« AnteriorContinuar »
The Holy Bible, which for so many Ages was concealed from, or denied to those that were called the Laiety, is now in the Possession of almost every Family, and by the Institution of Charity-Schools Children of the meanest fort of the People, are not only taught to read, but are also instructed in the Doctrines and Precepts of the Christian Religion j the Knowledge and Observance of which are absolutely requisite to the obtaining eternal Salvation.
It must be allowed, that there are many excellent Catechisms, which contain the Principal Articles of the Christian Religion, and are admirably adapted for the Instruction of Youth: But as the Bible is the Fountain from whence all these Rivulets are deriv'd, whatever contributes to the Knowledge of the Holy Scripture cannot but be of great Use. The most learned Men that have wrote upon the Bible, have acknowledged that Scripture is the best Expositor of itself. The Harmony that is found' between the Books of Moses, the Psalms, the Prophets and the New Testament do in a wonderful manner, both illustrate and support the Authority of each other.
The New Testament is the real Light of the figurative Darkness of the Types and Mysteries of the Old, the very Consummation of the; Prophecies of good Things to come. By comparing one part of the Holy Scriptures with another, many difficult Passages are made clear and easy to be understood; and the plainest Doctrines which relate either to Faith or Practice, are strengthened and confirmed.
To this Essay I was induced by observing that the usual Method of reading the Bible from one Chapter to another, as they stand in Order, makes it very difficult for those of low Capacities, to observe the Connexion of the sacred History, and the Illustration that one part of it receives from the other, without having it pointed out to them; and therefore I thought it might be of some Use, that where there
is a plain Reference and Analogy of one part to the other, the History, Application and Analogy might be seen in one View.
Great Pare of the Holy Bible is Historical; and as History is the most apt and useful way of conveying Instruction to the Mind, especially to those of tender Years, (because it carries with it the force of Example as well as Precept) so by comparing and connecting the different Passages that relate to each other, the whole is illustrated and explained; and therefore makes a deeper and more lasting Impression upon the Mind.
The great Use of thus reading and comparing the Scripture is so evident, that I need not enlarge upon it, and yet how few are there that will allow themselves Time to do it? Nay, how many are there, that because they will not be at the Pains to consider and examine the Scriptures, refuse or neglect the Means by which those seeming Difficulties which they raise to themselves may be removed?
It was this Consideration that induced me to publi/h this Essay, which was at first intended only for my own private Use; and however imperfect this Attempt may be, however unfit for the Perusal of those, whose Study and Profession renders them far more capable of undertaking a Work of this Nature, than I presume to be; yet as nothing of this Kind, or at least in this Method, has been yet made publick, if from this imperfect Essay, the Charity-Children and common sort of People may reap any Benefit, I shall think my Labour fully recompensed.
I have avoided giving my own Thoughts by way of Comment upon any Texts of Scripture, not only out of a just Sense how unequal I should be to such a Task, but also out of a firm Persuasion that Scripture is never so well interpreted as by itself. It is our best, our safest, our only infallible Guide. There is a Concord and Harmony throughout the whole,
that carries with it the clearest Evidence of its being a Divine Revelation.
It is evident, that the Holy Scripture, if duly considered, tends to set forth and display the Infinite Wisdom and Providence of God in his Government of the World, and his inestimable Love to Mankind in the Redemption of it: But yet some of those Passages, if considered singly by themselves, may seem obscure by being but shortly related, which in other parts of Scripture are made clear, plain, and obvious to the meanest Apprehensions.
First, The Account we have of the Creation of the World, in the Book of Genesis, is very much illustrated by the magnificent Descriptions that are to be found of it in other parts of the Scripture.
Secondly, The direful Consequences of the Disobedience of our first Parents upon themselves and all their Posterity will more fully appear by what is expressed in the New Testament relating thereto.
Thirdly, Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was a Preacher of Righteousness, and not only warned that Generation of the approaching Flood, but also foretold the Destruction of the World by Fire.
His Translation to Heaven was a visible Assurance, that notwithstanding the great length of the Lives of those of that Generation, yet there was a future and eternal State, into which all Mankind were to pass.
This Miracle was again repeated, and the fame Hope of Immortality declared by the Ascent of Elijah to Heaven, and this at a Time when both the Princes, Priests, and People of Israel, were funk into the grossest Idolatries and other Impieties.
But this important Truth (upon the Belief of which all Religion depends) was confirmed beyond all Contradiction, by our Saviour's Resurrection and Ascent into Heaven, having by Death destroyed him who had the Power of Death, that is the Devil, and deli
ver*d them who, thro' Fear of Death, were all their
Fourthly* The Subversion of Sodom by Fire from. Heaven, is a Type of that Perdition which is prepared for the ungodly, when our Saviour shall come in flaming Fire, taking Vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel, who shall be punished with an everlasting Destruction, from the Presence of the Lord, and from the Glory of his Power.
How great an Illustration does the Story of the Faith of Abraham in the Old Testament, receive by being compared with what our Saviour and his Apostles fay of it in the New, where it is made the Standard and Example of that Faith which is to be exercised by the Members of the Christian Church, which Acts of Faith may be reduced to the following Particulars.
I. His leaving his Native Countrey upon the Divine Command, which is clearly represented in He' brews xi. 8, 9, 10. The Parallel to which, in the Christian Church, is the Obedience to the Divine Command, not to love this World, nor the Things thac are in it, but to set our Affections on the Things that are above, which every one in his Baptism vows to do.
II. The second great Act of Abraham's Faith was his Confidence in the Promises, which assured him that he should have a Son by Sarah, when, according to the Course of Nature, the Thing promised was highly improbable; and which miraculous Child should have a numerous Posterity that should inherit all the Land of Canaan, and from whom the Mefiiab should descend.
III. The third Instance of his Faith, was his offering up Isaac, the Son of the Promise, the Sincerity
of ^ of his Faith expressing itself in an absolute Obedience to the Divine Command; for he accounted that God was able to raise him up even from the Dead, from whence also he received him in a Figure: So that as ic is stated by St. James, his Faith wrought with his Works.
What is parallel to this, in the Christian Church, is a firm Belief that Christ, the promised Seed of whom Isaac was a Type, was born of a pure Virgin by the Holy Ghost, and after his Sufferings raised from the Dead, by the Power of God, to fulfil the Promises made to the Fathers, and that all Believers must be born again of the Holy Ghost, and raised like to Christ to Eternal Life at the last Day; and in general, it is such a Faith, as must be exercised in an entire Reliance upon the Divine Promises, whereby all penitent Believers are assur'd of the Divine Mercy, in the Pardon of their manifold Transgrefiions, and of the Almighty Assistance of Divine Grace, by which they shall be enabled to overcome all the Powers of Sin and Darkness, and so be made meet for the Inheritance of the Saints in Eternal Life and Bliss.
Jacob, not long before his Death, foretels the coming of the Meffiah, and that the Sceptre should not depart from Judah ftill Sbileb come, which was accordingly fulfilled.
In the Story of Joseph we have the Instance of a most sublime Virtue, founded upon the Fear of the Almighty, which induced him to undergo the Miseries of a Dungeon rather than comply with the Allurements of his wanton Mistress. This his resolved Piety was amply rewarded even in this Life, being advanced from a Prison to be the Ruler over all the Lands of Egypt, and thereby the Preserver of his Father and all his Family in the Time of an universal Famine.
The Deliverance of the Hebrews out of that Bondage with which they were so cruelly oppressed, is. both