« PreviousContinue »
ligion, 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 allo, why the Catechetical 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 facred 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 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, namely, the Books of Maccabees, in the Apocrypha, and the History of Josephus, though I am greatly indebted allo to Dr Prideaux's Historical Connection 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 added another Chapter, which I call a Prophetical Connection between the Old and New Testament, wherein the most eminent Prophecies relating to our Blessed Lord are fet downin oneView, together with their Accomplish. ment; that younger Minds may see how much this great Mefiah, or anointed Saviour, was foretold and expected through all Ages, and may have their Faith of Chrift built early upon a solid Foundation.
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 fol. lowing Rules, namely,
I. 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 some Connection throughout the whole History. Yet I cannot say I have always reduced Things to that Orderin which they were transacted: For in several Places I found that a striat Observation 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.
II. Though I have not been solicitous to insert every Incident, and the Name of every Person contained in the Old Testament, yet I have omitted fcarce 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 Design was to give an Abftract or short View of the facred. Hiftory, for the Use of Persons of such Age, Capăcities or Conditions of Life, as are not able to attend to muchReading, nor gain a fuller and more accurate Knowledge of the Transactions of God with Men.
HI. I have added the Chapter and Verse 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 God, I am 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.
IV. It is all divided into Chapters, and some Chapters into Sections, with a new Title to each. This will, in some Measure, give a comprehensive View of the Method and Order of the Whole. It is evident that the Catechetical Form of Question and Answer takes off the Tiresomeness of Reading from younger Mieds, and perpetually allures their Inquiry and Curiosity onward by short Answers, without that Weariness which arises from many long continued Pages of mere Narrative: And in the same Manner a proper Diftinction of the Hiftory into Chapters and Sections, under different Ti. tles, renders che Work of Reading much more delightful by the frequent returning Rests and Pauses.
V. Since I intended it originally for Persons of younger Years, and the common Rank of Mankind, I have studied generally to use such Words and Forms of Speech as are most plain and easy to be understood. It would not have answered my Defign so well, if I must have sent my Reader too often to his Dictionary to inquire the Meaning of hard Words and Latinized Expressions.
VI. Yet I have not so confined myself to the Service of my unlearned Readers, as to neglect all useful Criticisms and occasional Remarks to clear up Difficulties; but have freely interspersed them throughout the whole Book, so far as may inform, the Inquisitive, and give fome Hints to the more intelligent Reader, for the further Illustration of fome Passages of Scripture both in the Old Tefa, tament and the New.
If there should be found any Mistakes in drawing up this History, which might have been rectified by further consulting the Writings of the Learned, I
would only mention one Apology for myself; and that is a greatPart of it was drawn up in the Country, at a Distance from my usual Habitation, where I had no learned Writings to consult, and was confined to my Bible alone. A friendly Notice of any such Mistakes might occasion a Correction of them.
Let me here speak a Word or two more of the particular Uses which may be made of this Summary of sacred History.
It may not be an improper Book to lie constantly in the Nursery or the Parlour, to aflift the Instruction of Children, or the Conversation of grownPersons. And if this and other ufeful Books were suf. fered always to lie in the Places appointed for Servants, especially in great Families, it might be an Allurement to them to employ some of their Leisure in a profitable Manner. The placing it in any Room of usual Residence, may entice Persons often to look into it, and lead them into an easy Acquaintance with the various Dealings of God with Men from the Beginning of the World.
Nor can I think it would be a vain or useless Employment for Persons who are not furnished with better Advantages for Scriptural Knowledge, to read it over once in a Year or two, in order to keep these sacred Memoirs ever frelh in their Minds. Half a Chapter in a Week would be no heavy Talk, and this would finish it in one Year's Time.
May the divine Bleffing attend this feeble Endeavour of mine to diffuse the Knowledge of divine Things among Mankind, and to furnith Families with useful Matter for Conversation, wbereby they may be better secured against the Temptations of loose and vicious Writings, and vain Discourse, which give an unhappy Tincture to the Imagination in early Years, and tend to defile and destroy the Soul.
An Account of the feveral Dispensations
of God toward Men,
Abel, Enoch, &c.
Sect. 2. Of Abraham and Lot, ifomael
Seet. 3. Of Efau and Jacob, and their
Sect. 4. Of the Holy Things, namely, the