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ligion, which lie fcattered up and down in the Bible, into a fhorter Scheme for the Ufe of younger Understandings; and I have given my Reafons alfo, why the Catechetical Method of Question and Anfwer is preferable to all other Methods of Inftruction; and I need not repeat the fame Things here with regard to facred Hiftory.
It is proper the Reader fhould know, that at the End of the Hiftory of the Old Testament I have inferted one Chapter, wherein the Jewish Affairs are continued from the Time of Nehemiah (where the facred Writers end) down to the Time of Chrift and the Gospel. This is borrowed from the best ancient Writings we have of thefe Events, namely, the Books of Maccabees, in the Apocrypha, and the Hiftory of Jofephus, though I am greatly indebted alfo to Dr Prideaux's Hiftorical Connection of the Old and New Teftament, wherein these Narratives are fo happily reduced to a Chronological Order, and embellished and improved with many valuable Hints from Heathen Hiftorians.
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 Teftament, wherein the moft eminent Prophecies relating to our Bleffed Lord are fet down in oneView, together with their Accomplishment; that younger Minds may fee how much this great Meffiah, or anointed Saviour, was foretold and expected through all Ages, and may have their Faith of Chrift built early upon a folid Foundation.
I have nothing more to add, but to acquaint the Reader with the Method I have taken in compofing this Work, and with the Ufe that he fhould make of it.
In framing this Book, I have obferved the following Rules, namely,
I. I have
I. I have proceeded, for the most part, according to the Order of Things as they lie in the Books of Scripture; but ftill endeavouring to maintain fome Connection throughout the whole Hiftory. Yet I cannot fay I have always reduced Things to that Order in which they were tranfacted: For in feveral Places I found that a ftri& Obfervation of Chronology would have intermingled too many Incidents of different Kinds, would have broken the Scheme of Things I had propofed, or interrupted the Narrative of fome particular Event, and rendered the Hiftory much more unconnected and difagreeable to thofe for whom I write.
II. Though I have not been folicitous to infert every Incident, and the Name of every Perfon contained in the Old Teftament, yet I have omitted fcarce any Name or remarkable Tranfaction which has been referred to or cited in the New, or has any Connection with the Gospel of Chrift, which is the Religion of Chriftians. It was not poffible to infert all the particular Narratives contained in the Scripture, without making another Book almoft as big as the Bible itfelf: Whereas my prime Defign was to give an Abstract or short View of the facred Hiftory, for the Use of Perfons of fuch Age, Capacities or Conditions of Life, as are not able to attend to much Reading,nor gain a fuller and more accurate Knowledge of the Tranfactions of God with Men.
III. I have added the Chapter and Verfe of one or more Texts of Scripture to every Answer that required it, that the Reader might be invited to fearch his Bible, and there gain a larger and more particular Acquaintance with thofe hiftorical Matters which I have briefly mentioned in a Line or two. If young Perfons by this Means are allured to grow familiar with the Word of God, I am perfuaded the Advantage they may reap thereby will
richly compenfate all their Labours in reading this hiftorical Abridgment of Scripture, and all my Pains in writing it.
IV. It is all divided into Chapters, and fome Chapters into Sections, with a new Title to each. This will, in fome Measure, give a comprehenfive 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 Minds, and perpetually allures their Inquiry and Curiofity onward by fhort Answers, without that Wearinefs which arifes from many long continued Pages of mere Narrative: And in the fame Manner a proper Diftinction of the History into Chapters and Sections, under different Titles, renders the Work of Reading much more delightful by the frequent returning Refts and Paufes.
V. Since I intended it originally for Perfons of younger Years, and the common Rank of Mankind, I have ftudied generally to use fuch Words and Forms of Speech as are moft plain and easy to be understood. It would not have anfwered my Defign fo well, if I must have fent my Reader too often to his Dictionary to inquire the Meaning of hard Words and Latinized Expreffions.
VI. Yet I have not fo confined myself to the Service of my unlearned Readers, as to neglect all ufeful Criticisms and occafional Remarks to clear up Difficulties; but have freely interspersed them throughout the whole Book, fo far as may inform the Inquifitive, and give fome Hints to the more intelligent Reader, for the further Illustration of fome Paffages of Scripture both in the Old Teftament and the New.
If there fhould be found any Miftakes in drawing up this History, which might have been rectified by further confulting the Writings of the Learned, I
would only mention one Apology for myself; and that is,a great Part of it was drawn up in theCountry, at a Distance from my ufual Habitation, where I had no learned Writings to confult, and was confined to my Bible alone. A friendly Notice of any fuch Miftakes might occafion aCorrection of them.
Let me here speak a Word or two more of the particular Ufes which may be made of this Summary of facred Hiftory.
It may not be an improper Book to lie conftantly in the Nursery or the Parlour, to affift the Inftruction of Children, or the Converfation of grownPerfons. And if this and other ufeful Books were suffered always to lie in the Places appointed for Servants, especially in great Families, it might be an Allurement to them to employ fome of their Leifure in a profitable Manner. The placing it in any Room of ufual Refidence, may entice Perfons 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 ufelefs Employment for Persons who are not furnished with better Advantages forScriptural Knowledge, to read it over once in a Year or two, in order to keep thefe facred Memoirs ever fresh in their Minds. Half a Chapter in a Week would be no heavy Tafk, 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 furnish Families with useful Matter for Converfation, whereby they may be better secured against the Temptations of loofe and vicious Writings, and vain Discourse, which give an unhappy Tincture to the Imagination in early Years, and tend to defile and deftroy the Soul.
An Account of the feveral Difpenfations
Chap. I. The History of Mankind before the
Chap. II. Of Noah, Abraham, and their
Sect. 1. Of Noah and his Sons,
Sect. 3. Of Efau and Jacob, and their
Chap. III. The Deliverance of the Ifraelites
from Egypt by Mofes and Aaron,
Chap. V. Of the Ceremonial Law of the Jews,
Sect. 1. Of the Ceremonies of Purification,
Sect. 2. Of the holy Perfons, namely, Priefts,