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Bible is from God, and every man is interested in the meaning of it.” At this time the Author had no friend to assist his studies, or remove his doubts, nor any means of procuring critical works. At length a list of the more eminent Foreign Biblical Critics fell into his hands, and directed him to some of those sources of information which he was seeking; he then resolved to procure such of them as his limited means would permit, with the design in the first instance, of satisfying his own mind on those topics which had perplexed him, and ultimately of laying before the Public the result of his inquiries, should no treatise appear that might supersede such a publication.
The idea thus conceived has been steadily kept in view for twenty years; and although, during that interval, several valuable treatises have appeared on the study of the Holy Scriptures, to which he gladly acknowledges himself indebted for many important hints and illustrations; yet, since no one has been published in the English language, embracing all those important subjects, which the Author apprehends to be essential to the cRITICAL study of the Sacred Volume, he has been induced to prosecute his investigations, the result of which he tenders for the assistance of others.
The Four Volumes, of which the work now consists, will be found to comprise the following topics:
Volume I. contains a Critical Inquiry into the Genuineness, Authenticity, Uncorrupted Preservation, and Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures; including, among other subjects, a copious investigation of the testimonies from profane authors to the leading facts recorded in the Scriptures, particularly a new branch of evidence for their credibility, which is furnished by coins, medals, inscriptions, and antient structures.—This is followed by a full view of the arguments afforded by miracles and prophecy, for 1 Bishop Horsley.
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the inspiration of the Scriptures, and by a discussion of the internal evidence for their inspiration, furnished by the sublimity and excellence of the doctrines, and by the purity of the moral precepts, revealed in the Bible;— the harmony subsisting between every part;-the preservation of the Scriptures to the present time; and their tendency to promote the present and eternal happiness of mankind, as evinced by an historical review of the beneficial effects actually produced in every age and country by a cordial reception of the Bible; together with a refutation of the very numerous objections which have been urged against the Scriptures in recent deistical publications. An Appendix to this volume comprises a particular examination of the miracles supposed to have been wrought by the Egyptian magicians, and of the contRadictions which are falsely alleged to exist in the Scriptures, whether historical or chronological;-contradictions between prophecies and their accomplishments; -contradictions in morality;-apparent contradictions between the sacred writers themselves, and between sacred and profane writers;–or seeming contradictions to philosophy and the nature of things. This discussion is followed by a table of the chief prophecies relative to the Messiah, both in the Old and New Testament, and by an examination of the pretensions of the apocryphal books of the Old and New Testament.
In the former impression of this work the Author had givenavery brief outline of the evidences for the genuineness and inspiration of the Old Testament, and a more extended view of the genuineness, credibility, and inspiralion of the New Testament; and, being unwilling to augment, unnecessarily, the number of treatises extant on these subjects, he referred his readers to a few which are : justly accounted the most valuable. In preparing the present edition for the press, it was his intention to condense these remarks, and to subjoin a few additional consider
ations: but he has been induced to deviate from this design by the extensive circulation of infidel works and tracts, whose avowed object was, by the unblushing re-assertion of old and often-refuted objections, or by specious insinuations, to undermine and to subvert the religion of Jesus Christ—“the pillar of society, the safeguard of nations, the parent of social order, which alone has power to curb the fury of the passions, and secure to every one his rights; to the laborious the reward of their industry, to the rich the enjoyment of their wealth, to nobles the preservation of their honours, and to princes the stability of their thrones.” Called upon by name, from the press, to consider these objections to Divine Revelation, the Author felt it his duty not to shrink from the task; and as the antagonists of the Scriptures have in some degree varied the ground of their attacks, he indulges the hope that a temperate discussion of this subject, accommodated to the present times, may not be unacceptable to the biblical student, who may, perhaps, at some future time, be exposed to meet with the enemies of the Scriptures. To his own mind, indeed, the result of the laborious inquiries, in which he has thus been necessarily involved, has been highly satisfactory:—for, not having access to all the numerous and able defences of Christianity against the infidels of former ages, he has been obliged to consider every objection for himself:and in every instance he has found that the numerous— he had almost said innumerable—contradictions, alleged to exist in the Sacred Writings, have disappeared before an attentive and candid examination. It may, perhaps, be thought that the gross and illiberal manner, in which some of the productions in question have been executed, renders them unworthy of notice; but nothing surely is unworthy of notice that is calculated to mislead the ignorant or the unwary; and though some of the objections raised by the modern opposers of divine revelation, are so coarse as to carry with them their own refutation, yet
others are so concisely and speciously expressed, as to demand several pages, the result of many days' laborious research, in order to detect their sophistry and falsehood.
In the Appendix to this First Volume, the observant eye of the critic will find two or three articles which ought to have been placed in another part of the present work. To account for this deviation, the Author begs to state that, when he first began to prepare this portion for the press, he had it in contemplation to publish it in a detached form, in order to furnish a ready and immediate reply to the objections which at that time were almost daily issued from the press. In such a form it had even been announced to the Public: but as the objections continued to be multiplied, the work imperceptibly accumulated in its progress; and when the first volume was completed, the Author was obliged reluctantly to abandon the idea of a distinct publication, on account of the additional pecuniary loss which he would inevitably have incurred. He has only to express his ardent hope, that this part of his labours may, through the Divine Blessing, enable his readers to be ready Always to give an answer to EVERY MAN, that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them; and he most earnestly requests that they will examine and combine, with candour and attention, all the various evidences here adduced for the genuineness, authenticity, credibility, and divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures; and then solemnly and deliberately, as rational and accountable beings, deduce that inference from the whole, for which they must hereafter answer at the tribunal of God.
WoLUME II, in two parts, treats, first, on SACRED CRIticism; including an Historical and Critical Account of the Original Languages of Scripture, and of the Cognate or Kindred Dialects;–an account (with numerous facsimilies) of the principal Manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments, together with a bibliographical and critical notice of the chief printed editions; and of the divisions and marks of distinction occurring in manuscripts and printed editions of Scriptures; together with a history of the antient and modern Versions of the Scriptures, and their application to the criticism and interpretation of the sacred volume, illustrated with sacsimilie specimens of the oriental versions executed at the Serampore press. In this part of the work, the history of the authorised English version of the Bible is particularly considered, and the literary character of its venerable translators is satisfactorily vindicated against the cavils of some late writers. The benefit to be derived from Jewish and Rabbinical authors is next discussed, and the genuineness of the celebrated Jewish 'historian's account of Jesus Christ is vindicated and established. These discussions are followed by dissertations,—On the VARious READINGs occurring in the Scriptures, with a digest of the chief critical canons for weighing and applying them:-On the Quotations FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT In the New, with JNew Tables of the Quotations at length", in HEBREw, GREEK, and ENglish, from new types cast expressly for the purpose; shewing, first, their relative agreement with the Hebrew and with the Septuagint; and secondly, whether they are prophecies cited as literally fulfilled; prophecies typically or spiritually applied; prophecies accommodated; or simple allusions to the Old Testament:-ON THE PoETRY of THE HEBREws; its construction, nature and genius; different species of Hebrew poetry; with observations for better understanding the productions of the Hebrew poets:—and ON HARMonies of the Scriptures including remarks on the principles on which they should be constructed.
* In the first edition, tables of References only were given to the quotations from the Old Testament in the New : but as these quotations have been frequently made the subject of cavil by the adversaries of the Scriptures, and as all students have not the time to find out and compare several hundred references, the author has now given them at length, accompanied with the best critical remarks which he could collect.