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of entering upon this question, as imagining it capable of accurate solution.

As I shall offer no opinion as to the degree of authority which this book ought to possess, so I shall content myself with criticism which being professedly conjectural, can go no farther than to combine such probabilities as may afford at least, some foundation of belief, although positive proofs be unattainable.

If, however, it should be found that there are circumstances from which we may conclude that this book was but little known to the Jews subsequent to the captivity, and that the evidence as to their general knowledge of it before that period, is rather adverse than favourable to such a supposition; much of the apocryphal character arising from its total absence from the Canon of Scripture will be taken away. And thus in the present instance we shall perhaps be justified in giving more weight to internal evidence in favor of the antiquity of some portion of the book, than would be otherwise allowable.

The comparison of particulars derivable from internal evidence being, in this case, the chief source from whence an approximation to truth may be obtained; the coincidence of several indications, which singly are of little value, may sometimes be preferable to a more direct but solitary evidence.

With regard also to any passages connected with the ideas of Geography or Astronomy, observable in these writings; conjectures which are founded on comparison or analogy may be admissible, where they appear to tend towards a common conclusion.

In considering the question whether this book may probably contain a record of the earliest patriarchal traditions, our first enquiry will be, as to the possibility that such traditions, if reduced to writing, could in any case be handed down to an age so late as that of the Apostles, without becoming part of the Jewish canon.

On this subject I must refer the reader to the authority of a writer equally distinguished for extent of acquirements, and acuteness of intellect.

The learned Bishop Horsley, when speaking of the Sybilline books, observes, “ The prophecies " that were current in the gentile world in later

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ages, since they were neither forgeries of the “ heathen priests nor founded on the Jewish pro

phecies, must have been derived from prophecies more ancient than the Jewish-They were fragments, (mutilated perhaps and otherwise cor' rupted), but they were fragments, of the most “ ancient prophecies of the patriarchal ages.”

He proceeds to shew that “fragments of the prophecies of the patriarchal ages might be preserved among idolatrous nations," and after shewing that the first idolatry consisted in blending the worship of the true God, "with the superstitious adoration of fictitious deities, and even of images,” he adds that “paganism in this milder form was rather to be called a corrupt than a false religion." Hence he argues

" that means might be used on the part of God to keep up the remembrance “ of himself among them, by a right use of which

they might have recovered the purity from “ which they fell, and which, though through "the extreme degeneracy of mankind they pre“ vented not a general apostacy for many ages, “had a tendency however to the general restoration “ by raising an universal expectation of the great " restorer.”

Having shewn that both Melchisedek and Potipherah, may be considered as priests of a corrupted patriarchal church, He adduces the instances of Job and Balaam to shew that prophets also were to be found among that church.

Now we are to remember that if the gift of prophecy were not wanting among any people, they must certainly be in a state which would render them capable of preserving prophecies already delivered.

The family of Abraham was indeed chosen by God, but being chosen to be the origin of that seed in which all the nations of the earth should be blessed at the first coming of the Messiah, any prophecy concerning the latter days, and applicable to others rather than to them, would not with any especial reason be committed to the custody of that chosen race. And therefore, if any such prophecy existed, it might not improbably be looked for in the first instance, among those, who, while corrupted in some degree by


their addition of idolatry, still preserved among them the knowledge of the true God.

Bishop Horsley appears to have thought the existence of such prophecies not to be unlikely.

“If,” says he, “any other prophets of that “ period existed, and many might although their “works and their very names have been long “since forgotten, it is more certain, I say, of the

prophecies of these ages that they would be “ committed to writing, than of the earlier tradi« tions. For that letters were older than the be"ginnings of idolatry cannot be proved, although " in my opinion it is more probable than the contrary.

The learned Walton, in his prolegomena, expresses the same opinion, applying it to the book of Enoch.

“Enochum prophetâsse ejusque prophetiæ partem temporibus apostolorum extitisse, ex epistolâ " Judæ certum est. Sine Scripturâ vero tot

annorum millibus conservatum fuisse, nullo “modo probabile videtur.”

If, continues Bishop Horsley, “Balaam's Prophe“cies were committed to writing, why not those

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