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OUR title speaks for itself: “ The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant-man seeking goodly pearls, who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it;” and it has been the design, in gathering together these seven gospel jewels, to esteem rather their brightness and their glory than attempt to consider valuable the slender string on which they have been hung.
It was our original intention to have acknowledged separately the obligations incurred to the various divines and poets from whose works quotations have been made ; but it was found that such a plan would have somewhat encumbered the text and rendered it less comprehensible to the youthful reader. In the event, therefore, of such acknowledgment being occasionally omitted, indulgence is claimed of those more erudite scholars to whom the extracts are already familiar.
It has been the endeavour of the compiler of this little book to avoid, as far as was compatible with his design, all points of doctrinal difference, and to guide the youthful mind to the contemplation of those great and eternal truths upon which depend our everlasting salvation, by a somewhat less dry and scholastic method than has hitherto been adopted. The life of Jesus is too sublime to be frittered into sectarian fragments. That life revealed no byeways of doctrine, but showed one path to the eternal kingdom. He taught, “ Love ye one another," and " Whoso doeth my Father's will, his is the kingdom of heaven.” This was in part his mission. “He led a life—and such a life-of poverty and power, of meanness and grandeur, of contempt and glory, of contact with sinners and of perfect personal purity—a life the most erratic and the most heavenly—a life from which demons shrank in terror, round which men crowded in eager curiosity, and over which angels stooped in wonder and love —a life which gathered about the meek current of its benevolence the fiery chariots and fiery horses of all miraculous gifts and all divine energies. And having thus lived, he became purged as by fire to a death which seemed to have borrowed materials of terror from earth, heaven, and hell, to bow down along with its own burden upon his solitary head."