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IN submitting the present Volume to the world, I feel myself called upon, not only to disclaim acquaintance with the works of the writers belonging to the German School of Rationalism, but also to state, that during the progress of
my lucubrations I have expressly and carefully avoided making reference to them. I have been induced to adopt this line of conduct by the consideration that, whatever light the researches of those acute and indefatigable critics have thrown upon the gloom of early history, and however valuable the results of their labours may be in the investigation and interpretation of the Scriptures also,--and I am far from denying them their just meed of praise,—the spirit in which they have both studied and written, is such, generally, as to deprive them of a great portion of the merit to which they would otherwise be entitled ; and it is such,
indeed, as in very many cases to render the actual knowledge which they have promulgated far more hurtful than advantageous to the proper development of the truths of Divine Revelation.
I am aware that by pursuing the course which I have thus thought fit to adopt, I have debarred myself from the acquisition of much valuable and important information which is unquestionably to be found in the works of those writers; and it is most probable, also, that some of the results at which I have arrived, and which I have announced as novelties, have already been obtained and made public by them. Yet as the process of Scripture interpretation by which I have obtained these results, is (as I sincerely believe,) of a totally distinct character from that by which the so-called Rationalists have pursued their investigations, I have been unwilling to allow myself to be interrupted in the prosecution of my separate and distinct train of reasoning, or to expose myself to the hazard of being led away from receiving the direct and unsophisticated evidence of the Sacred Volume : and, as also I profess (so far as my ability extends,) to interpret
those portions of the Scriptures which I have more particularly examined, upon the broad and immutable principle that they are the revealed Word of God, I have preferred (and I do not hesitate to avow it,) not to be indebted for any suggestions to a source which professes to consider the Sacred Writings independently of and without regard to their inspired character.
Having thus distinctly stated the grounds upon which I have hitherto deemed it right to refrain from consulting either the works of the German Divines to whom I allude, or those of the various writers upon subjects of Classical and Profane History belonging to the same School, I may add that I shall now have no hesitation in consulting and examining them, whenever I may find it necessary or deem it expedient to do so.
In asserting that I am not acquainted with the literary productions of the Rationalists, it is to be understood that my general knowledge of their character and tendency has been derived, not from any strict investigation of the subject, but from the casual perusal of the current English literature; and I of course except those works to which refer
ences are occasionally made in the present Volume: namely, Professor Heeren’s ‘Historical Researches' and Manual of Ancient
History,' and the first four parts of M. Cahen's French Translation of the Bible :-the latter work, however, was in my possession for a few hours only, and the entire result of my very partial and cursory examination of it is recorded in the notes to Pages 118 and 130 of the present Volume. I
add further, that Gibbs's Translation of Gesenius's smaller Lexicon has been constantly referred to, it being, in fact, the only Hebrew Lexicon which I have employed.
CHARLES TILSTONE BEKE.
3 North Buildings, Finsbury Circus,
May 8th, 1834.