Theological Institutes

Part First - Evidences of The Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures

By Richard Watson

Chapter 5

The Origin of those Truths which are found in the Writings and Religious Systems of the Heathen.

WE have seen that some of the leading truths of religion and morals, which are adverted to by heathen writers, or assumed in heathen systems, are spoken of as truths previously known to the world, and with which mankind were familiar. Also, that no legislator, poet, or philosopher of antiquity, ever pretended to the discovery of the doctrines of the existence of a God, of providence, a future state, and of the rules by which actions are determined to be good or evil, whether these opinions were hehd by them with full conviction of their certainty, or only doubt­fullys, That they were transmitted by tradition from an earlier age; or were brought from some collaterah source of information; or that they flowed from both; are therefore the only rational conclusions.

To tradition the wisest of the heathen often acknowledge themselves indebted.

A previous age of superior truth, rectitude, and happiness, sometimes called the golden age, was a commonly received notion among them. It is at least as high as Hesiod, who rivals Homer in antiquity. It was likewise a common opinion, that sages existed in ages anterior to their own, who received knowledge from the gods, and communicated it to men. The wisest heathens, notwithstanding the many great things said of nature and reason, derive the origin, obligation, and efficacy of law from the gods alone. "No mortal," says Plato in his republic, "can make laws to purpose." Demosthenes calls law eurhma kai dwron Qes, "the invention and gift of God." They speak of nomoi agrafoi, "unwrit­ten laws," and ascribe both them, and the laws which were introduced by their various legislators, to the gods. Xenophon represents it as the opinion of Socrates, that the unwritten laws received over the whole earth, which it was impossible that all mankind, as being of different languages, and not to be assembled in one place, should make, were given by the gods.[1] Plato is express on this subject: "After a certain flood, which but few escaped, on the increase of mankind, they had neither letters, writing, nor laws, but obeyed the manners and institutions of their fathers as laws: but when colonies separated from them, they took an elder for their leader, and in their new settlements retained the customs of their ancestors, those especially which related to their gods: and thus transmitted them to their posterity; they imprinted them on the minds of their sons; and they did the same to their children. This was the origin of right laws, and of the different forms of government." (De Leg. 3.)

This so exactly harmonizes with the Mosaic account, as to the flood of Noah, the origin of nations, and the Divine institution of religion and laws, that either the patriarchal traditions embodied in the writings of Moses, had gone down with great exactness to the times of Plato; or the writings of Moses were known to him; or he had gathered the substance of them, in his travels, from the Egyptian, the Chaldean, or the Magian philosophers.

Nor is this an unsupported hypothesis. The evidence is most abundant, that the primitive source from whence every great religious and moral truth was drawn, must be fixed in that part of the world where Moses places the dwelling of the patriarchs of the human race, who walked with God, and received the law from his mouth.[2] There, in the earliest times, civilization and polity were found, while the rest of the earth was covered with savage tribes,-a sufficient proof that Asia was the common centre from whence the rest of mankind dispersed, who, as they wandered from these primitive seats, and addicted themselves more to the chase than to agriculture, became in most instances barbarous.[3]

In the multifarious and bewildering superstitions of all nations, we also discover a very remarkable substratum of common tradition and religious filth.

The practice of sacrifice, which may at once be traced into all nations and to the remotest antiquity, affords an eminent proof of the common origin of religion; inasmuch as no reason drawn from the nature of the rite itself, or the circumstances of men, can be given for the universality of the practice: and as it is clearly a positive institute, and op posed to the interests of men, it can only be accounted for by an injunction, issued at a very early period of the world, and solemnly im­posed. This injunction, indeed, received a force, either from its original appointment, or from subsequent circumstances, from which the human mind could never free itself. "There continued," says Dr. Shuckford, " for a long time among the nations usages which show that there had been an ancient universal religion; several traces of which appeared in the rites and ceremonies which were observed in religious worship. Such was the custom of sacrifices expiatory and precatory; both the sacrifices of animals, and the oblations of wine, oil, and the fruits and products of the earth. These and other timings which were in use among the patriarchs, obtained also among the GentiIes."

The events, and some of the leading opinions of time earliest ages, mentioned in Scripture, may also be traced among time most barbarous, as well as in the Oriental, the Grecian, and the Roman systems of mytho­logy. Such are the FORMATION OF THE WORLD; time FALL AND CORRUPTION OF MAN; the hostility of a powerful and supernatural agent of wickedness, under his appropriate and Scriptural emblem, the SERPENT; the DESTRUCTION OF THE WORLD BY WATER; the REPEOPLING OF IT BY THE SONS OF NOAH; the EXPECTATION OF ITS FiNAL DESTRuCTION BY FIRE; and, above all, the promise of a great and Divine DELIVERER.[4]

The only method of accounting for this, is, that time same traditions were transmitted from the progenitors of the different families of man­kind after the flood; that in some places they were strengthened, and the impressions deepened by successive revelations, which assumed the first traditions, as being of Divine original, for their basis, and thus re­newed the knowledge which had formerly been communicated, at the very time they enlarged it: and farther, that from the written revela­tions which were afterward made to one people, some rays of reflected light were constantly glancing upon the surrounding nations.

Nor are we at a loss to trace this communication of truth from a common source to the Gentile nations; and also to show that they actually (lid receive accessions of information, both directly and indi­rectly, from a people who retained the primitive theological system in its greatest purity.

We shall see sufficient reasons, when we come to speak on that subject, to conclude that all mankind have descended from one common pair.

If man is now a moral agent, the first man must be allowed to have been a moral agent; and, as such, under rules of obedience; in which rules it is far more probable that he should be instructed by his Maker by means of direct communication, than that he should be left to collect the will of his Maker from observation and experience. Those who deny the Scripture account of the introduction of death into the world, and think the human species were always liable to it, are bound to admit a revelation from God to the first pair as to the wholesomeness of cer­tain fruits, and the destructive habits of certain animals, or our first progenitors would have been far more exposed to danger from delete­rious fruits, &c, and in a more miserable condition through their fears than any of their descendants, because they were without experience, and could have no information.[5] But it is far more probable, that they should have express information as to the will of God concerning their conduct; for until they had settled, by a course of rational induc­tion, what was right, and what wrong, they could not, properly speak. ing, be moral agents; and, from the difficulties of such an inquiry, especially until they had had a long experience of the steady course of nature, and the effect of certain actions upon themselves and society, they might possibly arrive at very different conclusions.[6]

But in whatever way the moral and religious knowledge of the first man was obtained, if he is allowed to have been under an efficient law, he must at least have known, in order to the right regulation of himself, every truth essential to religion, and to personal, domestic, and social morals. The truth on these subjects was as essential to him as to his descendants, and more especially because he was so soon to be the head and the paternal governor, by a natural relation, of a numerous race, and to possess, by virtue of that office, great influence over them. If we assume, therefore, that the knowledge of the first man was taught to his children, and it were the greatest absurdity to suppose the contrary, then, whether he received his information on the principal doctrines of . religion, and the. principal rules of morals, by express revelation from God, or by the exercise of his own natural powers, all the great principles of religion, and of personal, domestic, and social morals, must have been at once communicated to his children, immediately descending from him; and we clearly enough see the reason why the earliest writers on these subjects never pretend to have been the discoverers of the heading truths of morals and religion, but speak of them as opinions familiar to men, and generally received. This primitive religious and moral sys­tem, as far as regards first principles, and all their important particular applications, was also complete, or there had been neither efficient reli gion nor morality in the first ages, which is contrary to all tradition, and to all history; and that this system was actually transmitted, is clear from this, that the wisdom of very early ages consisted not so much in natural and speculative science, as in moral notions, rules of conduct, and an acquaintance with the opinions of the wise of still earlier periods.

The few persons through whom this system was transmitted to Noah, for in fact Methuselah was contemporary both with Adam and Noah, rendered any great corruption impossible; and therefore the crimes charged upon the antediluvians are violence and other immo­ralities, rather than the corruption of truth; and Noah was" a preacher of righteousness," rather than a restorer of doctrine.

The flood,[7] being so awful and marked a declaration of God's anger against the violation of the laws of this primitive religion, would give great force and sanction to it, as a religious system, in the minds of Noah's immediate descendants. The existence of God; his providence; his favour to the good; his anger against evil doers; the great rules of justice and mercy; the practice of a sacrificial worship; the obser­vance of the Sabbath; the promise of a Deliverer, and other similar tenets, were among the articles and religious rites of this primitive system: nor can any satisfactory account be given, why they were trans­mitted to so many people, in different parts of the world; why they have continued to glimmer through the darkness of paganism to this day; why we find them more or less recognized in the mythology, traditions, and customs of almost all ages ancient and modern, except that they received some original sanction of great efficacy, deeply fixing them in the hearts of the patriarchs of all the families of men. Those who deny the revelations contained in the Scriptures, have no means of account. ing for these facts, which in themselves are indisputable. They have no theory respecting them which is not too childish to deserve serious refutation, and they usually prefer to pass them over in silence. But the believer in the Bible can account for them, and he alone. The de­struction of wicked men by the flood put the seal of Heaven upon the religious system transmitted from Adam; and under the force of this Divine and unequivocal attestation of its truth, the sons and descend. ants of Noah went forth into their different settlements, bearing for ages the deep impression of its sanctity and authority. The impression, it is true, at length gave way to vice, superstition, and false philosophy; but superstition perverted truth rather than displaced it; and the doctrines, the history, and even the hopes of the first ages, were never entirely banished even from those fables which became baleful substitutes for their simplicity.

In the family of Abraham the true God was acknowledged. Melchizedec was the sovereign of one of the nations of Canaan, and priest of the most high God, and his subjects must therefore have been worshippers of the true Divinity. Abimelech the Philistine and his people, both in Abraham's days and in Isaac's, were also worshippers of Jehovah, and acknowledged the same moral principles which were held sacred in the elect family. The revelations and promises made to Abraham would enlarge the boundaries of religious knowledge, both among the descendants of lshmael, and those of his sons by Keturah; as those made to Shem would, with the patriarchal theology, be transmitted to his posterity-the Persians, Assyrians, and Mesopotamians.[8] In Egypt, even in the days of Joseph, he and the king of Egypt speak of the true GOD, as of a being mutually known and acknowledged. Upon the arrival of the Israelites in Canaan, they found a few persons in that perhaps primitive scat of idolatry, who acknowledged "Jehovah to be God in heaven above, and in the earth beneath." Through the branch of Esau the knowledge of the true religion would pass from the family of Isaac, with its farther illustrations in the covenants made with Abra­ham, to his descendants. Job and his friends, who probably lived be­tween Abraham and Moses, were professors of the patriarchal religion; and their discourses show, that it was both a sublime and a comprehensive system. The plagues of Egypt and the miraculous escape of the Israelites, and the destruction of the Canaanitish nations, were all parts of an awful controversy between the true God and the idolatry spread­ing in the world; and could not fail of being largely noised abroad among the neighbouring nations, and of making the religion of the Israelites known. (JENKIN's Reasonableness of Christianity, vol. i, chap. 2.) Bahaam, a Gentile prophet, intermixes with his predictions many brief but eloquent assertions of the first principles of religion; the om­nipotence of Deity, his universal providence, and the immutability of his counsels; and the names and epithets which he applies to the Su­preme Being, are, as Bishop Horsley observes, the very same which arised by Moses, Job, and the inspired writers of the Jews, namely, God, the Almighty, the Most High, and Jehovah; which is a proof, that, gross as the corruptions of idolatry were now become, the patriarchal reli­gion was not forgotten nor its language become obsolete.

The frequent and public restorations of the Israelites to the principles of the patriarchal religion, after they had lapsed into idolatry, and fallen under the power of other nations, could not fail to make their peculiar opinions known among those with whom they were so often in relations of amity or war, of slavery or dominion. We have evidence collateral to that of the Scriptures, that the building of the celebrated temple of Solomon, and the fame of the wisdom of that monarch, produced not only a wide-spread rumour, but, as it was intended by Divine wisdom and goodness, moral ejects upon the people of distant nations, and that the Abyssinians received the Jewish religion after the visit of the queen of Sheba, the principles of that religion being probably thund to accord with those ancient traditions of the patriarchs, which remained among them.[9] The intercourse between the Jews and the states of Syria and Babylon on the one hand, and Egypt on the other, powers which rose to great eminence and influence in the ancient world, was main­tained for many ages. Their frequent captivities and dispersions would tend to preserve in part, and in part to revive, the knowledge of the once common and universal faith; for we have instances, that in the worst periods of their history there were among the captive Israelites those who adhered with heroic steadfastness to their own religion. We have the instance of the female captive in the house of Naaman the Syrian, and, at a later period, the sublime example of the three Hebrew youths, and of Daniel in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The decree of this prince, after the deliverance of Shadrach and his companions, ought not to he slightly passed over. It contained a public proclamation of the supremacy of Jehovah, in opposition to the gods of his country; and that monarch, after his recovery from a singular disease, became him. self a worshipper of the true God; both of which are circumstances which could not but excite attention, among a learned and curious people, to the religious tenets of the Jews. We may add to this also, that great numbers of the Jews preserving their Scriptures, and publicly worshipping the true God, never returned from the Babylonish captivity; but remained in various parts of that extensive empire after it was conquered by the Persians. The Chaldean philosophic schools, to which many of the Greek sages resorted for instruction, were therefore never without the means of acquaintance with the theological system of the Jews, however degenerate in process of time their wise men became, by addicting themselves to judicial astrology; and to the same sacred source the conquest of Babylon conducted the Persians.

Cyrus, the celebrated subverter of the Babylonian monarchy, was of the Magian religion, whose votaries worshipped God under the emblem of fire, but held an independent and eternal principle of darkness and evil. He was, however, somewhat prepared by his hostility to idols, to listen to the tenets of the Jews; and his favour to them sufficiently shows, that the influence which Daniel's character, the remarkable facts which had occurred respecting him at the courts of Nebuchadnezzar and J3elshazzar, and the predictions of his own success by Isaiah, had exerted on his mind, was very great. In his decree for the rebuiIding of the temple, recorded in Ezra, chap. i, and 2 Chron. xxxvi, 23, he acknowledges "Jehovah to be the God of heaven," who had given him his kingdom, and had charged him to rebuild the temple. Nor could this testimony in favour of the God of the Jews be without effect upon his subjects; one proof of which, and of the influence of Judaism upon the Persians, is, that in a short the after his reign, a considerable improvement in some particulars, and alteration in others, took place in the Magian religion by an evident admixture with it of the tenets and ceremonies of the Jews.[10] And whatever improvements the theology of the Persians thus received, and they were not few nor unimportant, ; whatever information they acquired as to the origin of the world, the events of the first ages, and questions of morals and religion, subject after which the ancient philosophers made keen and eager inquiries they could not but be known to the learned Greeks, whose intercourse with the Persians was continued for so long a period, and be transmitted also into that part of India into which the Persian monarchs pushed their conquests.

It is indeed unquestionable, that the credit in which the Jews stood in the Persian empire; the singular events which brought them into no. tice with the Persian monarchs; the favour they afterward experienced from Alexander the Great and his successors, who reigned in Egypt, where they became so numerous, and so generally spoke the Greek, that a translation of the Scriptures into that language was rendered necessary; and their having in most of the principal cities of the Ro­man empire, even when most extended, indeed in all the cities which were celebrated for refinement and philosophy, their synagogues and public worship, in Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, at Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, &c, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, and that for a long time before the Christian era,-rendered their tenets very widely known: and as these events took place after their final reformation from idolatry, the opinions by which they were distinguished were those substantially which arc taught in the Scriptures. The above statements, to say nothing of the fact, that the character, office, opinions, and writings of Moses were known to many of the ancient philosophers and historians. who mention him by name, and describe time religion of time Jews, are sufficient to account for those opinions and traditions we occasionally meet with in the writings of the Greek and Roman sages which have the greatest correspondence with truth, and agree best with time Holy Scriptures. They flowed in upon them from many channels, branching out at different times from the fountain of truth; but they were received by them generally as mere traditions or philosophic notions, which they thought themselves at liberty to adopt, reject, modify, or pervert, as the principles of their schools or their own fancy led them.

Let then every question which respects inspiration, miracles, prophecies, be for the present omitted: the following conclusions may properly close these observations:-

1. That as a history of early opinions and events, the Scriptures have at least as much authority as any history of ancient times whatever; nay, the very idea of their sacredness, whether well founded or not, renders their historical details more worthy of credit, because that idea led to their more careful preservation.

2. That their history is often confirmed by ancient pagan traditions and histories; and in no material point, or on any good evidence, contradicted.

3. That those fundamental principles of what is called natural religion, which are held by sober Theists, and by them denominated rational, the discovery of which they attribute to the unassisted understanding of man, are to be found in the earliest of these sacred writings, and are there supposed to have existed in the world previous to the date of those writings themselves.

4. That a religion founded on common notions and common traditions, comprehensive both in doctrines and morals, existed in very early periods of the world; and that from the agreement of almost all mythological systems, in certain doctrines, rites, and traditions, it is reasonable to believe, that this primitive theology passed in some degree into all nations.

5. That it was retained most perfectly among those of the descendants of Abraham who formed the Israelitish state, and subsisted as a nation collaterally with the successive great empires of antiquity for many ages.

6. That the frequent dispersions of great numbers of that people, either by war or from choice, and their residence in or near the seats of ancient learning with their sacred books, and in the habit of observing their public worship, as in Chaldea, Egypt, Persia, and other parts of the ancient world, and the signal notice into which they and their opinions were occasionally brought, could not bait make their cosmogony theology, laws, and history, very extensively known.

7. That the spirit of inquiry in many of the ancient philosophers of different countries, led them to travel for information on these very subjects, and often into those countries where the patriarchal religion had formerly existed in great purity, and where the tenets of the Jews, which tended to revive or restore it, were well known.

8. That there is sufficient evidence that these tenets were in fact known to many of the sages of the greatest name, and to schools of the greatest influence, who, however, regarding them only as traditions or philosophical opinions, interwove such of them as best agreed with their h views into their own systems, and rejected or refined upon others, so that no permanent and convincing system of morals and religion was after all, wrought out among themselves, while they left the populace generally to the gross ignorance and idolatry in which they were involved.[11]

9. Finally, that so far from there being any evidence that any of those fundamental truths of religion or morals, which may occasionally appear in their writings, were discovered by their unassisted reason, we can trace them to an earlier age, and can show that they had the means of access to higher sources of information; while on the other hand it may be exhibited as a proof of the weakness of the human mind, and the corruptness of the human heart, that they generally involved in doubt the great principles which they thus received; built upon them fanciful systems destructive of their moral efficacy; and mixed them with errors of the most deteriorating character.[12]

The last observation will be more fully illustrated in the ensuing chapter.

NOTE A.-Page 27.

THE illustration of the particulars mentioned in time paragraph, from which reference is made to this note, may be given under different heads.

THE FORMATION OF THE WORLD FROM CHAOTIC MATTER.-.-Some remains of the sentiments of the ancient Chaldeans are preserved in the pages of Syncelius from Berosus and Alexander Polyhistor; and when the tradition is divested of its fabulous dress, we may trace in the account a primordial watery chaos, a separation of the darkness from light, and of earth from heaven, the production of man from the dust of time. earth, and an infusion of Divine reason into time man so formed. The cosmogony of the Phenicians, as detailed by Sanchoniatho, makes the prin­ciple of the universe a dark air, and a turbulent chaos. The ancient Persians taught that God created the world at six different times, in manifest allusion to the six days' work as described by Moses. In the Institutes of Menu, a Hindoo tract, supposed by Sir William Jones to have been composed 1280 years before the Christian era, the universe is represented as involved in darkness, when the sole, self-existing power, himself undiscerned, made the world discernible. With a thought he first created the waters, which mire called Nura, or the Spirit of God; and since they were his first ayana, or place of motion, lie is thence named Narayana, or moving on the waters. The order of time creation in the anciemit traditions of time Chinese is,-the heavens were first formed; the foundations of the earth were next laid; the atmosphere was then diffused round the habitable globe, and last of all, man was created. 'rIme formation of the world from chaos may be discovered in time traditions of our Gothic ancestors.-See the Edda, and Faber's Horae Mosaicae, vol. i, page 3.

In time ancient Greek philosophy we trace the same tradition, and Plato clearly borrowed the materials of his account of the origin of things, either froze Moses, or from traditions which had proceeded from the same source. Moses speaks of God in time plural form, "In the beginning Gods created the heaven and the earth," and Plato has a kind of trinity in his to agaqon, "the goodnes or "intellect," who Was Properly the demiurgus, or former of the world, and his Psyche, or universal mundane somil, time cause of all the motion which is in the world. He also represents the first matter out of which the universe was formed as a rude chaos. In the Greek and Latin poets we have frequent allusions to the same fact, and in some of them highly poetic descriptions of the chaotic state of the world, and its reduction to order. When America was discovered, traditions, bearing a very remarkable resemblance to the history of Moses on various subjects, were found among the semi-civilized nations of that continent. Gomara states in his history, that the Peruvians believed that, at the beginning of the world, there came from the north a being named Con, who levelled mountains and raised hills solely by the word of his mouth; that lie filled the earth with men and women whom he had created, giving them fruits and bread, and al timings necessary for their subsistence; but that, being offended with their transgressions, ho deprived them of the blessings which they had originally enjoyed, and afflicted their lands with sterility.

"Time number of days employed in the work of creation," says Mr. Faber, "and the Divine rest on the seventh day, produced that peculiar measure of time, the week, which is purely arbitrary, and which does not spring, like a day, or a month, or a year, from the natural motions of time heavenly bodies. Hence the general adoption of the hubdomadal period is itself a proof how widely a knowledge of thin true cosmogonical system was diffused among the posterity of Noah." Thus, in almost every part of the globe, from Europe to the shores of India, and anciently among the Greeks, Romans, and Goths, as well as among the Jews, we find the week used as a familiar measure of time, and some traces of time Sabbath

THE FALL OF MAN. That the human race were once innocent and happy, is an opinion of high antiquity, and great extent among the Gentile nations. The passages to this effect in the classical poets are well known. It is asserted in the Edda, the record of the opinions of our Scythian forefathers. "There can be little doubt," says Maurice, in his History of Hindostan, "but that by the Satya age, or age of perfection, thee Brachmins obscurely allude to the state of perfection and happiness enjoyed by man in paradise. Then justice, truth, philanthropy, were practised among all the orders and classes of mankind." That man is a fallen creature, is now the universal belief of this class of pagans; and the degeneracy of the human soul, its native and hereditary degeneracy, runs through much of the Greek philosophy. The immediate occasion of the fall, the frailty. of the woman, we find also alluded to equally in classical fable, in ancient Gothic translations, and among various barbarous tribes. A curious passage to this effect occurs in Campbell's Travels among the Boschuana Hottentots.

THE SERPENT.-The agency of an evil and malignant spirit is found also in these widely-extended- ancient traditions. Little doubt can be entertained but that the generally received notion of good and evil demons grounded itself on the Scripture account of good and evil angels. Serpent worship was exceedingly general, especially in Egypt and time east, and this is not to be accounted for bub as it originated from a superstitious fear of thee malignant demon, who, under that animal form, brought death into the world, and obtained a destructive dominion over anon. That in ancient sculptures and paintings, the serpent symbol is sometimes emblematical of wisdom, eternity, and other moral ideas, may be allowed; but it often appears connected with representations which prove that under this form time evil principle we s worshipped, and that human sacrifices were offered to gratify time cruelty of him who was a "murderer from the beginning." In the model of time tomb of Psammis, made by Mr. Belzoni, and recently exhibited in London, and in the plates which accompany his work on Egypt, are seen various representations of monstrous serpents with the trih)uto of human heads which had been offered to them. This is still more strikingly exemplified in a copy of part of the interior of an Egyptian tomb, at Biban al Melook in Richardson's Travels in Egypt. Before an enormous serpent three men are represented on their knees, with their heads just struck off by the executioner, " while the serpent erects his crest to a level with their throats, ready to drink the stream of life as it gurgles from their veins." This was probably the serpent Typhon, of the ancient Egyptians; the same as the Python of the Greeks; and, as observed by Mr. Faber, "the notion that the Python was oracular, may have sprung from a recollection of the vocal responses, which the tempter gave to Eve under the borrowed figure of that reptile." By consulting Moore's Hindu Pantheon, it will be seen that the serpent Caliya is represented as that decided enemy of the mediatorial God, Krishna, whom he persecutes, and on whom he inflicts various sufferings, though lie is at length vanquished. Krishna, pressed within the folds of the serpent, and then triumphing over him in bruising his head be­neath his feet, is the subject of a very ancient Hindoo lras relief, and carries with it its own interpretation.

In the Edda, Fab. 16, "the great serpent is said to be an emanation from Loke, the evil principle; and hela, or hell or death, in a poetical vein of allegory not unworthy of our own Milton, is celebrated as the daughter of that personage, and as the sister of the dragon. Indignant at the pertinacious rebellion of the evil principle, time universal Father despatched certain of the gods to bring those children to him. When they were come, lie threw the serpent down to the bottom of the ocean. But there the monster grew so large, that he wound him­self round time whole globe of the earth. Death meanwhile was precipitated into hell, where she possesses vast apartments, strongly built, and fenced with grates of iron. Her hall is grief; her table famine; hunger, her knife; delay, her servant; faintness, her porch; sickness and pain, her bed; and herr tent, cursing and howling."

THE FLOOD OF NOAH. Josephus, in his first book against Apion, states that Berosus the Chaldean historian relates, in a similar manner to Moses, time history of the flood, and the preservation of Noah in an ark or chest. In Abydemis's History of Assyria, in passages quoted by Eusebius, mention is made of an ancient prince of the name of Sisithrus, whuo was forewarned by Saturn of a deluge. In this account, the ship, the sending forth and returning of the birds, the abating of the waters, and thin resting of the ship on a mountain, are all mentioned. (Euseb. Praep. Evang. lib. 9, c. 12.-Grotius on thin Christian Religion, lib. 1, sec. 16.) Lucian, in his book concerning the goddess of Syria, mentions the Syrian traditions as to this event. Here Noah is called Deucalion, and that he was the person intended under this name is rendered indubitable by thin mention of the wickedness of the antediluvians, the piety of Deucslion, the ark, and the bringing into it of time beasts of the earth by pairs. Thee ancient Persian traditions, as Dr. Hyde has shown, though mixed with fable, have a substantial agreement with the Mosaic account. In Hindostan, the ancient poem of Bhagavot treats of a flood which destroyed all mankind, except a pious prince, with seven of his attendants and their wives. The Chinese writers in like manner make mention of a universal flood. In the legends of time ancient Egyptians, Goths, and Druids, striking references are made to the same event; (Edda, Fab. 4; Davies's Mythology of the British Druids, p. 226,) and it we ~. found represented in the historical paintings of the Mexicans, and among time American nations. The natives of Otaheite believed that the world was torn in pieces formerly iry the anger of their gods; the inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands have a tradition that thee Etooa, who created the world, afterwards destroyed it by an inundation; and recollections of the same event are preserved among time New Zealanders, as the author had the opportunity of ascertaining lately in a conversation with two of their chiefs, through an interpreter. For large illustrations of this point, see Bryant's Heathen Mythology, and Faber's Heroe Mosaicae.

SACRIFICE.-The great principle of time three dispensations of religion in the Scriptures,-The Patriarchal, the Mosaic, and time Christian,-that without shed. ding of blood there is no remission, has fixed itself in every pagan religion of ancient and modern times. For though thee followers of Budhu are forbidden to offer sammgruinary sacrifices to him, they offer theme to demons in order to avert various evils; and their presentation of flowers and fruits to Budhu himself shows, that one part of the original rite of sacrifice has been retained, though the other, through a philosophic refinement, is given up. Sacrifices are, however, offered, in China, where the most ancient form of Budhuism generally prevails; a presumption that the Budhuism of Ceylon, and some parts of India, is a refinement upon a more ancient system. "That the practice of devoting piacular victims has, at one period or another, prevailed in every quarter of the globe; and that it has been alike adopted by the most barbarous amid by the most civilized nations, came scarcely be said to named regular and formal proof."

EXPECTATION OF A DELIVERER.-Amidst the miseries of succeeding ages time ancient pagan world was always looking forward to thee appearance of a great Deliverer and Restorer, and this expectation was so general, that it is impossible to account for it but from "the promises made unto time fathers," beginning with the promise of conquest to time seed of the woman over the power of the serpent. It is a singular fact, and still worthy of remark, though so often stated, that, a little before our Lord's advent, an expectation of time speedy appearance of this Deliverer was general among the nations of antiquity. "Time fact," says Bishuop Horsely, "is so notorious to all who have any knowledge of antiquity, that if any one would deny it, I would decline all dispute with such an adversary, as too ignorant to receive conviction, or too disingenuous to acknowledge what he must secretly admit." It is another singular fact, tiuat Virgil, in his Pollio, by an application of the Sybilline verses, which are almost literally in time high and glowing strains in which Isaiah promises of Christ, to a church of his friend, one of thee Ronean consuls, whose birth was just expected, and that out of an extravagant flattery, should call the attention of the world to those singular and mysterious books, so shortly before time birth of him who alone could fulfil the prophecies -they contain. For a farther account of time Sybilline verses, the reader is referred to Prideaux's Connection, to Bishop Lowth's Dissertations, and to Bisimop Horsley's Dissertation on the Prophecies of the Messiah, dispersed among time heathen. It is enough here to say, that it is a historical fact, that time Sybillinme books existed among the Romans from an early period ;-that these oracles of thee Cumaean Sybil were lucid in such veneration, that time book which contained them was deposited in a stone chest in the temple of Jupiter, in thin, capitol, and committed to time care of two persons appointed to that office expressly ;-that about a century before our Saviour's birth, the book was destroyed in the fire which consumed the temple in which it was deposited ;-that time Roman Senate knew that similar oracles existed among other nations, for to repair that loss, they sent persons to make a. new collection of these oracles, in different parts of Asia, in the islands of the Archipelago, in Africa, and in Sicily, who returned with about a thousand verses, which were deposited in the place of the originals, and kept with thee same care ;-and that time predictions which Virgil weaves into his fourth Ecologeu, of the appearance of a king whose monarchy was to be universal, and who was to bestow upon mankind time blessings he describes, were contained in them. It follows, therefore, that such predictions existed anciently among thee Romans; that they were found in many other parts of Europe, and Asia, and Africa; and that they had so marvellous an agreement with the predictions of the Jewish prophets, that either they were in part copies from them, or predictions of an inspiration equally sacred-the fragments of very ancient prophecy interwoven honorably with the fables of later times. "If," as Bishop Hershey justly observes, " any illiterate persons were to hear Virgil's point read, with the omission of a few allusions to the heathen mythology, which would not affect tine general sense of it, he would without hesitation pronounce it to be a prophecy of the Messiah." It might seem indeed that time poet had only in many passages trans­lated Isaiah, did he not expressly attribute time predictions Inc has introduced into his poem to the Cummaean Sybil; which he would not have done if such passages had not been found in time oracles, because they were titan in existence, and their contents were known to many. The subsequent forgeries of these oracles in the first ages of the Church, also, prove at least this, that time true Sybilline verses contained prophmetic passages capable of a strong application to the true universal Deliverer, which those pious frauds aimed at making more particular and more convincing. Those who do not read Latin may consult "time Messiah" of Pope, with the principal passages from Virgil in the notes, translated and collated with prophecies from Isaiah, which will put them in possession of the substance of this singular and most interesting production.

Nor is it only on time above points that we perceive the ancient traditions and opinions preserved in their grand outline among different. heathen nations, but also in the Scriptural doctrine of time destruction of the present system of natural nature. The Pythagoreans, Platonists, Epicureans, Stoics, all luad notions of a general conflagration. After the doctine of time Stoics, Ovid thus speaks, Metam. lib. 1.

"Esse quoque in fatis rcmmaiiniscitur affore termaipus

Quo maunare, quo tellus, correptaque regio coeli

Ardeat, et mundi moles operosa laboret."

Rememb'ring in time fates a time when fire

Simotuid to the battlements of heaven aspire,

When all his blazing worlds above should burn,

And all the' inferior globe to cinders turn. 


Seneca, speaking of the samo evemmt, ad Merciam c. ult., says, "Tempus adva niret quo sidera sideribus incurrent, &c. The time will come when the whole world will be consunmnaud, that it may be again renewed, when thee powers of nature will be turned against herself, when stars will rush on stars, and time whole natural world, which now appears so resplendent with beauty and harmony, will be destroyed in one general conflagration. In this grand catastrophe of nature, all animated beings, (excepting the universal intelligence,) men, heroes, demons, and gode, shall perish together."

The same tradition presents itself in different forms in all leading systems of modem paganism.

NOTE B.-Page 32.

OF the controversy as to Zoroaster, Zeratusht, or Zertughta, and the sacred books said to have been written by him called Zend, or Zendavesta, which has divided critics so emninent, it would answer no important end to give an abstract. Those who wish for information on time subject are referred to HYDE'S Religio Veterum Persarurn; PRIDEAUX'S Connection; WARBURTON'S Divine Legation; BRYANT'S Mythology; The Universal History; Smaa W. JoNEs's Works, vol. iii, p.

115; M. Du PERRON, and RICHARDSON'S Dissertation prefixed to his Persian and Arabic Dictionary. But whatever may become of the authority of the whole or heart of the Zendavesta, and with whatever fables the History of the Reformer of the Magian religion may be mixed, the learned are generally agreed that such a reformation took place by his instrumentality. "Zeratusht," says Sir W. Jones "reformed the old religion by the addition of genii or angels, of now ceremonies in the veneration shown to fire, of a new work which he pretended to have received from heaven, and, above all, by establishing the actual adoration of the Supreme Being," and he farther adds, "The reformed religion of Persia continued in force till that country was conquered by time Musselmans; and, without studying the Zeud, we have ample information concerning it in the modern Persian writings of several who profess it. Bahman always named Zeratusht with reverence; he was in truth a pure theist, and strongly disclaimed any adoration of the fire or other elements, and he denied that the doctrine of two coeval principles, supremely good, and supremely bad, formed any part of his faith." "The Zeratusht of Persia, or the Zoroaster of the Greeks," says Richardson, "was highly celebrated by the most discerning people of ancient times; and his tenets' we are told, wore most eagerly and rapidly embraced by the highest in rank, and the wisest men in the Persian empire."-Dissertation prefixed to his Persian Dictionary. He distinguished himself by denying that good and evil, represented by light and darkness, were coeval, independent principles, and asserted the supremacy of the true God, and exact conformity with the doctrine contained in a heart of that celebrated prophecy of Isaiah, in which CYRUS is mentioned by name. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me," no coeval power. "Form the light, and create darkness, I make peace, or good, and create evil, I the Lord do all these things." Fire by Zerdushta appears to have been used emblematically only, and the ceremonies for preserving and transmitting it, introduced by him, were manifestly taken from the Jews, and the sacred fire of their tabernacle and temple.

The old religion of the Persians was corrupted by Sabianism, or the worship of the host of heaven, with its accompanying superstition. The Magian doctrine, whatever it might be at first, had degenerated, and two eternal principles, good and evil, had been introduced. It was therefore necessarily idolatrous also, and, like all other false systems, flattering to the vicious habits of the people. So great an improvement in the moral character and influence of the religion of a whole nation as was effected by Zoroaster, a change which is not certainly paralleled in the history of the religion of mankind, can scarcely therefore be thought possible, except we suppose a Divine interposition, either directly, or by lime occurrence of some very impressive events. Now, as there are so many authorities for fixing the time of Zoroaster or Zeratusht not many years subsequent to the death of the great Cyrus, the events to which we have referred in the text are those, and indeed the only ones, which will account for his success in that reformation of religion of which he was the author: for had not time minds of men been prepared for this change by something extraordinary, it is not supposably that they would have adopted a purer faith from him. That he gave them a latter doctrine is clear from the admissions of even Dean Prideaux, who has very unjustly branded him as an impostor. Lot it then be remembered, that, as the Most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men," he often overrules great ical events for moral purposes. The Jews were sent into captivity to Babylon .o be reformed from their idolatrous propensities, and their reformation commenced with their calamity. A miracle was there wrought in favour of the three Hebrews, confessors of one only God, and that under circumstances to put shame upon a popular idol in the presence of the king, and "all the rulers of the provinces," that the issue of this controversy between Jehovah and idolatry might be made known throughout that vast empire. Worship was refused to the idol by a few Hebrew captives, and the idol had no power to punish the public affront :-the servants of Jehovah were cast into a furnace, and he delivered them unhurt; and a royal decree declared "that there was no god who could deliver after this sort." The proud monarch himself is smitten with a singular disease ;-he remains subject to it until he acknowledges the true God; and, upon his recovery, he publicly ascribes to HIM both the justice and the mercy of the punishment. This event takes place also in the accomplishment of a dream which none of the wise men of Babylon could interpret: it was interpreted by Daniel, who made the fulfilment to redound to the honour of the true God, by ascribing to him the perfection of knowing the future, which none of the false gods, appealed to by the Chaldoan sages, possessed; as the inability of their servants to interpret the dream sufficiently proved. After these singular events, Cyrus takes Babylon, and he finds there the sage and the statesman, Daniel, the worshipper of the God "who creates both good and evil," "who makes the light and forms the darkness." There is moral certainty, that he and the principal Persians throughout the empire would have the prophecy of Isaiah respecting Cyrus, delivered more than a hundred years before he was born, and in which his name stood recorded, along with the predicted circumstances of the caption of Babylon, pointed out to them; as every reason, religious and political, urged t lie Jews to make the prediction a matter of notoriety: and from Cyrus's decree in Ezra it is certain that he was acquainted with it, because there is in the decree an obvious reference to the prophecy. This prophecy so strangely fulfilled would give mighty force to the doctrine connected with it, and which it proclaims with so much majesty.

"I am JEHOVAH, and none else,

Forming LIGHT, and creating DARKNESS,

Making PEACE, and creating EVIL,

I JEHOVAH am the author of afl these things."

Lowth's Translation.

Here the great principle of corrupted Magianism was directly attacked; and in proportion as the fulfilment of the prophecy was felt to be singular and strik. ing, the doctrine blended with it would attract notice. Its force was both felt and acknowledged, as we have seen in the decree of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the temple. In that, CYRUS acknowledged the true God to be Supreme, and thus renounced his former faith; and the example, the public examplo of a prince so beloved, and whose reign was so extended, could not fail to influence the religious opinions of his people. That the effect did not terminate in Cyrus we know; for from the book of ERRA, it appears that both DARIUS and ARTAXERXES made decrees in favour of the Jews, in which Jehovah has the emphatic apellation repeatedly given to him, "the God of heaven ;" the very terms used by Cyrus himself. Nor are we to suppose the impression confined to the court; for the history of the three Hebrew youths; of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, sickness, and reforma tion from idolatry; of the interpretation of the handwriting on the wall by Daniel, the servant of the living God; of his deliverance from the lions; and the Publicity of the prophecy of Isaiah respecting Cyrus, were too recent, too public, and too striking in their nature, not to be often and largely talked of. Beside, in the prophecy respecting Cyrus, the intention of almighty God in recording the name of that monarch in an inspired book, and showing beforehand that lie had chosen him to overturn the Babylonian empire, is expressly mentioned as having respect to two great objects, First, The deliverance of Israel, and Second, The making known his supreme Divinity among the nations of the earth. I again quote Lowth's translation :-

"For the sake of my servant Jacob

And of Israel my chosen,

I have even called thee by thy name,

I have surnamed thee, though thou knewest me not.

I am Jehovah, and none else,

Beside me there is no God;

I will gird thee, though thou bust not known me,

That they may know, from the rising of the sun,

And from the west, that there is NONE BESIDE ME ;" &c.

It was therefore intended by this proceeding on the part of Providence, to teach not only CYRUS, hot the people of his vast empire, and surrounding nations, FIRST, That He was Jehovah, the self-subsistent, the eternal God; SECOND, Thut he was Gon ALONE, there being no Deity beside himself; and THIRD, That good and evil, represented by light and darkness, were neither independent nor eternal subsistences; but his great instruments and under his control.

The Persians, who had so vastly extended their empire by the conquest of the countries formerly held by the monarchs of Babylon, were thus prepared for such a reformation of their religion as Zoroaster effected. The principles he advocated lied been previously adopted by several of the Persian monarchs, and probably by many of thin principal persons of that nation. Zoroaster himself thus became acquainted with thin great truths contained in this famous prophecy, which attacked time very foundations of every idolatrous and Manichean system. From the other sacred books of the Jews, who mixed with the Persians in every part of the empire, he evidently learned more. This is sufficiently proved from the many points of similarity between his religion and Judaism, though he should not be allowed to speak so much in the style of the Holy Scriptures as Some passages in time Zendavesta would indicate, he found thin people however "prepared of the Lord" to admit his reformations, and he carried them. I can­not but look upon this as one instance of several merciful dispensations of God to time Gentile world, through his own peculiar people the Jews, by which the idolatries of the heathen were often checked, and the light of truth rekindled among them. In this view the ancient Jews evidently considered the Jewish Church as appointed not to preserve only but to extend true religion. "God be merciful to and bless us, that thy ways may be known upon earth, thy saving health unto all nations." This renders pagan nations more evidently " without excuse." That this dispensation of mercy was afterward neglected among the Persians is certain. How long the effect continued we know not, nor how widely it spread; perhaps longer and wider than may now distinctly appear. If the Magi, who came from thin east to see Christ, were Persians, some true worship­pers of God would appear to have remained in Persia to that day ; and if, as is probable, the prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel were retained among them, they might be among those who "waited for redemption," not at Jerusalem, but in a distant part of thin world. The Parsees, who were nearly extirpated by Moham­medan fanaticism, were charged by their oppressors with time idolatry of fire, and this was probably true of the multitude. Some of their writers however warmly defended themselves against time charge. A considerable number of them remain in India to this day, and profess to have time books of Zoroaster.

This note contains a considerable digression, but its connection with the argument in the text is obvious, lie who rejects the authority of the Scriptures will not be influenced by what has been said of the prophecies of Isaiah, or the events of the life of Daniel; but still it is not to be denied, that while the Persian empire remained, a Persian moral philosopher who taught sublime doctrines flourished, and that his opinions had great influence. The connection of the Jews and Persians is an undeniable matter of historic fact. The tenets ascribed to Zoroaster bear the marks of Jewish origin, because they are mingled with some of time peculiar rites and circumstances of time Jewish temple. From this source time theology of the Persians received improvements in correct and influential notions of Deity especially, and was enriched with the history and doctrines of the Mosaic records. The affairs of time Greeks were so interwoven with those of the Persians, that the sages of Greece could not be ignorant of the opinions of Zertushta, known to them by the name of Zoroaster, and from this school some of their best notions were derived.

NOTE C.-Page 35.

THE greatest corruptions of religion are to be traced to superstition, and to that vain and bewildering habit of philosophizing, which obtained among the ancients. Superstition was the besetting sin of the ignorant, vain speculation of the intelligent. Both sprung from time vicious state of the heart; the expression was different, but the effect thin same. The evil probably arose in Egypt, amid was largely improved upon by the philosophers of Greece and india. Systems, hypotheses, cosmogonies, &c, are all time work of' philosophy; and the most sub. tie and bewildering errors, such as the eternity of matter, time metampsychosis, time absorption of the human soul at death, &c, have sprung from them.- Ancient wisdom, both religious and moral, was contained in great principles, expressed in maxims, without affectation of systematic relation mind arrangement, and without any deep research into reasons and causes. The moment philosophy attempted this, the weakness and waywardness of the human mind began to display themselves. Theories sprung up in succession; and confusion and contradiction at length produced skepticism in all, and in many matured it into total unbelief. The speculative habit affected at once the opinions of ancient Africa and Asia; and in India, the philosophy of Egypt and Grece remains to this day, ripened into its full bearing of deleterious fruit.

The similarity of the Greek and modern Asiatic systems is indeed a very curious subject; for in time latter is exhibited at this day the philosophy of pagan­ism, while in other places false religion is seemm omiiy or chiefly in its simple form of superstition. Time coincidence of the Hindoo and Greek mythology has been traced by Sir W. Jones; and his opinions on this subject are strongly confirmed by the still more striking coincidence in the doctrines of the Hindoo and Grecian philosophical sects. "The period," says Mr. Ward, (View of the History of the Hindoos, &c.) "when the most eminent of the Hindoo philosophers flourished, is still involved in much obscurity ; but time apparent agreement in many striking particulars between time Hindoo and thin Greek systems of philosophy, not only suggests the idea of some union in their origin, but strongly pleads for their belonging to one age, notwithstanding time unfathomable antiquity claimed bybthe Hindoos; and after the reader shall have compared the two systems, the author is persuaded he will not consider the conjecture as improbable that Pytha­goras and others did really visit India, or that Goutumu and Pythagoras were cotemporaries, or nearly so." (Vol. 4.)

Many of time subjects discussed among the Hindoo were the very subjects which excited time disputes in the Greek academies, such as time eternity of matter, the first cause; God the soul of the world; time doctrine of atoms; creation; the nature of the gods; the doctrines of fate, transmigration, successive revolutions of worlds, absorption into thin Divine Being," &c. (Ibid. p. 115.)

Mr. Ward enters at large into this coincidence in his introductory remarks to his fourth volume, to which the reader is referred. It shall only be observed, that those speculations, and sure arguments just mentioned, both in the Greek and Asiatic branches of pagan philosophy, gave birth to absolute Atheism.- Several of the Greek philosophic sects, as is well known, were professedly Athe­istic. Cudworth enumerates four forms assumed by this species of unbelief. The same principles which distinguish their sects may be traced in several of those of time Hindoos, and above all the Atheistical system of Budhoo, branched off from time vain philosophy of the Brachminical schools, and has extended farther than Hindooism itself. Time reason of all this is truly given by Bishop Warburton, as to the Greeks, and it is equally applicable to the Asiatic philosophy of the present day, which is so clearly one and the same, and also to many errors which have crept into the Church of Christ itself. "The philosophy of the Greeks," he observes, led to unbelief, "because it was above measure refined and speculative, and used to be determined by metaphysical rather than by moral principles, and to stick to all consequences, how absurd soever, that were seen to arise from such principles."

[1] (2) Xen. Mem. lib. 4, cap. 4, sect. 19, 20.-To the same effect is that noble passage of Cicero cited by Lactantius out of his work De Republica.

"Est quidein vera lex, recta ratio, nature congruens, diffusa in omnes, constans, sempiterna, quas vocet ad offlciumjubendo, vetando, a fraude deterreat; quas tamen neque probos frustra jubot, aut vetat; nec improbos jubendo aut vetando movet. Huic legi nec abrogari fas est; nec derogani ex hac aliquid licet; neque tota abro­gari potest. Nec vero aut per senatum, ant per populum solvi hac logo possumus; neque est quaerendus explanator, ant interpres ejus alius. Nec enim alia lox Ro­mass, alia Athonjs, alia nunc, alia posthac; sed et omnes gentes, et omni tempore, ima lex et sempiterna et immutabilis continebit; unusque erit communis quasi magister ot imperator omnium Dcus, ille legis hujus inventor, disceptator, lator; cui qui non parebit, ipso so fugiet, ac naturam hominis aspernabitur; atque hoc ipso luet maximas paenas, etiamsi castera supplicia, quae putantur, effugerit :"- From which it is clear that Cicero acknowledged a law antecedent to all human civil institutions, and independent of them, binding upon all, constant and perpetual, the same in all times and places, not one thing at Rome, and another at Athens; of an authority so high, that no human power had the right to alter or annul it; having God for its author, in his character of universal Master and Sovereign; taking hold of the very consciences of men, and following them with its animadversions, though they should escape the hand of man, and the penalties of' human codes.


[2] (3) "The east was the source of knowledge from whence it was communicated to the western parts of the world. There the most precious remains of ancient tradition were found. Thither the most celebrated Greek philosophers travelled in quest of science, or the knowledge of things Divine and human, and thither the lawgivers had recourse in order to their being instructed in laws and civil policy." (LELAND.)


[3] (4) The speculation infidels as to the gradual progress of the original men from the savage life, the invention of language, arts, laws, &c, have been too much countenanced by philosophers bearing the name of Christ; some of them even holding the office of teachers of his religion. The writings of Moses sufficiently show that there never was a period in which the original tribes of men were in a savage state; and time gradual process of the developement of a higher condition is a chimera. To those who profess to believe the Scriptures, their testimony ought to be sufficient: to those who do not, they are at least as good history as any other.


[4] See note A at the end of this chapter.


[5] See DELANEY's Revelation Examined with Candour, Dissertations 1 and 2.


[6] "It is very probable," says Puffendorf, "that God taught the first men the chief heads of natural law."


[7] Whatever may be thought respecting the circumstances of the flood as men­tioned by Moses, there is nothing in that event, considered as the punishment of a guilty race, and as giving an attestation of God's approbation of right principles and a right conduct, to which a consistent Theist can object. For if tile will of God is to be collected from observing the course of nature and providence, such signal and remarkable events in his government as the deluge, whether uni­versal or only co-extensive with the existing race of men, may be expected to Occur; and especially when an almost universal punishment, as connected with an almost universal wickedness, so strikingly indicated an observant and a righteous government.


[8] See Bishop HORSLEY'S Dissertations before referred to; and LELAND's View of the Necessity of Revelation, part i, chap. 2


[9] The princes of Abyssinia claim descent from Menilek, the son of Solomon by the queen of Sheba. The Abyssinians say she was converted to the Jewish religion. The succession is hereditary in the line of Solomon, and the device of their kings is a lion passant, proper upon a field gules, and their motto, "The lion of the race of Solomon and tribe of Judah hath overcome." The Abyssinian eunuch who was met by Philip was not properly a Jewish proselyte, but an Abyssinian believer in Moses and the prophets. Christianity spread in this country at an early period; but many of the inhabitants to this day are of the Jewish religion. Tyre also must have derived an accession of religious information from its intercourse with the Israelites in the time of Solomon, and we find Hiram the king blessing the Lord God of Israel "as the Maker of heaven and earth."


[10] See note B at the end of this chapter.


[11] The readiness of the philosophers of antiquity to seize upon every notion which could aid them in their speculations, is manifest by the use which those of them who lived when Christianity began to be known, and to acquire credit, made of its discoveries to give greater splendour to their own systems. The thirst of' knowledge carried the ancient sages to the most distant persons and places in search of wisdom nor did the later philosophers any more than modern infidels neglect thin superior light of Christianity, when brought to their own doors, but they were equally backward to acknowledge the obligation. "As the ancients," says Justin Martyr, "had borrowed from the prophets, so did the moderns from the Gospel." Tetullian observes in his Apology, "Which of your poets, which of your sophist., have not drunk from the fountains of the prophets? It is from these sacred sources likewise that your philosophers have refreshed their thirsty spirits; and mf they found any thing in the Holy Scriptures to please their fancy or to serve their hypotheses, they turned it to their own purpose, and made it serve their curiosity; not considering these writings to lie sacred and unalterable, nor understanding their sense; every one taking or leaving, adopting or remodelling, as his imagination led him. .Nor do I wonder that the philosophers played such foul tricks with the Old Testament, when I find some of the same generation among ourselves who have made as bold with the New, and composed a deadly mixture of Gospel and opinion, led by a philosophizing vanity."

It was from conversing with a Christian that Epictetus learned to reform the doctrine, and abase the pride of the Stoics; nor is it to be imagined that Marcus Antoninus, Maximus TyriuS, and others, were ignorant of the Christian doctrine.

Rousseau admits, that the modern philosopher derives his better notions on many subjects from those very Scriptures, which he reviles; from the early impressions of education; from living and conversing in a Christian country, where those doctrines are publicly taught, and where, in spite of himself, he imbibes some portion of that religious knowledge which the sacred writings have every where diffused. (Works, vol. ix, p. 71; 1764.)

[12] See note C at the end of this chapter.