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substitute ;—and the professed exclusion of strictly theological matter offers no apology for the omission of simple narration.
In conclusion, I cannot withhold my deliberate conviction, that the work before us is of a character highly dangerous to the general reader ;far more extensively so indeed, than if it had proceeded from the pen of a positive unbeliever. The volume of undisguised and notorious infidelity becomes at once a sealed book to the young and inexperienced ;-and even where it is accessible, disgust rather than persuasion is its more immediate and probable effect ;-the very weaknesses of passion and prejudice, in some sort, arm us against the revolting intrusion ;-whilst a work, like the present, of popular form and plausible pretensions, aided by a general confidence in the religious principles of its author, may be widely administering a subtle and unsuspected poison. It does not threaten to hurry the reader at once into the ranks of infidelity, but, what may eventually produce the same result, it is calculated to lead him unawares beyond the line of Christian security, and to place him, despoiled of half his defensive armour, on that neutral and debatable ground, which is ex
posed to perpetual inroad, and from which no safe retreat can be with confidence anticipated.
It has often been deemed a serious disadvantage, that the sober truths even of ordinary history should be in many points confused, and in some minds almost superseded, by those romantic and partial illustrations of it, which enter so largely into the popular literature of the day. But their authors neither profess, nor indeed incur, any responsibility as to the correctness of their representations. It is of no vital importance, either to our present happiness or future hopes, whether we have or have not correct notions of the warriors or the statesmen of the ages which have preceded us. But those who, whether from an indiscriminate eagerness to adapt their work to the public taste, from the vain pursuit of some favourite theory, or even from mere prejudice and misapprehension, disguise the genuine features and native dignity of Scripture history, and throw a veil of confusion and doubt over the sacred truths of revelation, may be tampering with the faith of thousands, and incurring a responsibility which it is fearful to contemplate.
By far the most important lesson to be derived
from the considerations which have detained us, is the indispensable necessity of undertaking the study of the inspired volume with an humble and teachable mind ;—and with regard to the Jewish Scriptures in particular, the subject of our present discussion, and the more usual field of profane speculation, it is imperatively required that we bring with us no prejudices to indulge, no fanciful theories to establish, but read them in simplicity and a singleness of heart," for those ends and objects, for which they have been declared to be profitable ;”—“ for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness ";" an instruction, there acquired with peculiar advantage, and impressed with peculiar force, through the sensible display of those immediate interpositions, which characterize a temporal dispensation.
We shall trace in the waywardness and depravity of a people, distinguished above all others by the favour of Heaven, divinely instructed, and miraculously governed and protected, the decisive proofs of our natural corruption, and of the necessity of
2 Tim. jii. 16.
that redemption and renewal to holiness, those “ good things to come," of which their Law contained the “ shadow I,” and for which their whole career was a providential preparation. We shall find these gracious purposes equally advancing toward their consummation, as well in the apostasies and captivities of the Israelites, as during their obedience and prosperity; and their very crimes rendered subservient to the introduction of the Gospel of Christ.
Neither will the eye of faith overlook or despise them in their degradation and dispersion. They are still the faithful guardians of the oracles of God;": a standing evidence of prophecy fulfilled, an earnest of that which remains to be accomplished ; and in the extremity of their separation, they are still united in one undying hope, or rather in one undoubting expectation, of those promised days, when “ they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the
* Hebrews x. J.
north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them ; and they shall dwell in their own landy.”
We shall cordially join them in this cheering anticipation ;—but we shall moreover combine with it a far more glorious assurance, to which they cannot yet be accessible, to whom “ blindness in part is happened, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in?;"> the assurance that their restoration will be insepara. bly connected with that blessed era, when Jew and Gentile shall become “ one fold” under s one shepherd ," "and the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea b.” .
y Jer. xxiii. 7, 8.
3 Romans xi. 25.
Isaiah xi. 9.
BAXTER, PRINTER, OXFORD.