Page images

present state of Chronology, the evidences for and against the shorter Hebrew and longer Greek computations, the defects of the reigning systems, and the rectification of those of Josephus and Theophilus.

As a previous Apparatus necessary for Chronological computation, he has annexed to the Introduction, Elements of Technical Chronology, explaining the usual measures of time, days, weeks, months, years, &c. employed by different nations; a correcter standard of reigns and generations founded upon extensive observation of their mean lengths; the principal eclipses noticed in history, which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem; the leading epochs, eras, and periods, used in Sacred and Profane Chronology, and the principles upon which they are adjusted; a new translation and correction of the Chronicle engraved on the Arundelian or Parian marbles, and a discovery of two different principles of computation employed therein; a vindication of the admirable Canon, incorrectly supposed to have been originally framed by Ptolomy, &c.

To this Apparatus of Technical Chronology, it was found necessary to add a Geographical Apparatus, in order to remedy the imperfection or incorrectness of the explanations of Sacred Geography given by Wells, Cellarius, Reland, &c. in several material points; such as the universality and course of the deluge; the passage of the Red Sea by the Israelites; their stations or encampments in the deserts of Arabia Petræa, from the time of their exode from Egypt, till their arrival in the land of Canaan; according to Bishop Clayton's Map and explanation; a more correct Map of the city of Jerusalem, and its environs, &c. with a variety of mis

cellaneous remarks on subjects of importance, which had been originally inserted in the body of the work, but are now detached from thence, not to interrupt the reader's attention from the main course of the argument.

Sacred Chronology, which forms the first and most important branch, and furnishes the standard, by reference to which all the rest have been adjusted, is divided into distinct periods of time, reaching from the Creation of the World to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. Under each period, is given a general outline of the history, and of the principal Chronological prophecies, respecting the descent and advents of CHRIST, from the original promise given to our first parents, and afterwards more distinctly and circumstantially revealed to succeeding prophets, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Balaam, Nathan, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, &c. until their last and fullest revelation by OUR LORD and his Apostles. Indeed, to delineate the outline of the grand prophetic period of 2300 days, foretold by the Prophet Daniel, which includes the fortunes of the Jewish Church, (and of the Christian also), from Nehemiah's reformation of the Jewish polity, to its final restoration at the end of the desolation; intimated likewise in several other prophecies yet unfulfilled; was the author's chief motive for devoting so much of his time and attention to these studies.

Of Profane Chronology, the Assyrian, from its remote antiquity, and early connection with Holy Writ, first solicits attention. In this the author acknowledges his obligations to the works of the learned Mr. Jackson, for the sagacious distinction between the first and second Belus, of whom the former seems to have been the

Nimrod of Scripture, and the Ninus of the Greeks, who founded the Assyrian empire; and between the second Belus and the second Ninus, of Ctesias, and Justin, the refounder of the Assyrian monarchy. He is also indebted to Dr. Gillies, in his recent History of the World, from Alexander to Augustus, for a judicious correction of the received Assyrian Chronology, by reducing the number of kings from Ninus II. to Sardanapalus, and the duration of their reigns, to nearly half the amount of each found in the extravagant list of Ctesias. A reduction warranted by the surer authorities of Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and more conformable to SCRIPTURE. And the Scriptural dynasty of the Assyrian kings is explained and adjusted to that of the Babylonian kings, by means of Ptolomy's Canon; while the erroneous supposition is exposed, of a double capture of Nineveh, unskilfully adopted from Ctesias, by modern Chronologers, Petavius, Usher, &c.

The Chaldean, or Babylonian Chronology, which follows the Assyrian in the order of time, is here rectified, by a careful comparison of the varying accounts of Sacred and Profane History, now attempted to be reconciled and adjusted to each other, chiefly by the help of Ptolomy's Canon; in which a slight error, of two years in defect, in the short reigns of Ilverodamus and Nericassolassar, or the Evilmerodach and Belshazzar of Scripture, is compensated by an equal and opposite error of two years in excess, committed in the reign of Cyrus: and by this simple rectification of the Canon, joined to that fortunate discovery of Jackson, that the death of Belshazzar preceded the capture of Babylon, by Cyrus, no less than seventeen years, this perplexed

and intricate period is, he trusts, more clearly explained, and upon surer grounds, than has been hitherto effected.

In the Median and Persian Chronology, which follows next in order, the transition of empire from the Medes to the Persians, is shewn, not, according to the relation of Herodotus, by the dethronement of Astyages, by his grandson, Cyrus the Great, but by peaceable inheritance; the crown naturally descending from Cyaxares, the son and successor of Astyages, who is called "Darius the Mede," by Scripture, in defect of issue male, to his nephew and son-in-law, Cyrus; and this, he trusts, is satisfactorily proved from the joint testimony of Daniel, Eschylus, and Xenophon; and the intricate and perplexed Median Chronology of Herodotus, is also adjusted, by means of the celebrated Eclipse of Thales, which now appears to have happened B.C. 603, rather than in any other of the years that have been assigned by Historians and Chronologers.

The birth of Cyrus, and his succession to the thrones of Persia, Media, and Babylon, form the leading dates, by reference to which the whole scheme of Sacred and Profane Chronology is regulated. They are here determined from the Chronology of Eclipses, and the foregoing rectification of Ptolomy's Canon. And the seventy years of the Babylonian Captivity, counted from the first invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, until the return of the Jews, in consequence of the decree of Cyrus, after the reduction of Babylon, are here determined, he hopes, with a precision that will preclude further controversy on this much contested subject.

In the course of the Persian, the Lydian Chronology

is introduced, on account of the conquest of the kingdom of Lydia by Cyrus; and it is here adjusted by means of the Eclipse of Thales; an astronomical character of the highest importance indeed, which serves to connect the Babylonian, Median, Lydian, Scythian, Egyptian, and Grecian Chronology.

To the Persian, succeeded the Macedonian, or Grecian dynasty, when Alexander the Great conquered "Darius the Persian," or Codomannus, at the decisive battle of Arbela. The Chronology of this period is of great consequence to the elucidation of Daniel's famous prophecy of the seventy weeks, by shewing that "the fourth king," from the time of its commencement, who was "far richer" than his predecessors, was no other than the last Darius, whose immense wealth, and the spoils taken by Alexander, are recorded by the Greek and Latin Historians.

The Macedo-Grecian was succeeded, in the east, by the Parthian, and by the Persian dynasties, in continuation. The two last are usually confounded together, by the Greek and Latin classic authors, because they equally maintained the balance of power against the formidable Roman Empire in the west. Their chronology is extremely embarrassed.

These were succeeded by the Saracen, and by the Turkish dynasties, in continuation. The rise, conquests, and persecutions of these fierce and bigotted fanatics, under the symbolical representation of locusts, during the fifth and sixth trumpets, or first and second woes, are described in the Apocalypse.

The Egyptian Chronology, which has been hitherto considered as inexplicable, will here, it is hoped, receive

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »