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In accounting indeed for the manner in which things are brought about, recourse must be had to obfervation and reasoning. To confirm the truth and reality of them, other corroborating facts and circumftances refulting from, or analogous to those principal ones, will furely be allowed as proper to be brought into view; and that nature may be admitted to comment upon herself. In the collecting of thefe facts nothing will be requifite but care and industry, accompanied with fome degree of judgment in the choice and difpofal of them; in arranging, methodizing, and in drawing proper conclufions from them. Where the evidence of facts is wanting, probable conjecture, I hope, may be allowed to fupply its place; and throughout the whole, the fidelity of history will be obferved, as being no lefs neceffary in the interpretation of Scripture history, above all other kinds of it, than it is in hiftory itself*,


*On doit fe fouvenir, qu'un hiftorien eft fait pour decrire, et non pour inventer; qu'il ne doit fe permettre


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The Scripture accounts of fome phenomena may not always perhaps feem reconcilable to our notions of the laws of nature. But this may proceed from our ignorance, or our prejudice; or at least from a condefcenfion to, and a compliance with, the weakness and poverty of our understandings, and with the notions which we receive from our fenfes; which often renders it proper, if not neceffary, that matters fhould be expreffed according to the fyftem of appearances; as is the general practice at present, though we live in a philofophical age; the popular language being always the beft understood; and therefore the most proper concerning fubjects incidentally mentioned, and not profeffedly treated of; where there is no neceffity of combating received notions, which are merely fpecu

aucun fuppofition, et qu'il ne peut faire ufage de fon imagination, que pour combiner les obfervations, generalifer les faits, et en former un enfemble, qui prefent à l'efprit un ordre methodique d'idees claires, et de rapports fuives et vrai-femblables. M. de Buffon, Hift. Nat, tom. I. p. 24,

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lative, and attended with no ill confequence, moral or natural. But these cafes feldom happen; and where they do, are easily discerned.

It is natural to fuppofe, that for the most part, if not always, regard is had to the nature of things, in the description and accounts which are given of them in Scripture: And if this can be made out to a tolerable degree of precision and certainty, with regard to the greater part, this should incline us to have the fame favourable opi nion of other paffages, which cannot be fo well accounted for; and to fuppofe that they likewife may have refpect to the laws of nature, though not fo according to our apprehensions: At least that where they manifeftly depart from them, it is not without fome reason that they do fo.

What the Scripture delivers concerning the system of the world, it delivers with authority, as it doth every thing else : An authority the highest of all others, and fuperior to the weightieft arguments that can be framed by human reafon. The autho


rity of Mofes, fetting afide the confideration of his being an inspired writer, is, for his antiquity alone, fuperior to that of all other hiftorians, Hence all writers on this fubject are defirous of retaining him; and never fail to appeal to him when he seems to give countenance to them, or can be preffed into the fervice of their system: But when that could not be done, there have not been wanting system-writers so tenacious of their own pre-conceived opinions, as to fet them up in oppofition to his authority; and, rather than fubmit to it, have had the hardiness to maintain, that Mofes did not write, as he thought, in his hiftory of the creation, and paid more regard to the notions of the vulgar, than the truth of things*.

When we contradict authority so refpectable, we reject our fureft guide: No wonder then that we wander into a labyrinth of errors. In all our difquifitions, with regard to which Scripture affords any light, we'

Burnet, Archæolog. Phil. lib. II. cap. 7, 8, 9.



should rejoice in it, and think ourselves happy in the discovery of it. We should never forfake it, but fhould conftantly follow it wherever it lead us: And it fhould be our invariable rule, to accommodate our notions to scripture; and not to accommodate scripture to our notions: Much less fhould we ever aim at foaring higher than it carries us, or at being wife above what is written.

As the greatest geniufes have been led aftray by their own imaginations; and, by relying on their own powers, have mifcarried in researches, which feem too arduous for mere humanabilities:-As it argues the rasheft prefumption to fet about fuch deep enquiries, without all the helps and lights: that are to be found:-And as the greatest light, and the help which can best. be depended upon, is that which is held forth to us in holy Scripture:-It may well reward our labour, as it is an incitement to out industry, to collect, and bring together into. one view, the feveral paffages which occur in it, relating to the original frame and con


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