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one place, without other subjects intermixed with it; but is to be collected from many different places of the Bible, where the sacred writers have touched upon it.
In every one of the many different places of the Bible, where any one article of religion is touched upon, it is still placed in some useful light for instruction, so that none of these places are superfluous. All these places, taken together, do make up the complete scripture account of the subject ; and contain all the light which the Spirit of revelation has afforded upon it, as needful for our instruction : whoever therefore will view any scripture truth in all that light afforded, must search the Scriptures for the different places in which it is contained, or where the subject is mentioned. In these places it will be found
. sufficiently explained, enforced by all its proper motives, applied to all its proper uses, and set in every advantageous light needful for being rightly understood, and properly applied, even after extraordinary inspiration hath ceased.
Our blessed Saviour, who best knew the most profitable method of our reading the Scriptures, directed [John v. 39.] to search them for the knowledge of his character and offices, taught, not all in one, but in different places of the Scriptures ; which being taken altogether, fully and plainly described him to the world, and left unbelievers inexcusable. Those have succeeded best in ascertaining the true sense of many portions of Scripture, and in answering objections against them, and setting several scripture doctrines in a clear light, who have first searched the Scriptures for the whole and complete account of the subject: hereby they were enabled to show that what was doubtful, by being briefly expressed in one place, was sufficiently enlarged upon and explained in others. Besides such explications of scripture truths as are to be found in the Scriptures themselves, none else are to be depended upon : for the sacred writers, being sufficiently qualified for their work did not leave it to be mended by inferior hands; but left the Scriptures a finished performance, containing a system of religion from God, which, like all his other works, is good and perfect in its kind; being full and complete in all its parts, plain and proper in its terms and expressions, and efficacious or sufficient to answer the ends for which it was written. If it fails, no other writing will prove effectual for reforming the world, and making mankind wise to salvation.
Every hopeful method ought to be tried for assisting Christians to reap from the Holy Scriptures all the benefit they are suited to afford. The dividing of the books of the Bible into chapters and verses, (though not first written in that form,] is of great use for finding any particular place the reader is directed to consult. A work, pointing out to the reader the various places of the Bible where may be found the complete and full account which the sacred' writers have given of every article of religion, it is presumed, might be of great use to many who have not leisure or proper helps for such a research; and also to others, on many occasions, who would hereby be furnished with all the express and pertinent Scriptures before them, at once, upon any subject they had occasion to treat of without the pains of collecting them. Such a work might likewise be of service to those who have not ability to purchase many books, and to others who have not leisure to read many upon religion, or any other subject; as by it they would be assisted to find in the Bible those places, that, taken together, do contain the best, the fullest, and plainest, though brief account, that is to be expected, or anywhere to be found, of every article both of faith and practice. A work that would answer this end, might be the means of occasioning proper places of the Bible to be consulted upon every article of religion, and of use for direction in every circumstance of life; and well calculated for turning the attention of readers from books wherein error is often conveyed along with truth, to the great danger or hurt of their souls; and thus engaging their attention more to the Holy Scriptures, which are the most useful and improving writings for all Christians. And when it shall please God 10 turn the attention of Christians chiefly to the Bible, and to enable them to make a right use of it, it may be expected that the blessed Redeemer's kingdom, of knowledge and righteousness, truth and holiness, peace and love, shall be more enlarged and strengthened in the earth. It was thus, at the first spreading of the gospel, and also at our happy Reformation, that heathens and Papists were turned from the worship of creatures to the worship of the one living and true God, through the one only Mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ; and the security of the Protestant religion against Popery, and every other error, does, under God, depend on the knowledge and use that Protestants make of their Bible.
In hopes of answering, in some measure, some of the valuable ends above stated, the following work is composed, upon the foregoing plan or method mentioned. All possible care has been taken to render it satisfactory to the reader, by making it more full and complete than anything of the kind hitherto published ; and by inserting the true scripture account of the subjects mentioned, without regard to the private distinguishing opinions of any party or denomination of Christians : so that it is presumed it may be useful at least to some of every denomination; and be offensive or hurtful to none, who are not prejudiced against scripture truth.