« 前へ次へ »
ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE CIVIL AND NATURAL HISTORY
BY REFERENCE TO THE
MANNERS, CUSTOMS, RITES, TRADITIONS, ANTIQUITIES,
In the preparation of this Work, it has been the aim of the Editor to make it, to the utmost of his ability, a useful companion to the Bible,—a companion, however, not in the sense of a master or equal, but of a ministering attendant. He is not one of those who consider the word of God without note or comment, so far as relates to the great doctrines of salvation, as either defective, equivocal, or obscure. On the contrary, he believes that, notwithstanding all the disadvantages of a translation, a foreign idiom, and an Oriental drapery, it is, in every really important point, full, unambiguous, and clear. A distinction should, however, always be made between its history and its poetry, between its doctrine and its allusions. The transparent and vigorous simplicity of the former requires little aid from learned labours: the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein; but, besides its history and its doctrine, or, in other words, its facts, moral principles, precepts, and promises connected with those facts, the Bible abounds in allusions, geographical, historical, and analogical, and these, together with prophecy and its accomplishment, form the proper field for Biblical illustration.
Bishop Van Mildert, in his Bampton Lectures, observes, “The knowledge of Divine truth is, indeed, perfectly distinct from human science, in that it emanates immediately from the fountain of Infinite Wisdom. Yet it has this in common with human science, that it is made by its Heavenly Author to flow through the channel of human instruction. While, therefore, we receive it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, (1Thess. 2. 13,) we must nevertheless examine it as it is delivered to us, clothed in the language of man, and subject to the general rules of human composition. The deference due to it as a Divine production does not interfere with this province of human learning; it only exacts submission with respect to the subject matter of the revelation, to which the critical investigation is entirely subordinate."
The Bible, viewed merely as a collection of ancient writings, comprising history, philosophy, jurisprudence, morals, poetry, and prophecy, is a volume of incomparable value to the philosopher, and of inexhaustible interest to every inquiring mind. It comprises all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; the simple eloquence of its narratives, the sublime imagery of its poetry, the grandeur of its descriptions, and the persuasive power of its moral lessons, combine to render it a book which will amply repay any amount of thought or labour that may be expended upon its study and interpretation. The Bible may also be considered as the highest source of historical knowledge, as it contains the only authentic, clear, and consistent account of the remotest ages of the world, communicated in a manner adapted to subserve the highest moral and religious purposes.
Archbishop Secker well observes, “ The Bible comprehends, in the grandest and most magnificent order, the various dispensations of God to mankind, from the forming of this earth to the consummation of all things. It begins with the groundwork of