Antediluvians and Patriarchs

Preface

by John Kitto, Daily Bible Illustrations

Although the contents of this work are sufficiently indicated by its title, and a glance at the open page will clearly enough disclose its objects, it may be proper to afford the prefatory explanations which the reader usually expects, and which, to prevent possible misapprehensions, it is always the interest of the writer to supply.

Various works have at different times been offered to the public, which recognize in their plan the advantage of presenting to certain classes of readers a daily portion of knowledge, a daily reading in a particular line of subjects, or a daily theme for devout reflection. Most of these works have been received with favor; and there appeared much reason to conclude that a suitable selection of Scripture subjects, taken from the historical books of the Old and New Testaments, would be very acceptable to many; and might, with the Divine blessing, be rendered highly useful in promoting the knowledge of God’s Word, and in providing a pleasant and nutritive daily refreshment for the families in which that Word is properly valued.

In accomplishing this purpose, we have taken the Sacred History in regular course, and have followed the alternation of subjects which that course presents. We have taken up our parable for the day, wherever our attention has rested upon a theme that appeared suitable to the mode of treatment we have chosen. Each reading usually presents a separate and distinct subject; yet it will be found that a visible coherence has been given to all the parts, not only by the historical order adopted, but by the attention given to the leading historical events, between which the lesser  subjects naturally arrange themselves, and by which they are connected.

It has been an object of much solicitude to the Author to render this work really interesting, as a reading book, to the family circle, for which it is primarily designed. The means taken to ensure this result have been varied with the nature or the case; and it may be possible that the diversity of treatment which he has thus been led to adopt, may have brought him all the nearer to the mark at which he has aimed. Sometimes a single fact, usage, custom, or sentiment, has been found a sufficient subject for one paper, under the various lights which we have been enabled to cast upon it. On other occasions, an entire chapter, or incident, has been taken, for the purpose of gathering up the indications of character, of the customs, or of the conditions of men, which may be found in it, and which might not, singly, furnish a sufficient subject for an entire paper. In both cases, the nakedness of detail has been avoided, by describing briefly the historical or biographical incidents in which these facts are enshrined. Indeed, many papers have been, as it will seem at the first view, wholly devoted to such incidents; but it will be found on examination that the mode of statement embodies the result of much expository research, and of much careful thought, on the incident recorded, and on the facts and characters presented to view.

It will be found that throughout these papers, there is much allusion to Scriptural facts and texts which are not fully produced. Such allusions will be sufficient—without full production or distinct quotation—to those readers who have already a proper knowledge of the Bible, and for whom this work is intended. It has seemed to us that much valuable space has been consumed in works of this class in the statement of what is already well known, or easy of access to every reader. The practice of writing for those who have been familiar with the Bible from childhood, as one might write for such as are almost, if not altogether, ignorant of its sacred contents, perhaps needs amendment.
It will thus appear that the primary object of this undertaking is to present a daily course of Scriptural reading and reflection  for one year. The matters chosen as the subjects of this course are, in the highest degree, interesting in themselves, and, in the mode of setting them forth before the reader, an earnest endeavor is made to introduce into the family circle a large amount of biblical knowledge, not usually accessible but to persons possessed of large and curious libraries; and to present, in an easy and unpretending shape, the real fruits of much learned discussion and painstaking research. The long and careful thought which the Author is known to have given to such subjects, and his intimate acquaintance with the manners, customs, and ideas of the Eastern nations which most nearly resemble the ancient Hebrews, as well as with the geography and the physical condition of the Bible lands, will often, it is hoped, be found to throw much light upon Scripture incidents and characters, as well as upon the material facts which the Sacred Volume offers to our notice.

The sanctity of the Lord’s Day has been duly respected, by the appropriation of the Readings for the first day of every week, to solemn matters—involving, for the most part, the practical and devout consideration of some topic which the actual course of the Illustrations may present. In this part of his work, the writer has taken an especial interest; and if the reader obtains the same refreshment from these recurring periods for inner thought, which the writer has himself experienced, there will be no reason to complain of the result.

If, by the pains which have been taken to engage the attention without wearying it, the Author has succeeded in awakening the interest of the reader in matters which have been scarcely yet, so much as they might, brought into the reading of the family circle he will have much cause to thank God, and to take the courage needful for his perseverance in this interesting field of labor.