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PREFACE.

THE following work originated in a serious enquiry, whether this book be a genuine part of the holy scriptures; and if so, how it should be explained, that it may become profitable for

doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for in'struction in righteousness. The process and result of these enquiries are now before the public, who will judge of the evidence which fully satisfied the author. To those who have never doubted, such a chain of argumentation may appear unnecessary; and to others who read only for pious improvement and reflection the discussion may appear dry and uninteresting. Such should recollect, however, that some attention is due, both to the scruples of their brethren, and to the objections of unbelievers: that the temple of gospel truth, like that of old, has its steps, which must be gradually ascended, before we can behold its bigher mysteries.

The account given in the Introductory Essay, of the plan and bypothesis I have adopted, makes it unnecessary. to detail them in this place. The poem is divided into sections, 'allotting two to each of the seden days of the marriage festival', commencing the morning after the celebration;

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3 See page 73. JUN 26 1901 373

though I must confess myself far from sanguine in the propriety of these divisions, chiefly from not knowing how to dispose of the Sabbath, which must have been one day in the seven, though it is doubtful which should be assigned to it.

In elucidating the poetical imagery I have made considerable use of the eastern writers, availing myself of the learned researches of Sir W. Jones, and others. In the latter part of the work I have also adopted some ideas, and controverted others, of the Editor of CALMET, whose translation appeared óefore several of mys last sheets were printed off.

Two things in this undertaking may seem to require apology, the boldness of the attempt, and the length of time it has been in band: but these circumstances counterpoise each other; and the former will be a sufficient excuse for the lat: ter, especially to those acquainted with the au. thor's other avocations. The work is at length before the public with all its imperfections. If the reader will throw a mantle of candour over them, I hope he will find many things to assist bis enquiries, and to lead his contemplations to that object which alone claims unqualified admiration- THE ALTOGETHER LOVELY.'

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