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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 them, (which for divers wise Reasons was so contrived by the Holy Spirit) they are fuffiçient 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 Gain
sayers, may be thoroughly furnished from henee, unto all thefe good Works.
Nay, farther, Had the Scriptures exhibited 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
different Occasions, and containing in them a great variety of wonderful Events, fürprizing Chara&ters of Men, wise Rules of Life, and new unheard of Dodrines, all mixt together with an unusual Simplicity and Gravity of Narration, do, in the very Frame and Composure of them, carry 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 some Prejudice or evil Dispofition of Mind,' may be apt to misapply them; it hath been thought proper to
draw up feveral Abstracts; or Summaries of Christian Do&trine; which being, as the feveral Authors of them assure us exactly agreeable to Scripture, are designed to give us a general Nation 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 great Misfortune is, that these very Books, which were intended to lead us more easily and certainly into the Knowledge of Scripture, are most of them fo 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 Endeavours to inform our selves afterwards, by our own reading, ineffe&ual.
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 ar ficft, from! a greater Deference that was paid, either to the Traditions, or Writings of Men, than to the Word of God; fo have they been kept up ever since, by a greater care that hath been taken by the several Se&s, 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 Profession : From whence it follows, that the Books composed by
them, for that purpose, must needs give a very different, and the greatest part of them; for that reason, a very false : Account of the Christian Religion. :
But besides the many Errors, which are made part of the standing Doctrine of some particular Church, or Society of Christians, several other Mistakes must be fupposed 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