« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Under the head of Biblical History should be tries—and of genealogy, or the descent and relacomprehended, not only those annals or memorials tionship of individuals, as is necessary to give a which furnish an account of the creation of the clear understanding of the time when, the places world, of the origin and progress of revelation, where, and the persons by whom, all the events and of the history of nations; but also so much of narrated occurred. To assist the student in prochronology, or the notation of time—of geography, secuting the studies connected with these topics or the natural and political description of coun- is the object of the following chapters.
The Bible the highest Source of Historical Knowledge-Cha- almost all legislation has been drawn, both as to racter of the Sacred Historians-The Events narrated, with
principle and as to form; and where any departure their Collateral Evidence-Biblical History a Clue to all other History, Fidelity of Narration— Penetration of the from this grand outline is attempted, the change Sacred Writers.
has been perceptibly for the worse ; while the
most elegant critic of the heathen world has 1. The Bible contains, not merely the only au- produced the opening of his narrative, as the most thentic, but the only clear and consistent, account striking specimen of the true sublime which could of the remotest ages of the world; and that, too, be presented. “God said—what? Be light; and communicated in a manner adapted to subserve light was. Be earth; and it was so." Few will the highest moral and religious purposes, inasmuch dispute the authority of Longinus on such a subas it shows us how, in preparing mankind for ject, and none can doubt his taste and judgment. another world, the universal Parent has dealt with If sacred history be tried by the character of its individuals
, with families, and with nations in narrators, it wears the marks of undoubted authis.
thenticity. 2. It may safely be averred, putting the question 3. Let it be tried by the events narrated; another of inspiration altogether out of view, that the important criterion of history. The earliest and natural character of the sacred historians ranks most interesting events form the subject of its them with the first of human beings. In point records. It begins, where revelation must be supof grandeur and sublimity of conception, of the posed to commence its testimony, with the origin power of discrimination, of unaffected simplicity, of the visible creation. The first inquiries of man of ingenuous disinterestedness, of unbending inte-are directed towards the material universe, himself grity, of successful execution, they are unrivalled; constituting so noble a part of it, and its destinies and it is only necessary to compare their pro- being so inseparably associated with his own. ductions with the most admired compositions of Urged by a nobler impulse than curiosity, he enantiquity, to assign to them, unhesitatingly, the deavours to retrace the stream of time to its founpreference. From the enactments of Moses, tain, and to penetrate even to the infinite Cause, by whom all events are generated. What was to cient than historians, drew from this common the philosopher a subject of speculation, giving source. Traditions of the fall are to be traced birth to numberless and contradictory hypotheses, over all the east, and among the western nations; is to Moses simply a subject of history. The first they traverse the north, and occupy the south ; sentence of his narrative unveils the hidden and they have penetrated the wilds of America, and eternal cause, settles the disputes of philosophy, are planted in the islands of the Pacific ocean : assumes the fact of the creation, declares the in truth, the forms of worship and observances Creator, and proceeds to a detail of the circum- added to these traditions, everywhere authenticate stances attending the stupendous transaction : “In the Mosaic narrative; and from their universality, the beginning, God created the heavens and the which would have been impossible had they not earth;" a grandeur of expression, not inferior, originated in fact, a sanction is given to sacred perhaps, to the celebrated passage so distinguished history which could scarcely have been expected, by Longinus. Around this revealed truth, as a which is altogether unexceptionable, because it is central point, the scattered schemes of philosophy indirect in its nature, and infinitely diversified in rally, correcting their errors, reconciling their dif- its form. ferences, and contributing their researches ; science 5. It is no small collateral proof of the truth of finds the base upon which to place a fulcrum that sacred history, that it furnishes a clue to many can raise the world ; history discovers the spring facts which, although known, could not have been of the ever-flowing tide of time; and chronology, understood without its assistance. It serves to the punctum stans—the fixed, determinate, im- correct other historians; and in every instance in moveable point, whence all her dates are deduced, which the sacred writings and general history come and to which all divisions of time are to be re- into contact, it is to them what the chronometer ferred. This great fact being established, the his- is to the common watch—it measures the same torian proceeds briefly, yet distinctly, to enumerate period, but does it with superior precision; it rethe leading particulars of this operation ; passes on lates the same events, but with greater accuracy. to a consideration of man's primeval state ; unfolds Still further, as the floating traditions of the the facts attending his degradation, leading to the heathen world bear upon the facts recorded in the miseries to which he is exposed, and accounting Scriptures; so, by a re-action, sacred history defor the thousand natural shocks that “flesh is heir velopes the hidden import of many an ancient to." The narrative thus instantly connects itself institution, the intention of which was not comwith the scheme chosen for his recovery, into prehended by those who lived under it, nor could which all other events necessarily resolve them- it be otherwise understood; and gives consistency selves; and the grand march of providence is dis- and reality to the traditions of antiquity. It brings tinctly visible through all the shadows of ages, distant occurrences to bear upon each other; it from the chorus of the sons of God at the birth discloses political interests, jarring among themof nature, to the final shout of the archangel, and selves, all tending to the harmony of the universe, the trumpet which shall awaken the dead. and the ultimate amelioration of the human race.
4. To go over the various periods of this his- It supplies, in short, to time, what gravity is to tory forms no part of our business here; but to space—the principle which holds and draws every advert to them thus generally, is sufficient to thing together. establish the position, that the events recorded are
6. If we examine the manner of narration; one such, in their nature, as might be expected from of the most striking features of sacred history, revelation, and as are suitable to the dignity and which, while it demonstrates its authenticity, renpurposes of history. To apply to them the general ders it invaluable, is the fidelity with which it rule of historical judgment, they have all the relates occurrences offensive to the existing powers, collateral evidences of which such facts could be and not always honourable to the historian himcapable. Moses has no contemporary historian ; self. Patriotism is evidently a moral principle the most ancient writers fall centuries after him; highly appreciated by Moses; yet he disguises and he records events which took place centuries nothing that reflects disgrace upon his country. before his birth. The deluge forms the common While he could even desire to sacrifice himself for epoch from which all nations commence their re- the interests of the people whom he governed, yet cords; and under different names, Noah is the he never conceals and never palliates their rebelfirst monarch announced in history. Traditions lions, their ingratitude, or their vices. Self-love relative to the creation agree with the narrative of cannot be supposed to have been extinguished in Moses in all essential points, and even in form, the bosom of the historian ; yet he records his own whatever speculations and fables may disfigure the follies and infirmities with the same simplicity simple account. Historians, and poets more an- | and sincerity with which he wrote down the sins
of his countrymen. What a principle must that / rewards. But the difficulties of a wise and vir-have been, which could thus absorb the prejudices tuous course are not disguised. The total failures of the writer, and induce him, with whatever of some who have entered upon it; the partial painful feelings, to give his testimony alike against failures of all ; Cain, and Esau, and Lot's wife, and himself and his people ! This faithfulness is Balaam, and Saul, stand in faithful record of a especially exhibited in the biography of the Old total departure from what most men would have and New Testaments. It is more difficult to be thought the fear of God; while the Scripture hishonest in this, than in almost any other species of tory of Noah and of Abraham, of Lot and of writing. In history, the disgraces of a country David, of Solomon and of Peter, as faithfully are borne by multitudes; the guilt of a people, exhibits the temptations that have charms for us large in itself, is so divided among them, that all, and the failures of God's most favoured chilthe individual participation appears comparatively | dren. The whole Bible breathes the same tone of small, while our self-love induces us to take more noble frankness. One is constantly reminded of than our share of the honours ; but in biography God, who “CANNOT lie.” the attention is fixed upon an individual, to whom 7. There are peculiarities belonging to sacred the whole praise or blame exclusively belongs. history, so remote from every thing seen among The writer also, in most instances, stands in some men, and such an unearthly character is given to personal relation to him. If as a friend, he too some of its relations of apparently ordinary confrequently gives the beau ideal, the creature of his cerns, that the most superficial observer can own imagination, instead of the living being scarcely fail to distinguish it from every merely whose characteristics he professes to have marked human production. Its true and faithful poras they arose, and to have written down in all the traiture of our own nature, its appeal to the heart reality of their existence. If as an enemy, it is dif- of the reader, alone suffices to establish this obserficult for him to perceive, and still more difficult to vation. There is a knowledge of the human heart, record, real excellencies. He sometimes dips his a master-key to its subtlest recesses, which not pen, not in ink, but in the gall which flows from only surpasses human penetration in its origin, an envious heart, and in no instance fails to give but astonishes while it terrifies the individual a tone to his narrative corresponding with the whose bosom is laid open to his own inspection; actual state of his feelings in respect of his subject. and who finds himself a stranger, where he had In this, as in all other cases, sacred history main- thought himself most at home. Perhaps this is a tains its high purity of character; and the same fact more striking than even its impartial delineainflexible adherence to facts, and the same sim- tion of the character of others; and, certainly, inplicity of detail, pervades its biography. The finitely more important to us. Not a lurking paswriter is, indeed, always a “man of like passions sion is suffered to remain undetected in its living with others,” but his passions are subordinate to pictures. Motives which we should be ashamed sincerity and truth. Abraham, “ the friend of to avow, are dragged before our conscience in the God,” shall be placed before us in all the pusil- history of another; and while his sentence is lanimity of his equivocation, as well as in all the passed, we feel a personal condemnation. This strength of his faith ;–Balaam, the adversary of is, indeed, the true and highest use of history : Israel
, shall be delineated by the Jewish historian to speak to the heart through the understanding; in all the intellectual grandeur of his mind; and to make every character that is brought before us his sins, and his talents, shall be given in the same
promote the formation and consolidation of our clear, unruffled, undisguised language. Unques- own.* tionably, the great object for which the whole narrative is placed before us, is to impress the claims of truth and virtue on the mind, and to win us to the path of wisdom by exhibiting its * Sub-Introduction to History, in Encyclop. Metropolitana.
NOTATIONS OF TIME.
I. Divisions of Time: Days; Weeks; Months ; Years. II. | emigration, God ordered them to change the beginTHE COMPUTATION OF Time. III. GENERAL CHRONOLOGY: ning, not only of the year and of the week, but IV. CHRONOLOGICAL TABLES: Hebrew Cycles; Eras ; Empires, States, and Sovereigns connected with Scrip likewise of the day, that they might be distinture History ; Sacred and Profane History, from the Creation guished from the idolatrous nations, who, in to the destruction of Jerusalem.
honour of their chief god, the sun, began the day at I. It is of considerable importance to a right his rising. + With regard to the natural day, it is understanding of the chronicles or history of any evident that it would vary in length with the people, that we obtain an acquaintance with the season of the year. In Palestine, the longest day methods according to which they computed their is about 14 hours, 12 minutes; and the shortest, time. And this is the more necessary with refer- 9 hours, 48 minutes. The civil day was at first ence to the Jews, in consequence of their having divided into three parts, agreeably to the sensible adopted two several years, i. e., civil and ecclesias- difference of the sun, viz., morning, noon, and tical, a want of attention to which will interpose night; then into four parts (Neh. ix. 3), which many difficulties and apparent contradictions in could be easily determined by the position of the the course of our reading the Holy Scriptures. sun in the horizon. Afterwards it was divided into Nor is it of less importance that we ascertain their twelve equal parts, to which our Saviour refers in method of computing days, dividing them into John xi. 9. We have no means of ascertaining hours, and reckoning time generally: these being when this division of the day was first introduced in all respects so different from the modes adopted among the Hebrews ; the Greeks derived it from by ourselves, that a want of attention thereto will the Egyptians, and it is probable that the Jews be attended with many and serious inconveniences. borrowed it from the same source ; but this is unThis being premised, we proceed to notice the certain. The earliest mention we have of hours, subject in its several branches.
in the Old Testament, is in the book of Daniel 1. The Hebrews, in common with other nations, (iv. 19); but it is doubtful whether the word distinguished their days into natural and arti- there used is not of too general a signification to ficial: the former consisted of 24 hours, as the prove that the hours of which we are speaking time employed by the earth in making a com- were then in use. Leaving this part of the subplete revolution round its axis; and the latter ject, then, we only observe, that the hours of the reached from sun-rise to sun-set. It has been civil day were computed from six o'clock in the thought that the Jews had formerly two different morning till six in the evening; and that the beginnings of the natural day; one of the sacred, term hour is sometimes used with great latitude, or festival day, which was in the evening; the and denotes the space of time occupied by a whole other of the civil day, which was in the morning. watch. See Matt. xxv. 13; xxvi. 40; Mark That the sacred day began in the evening, is cer- xiv. 37; Luke xxii. 59, &c. It appears, from a tain from the command of Moses (Lev. xxiii. 32), passage in the Old Testament (Judg. vii. 19), “ From even unto even shall
that the night was originally divided in the same sabbaths;"* but it is not so certain that the civil manner as the day, viz., into three parts, or day was reckoned from the morning. Jennings watches; but this, perhaps from its inconvenience, conjectures that before the departure out of was altered; for in the time of our Saviour there Egypt, the Jews began all their days, both civil were four watches included in this period of time, and sacred, with the sun's rising, as the ancient Mark xiii. 35. In the passage here referred to, Babylonians, Persians, Syrians, and most of the the four watches are distinctly enumerated : EVEN, eastern nations did ; and that, at the time of their MIDNIGHT, COCK-CROWING, and MORNING. The first
watch was from six till nine ; the second, from * Hence Daniel makes use of the compound terın, evening- nine to midnight; the third, from twelve to three; morning (viii
. 14); and hence, also, the use of the Greek term and the fourth, from three to six. We read in Nucht hemeron, 2 Cor. xi. 25. But although this mode of com: the law, that the paschal lamb was to be sacrificed pntation began with the Jews, it was not confined to them ; for the Phoenicians, Athenians, Numidians, Germans, Gauls,
“ between the evenings” (Exod. xii. 6); hence Druids, Bohemians, and Poles did the same.--See Grotius de Ver. Rel., I. i. s. 16. In our own language we may trace the remains of this usage, where we compute by se'nnight, and fort
+ Jewish Antiquities, b. iii., c. I. myhl.
Lamy, Appar. Bib., b. i., c. 5.
we see that the Jews had two evenings; the for- of the month Ethanim (viii. 2), which corremer began at the ninth hour, and the latter at the sponds with Tizri; but the origin of these names eleventh hour. It has been remarked, that “ Christ is uncertain. In the time of Moses, the months our passover," the antitype of the paschal lamb, consisted of thirty days each ; for he reckons 150 expired at the ninth hour, and was taken down days from the 7th day of the second month to the from the cross at the eleventh hour, or sun-set.* 7th day of the seventh month, which makes an
2. The WEEK needs scarcely a remark. Six interval of five months, of 30 days each. In the days out of the seven were devoted to the ordi- time of the Maccabees the Jews followed the cusnary affairs of life; and the seventh was appointed tom of the Grecians; that is, the months were lunar. a holy sabbath, or a day of sacred rest. Besides These lunar months were 'each of them 29 days, the week of days, the Hebrews had weeks of years, 12 hours, and 44 minutes, but for convenience the seventh of which was the sabbatical year; and they had one of 29 days, and the following one also weeks of seven years, the forty-ninth of which 30, and so on alternately: that which had 30 was the year of Jubilee.t
days was called a full and complete month ; that 3. MONTHS. For these the ancient Hebrews which had but 29 days was called incomplete. had no particular names. They called them in The new moon was always the beginning of the their numerical order, first, second, third, &c. month, and this day the Hebrews held as a sacred Under Solomon we read of the month Zif festival. I (1 Kings vi. 1), which is the second month of The following synchronical arrangement of the the ecclesiastical year, and answers to that after- Hebrew and English months, to which we have wards called Jiar. We also hear of the month added the Syro-Macedonian names, will be found Bul (ibid.), which answers to Marchescan; and useful :
When we say the months of the Jews thus prevent it. This they did by intercalating a answered to ours—Nisan to March, Jiar to month every three years, after the twelfth April, &c., we must be understood with some month, Adar, and which they called Ve-Adarlatitude ; for lunar months cannot be reduced to the second Adar. By this means their lunar
The vernal equinox falls between the year was made to equal the solar, because in 20th and 21st of March, according to the course 36 solar months there would be 37 lunar of the solar year: but in the lunar year, the new months; and the passover was always celebrated moon will fall in the month of March, and the the first full moon after the equinox. But this full moon in the month of April. So that the arrangement of the Hebrew calendar, it should Hebrew months will commonly answer to two of be observed, is made on the authority of the our months, the end of one and the beginning of Jewish writers, who are not always the best the other. But as twelve lunar months make but guides, even in the affairs of their own nation. 354 days, 8 hours, and 48 minutes, it is evident Their notation of the months has been implicitly that the Jewish calendar, by which the sacred followed by Christian critics and commentators, festivals were regulated, would soon have been in almost universally ; but we believe it to be insad confusion, had they not taken some means to correct. According to their distribution of the
months, the religious festivals could never have Hales' Analysis of Chronology, i., p. 115, † See unte, p. 301.
See ante, p. 299.