« AnteriorContinuar »
lities, and more still as I have the happiness to live under your peculiar jurisdict.on:, and Your Grace is very kind in permitting me to inscribe it to Your Name, which kindness I will not abuse with the usual stile of dedications. Your GRACE's virtues are so well known, and so universaily esteemed, as to stand in need of no commendation, and much less of mine.
I would rather beg leave to apprise Your Grace, and the reader, of the design of these dissertations: which is not to treat of the prophecies in general, nor even of those prophecies in particular, which were fuifilled in the person and actions of our Saviour; but only of such as relate more immediately to these later ages, and are in some measure receiving their accomplishment at this time. What first suggested the design, were some conversations formerly with a great General, who had for many years the chief commands in the army, and was a man of good understanding, and of
some reading, but unhappily had no great regard for revealed religion or the clergy. When the prophecies were urged as a proof of revelation, he conftantly derided the notion, asserted that there was no such thing, and that the prophecies which were pretended were written after the events. He was informed, that tho' such a thing might with less scruple and more confidence be affirmed of some prophecies fulfilled long ago, yet it could never be proved of any, the contrary might be proved almost to a demonstration : but it could not be so much as affirmed of several prophecies without manifest absurdity ;' for there were several prophecies in fcripture, which were not fulfilled till these later ages, and were fulfilling even now, and consequently could not be framed after the events, but undeniably were written and published many ages before. He was startled at this, and said he must acknowlege, that if this point could be proved to satisfaction, there would be no
arguing against such plain matter of fact; it would certainly convince him, and he believed would be the readiest way to convince every reasonable man, of the truth of revelation.
It was this occasion, my Lord, that first gave rise to these differtations, which were originally drawn up in the form of fome sermons. But since that time they have been new-modeled, much altered and much inlarged, and confirmed by proper authorities. And tho' some of them only are here published, yet each dissertation may be considered as a distinct treatise by itself. It is hoped indeed, that the whole, like an arch, will add strength and firmness to each part;
but at the same time care hath been taken, that the parts should have strength in themselves, as well as a relation to the whole, and a connexion with each other. The publication therefore of some parts cannot be improper ; and the others shall go to the press, so soon as an indifferent share of health,
conftant preaching twice a day, and other necessary duties and avocations will permit me to put the finishing hand to them,
Every reader must know, Your GRACE and every scholar must know more especially, that such works are not to be precipitated. They require time and learned leisure, great reading and great exa&tness, being disquisitions of some of the most curious points of history, as well as explications of some of the most difficult passages of scripture. And I should not presume to offer any of them to Your GRACE, or to submit them to the public cenfure, if they had not been first perused and corrected by some of my friends, and particularly by three of the best scholars, and ablest critics of this age, Bishop Pearce, Dr. Warburton, and Dr. Jortin; who were also my friendly coadjutors in my edition of Milton; and as they excel in all good learning themselyes, so they are very ready to promote and affist the well-meant endevors of others.
When the other parts shall appear, they shall likewise beg Your Grace's patronage and protection. And in the mean time may Your Grace's health be re-established, and continue many years for the good of this church and nation! It is nothing to say that it is my earnest wish : It is the wish of all mankind : but of none more ardently than,
May it please Your GRACE,
Your GRACE's most dutiful,
and obedient Servant,
Oct. 5. 1754.