To The Child Who May Read This Book
Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
(This is the introduction to our “new” large book (110 pgs) “Bible Stories & Biographies” by Thomas H. Gallaudet in 1834. These four original books are preserved at SWM and considered public domain, “Ten Bible Stories,” “Ruth,” “Samuel,” and “Repentance.” The founder of Deaf education was a Christian who loved to teach the Bible to children).
“A little boy, who lived in a large city, once wandered far from home, and could not find his way back. He had disobeyed his father in doing so, who told him not to go from the door of the house. At first, he was so much pleased with the new things which he saw, that he hardly thought how far he was going, or what he should tell his father on his return. But, by and by, he grew tired, and sat down on a step of a house to rest. He looked round him and saw that he was in a strange place. He had never been there before. All the houses were new to him, and the street looked very different from the one in which he lived. It was a long street; and, as he cast his eye down it, and remembered too that he had gone through many other streets, and turned many corners, before he got into it, he began to think that his father’s house must be at a great distance, and that he could never find his way to it. He thought, too, how wicked he was in disobeying his father, and that it was this which had brought him into such trouble. This made him feel the more unhappy. He would have given all the pretty playthings he owned, if he could but be at home again, just as he was, a cheerful and happy child on the step before his father’s house. The evening was coming on, and the poor boy, as it grew dark, began to be greatly alarmed. He had been trying, for some time, by looking attentively at every one who passed him, to see if he could not discover an acquaintance, or, at least, somebody whom he knew by name, and to whom he might make himself known. But none but strangers passed by, and no one took any particular notice of him. Why should they? They did not know that he was lost; for he had as yet sat on the step, sad and silent, without saying a word.
It grew darker, and he could scarcely see the faces of those who were going by him. He thought that he might perhaps have to spend the night in the street, and the tears began to roll down his cheeks. He sobbed, and at last cried aloud. Many persons passing by, must have heard him cry, but they did not stop to inquire what was the matter. Some were thinking so much about themselves and their own business, that they had not time to stop and be kind to a poor little crying boy. Others thought people should take care of their own children, and if they would not do it the children must suffer; while some supposed that he belonged to the house on the step of which he was sitting, or at least in the neighborhood, and that his friends would soon come and take care of him.
Poor boy! He might have sat there crying a long time, if a kind man who passing by, and who loved little children, had not stopped and inquired the cause of his distress. The boy told him all about it, and did not hide his disobedience to his father. He really felt sorry for having been guilty of this disobedience. He said that he did, and the man pitied him so much, and was so much pleased to see him sorry for his fault, that he told the boy, after asking his name and that of his father, that he would go with him and lead him safely home. What a kind friend, and how rejoiced the little wanderer was, as he entered once more the door of his father’s house, to get back again to the arms of his dear parents.
How would you have felt, my dear child, had you been in this situation? Would you have felt very thankful to the kind person who took so much pains to lead you home? Would you have been truly sorry for your disobedience, and confessed it to your father, and asked his forgiveness, and resolved never to do it again? Would you have been very happy indeed to find yourself safe at home, once more under the care of a kind father and mother? Have you ever thought that you have wandered a great way from your Father—from your Heavenly Father—from God who made you, and who has done so much for you, and who has been kinder to you than any earthly parent can be?
Every time that you have done wrong, you have disobeyed God, and have been like the lost little boy, wandering from him. Perhaps you have never felt your danger in thus wandering from God. Wicked persons, in wandering from God, are going farther and farther from Heaven, that beautiful and happy place where those who get there are happier a great deal than the happiest little boys and girls are in their father’s house here on earth. Are you wandering from that delightful home, above the blue sky, where all are perfectly good and happy, and where your Heavenly Father wishes you to go after you die? Are you wandering farther and farther from this Heavenly Father, who is inviting you to return to him, and has sent his Son to show you the way back, if you will but let him lead you?
Yes, Jesus Christ is like the kind man who led the lost little boy back to his home. He will take you kindly by the hand, and lead you back to God. Will you feel that you need such a kind friend? Will you put yourself under his care? Will you be led by him to your Heavenly Father? Will you thus go to God, confessing your sins, beseeching him to forgive you for Christ’s sake, and praying for the Holy Spirit to aid you in doing all this? It is to show you how important it is for you to feel so, and to do so, that God has given you the Bible. You like to read other books, especially if they contain entertaining stories. You were interested, were you not, in the story which I just told you about the little boy? Were you also interested while I tried to explain the use of that story, and to have it lead you to think of God, and what you must do to have him for your everlasting friend? Will you be interested in this book, if all the stories which are in it are taken from the Bible?
And while I tell you these true stories from the Bible, and explain them in such a way as to do you good, and lead you to love God, and trust in Christ, and be prepared to go to your Heavenly Father’s house in Heaven, when you die–will you listen to me? I hope you will, and that God will help me so to write, and you so to read, that this little book may lead you to love the Bible more than you have ever done before? Remember, that the more you read and understand the Bible, the wiser you will be; and the more you love and obey it, the better and happier you will be. Pray daily to God for his Holy Spirit, that you may thus read, understand, love, and obey that best of books, which He has given you to show you the way to Heaven.” – As printed in 1834