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and that God may delight to answer the united prayers of children, and pour down his blessings on so religious a family.
XII. To sum up all, I should add in the last place: Let all your carriage and behaviour in the world, both toward God and toward superiors and toward your fellows, be such as becomes those who profess religion, and pray to God morning and evening. Let a pious care to please God, and a fear of offending him, run through all your speeches and actions. Honour and obey your parents and teachers: Love your brothers and sisters Be courteous and kind to all Abstain from all evil words and sinful works: For your prayers will be useless, if you continue in wilful sins: "The prayers of the wicked, who will not repent, are an abomination to the Lord."
Make it appear, that your hearts are sincere and honest in your prayers to God, by endeavouring always to avoid these sins which you have confessed, as well as to practise those duties, in which you have prayed God to assist you; and let it be your daily care to seek to obtain all those blessings, as far as in you lies, which you have asked God to bestow upon you. Thus while prayer and practice go together, you will become christians indeed, you will be the comfort and joy of your friends in this world, you will always find acceptance with God through the mediation of Jesus Christ, and in the world to come, be made happy to all eternity. Amen.
TO "A SHORT VIEW OF THE WHOLE SCRIPTURE
THE Holy Scripture is divided into two books, which are commonly cal
led the Old Testament and the New. And as each of these books contains several articles or propositions which God has revealed to men for the direction of their faith and practice in the successive ages of the world; so there are several histories also contained in them, or narratives of the life and death of men, of the affairs of nations, and especially of the transactions of God with mankind.
Some knowledge of these historical matters is necessary and useful, in order to obtain a more clear and full acquaintance with the principles of our holy religion, as well as to assist and engage us in the practice of it by way of motive. It is the history all along introduces the peculiar doctrine and duties; and all the later revelations of the mind and will of God, relating to religion, have some connexion with and dependence upon the events which went before.
The very gospel of Christ consists partly in the history of his life and death; nor can the other part of it, viz. the doctrines and duties, be so well understood without some knowledge of the law of Moses, the ceremonies of the Jews, the religion of the patriarchs, and the transactions of God with Adam the first father of all mankind.
The great and blessed God at one single view surveys all his own works aud designs from the beginning to the end of them, and every part of his grand scheme stands in a delightful harmony with the rest. He has ordained all his more early dealings with men in such a manner, as to let in divine light by several gradations upon a dark world, and to lay a happy foundation for his latest and best revelation made by his own Son and apostles: and in many cases the former laws, ordinances and transactions, are evidently designed to prefigure and shadow out, as well as to introduce those which follow. Adam our first father, by whom sin and death were brought into the world, was a type or figure of Jesus the second Adam, who brought in righteousness and life; Rom. v. 14. 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22, 45, 49. The law of Moses was a shadow of the good things which were to come; but the body and substance of these blessings was given us by Christ our Saviour; Col. ii. 17. Heb. x. 1. And it is certain we may obtain a more extensive and complete knowledge of christianity by our acquaintance with the sacred affairs of Adam and Noah, of Abraham and Moses, and the sons of Israel.
Besides, it is the history of the bible which hath conveyed down to us the knowledge of those miracles and divine wonders which have been wrought by the prophets, the immediate messengers of heaven, to prove that they were sent of God: It is in this history we read those prophecies of thingsto come, together with the accomplishment of them, which stand in a beauti ful connexion 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 has made the sons of men; and all concur to establish the last and noblest scheme of religion, that is, christianity. Thus the very history 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 actions of our fellow-creatures, 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 threatenings executed against wilful transgressors? These things set the government of God before our eyes in a stronger light; they shew us that his words of promise and threatening are not empty sounds; and make it appear with sensible conviction that he will certainly reward, and that he will as certainly punish. The many wonderful instances of a divine providence which concerns itself in the affairs of men, and which are recorded in the word of God, have a natural tendency to awaken our fear of so great and glorious a being, and to encourage our hope and trust in him. In a word; the perfections of God, whereby he made and governs the world are set before our eyes by the scripfure history in such divine colours, as give us a more awful and more amiable idea of God himself, than any words of description 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 his favour, the next thing to be enquired is, how this knowledge may be best attained? How shall persons, whose capacity is weak, or who have little time to employ on these subjects, be led in the shortest and easiest way to a competent acquaintance with the sacred history? And how shall those who are young in years be trained up in the plainest and most alluring manner to some knowledge of these important affairs, till their growing age and further advantages shall give them a mere 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 many parts of it, by persons of all characters and conditions, yet the reducing of the several things contained in it, to a short and narrow view by way of abridgment is so exceeding useful, that I kad almost called it necessary, at least for youth, and for persons in the lower ranks of life, who have fewer conveniences 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 same argument will hold good with regard to the historical part of scripture. There I have shewn particularly how needful it is to collect the great articles and rules of our religion which lie scattered 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 preferable 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 Nehemiab, where the sacred writers end, down to the time of Christ and the gospel. This is borrowed from the best ancient writings we have of these events, viz. the books of Maccabees in the Apocrypha and the history of Josephus, though I am greatly indebted also to Dr. Prideaux's historical connexion of the Old and New Testament, wherein these narratives are so happily reduced to a chronological order, and embellished and improved with many valuable hints from heathen historians.
And to render the work yet more useful in these days of infidelity, I have