Sacred Chronology -- By: Joseph Packard
BSac 15:58 (April 1858) p. 289
The uncertainty of ancient chronology and the want of agreement among chronologists have passed into a proverb. Scaliger complains that no two systems could be found to agree, and that he rose from the study more doubtful than ever.
It was the fond hope of Lord Bacon that “by persevering industry and scrupulous attention to genealogies, monuments, inscriptions, names, letters, traditions and archives, fragments of history and scattered passages from rare books on very different subjects, a venerable tablet might be preserved from the shipwreck of time; a work operose and painful to the author, but extremely delightful for the reader,” — a plan worthy of Bacon’s comprehensive mind to conceive, but alas! we fear, never to be realized.
Hales is persuaded that the whole of sacred chronology can be reduced to a simple, uniform, and consistent system, and the whole brought to the highest degree of probability, bordering on moral certainty. From an attentive examination of his Analysis, we think that he has failed, from want of sufficient soundness of judgment, to realize his own conception. “While his work contains a vast amount of information, it is characterized by rashness of opinion and by unsound interpretations of Scripture. We are sorry to damp sanguine hopes of success in the attainment of certainty in this science; but when we remember that Sir Isaac Newton spent a great part of the last thirty years of his life in this study, and wrote over his system sixteen times1 without settling the
BSac 15:58 (April 1858) p. 290
disputed points, and that this subject has exercised the great minds of an Usher, Scaliger, and Playfair, without much success, we dare not hope that, where they have failed, others will succeed. As long as we are deficient in historical and chronological data, so long the difficulty will remain. Our object will be, to exhibit what can be known as to the most important epochs in sacred and profane chronology, and to give general information on the subject, which is to be found scattered in a number of works, not generally accessible. Our hope is that this sketch may serve to some as an introduction to the study, and prepare the way for its further profitable investigation. It was in vain that we looked for a similar guide, when commencing the study, If it but teaches us how narrow is the horizon which bounds human investigation, of what an immense deal we are ignorant, and where information can be found, the lesson will not be wholly without profit. If we are ignorant of the great events which happened before we were born, we are, as Cicero tells us, always children. “Nescire enim quid ...
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