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and high character, have invested their opinions with some degree of authority, and might have served the cause of truth, instead of imperilling its best interests.
The Author has, however, devoted his best energies to the work; and, although impeded by many other engagements, has spared neither expense nor labour to present to the reader, in a combined form, an ample epitome of Jewish history, and a complete exhibition of Hebrew religion, intended in all its parts to illustrate the great purpose of God in the redemption of man.
In the commencement of the Epistle to the Hebrews we are taught, that “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” We therefore who enjoy the benefit of this full revelation of Divine love and mercy through Christ Jesus, are furnished with "a light that shineth” into the dark places of preceding dispensations; and are thus enabled to invest our views of past generations with the spirit of evangelical godliness.
This having been the object of the Author, it is almost superfluous to say, that he has taken the holy Scripture as his guide. It has been his constant aim to admit, maintain, and illustrate the truth of the sacred oracles. While he has carefully sought out other sources of information, and diligently consulted every available authority, he has, in respect of these, endeavoured to avoid equally a servile submission to human judgment, and a captious rejection of the legitimate influence of intellect and learning.
The serious discouragements under which the Author has laboured, have been, in some measure, counteracted by the favour with which the first volume has been received : and by the earnest manner in which many
individuals whose judgment is entitled to respect, have 'requested him to complete his scheme. From the United States, also, where the “Patriarchal Age" has been republished and favourably noticed, the Author has had communications urging him to prosecute his purpose to completion.
With respect to the plan of this volume, one remark only is necessary. When entering upon the work, it was perceived that, unless some means were adopted to guard against it, the numerous and necessary critical disquisitions arising out of the subject, would prevent the possibility of maintaining any thing like unity in the narrative. To meet this difficulty, it was decided to transmute a large portion of this digressive matter into Notes at the end of each chapter.
The concluding volume of the series, for which considerable preparation has already been made, will, it is hoped, be completed at no distant period. It is intended to embrace the History and Religion of the Gentile Nations, from the Death of Isaac to the Christian Era.
September 15th, 1849.