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PREFA C E.

THE opposite customs which have, of late years, prevailed in many schools and families, of either suffering the Scriptures to be read by children in a promiscuous manner, or totally neglected, may be jusdy regarded as principal causes of the profaneness and libertinism of the age; for (as an excellent author observes*) " as soon as we lay aside the Sacred Writings, which are the only infallible guide of faith and practice, we must of necessity go wrong.—Our all-wise Creator would not have given them to us, if He had not known that we had need of their assistance;" therefore, it is presumptuous to suppose we can educate youth properly without them; and it may jusdy be considered as an irreverent act, to make use of God's Holy Word with no farther end in view than the improvement of pupils in the art of reading.

Since it has pleased God of His infinite compassion to bless us with a book whose Divine contents are variously adapted to all ages and conditions of mankind i it is certainly the indispensable duty of parents and teachers to draw the attention of children to it as soon as possible.—Every part of early instruction ought to be held in subordination to the study of Religion.— To excite in the minds of young children a desire of being made acquainted with the Scriptures ought doubtless to be our first care, instead of m.tking classical learning and accomplishments the only objects, as is too frequently the case; and as they advance in years, our next endeavour should be to instruct youth how to * See preface to Ostervald's Arguments.

A 4 form, form their judgment, and settle their opinions by th© Oracles of Divine Wisdom. The neglecting to do *6 is a capital and fatal error. It would be a very proper and pleasing exercise to young students, were they taught to examine the sentiments of such heathen authors as are usually put into their hands by the pretepts bf the gospel,—To compare the doctrines of our Saviour and His Apostles with the systems of the mbsl admired sages of antiquity.—To consider how far the examples of heroism and virtue, recorded in profane history, are worthy of the imitation of Christians. —-To' understand what it has pleased the Almighty Governor to reveal concerning the wonderful dis. pensatjons of* fiis providence in respect to nations andi i"ni&>ia*uals^-and' to fornf a" proper estimate of the rewards of piety and righteousness held put by Christianity, -when contrasted with the imperfect notions entertained on these important subjects .by the most enIighterjecf' among thie heathen.

We're a method of this kind pursued, I am confident it would be attended with the most • beneficial effects; youth would not be liable, as they now are to imbibe heathen principles—their passions would be kept iri due subjection—their conduct would most likely reflect honour on their instructors, and be productive of lasting happiness to themselves, and all with whom they are connected.—They would be armed against the dangerous allurements of this world', and solicitous to •prepare themselves, for a better. . ,i.'

It must however be acknowledged, that these purposes cannot be effectually answered merely by putting the Bible into the hands o{ young persons, without giving them proper directions for the perusal of it.— Great care is required in selecting for them such parts of the Sacred Writings as are suited to the progressive

improvement improvement of youth; and it was my experience of

the inconveniences attending an indiscriminate use . of the Scriptures*'when educating my own children, that first suggested to me the: design of collecting together the historical parts, and writing an easy comment on them. In executing this plan I found, that without having recourse to the prsphetic •writings my work would be very imperfect, as the Prophets are, in many instances, the only Historians i and I fortunately met with a hint in the preface to Dr. Gregory Sharpe's second argument in defence of Christianity, which was very serviceable in pointing out the method. which is here adopted, of transposing chapters and verses, .}n order -to make the historical and prophetical books explain each ether by the mere force of serifs and connexion. ,-i; . \.i ,',: ') ii, i1,:

A completa arrangement of the Scriptor^st >p- thia vray is not practicable, because the times- iit which some of the Sacred Oracles were written cannot be .exactly ascertained; neither will it be possible to understand others, till the consummation of all things shall have brought to pass the events, to which they will then be found to relate: however, it must, in the mean time, be very satisfactory, and a great confirmation of the truth of the inspired writings, to observe the completion of such numerous predictions, as an at. tentive mind will easily perceive, even in the circumscribed limits of the following volumes.

There appears to me one very material inducement for a more particular attention to the Prophecies than it is usual for the generality of Christians to give; which is, that they alone unfold the councils of Divine wisdom in respect to Nations : and explain for what causes God inflicts national judgments, and on what

conditions conditions He averts them—particulars which it is the
concern of every individual to know.

There is great reason to lament that the Old Tes-
Tament, in general, is frequently neglected, even by
many Christians, as an obsolete Book.—The numerous
allusions of our Saviour and His Apostles, to different
passages in it, furnish a sufficient argument for recom-
mending the study of that invaluable repository of Di-
vine truths, and St. Paul expressly says, that the events
recorded there were written for the example of those
who should live under the last dispensation.

The New Testament in some respects is certainly
that part of Scripture with which Christians are prin-
cipally concerned; but this cannot be understood
without the Old Testament. The first three chap-
ters of Genesis contain the basis of all revealed reli-
gion; and it is only by a frequent reference from one
part of Scripture to another that the great plan of
Divine goodness in the creation, government, and re.
demption of mankind can be traced.

v '.

CONTENTS

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