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P R E F A C Er
The Des1gn of such a Short View of Scr1pTure H1story, and the Advantages of it.
*-p HE Holy Scripture is divided into Two Boek<, ,■' which are commonly called the Olutes1Tament and the New. And as each of these Books contain several Articles or Propositions which God has revealed to Men for the Direction of their Faith and Practice in the successive Ages of tbfe World ; fo there are several Histories contained in them, or Narratives of the Lives and Death df Men, of the Asfairs of Nations, and especially of the Transactions of God with Mankind.
Some Knowledge of these historical Matters is necessary and usesul, in order to obtain a more clear and sull Acquaintance with the Principles of out, holy Religion, as well as to assist and engage us in the Practice of it by way of Motive. It is the History all along introduces the peculiar DtEtrim and Duties; and all the latter Revelations of the Mind and Will of God, relating to Religion, have fome Connection with and Dependence upon the Events which went before.
The very Gospel of Chr1st consists partly in the History of his Lise and Death.i nor can the other Part of it, namely, the Doctrines and Duties be fo well understood without fome Knowledge of the LawofMbsesjthe Ceremonies of the Jews, the Religion of the Patriarchs, and the Transactions of God w1th Adam, the rkst Father of'all Mankind. A 3 Thj
The great and blessed God at one single View
ses was a Shadow of the good Things which were to
Besides, it is theHistory of theB1blE which hath
the Sons of Men; and all concur to establish the last and nobleScheme of Religion, that is, Chr1sT1an1ty. Thusthe very H1story of Scripture has a powersul and rational Insluence to establish our Belief of the Gospel, and to make us Christians upon folid and reafonable Grounds.
I add yet surther, that in the historical Part of Scripture we read the holy Laws of God, exemplified in the Lise and Practice of good Men in several Ages of the World: and when we see the Rules of Religion copied out in the Words and Actions of our Fellow Creatures, it renders the Performance of them more practicable and more delightsul to us. While the Word ot Command stands in the Law to require our Obedience, the actual Obedience of our Fathers to those Commands recorded in the H1story invites our Imitation, and makes the Work more easy.
To conclude: We find not only the Precepts but the Sanfiions of the Law of God exemplified in the Narratives of Scripture. How osten do we read the Promises of God sulfilled in the Rewards of the Righteous, and hisThreatenings executed against wilsul Transgresfors? These Things set the Government of God before our Eyes in a stronger Light; they shew us that bis Words of Promise and Threatenings are not empty Sounds; and make it appear with sens1ble Conviction, that he will certainly reward, and that he will as certainly punish. The many wonderful Instances of a Divine Providence which concerns itsels in the AffairsofMen, and which are recorded inthe Word of Godrhave a natural Tendency toawaken our Fear of fo great and glorious a Being, and to encourage our Hope and Trust in him. In a Word; the Persections of God, whereby he made and governs the World, axe set before our Eyes by the Scripture History i»
A such. such divine Colours, as give us a more awsul and amiable Idea of God himseif, 1han any Words of Description could have done, without such an historical Account of his Works of Nature, Grace and Providence.
Since then it appears, that fome Knowledge of the History of Scripture is necessary and usesul to every one among us who would know and love God, and be a Partaker of his Favour, the next Thing to be inquired is, How this Knowledge maybe best attained ? How shall Perfons, whose Capacity is weak, or who have little Time to employ on these Subjects, be led in the shortest and easiest Way to a competent Acquaintance with the sacred History? And how shall those who are young ir» Years be trained up in the plainest and most alluring Manner to fome Knowledge of these important Affairs, till their growing Age and surther Advantages shall give them a more extensive and capacious View of all the Transactions between Gold and Men recorded in Scripture?
The B1ble itself is a very large Book, and tho* it ought to be read (at least many Parts of it) by Perfons of all Characters and Conditions, yet the reducing of the several Things contained in it to a short and narrow View, by.way of Abridgment, is fo exceeding usful, that 1 had almost called it necessary, at least for Youth, and for Perfons in the lower Ranks of Lise, who have sewerConveniencies and Advantages of Knowledge. I have made this sussiciently evident with regard to theDoctrinesand Duties of Religion, in my Discourse concerning the. Compojition and Uje of Catechisms, to which 1 reser my Reader: And the same Argument will hold good with regard to the historical Part of Scripture. There I have shewn particularly how needsul it is to collect the great Articles and Rules of our Re. . 1 ligion*. ,