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The very Gospel of Christ consists partly in History
The great and blessed God at one fingle View surveys
the good Things which were to come'; but the Body
obtain more extensive and complete
Besides, it is the History of the Bible, which hath con-
the Accomplishment of them, which fand in a beautiful Connection from the Beginning of the World to the Days of the Messiah. All of them join to confirm our Faith in the several Revelations of Religion which God bas made the Sons of Men; and all concur to establish the last and noblin Scheme of Religion, i.e. Chriftianity. Thus the very Hifiory 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 Astions of our FellowCreatures, 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 Threatnings executed against wilful Transgreffors? These Things fet the Government of God before our Eyes in a stronger Light; they fhéw us that his Words of Promile and Threatning are not empty Sounds; and make it appear with fenfible. Conviction that he will certainly reward, and that he will as certainly punih.. The many wonderful Instances of a Divine Providence which concerns it felf in the Affairs of Men, and which are recorded in the Word of God, bave a natural Tendency to awaken our Fear of fo great and glorious, Being, and to encourage our Hope and
Trust Trust in him. In a IVord; the Perfections of God, whereby be made and governs the World, are set before our Eyes by the Scripture History in such divine Colours, as gives us a more awful and
amiable Idea of God himself, than
any Words of Defcription could have done, without such an historical 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 bis Favour, the next thing to be enquired is, how this Knowledge may be best attained? How Shall Perfons, whefe Capacity is weak, or who have little Time to empiry on these Subjects, be led in the fortest and easiest way to a competent Acquaintance with the facred History And how small thoje who are young in Years be trained up in the plainest and most alluring Manner to forne Knowledge of thefe importunt Affairs, till their growing Age and further Advantages fall 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 though it ought to be read (at least anany Parts of it) by Perfons of all Characters and Conditions, get the reducing of the several Things contained in it to a fbart and narrow View by Way of Abridgment is so exceeding useful, that I had a!most called it necessary, at leaft for Youth, and for. Persons in the lower Ranks of Life, who have fewer Conveniencies and Advantages of Knowledge. I have made this sufficiently evident with regard to the Doctrines and Duties of Religion in my Discourse concerning the Composition 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 fewn particularly, how need.
ful ful it is to collect the great Articles and Rules of our
Religion, which lie feattered up and down in the Bible, into a shorter Scheme for the Use of younger Understandings; and I have given my Reasons also, why the Catechistical Method of Question and Answer is pro ferable to all other Methods of Instruction ; and I need not repeat the same Things here, with regard to sacred History.
It is proper the Reader should know, that at the End of the History of the Old Testament I have inserted one Chapter, wherein the Jewish Affairs are continued from the Time of Nehemiah (where the facred Writer's end) down to the Time of Christ and the Gospel. This is bor- . rowed from the beft ancient Writings we have of these Events, viz. the Books of Maccabees in the Apocrypha, and the History of Jofephus, though I am greatly indebted also to Dr. Prideaux's Historical Connection of the Old and New Testament, wherein these Nar. ratives are fo happily reduced to o Chronological Order, and embellished and improved with many valuable Hints from Heathen Hiftorians.
And to render the Work yet more afeful in these Days of Infidelity, 1 have added another Chapter, which I call a Prophetical Connection between the Old Testament and the New, wherein the most eminent Prophe.. cies relating to our Blefje Lord are set down in one View, together with their Accomplishment that younger Minds may fee how much this Great Messiah, or anointed Savi. qur, was foretold and expected through all Ages, and may have their Faith of Christ built early upon a solid Foun, dation.
I have nothing more to add, but to acquaint the Reader with the Method I have taken in composing this Work, and with the Use that he should make of it.
In framing this Book, I have observed the following Rutes, (viz.)
1. I have
1. I have proceeded for the most part, according to the Order of Things as they lie in the Books of Scripture ; but still endeavouring to maintain fomc Connection throughout the whole History. Yet I cannot say I have always reduced Things to that Order in which they were transacted: For in several Places I found that a frie Objer. vation of Chronology would have intermingled too many Incidents of different kinds, would have broken the Scheme of Things I had proposed, or interrupted the Narrative of some particular Event, and rendered the History much more unconnected and disagreeable to those for whom I write.
2. Though I have not been solicitous to infert every Incident, and the Name of every Perfon contained in the Old Teftament, yet I have omitted scarce any Name or remarkable Transaction which has been referred to or cited in the New, or has any Connection with the Gospel of Christ, which is the Religion of. Christians. . It was not possible to infert all the particular Narratives contained in the Scripture, without making another Book almost as big as the Bible itself: Whereas my prime Dehyn was to give an Abftract or Thort View of the Sacred History for the Use of Persons of yuch Age, Capacities, or Conditions of Life, as are not able to attend to much Reading, nor gain a fuller and more accurate Knowledge of the Transactions of God with Men.
3. I have added the Chapter and Perfe of one or more Texts of Scripture to every Answer that required it, that the Reader might be invited to search his Bible, and there gain a larger and more particular. Acquaintance with those historical Matters which I have briefly mentioned in a Line or two. If young Persons by this Means are allured to grow familiar with the Word of Ged, I ann persuaded the Advantage they may reap thereby will richly compensate all their Labours in reading this historical Abridgment of Scripture, and all my Pains in writing it.