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P R E F A CE,
The Design of such a Short View of ScripTURE History, and the Advantages of it.
THE Holy Scripture is divided into Two Books, TAMENT and the New. And as each of there Books contain several Articles or Propositions which God has revealed to Men for the Diredtion of their Faith and Practice in the successive Ages of the World ; so there are feveral Histories contained in them, or Narratives of the Live's and Death of Men, of the Affairs of Nations, and especially of the Transactions of God with Mankind.
Some Knowledge of these historical Matters is necessary and useful, in order to obtain a more clear and full Acquaintance with the Principles of our holy Religion, as well as to aflift and engage us in the Practice of it by way of Motive. It is the History all along introduces the peculiar Dietrine and Duties ; and all the latter Revelations of the Mind and Will of God, relating to Religion, have some Connection with and Dependence upon the Events which went before.
The very Gospel of Christ confists partly in the Hiftory of his Life and Death; nor can the other Part of it, namely, the Doctrines and Duties, be fo well understood without fome Knowledge of the Law of Moses, the Ceremonies of the Jews, the Religion of the Patriarchs, and the Transactions of God with Adam, the firft Father of all Mankind. A 3
The great and blessed God at one single View surveys all his own Works and Designs, from the beginning to the end of them; and every part of his grand Scheme stands in a delightful Harmony with the rest. He has ordained all his more early Dealings with Men in such a Manner, as to let in divine Light by several Gradations upon a dark World, and to lay a happy Foundation for his latest and beft Revelation made by his own Son, and his Apoftles: and in many Cases the former Laws, Ordinances and Transactions, are evidently designed to prefigure and shadow out, as well as to introduce those which follow, Adam, our first Father, by whom Sin and Death were brought into the World, was a Type or Figure of Jesus the second Adam, who brought in Righteousness and Life, Rom. v. J4. I Cor. xv. 21, 22, 45, 49. The Law of Moses was a Shadow of the good Things which were to come ; but the Body and Substance of these Blessings was given us by CHRIST our Saviour, Col. ii. 17. Heb. x. I. And it is certain we may obtain a more extensive and complete Knowledge of Christianity, by our Acquaintance with the sam cred Affairs of Adam and Noah, of Abraham and Mofes, and the Sons of Israel.
Besides, it is the History of the BIBLE which hath conveyed down to us the Knowledge of those Miracles and divine Wonders which have been wrought by the Prophets, the immediate Messengers of Heaven, to prove that they were sent of God: It is in this History we read those Prophecies of Things to come, together with the Accomplishment of them, which stand in a beautiful Connection from the Be. ginning of the World to the Days of the Mefiah. All of them join to confirm our Faith in the leveral Revelations of Religion which God has made to
the Sons of Men; and all concur to establish the last and noble Scheme of Religion, that is, CHRISTIANITY. Thus the very History of Scripture has a powerful and rational influence to establish our Belief of the Gospel, and to make us Christians upon solid and reasonable Grounds.
I add yet further, that in the historical Part of Scripture we read the holy Laws of God, exemplified in the Life 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 A&tions of our Feilow Creatures, it renders the Performance of them more practicable and more delightful to us. While the Word of Command stands in the Law to require our Obedience, the actual Obedience of our Fathers to those Commands recorded in the History invites our Imitation, and makes the Work more easy.
To conclude: We find not only the Precepts but the Sanctions of the Law of God exemplified in the Narratives of Scripture. How often do we read the Promises of God fulfilled in the Rewards of the Righteous, and his Threatenings executed against wilful Tranfgreffors? These Things set the Government of God before our Eyes in a fronger Light; they shew us that bis Words of Promise and Threatenings are not empty Sounds; and make it appear with sensible Conviction, that he will certainly reward, and that he will as certainly punish. The many wonderful Instances of a Divine Providence which concerns itself in the Affairs of Men, and which are recorded in the Word of God, have a natural Tendency to awaken our Fear of fo great and glorious a Being, and to encourage our Hope and Trust in him. In a Word; the Perfections of God, whereby he made and governs the World, are set before our Eyes by the Siripture History in
fuch divine Colours, as give us a more awful and amiable Idea of God himself, than any Words of Description could have done, without fuch an birtorical Account of his Works of Nature, Grace and Providence.
Since then it appears, that some Knowledge of the History of Scripture is necessary and useful 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 may be best attained ? How shall Persons, whose Capacity is weak, or who have little Time to employ on these Subjects, be led in the shortest and easiett Way to a coinpetent Acquaintance with the sacred History? And how shall those who are young in Years be trained up in the plainest and most alluring Manner to some Knowledge of these important Affairs, till their growing Age and further Advantages shall give them a more extensive and
capacious View of all the Transactions between God and Men recorded in Scripture ?
The BIBLE itself is a very large Book, and tho' it ought to be read (at least many Parts of it) by Persons 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 ufoful, that I had almost called it necessary, at least for Youth, and for Persons in the lower Ranks of Life, who have fewer Conveniencies and Advantages of Knowledge. I have made this fufficiently evident with regard to the Doctrines and Duties of Religion, in my Discourse concerning the Compoßtion and Use of Catechisms, to which I refer my Reader : And the fame Argument will hold good with regard to the historical Part of Scripture, There I have shewn particularly how needful it is to collect the great Articles and Rules of our Rea