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qualities, and more still as I have the happiness to live under Your peculiar jurifdiction : and Your Grace is very kind in permitting me to inscribe it to Your Name, which kindness I will not abuse by the usual stile of dedications, Your Grace's virtues are fo well known, and so universally esteemed, as to stand in need of no commendation, and much less of mine,
I would rather beg leave to apprise Your Grace, and the reader, of the design of these differtations: which is not to treat of the prophecies in general, nor even of those prophecies in particular, which were fulfilled in the person and actions of our Saviour; but only, of such as relate more immediately to these later ages, and are in fome measure receiving their accomplishment at this time. What first suggested the defign, were some conversations, formerly with a great General*, who had for many years the chief commands in the army, and was a man of
good understanding, and of fome reading, but unhappily had no great regard for revealed religion or the clergy. When the prophecies were urged as a proof of revelation, he conftantly derided the notion, asserted that there was no such thing, and that the prophecies which were pretended were written after the events. It was immediately replied, that tho”. such a thing might with less scruple and more confidence be affirmed of fome prophecies fulfilled long ago, yet it could never be proved of any, the contrary might be proved almost to a demonstration : but it could not be so much as affirmed of several prophecies without manifeft abfurdity; for there were feveral prophecies in scripture, which were not fulfilled till these later ages, and were fulfilling even now, and consequently could not be framed after the events, but undeniably were written and published many ages before. He was startled at this, and said he must acknowledge, that if this point could be proved to satisfaction, there would be no
arguing against such plain matter of fa&; it would certainly convince him, and he believed would be the readiest way to convince every reasonable man, of the truth of revelation.
It was this occasion, my Lord, that first gave rise to these Differtations, which were originally drawn up in the form of some fermons. But since that time, they have been new-modelled, much altered and much inlarged, and confirmed by proper authorities. And tho’ fome of them only are here published, yet each differtation may be considered as a distinct treatise by itself. It is hoped indeed, that the whole, like an arch, will add strength and firmness to each part; but at the same time care hath been taken, that the parts should have strength is themselves, as well as a relation to the whole, and a connection with each other. The publication therefore of some parts cannot be iinproper; and the others, shall go to the press as soon as an indifferent Mare of health, constant preaching twice a day,
. and other neceffáry duties and avocations will permit me tờ put the finishing háñd to them. ***
Every teadet muft know, Your Gract and every scholar must know more especiálňy, that fuch works are not to be precipitated. They require time and learned leisure, gréát réading and great exactness, both disquisitions of some of the most curious points of history, as well as explications of some of the most difficult passages of feripture. And I thould not presume to offer any of them to Your GRACE, or to submit them to the public cenfure, if they had not been first perused and corrected by fome of my friends, and particularly by three of the best scholars, and ablest critics of this age, Bishop Pearce, Dr. Warburton, and Dr. Jortin; who were also my friendly coadjutors in my edition of Milton; and as they excel in all good learning themselves, so they are very ready to promote and assist the well-meant endevors of others.
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· When the other parts shall appear, they shall likewise beg: Your Grace's patronage and protection. And in the mean time may Your Grace's health be re-established and continue many years for the good of this church and nation! It is nothing to say that it is my earnest wish : It is the wish of all mankind : but of none more ardently than,