« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
The design of my attempt is to vindicate the truth of revealed religion, as far as the history of the times I treat of, gives me opportunity. It is suggested by some writers, that there are questions to be made, “ about the antiquity, authority, inspiration, and perfection of the books both of the Old and New Testament, and about the morality, religious doctrines, and other notions contained in them; about the harmony of the parts of those books to one another, and their contradiction to profane history, and about the miracles reported in them.” I have brought down the enquiry from the beginning; I have examined, I hope, with the greatest freedom; and if even my imperfect endeavours should evidence, as far as I have gone, that there is nothing unreasonable or contradictory in the Scriptures; what might be done upon this subject, if some great hand would treat it, and compose a work worthy of your Lordship's acceptance and protection?
The licentiousness of some modern writers would bring a lasting reproach upon the pre
sent age, if their sentiments could go down to posterity with any marks of public approbation. But as it is one part of our present happiness, so we cannot but consider with pleasure, that, however fond some are of objecting against all revealed religion, or of representing our legal establishment of the Christian to be an encroachment upon their natural rights and civil liberties; yet, when the history of those times which have been happily distinguished by your Lordship’s conducting the public counsels, shall be read hereafter; it will appear, that the truly great persons, who did most for the public happiness and liberties of mankind, were the truest patrons of the Universities, the Church and Clergy, and that in the best manner; by being as averse to all thoughts of persecution in defence of even true religion, as they were willing to favour those, who, by proper arguments, and a just behaviour and disposition, were industrious to recommend it to the world.
I am sensible that my ambition of your Lordship’s favour may be a disadvantage ta
my performance, by creating expectations, which nothing of mine can possibly answer. But, as I flatter myself, that a good intention will appear through the whole; so, I hope, the prefixing your Lordship’s name will remind the severer readers, how disposed the truly great are to favour a wellmeant design, though it be not executed by a hand able to carry it through in a manner liable to no exceptions.
- My LORD,
And most humble servant,
SAMUEL SHUCKFORD, PREFACE.
THIS second volume, which I now offer to the public, carries down the History of the World to the exit of the children of Israel out of Egypt. The method I have observed, is the same as in the former volume, and I have in this, as in the other, interspersed several digressions upon such subjects, as either the Scripture accounts, or the hints we meet with in profane authors concerning the times I treat of, suggested.
Sir Isaac Newton's Chronology was not published, until after I had finished both my former volume, and the preface to it; but as his sentiments upon ancient chronology have been since that time offered to the world, it will become me to endeavour to give some reasons for having formerly, and for still continuing to differ from him. I am not yet come down to the times where he begins his chronology; for which reason, it would be an improper, as well as a very troublesome anticipation, to enter into particulars, which I shall be able to set in a much clearer light, when I shall give the history of those times to which he has supposed them to belong. But since there are in Sir Isaac Newton's work several arguments of a more extensive influence, than can be confined to any one particular epoch, and which are, in truth, the main foundation of his whole scheme, and affect the whole body of ancient chronology ; I shall endeavour to consider them here, that the reader may judge, whether I have already, as well as whether I shall hereafter proceed rightly, in not being determined by them. The first which I, shall mention, is the astronomical argument for fixing the time of the Argonautic expedition, formed from the constellations of Chiron. This seems to be demonstration, and to prove incontestably, that the ancient