ePub 版

adhered to the letter, without considering the meaning: and acquiesced in the hieroglyphic, though they were strangers to the purport. Inrespect to ourselves, it must surely be deemed providential, not only that these histories have been transmitted to us, but that after an interval of so long date we should be enabled to see into the hidden mystery; and from these crude materials obtain such satisfactory truths. And this too as I have before observed, when the whole was a secret to the persons, through whose hands the knowledge is derived. We may therefore apply to them the words of the Poet.

Βλεποντες εβλεπον ματην,
Κλυοντες εκ ήκεον,

Herodotus lived early, and was a man of curiosity and experience ; one, who for the sake of knowledge had travelled over a variety of countries. If any person could have obtained an insight into the Theology of the times, in which he lived, he bade fair to have obtained it. But he shews, that it was all a dreary prospect : that he could find nothing satisfactory, in which he might confide. As he was solicitous to obtain some information, he betook himself to 37 Dodona, and made inquiry

3? Turbavouevos ¿tw Avgoorw 80%. Horod. l. 2. c. 50.

among the priests of that temple, which was reputed the most antient in Greece. But they ingenuously owned, that they did not know who the Deities were, to whom they made their offerings. They had indeed distinguished them by names and titles; but those were adventitious and of late 38 date in comparison of the worship, which was of great antiquity. Hence the author concludes with this melancholy confession, concerning the Gods of his country, 39 that he did not know how they came first into the world; nor how long they had been in it: nor could he tell, what sort of beings they were. He believed, that their nature and origin had always been a secret; and that even the Pelasgi, who first introduced them and their rites, were equally unacquainted with their 40 history.

From whence the salutary light has proceeded, by which we have been directed in our pro


Εθνoν δε παντα προτερον οι Πελασγοι θεοισι επενχομενον, ως εγω εν Δωδωνη οιδα ακέσας. επωνυμιην δ' ουδ' ουνομα επoιευκτο ουδεν αυτεων, υ γαρ ακηκοεσαν κω. Ibid c. 53. See page 383, of the first volume of this work.

Χρονο πολλα διεξελθοντος επυθοντο εκ της Αιγυπτε ασικομενα τα συνοματα των θεων κτλ. Herod. ibid.


39 Ενθένδε εγενετο έκαςος των Θεων, ειτε δε αει ησαν παντες, οποιοι δε τινες τα ειδεα, ηπιρεατο μεχρι ου πρωην τε και χθες, ως ειπείν λογω.

Herod. supra.

4o Ibid.

gress, need not be pointed out. The Gentile

, histories of themselves could not have afforded the information here spoken of. If they could, it certainly would have been no secret to a people so intelligent as the Grecians, in whose hands these memorials were preserved. But we find, that it was hidden from them. We live in better days: and whatever light may have been obtained towards the elucidation of these bidden truths, has been owing to the sacred records. These were little known to the Gentile world ; so that they could not avail themselves of this great advantage. We have both the mythology of the antients, and the scriptural account to direct us; and by comparing these together we can discern the latent purport of many histories to which the Grecians were strangers.

In the Mosaïc writings we have the native truth, from which the Gentiles were continually receding. They varied so much, and every representation was so extravagant, that at first sight there seems scarce any similitude of the object from whence they drew. All appears dark and confused, so that we almost despair of an explanation. But upon a nearer inspection there is a more favourable appearance. For though the copy is faded, and has been abused, yet there are some traces so permanent, some of the principal outlines so distinct, that, when compared with the original, the true

character cannot be mistaken. 'I do not here mean, that the antients copied from the scriptures: I am speaking of primitive traditional histories, to which in their mythology they continually referred; those histories which were every wliere corrupted, excepting in the writings of Moses.

The certainty of an universal Deluge is of great consequence to be proved, 'as the history of the antediluvian world, and all the religious truths, with which it is attended, depend upon it. Not that the Mosaic history stands in need of any foreign evidence to an ingenuous and unprejudiced mind. But there are persons in the world, who, with a small share of reading and philosophy, presume to arraign the divine Historian; and by a specious way of writing, have had an undue influence upon others. This makes it necessary to aceumulate these additional proofs; and I have accordingly taken these pains towards the recovery of lost evidence in favour of this great event, that, from the universal assent of mankind the truth might be ascertained. Much light will continue to accrue in the progress of the ensuing work, when I come to treat of the first nations

upon earth.

Thus far we have been in a manner travelling up hill, in order to arrive at this point of prospect. Having with no small labour gained this eminence, it will be easy to look down and take a view of the great occurrences which happened afterwards


the increase of mankind. It will appear, that jealousies arose, and feuds ensued : and the sons of men were at last separated and dispersed, towards the four winds of heaven. And when navigation commenced, and the seas were explored, we shall find, that colonies went out, and new settlements were made, till the earth was peopled to its remotest regions. I have before made mention of one family in particular, which was daring and enterprizing to a great degree, and at the same time gifted with uncommon sagacity and knowledge. These over-ran a great part of the earth, so that traces of them are to be found in the most distant countries. Of this people, and the occurrences in the first agés, it will be

my next business to take notice. I shall dwell long upon the history of the Chaldeans, as contained in those valuable, extracts from Berosus, which have been strangely perverted : also upon the history of the Egyptians, and their dynasties, which will afford wonderful light. It will be my endeavour to shew, that there subsists a perfect correspondence between them, and the Mosaïc history, as far as the latter extends. It is moreover to be observed, that in the records of these nations, there are contained memorials of many transactions, which were subsequent to the age

« 上一頁繼續 »