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twenty-fourth of February, called by the Romans the sixth of the Calends of March; as it was thus reckoned twice, the year in which it was introduced was called Bissextile, or what we call Leap Year.
This Calendar was still more reformed by order of Pope Gregory XIII. in 1532, from whence arose the New Style, which is now observed in every European country, except Russia. The Julian year was too long by nearly eleven minutes, which excess amounts to about three days in 400 years: the Pope therefore, with the advjce of able astronomers, ordained that a day in every three centuries out of four should be omitted; so that every century, which would otherwise be a bissextile year, is made to be only a common year, excepting only such centuries as are exactly divisible by four, which happens once in four centuries. This reformation of the Calendar commenced in the countries under the papal influence on the 4th of October, 1582, when ten days were omitted at once, which had been overrun since the Council of Nice in 325, by the overplus of tleven minutes each year. In England this New Style commenced only in 1752, Avhen eleven days were omitted at once, the 3d of September being reckoned the 14th in that year; as the surplus minutes had then amounted to eleven days. The Calendar thus reformed, which, by an Act of Parliament in the 24th of George II. was ordered to be observed, comes very nearly to the accuracy of , T 2 nature,
nature, for it is ordered by that Act, that Easter Sunday, on which the rest of the Feasts depend, is always the sirst Sunday after the full moon, which happens upon, or next after the SJlst of March; and if the full moon happens on a Sunday, Easterday is the Sunday after9.
'This account is taken froia Button's Mathematical Dic« •iicmary.
The History of tfte Jews.
TlIE Israelites, or ancient Jews, were those distinguished people, who were favoured by the immediate care of the Almighty, and conducted by his felpecial guidance to Judea, a place of residence promised to their remote ancestors. In consequence of their obstinacy, idolatry, and wickedness, and more particularly for the rejection of their Messiah, they were subdued by the Romans, after sustaining a siege in their metropolis, unparalleled in the annals Of history for its distresses, calamities, and slaughter. Jerusalem was reduced to ruins, the Jewish government was totally subverted, and the surviving people were dispersed over most parts of the world. Their descendants still remain unmixed with the rest of mankind, and are marked by their original features of national peculiarity: they adhere with the most zealous attachment to the religion of their forefathers, and cherish the hopes of restoration to their former prosperity by means of a glorious and triumphant Delivererr.
r Many of the fnaterials for this chapter were furnished by the works of Joseph'as, Stillingfleet's Origines sacri, Bryant's Mythology, Gray's Key to the Old Testument, Maiif ice's Indian Antiquities, &c.
T 3 They1
They preserve with the most watchful care the sacred Books of their ancient writers. And astonishing, very astonishing it is to observe, that in the prophetical parts of these sacred Books are contained all the events before mentioned of their extraordinary history. Their particular conduct, and the vicissitudes of their national affairs, were predicted by their prophets, and more especially by Mofes, their great lawgiver, in the infancy of the world, at the vast distance of thirty-three centuries from the present times. The accomplishment of these predictions bears the fullest and most striking evidence to the truth and inspiration of their Prophets, and illustrates the dispensations of Providence to his chosen people.
These sacred Books contain likewise prophecies the molt exact of the character, office, and actions of the Messiah of the Jews, the great lawgiver of the Christians, the appointed Saviour of the world.
Such interesting circumstances as these, in addition to the peculiar nature of the Jewish polity, considered as a divine institution, the curious manners and customs., and the memorable actions of the descendants of Abraham, viz. of the most ancient people of whom we have any authentic accounts, combine to place thefe Books sirst in #rder of importance, as in order of time. • ■ .
If we consider, I. The great antiquity of these Books; IL The proofs which support their authenticity; III. Their subjects, the characters of the writers, and the place they occupy in the order of general history, particularly as they stand connected with the Christian Revelation, they will be found to deserve our very earnest attention;
L The Antiquity of the Scriptures.
No writings of any other nation can be brought into competition in this respect, with those of the Jews. In proof of this assertion, it may be remarked, that Moses lived more than a thousand years before the age of Herodotus, who is reputed the father of Grecian history; and rather earlier than he flourished, Ezra and Neheiniah closed the' records of the Jews8. As another proof of the priority of the Jews to the Greeks, it appears by the confession of the Greek writers themselves that they received the letters of their alphabet from the Pheniciarts; and there are very sufficient grounds for believing, that the Phenicians derived the art of writing from the Jews. The learned and acute Porphyry, who was an equal enemy both to Jews and Christians, and much attached to the learning of Greece, candidly confessed, that Moses, and
• Moses ----- B.C. 1571 years.
Herodotus - 44.5
The former therefore preceded the latter 1126"
T. 4 the