voice calls Augustine and Chrysostom blessed; they heard, obeyed, and their houses stand forever; they were built upon the rock. “Their Rock is not as our Rock, our enemies themselves being judges” was the boast of Israel at an early day. With how much fuller emphasis may Christendom utter it to-day. Compare India with Britain, China with the United States, and after all other forces are measured and allowed, it will be found that the significant and self-renewing causes for the superiority of the western nations over the eastern are the presence, authority and influence of the Old and New Testament. “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life clear as crystal proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
In this beautiful book, Miss Pollard, with admirable tact and skill, has made a path by which the children may draw near to that river and drink of the water of life; and the artists whose genius has been laid under such effective contribution by the liberality of the publisher, will help the little ones to gather the leaves and pluck the fruit of that tree.
Every home in the land blessed by the presence of boys and girls will be illumined and enriched by this volume; every mother who strives to train her children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” will be signally helped by its ministry.
The letter-press will quicken the understanding and attune the ear, and the treasures of art contained in these pages will arouse the imagination and stimulate the memory of the young to lay hold upon and receive all that is contained in “the one Book — ” “Oldest Choral melody as of the heart of mankind; soft and great as the summer midnight, as the world with the seas and stars.”
No man’s education can be complete, no human life can have its full store of flowers and fruits, which is not begun, continued and ended in the ever deepening study and love of the articulate word of God.