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Some Friends whose judgment I most highly respect, have stated to me, that I ought to have included the book of Genesis in my plan; and that even now I ought to prefix some prelimi
own in accounting for facts, which a more enlightened philosophy will not approve, yet the facts themselves, and the original authorities on which they are supported, are most highly important. In his sixth book, he exposes the pagan system of fate, &c. In his seventh and eighth books, he illustrates the superiority of the Jewish religion, in its theology, its moral principles, and its effects. But in his ninth, he adduces what is most directly connected with the object of our present enquiry, an accumulation of testimonies from works then extant, but very many of which are now lost, to confirm the sacred history: he here produces the strongest testimonies of Grecian writers to the excellence of the Hebrew principles of theology and morals,* to the vain attempts of the Egyptian magicians in opposition to Moses,t Abydenus's tradition of the deluge, f and Tower of Babel, $ Eupolemus's testimony to the history of Abraham,|| and various other confirmations of the Jewish history preserved by Alexander Polyhistor—from Theodotus, to the history of Jacob; from Artapanes, to that of Joseph and of Moses, and a long and accurate testimony to the plagues of Egypt and the passage of the Red Sea ; from the tragic poet Ezekiel, to the same facts; and Demetrius, to the same, in an abstract evidently taken from the sacred writings as unquestioned and certain records. I omit the testimonies to later facts in the Jewish history--the entire book is peculiarly worth the Student's attention. In the tenth book, he adduces many facts and arguments to prove the philosophy of the Greeks was borrowed from the Barbarians, and illustrates the superiority of the Jewish theology. In his eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth books, Eusebius considers the system of Plato, and proves its agreement in a variety of particulars with that of the Jews, and its having been probably derived from that source ; while at the same time he points out the degrading turpitude of Plato's moral theory in his Republic, and strongly contrasts it with the purity of the Mosaic code. The fourteenth and fifteenth books contain a view of the chief systems of philosophy among the Greeks, comparing them with the Jewish Law, and decidedly establishing the superiority of the latter. In a word, this great Work, though not entirely free from the prejudices and the errors prevalent at the period when its Author lived, yet exhibits a most important monument of the necessity and advantages both of the Jewish and Christian Revelations, the confirmation of the Sacred History by various records and authors extant at that period, though now in a great measure lost, and the probability that the Grecian philosophy derived its only just views, whether in theology or morals, from the lights of Revelation, though broken and obscured by the gross and impure mediums through which they were conveyed.
Amongst modern writers, STILLINGFLEET, in his Origines Sacræ, has with great learning and acuteness“ proved the reconcileableness of the account of times in “ Scripture with that of the learned and ancient heathen nations, the consistency * of the belief of the Scriptures with the principles of reason—and that no clear
* In the first seven Chapters.
+ Cap. viii.
* Cap. xii.
nary Lectures on this important part of Sacred History, before I submit this Work to the Public.—To them I answer, that the history of the four last books of the Pentateuch forms one subject
“ account can be given of the origin of things, from the principles of philosophy “ without Scripture.” In his sixth book, this learned Author has proved the uncertainty of ancient history, as opposed to the Scripture accounts :-in Book iii. chap. 4. he has confirmed the Scripture accounts of the Creation, the Deluge, and the peopling of the world, by the testimonies of Heathen traditions and Heathen history: and in Book v. he has traced the origin of Heathen mythology to the corruption of the Scripture accounts.
GALE, in his Court of the Gentiles, has traced the original of human literature, both philologic and philosophic, from the Scriptures and the Jewish Church, with a great variety of argument, and a great extent of erudition. Vide his First Part, as to the traduction of the Pagan literature and mythology from the Jews ; and his second, as to the original of philosophy: In this work, the zeal for carrying his system to a great extent has perhaps led this learned Author too far, but unquestionably he has collected a body of most important evidence, which establishes the truth of the Scripture History.
Bochart's Phaleg, tracing the dispersion of mankind; and BRYANT'S Analysis of Ancient Mythology ; confirm this coincidence. But the Works of Bochart and Bryant are perhaps too voluminous and learned for the generality of students : They will find the testimonies of antiquity to the truth of the Scriptures clearly but briefly exhibited, by Grotius, in his Truth of the Christian Religion, with Le Clerc's valuable notes_by Allix, in his Reflections on Genesis xix. & xx. and on the Historical and Prophetical Books, Chap. ii. a work included in Watson's Tracts by the Bishop of LINCOLN, in his Elements of Christian Theology, Part 1. chap. i.--and especially by the learned Mr. Faber, in his Hora Mosaicæ, Book 1. Sect. 1. to whose work I refer, as superseding the necessity of my entering any further into this subject.
It may not be inexpedient to observe here, that another topic from which the authority and credibility of the Pentateuch, and indeed of the entire Old Testament, derives great confirmation, is the agreement of the manners and Customs of the East, as they incidentally appear in the Sacred Records, with the manners and customs which history proves prevailed in the East at the period when the events related in Scripture took place; and from the great illustration which the Scriptures have received, by comparing them with the observations of modern travellers, on the productions, the manners, and the feelings prevalent in the East at this day; where, from the peculiar stability of established manners and customs, clear vestiges still remain of that state of society which the Scriptures describe : On this subject, I refer to HARMER's Observations on Scripture which have been judiciously added to, improved and applied, by Mr. Burder, in his Oriential Customs applied to illustrate the Scriptures.
I will conclude this already too long, but I hope not useless note, by referring the Student desirous at once of extending his knowledge, and confirming his faith to the Rev. Mr. Maurice's History of Hindostan, and to the accomplished Sir
perfectly distinct from the history of the book of Genesis, except so far as it is connected with the account of the fall of man in the grand economy of grace. The evidence of the divine
William Jones's Researches into the History and antiquities of Asia, and those of his learned Colleagues; where he will find multiplied confirmations of the truth of the Scripture history, derived from the most unsuspected sources, and delivered with the greatest clearness and candour.
To limit his search, I would direct the student particularly to consult Mr. Maurice's History, Vol. I. chap. i. where he points out the striking circumstances of similarity between the Hindoo, the Hebraic, the Phænician, the Egyptian, and the Grecian systems of cosmogony! as in their account of the incumbent wind or spirit agitating the abyss—of water, being the primæval element, &c. I would also refer to his second chapter, which shows that the Indian claims to antiquity are fallacious and cannot be opposed to the Mosaic history and the Hebrew chronology: to his tenth chapter, in which he concludes his learned and laborious investigation into the history of astronomy, and proves that the result of the whole survey, so far from subverting, gives a decided support to the Mosaic records. In the eleventh chapter, we find the Mosaic history of Adam and the fall confirmed by the Indian records and traditions in the twelfth, the Mosaic account of the antedeluvians receives similar illustration; and in the thirteenth, the history of the deluge receives the most full, and I had almost said, irresistible confirmation. In Vol. II. Book ii. chap. ii. the Student will find many solid arguments to prove that ancient Sanscreet writings corroborate the Mosaic records; and in Book iv. he will find it, I think, irrefutably established, that “immemorial traditions diffused over all the East, and derived from a patriarchal source, concerning the fall of man, the original promise, and a future Mediator, had taught the whole gentile world to expect the appearance of a sacred and illustrious personage about the time of Christ's advent.” Here also the opinions I have ventured to advance concerning Zoroaster and the Magi,* are illustrated and confirmed; and the similitude between the life and conduct of the Messiah and of Creeshna, the great Indian preserver, described and accounted for. And in the fifth chapter of the same book will be found ancient predictions traditionally preserved, respecting the day of judgment, and the destruction of the world by fire.
From the AsiaTIC RESEARCHES I will point out some testimonies to the truths of the Sacred History, most directly connected with the subject of this work.- In the first volume, p. 229, we find a dissertation on the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India, in which Sir William gives his reasons for believing that “the fable of the life of Saturn was raised on the true history of Noah, and trans« Jated from the Bhagavat. The history of Menu or Satyavrata, an Indian “king of divine birth, eminent for his piety and beneficence, whose story seems "evidently to be that of Noah disguised by Asiatic fiction, and of whom we may “ safely offer a conjecture that he was the same as Saturn.”
On this epitome of the first Indian history which is now extant, Sir William
original of the Mosaic Law may therefore be clearly exhibited without including the consideration of the facts recorded in the book of Genesis—I add, that in the natural order of reasoning,
Jones remarks: “it appears to me very curious and important; for the story,
though whimsically dressed up in the form of an allegory, seems to prove a “ primæval tradition in this country, of the deluge described by Moses, and con“ sequently fixes the time when the genuine Hindoo chronology actually begins.”
In page 244, Sir William tells us, “ that water was the primitive element and “ first work of the creative power, is the uniform opinion of the Indian philoso“phers; but as they give so particular an account of the general deluge, and of “ the creation, it can never be admitted that their whole system arose from tradi“ tions concerning the flood alone; and it must appear indubitable that their doc“ trine is in part borrowed from the opening of Beresith or Genesis, than which “ a more sublime passage from the first word to the last never flowed or will flow « from any human pen— In the beginning God created the earth, and the earth “ was void and waste, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit “ of God moved upon the face of the waters; and God said, Let light be, and “ light was.'— The sublimity of this passage is considerably diminished by the “ Indian paraphrase with which Menu, the son of Brama, begins his address to " the sages who consulted him on the formation of the universe :
“ This world (says he) was all darkness undescribable, undistinguishable, alto“gether as in profound sleep, till the self-existent irresistible God, making it “ manifest with five elements and other glorious forms, perfectly dispelled the "gloom : he, desiring to raise up various creatures by an emanation from his “ own glory, first created the waters and impressed them with a power of motion« by that power was produced a golden egg, blazing like a thousand suns, in which “ was born Brahma, self-existing, the great parent of all rational beings. The “ waters are called Nara, since they are the offspring of Nera or Iwara, and “ thence was Narayana named, because his first ayana or moving was upon them. “That which is the invisible cause eternal, self-existing but unperceived, becoming " masculine from neuter, is celebrated among all creatures by the name of “ Brahma ; that God having dwelled in the egg through revolving years, himself “meditating on himself, divided it into two equal parts, and from these halves “ formed the heavens and the earth, placing in the midst the subtle ether, the “ eight points of the world, and the permanent receptacle of waters.”
« To this curious description with which the Manaya Sastra begins, I cannot “ refrain (says Sir William) from subjoining the four first verses of the Bhagavat, “and which are believed to have been pronounced by the Supreme Being to “ Brahma. The following version is most scrupulously literal:
• Even I was at first, not any other thing, that which exists unperceived, supreme; afterwards I am that which is, and he who must remain am I.
• Except the first cause, whatever may appear and may not appear in the mind, know that to be to the mind, máyá, (or delusion) as light to darkness.
• As the great elements are in various beings, entering yet not entering, (that • is, pervading, not destroying) thus am I in them, yet not in them.
the divine mission of Moses should be proved by its peculiar evidence, before the truth of the antecedent facts can be decidedly admitted, because the credibility of the facts recorded in this history must always chiefly rest on the authority of their inspired Historian, which I have here endeavoured to establish -I trust therefore this Work will be found one distinct and unmutilated system, embracing the full extent of the subject it professes to discuss.
• Even thus far may enquiry be made by him who seeks to know the principle • of mind in union and separation, which must be every where, always.'
« Wild and obscure (says Sir William) as these ancient verses must appear in a "naked verbal translation, it will perhaps be thought by many, that the poetry or “ mythology of Greece and Italy afford no conceptions more awfully magnificent; "yet the beauty and simplicity of the Mosaic diction are unequalled."
I may be permitted to add, that these verses seem to have been composed by some one acquainted with the character in which Jehovah describes himself to the Jewish Lawgiver, I am that I am—I am hath sent you.
At the close of this most interesting dissertation, Sir William Jones remarks : "I am persuaded that a connexion subsisted between the old idolatrous nations of
Egypt, India, Greece, and Italy, long before they emigrated to their respective " settlements, and consequently before the birth of Moses ;—but the truth of this “proposition will in no degree affect the truth and sanctity of the Mosaic history; " which if confirmation were wanted, it would rather serve to confirm.
“ The Divine Legate, educated by the daughter of a king, and in all respects "highly accomplished, could not but know the mythological system of Egypt; but "he might have condemned the superstitions of that people, and despised the specu“ lative absurdities of their priests, though some of their traditions concerning the “ creation and the flood were grounded on truth. Who was better acquainted with “the mythology of Athens than Socrates ? who more accurately versed in the “ Rabbinical doctrines than Paul ? who possessed clearer ideas of all ancient astro“nomic systems than Newton ? in whom could the Romish Church have had a “more formidable opponent than Chillingworth, whose deep knowledge of its “ tenets rendered him so competent to dispute them? in a word, who more exactly “knew the abominable rites and shocking idolatries of Canaan, than Moses himself? “yet the learning of these great men only incited them to seek other sources of “ truth, piety, and virtue, than those in which they had long been immersed. There “is no shadow then of foundation for an opinion that Moses borrowed the first “ nine or ten chapters of Genesis from the literature of Egypt. Still less can “ the adamantine pillars of our Christian faith be moved by the result of debates “ on the comparative antiquity of the Hindoos and Egyptians, or of any inquiries “ into the Indian theology.” For the remainder of this interesting article, I refer to the Work itself.