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Trustees, of the CHARITY-SCHOOLS
HE Honour and Trust you have conferred
on me to preside in the general Meetings T
of your Society, has engaged my Thoughts
and Endeavours to do every thing within the Sphere of my Capacity, for promoting this most pious, 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 your good Examples and charitable Benefactions, diffused itself into most parts of the Kingdom. A 2
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 ; the Knowledge and Observance of which are abfolutely 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 Ule. 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 ilfustrate 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 Efay 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 connecting the different Passages that relate to each other, the whole is illustrated and explained; and therefore makes a deeper and more lasting Impresfion 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 ic? 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 publish this Essay, which was at first intended only for my own private Use; and however imperfect this Attempt may be, however unfit for the Perufal 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 Effay, 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 Talk, but also out of a firm Persuasion that Scripture is never so well interpreted as by itself. It is our best, our fafest, our only infallible Guide. There is a Concord and Harmony throughout the whole,
that carries with 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 lingly by themselves, may seem obscure by being but shortly 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 che 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 Translation to Heaven was a vigible Aflurance, 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 same Hope of Immortality declared by the Ascent of Elijab to Heaven, and this at a Time when both the Princes, Priests, and People of Israel, were sunk into the groffest 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
vered them who, thro' Fear of Death, were all their Life-time subject to Bondage ; and thereby eternal Life and Immortality were brought into the clearest Light by the Gospel.
Fourtbly, The Subversion of Sodom by Fire from Heaven, is a Type of that Perdition which is
prepa. red for the ungodly, when our Saviour shall come in flaming Fire, taking Vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel, who shall be punished with an everlasting Destruction, from the Presence of the Lord, and from the Glory of his Power.
How great an Illustration does the Story of the Faith of Abrabam in the Old Testament, receive by being compared with what our Saviour and his A. poftles say of it in the New, where it is made the Standard and Example of that Faith which is to be exercised by the Members of the Christian Church, which Acts of Faith may be reduced to the following Particulars.
1. His leaving his Native Countrey upon the Divine Command, which is clearly represented in Hebrews xi. 8, 9, 10. The Parallel to which, in the Christian Church, is the Obedience to the Divine Command, not to love this World, nor the Things that are in it, but to set our Affections on the Things that are above, which every one in his Baptism vows to do.
II. The second great Act of Abraham's Faith was his Confidence in the Promises, which assured him that he should have a Son by Sarah, when, according to the Course of Nature, the Thing promised was highly improbable; and which miraculous Child should have a numerous Posterity that should inherit all the Land of Canaan, and from whom the Meffiab should descend.
III. The third Instance of his Faith, was his offering up Isaac, the Son of the Promise, the Sincerity