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THE EARLY PATRIARCHS,
BY AN APPEAL TO SUBSEQUENT PARTS OF
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES ;
IN A SERIES OF LETTERS TO A FRIEND.
THE REVEREND THOMAS T. BIDDULPH, M.A.
QUEEN'S COLLEGE, OXFORD.
Known unto God were all his works from the beginning of the
world.-Acts xv. 18.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
PRINTED BY RICHARD SHORT, 35, BRIDGE-STREET;
AND BY HODGES AND MORGAN, BRIDGE-STREET;
It is, or ought to be, the object of a prefatory discourse, to apprise the reader of what he is to expect in the work which he is about to read, in order that he may be prepared for its perusal by a clew to its general contents. It should, in short, be a paraphrase on the title page and the summary of contents, with any additional circumstances which may be necessary to shed light on the subject of discussion.
The Author, or rather the Compiler, of the following pages feels it to be a duty which he owes to his readers, to inform them that they have nothing new, either of sentiment or diction, to anticipate. The letters which are put into their hands are, for the most part, a compilation from what had been previously laid before the public by authors who are therein mentioned, though references may not, in every case, have been made to them; but though the subject of the letters has been long before the public, it has not, in the Compiler's opinion, obtained due consideration, or he would not again have troubled the world with it. The present volume, then, is to be viewed as a specimen of mental Mosaic work, consisting chiefly of quotations, verbally or substantially, taken from a variety of authors. It claims no originality of thought; it offers no novelty of style. The Compiler makes no pretensions to depth of learning or science. He seeks not fame, but truth. His time has been too much occupied through life in parochial and domestic duties to have allowed of deep research on any subject, and what is here offered to public attention, having been written during the scraps of leisure which an almost unbroken series of imperative ministerial avocation has scantily furnished, pleads for an indulgent regard to its imperfections, and pardon for its errors, should such be found in it. He has collected the tesseræ of former days; and if any credit be due to him, it is merely that of a new arrangement, and of fixing them in their present relative positions by the cement of a few connecting remarks. He may, however, claim some share of fortitude in venturing to re-edit opinions which have been generally exploded, but which, so far as he knows, have never yet been confuted, unless a sneer is to be considered a sufficient confutation. The Ægis of a Horne, a Jones, and a Horsley, will however secure, in this more candid period than that of the last century when these opinions were first systematically brought forward, protection from the contempt which was then thrown on their more early advocates.
The era in which we live is, perhaps, one wherein the boundary between truth and error, between heaven and hell, as these states are anticipated on earth, is become more defined than it has been at any period, since the time when the long and deeply rooted system of Heathenism was eradicated from a large part of the globe by the publication of the Gospel ; or, at least, since the period of the Reformation. What Divine power did at the first creation, it is now doing in the moral world : it is employed in “dividing the light from the darkness,” in consequence of which separation, the light is to be purified from admixture, and the darkness must, of course, become more dense. Infidelity, or a rejection of the authority of