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The revision of the following work was completed by its venerable and much esteemed author only a short time previous to the illness which terminated in his death. Circumstances have delayed its publication until the present time. Although the usual care has been taken to avoid typographical errors, yet it is possible, that in passing so large a work through the press, much of which was printed from manuscript, errors may have occurred, which would have been prevented had the proofsheets been corrected by the author himself. It is confidently hoped, however, that no material imperfection will be discovered, and that the work will be appreciated as one of the latest literary efforts of a man whose praise is in the churches.
It may be added that the Fifth and Sixth Parts of this work contain all that is important to the Biblical Student in Prideaux's “Connection of Sacred and Profane History."
The importance of the study of History as a branch of knowledge is universally admitted; and of all History, that contained in the Bible is the most ancient, the most authentic, and the most interesting. It gives us information of those events which we can learn no where else, and with which it is most necessary that we should be acquainted. Here we learn the origin of our race—the state in which they were created their unhappy fall—the revelation of God's merciful designs towards them, and the remarkable dispensations of Divine Providence towards a chosen generation, the descendants of Abraham, with whom God entered into covenant, and to whom and his posterity he made great and precious promises; all of which were punctually and literally fulfilled. In the Sacred Scriptures we have an account of the first religious institutions established by divine authority; and a complete code of the laws given to the Israelites by the hand of Moses, which, being typical, were not intended to be perpetual, but continued to be obligatory until the advent of the promised Messiah, in whom they met with their accomplishment, and, of course, ceased to be any longer in force. The moral law, however, clearly revealed at the same time, is of perpetual obligation; and remains immutable under all dispensations, although its extent and spirituality are much better understood since the light of the gospel has been manifested.
The history of the Bible exhibits human nature in its true colours; and furnishes us with a wonderful variety of characters of men, occupying different stations, and acting under different circumstances. The character of the saint, as well as that of the sinner, is here portrayed; not as perfect, or free from every blemish; but as in the main, sincere and upright; as penitent for sins committed, and truly devoted to the service of God. The inspired penmen do not conceal the faults of the servants of God; but, with an impartial and faithful hand, their failings as well as their virtues are exhibited.
Many of the events of the sacred history are, it is true, of a marvellous kind; and as miracles do not take place in our times, and before our eyes, sceptical men are disposed to call in question the truth of events of this kind recorded in the Bible. But the evidence by which miracles are authenticated is too strong to be resisted by an impartial mind; and the events which followed, and the present condition of the world, cannot be accounted for on any other hypothesis, but the historic verity of the miracles recorded in the sacred volume.
It may to some seem an unnecessary labour to draw out the history contained in the Bible, as it can be better studied as written in the Sacred Scriptures, than in any abridgment. There is apparent force in this objection; but it should be remembered, that there exists a lamentable negligence of the Holy Scriptures, and every thing which has any tendency to make the people acquainted with the facts recorded, should be made use of; and, as the sacred narrative of the Bible is often interrupted by genealogies, and ritual laws and ceremonies, it has been found, that by separating the history from other matters, and exhibiting it in the concisest and simplest manner, it may be made interesting to many, who otherwise would not take the pains to seek for it. Such an abridgment may be
serviceable, especially to the young, for whose benefit chiefly the work has been prepared.
It should be remarked, also, that this volume contains the history of an important period not contained in the Bible. I mean the period between the close of the Old Testament history, and the commencement of that of the New Testament. For the events and transactions of this period of nearly five hundred years, we have no inspired guide; and are under the necessity of resorting to mere human testimony. But it has been so ordered in Providence, that for the events of this period we have credible historians, on whom we can rely for the principal transactions.
Without some knowledge of the events of the intervening period, the reader of the Scriptures, when he has finished the Old Testament and begins the New, feels himself much at a loss, as here he finds a state of things for which he is not prepared by any thing which he has read in the Old Testament. There are also many collateral events which are requisite to a full understanding of the history of the New Testament; a knowledge of which has a tendency to confirm his faith in the authenticity of the sacred history.
There is also a very important event, predicted indeed by our Lord, but which occurred after the termination of the history of Christ and his Apostles. I refer to the destruction of Jerusalem; an account of which, taken chiefly from Josephus a Jew, who was an eye witness, closes the history contained in the present volume.
The attentive reader will no doubt remark, that the several parts of this history are not entirely homogeneous. On this subject it will be sufficient to remark, that originally it existed in several volumes, written at different times, and for different purposes; but these having fallen into the hands of the present publisher, he has determined to make of them a continuous history. One important chasm, however, remained to be filled, namely, from the beginning of the regal government to the end of the Babylonish captivity. To fill this important period, the services of a young clergyman were obtained; but his modesty does not permit us, at present, to mention his