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favourable Acceptance of
my Endeavours to serve you in that Way, being, as I prefume, chiefly owing to the Care I have always taken not to depart from the Scripture-Principles now laid before you: I did not think I could offer you any Thing so justly valuable as this plain Draught of the Christian Religion, in all its native Purity and Simplicity.
IT hath been no little Satisfaction to me to observe, that there are many Persons of Piety and Virtue in this Place: I pray
God increase the Number of them, that so there may be nothing wanting to render this ancient Society, in all Respects, truly great and honourable.
Your most obliged, and
Most humble Servant,
* 13:19 THE Scriptures being written on Purpose to
acquaint us with the Will of God, and to initruct us in all Things necessary 19 our everlafting Salvation, there is no Daubt to be made, but that in the Form we now have them; (which, for divers wife Reasons was so contriyed by the Holy Spirit) they are sufficient to that End; fo that whoever reads them with due Care and Attention, may, without any further Help, be truly and fully informed what he ought to believe and do, in order to be saved. I will add also, that he, whose peculiar Business it is to instruct the Ignorant, to guard the Unwäry, and to pop the Mouths of Gainsayers, may be thorougþly furnished from hence unto all these good Warks.
Nay, farther, had the Scriptures exhibited Religion to us in that regular Form and Method to which other Writers have reduced it, there would, to me at least, have been wanting one great Proof of the Authority of those Writings ; which being penned at different Times, and upon different Occasion's, and containing in them a great Variety of wonderful Events, surprising Characters of Men, wise Rules of Life, and new unheard of Doctrines, all mixed together with an unusual Simplicity and Gravity of Narsation, do, in the very frame and Composure of them, carry the Marks of their Divine Original.
163, yra HOWEVER, for the Benefit of such as will not be at the Pains to search and study the Scriptures; such as by 'reason of their Age are not capable of reading them with Judgment; and such as through some Prejudice or evil Dispofortion of Mind, may be apt to misapply them; it hath been thought proper to draw up several Abstracts or Summaries of Chriftian Doctrine, which being, as the several Authors of them affure us, exa&tly agreeable to Scripture, are defigned to give us a general Notion of what we thal find more particularly and fully set down in those Books; by which Means we may be enabled to read them with more Ease and greater Profit.
The Design is certainly very fit and good, were it but as fairly and juftly executed : But the great Misfortune is, that these very Books, which
were intended to lead us more easily and certainly into the Knowledge of Scripture, are most pf them fo framed as to represent the Religion there delivered to us in a falfe Light; and, by giving a wrong Turn to our Minds at firk, ig tender our Endeavours, to inform, ourselves, afterwards by our own Reading ineffectual. ). .. .. 1
The chief Occasion of which Abuse is, the many Differences and Divisions, that have bappened among Christians, y, bath with regard to their Faith and to their Rules and Measures of serving Gop, which Differenges, as they plainly sofe at firit from a greater Deference that was paid, either to the Traditions or Writings of Men, than to the Word of Gods f@ they have been kept up ever. Since, by, a greater Care that hay been taken by the several $çctsto inftinct their Children in those, Things which distinguish them from one another than to teach them the common Doctrines and Duties of their most holy Profeffion. From whence it followsat that the Books composed by them for that Purpolemust needs give a very different, and the greatef, Part of them, for that Realong, a very falce, Account of the Christian Religion...;'S: Del
But besides the many, Errors which are made Part of the standing Dodripe of fome pariiçular Church or Society of Christians, several other Mistakes must be suppofed to occur in the various Writings and Discouses of private. Men, even of the faine Church, who take ; upon them,
explain the common Faith, every Man in his own Language and Method.
Now for the better removing any false Opinions we may have received from those different Accounts which are given us of Scripture by other Men, as well as preventing any wrong Judgments we may be disposed to make of the Word of God when we read it ourfelves, I have often thought that it would be a Work of great Ufe to colleet out of the Writings of the Old and New Teftament all the Doctrines and Precepts therein dispersed': to lay them together in such an Order and Method, as to give the Chriftian Reader a full and distinct View of his whole Faith and Duty at once; and by keeping all along the Language of Seripture, to leave no Roday for Misrepresentation. 1.11: 124?
1. The This is what I have endeavoured to do in the following Treatise, as being fully satisfied of the Truth of what a great Writer observes *, That we cannot speak of the Things of God better tban in the Words of Gob.:
It is not to be expected, that the general Draught here given of Scripture-Religion, should have that Influence upon Persons nourished up in the Words of unfound Doctrine, as to make thein Jay by all the false Opinions and improper Language which they have long been used to; but lince it contains nothing else but the pure Word