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PRELIMINARY DISSERTATION.

The Providence of God, ever attentive to the welfare of the whole creation, hath contrived a great variety of methods wherewith to exercise the skill and industry of men. One distinguished property there is which belongs to them all, that they discover the marks of sovereign wisdom, and the more they are studied and explored, the brighter traces of this wisdom are manifested. This truth has often been acknowledged by those who have with the minutest care and most exact attention examined into the works of God. And it is one great presumption in favour of his word, that the like investigation which recommends his works, strongly pleads in behalf of this also, and the proportion of our deepest researches in both cases, if conducted with suitable fairness and candour, will redound nearly to the proportional credit of each.

It must be confessed that the books of the New Testament have by many ingenious Writers of this nation, in a variety of forms, been surveyed and examined; and perhaps we may attribute it in a considerable measure to this diligent attention, that the Christian Religion ought certainly not to be considered as in a declining state amongst us, but is generally received by the Patrons of Learning and the most enlightened Advocates for Truth, with that zeal

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and regard which are suitable to its divine Authority. The books of the Old Testament contribute in a very great degree to illustrate and confirm the Truths and Doctrines of the New: Our learned Men have therefore begun not long since to revise these with that close attention which they always deserved, and to which the discoveries of later times have given them a more especial title. Not that there have been wanting persons of ability who have long since explained and illustrated the ancient Scriptures, but their free spirits were constrained and tied down by some inveterate prejudices, such as the absolute Incorruptibility of the Hebrew Text, and the close adherence to the Masoretic Punctuation as essential to the Language, from which more recent authors have been happily emancipated.

The Writings of the Prophets have this peculiar advantage, that by holding forth matter which is constantly receiving its completion, they daily furnish the Christian world with new occurrences of concern; so that, exclusive of all the beauties and ornaments of composition, which furnish a very wide field of useful entertainment, they serve also continually to establish the Christian in his most holy Faith, by supplying the argument from Prophecy with a constantly increasing evidence. To set these writings in a clearer light, and to offer them to the world in a more improved English Dress, has been the intent and endeavour of some distinguished modern publications.

The late Lord Bishop of London first designed the plan, and has executed his share of it in the most masterly

In the preliminary Dissertation to his Isaiah the reader may find the whole scheme fully delineated, the reasons and motives that induced this pious Prelate to the undertaking, and the tracks he pursued in the execution. So happily was this first part finished, that it was feared the very completion of it might prevent the further advancement of the plan, as few writers could expect to equal so great a master. However not many years after the learned Dr. Blayney, now Canon of Christ Church, and Royal Professor of Hebrew in Oxford, published the Prophecy and Lamentations of Jeremiah in the like form, and with very considerable success. He was followed by my most ingenious and much honoured friend Dr. Newcome, the present Bishop of Waterford, who favoured the world with a Translation and Notes, first on the Minor Prophets, and afterwards on Ezekiel. He has somewhat varied from the form of his Predecessors, but yet the general design has been executed with that comprehensive conciseness, and copious learning, which might be expected from the pen of this classical writer.

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Thus have the Works of three of the Greater and all of the Lesser Prophets been attended to with due deference. I wish the same learned Prelate, who has had so large a share in this business, could have found leisure for a Comment upon the only remaining part, the Book of Daniel, instead of recommending it to the Author of these Sheets. However, in consequence of such recommendation, he turned his thoughts to it, and after having read and noted it with much care and study, at length determined to revise and arrange his Notes, in order to present them to the Public, if nothing should previously appear that might supersede their design : Such was his general intention.

But before we proceed to a more particular detail, it will naturally and justly be expected that some account should be given of the Book itself, and of the Author of it, that the reader may be better prepared for a minute examination of its contents.

1.-As to THE AUTHOR: Daniel was of the tribe of Judah *, and of very illustrious, if not of royal Descent t. Josephus * favours the latter opinion, and says he was of the family of Zedekiah, who was the last king of Judah before the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem by Nebuzaradan, the commander in chief of the Chaldean forces. At the beginning of the captivity he was carried away to Babylon, and was probably at that time not more than eighteen years † of age. He was possessed of extra.ordinary endowments both of body and mind. The comeliness and strength of his person recommended him to the particular notice of the chief chamberlain amongst the Babylonians; and these qualities were increased by his habitual temperance and abstinence, insomuch that his figure was one of the most graceful of all that were appointed for the immediate attendance on king Nebuchadnezzar.

* Chap. i. v. 6.

+ Chap. i. v. 4. It will be needless to point out the reference to every particular : from this first Chapter the chief of the following Character is taken, and is in the main confirmed by Josephus in his Antiq. x. 10. Ed. Hud.

But still the strength and habits of the mind must form the character; and these in Daniel were of a very superior cast, whether considered as the gifts of nature, or as the acquisitions of well-applied industry. An excellent Spirit | was in him, which directed him to all the proper means of knowledge, and the right improvement of them ; so that he became master of all the literature of the Chaldeans, and was ten times superior to all the Magi or Wise Men of the East. He was not only renowned for secular wisdom, but favoured with divine illuminations; had extraordinary insight into visions, and discernment in the intrepretation of dreams. Qualified with these abilities he was admitted to the special favour of several very powerful monarchs, of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus: And hence he is presumed not only to have resided in the court at Babylon, but occasionally also in those of Media and

* Antiq. X. 10. Ed. Hud.

+ At ver. 4. ho and his companions are called in the Heb. 0'75. Josephus calls them παιδες ubi supra.

I bave rendered this passage, an enlarged mind was in him, Chap. v. 12, as thinking it more agreeable to the sense of the words, but the meaning in either form amounts to much the same.

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