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of GOD, there is reason to hope, that Men of all Persuasions will be easily prevailed upon to look into it without Fear of being misled; and that if any of them should from hence be enabled to discover their Mistakes, the Authority of what is said will dispose them to yield more willingly to their Convictions.
But whatever Effect this Method may have with such as are already fixed in Error, those that have not yet taken a wrong Bent, will, in all Likelihood, find it of some Advantage to them in their carliest Inquiries into the Chriftian Religion, to take a general View of the whole, in the most fimple Manner in which it was first delivered to the Saints. For when they see all the Passages of Scripture together, which refer to the fame Subject, they will be in less Danger of falling into any of those Mistakes, which are manifestly founded upon fingle Texts considered apart by themselves : And when they have once truly learned to speak the Language of Scripture, they will be better enabled to judge of the Force of all other Expreslions, and to difcern how far they agree with that unerring Standard, the Word of God.
It was for their Sakes, chiefly, that I undertook to draw up this summary: Account of the Doctrine contained in the Sacred Writings: which at this Time more especially I was encouraged to do, upon a Presumption that it might be some Way serviceable to those glorious Designs, which are now with great Zeal and SucA5
cess carrying on for the better educating Christian Youth in the Principles of their most holy Religion, and for propagating a true Knowledge of the Gospel among those that have not yet received the glad Tidings of Salvation through Christ: Which Designs I am not only parti. 'cularly obliged, but with the whole Weight of my Judgment and Inclination led to promote to the utmost of my Power
Ir were likewise further to be wilhed, that the profeffed Enemies of Revealed Religion would take fome such Way as this, of condering it all at once in the full Extent and Simplicity of it, before they conclude any part of it to be either false or absurd. For by so doing, they would foon' find, that all the Objeäions, they make to Divine Revelatich are leveled only against some particular Opinions, falfely vented by private Men as the Word of God and that no one Christian Doctrine can be disproved, while the Authority of the Scriptures is preserved, which hath not yet suffered any Thing by all their Attempts. * After this thort Account of the Reasons that induced me to enter upon the following Work, I have these few Things to acquaint my Reader with, 'concerning the Method observed in the Performance of it.
ཐལ། The Language, (as I have said before) is all taken' out of Scripture there being no more of my own mixed with it, than just what was necef
fary sary for Connection : And this is every where distinguished by a different Character, excepting only fome small Variations in the Perfon, Tense, or the like ; such as were requisite to express that by Way of Propofition, which the Scripture had delivered in fome other Form.
All the Texts made use of are (as it appears upon the first View) disposed under General Heads. But for the better avoiding too great a Number of Subdivisions, and at the same Time to preserve the Clearners aimed at by them, in stead of new Titles I have made several Breaks under each Head, which seemed to me to answer the fame End ap eafier Way. I have endeavoured likewise so to range the particular Texts under every Division, as they might follow one another in the most natural Order they were capable of, 'without making a continued Dila course, which, confidering that this is a Collec, tion of Principles and Laws, would have carried less Weight and Splemnity in je
As I have taken all the Care I could to leave our, no Text relating to any of my Heads, which might be fuppofed to add any, Force or Light to those I Have retained, fo have I avoided, as much as conveniently I could, the Repetition of the Game Texts. But because several of them may be thought to belong as properly to one Head as to another; for this reason have repeated some Without any Variation; bur, commonly, where, the same Text comes over again, it is placed in a different. View; what was delivered absolutely
as Matter of Faith or Duty in one place, being · brought in as a Proof or Reason of something else in another.
UNDER fome Heads I have put several Texts, which seem to be only equivalent Expressions of the same Thing; but some of them upon Examination will be found to be more diftinct, and fome more emphatical than others; or at least the Variety itself will serve to imprint what is said more strongly upon us; and in this I have folk. lowed the Manner of the Sacred Writers.
As.to the: Sense and Meaning of all the Paf sages of Scripture here brought together; it will ealily appear from the Disposition which I have made of them, that I have constantly had a Regard to that Interpretation of the Words, which is most generally allowed, and which they seem molt naturally to bear in the common Translation now ofed in our Bibles; which I have all along prea served, excepting only two or three Places in the Psalms, where I thought the old Translation,
still kept in the public Service of the Church more full and expressive. I have 'indeed taken the Liberty Sofíapplying fome Texts, by way of Illufa tration, in fomewhat a different sense than what was 'originally intended by them ; but then it is always in such a Sense as is agreeable to the Docs trine of Scripture in other Places, and the Subs jects they are applied to are fuch, as either admit of no Dispute, or are sufficiently proved by plainer Texts beforej And even these Texts, which do not by an easy Inference prove what they are
brought to explain, are for more Exactnefs diftinguished by this Mark .
But whatever Faults there may be, either in the Choice of some Text, or the Disposition of the whole Performance, they will, I hope, be excused upon the Account of the great Difficulty of such a Work as this is; in the Coinposing of which I had no Manner of Help from any body that had gone before me. The only offer at such a Design, that I have met with, is a Book printed in Quarto, 1676, ftiled The Scripture Sufficiency, &c. which, I hoped, would have superseded my Labour, or at least made it much easier, by giving me a good Foundation to build upon, But that Book, though the Product of much Pains, and which upon some other Accounts may probably have its Use, was of so little Service to me, by reason of the great Difference of the Author's Method, that I found it less Trouble to take all my Maierials immediately out of the Bible itself, than out of that Book; and thither I went directly for them.
If it shall pleafe God, that the Collection I have made from thence thould any way contribute to give Persons a right Understanding of the Christian Religion, I shall think the Pains I have taken in it very well bestowed. And if the Work be esteemed useful, I shall be very well content to have it pass under no other Character.