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A P P E N D I X:
AN ANONYMOUS LETTER
TO THE AUTHOR OF THESE SERMONS,
WITH HIS ANSWER TO IT,
SOON after I had published this volume, I received an anonymous Letter, addressed to me at Thurcaston, of which the following is an exact copy.
LETTER TO DR. HURD.
Sir, Some months ago it was reported, that Dr. Hurd was preparing to expound the Apocalypsis, and once more to prove the Pope to be Antichrist. The public were amazed. By the gay and by the busy world, the very attempt was treated as an object of ridicule. Polite scholars lamented, that
you should be
vailed on to give up your more solid and liberal studies, for such obscure and unprofitable researches. Your own brethren of the church hinted, that it would be far more prudent to observe a respectful silence with regard to those awful and invidious mysteries. A more than common share of merit was requisite to surmount such adverse prejudices.
Your Sermons, Sir, have been perused with pleasure by many, who had the strongest dislike to the name and subject. Every one has admired the vastness of the plan, the harmony of the proportions, and the elegance of the ornaments; and if any have remarked a weakness in the foundations, it has been imputed to the nature of been arraigned rather than the skill of the Architect.
o the ground, and the taste of the Patron has
have undertaken the care and defence of this extensive province, I miay be allowed, less as an opponent than as a disciple, to propose to you a few difficulties ; about which I have sought more conviction than I have hitherto obtained. From the general
, cast of your writings, I flatter myself that I am speaking to a candid critiç, and to a philosophical divine ; whose first
the love on whose first passion is of truth. On this pleasing, supposition, let
venture to ask you, "Whether, there' is ' ficient evidence that the Book of Daniel is really as ancient 'as it pretends to be." You are sensible, that from this point the Golden Chain of Prophecy, which you have let down from Heaven to earth, is partly suspended.
There are two reasons which still force me to with-hold my assent.
assent.' I. The author of the Book of Daniel is two well informed of the revolutions of the Persian and Macedonian empires, which are supposed to have happened long after his death. 11. He is too ignorant of the transactions of his own times. In a word, he is too exact for a Prophet, and too fabulous for a contemporary historian.
1. The first of these objections was urged, fifteen hundred years ago, by the celebrated Porpliyry: He not only frankly acknowledged, but carefully illustrated the distinct and accurate series of history, contained in the book of Daniel, as far as the death of Antiochus Epiphanés"; fór beyond that period, the author seems to have had no other guide than the dim and' shadowy light of conjecture. The four empires are clearly delineated, the expedition of Xerxes into Greece, the rapid conquest of Persia by Alexander, his untimely death without posterity, the division of his vast monarchy into four kingdoms, one of which, Egypt, is mentioned by name, their various wars and intermarriages, the persecution of Antiochus, the prophanation of the Temple, and the invincible arms of the Romans, are described with as much perspicuity in the prophecies of Daniel, as in the histories of Justin and Diodorus. From such a perfect resemblance, the artful infidel would infer, that both were alike composed after the event. This conduct has supplied St. Jeromi with ka fund of learning, and an occasion of triumph : as if the philosopher, oppressed by the force of truth, had unwarily furnished arms for his own defeat. Yet, notwithstanding Jerom's confidence, and in spite of my inclination toʻside with the father, rather than with the adversary of the church; the reasoning of the latter may I fear be justified by the rules of logie and criticism.
May I not assume as a principle equally consouant to experience, to reason, and even to true religion; “ That we ought not to admit
; any thing as the immediate work of God, " which can possibly be the work of man; and " that whatever is said to deviate from the or “ dinary course of nature, should be ascribed