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the place where the altar of Jehovah is fixed, he makes a journey from Alexandria, were he had been brought up, accompanied by his uncle, to Jerusalem, in the spring of year 109 before the birth of Christ; remains there during the half year which included the principal religious festivals; becomes a priest; enters into the married state ; and by the guidance of Providence, and varied experience, attains to the conviction, that peace of mind is only to be found in believing in him who has been promised for the consolation of Israel.
"The plan now traced, while it offered an opportunity of delineating the progress of an interesting change in the sentiments of Helon himself, seemed also to present the means of combining with this a living picture of the customs, opinions, and laws of the Jewish people. No period of their history seemed so well adapted to the design of this work, as that of John Hyrcanus. It is about this time that the books of the Maccabees close; it is the last era of the freedom and independence of the people, whose character and institutions at the same time were so nearly developed and fixed, that very little change took place between this and the time of our Saviour. It was possible, therefore, to give a picture which, as far as relates to usages and manners, should be applicable to the times of the New Testament.
"It was in the last years of the long reign of Hyrcanus that the opposing sects of Sadducees and Pharisees first became conspicuous, and the one hundred and ninth year before the Christian Era is the date of the destruction of Samaria. In the description of the temple, however, I have allowed myself to anticipate a little, in order to describe its magnificence in the days of Herod, whose temple was that to which our
Saviour resorted. In the description of the customs of sacrifice and prayer, I have ventured to use, but with moderation, the accounts of later times.
"It is well known that the want of a lively and distinct picture of those local and national peculiarities which are presented in the Bible, revolts many from the perusal of it, and exposes others to very erroneous conceptions. It is the author's prayer to him, from whom these precious records have proceeded, that the present work may serve, under his blessing, to make the perusal of the Scriptures more attractive and edifying; and he hopes those who shall drink with pleasure from his humble rill, will not be satisfied without going to the fountain of living waters."
A conviction that the work is adapted to accomplish the end thus fervently desired by the author, has induced the Editor to comply with the solicitation of the enterprising publisher by preparing for the public a revised edition. The former edition was published ten years since, in two volumes, and enjoyed with the lovers of novelty its ephemeral popularity, and then was thrown aside into the common oblivion of fictitious productions. But though cast among the perishing, it did not perish, for it had merits, not possessed by its fellow-reprobates merits which some of its readers had appreciated, and could not forget. These merits consisted, not in the skilful arrangement or the bewitching attrac- . tiveness of the fiction for the story is peculiarly simple and artless but rather in those accurate and vivid representations of Judaism which admirably
exhibit the system before the mind, as a whole, and fix it steadfastly in the memory. Frequent allusion has consequently been made to the work, as furnishing, in a very interesting form, many valuable illustrations of the sacred Scriptures, and inquiries for it, especially of late, have been both frequent and fruitless.*
The present edition purports to be an abridgement. It is so, however, only to a small extent. It was desirable to include all that should be published within a single volume, and the Editor has therefore ventured to expunge occasionally a paragraph or a page which was not essential to the chain of the narrative, or to the accomplishment of the author's main design. In this way the dimensions of the work have been moderately reduced, while everything that is indispensable to its proper excellence or utility has been faithfully retained. A few brief notes have been added in the margin, and occasionally words and parts of sentences, of an explanatory or modifying character, have been introduced into the text.
The English edition, published in 1824, contains nearly a hundred pages of closely printed notes, in the form of an appendix to each volume. These notes, as they throw much light upon numerous points which are barely alluded to in the text, are extremely valuable. But a large proportion of them consist of quotations from other languages, such as
Theological Professors have often recommended the work to their pupils.
Hebrew, Greek and Latin, and of references to various authors whose works are not within the reach of common readers, and therefore their utility to any except the learned would be very limited. It is consequently considered as injudicious to include them in the present edition, especially as they are too extensive to be incorporated, even one half of them, in this volume, without swelling it to an undue magnitude.
Readers who are desirous of availing themselves to the utmost of the utility of this volume, will not fail to read it with the Bible before them, and to turn in course to all the passages of Scripture to which he will find in almost every page copious referThe poetical quotations from the Old Testament, which are sufficiently liberal, will be found to vary in some respects, in phraseology, from the common version. These variations, so long as they do not essentially affect the sentiment, are unobjectionable. Perhaps to some minds they may be advantageous. Truth, seen through a new medium, often makes a new impression. B. S.
Boston, April, 1835.