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A GENERAL INDEX to the Whole.
Ισοφίας αρχαίας εξέρχεται μη κατανόes: εν αυταίς γαρ ευρύσες
Bafil. Imp. ad Leon. fil.
IN RECTO DE CVS,
Printed for T. OSBORNE, in Gray's-Inn ; A. MILLAR, in
PRE FAC E.
ISTORY is, without all doubt, the most
instructive and useful, as well as entertaining,
part of literature; more especially when it is. not confined within the narrow bounds of any particular time or place, but extends to the transactions of all times and nations. Works of this nature carry our knowlege, as Tully observes, beyond the vast and devouring space of numberless years, triumph over time, and make us, though living at an immense distance, in a manner eye-witnesses to all the events and revolutions, which have occasioned astonishing changes in the world. By these records it is that we live, as it were, in the very time when the world was created ; we behold how it was governed in its infancy, how overflowed and destroyed in a deluge of water, and again peopled; how kings and kingdoms have risen, flourished, and declined, and by what steps they brought upon themselves their final ruin and destruction. From these and other like events occurring in history, every judicious reader may form prudent and unerring rules for the conduct of his life, both in a private and public capacity. But as the eminent adyantages accruing to us from this valuable branch of learning, have been sufficiently displayed by many others, we shall not trouble our readers with a minute detail of them, but haften to what is peculiar to the work, which we now offer to the Public.
We promised, in the preface to vol. i. to prefix to this volume, when it was completed, a general one, wherein, after some account of the method we have observed, and the authors we have chiefly followed in the work, we should examine the different computations of time, the coins, weights, and measures, used by the several nations, whose histories should be therein delivered, with such other particulars as we should judge useful and necessary. This promise is what we now intend to discharge, and to begin with a succinct account of the method we have pursued.
Our intent was to write a General History of Mankind, from the earliest Account of Time to the present. Pursuant to this design, before we enter upon the history itself, we have thought it necessary to premise, by way of introduction, an account of the cosmogony or production of the earth, as being the theatre on which the scenes of the ensuing history were to be acted. In this preludious discourse, after having related, without omitting any thing that was really curious, or entertaining, the various opinions both of the antient and modern philosophers, concerning the formation of the animate and inanimate world, we proceed to the only authentic and genuine history of the creation, that which has been left us by Moses. The opinions of the philosophers are, for the most part, absurd, incoherent, and contradictory; whereas the Mosaic account, if rightly understood, carries with it all the marks of truth and probability, even though it be regarded only as an human composition, abstracted from divine authority. Having attended the earth through its several degrees of formation, seen it perfected, cloathed with trees and plants, replenilhed with animals, and at last man, for whom the whole was designed, and to whom the dominion of it was expresly given by its Maker, introduced and placed in it; we take some notice of the opinion of those, who thịnk mankind were in being before Adam, whom they suppose to have been the progenitor of the Jews only; we touch upon several inquiries that have been made
concerning the time and season of the creation, the place where Adam was created, &c. and close the introduction with some account of the creation of the angels, of the nature, power, employments, &c. of those spiritual beings, that so eminently concerned themselves in the affairs of mankind, at least in the first ages of the world. The introduction, we hope, will not be thought of a disproportionable length: fo copious a subject as the origin of the world and mankind, could not be well reduced into a narrower compass. If there should be some little obscurities or inconsistencies, where we have delivered or explained the opinions of the old philosophers, we need not say much to excuse ourselves to those, who know in what uncertainty and confusion the history of those philosophers and their opinions have been left by the Antients.
From the cosmogony or formation of the earth, and things that were made for the use of man, we proceed to the general history of the world till the flood; but premise feveral curious inquiries touching the situation of the garden of Eden, the state of innocence, and its continuance, the two trees, the prohibition laid on the first pair, the tempter, and his punishment, the fall of man, and the effects it had on human nature, and on the earth, with the different opinions touching the manner in which the change in the constitution of man, and of the earth, was effected. The chronology from the creation to the deluge is what we likewise thought necessary to settle, before we entered upon the history of the antediluvian world. That we state and settle accordingly ·, and then deliver the history of the antediluvian patriarchs, as transmitted to us in the writings of Moses, which are the only records to be depended upon in those early times. However, we have thought it not amiss to collect the most material pieces of history to be found in profane authors, relating to the times preceding the flood; among which, though there be some which bear the apparent marks of truth, yet
Vol. i. p. 142, &c.