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JAMES GLODE STAPELTON, ESQUIRE,
HACKNEY THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY,
THE FOLLOWING LECTURES, ON BIBLICAL TOPOGRAPHY,
ARE, WITH SENTIMENTS OF MUCH ESTEEM,
RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED BY
The following Lectures were prepared for, and delivered as academical exercises, under a conviction that a knowledge of Biblical Topography is an important means of ascertaining the sense of Scripture. In the hope that they may be useful to others of the same class as those who heard them, as well as to devout readers of the Scriptures in general, and especially to the young, they are now committed to
Hackney, March, 1840.
To write the topography of a country implies popularly, though not necessarily, that it is already invested with some degree of historic importance. The physical geography of a region may be coeval with its earliest exploration ; but it is not until it has become the home of man, or the scene of great events, that its places deserve or receive our particular regard.
No sooner, however, has it begun to acquire this kind of historical interest, than the very names of those places operate on the imagination as charmed sounds, conjuring up, in the absence of the real, an ideal topography in its stead.
It is to satisfy this craving of the mind for a terra firma, where, like the dove of the deluge, it may alight, that the historian accompanies his relation of events with descriptions of the places where they occurred; and that the poet gives even to “airy nothing, a local habitation and a name.” And when once this relation between places and events has been established in the mind, it is only necessary for a writer to utter a single name, in order to call up, as by incantation, a long train of associated ideas. It is by this allusive quality in the style of Bacon, that he puts the mind of the cultivated reader into a state of sympathetic activity, and suggests so much more than he expresses. And, in the same manner, Milton, imitating but surpassing Homer, and availing himself probably of Selden's learned Syntagma on the Syrian and Arabian deities, converted them into a hundred and thirty lines, of which nearly every word acts as a spell, and every spell reproduces some interesting locality or event of the ancient world.
But as the Pentateuch is the earliest history, so it is incomparably rich in simple and poetical sketches of topography. Often, by a single stroke of the pen, the characteristic features of a place are given, and the reader feels as if he had known it from infancy, or were, at the moment, looking upon it. Who has not felt as if receiving personal direction, when reading of " a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah ?” Who has not seen the river Kishon, that ancient river, the river Kishon ?" or the tent of Abraham, on the plains of Mamre, with the venerable patriarch sitting "in the tent-door in the heat of the day ?” And who has not gazed on “ the hills round about Jerusalem ?”
Even if the historical interest of a country depended on the sieges which have been sustained by