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The principal object of the Author in compiling the following Illustrative Scripture Readings, has been to aid the Christian Visitor in his important work, by endeavouring to supply the long felt want of a concise, correct, and interesting arrangement of the Scriptures, adapted for reading to the poor.
For this purpose the whole word of God has been carefully examined, and with the aid of Concordances, &c, all the most important passages have been selected, and separately classified with repeated revision under the various headings of the forty chapters of which the work is composed. These chapters have been again separated into two hundred and eleven minor divisions, and the passages themselves woven together so as to form connected Bible Readings, suitable for the various states of mind which are daily met with, in house to house visitation.
The mission of the Christian Visitor is one of great importance and responsibility. He goes forth as the representative of his Master to carry the 'Gospel' into the homes of 'the poor,'—to make known to the unconverted 'the acceptable year of the Lord,' and to warn them of 'the day of vengeance of our God:' to 'proclaim deliverance to the captives' of sin and Satan,—' recovering of sight to the blind' in heart: to direct them to the Friend of Sinners, who alone can 'heal the broken-hearted,'—' set at liberty them that are bruised,' and 'comfort all that mourn in Zion' by giving them 'beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.'
To enable the Christian faithfully to fulfil these solemn duties, God has placed in his hands his own word and commanded him to 'seek out of the book of the Lord and read;' declaring that, that 'word shall not return unto Him void, but shall prosper in the thing whereto He sent it.' But how many Visitors there are, who from a want of a thorough knowledge of the contents of the Bible, experience the greatest difficulty in knowing where to find the words which are specially addressed, and therefore specially adapted, to the various states of mind they meet with in their visits. The consequence is, unsuitable words are chosen; that which applies to the Christian only, is read to the unconverted; and still more often, the message sent by God in his own words to the individual, is not faithfully delivered by the messenger, because the 'sword of the Spirit' is allowed to remain in the scabbard, and the words of man are substituted for 'the true sayings of God.'
The Author ventures to hope, that many who can sympathize with him in this painful experience, will find "illustrative Scripture Readings" for the Visitation of the Poor, a friend in need. He trusts also, that this combination of scripture truth, will be found useful as a pocket companion for private meditation, and as a book of reference to many, who are often engaged in the study of God's word, but have no time to consult the pages of more elaborate volumes.
In conclusion, the Author would add, that the whole work has been compiled in humble dependence upon the Holy Spirit for the wisdom required; and it is now sent forth to the world, accompanied with earnest prayer, and confident hope, that the blessing of God may attend its use to the salvation of sinners, and the sanctification of saints, and thus to the advancement of the Redeemer's Kingdom.
If these objects are realized, even in a humble measure, the Compiler will rejoice in knowing his labours have not been in vain, and to the Divine Author of the sacred words of which this book is composed, shall be all the glory. Amen.
London, December, 1863.