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THE hour of retribution is rapidly approaching, when every literary attainment, however splendid in view of the world, which has not a religious influence, will appear more empty, than the bubble, glittering with the colors of the rainbow. Impressed with this awakening fact, the Christian Pastor is solicitous, that all his studies should enrich his sermons, for the spiritual benefit of those, who hear him. He also, deems it a privilege, to publish those results of his inquiries, which may extend his services beyond the limited sphere of his personal labors, which may, by the blessing of Heaven, continue his usefulness, after he slumbers in "the narrow house." Every literary production, which elucidates the Book of God, has such a tendency. This sacred volume is the luminous Star, directing all nations to the New Jerusalem. That author, then performs a religious service, who renders the meaning of the sacred writers more evident, or the reading of them more interesting or pleasant. How many thousands and thousands neglect the scriptures, never acquiring the necessary knowledge of their contents, not because, they are infidels, not because, they are abandoned to vice, not because, they have any specific objection to them; but because, the Scriptures appear obscure, or unintelligible. “How can they understand, unless some man should guide them?” They read of Canaan and Mesopotamia, of Cush and Misraim, of Anakims and Ishmaelites; they search their Geographies, but find nothing to satisfy their inquiries. Is it strange then, that the sacred history should become dull, and tedious?
Not only the pleasure, but the confidence of the reader may be increased, by learning the character and situation of places. To illustrate this, a multitude of instances might be mentioned. Had Egypt been a barren country, seven years of plenty would not have supplied seven years of famine. Had Arabia been a fertile land, no good reason could have been given for the rain of "angel's food.” As the Red Sea and the Jordan lay in the march of Israel, we readily perceive, that their waters must have been divided.
In describing the ancient and modern state of many cities and nations, the writer, without stopping to moralize, spontaneously delineates the most exact fulfilment of prophecy. So unavoidable is this,
that even infidels have sometimes, unwillingly, promoted the cause of revelation. Volney's account of Jerusalem and Egypt confirms this. The opportunity of defending the banner of Christianity, has been a most pleasant circumstance attending this compilation.
Geography has claimed a place in various dictionaries of the Bible. Why then should it not occupy a separate volume? Who is satisfied with the scanty information, found in those works? To the lovers of sacred Geography may not a scripture Gazetteer be a mental banquet? A respectable and learned writer considers the present zeal to acquire a knowledge of Palestine, among "the signs” of the approaching millennium. He says, "The signs of the times all concur to teach us, that we are fast approaching towards the catastrophe of the great drama. We have seen Palestine, the predicted stage on which Antichrist, with his congregated vassals, is doomed to perish, brought forward in a remarkable manner to public notice.”* And is it not natural to suppose that a country becoming so interesting to all the world, will be more known, before the grand catastrophe arrives. Soon will Christianity, long banished from the first temples of her residence, long banished from the thrones of the Cæsars, in sackcloth wandering in the wilderness, re-enter Palestine in triumph, raise the ruined walls of Jerusalem, rebuild the temple on Mount Zion, and sway the sceptre on the throne of David; yet scarcely any region of the globe is now so little known. Some Geographers of great eminence, silently pass by this country, as though it were involved in the odium of Christianity,
Though the compiler fondly hopes to afford pleasure and improve. ment to the lover of Scied Geography; yet, so far is he from presuming, that this first essay is perfect, that he respectfully solicits any suggestions from his readers, which may improve the work. He determines, that no pains shall be wanting, if his life be spared, to render it as perfect as his abilities permit. This being designed for a useful family book, a large and fair type has been used, and some things of curious geographical speculation have been omitted, or transiently noticed. Generally, the various opinions of learned men fuave been stated, and the reader left to make his own decision. Cons quently, in some instances, it may seem as if the compiler entertained different opinions on the same point,
Some may think the account of a few remarkable places too particular. Another person, may, perhaps, ponder on these scenes with
Ser Chris'ian R's 'aches, publishical by S. T. A insirailg.
deep interest, and growing delight, his heart throbbing with wonder and gratitude, his eyes suffused with sacred affection. While he discards the weakness of superstition, he indulges the sensibilities of a man; while he reasons like a sage, he feels as a saint, and wishes the description more minute, more full
. I shall never envy the
man his sensations, who can read with indifference a description of the places, where prophets and apostles preached the word of life,where the Son of God ruled the storm, and raised the dead. I shall never envy the man, who can without emotions, undescribable, ascend mount Sinai, where God himself came down, where the voice of the trumpet waxed louder and louder, where Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. I pity the man, who can read the present state of Chorazin, or Tyre, or the seven churches of Asia, and not bow to the force of truth, his faith confirmed, his heart trembling. I pity the man, who can view, unmoved the Rocks smitten by Moses, whence the waters gushed, and the stream flowed to refresh the camp of Israel. I pity him, whose heart does not thrill with unutterable tenderness, while he reads a description of Gethsemane, echoing the sighs and prayers of his suffering Redeemer, or the hill of Calvary, crimsoned with his blood, or of the holy sepulchre, where his body was laid, or the Mount of Olives, graced with his last footsteps, as he ascended to glory.
In this work the compiler has often borrowed the style of the authors, quoted; not always, because he thought it the most laconic or perfect; but among other reasons, because, as it respects travels, there is a certain interest produced by the words of one, who himself saw what he describes; he gives vividness and life to his subject. For borrowing from others, I may, to use the words of the Encyclopedia, "plead the common law uf authorship in justification.” This is a Geographical Dictionary, and the learned Mr. Chambers remarks, “that such works are supposed to be in a great degree, the compositions of other people, and that their quality gives the authors a title to every thing, which may be for their purpose, wherever they find it. If you ask them their authority they will produce you the practice of their predecessors of all nations and ages. But as the compiler in this work has quoted authors of established reputation, he presumes to hope, that the style and matter may be satisfactory.
A laudable curiosity prompts the reader to inquire what were the sources of information enjoyed by his author. To this I only say, that a considerable portion of the work, was necessarily taken from the Bible. Several of the most interesting articles have been collected from the Asiatic Researches. The Encyclopedia has repeatedly made very liberal contributions. A Dictionary of the Bible in 3 vols. anonymous, printed in London 1759, has afforded more constant aid, than perhaps any other work. From the Scripture Geography of Dr. Wells, I have largely borrowed. I need not add, that Calmet has contributed something to almost every page. A Geographical Dictionary of the Bible, entitled, Onomasticon Urbium et Locorum Sacræ Scripturæ, &c. written by Eusebius in the fourth century, and afterwards translated from the Greek into Latin, and improved by St. Jerome, I have quoted in almost every article.
The following works have also been carefully consulted, and often quoted. Opera facobi Bonfrerii, &c. Descriptio Terræ Sanctæ Brocardi Ilonachi, &c. Geographia Sacra ex Veteri et Novo Testamento, &c. Descriptio Terræ Chanaan, &c. et Index Geographicus, auctore Nic-Sanson, etiam Nota Johannis Clerici, &c. To name all the Travels, Gazetteers, Geographies, Commentators, and other books, from which extracts have been made, would be thought superfluous. Were it not ostentatious, it would be pleasant and flattering to myself, to acknowledge the encouragement and aid of several respectable Friends, who have kindly furnished me with rare and valuable books. These generous Patrons will do me the justice to believe, that I prize their friendship, as I ought, and accept my warmest gratitude. Though it is not without very serious diffidence, that I present this work to the public; yet may I not be permitted to say, that if the reader find the advantage and the entertainment, which have rendered the labor of coinpiling it so pleasant, I shall, not only think myself to have been well employed, but doubly rewarded.
E, PARISH, Byfield, March 9, 1813.