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purpose) relied on the truth of the history therein recorded *.
As for Josephust, he was a learned and religious Jew, descended from the priestly family, and born in the year of Christ thirtyseven, that is, about four years after our Saviour's ascension into heaven. When the Jewish wars against the Romans broke out, he took up arms, and was a governor and captain in Galilee, and bravely defended his country, till at length he was taken prisoner; but being afterwards released, when the wars were over, he wrote the history of them at large. Soon after he composed the Antiquities of the Jews, in ten books, from the time of their being first a people and nation; from whence that account of the Jewish affairs is chiefly taken which is not mentioned in the holy Bible, and more especially concerning their dreadful destruction; wherein
* Gerhardi loc. com. de Sacr. Scriptura, ed. Jenæ, 1622. sect. 7. Beveregii Codex Can. Eccles. Prim. lib. i. c. 9. $. 3. Du Pin's Canon, &c. Prelim. Dis. sect. 2. And Dean Prideaux's Connect. part ii, b. 3. sub anno 166.
+ See the first Discourse at the beginning of L'Estrange's edition concerning Josephus. N. B. For the use of the English reader, the quotations out of Josephus are for the most part according to that version; but compared with, and sometimes brought nearer to, the original of Dr. Hudson's Oxford edition, wherein the number of the chapters in our notes agree with those in L'Estrange's edition.
The quotations out of the ecclesiastical historians, as Eusebius, Socrates, &c. are according to the English translation, Cambridge, 1683, with Valesius's notes, compared with the Greek edition of Geneva, 1612.
Josephus was a sorrowful eye-witness, and upon
which he declared himself to be of opinion, that God had forsaken his nation, and was gone over to the Romans*.
Two cautions here seem necessary to be given to the reader concerning the holy Scriptures; viz. first, where they speak only in general, we should not be over curious to dive into particulars which God hath not revealed; such as the manner how the creatures were at first formed; the application of some general prophecies, the design whereof does not appear in the Prophets themselves, nor hath been explained by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, and which therefore cannot be known till their accomplishment; the distinct nature of God, and the Holy Trinity; the manner of uniting the human to the divine nature of Christ; God's eternal decrees; the particular manner of the Resurrection, and of re-uniting the soul and body; the season and method of the conversion of the Jews; and such like. In respect to which, let us be wise to sobriety, and not exercise ourselves in things too high and wonderful for us ; but be content with
what God hath thought fit to reveal, and make a proper use of such his divine Revelation. Where the Scripture hath not a tongue to speak, it is not our business to enquire; for that would minister questions which can never be resolved, and hinder us from godly edifying, and from pur
* Wars, b. iii. chap. 14.
suing the main design of God's holy word, which tends to the increase of faith and charity, out of a pure heart and a good conscience: from which, as the Apostle complained in his time, some having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling. On the other hand, it is certainly safe for us to be ignorant of what God hath not revealed.
We can never hope to attain the knowledge of divine matters, so as to be inflamed with the love and expectancy of them, without a pure heart and fervent prayer,
The Penman of the Scriptures is Jehovah, the subject is holy, and therefore we are not to indulge impure thoughts, nor harbour any wilful sin, whilst we read, or would understand and profit by them; for without holiness no man shall see, or know, the Lord; but if any man do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God. Nor can we expect the Divine assistance, without prayer to him who is the Author of every good and perfect gift ; and in this case more particularly it is he who commanded the light to shine out of darkness that must shine in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. Seeing therefore we lack this heavenly wisdom, we are to ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not. And we cannot better pray to him for this purpose than by that divine form which his Son hath taught us, (Our Father, &c.) concluding with this excellent Collect of our Liturgy,
Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.