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FROM THE EIGHTH LONDON EDITION.
ETHERIDGE AND COMPANY, IN BOSTON.
S. Etheridge, printer, Charlestown, Massachusetts.
THE nature and design of this work, and the principles on which it hath been undertaken and conducted, have been so largely represented in the preceding volumes, that it is unnecessary here to enlarge upon them. But, as what I now present to the reader concludes the Historical Part of the New Testament, this seems a very proper place to recollect the promise which I long since made, of offering some remarks on the excellence and usefulness of that history, which may dispose the reader more frequently to review it, and to study it with the greater application.
It must be universally granted, that the excellence of any performance is to be estimated, by considering its design, and the degree in which it is calculated to answer it. The design of the gospel history is summed up in the words which I have placed for my motto ; which, though they are taken from the conclusion of St. John's gospel, are applicable, not only to all the other Evangelists, but likewise to the Acts of the Apostles, that invaluable appendix to them. These things are written, that ye might believe that JESUS is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
I shall beg leave to shew, how admirably the history before us is calculated to answer both these ends ; viz. to produce a conviction of the truth of Christianity, and to make those good impressions on the heart, which may secure the eternal life and happiness of the reader ; which no speculative conviction, even of the most sublime, compre, hensive, and important truths, will itself be able to do. I apprehend, that, in proportion to the degree in which these two premises can be illustrated, the excellence and value of this history will immediately appear : for no man is so far infatuated as to dispute, whether obtaining life, eternal life, be an end of the highest importance ; how light soever he may in fact make of it, and how wantonly soever he may bar. ter it away for every trifle, that strikes his imagination, or fires his passions. Obvious as the hints are which occur on these heads, I will touch a little upon them ; that we may more evidently see, how much we are indebted to the Divine wisdom and goodness in giving us so invaluable a treasure as these books contain, and how highly we are concerned to attend diligently to the contents of them.'