The design of the present work, as its title indicates, is to assist in the study of God's word. The author has had special reference to teachers of Bible classes and Sabbath-schools; ministers of the gospel who wish to have ready at hand the results of biblical investigation in a convenient and condensed form; and, in general, the large body of intelligent laymen and women in our land who desire to pursue the study of Scripture in a thorough and systematic way.
The First Part contains a concise view of the Evidences of Revealed Religion. Here, since Christianity rests on a basis of historic facts, special prominence has been given to the historic side of these evidences; those, namely, which relate to the genuineness, integrity, authenticity, and inspiration of the several books of the Bible. A brief view is added of the evidences which are of an internal and experimental character.
In the Introductions to the Old and New Testament which follow in the Second and Third Parts, the general facts are first given; then an account of the several divisions of each, with their office and mutual relations, and such a notice of each particular book as will prepare the reader to study it intelligently and profitably.
The Fourth Part is devoted to the Principles of Biblical Interpretation. Here the plan is to consider the Scriptures, first, on the human side, as addressed to men in human language and according to human modes of thinking and speaking; then, on the divine side, as containing a true revelation from God, and differing in this respect from all other writings. To this twofold view the author attaches great importance. To the human side belong the ordinary principles of interpretation, which apply alike to all writings; to the divine side, the question of the unity of revelation, and the interpretation of types and prophecies.
In each of the abovenamed divisions the author has endeavored to keep prominently in view the unity of revelation and the inseparable connection of all its parts. It is only when we thus contemplate it as a glorious whole, having beginning, progress, and consummation, that we can truly understand it. Most of the popular objections to the Old Testament have their foundation in an isolated and fragmentary way of viewing its facts and doctrines; and they can be fairly met only by showing the relation which these hold to the entire plan of redemption.
The plan of the present work required brevity and condensation. The constant endeavor has been to state the several facts and principles as concisely as could be done consistently with a true presentation of them in an intelligible form. It may be objected that some topics, those particularly which relate to the Pentateuch, are handled in too cursory a way. The author feels the difficulty; but to go into details on this subject would require a volume. He has endeavored to do the best that was consistent with the general plan of the work. The point of primary importance to be maintained is the divine authority and inspiration of the Pentateuch -- the whole Pentateuch as it existed in our Saviour's day and exists now. There are difficult questions connected with both its form and the interpretation of certain parts of it in respect to which devout believers may honestly differ. For the discussion of these the reader must be referred to the works professedly devoted to the subject.
The present volume is complete in itself; yet it does not exhaust the circle of topics immediately connected with the study of the Bible. It is the author's purpose to add another volume on Biblical Geography and Antiquities, with a brief survey of the historic relations of the covenant people to the Gentile world.