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but your favourable Acceptance of my Endeavours to serve Way, being, as I prefume, chiefly owing to the Care I have always taken not to depart from the Scripture-Principles now laid before you: I did not think I could offer you any Thing fo justly valuable as this plain Draught of the Christian Religion, in all its native Purity and Simplicity.

IT hath been no little Satisfaction to me to observe, that there are many Perfons of Piety and Virtue in this Place: I pray God increase the Number of them, that so there may be nothing wanting to render this ancient Society, in all Respects, truly great and honourable.

I am

Your most obliged, and

Most humble Servant,

FRANCIS GASTRELL.

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1.'1'! 17 CHE Scriptures being written on Puspose to

acquaint us with sho Will of God, and to instruct us in all Things necessary 10 our everlafting Salvation, there is no Dkjubt to be made, but that in the Form we now have them, (which, for divers wife Reasons was so contriyed by the Holy Spirit)

, they are sufficient to that End; so that whoever reads them with due Care and Attention, may, without any further Helpibe 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 Muths of Gainsgyers may be thoroughly furnished

, from hence unto all these good Works.

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NAY, farther, had the Sériptures 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 penned at different Times, and upon different Occasion's, and containing in them a great Variety of wonderful Events, surprising Characters of Men,' wise Rules of Life, and new unheard of Doctrines, all mixed together with an unusual Simplicity and Gravity of Narsation, do, in the very frame and Composure of them, carry the Marks of their Divine Original.

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HOWEVER, for the Benefit of fuch 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 Disposition of Mind, may be apt to misapply them; it hath been thought proper to draw up several Abstracts or Summaries of Chriftian Doctrine, which being, as the several Authors of them affure us, exa&ly 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 Eafe and greater Profit.

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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

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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 10 us in a false Light; and, by giving a wrong Turn to our Minds at firk, íg sender our Endeavours, to inform, ourselves, afterwards by our own Reading ineffectual

..!!!! The chief Occasion of which Abuse is, the many Differences and Divisions, that have bappened among Christiansy, barah with regard to their: Faith and to their Rules and Measures of serving Gops which Differenges, as they plainly rose at first from a greater Deference'that, was paid, either to the Traditions or Writings of Men, ihan to the Word of Gong fą they haysibeen kept up ever. Since, by, a greater Care that hay been taken by the several Şces, to instinct 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, followser than the Books composed by them for that Purpose must needs give a very different, and the greatest

, Part of them, for that Reason,,a yery:talle, Account of the Christian Religion...

, But besides the many Errors which are made Part of the standing Dodripe of some particular Church or Society of Christians, several other Mistakes must be suppofed to occur in the various Writings and Discourses of prixate. Men, even of the faine Church; who take; upon them to

A, 4. Stilexplain

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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 Scripture by other Men, as well as preventing any wrong Judgments we may be disposed to make of the Word of God when we read it ourfelves, I have often thought that it would be a work of great Ule to collet out of the 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 Chrifa tian Reader à full and diftin&t View of his whole Faith and Duty at once; and by keeping all along the Language of Seripture, to leave no Roomy for Misrepresentation. om 91: Wow Top

Te rog 1996: This is what I have endeavoured to do in the following Treatise, as being fully satisfied of the Truth of what a great Writer observes *, That we cannot speak of the Things of God better than in the Words of GOD.

1

It is not to be expected, that the general Draught here given of Scripture-Religion, should have that Influence upon Persons nourished up in the Words of unfound Doitrine, as to make thein lay by all the false Opinions and improper Lan. guage which they have long been used to; bút dince it contains nothing else but the pure Word

Chillingworth, p. 1526

of

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