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to them, touched them, held them, quickened them. Its words and that because there was a living and immortal fire in the thought behind them — have burned themselves into the inmost consciousness of human souls, and have endured there, to awaken and transform them. The stories of the Old Testament, the poetry of David and Isaiah and their compeers, the matchless Life whose brief work in the world is told in the four Gospels — these have refused to be forgotten, ignored, or dismissed to the world's rubbish heap of outworn legends.
Hence this volume has a distinct value and vocation. Not all of the Bible is of equal worth or pertinency; not all of it is of equal interest or utility. The old tradition that to read it through, mechanically and undiscriminatingly, two or three times a year, had of itself some occult and mysterious potency, has come to be recognized as belonging to the kindred tradition that soldiers' lives have been saved by a New Testament carried in the left breast pocket, because it was a Testament; whereas any other volume carried in the same place would have stopped a bullet quite as effectually. But all the while the living, spiritual, quickening force of the literature has endured, and will endure, because it is, in every higher note of it, the voice of the Divine.
To gather, therefore, within the covers of one volume that which rings through and through with this higher note; and especially, by arrangement, by selection, by reverent and discriminating methods of sequence, to put together what will make a Child's Bible - this, it ought to be plain to a just mind, is a worthy and timely thing to do. It is not my office to pronounce judgment here as to the skill and fitness with which, in this volume, the task
has been performed; but I venture to think that those who examine it, from whatever standpoint, will recognize that the qualities that, for such a task, are most of all demanded — a reverent handling, a fine insight, a tender perception of the wants and capacities of a child's mind — have not been wanting, and that it will be widely welcomed as a good work done in a good way.
HENRY CODMAN POTTER.
NEW YORK CITY,
This book has a purpose which is practical and of high worth. It endeavors to bring into close relation with the life of children that rich material for helping them to be religious and good which is treasured up in the Bible. The attempt is not superfluous. The method of it is simplicity itself.
We all want our children to grow up good; and if their goodness is to have roots and juiciness, it will be religious,-provided, that is, that we do not make religion impossible for them by making it unnatural, forced, unchildlike. Nothing is, in fact, more natural than religion, because it is concerned with elemental realities. Children cannot describe these, but they perceive them and respond to them, and religion is thus simple and natural to children if difficulties are not raised in their way,-if it is put before them simply and naturally. The Bible has served this end for some time.
The appeal of the Bible to children's minds is both natural and simple. Its narratives tell their own story. Its poetry chants its own beauty. Its instruction is in graded lessons, some for to-day, some for ten years hence, all apprehensible in the time of them. Expository comment may have its place, but for children that place is limited, and the primary demand for it seeks no more than explanation of obscurities, lifts over the hard places. Like works of genius generally, and more than most, the Bible makes its distinct impression on untutored minds. Nothing has yet been found to take the place of the Bible story and the mother's knee.
Children are fond of living things. It is not hard to make the Bible
a living book for children, because it really is so thoroughly alive. Those who read it to them, or tell them its tales, must at least not deaden it in transmission. They must feel its life, and have vivacity and imagination enough to make children feel it, if they are to help children by means of it. But the Bible is so charged with vital power that a very dull introduction to it will often make a real connection. Children respond unconsciously to the truth of the living forces of the Bible, the moral imagination is fired, and life is stimulated at its depths. Sooner than many suppose, the small brain grasps a principle, unable to define it, but quite able to follow it. Right and wrong, obedience, truth, and kindness, take on reality. The story that illustrates them passes into the teaching that enjoins them, the ethical sense is quickened and enlarged, the feeling of spiritual reality is stirred, without being forced or exaggerated; and as the higher capacity grows, the Bible ministers to it.
Whatever will aid the Bible in doing its varied work for the lives of children has a claim upon child-lovers. THE BIBLE FOR CHILDREN is offered as a “Parent's Assistant,” more ancient, but, at the same time, far more modern, more original, more truthful, more powerful, than the best Miss Edgeworth could do.
But in reading the Bible to children, or telling its stories, we skip what seems to us unsuitable for children. Care for childhood prompts this, and not blame for the Bible. A Bible made up of the parts we leave in for children's use is our Bible for Children. That such Bible exists in fact is the solid justification of an attempt to give it distinct form. We make Child's Bibles for our own children as we read, and they are many and various, according to our varying judgments. Our judgments can be guided and our need met by a Child's Bible which shall select wisely and combine skilfully that part of the rich Biblical material which is best fitted for children, and makes to them the strongest appeal.
Apart from its intrinsic fitness, such a book, well put together, has a further advantage. It meets the child's desire for particular ownership. The individual appeals to children. The Bible for Children is the peculiar possession of a child. And it has not only the fascination of ownership, but also the value of serving as the child's own reading-book when the alphabet begins to lose its terrors. Selections are made which we should ourselves