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BIBLE CLASS TEXT BOOK;
HISTORICAL, DOCTRINAL, PRACTICAL,
TO PROMOTE AN INTIMATE ACQUAINTANCE WITH THE
BY HERVEY WILBUR, A. M.
"Search the Scriptures.".......JESUS CHRIST.
REVISED, IMPROVED ENLARGED, AND STEREOTYPED,
PUBLISHED BY CROCKER AND BREWSTER,
PREFACE TO THE EIGHTEENTH EDITION!
The impression exists to some extent that parents, teachers and even ministers, impart less sound doctrinal knowledge to the young now, than they did fifteen or twenty years ago. If this impression be correct, the interests of vital religion are in danger and a change of measures is most assuredly needed. It was once believed that the Bible Class Text Book, was eminently well adapted to indoctrinate the young in a scriptural and unobjectionable manner. The author believes that none of the good books which have been recently published, fill the place for which this was designed, or render its use unnecessary. He hopes it is not egotism which induces him to encourage the continued use of a work which the lamented Payson used for the instruction of his youth till he closed his labors. And that year which terminated his invaluable life added fifty-six to his Church from his Bible Class.
The preface to the Eleventh Edition, still retained; the Advertisement on the 7th and 8th pages, and the Notes A and B in the Appendix, will make known the manner in which this book was intended to be used; and names in it are good authority for its use. But without prescribing the details of the manner in which Bible Classes shall be conducted, we feel justified in saying that, aside from divinely appointed ordinances, the institution of Bible Classes is second in importance to no other means of grace. To all the benevolent institutions and efforts now existing, which are the glory of our age, we say, God speed. their energies be increased a thousand fold, and exert more influence, than present patrons ever anticipated. But that these glorious results may be attained, let the enterprising and ardent youth who now have access to the inspired volume, become intimately acquainted with its truths, and be habitually governed by its motives; and their energies and their all, will be consecrated to God. Let Bible Classes be organized in every part of Christendom, and be watered with showers of heavenly influence, and innumerable springs of life will burst forth. These will collect and accumulate in seams, till the present pure, but shallow rivulet of Christian benevolencelis swelled to a mighty river, overflowing and fertilizing the earth with the waters of salvation.
And now, if it be desirable and practicable to form associations of youth for improvement in Scriptural knowledge in our congregations, and if the blessing of God has almost uniformly attended such associations where they have been formed, we ask, shall any pastor, will any pious pastor, neglect so important a means of extending the kingdom of Christ? By the interests of the Church in succeeding generations; by the love they bear to their country, whose unequalled privileges can be perpetuated only by the diffusion, among our rapidly increasing population, of the influence of vital religion; by the value of the souls of the young in their congregations, and of the thousands and millions who will be affected by the character they form; by their own responsibility to him who has said to his ministers "feed my lambs ; " we call upon all pastors to engage and persevere in special and systematic efforts for the religious instruction of the youth committed to their charge.
IN presenting the Public with this revised edition of the Bible Class Text Book, or Biblical Catechism, the Author renews his grateful acknowledgments for that patronage of this work, which has already circulated about thirty thousand copies. He is much pleased in knowing that it is approved, and used by the EVANGELICAL of different denominations. It was his intention to give a systematic classification of Scripture doctrines, precepts, warnings, and promises, which have the impress of the footsteps of the flock. It was never his design to quote ALL the passages which relate to a particular doctrine or duty, but only to use some apposite texts, and such as would give the most connected answer in the language which the Holy Ghost teacheth, and thus encourage and aid the young to classify the Scriptures for themselves, as they peruse them. Some passages which it might have been expected, would have been inserted under one question, will be found under another or in the notes, and it was thought not advisable to print them twice.
A regard for the interests of Zion will justify the remark, that in many places where associations of youth have been formed for the systematic study of the Scriptures in the manner recommended in this work, there has been a deep and general seriousness among the young presently manifested.
Holy Spirit has blessed the social study of ETERNAL TRUTH for giving more efficiency to a preached Gospel. Besides it ought to be known that wherever the attempt has been made to form such classes, a large proportion of the young have been easily collected for this purpose. In single Congregations from one to two hundred youths are not unfrequently engaged. The very circumstance of bringing his youth in direct contact with a serious and judicious Pastor, who tenderly loves their souls, may be a great blessing to them. The recent formation of Bible classes on conspicuous parts of Zion's walls, with the blessing of Heaven which has attended them, it is hoped will give a new impulse to their formation in other sections of the country. And as a new Edition of the Manual which has so generally been used in them, was needed, it has been carefully revised, with some enlargement. That it might be afforded in good half-binding, as low as it had before been sold, in marble covers, notwithstanding the additional amount of matter, inclu
ding nearly four hundred practical questions, now annexed to the answers, it was thought advisable to stereotype the work, believing that the same reasons which have induced the Christian Public to patronize it where it has been known, will increase its circulation still more extensively, and thus indemnify the expense of stereotyping. It is believed that the older pupils in Sabbath schools, would be profited by a CLASSIFICATION of the portions of Scripture which they commit to memory, and that the practical questions now attached to the work will aid Sabbath school Teachers in enforcing and applying religious truths.
That HE with whom is the residue of the Spirit would cause it to subserve his glory, and the welfare of ZION'S HOPES, is the desire of the
RECOMMENDATIONS BY THE REV. CLERGY.
HAVING examined Mr. WILBUR's plan for a BIBLICAL CATECHISM, we think it judicious; the portion which is completed, we entirely approve, and have no doubt, the whole will make a useful publication, highly deserving the attention of private families, of schools, and such societies of young persons as may be formed for the important purposes of religious instruction and improvement.
SAMUEL SPRING, D. D. Newburyport.
JOHN H. CHURCH, Pelham, N. H.
JAMES MILTIMORE, Newbury.
HAVING attended to Mr. WILBUR'S BIBLICAL CATECHISM, we think the questions most important; and the texts in the answers judiciously selected. The work in our view is well calculated to produce serious impressions on the minds of children and youth: and to give them rational and scriptural
views of the doctrines and duties of our holy Religion. We, therefore, freely recommend it to Parents, to the Teachers of Schools, and Ministers of the gospel as a useful Tract to aid them in the religious culture of children and youth under their
ELIJAH PARISH, D. D. Byefield.
JAMES P. WILSON, D. D. Philadelphia.
ISAAC TOMPKINS, Haverhill.
THO. A. MERRILL, Middlebury, Vt.
Newburyport, Sept. 26, 1812.
DEAR SIR-I have examined as far as practicable your Biblical Catechism. The design I think highly interesting; and the execution generally judicious. Whatever tends to attract the attention of children and youth to the sacred volume, must be beneficial. Nor can any form of religious instruction be either so useful, or so unexceptionable, as that which leads the pupil to draw all his sentiments from a perfect and infallible source.
Wishing that your intended publication may meet the patronage of the public, and be crowned with the divine blessing. I am sincerely yours, DANIEL DANA.
West-Springfield, Nov. 19, 1812.
I thank you for your Biblical Catechism. On a perusal of it, I think it a valuable and useful Tract, well adapted to the instruction and edification of such youths as are capable of understanding the questions and applying the references. The questions are important, and plainly stated, and the references pertinent. Your method of instruction, while it leads to an acquaintance with the doctrines of religion, tends to improvement in scriptural knowledge. I am, sir, your obliged Humble servant,
Philadelphia, March 31, 1813.
Having examined Mr. WILBUR's Biblical Catechism, I think the plan interesting, and well adapted to promote an acquaint