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The compiler is aware of the unusual responsibility incurred by this publication. He can, however, sincerely affirm, that it has been his uniform and anxious design, to present to the public, an impartial compendium and digest of the religion and morals of the Bible. While the work is heartily intended to be a fair exhibition of the scriptural doctrines of Christianity, it contains a body of moral instruction, and probably more of the rules of faith and conduct, than are comprised within the same extent, in any other compilation. It denounces vice and error, enforces piety and virtue, unfolds the perfections of the Deity, and the most important facts relating to divine Providence, and the salvation of mankind. It displays alike the faith and practice, the commands and promises of the Gospel ; and is consecrated to the heavenly cause of evangelical religion. Such historical titles have also been included, as were considered indispensable to the plan of a work, intended for the most part as a manual of religion. He is not conscious of having been under the influence of any sentiments unfavourable to the im. partial execution of it; nor, as every word is copied from the Scriptures, has he been disposed to be wise above what is written. He has adopted the received text, as an invariable guide, and disclaiming the most distant intention of omitting any subject compatible with the nature and limits of the work, or of adding or diminishing upon any subject, with a view to any opinions not
warranted by the whole tenor of the Scriptures, has faithfully endeavoured, as far as practicable, to offer to the public, in a form that would be inviting, a miniature representation of the great principles of divine morality and religion.
He has attempted such an arrangement of the chapters as would give facility of reference ; and has diligently sought to digest them upon a comprehensive and systematic plan; so that each should exhibit, not only, a just summary of the great truihs comprising it, but also a regular composition, as far as the subject would admit; from which it will be perceived that it has been attended with no inconsiderable labour.
As the clergyman bas his expositions, the lawyer his digest of cases and precedents, the physician his dispensatory, the legislator his statutes, the soldier his book of tactics, the sea, man his nautical epitome, the farmer his manual of husbandry, the mechanic his secrets of the arts, and every other professor his hand book to consult in difficulties, will not every man, to whatever profession he may belong, be gratified with a compendium of the more essential principles and duties of life, derived from a perfect and infallible directory ? It would be a disparagement to the public taste, and to the moral and religious character of a professedly Christian country, to suppose that the most humble effort to recal the mind to the great doctrinal and practical truths of our blessed religion, infinitely surpassing all other subjects in importance, and even as specimens of fine writing, all the productions of uninspired men, would not be indulgently received. A judicious and well executed work, presenting at a single view the elegant and divine system of Christianity, in the language of the sacred Scriptures, must, at least, be a welcome tribute to the truly enlightened and the good. Should such be the character of this work, it might be presumed that the pure morals, sublime and eternally interesting doctrines which it comprises, would in this, where they might not in other forms, claim the serious and devout con- . sideration of readers, and in some degree produce their benign and legitimate effects upon the life; that the work would also tend to direct the attention to that inexhaustible fountain of good from whence it is derived, and contribute to inspire a love for the frequent and diligent perusal of the Word of God.
Though the work be designed as a school book for the instruction of youth, and of those in the earlier stages of life, it is conceived to be not less adapted to readers in general. To all whose attention may be arrested by unexampled simplicity, beauty, variety, grandeur, and sublimity of matter and of style; to all who wish to pos. sess an outline of the religious and moral excellencies of the sacred Volume; to all who have hithierto viewed that invaluable Bock with indifference, but may perhaps derive some happy impressions from a novel exhibition of a part of its interesting contents; to all teachers and parents who deem it important that children should be early instructed in the inestimable doctrines and precepts of revealed religion ; to all who re· rere the unerring and everlasting Word of God, who believe and love the Gospel in sincerity, and 6 earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints ;'? this little volume is respectfully inscribed : and the blessing of Heaven for its usefulness, humbly implored.
In offering to his friends and fellow-citizens, this tribute of devotion to the most interesting cause, the compiler cannot omit the opportunity of bearing the public testimony of his homage to the divine excellence of the Christian religion. He deems it a sacred duty, and it affords him great pleasure, to state, as the result of his very limited, but as he trusts dispassionate reflection upon the Scriptures, that his mind has settled down into a solemn and absolute conviction that they are “ given by inspiration of God;" to avow his most sincere admiration of their pure, sublime, consistent, and eternally important system of religion and morals, and unequivocally, his most profound veneration of their contents; to declare to the world, that he is “ not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ,” having an unshaken confidence that as it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth ;" that by a faithful obedience to its divine injunctions, and a right acceptance of its merciful assurances, it will at once swell the measure of the highest earthly happiness, become a source of ever increasing consolation in this scene of probation, and lighten the way to an eternal world of felicity: presenting to the soul, immortal, and boundless in its desires, amid the adversities of life, and the fleeting and imperfect nature of the most elevated of human occupations, enjoyments, and subjects of contemplation, an ultimate, satisfactory, and ever blessed object of holy ambition, rising, like a majestic island, infinitely above the waves of all other pursuits.
RODOLPHCS DICKINSON. Greeze!!! .) 1515.
COMPENDIUM OF THE BIBLE.
CHAP. I. ATTRIBUTES AND GOVERNMENT OF GOD. God is love. Our God is merciful.
The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy, gracious, and full of compassion. He is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil.
'The Lord is of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression. He is the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear hin.
His mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. His tender mercies are over all his works.
Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.
The Lord is long-suffering to us-ward not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
The Lord God liveth.