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When the Author first applied to theological studies, he felt, in common with most other students, much perplexed by the many difficulties in the book of Ecclesiastes. From the widelydiversified opinions of critics and commentators he derived but little satisfaction. In the progress, however, of his inquiries, he fancied that he had discovered the right clue to unravel the intricacies in which the Ecclesiastes, more, perhaps, than any other book among the Hebrew Scriptures, is involved. He then sketched the draught of the present performance, and, after keeping it some time by him, was emboldened, in the beginning of the year 1817, to submit it to the Lord Bishop of Chester, who, with that friendly attention which he pays to all the Clergy of his Diocese, took the trouble of perusing it, and, in the most kind and condescending manner, encouraged the Author to persevere in the attempt. He therefore proceeded to fill up the outline: the more he reflected upon the subject, the more he was convinced that the view which he had taken of the book was correct; and such additions have been made as naturally result from repeated revisions, and from continued application to Biblical studies.
The work was transcribed, and ready to be put into the hands of the printer, when the Author saw announced, as already in the press, “ Lectures on the Book of Ecclesiastes, by Ralph Wardlaw, D.D.” As his Attempt might thus be superseded, immediate publication would have been premature. Dr. Wardlaw's Lectures, however, which appeared towards the end of 1821, in 2 vols. 8vo, are wholly of a practical nature, without aiming at “ critical or philological disquisition.”
As Dr. Wardlaw's plan and the Author's are totally different, and as he could not but hope that something has been contributed by his labours to the critical illustration of the Ecclesiastes, he finally determined upon publication. But though he had no view to emolument, yet, from the small circulation of such works, he found that he had no mode of venturing to the press, with the prospect of a mere indemnification, except through the medium of a subscription. He resolved, therefore, to appeal to the public; and for this purpose he drew up a Prospectus, briefly describing the design and object of the proposed work. In this appeal he has been successful beyond his anticipations. His list of Subscribers is numerous and respectable; and while he feels himself under particular obligations to a few zealous friends, to whose kind exertions his success is principally to be ascribed, he gladly takes this opportunity of expressing his acknowledgments to all who have supported his undertaking.
Such has been the origin and progress of this publication: a more particular account of its