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Inscribed to the Founders, BenefaBors and Trustees, of ^charity-schools in and about the Cities of London and Westminster, and Bills of Mortality.
^^HE Honour and Trust you have conferred
aT Si 011 me t0 Pre^e *n genera^ Meetings it'll of your Society, has engaged my Thoughts J$K|5pB and Endeavours to do every thing within the Sphere of my Capacity, for promoting this most pom, charitable and useful Design, which had its beginning in this great City, and from a very small Seed, has by the Blessings of the Almighty, and ywt good Examples and charitable Benefactions, diffused itself into most parts of the Kingdom.
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The Holy Bible, which for so many Ages was concealed from, or denied to those that were called the Laiety, is now in the Possession of almost every Family, and by the Institution of Charity-Schools Children of the meanest sort of the People, are not only taught to read, but are also instructed in the Doctrines and Precepts of the Christian Religion j the Knowledge and Observance of which are absolutely requisite to the obtaining eternal Salvation.
It must be allowed, that there are many excellent Catechisms, which contain the Principal Articles of the Christian Religion, and are admirably adapted for the Instruction of Youth: But as the Bible is the Fountain from whence all these Rivulets are deriv'd, whatever contributes to the Knowledge of the Holy Scripture cannot but be of great Use. The most learned Men that have wrote upon the Bible, have acknowledged that Scripture is the best Expositor of itself. The Harmony that is found between the Books of Moses, the Psalms, the Prophets and the New Testament do in a wonderful manner, both illustrate and support the Authority of each other.
The New Testament is the real Light of the figurative Darkness of the Types and Mysteries of the Old, the very Consummation of the] Prophecies of good Things to come. By comparing one part of the Holy Scriptures with another, many difficult Passages are made clear and easy to be understood; and the plainest Doctrines which relate either to Faith or Practice, are strengthened and confirmed.
To this Essay I was induced by observing that the usual Method of reading the Bible from one Chapter to another, as they stand in Order^ makes it very difficult for those of low Capacities, to observe the Connexion of the sacred History, and the Illustration that one part of it receives from the other, without having it pointed out to them; and therefore I thought it might be of some Use, that where there is a plain Reference and Analogy of one part to the other, the History, Application and Analogy might be seen in one View.
Great Part of the Holy Bible is Historical; and as History is the most apt and useful way of conveying Instruction to the Mind, especially to those of tender Years, (because it carries with it the force of Example as well as Precept) so by comparing and connesting the different Passages that relate to each other, the whole is illustrated and explained; and therefore makes a deeper and more lasting Impression upon the Mind..
The great Use of thus reading and comparing the Scripture is so evident, that I need not enlarge upon it, and yet how few are there that will allow themselves Time to do it? Nay, how many are there, that because they will not be at the Pains to consider and examine the Scriptures, refuse or neglect the Means by which those seeming Difficulties which they raise to themselves may be removed?
It was this Consideration that induced me to publilh this Essay, which was at first intended only for my own private Use; and however imperfect this Attempt may be, however unfit for the Perusal of those, whose Study and Profession renders them far more capable of undertaking a Work of this Nature, than I presume to be; yet as nothing of this Kind, or at least in this Method, has been yet made publick, if from this imperfect Essay, the Charity-Children and common sort of People may reap any Benefit, I shall think my Labour fully recompensed.
I have avoided giving my own Thoughts by way of Comment upon any Texts of Scripture, not only out of a just Sense how unequal I should be to such a Task, but also out of a firm Persuasion that Scripture is never so well interpreted as by itself. It is our best, our safest, our only infallible Guide. There is a Concord and Harmony throughout the whole, that carries wich it the clearest Evidence of its being a Divine Revelation.
It is evident, that the Holy Scripture, if duly considered, tends to set forth and display the Infinite Wisdom and Providence of God in his Government of the World, and his inestimable Love to Mankind in the Redemption of it: But yet some of those Passages, if considered singly by themselves, may seem obscure by being but lhortly related, which in other parts of Scripture are made clear, plain, and obvious to the meanest Apprehensions.
First, The Account we have of the Creation of the World, in the Book of Genesis, is very much illustrated by the magnificent Descriptions that are to be found of it in other parts of the Scripture.
Secondly, The direful Consequences of the Disobedience of our first Parents upon themselves and all their Posterity will more fully appear by what is expressed in the New Testament relating thereto.
Thirdly, Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was a Preacher of Righteousness, and not only warned that Generation of the approaching Flood, but also foretold the Destruction of the World by Fire.
His Tranflation to Heaven was a visible Assurance, that notwithstanding the great length of the Lives of those of that Generation, yet there was a future and eternal State, into which all Mankind were to pass.
This Miracle was again repeated, and the fame Hope of Immortality declared by the Ascent of Elijah to Heaven, and this at a Time when both the Princes, Priests, and People of Israel, were funk into the grossest Idolatries and other Impieties.
But this important Truth (upon the Belief of which all Religion depends) was confirmed beyond all Contradiction, by our Saviour's Resurrection and Ascent into Heaven, having by Death destroyed him who had the Power of Death, that is the Devil, and deli