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MEMENTO OF AFFECTION
THE REV. JABEZ BUNTING, D.D.,
THE REV. JOSEPH TAYLOR,
AND TO THE MEMORY OF THE LAMENTED
REV. RICHARD WATSON,
THE GENERAL SECRETARIES OF THE WESLEYAN MISSIONARY SOCIETY
IN THE YEAR 1818,
WHEN THE WRITER OF THESE PAGES WAS ORDAINED
AS A MISSIONARY TO THE EAST.
PERHAPS few Christians constantly retain the recollection that the Bible is an Eastern book, and that several of its supposed obscurities do not arise from any intention in the sacred writers to be dark or mysterious, but from the customs, manners, rites, ceremonies, and superstitions to which they allude, and of which we who inhabit a different region, and are placed in different circumstances, have very imperfect conceptions. Should the present collection of Oriental phraseology produce an effect on other minds similar to that which it has on my own, then will many be led to glorify "God in the highest" for his revealed system of purity and truth. I am not so weak as to suppose, that I have succeeded in casting light on all those passages of scripture which seem to be obscure; but, that I have in several instances attained that object, few candid minds will deny. For many years I lived in habits of comparative intimacy with the Hindoos, and mixed with them in their scenes of joy and sorrow; and whatever I heard or saw that promoted the object which I had at heart, was immediately noted down, and on my return home was written out at length: so that, on arriving in my native country, the manuscript had only to be copied in the order which the sacred books of the Old and New Testaments occupy in our English version. After even a cursory perusal of this work, every one, I think, will be convinced, that its contents could have only been the production of a man who had resided many years amongst the people, who had a tolerable knowledge of their language and various usages, and who entered with much interest into their varied feelings: and therefore I hope I shall obtain from my readers that degree of confidence which is necessary for enjoying the descriptions which I have given. Some of my friends, either to excite my caution or my fears, have advised me not to expect much mercy from the reviewers; but my reply has
been, that as there is nothing political or sectarian in these papers, and as they relate to a Book which is the common property of all Christians, we ought all to feel pleasure when its various and delightful truths receive additional illustration and confirmation.
The allusions to the abominations of Heathenism in holy writ are exceedingly numerous; and this should excite no wonder, for most of the writers had extensive intercourse with the idolaters. Look at Moses nurtured in the palace of heathen royalty: he "was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians;" (Acts vii. 22;) and the people whom he was appointed to lead and govern, were constantly inclined to the superstitions and impurities of Heathenism. Who then can be surprised at the broad, the awful denunciations against that system which are found in the first five books of the holy Scriptures?
Joshua, the pious and heroic successor of Moses, had to guide the same people through the land of the Heathen; and in his book there are many affecting details of the contests and transactions which they had with the idolaters.
The book of Judges contains some fearful accounts of the impiety of the Israelites, and of their subjugation to the Heathen at six different periods.
The book of Ruth has received its name from a heathen woman, who was married to a son of Naomi.
The first and second books of Samuel relate to the heathen chieftain Goliath, to the fall of the god Dagon, to Saul and the witch of Endor, and to various battles with the neighbouring idolaters.
The books of Kings contain many appalling instances of the intercourse which existed betwixt backsliding Israel and the worshippers of idols. Here we have Solomon and the heathen daughter of Pharaoh; and here we have an account of his attachment to pagan women, and of his fall into idolatry. Here also we have the glaring wickedness of Jeroboam in making the golden calves, and the wretched Baasha, who continued that system; and here the abominable Ahab and the audacious Jezebel, who were succeeded by their heathenish son Ahaziah, who sent to inquire of the idol Baal-zebub whether he should recover from his sickness.
The book of Ezra describes the return of the Jews from