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THE Scriptures being written on purpose to acquaint us with the Will of God, and to inftruct us in all things neceffary to our everlasting Salvation, there is no Doubt to be made, but that, in the Form we now have them (which for divers wife Reasons was fo coi> trived by the Holy Spirit) they are fufficient to that End; fo that whoever reads them with due Care and Attention, may, without any farther Help, be truly and fully informed what he ought to believe, and do, in order to be faved. I will add alfo, that he, whofe peculiar Business it is to inftruct the ignorant, to guard the unwary, and to stop the Mouths of Gainfayers, may be thoroughly furnished from hence, unto all thefe good Works.
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 A 3 Autho
Authority of those Writings: which being penn'd at different times, and upon different occafions, and containing in them a great variety of wonderful Events, furprizing Characters of Men, wife Rules of Life, and new unheard of Doctrines, all mixt together with an unusual Simplicity and Gravity of Narration, do, in the very Frame and Compofure of them, carry the Marks of their Divine Original.
However, for the Benefit of fuch as will not be at the Pains to search and ftudy the Scriptures; fuch as, by reason of their Age, are not capable of reading them with Judgment; and fuch as, through fome Prejudice or evil Difpofition of Mind, may be apt to mifapply them; it hath been thought proper to draw up feveral Abstracts, or Summaries of Chriftian Doctrine, which being, as the feveral Authors of them affure us, exactly. agreeable to Scripture, are defigned to give us a general Notion of what we shall find more particularly and fully fet down. in thofe Books; by which means we may be enabled to read them with more Eafe, and greater Profit.
The Defign is certainly very fit and good, were it but as fairly and juftly executed: But the great Misfortune is, that
thefe very Books, which were intended
The chief Occafion of which Abuse,
But befides the many Errors which are made part of the ftanding Doctrine of fome particular Church, or Society of Chriftians, feveral other Mistakes must be fuppofed to occur in the various Writings and Difcourfes of private Men, even of the fame Church, who take upon them to explain the common Faith, every Man in his own Language and Method.
Now, for the better removing any falfe Opinions we may have received. from thofe different Accounts which are given us of Scripture by other Men, as well as preventing any wrong Judgments we might be difpofed to make of the Word of God, when we read it our felves; I have often thought, that it would be a Work of great Ufe, to collect out of the Writings of the Old and New Teftament, all the Doctrines and. Precepts therein difperfed; to lay them together in fuch an Order and Method, as to give the Chriftian Reader a full and diftinct View of his whole Faith and Duty at once; and by keeping all along the Language of Scripture, to leave no room. for Mifrepresentation.
This is what I have endeavour'd to do in the following Treatife, as being fully fatisfied of the Truth of what a great
Writer observes 2, That we cannot speak of the Things of God better than in the Words of God.
It is not to be expected, that the general Draught here given of ScriptureReligion, fhould have that Influence up on Perfons nourished up in the Words of unfound Doctrine, as to make them lay by all the false Opinions, and improper Language, which they have long been ufed to; but, fince it contains nothing elle but the pure Word of God, there is reason to hope, that Men of all Perfuafions will be easily prevailed upon to look into it, without fear of being mifled; and that if any of them fhould from hence be enabled to difcover their Miftakes, the Authority of what is faid will difpofe them to yield more willingly to their Convictions.
But whatever Effect this Method may have with fuch as are already fix'd in Error, those that have not yet taken a wrong Bent, will, in all likelihood, find it of fome Advantage to them in their earliest Enquiries into the Chriftian Religion, to take a general View of the whole, in the moft fimple manner in which it was firft
Chillingworth, p. 152.