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DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS, TO WIT:
District Clerk's Officc. BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the ninth day of July, A. D. 1818, and in the forty-third year of the Independence of the United States of America,
JACOB CATLIN, of the said District, has deposited in this Office, the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as author, in the words following, to wit: " A Compendium of the System of Divine Truth : contained
in a Series of Essays ; in which the principal subjects contained in the Holy Scriptures, are carefully arranged, briefly discuss. ed, and improved. By Jacob Catlin, A.M., Pastor of a Church in New-Marlborough, (Massachusetts.)
• What is truth .?' Pontius Pilale." In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, “ An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and pro prietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned :'3 and also to an Act entitled, “ An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled, au Set for the enconcagement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies' ddring the times therein mentioned ; and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and etching historical and other prints.”
JOHN. W. DAVIS,
Clerk, of the District of Massachusetts,
It is with no small degree of diffidence, that the author of this Compendium has undertaken, and prosecuted a work so important and so arduous; and for the correctness of which, especially in point of sentiment, he is so highly responsible, both to the christian public, and to Christ himself. Considering, however, the deplorable ignorance of Theology, and particularly of the systematic connection of the great truths contained in the scriptures, which is manifest in all ranks of people, even in this enlightened part of the world : and considering how few there are, who have ability to purchase, and time and patience to read, the voluminous systems of Theology which are extant; it has been deemed important, that Compendium of this kind, embracing all the leading articles of divine truth, and exhibiting the evidence in their support; together with suitable remarks and improvement; should be published for the particular benefit of the common people; and more especially for the benefit of those who emigrate from the old settlements of our country, and spend a number of years in the wilderness, in a great measure destitute of regular and systematic instruction in religion, before they are able to support the ministry of the gospel.
In stating the usefulness and importance of a summary of christian doctrine and practice, a venerable author makes the following remarks; that “ There are many, in every age, and in all places, who are so destitute of a sense of the importance of religion, that they would never attend to the sacred scriptures, with that degree of engagedness, which is necessary, to collect
from them any thing like a system of doctrines. But, by the aid of a compendium of the doc
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trines and duties of the gospel, accurately drawn up, with scripture proofs; they may, in a short time, arrive at the knowledge of every important truth. And, most certainly, it would greatly assist such as have an inquisitive turn of mind."
Another important benefit to be expected, from a compendium of the system of divine truth, is, that it greatly tends to excite those who have been most inattentive to the scriptures, and to all religious books, to read, from curiosity, those important truths, which they could never be persuaded to read, from a sense of duty. In this way, the minds of many stupid sinners may be drawn, by insensible degrees, to a solemn attention to the bible.
Another benefit of a well arranged compendium is, that it leads the mind of the reader to think and reason systematically, on religious subjects, as well as on all other subjects. It is only for want of due attention, and the proper means of aiding the minds of men, in theological inquiries, that so many people, of good natural abilities, are led to view the bible as a book of miscellanies, incoherent, if not inconsistent, in its several parts. The particular form, in which the bible is published to the world, is, indeed, somewhat miscellaneous; but not more so than might have been expected, considering the circumstances of its publication. The holy scriptures were written in different ages of the world, by about thirty different hands, on a vast variety of different subjects and occasions, and without the least appearance of concert or combination. Under these circumstances, it was not to be expeeted, that the bible should be produced in exact systematic order. Yet, wonderful as it may appear, it contains all the materials of a perfect system of doctrinal and practical religion. Now, therefore, to discover in one general view, by the aid of a well digested summary, the intimate connection of such an immense variety of important subjects, as are scattered throughout the sacred volume ; must
be very profitable, as well as pleasing to the pious and contemplative mind.
Accordingly, we add, that a compendium of divine truth is calculated, not only to enlighten the ignorant, and arrest the attention of the stupid and profane ; but also to increase the comforts and joys of real christians. When the foundation of all their hopes is discovered, in one comprehensive view, it is calculated greatly to excite their
joy, and to confirm their faith and hope in the divine promises,
It may be further added, that a good arrangement, and a brief discussion of the interesting subjects contained in the bible, are highly important, not only for the instruction of the ignorant, and for the edifi. cation of the saints; but also for the conviction of sceptics and infidels. For the connection and harmony of the scriptures afford substantial proof of their divine original. And no where else, but in the bible, can be found a system of theology and religion, which is connected and consistent in all its parts. But such is the connection and harmony of the system contained in the bible, that all who candidly attend to the matter, feel constrained, either to em brace the whole, or to reject the whole. But where is the man, who admits the being of a God, and yet dares to discard all the doctrines and precepts of the bible? Deists and free thinkers, who generally profess to embrace a part, and reject a part of the sacred scriptures, when they are led to discern the inseparable connection of the whole, find themselves confounded. From the common ground of infidelity, they are driven, either to embrace the system of revealed truth, or the baseless doctrines of atheism. The system of divine truth needs but only to be seen, in its connection, as a system, to commend itself to every man's conscience. Pains have been taken, in forming this compendium, to address the consciences of the readers, by a simple manifestation of divine truth, rather than to gratify their taste and fancy, by any embellishments of style.
The author is aware of the different shades of opinion on several subjects even among the orthodox; and that this should make him diffident, rather than dogmatical. His aim has been not to shun a declaration of all the counsel of God; and at the same time, not to assume the airs of an antagonist. · If, by a laborious and prayerful discussion of all the leading subjects contained in the scriptures, this work should be thought useful, and should prove acceptable, in general, to serious and candid minds; the hopes and expectations of the author will be abundantly answered; and he may cherish the rich and precious consolation, that " His labour has not heep in vain in the Lord.”