Imágenes de páginas

that he might not again trespass upon the patience of his readers, he resolved also not to publish this more correct edition, until the final volume, on the characteristic excellencies of Christianity, should be in such a state of forwardness, as would enable him to announce that it will be published early in the ensuing spring. With that volume will be delivered, to those who may honour the whole set with a place in their library, an appropriate title-page, denoting the connection of the different parts with each other. He may farther

urge, as an apologyfor the extent of this work, that from the analytic method, brevity cannot be commanded. Whoever undertakes to defend or confute a particular hypothesis, is, in a considerable degree, master of his own operations. He has it in his power to limit the boundaries of his subject; to bring forward the choicest of his arguments, and to suppress those which he deems to be of an inferior importance. The analyzer is deprived of these privileges. He must continue his researches until his own investigations are exhausted, or the analysis will be incomplete; and those principles which are requisite to form the solid basis of speculative opinions, will, even in his own conceptions, remain imperfectly explored. But the analyzer has the prospect of being indemnified, for the superior trouble which he has taken, by escaping many errors to which a partial view of subjects must be exposed ; and by the discovery of some important facts, which systematic writers are prone to overlook.'

Notwithstanding his expectations of being somewhat prolix, the author confesses that his researches have conducted him much farther than he could have imagined. He did not conceive that the theological part would have required so much attention. Although the subject of natural religion did not demand particular enlargement in the present work, it could not be omitted with propriety. It was introduced in order to maintain a kind of unity in his plan ; and it furnishes an opportunity of making some observations which appear

of considerable importance.

The author had at first expected that a cursory view of the Jewish religion, merely as introductory of the Christian, would have been sufficient for his purpose. But, in proportion to the minuteness of his enquiries, was he the more strongly convinced, that this dispensation deserved deeper researches ; the more clearly did he perceive an interesting uniformity through its various parts ; each of them, like the radii of a circle, tending to a central point; and in this central point, are placed the interests of the Gentile world, as well as those of the Jewish nation. The accumulating evidences of the importance of that dispensation, that it is worthy of God, and that it came from God, augmented his pleasure as he proceeded. To such causes must be ascribed the extent of the disquisition.

Several writers who have been zealous to support the credit of the Jewish history, have manifested great solicitude to confute the detached objections of unbelievers ; and they have displayed much learning and soundness of judgment in their endeavours. But they have proceeded upon the supposition, that the objectors were intimately acquainted with the nature, contents, and objects of the sacred records ; and that nothing further would be requisite, to dispose them to walk in the paths of truth with an even step, than to remove certain obstacles which lay in their way. It was the contrary supposition which induced the author, to treat the Jewish dispensation with such minuteness of detail. He has presumed, that

very few objectors have studied the Jewish history with attention and impartiality; for to readers of this description, there is

every reason to imagine that all the objections advanced will

It may be acknowledged, that some remaining difficulties require the elucidations of the learned, while they are impotent to silence the Oracles of Truth.

appear trivial.

The evidences of a divine revelation are usually classed into two kinds; the external,

and the internal. The external evidence depends entirely upon human testimony; and the credibility of human testimony, rests upon the opportunities of

opportunities of information which have been enjoyed by the witness; the

powers of his mind, rightly to understand and comprehend; and the integrity of his heart, preventing him from being influenced by any motive whatever, to invent a falsehood, or misrepresent the truth. For the external evidences relative to the Jewish history, we must refer to other authors. To have enlarged upon these, would have been a deviation from our plan; which has been to investigate the moral history of man ; to trace the consonance between his moral nature, and the obvious designs of Providence respecting him ; and to prove, that all the leading facts related in the Jewish history, are worthy of our belief, from their intrinsic nature and peculiar characteristics ; that they are perfectly consonant with the nature, state, and exigencies, of the human race; and that they perfectly harmonize with the most rational conceptions

« AnteriorContinuar »