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stated, without the trouble of laboriously consulting a Concordance, which many conveniently cannot do.....For the promotion of the great cause of the dear Redeemer, among my fellow Christians and citizens, I warmly recommend it to all the lovers of Christ and the reVcaled will of God-Wishing you success and encouragement in the republication of so valuable a work, I am,
Dear Sir, Your's
GEO. POTTS, Pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian Church,
YOUR intention of publising “ Gaston's Scripture Collections,” meets my hearty approbation. It affords such an elucidation of the various topics of religion, both theoretical and practical, as will, I make no doubt, be highly interesting to the friends of truth. The judicious arrangement of the texts of scripture under the common heads of systematic divinity, brings the proofs of the several articles under one view, so as to present the most striking evidenceTHUS SAITH THE LORD. The application of the quotations is, in general, appropriate, and well calculated to support the doctrines of which they are the foundation. To soine, moreover, the utility of the work will be enhanced, by the circumstance, that there is no comment but that which must necessarily be inferred from the
local arrangement of the several portions of scripture, under the re· spective heads of doctrine. It will of course be less liable to the charge of sophistry and misconstruction of scripture, than the common systems of divinity, which proceed upon explanation and argument..... That the work may contribute to the extension of scriptural information, the promotion of vital piety, and real edification of the body of Christ, is the earnest wish of
S. B. WYLIE, A. M. Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church,
'HE sacred Scriptures, after the strictest researches of an
enlightened and enquiring age, are still allowed by the wise, judicious, and thinking part of mankind, who are acqainted with them, to be the only books in the world which truly and fully shew the way of salvation to all those who take any serious thought about it. The Scriptures, upon the solid principles of truth contained in them, have the strongest tendency to improve and perfect human nature in every branch of personal and social duty, or to make mankind wiser and better in every station and relation of life. This effect they have produced, and will still produce wherever they are duly attended to. An attempt, if well executed, to promote the knowledge and practice of the truths they contain, must thereftre be of real service to society; and though the attempt should fail, the undertaker may nevertheless enjoy the pleasure of an heart ready and disposed to do good, and all the candid part of mankind will make favourable allowances on account of the goodness of the design.
With these views, the author of the following work offers it to the public ; who will find upon perusal, as will as by the following account of it, that it is a work entirely new, and different in method, at least, from any thing of the kind hitherto published.
THE METHOD. In this work the several articles of revealed religion are ranged under distinct heads or chapters. The subject of each chapter is only mentioned at the beginning of it; and the scripture account of the subject is afterward giver at large, in a numerous collection of express and pertinent texts of scripture, with which the chapter is filled up. Care is taken to insert every article of revealed religion, and every express and pertinent text upon every one, in order to make it full and complete. The several different words by which any article of religion is expressed in the Bible are exhibited under distinct sections, and those sections are filled up with those places in the Bible where the word occurs upon that subject, and produced mostly in the order in which they lie in the Bible ; so that this work, in some measure, answers the ends both of a Common-place Book and Concordance upon the articles of religion. Thus, in chaper 1. page 5. section 17. the ETERNITY of God is expressed by the different words, eternal, cverlasting, for ever, the first and last, which make so many distinct sections. In like manner, every doctrine or duty of revealed religion is laid down first, and the motives to the belief or practice of them are made so many distinct sections in each chapter, and generally come under the heads of threaterings, promises, rewards, punishments, examples, &c. In this respect this work differs from any book of the kind hitherto published. So much is transcribed of the places quoted, as expresses the principal part of the text, and is suficient to direct the reader to the places to be consulted at large in the Bible upon the subject: more would have needlessly swelled the size of the book, and not have left sufficient room for inserting every express and pertinent text upon every subject.
OCCASION AND DESIGN OF THE WORK. It might easily be made appear, that the reading of the holy Scriptures, after a method which the nature of their composition seems to require, must be highly useful and proper, for our acquiring from the Scriptures theinselves the true knowledge of every article of religion contained in them.
Every one who is acquainted with the sacred Scriptures, knows, that the complete account which they contain of any one article of religion, is never to be met with altogether in one place, without other subjects intermixed with it, but is to be collected from many different places of the Bible, where the sacred writers have touched
it. In every one of the many different places of the Bible, where any one article of religion is touched upon, it is still placed in some useful light for instruction, so that none of these places are superfluous. All these places, taken together, do make up the complete scripture account of the subject ; they contain all the light wluch the Spirit of revelation has afforded upon it in writing as needful for instruction ; whoever will view any scripture truth, in all that light afforded, must search the scriptures for the different places in which it is containeci, or where the subject is mentioned. In these places it will be found, sufficiently explained, enforced by all its proper motives, applied to all its proper uses, and set in e. very advantag: ous light needful for being rightly understood, and properly applied, even after extraordinary inspiration hath ceased.
Our blessed Saviour, who best knew the most profitable method of our reading the Scriptures, directed to search them [John v. 3, 9.] for the knu.vledge of his character and ollices, taught, not
all in one, but in different places of the Scriptures, which being taken all together, fully and plainly described him to the world, and left unbelievers inexcuseable. Those have succeeded best in ascertaining the true sense of many portions of scripture, and in answering objections against them, and setting several scripture doctrines in a clear light, who have first searched the Scriptures for the whole and complete account of the subject, and hereby were enabled to show that what was doubtful, by being briefly expressed in one place, was sufficiently enlarged upon and explained in others. Besides such explications of scripture truths as are to be found in the Scriptures themselves, none else are to be depend. ed upon: for the sacred writers, being sufficiently qualified for their work, did not leave it to be mended by inferior hands; they left the scriptures a finished performance, containing a system of religion from God, which, like all his other works, is good and perfect in its kind, being full and complete in all its parts, plain and proper in its terms and expressions, and efficacious or sufficient to answer the ends for which it was written. If it fails, no other writings will prove effectual for reforming the world, and making mankind wise to salvation. Every hopeful method ought to be tried for assisting Christians to reap from the holy scriptures all the benefit they are suited to afford. The dividing the books of the Bible into chapters and verses, (though not first written in that form) is of great use for finding any particular place the reader is directed to consult. A work, directing the reader what places of the Bible to consult for the complete and full account which the sacred writers have given of every article of religion, it is presumed, might be of great use to many, who have not leisure or proper helps to search for such an account, and also to others on many occasions, who would hereby be furnished with all the express and pertinent scriptures before them, at once, upon any subject they had occasion to treat of, without the pains of collecte ing them. Such a work might be of service to some who have not ability to purchase many books, and to others who have not leisure to read many upon religion, or any other subject; as by it they would be asisted to find in the Bible those places, that, taken together, do contain the best, the fullest and plainest, though brief account, that is to be expected of every article both of faith and practice. A work that would answer this end, might be the means of occasioning proper places of the Bible to be consulted upon every article of religion, and for direction in every circumstance of life ; and so of turning the attention of readers from books wherein error is often conveyed along with truth, to the danger or hurt of the readers, and of engaging their attention mors to the holy Scriptures, which are the most and improving writings for all Christians. And when it shall please God to turn the attention of Christians chiefly to the Bible, and to enable them to make a right use of it, it may be expected that the blessed Redeemer's kingdom of knowledge, righteousness, truth and holiness, peace and love, shall be more enlarged and strengthened in the earth. It was thus, at the first spreading of the gospel, and also, at our happy reformation, heathens and Papists were turned from the worship of creatures to the worship of the one living and true God, through one only Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ; and the security of the Protestant religion, against Popery and every other error, does, under God, depend on the knowledge and use that Protestants make of their Bibles. In hopes of answering, in some measure, some of those valuable ends, the following work is composed upon the foregoing plan or method. All possible care is taken to render it satisfactory to the reader, by making it more full and complete than any thing of the kind hitherto published, and by inserting the true scripture account of the subjects mentioned, without regard to the private distinguishing opinions of any party or denomination of Christians ; so that it is presumed it may be useful at least to some of every denomination, and can be offensive or hurtful to none, who are not prejudiced against scripture truth.