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HE Scriptures being written on purpose to acquaint us with the
Will of God, and to instruct us in all things necessary to our everlasting Salvation, there is no Doubt to be made, but that, in the Form we now have therr (which for divers wife Reasons was so cổi,> trived by the
Holy Spirit) they are sufficient to that End; so 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 saved. I will add also, that he, whose peculiar Business it is to instruct the ignorant, to guard the unwary, and to stop the Mouths of Gains Sayers, may be thoroughly furnished from hence, unto all these good Works.
Nay, farther, had the Scriptures exhi: bited 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
Authority of those Writings: which being penn'd at different times, and upon different occasions, and containing in them a great variety of wonderful Events, surprizing Characters of Men, wise 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 Composure of them, carху
the Marks of their Divine Original.
However, for the Benefit of such as will not be at the Pains to search and study the Scriptures; such as, by reason of their Age, are not capable of reading them with Judgment; and such as, through fome Prejudice or evil Disposition of Mind, may be apt to misapply them; it hath been thought proper to draw up several Abstracts, or Summaries of Chrifian Doctrine, which being, as the sevesal Authors of them assure us, exactly. agreeable to Scripture, are designed to give us a general Notion of what we shall find more particularly and fully set down in those Books; by which means we may be enabled to read them with more Ease, and greater Profit.
The Design is certainly very fit and good, were it but as fairly and justly executed : But the
these very Books, which were intended to lead us more easily and certainly into the Knowledge of Scripture, are most of them so framed, as to represent the Religion there delivered to us, in a false Light; and, by giving a wrong Turn to our Minds at first, to render our EndeaFours to inform our selves afterwards, by our own reading, ineffectual.
The chief Occasion of which Abuse, is, the many Differences and Divisions. that have happened among Christians, both with regard to their Faith, and to their Rules and Measures of serving God. which Differences, as they plainly rose at first, from a greater Deference that was paid, either to the Traditions, or Writings of Men, than to the Word of God's fo have they been kept up ever since, by a greater Care that hath been taken by the several Sects, to instruct their Children in those things which distinguish them from one another, than to teach them the common Doctrines and Duties of their most holy Profeffion: From whence it follows, that the Books composed them, for that purpose, must needs give a very different, and the greatest part of them, for that reason, a very falle Account, of the Christian Religion.
But belides the many Errors which are made part of the standing Doctrine of some particular Church, or Society of Christians, several other Mistakes must be supposed to occur in the various Writings and Discourses of private Men, even of the same Church, who take upon them to explain the common Faith, every Man. in his own Language and Method.
Now, for the better removing any false Opinions we may have received from those different Accounts which are given us of Șcripture by other Men, as well as preventing any wrong Judgments we might be disposed 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 Use, to col. lect out of ihe Writings of the Old and New Testament, all the Doctrines and Precepts therein dispersed; to lay them together in such an Order and Method, as to give the Christian Reader a full and distinct View of his whole Faith and Duty at once; and by keeping all along the Language of Scripture, to leave no room for Misrepresentation.
This is what I have endeavour'd to do in the following Treatise, as being fully fatisfied of the Truth of what a great
Writer observes a, 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, should have that Influence upon Persons nourished up in the Words of unsound Doctrine, as to make them lay by all the false Opinions, and improper Language, which they have long been used to ; but, since it contains nothing else but the pure Word of God, there is reason to hope, that Men of all Persuafions will be easily prevailed upon to look into it, without fear of being misled; and that if any of them should from hence be enabled to discover their Mistakes, the Authority of what is said will dispose them to yield more willingly to their Convictions.
But whatever Effect this Method may have with such as are already fix'd in Error, those that have not yet taken a wrong Bent, will, in all likelihood, find it of some Advantage to them in their earliest Enquiries into the Chriftian Religion, to take a general View of the whole, in the most limple manner in which it was first
Chillingworth, p. 152,