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In publishing this Collection of Notes, with a view of illustrating passages of Scripture, obscure from antiquity, or reference to some eastern usage, nothing is less desired than to supersede any other work on the subject. Travellers in the East, during the last century, have furnished an ample commentary on difficulties formerly deemed unrelievable; but what strikes one, may escape the observation of another; and in this lower application, the Apostle's suggestion holds good : “Ye may all prophecy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”
The Cingalese, among whom the writer resided about ten years, though a different people from the Hindoos, and settled far from Judea, appear to have been no distant neighbours of the chosen race, previous to the period when they were expelled from the Continent, and took refuge in Ceylon. Their usages, being immutable, and frequently bearing a resemblance to those of the Jews, may heighten the palpability of the cloud of witnesses for the truth of Scripture, and dart illumination on a variety of passages, to a Western reader quite obscure.
In the library of a minister habituated to estimate books by their tendency to illustrate the Sacred Volume, the best authors on this subject are indispensable; while in general, they are too voluminous and expensive for the younger classes of readers, into whose hands this publication may fall. What the writer, chiefly for their sakes, has borrowed in the words of another, is distinctly acknowledged. In some cases, a casual remark led to a particular inquiry, and an appropriate illustration. For many hints, the writer thankfully owns himself indebted to the invaluable labours of Father Calmet, and his ingenious and judicious Editor;—and for most of the notices relative to the Hindoos, it will be easily seen, that the Illustrations of Scripture by the late lamented Mr. Ward, of Serampore, have been consulted.
Though Asiatic usages forcibly tend to illustrate Scripture, they come under the personal observation of few among those who feel most interested in inquiring, what are the true sayings of God. The writer, therefore, indulges the hope that the result of his labours will not be unacceptable; and commends them, in humble confidence to the blessing of Him who spake in time past unto the fathers, by the prophets, and hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son—that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion, for ever and ever. Amen.