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IT having been suggested to me that a separate Edition of the First Volume of the Elements of Christian Theology might be useful to many persons who have no occasion for the Second, I have been induced to publish the First Volume of that work in this cheap form. If it should be the means of diffusing more widely a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and a belief of their Divine Authority; and especially, if it should lead those who are entrusted with the Education of Youth to make this most important of all Studies a regular branch of Instruction to their Pupils, my object will be fully answered.
This Volume consists of two parts: the first relates to the Old Testament; the second to the New.
In treating of the Old Testament, I have begun with proving the Authenticity and Inspiration of the Books of which it consists, and have entered into these subjects at considerable length, but I trust not more fully than their importance demands. They form a material branch in the evidences for the truth of the Christian Religion, as the Old Testament is in fact the foundation of the New. In the second chapter, I have given a very brief Account of the Contents of the several Books of the Old Testament, and have mentioned their respective authors, and the times when they lived. In the historical books, I have stated the period which they comprehend and the principal facts which they relate; and in the prophetical books, I have enumerated the prophecies they contain, and the few particulars which are known concerning the prophets themselves. The third chapter is an Abridgment of the History of the Old Testament; and as a connexion between the Old and New Testaments, and to make the historical part of the New Testament more intelligible, the history of the Jews is continued down to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. The fourth and last chapter of this part contains an account of the Jewish Sects, not only of such as are mentioned in the Old and New Testaments, but also of those which were known at any period among the Jews, although their names do not occur in Scripture. I doubted for some time whether this chapter ought to be placed in the first or second part; but upon consideration it appeared better to include it in the first, because all the sects here noticed originated within the period contained in the preceding chapter, and the knowledge of the principles of some of them is necessary to the right understanding of the New Testament.
The first chapter of the second part is upon the Canon and Inspiration of the books of the New Testament, and corresponds to the first chapter of the first part. The thirty following chapters contain a separate Account of the Books of the New Testament. I have there stated the grounds for believing that each book was written by the person to whom it is usually ascribed, and have given the History of its Author. I have mentioned the place where it was published, or from which it was written; its date; the cause or design of its being written; its contents, and such other particulars as belong to the respective books. The last chapter of this part is an abridgment of the New Testament History, in which I have related the leading circumstances of the life and ministry of our Saviour, and the exertions and sufferings of the Apostles, after his ascension into Heaven.