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must however be observed, that one principal object in view was the advantage of christians in general. I have aimed to furnish the plain reader with a book to which he may refer for information, on such passages of scripture as appear obscure and difficult, at least those which are to be explained by the method here adopted. Two indexes, one of scriptures incidentally illustrated, and the other of subjects discussed, are subjoined: an appendage this, which I conceive no book ought to be destitute of that is designed to be useful.

A very considerable claim to candour may be advanced in favour of this work. The number and difficulty of the subjects treated of—the compass of reading necessary to obtain materials to elucidate them—the singular felicity of avoiding undue prolixity or unsatisfactory concisenessand the perplexity arising from the jarring opinions of learned men on many of these subjects, render it an arduous task for an individual to accomplish. Without presuming to suppose that I have always succeeded in ascertaining the true meaning of those difficult texts which are brought forward, I have done the best which I could to remove their obscurity, and to give them a consistent and intelligible meaning. Nec semper feriet quodcunque minabitur arcus: The arrow will not always hit the object which it threatens. Many of the observations here advanced are

indeed rather proposed to consideration, than offered to decide positively the meaning of those passages to which they are attached. The same diversity of sentiment which has influenced commentators and prevented a unanimity of judgment, may justly be supposed to induce some readers to form their opinion as variously. Should this fruit of my labours be favourably received, I shall be encouraged to pursue these studies, and may hereafter produce a volume of a similar nature, though perfectly distinct from the present, whatever resemblance may be found in its object. In the mean time I dismiss the following pages, reminding my reader of the admonition of Horace:

Si quid novisti rectius istis,
Candidus imperti; si non, his utere mecum.

If you know of any thing more proper than these, be so candid as to communicate your knowledge; if not, make use of what I have furnished.



JANUARY, 8, 1802.







No. 1.-GENESIS iii. 15.

It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

THE following traditions of the promised Messiah


are remarkable for their coincidence with the first promise, and must have had an higher origin than unassisted human invention. In the Gothick mythology, Thor is represented as the first born of the supreme God, and is styled in the Edda, the eldest of sons; he was esteemed a “middle divinity, a mediator between God and man.” With regard to his actions, he is said to have wrestled with death, and, in the struggle, to have been brought upon one knee; to have bruised the head of the great serpent with his mace; and in his final engagement with that monster, to have beat him to the earth, and slain him. This victory, however, is not obtained but at the expence of his own life: “Recoiling back nine steps, he falls dead apon the spot, suffocated with the floods of venom, which the serpent vomits forth upon him.” (Edda, Fab. 11, 25, 27, 32). Much the same notion, we are informed, is prevalent in the mythology of the Hindoos. Two sculptured figures are yet extant in one of their oldest pagodas, the former of which represents



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Chresshna, an incarnation of their mediatorial God Vishnu, trampling on the crushed head of the serpent; while in the latter it is seen encircling the deity in its folds, and biting his heel. (MAURICE's Hist. of Hindostan, vol. ii. p. 290.) It is said that Zerâdusht, or Zoroaster, predicted in the Zendavestâ, that in the latter days would appear a man called Oshanderbeghâ, who was destined to bless the earth by the introduction of justice and religion ; that, in his time, would likewise appear a malignant demon, who would oppose his plans, and trouble his empire, for the space of twenty years ; that afterwards, Osiderbeghâ would revive the practice of justice, put an end to injuries, and re-establish such customs as are immutable in their nature; that king's should be obedient to him, and advance his affairs; that the cause of true religion should flourish; that peace and tranquility should prevail, and discord and trouble cease. (Hyde, de Relig. vet. Pers. c. 31.) According to Abulpharagius, the Persian legislator wrote of the advent of the Messiah in terms even more express than those contained in the foregoing prediction. " Zeradusht," says he, “the preceptor of the magi, taught the Persians concerning the manifestation of Christ, and ordered them to bring gifts to him, in token of their reverence and submission. He de. clared, that in the latter days a pure virgin would conceive ; and that as soon as the child was born, a star would appear, blazing even at noon day with undi. minished lustre, “You, my sons,” exclaims the venerable seer, “will perceive its rising, before any other nation. As soon, therefore, as you shall behold the star, follow it whitherspever it shall lead you, and adore that mysterious child, offering your gifts to him with the profoundest humility. He is the almighty WORD, which created the heavens."

(Cited by Hyde, de Relig. vet. Pers. c. 31.)

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