« PreviousContinue »
prevailed over universal corruption and depravity, so much so that it became the seat of a flourishing Christian church! *
6. By the principal facts recorded in the Scriptures being confirmed by the accounts of ancient heathen authors; such as
(1.) The creation of the world out of chaos.-Thus Hesiod, by a corrupt tradition of the truth, makes chaos first in existence; from which he brings Erebus, (1, erev, evening,) and Night, (Oɛoy. v. 123): Ek d Ερεβος τε, μελαινα τε Νυξ εγενοντο· and he also makes the night or darkness prior to the light or day, Νυκτος δ' αυτ' Λιθηρ τε και Ημερα εξ εγενοντο Ους τεκε κυσσαμενη, Ερεβει φιλοτητι μιγεισα. Aristophanes (in Av. as cited by Lucian in Philopatr.) says, Χαος ην και Νυξ, Ερεβος τε μελαν πρωτον, 'Chaos was first, and Night, and gloomy Erebus.' 'In the beginning, says Orpheus, (Suid. voc. Opp. Cedren. ex Timol. p. 57. Procl. in Tim. Biß. B. p. 117.) 'the heavens were made by God; and in the heavens there was a Chaos, and a terrible darkness was on all the parts of this Chaos, and covered all things under the heaven.' Anaxagoras, as Laertius informs us, (lib. ii. sec. 6) begins his book, All things were at first in one mass; but an intelligent agent (or mind) came and put them in order;' Ilavra χρήματα ην ομου· ειτα Νους ελθων αυτα διεκοσμησε" or as Aristotle gives us his opinion, (Phys. Aus. 1. viii. c. 1) ‹ All things lay in one mass, for a vast space of time, but an intelligent agent came and put them in motion, and so separated them from one another.’Φησι γαρ Αναξαγορας, ομου παντων οντων και ηρεμουντων τον απειρον χρονον, κινησιν εμποιήσαι τον Νουν και διακριναι.†
(2.) The completion of creation in six days.-The general adoption of the division of time into weeks, which is perfectly arbitrary, and which extends from the states of Europe to the shores of Hindostan, and has equally prevailed from the most remote antiquity among the Hebrews, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and the nations of the north, affords a most striking collateral confirmation of this fact. See Goguet's Origin of Laws, &c. vol. i. b. iii. ch. ii. art. 2. Mallet's Northern Antiquities, vol. i. p. 357, &c.†
(3.) The state of innocence.-This was the origin of the fabled golden age, so exquisitely described by the classic poets; and which may be distinctly traced in the legends of our Scythian ancestors, and in the age of perfection among the Hindoos, (Strabo, 1. xv. Ramayuna, b. i. § 5, 6); and in the classical story of the garden of the Hesperides, we may equally discover an evident tradition of the Mosaical paradise and of the promised Saviour, who was to bruise the head of the dragon. See Faber's Horæ Mosaicæ, vol. i. pp. 41—50.†
(4.) The fall, and introduction of sin.-See Faber, vol. i. pp. 65-71.
• Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians..
Edwards on Scripture, vol. i. pp. 108-110. Gray's Connection, vol. i. pp. 143-147, &c.*
(5.) The longevity of the antediluvians.-' All,' says Josephus, (Ant. 1. i. c. 3) who have committed to writing the antiquities either of the Greeks or Barbarians, attest this longevity of the men before the flood;' and he immediately subjoins, Manetho, who wrote an account of the Egyptians, Berosus, who compiled [an account of] the affairs of Chaldea, and Moschus, and Hestiæus, and with them Hieronymus the Egyptian, who have treated of the affairs of Egypt, agree with me in this. Also Hesiod, and Hecatæus, and Hellanicus, and Acusilaus, and Ephorus, and Nicolaus, relate that the ancients lived a thousand years.' Similar traditions of the longevity of men in former ages, are found among the Birmans and Chinese. See Faber, vol. i. pp. 92, 93.†
(6.) The deluge.-The truth of this important fact is shown by evidence subsisting to the present day. The highest eminences of the earth, the Alps, the Apennines, Pyrenees, Libanus, Atlas, and Ararat; every mountain of every region under heaven, where search has been made, all conspire in one uniform, universal proof that they all had the sea spread over their highest summits; being found to contain shells, skeletons of fish, and sea monsters of every kind. The most incontestable evidence has been afforded of the universality of this fact: the moosedeer, a native of America, has been found buried in Ireland; elephants, natives of Asia and Africa, in the midst of England; crocodiles, natives of the Nile, in the heart of Germany; and shell-fish, never known in any but the American seas, with the entire skeletons of whales, in the most inland counties of England. This great fact is not only fully confirmed by these fossilised remains in every quarter of the globe, || but is attested by Berosus, the Chaldean, (Joseph. cont. Ap. 1. i. § 19) Hieronymus, the Egyptian, Nicolaus of Damascus, (Joseph. Ant. 1. i. c. 3) Abydenus, an ancient Assyrian historian, (Abyd. in Euseb. Præp. Evang. l. ix. c. 12) Polyhistor, another ancient historian, (Cyril. cont. Julian. 1. i.); and, among the Greeks, by Plato, (De Leg. 1. iii.) and Lucian, (in Timon. De Saltatione, et De Syria Dea); while Ovid's description of Deucalion's flood, (Ovid. Met. 1. i.) is so well known and remembered by every scholar, that it is needless to point out its identity with that of Noah. Add to this, that general traditions of the deluge have been traced among the Egyptians, Chinese, Japanese, Hindoos, Birmans, ancient Goths and Druids, Mexicans, Peruvians, Brazilians, North American Indians, Greenlanders, Otaheiteans, Sandwich Islanders, and almost every nation under heaven; ¶ while the
Comprehensive Bible, Introd. p. 58.
+ Idem, pp. 58, 59.
For an interesting detail of these, see Mr. Townsend's elaborate Mineralogical Researches, Mr. Parkinson's Organic Remains of a Former World, and M. Cuvier's great work on the same subject.
¶ For a full account of which see Mr, Faber's Hora Mosaicæ, and Mr. Bryant's Analysis of
allegorical turgidity of these distorted traditions sumciently distinguishes them from the unadorned simplicity of the Mosaic narrative.*
(7.) The ark and dove.-Plutarch (De Solertia Animalium, p. 968.. tom. ii.) observes, that a dove was sent out by Deucalion, which, entering into the ark again, was a sign of the continuance of the flood, but afterwards flying away, was a sign of serene weather. Lucian more than once mentions the great deluge in Deucalion's time, and the ark which preserved the small remnant of the human race. (In Timon. p. 59. De Saltatione, p. 930, tom. i. et de Syria Dea, pp. 882, 883, tom. ii. edit. Benedict.)+
(8.) The tower of Babel.-This fact is attested by Berosus, the Chaldean historian, who says that it was erected by giants who waged war with the gods, and were at length dispersed, and the edifice beaten down by a great wind. According to Josephus, (Ant. l. i. c. 4. § 3), the building of this tower is also mentioned by Hestiæus, and by one of the ancient sybils: and also, as Eusebius informs us, (Præp. Evang. l. ix. c. 14) by Abydenus and Eupolemus. The tower of Babel, Herodotus informs us, was a furlong, or 660 feet, in length and breadth; and, according to Strabo, it rose to the same altitude. It was of a pyramidical form, consisting of eight square towers, gradually decreasing in breadth, with a winding ascent on the outside, so very broad as to allow horses and carriages to pass each other, and even to turn. This magnificent structure, which seemed to menace the stars, is brought down to the ground, so that its very site is doubtful; and when supposed to be discovered, in all cases exhibiting a heap of rubbish.
(9.) The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.-This is expressly attested by Diodorus Siculus, (l. xix. c. 98), Strabo, (l. xvi.), Solinus, (c. 36), Tacitus, (Hist. l. v. c. 6), Pliny, (l. v. c. 16), and Josephus, (Bell. 1. iv. c. 8, § 4); whose accounts mainly agree with the Mosaic narrative; and their reports, respecting the physical appearance of the Dead Sea, are confirmed, in all material points, by the relations of modern travellers. §
(10.) Many particulars respecting Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and Moses. Thus, respecting Abraham, Ebn Batrik, in his annals, among other ancient traditions, has preserved the following: Terah first married Yona, by whom he had Abraham; afterwards, he married Tehevita, by whom he had Sarah,' which agrees with Gen. xx. 11.||
Agreeably to the account of the sacred writer of the beauty of Joseph, he is universally regarded as the Adonis of the East; his beauty being so celebrated, that a handsome man is frequently compared to him; and the Persian poets vie with each other in descriptions of his comeliness. Mohammed spends the 12th chapter of the Koran entirely on Joseph; whom he represents as a perfect beauty, and the most accomplished of mortals. Two of the finest poems in the Persian language were written on the subject of Joseph and his mistress, by the poets Jamy and Nizamy.¶ The fable of the brave
• Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to Genesis. 1 Idem, note on Gen. 11. 9. Idem, Introd. p. 59. Idem, note on Gen. 39. 6.
+ Idem, Introd. p. 59. Idem, note on Gen. 20. 11.
and virtuous Bellerophon and Sthenobia, wife of Prætus, king of the Argives, is also supposed to have been founded on his history.*
Numenius, a Pythagorean philosopher, mentioned by Eusebius, speaks of the opposition of the magicians, whom he calls Jannes and Jambres, to the miracles of Moses. Though the names of these magicians are not preserved in the Sacred Text, yet tradition had preserved them in the Jewish records, from which St. Paul, (2 Ti. 3. 8) undoubtedly quotes. In the Targum of Jonathan, on Ex. vii. they are called ", Janis and Jambris; in the Babylonian Talmud, Joanne and Mambre; in the comment of R. Tanchum, Jonas and Jombras; and Abul Faragius, (edit. Pocock, p. 26), says that Thermuthis, the daughter of Pharaoh, delivered Moses to the wise men Janees and Jimbrees, to be instructed in wisdom.t
(11.) The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and their miraculous passage of the Red Sea, which are attested by Palemon and Chæremon, (cited by African. in Euseb.) Manetho, (Joseph. cont. Apion. 1. i.) Berosus, Artapanus, (Euseb. Præp. Evang. 1. ix. c. 27) Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, (1. iii. c. 39) Numenius, Justin, (1. xxxvi. c. 2) and Tacitus, (Hist. 1. v. § 5) with some absurd additions from perverted information. The tradition mentioned by Diodorus, among the Ichthyophagi, who lived near the Red Sea, that the whole bay was once laid bare to the very bottom, and that the waters afterwards returned to their accustomed channel with a most tremendous revulsion, is not extinct to the present day. The inhabitants of the neighbourhood of Corondel according to Dr. Shaw, (Travels, p. 349) preserve the remembrance of a mighty army having been once drowned in the bay which Ptolemy calls Clysma. The very country where the event happened, in some degree bears testimony to the accuracy of the Mosaic narrative. The scriptural Etham is still called Etti; the wilderness of Shur, the mountain of Sinai, and the country of Paran are still known by the same names (Niebuhr, Travels, vol. i. pp. 182, 191); and Marah, Elath, and Midian, are still familiar to the ears of the Arabs.+
(12.) The giving of the law, and divine appearances. Several writers, particularly Orpheus, in the verses ascribed to him, speak of the delivery of the two tablets of the law from God, and of the institution of the Hebrew rites, (Diodor. 1. i.) Add to this that many of the notions of the heathen respecting the appearance of the Deity, and their religious institutions and laws were borrowed from this book; and many of their fables, as has been shewn, were nothing more than distorted traditions of those events which are here plainly related by Moses.‡
(13.) The history of Job.-The real existence of Job is proved by the concurrent testimony of all eastern tradition: he is mentioned by the author of the Book of Tobit, who lived during the Assyrian captivity, (Tob. ii. 12. in the Vulgate,); he is also repeatedly mentioned by Mohammed as a real character, (Sale's Koran, pp. 271, 375. 4to.);
Comprehensive Bible, note on Gen. 39. 14.
+ Idem, Concluding Remarks to Exodus.
and the whole of his history, with many fabulous additions, was known among the Syrians, Chaldeans, and Arabians; among the latter of whom, many of the noblest families are distinguished by his name, and boast of being descended from him, (Elmacir, Hist. Saracen, p. 3. D'Herbelot, Bibl. Orient. voce Aiúb.)*
The history of Job, then, though greatly disguised, is well known among the Asiatics. He is called by Arabian and Persian historians Ayoub, which is merely a different pronunciation of the Hebrew TM, Eeyov, which has been strangely metamorphosed by Europeans into Job. In the Tareekh Muntekheb, his genealogy is given thus: "Ayoub the son of Anosh, the son of Razakh, the son of Ais (Esau), the son of Isaac. He was a prophet; and was afflicted with a grievous malady three years, or, according to others, seven years; at the end of which, when eighty years of age, he was restored to perfect health, and had a son called Bash ben Ayoub. Other writers say he had five sons, with whom he made war upon a brutal people called Dsul Kefel, whom he extirpated because they refused to receive the knowledge of the true God, whom he preached to them." Abul Faragius, who calls him Ayoub assadeek, Job the righteous, says that the trial of Job happened in the twentyfifth year of Nahor, son of Serug; thus making him prior to Abraham. Khondemir, who entitles him Job the patient, says he was descended by his father's side from Esau, and by his mother from Lot; and then proceeds to give his history, the same, upon the whole, as that contained in this book, though blended with fables. The facts are, however, the same, and we find that, with the oriental historians, the personality, temptation, and deliverance of Job are matters of serious credibility. In fact, whatever uncertainty and variety of opinion may have existed respecting the country, parentage, and age of Job, the reality of his history has never been, and never can be, successfully questioned; and whoever was the author of this book, and in whatever time or language it may have been written, it has ever been received by both the Jewish and Christian churches, as perfectly authentic, and written by the inspiration of the Almighty.†
(14.) The history of Jonah.-The fame of the prophet's deliverance appears to have been widely propagated among the heathen nations; and the Greeks, ever fond of adorning the memory of their heroes by every event and embellishment which they could appropriate, added to the fictitious adventures of Hercules, that of having continued three days and nights in the belly of a sea monster, xapɣapoç κvwv, or shark, cutting and hacking his entrails, and afterwards coming out of the monster without any injury, except the loss of his hair. The fable of Arion and the Dolphin, of which the date is fixed at a period nearly coeval with that of
• Comprehensive Bible, Introd. to Job.
+ Idem. Concluding Remarks to Job.