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ONE of the most accurate and learned inquirers among those who have endeavoured to reconcile the difficulties of ancient chronology, prefaces a part of his works by this observation * :—“ He "who undertakes to unravel and to reconcile "the events of the earliest ages, does indeed


attempt a task, the extreme labour of which "is enhanced by continual difficulties †.”

And if this were necessarily always the case, from the inherent obscurity of the subject itself, when considered merely with a reference to


* Perizonii Origines Babylonicæ, p. 1.

†“Ardui sane et multis difficultatibus impediti laboris aggreditur opus, qui res antiquissimi temporis eruendas "sibi atque expediendas sumit."


ancient records, it must be admitted that the researches of modern authors have accumulated

such a mass of real or supposed evidence, in defence both of the chronology of the Hebrew text, and that of the Septuagint, that the conclusion to which most inquirers will now, however unwillingly, arrive, must be, that it is no longer possible to separate, by any external evidence, the true data from those which are corrupt, or to fix the exact epoch of particular events, by reasoning upon the various parts of any order of chronological succession. Without perusing the earlier and more voluminous writers, who seem almost to have made this controversy a branch of the dissensions between the Roman and Reformed Churches, it will be evident from the most cursory comparison of the works of Usher, Marsham, or Perizonius, with the elaborate work of Dr. Hales, with that of Shuckford, or with the more recent Connexion of Sacred and Profane History, written by the learned Dr. Russell, that the points on which their different systems are founded, have long since been beyond the reach of any accurate determination; and that we must now be satisfied with a balance

of probabilities, if we seek to fill up, either on one system or the other, the outline which is given to us in the authentic records of the Holy Scripture *.

Strongly impressed, therefore, as I am, with the persuasion that the chronology which places the coming of our Lord in the 3999th, or 4000th year of the world, that is to say, in the fourth or fifth year before our vulgar era, is correct, I shall not re-enter the arena, which has been trodden by the steps of so many learned combatants on either side, but giving up as impracticable the attempt to assign a sequence of dates more plausible than that which the learned Usher has long since arranged, I shall confine myself to such observations, as may show, in the first place, some objections against the chronology of the Septuagint, which arise either from internal evidence, or the collateral testimony of other circumstances. I shall then pursue the inquiry, whether, supposing that the chronolo

* I need scarcely remind the reader of such points as those of the second Cainan, the departure of Abraham from Haran, or the duration to be assigned to the several periods of the Judges.

gical evidence for both theories is set aside, we may find reason to assume, from traditionary, from prophetic, or apocryphal evidence, that any determinate duration has been assigned to the world; and whether the duration so assigned is marked by any peculiarity of recurrence as to its intervals.

If it be found that such a period was anciently expected, and that the parts of that period coincide with, or closely approximate to, the leading events of the chronology of Archbishop Usher,


may then be presumed that the circumstantial evidence thus obtained from different sources, will tend strongly to confirm the truth of the computation with which it coincides.

I have forgotten the name of the old writer who says of traditionary evidence, that “a great "cloud of smoke argues at least a little fire." But the observation is a shrewd one, and I have reminded the reader of it, lest he should consider some of the testimonies which I shall adduce, as being of no value, because of their want of authority.

This may indeed be the case with each, when taken separately, while still the concurrence of

various repetitions of the same tale, may acquire, from comparison, a force of evidence second only to rigid demonstration.

Wherever, or from whatever source, the difference between the numbers given by the Hebrew, by the Samaritan, and Greek versions, may have originated, it is manifestly too great to have been accidental, as the former having 1656; the Samaritan, 1307; and the Greek of the seventy interpreters, 2256 years, the greatest difference is 955, and the least, 606 years before the Deluge; while from that period to the birth of Abraham, the difference between the Hebrew and Septuagint is 780, making in all, 1386 years. In some way or other, therefore, this difference is to be accounted for, and the knot has, on behalf of the Seventy, rather been cut, than unloosed, by the assumption, that the Jewish Rabbis must have advisedly shortened the periods of the generations in the Hebrew, by subtracting a century from each; and the motive assigned for this proceeding, is their desire to obtain an argument against the fulfilment of the predictions relative to the Messiah.

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