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Oli, early “ Search the Scriptures ;” 'tis the dew
On morning leaves ; 'tis the young roses' bloom ;
'Tis all that gratifies the sight
Oh, fondly “ Search the Scriptures ;" 'tis the voice
Of loved ones long departed; 'tis the song
'Tis all that gratifies the ear,
Oh, deeply “ Search the Scriptures;” 'tis the mine
Of purest gold, and gems of richest sort;
"Tis wealth beyond all we can crave
Two Editions of this work (six thousand copies) were sold in 1870–71, under the title of “Youthful Explorers in Bible Lands," the plates and engravings of which were destroyed in the Chicago calamity, October, 1871. The original series contemplated six volumes, viz. : 1. Joppa to Jerusalem.
4. Northern Palestine and Syria. 2. The Dead Sea and Southern Palestine. 5. Egypt, the Red Sea, and Sinai. 3. Central Palestine and Galilee.
6. The Seven Churches of Asia. The materials for all these works were mostly in hand in 1870-71, but the disastrous fire referred to, so thoroughly crippled the operations of the Society (the American Holy Land Exploration) under whose auspices the works were prepared, as to occasion a total stoppage of our publications.
In resuming, by the gracious providence of God, this pleasing work, we change the name of the series to “ Bible Witnesses from Bible Lands,” and abandon the rather clumsy fiction that formed the basis of the other volume. But the scope of the work is unchanged, and it is proposed to issue the other five volumes under the favoring smiles of God and of his people, during the year 1874.
The perusal of a few pages of this work cannot fail, we are confident, to convince the reader of its abounding richness in local facts equally with Scriptural applications. Dr. William M. Thomson, in his “Land and Book," has demonstrated to the joy of millions of readers, how thoroughly the Country of God's people illustrates the Narrative of God's dealings. God has joined “this twain ” together in an indissoluble bond. The CREATOR has used the works of nature as blessed media in reaching the mind and soul of His creatures. The HOLY SPIRIT, divinely wise, makes object-lessons of the trees, birds, flowers, mountains and fountains, the habits of the ancient people, everything that attracts the eye and ear of an observer, in pressing immortal truths upon the conscience. The GREAT TEACHER used them as texts in all His sermons. Without a considerable knowledge of Palestine and its geography and archæology, therefore, many of the more striking illustrations of the Bible elude the “ search ” of the most faithful.
In this series, we bring the practical knowledge of residents in Palestine, coupled with the observations of experienced travelling explorers, to establish the great demonstration, the Land a divine
witness to the Book.” Writing in a familiar and easy manner, so that “the little ones of the flock can follow us day by day, over the sacred hills and plains. We aim to leave upon the reader's mind a vivid impression of the truths we collected and collated. The exactness of the resident gives the bass notes to the warmth and fervor of the travelling pilgrim, which are, so to speak, soprano and tenor to the sweet trio. We only ask a patient perusal of a few pages to demonstrate this fact.
In the insertion of well-known American names at prominent localities we are actuated by a dutiful sense of gratitude. These, and such as these, are the persons who have built up the Sunday-School System of America to an extraordinary height. They are worthily transplanted into sacred soil. The fig, the olive, and the vine of Palestine will receive no dishonor in their association. The singing waters will be more tuneful, singing their names. In subsequent volumes, the names of many others of these Sunday-School benefactors of the age shall be inserted.
It would be easy to enlarge our preface by quoting, from the very first religious presses of the land, such commendations upon this work (in its first two editions) as have not been given to other publications of the class. But we forbear. Let the reader be his own judge.
We trust the extension of this work into so many thousand families, will have the effect to discourage the hasty flights of tourists through Palestine. What is a journey of ten days in a country like that? Yet four-fifths of the American travellers who annually land at Joppa, remain on sacred soil, only during the brief period of ten days, as marked by the succession of steamers ! No wonder the nonsense (shall we call it worse ?) of “Mark Twain ” and Ross Browne are relished and received as truth, when Christian travellers are content to give their time and money to Europe and only ten days to Palestine.
Finally, referring to the concluding pages of this book for a sketch of our operations as a Holy Land Society, and our plans for the future, and commending this earnest effort to Almighty God for His blessing, we respectfully solicit from travellers, Eastern residents, and Bible students, any criticisms upon the present and suggestions for the future volumes of the series that may be available to the purpose in hand.
ROBERT MORRIS, Secretary American Holy Land Exploration. LA GRANGE, KENTUCKY, January, 1874.