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The present work has a definite end in view. The discovery by Champollion of the mode of reading the inscriptions that cover the remains of Ancient Egypt, was first brought under the Author's notice more than thirty years ago. It at once struck him, that if this discovery be real, and if the Bible be a statement of facts, the one must of necessity illus trate the other. Under this conviction he has since devoted his life to the pursuit of it,-wisely or not, is no part of the question now in discussion.
There is yet another conviction which has aided him in making this somewhat costly sacrifice :-he writes thus, because such is the fact. He has always held it for certain, that the history narrated in the Bible must be true, strictly true, a record of things as they were, and of facts as they did occur, if its doctrines are from God, and therefore worthy to be received as religious teaching. If it be not true in this exact sense, --if the men, for example, named therein be nations, not individuals, if its positive dates be vague numbers, if its miracles be mere metaphors, then is the Bible a lie ! “and every lie, O that men would believe it, is at best but a whited sepulchre.” * However fair such a structure may be externally, it contains nothing but dead men's bones, and all uncleanness, and therefore nothing can issue from it but that which is noisome and pestilential. The reality of the Bible history is a condition indispensable to the genuineness of its moral teaching. This proposition, which appears to him very clear and self-evident, renders it absolutely necessary, that the truth of the history should be fully established. In the ensuing pages, the reader will find an attempt to establish its truth in this strict sense, by the collateral evidence of the monuments of Ancient Egypt.
The author is well aware, that this necessity is denied, and in quarters whence all opinions come forth with the authority and influence of oracles. He knows that, by one of the great schools of modern thinkers, all such enquiries are denounced as “idle attempts to collect evidence;" f and that from another class, his work will bring upon him the charge of maintaining “ignorant, uncritical, baseless assumptions concerning literal inspiration.”*
* Archdeacon Hare's Life of Sterling, p. ccxxxi.
+ Froude's Remains.
He deeply regrets this antagonism, but it is not in his power to modify at all the conviction he has expressed.
* Archdeacon Hare, u. s. cxxx.