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than rightly to inform us, what common principle of REASON or SUPERSTITION gave birth to it in both.
How many able writers have employed their time and learning to prove that Christian Rome borrowed their superstitions from the Pagan city! They have indeed shewn an exact and surprising likeness in a great variety of instances. But the conclusion from thence, that, therefore, the Catholic borrowed from the Heathen, as plausible as it may seem, is, I think, a very great mistake ; which the followers of this hypothesis might have understood without the assistance of the principle here laid down : since the rise of the superstitious customs in question were many ages later than the conversion of that imperial city to the Christian Faith : consequently, at the time of their introduction, there were no Pagan prejudices which required such a compliance from the ruling Clergy. For this, but principally for the general reason here advanced, I am rather induced to believe, that the very same spirit of superstition, operating in equal circumstances, made both Papists and Pagans truly originals.
But does this take off from the just reproach which the Reformed have cast upon the Church of Rome, for the practice of such Rites, and encouragement of such Superstitions ? Surely not; but rather strongly fixes it. In the former case, the rulers of that Church had been guilty of a base compliance with the infirmities of their new converts : in the latter, the poison of superstition is seen to have infected the very vitals of its Hierarchy.*
But then, truth will fare almost as ill when a right, as when a wrong principle, is pushed to an extravagance. Thus, as it would be ridiculous to deny, that the Roman laws of the Twelve Tables were derived from the Greeks; because we have a circumstantial history of their traduction : so it would be equally foolish not to own, that a great part of the Jewish ritual was composed in reference to the superstitions of Egypt; because their long abode in the country had made the Israelites extravagantly fond of Egyptian customs : but to think (as some Deists seem to have done) that they borrowed from thence their common principles of morality, and the legal provisions for the support of such principles,t is, whether we consider the Israelites under a divine or human direction, a thing equally absurd ; and such an absurdity as betrays the grossest ignorance of human nature, and the history of mankind.
And thus much concerning the ANTIQUITY of Egypt, and its Effects on the Divine Legation of Moses.
• See note HHHHH, at the end of this book.
+ See MARSHAM.
THE FOURTH BOOK.
P. 141. A. DR. PRIDEAUX, in his learned Connexions, has indeed told us a very entertaining story of ZOROASTRES : whom, of an early Lawgiver of the Bactrians, Dr. Hyde had made a late false prophet of the Persians, and the preacher-up of one God in the public religion ; which doctrine, however, this learned man supposes to be stolen from the Jews. But the truth is, the whole is a pure fable; contradicts all learned antiquity; and is supported only by the ignorant and romantic relations of late Persian writers under the Califes ; who make Zoroastres contemporary with Darius Hystaspis, and servant to one of the Jewish prophets; yet, in another fit of lying, they place him as early as Moses ; they even say he was Abraham ; nay, they stick not to make him one of the builders of Babel. It may be thought strange how such crude imaginations, however cooked up, could be deemed serviceable to Revelation, when they may be so easily turned against it ; for all falshood is naturally on the side of unbelief. I have long indeed looked when some minute philosopher would settle upon this corrupted place, and give it the infidel taint. And just as I thought, it happened. One of them having grounded upon this absurd whimsy the impious slander of the Jews having received from the followers of Zoroastres, during the captivity, juster notions of God and his providence than they had before.See The Moral Philosopher, vol. i. and vol. ii. p. 144. Another of these Philosophers makes as good an use of his Indian Bracınanes, and their Vedam and Ezourvedam ; for this Vedam is their Bible, as the Zend or Zendacesta is the Bible of the fire worshipers in Persia, and both of them apparent forgeries since the time of Mahomet to oppose to the Alcoran. Yet Mr. Voltaire says, of his Keluńcov, the Ezourvedam, that it is apparently older than the conquests of Alexander, because the rivers, towns, and countries, are called by their old names, before they were new christened by the Greeks.—“Cet ancien Commentaire du Vedam me parait ecrit avant les conquêtes d'Alexandre, car on n'y trouve aucun des noms que les vainqueurs Grecs imposerent aux fleuves, aux villes, aux contrees.” Additions à l'Hist. Generale, p. 23, 24. Which is just as wise, as it would be to observe, that the Sarazin and Turkish annals were written before the conquests of Alexander, because we find in them none of the names which the Greeks imposed on the rivers, the cities, and the countries, which they conquered in the Lesser Asia, but their ancient names, by which they were known from the earliest times. It never came into the Poet's head that the Indians and Arabians might be exactly of the same humour, to restore the native names to the places from which the Greeks had driven them.
Ρ. 141. Β. μόνο δε των Εβραίων γένει την ΕΠΟΠΤΕΙΑΝ ανατεθείσθαι της ΘΕΩΡΙΑΣ του των όλων σουητου και ΔΗΜΙΟΥΡΓΟΥ θεού, και της εις
αυτόν αληθούς ευσεβείας. Ρrαp. Evang. 1. i. e. ix. P.
20. As the imaginary interest of religion engaged Dr. Prideaux to espouse the Persian tale of Zoroastres ; so the same motive induced those excellent persons, Stillingfleet, Cudworth, and Newton, to take the affirmative in the general question, whether the one true God had ever been publicly worshiped out of Judea, between the introduction of general idolatry, and the birth of Christ. As this determination of the general question is no less injurious to Revelation than the particular of Zoroastres, we may be assured no less advantage would be taken of it. Lord Bolingbroke saw to what use it might be applied, and has therefore enforced it to the discredit of Judaism : indeed, with his usual address, by entangling it in a contradiction. But those other venerable dames will make it necessary hereafter to examine both the one and the other question at large.
P. 147. C. See Shuckford's Sacred and profane history of the world connected, vol. ii. edit. 2. p. 317–327. Our countryman Gale, in the like manner, is for deriving all arts and sciences, without exception, from the Jews—“ Arithmetic,” he says, “it is evident, had its foundation from God himself; for the first computation of time is made by God, Gen. i. 5, &c. And as for navigation, though some ascribe it to the Phenicians ; yet it is manifest the first idea thereof was taken from Noah's ark. It is as plain that geography traduced its first lines from the Mosaic description of the several plantations of Noah's posterity.”—Court of the Gentiles, part i. p. 18. Who would not think but the learned man, and learned he really was in good truth, was disposed to banter us, had he not given so sad a proof of his being in earnest as the writing three bulky volumes to support these wonderful discoveries?
P. 147. D. See Canon Chron. Secul. v. tit. Circumcisio. I decline entering into this controversy for two reasons : 1. Because, which way soever the question be decided, the truth of the Mosaic account will be nothing affected by it; for the Scripture no where says, that Abraham was the first man, circumcised; nor is the prior use of this rite amongst men, any argument against God's enjoining him to observe it. The pious bishop Cumberland little thought he was disserving religion, when he followed an interpretation of the fragment of Sanchoniatho, which led him to conclude [Remarks on Sanchon.'s Phen. Hist. p. 150.] that whole nations had practised circumcision before Abraham : but I quote this great man, not for the weight of his opinion in a matter so unconcerning, but as an example of that candour of mind and integrity of heart, without which the pursuit of truth is a vainer employment than the pursuit of butterflies. A less able and a less ingenuous man, with not a tenth part of this noble writer's invention, would have had a thousand tricks and fetches to reconcile the first institution of this rite in Abraham to the high antiquity he had given to Cronus. Another example of a contrary conduct, in a writer of equal account, will shew us how much this ingenuity is to be esteemed in men of learning. The excellent Dr. Hammond, misled by the party-prejudices of his time, had persuaded himself to believe, that the prophecies of the Apocalypse related only to the first ages of the Christian Church ; and that the book was written, not, as Irenæus supposed, about the end of Domitian's reign, but, as Epiphanius affirmed, in Claudius Cæsar's. To this, there were two objections ; First, that then the prophecy, which, on Hammonds system, related to the destruction of Jerusalem, would be of an event past : while the prophecy speaks of it as a thing future. To this he replies, That it was customary with the Prophets to speak of things past as of things to
So far was well. But then the second objection is, That if this
were the time of writing the Revelations, Antipas, who is said, c. ii. ver. 13. to have been martyred, was yet alive. No matter for that, it was customary with the Prophets, as he tells us on the other hand, to speak of things to come as of things past. And all this within the compass of two pages. 2. The other reason for my not entering into this matter is, because it is not my intention to examine (except occasionally) any particular question of this kind. This hath been done already. What I propose is to prove in general, that many of the positive institutions of the Hebrews were enjoined in opposition to the idolatrous customs of the Egyptians; and that some bearing a conformity to those customs, and not liable to be abused to superstition, were indulged to them, in wise compliance with the prejudices which long use and habit are accustomed to induce.
P. 151. E. The recovery of exhausted fertility by compost, seems not to have been a very early invention. For though Homer describes Laertes in his rural occupations as busied in this part of agriculture ; yet Hesiod, in a professed and detailed poem on the subject, never once mentions the method of dunging land.-Not that I regard this circumstance as any sure proof to determine the question Hesiod's priority in point of time. It may be well accounted for, by supposing, that they described particular places in the state they were then found, some more and some less advanced in the arts of civil life.
P. 153. F. Here let me observe, that this representation of the high and flourishing state of Egypt, in these early times, greatly recommends the truth of the Samaritan chronology, and shews how much it is to be preferred to the Hebrew. See the learned and judicious M. LEONARD in his Observations sur l'antiquité des Hieroglyphes scientifiques, p. 339, 2d vol.
P. 153. G. The various disasters to which determined disputants are obnoxious from their own proper tempers, would make no unentertaining part of literary history. A learned writer undertaking to confute the Egyptian pretensions to their high antiquity, thinks it proper first to shew, that they did indeed pretend to it. And this, it must be owned, he does effectually enough. His words are these : "Et profecto, ab ANTIQUISSIMIS TEMPORIBUS hâc vanitate infecti erant : dicebat enim, ipso Isaiæ tempore, purpuratorum quisque Pharaoni se esse filium regum antiquissimorum.”Spicilegia antiq. Egypt. &c. autore Gul. Jameson. Now, could any thing be more unlucky? The author only meant to introduce his system by this flourish ; and in introducing it, he confutes it. For can there be a better evidence of the high antiquity of any people than that they claimed it from the most ancient mes ? fron times long preceding that general vanity of a high antiquity, which had infected the nations, and prompted them to support their claims against one another, by forged evidence and unphilosophic reasoning? Not to say, that this high antiquity is acknowledged by the Prophet also : the force of whose exultation depends on the truth of it. For what reason was there to insist so much on the power and wisdom of God in destroying the counsel of Egypt, if Pharaoh and his Counsellors, only pretended to be, but were not, wise ; nor yet, the sons of ancient kings ?
P. 155. H. Chæremon, who, as we are told by Josephus, wrote the history of Egypt, calls Moses and Joseph scribes ; and Joseph a sacred scribe, ηγείσθαι δ' αυτών γραμματέας Μωϋσήν τε και ΙΩΣΗΠΟΝ και τούτον ΙΕΡΟ. SPAMMATEA, cont. Ap. lib. i. It is true, the historian has confounded times, in making Joseph contemporary with Moses : but this was a common mistake amongst the Pagans. Justin the epitomizer of Trogus Pompeius calls Moses the son of Joseph-Filius ejus [Joseph] Moses fuit, quem præter paternæ scientiæ hæreditatem, Sc., lib. xxxvi. cap. 2. Those learned men therefore are mistaken, who, for this reason, would have it that Chæremon, by Joseph, meant Joshua. Besides, the superior title here given to Joseph shews plainly we are to understand the patriarch, and not the companion of Moses : for though it appears from Scripture that Joseph and Moses were related to, and educated by the Egyptian Priesthood, yet we have not the least reason to think that Joshua had ever any concern with them ; being held with the rest of his brethren in a state of servitude, remote from the benefit of that education, which a singular accident had bestowed upon Moses.
P. 156. I. Hence we may collect, how ill-grounded that opinion is of Eupolemus and other authors, ancient and modern, who imagine, that Abraham first taught the Egyptians astrology. And indeed the contending for this original of the sciences seems to contradict another argument much in use amongst Divines, and deservedly so ; which answers the objection of infidels against the authority of the Bible, from several inaccuracies in science to be met with in sacred history, by observing it was not God's purpose, in revealing himself to mankind, to instruct them in the sciences.
Ρ. 156. Κ. Εύδοξον μεν ουν Χονούφεώς φησι Μεμφίτου διακούσαι: Σόλωνα δε, Σόγχιτος Σαΐτου ΠΥΘΑΓΟΡΑΝ δε, Οινούφεως ΗΛΙΟΥΠΟΛΙΤΟΥ. Ρlut. de Is. et Osir. p. 632. Steph. ed. Here we see, each sage went for that science he was disposed to cultivate, to its proper Mart: for not only Pythagoras studied astronomy at Heliopolis, where it was professed with the greatest celebrity ; but Eudoxus learnt his geometry at Memphis, whose Priests were the most profound mathematicians; and Solon was instructed in civil wisdom at Sais, whose patron deity being Minerva (as we are told by Herodotus and Strabo) shews that politicks was there in most request : and this doubtless was the reason why Pythagoras, who, during his long abode in Egypt, went through all their schools, chose Minerva for the patroness of his legislation. See Div. Leg. vol. i. book ii. . sect. 2, 3.
P. 157. L. I cannot forbear on this occasion to commend the ingenuous temper of another learned writer, far gone in the same system: who, having said all he could think of to discredit the antiquity and wisdom of Egypt, concludes in this manner.—“Tandem quæres, in qua doctrina Ægyptiorum propter quam tantopere celebrati erant in ipsis Scripturis, viz. 1 Reg. c. iv. com. 30. et vii. actorum, com. 22. Respondeo, non nego magnos Philosophos, Geometras, et Medicos, et aliarum artium peritos fuisse in Egypto, tempore Mosis, et postea quoque. Sed sensim et gradatim illa doctrina exolevit, ut omnino nihil aut parum ejus permanserit.”—G. Jameson, Spicilegia Antiq. Ægypt. p. 400, 1.—You will ask now, What is become of his system? No matter. He is true to a better thing, the sacred Text: for the sake of which he took up the system ; and for the sake of which, upon better information, he lays it down again : and, like an honest man, sticks to his Bible at all hazards.
P. 164. M. Diodorus Siculus, lib. i. says, that Melampus was in the number of those civilizers of Greece, who went, to fit themselves for that employment, into Egypt : and, as Orpheus proceeded thence a legislator and philosopher ; so Melampus, whose bent lay another way, commenced physician and diviner; those two arts being, as we have said, professed together in Egypt. Apollodorus says, he was the first who cured diseases by medicinal potions. τήν διά φαρμακών και καθαρμών ξεραπείαν πρώτος ευρηκώς. -meaning the first among the Greeks. As this Greek went to Egypt to