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etrable darkness. Here profane history gives us no light; all is uncertainty and conjecture ; therefore, we are necessarily driven to the sacred pages of the Bible, which not only point out the origin of the most ancient nations, but lead us to the beginning of time, when the Almighty gave the first dispensation to man.
We must, however, acknowledge our gratitude to those writers, who have laboured to give information respecting the idolatrous worship of the inhabitants of Canaan, and the surrounding nations, before the Hebrews came out of Egypt; but had they attended to the meaning of those words, which so frequently occur, the Hebrew pronunciation of which is constant· ly retained in the English, and also in all the European Bibles, much information would at this day have been before the world.
In translating the significative nomenclature of the Hebrew, I trust I have shown, that in their original institution, they were not contrary to divine order, but were used by the most ancient people as indices pointing to knowl. edge in every page of the book of nature. A knowledge given to the primeval people, who gave names to creatures and things, expressive
of their natures, a wonderful singularity found only in the Hebrew language. This knowl. edge was not extinct in the time of the prophets, who were shown, that clean and unclean beasts of all kinds, signified the good and evil affections of the Jews. 1 have also shown how these things, in their origin, innocently significative and instructive, were in process of time, through the pride, ignorance and sensuality of man, worshipped as idols.
With regard to the professions of the Christian religion, I have abandoned the customary method of copying. Whoever will be at the trouble of reading different writers on this subject, will find, that one writer of a particular persuasion, has, with a mild kind of bigotry, from an attachment to his own sect, elaborately recommended his own view. I have avoided every thing of this nature, being well assured from the sacred writings, that true religioni consists neither in doctrines, nor opinions, but in uprightness of heart.
In presuming to speak of the state in Paradise, I have not advanced any new theory, but have confirmed those views, consistently with what is said by the inspired penman on
that subject. It must be obvious, that if any information can be obtained respecting this state, we must necessarily have it from the ancient part of the Bible. I have also from the same authority given proofs concerning the nature of the first dispensation, which God gave to man after the fall. For it has frequently occurred to me, when reading that part of the sacred writings where the first patriarchs are recorded, that the words signifying the names of the men, had also another meaning and application, according to the custom of the Hebrews; and in this instance I have found them to be applied also to signify the state or quality of the church, as well as the name of the man, when each patriarch succeeded to the supreme government, until the church by successive states descended, and finally was extinct in the time of Noah, when God gave a new dispensation to him.
This, I trust, will give much satisfaction to the biblical reader, as it shows, with what wisdom and effect these most ancient people were directed under that dispensation, to the existing state of spiritual things. This served as a perpetual monitor to remind them concerning their
departure from the purity of the life and doctrines of the church, as it was establisbed by righteous Seth, and the danger into which they were plunging themselves by disobeying the divine commands. I have therefore followed the order of the sacred history, from Adam to the end of the patriarchal churches, introducing those nations in the order of succession from the eldest sons, which appears to have been consistent with the view of the inspired writer, So that, between the first order of patriarchs, from Seth to Noah, the nations descending from Japhet and Ham are introduced, before the second order of patriarchs from Noah to Abraham.
It appeared proper to give some information respecting the worship of those nations which descended from Japhet and Ham, which 1 have done by consulting the best authors; in addition to which, I have endeavoured to de. velope the peculiar nature of their worship, by translating the names of their idols; and by it bled me to form a rational con
the application of these s, to which they were evi. heir
In addition, I have been induced to write a small Treatise ; the circumstance that induced me to write it was the following. A gentleman called on me, and informed me, that a premium was offered by the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews, for the best refutation of David Levi's DISSERTATIONS ON THE PROPHECIES, which are written in three large volumes, octavo. I had these books by me, and was well aware of the absolute necessity of such an answer. None of our learned men, whose business it was, having attempted to meet this Goliath of the Jews, whose arguments appeared to many as conclusive against the Christian religion, I waited on a respectable gentleman of that society, and was informed by him, that they wished to have a complete refutation of the above mentioned Dissertations on the Prophecies, not only to put into the hands of the Jews in England, but of those of the different nations of Europe also. As this difficult task of literally refuting what has been advanced by this bold writer, seemed to rest here, I began to frame an answer in support of our religion against this formidable production, which is now received by