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second hand from the Jews. The Phænicians likewise, being near neighbours to the Hebrews, might learn many things of them, and convey the same to the Greeks or other nations. And thus some learned men account for what Orpheus and Linus may have written consonant to Scripture doctrine h.
Add to this, that it has been generally the method of Divine providence, from the time that the Jews grew up to be a people, to notify the true God, and the true religion by them, to the princes and potentates of the world, either in the very capital of their empire, as at Nineveh, Babylon, &c. or in such place and manner as should render the thing most notorious. It cannot be doubted, but that the fame of the true God and true religion must have spread, that way, over a great part of the Gentile world. The several public edicts of Artaxerxes', Darius k, Cyrus', the elder Darius m, and of Nebuchadnezzar ", makes the supposition unquestionable °; to say nothing of other princes before and after them.
V. Another channel of conveyance was tradition down from Abraham, who was the grand restorer of true religion, before sunk in Chaldea, (and perhaps in several other places,) and father of many and great nations. He has this testimony given him by God himself, in Genesis. “ I know him, that he will “command his children and his household after him, and they “shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment P.” We want ancient history to inform us more particularly how religion was scattered about the world by this means; only we may be certain in the general, that so it was. If the whole nation of the Assyrians were the posterity of Abraham, so called from Ashurim 9, descended from Abraham by Keturah, (as an ancient writer in Josephus ' asserts, and a learned modern now lately has undertaken to maintain,) we may then the more easily
h Cum Phænicibus vetus Atticæ m Dan. vi. 25, 26. incolis, Ionum antiquissimis, inter
n Dan. iv. I, 2. iii. 29. cessisse commercium Grotius docuit. o See Postscript to second part of Linum a Phænice venisse tradunt Scripture Vindicated, vol. iv. p. 289, veteres: et Orpheus sua a Phænicibus &c. hausit; Phænices ab Hebræis. Wits.
p Gen. xviii. 19.
q Gen. xxv. 3. Ægypt. p. 174. Vid. Grot. de Verit. Rel. Christian. lib. i. cap. 16. p. 32. Joseph. Antiq. Jud. lib. i. cap. i Ezra vii. 12, 13.
xv. p. 44. edit. Havercamp. k Ezra vi. 10.
s Joh. Frider. Schroerus. Imperium Ezra i. 1, 2. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 22, Babylonis et Nini, sect. ii. p. 105, &c. 23
account for the quick repentance of the Ninevites, upon the warning given them by a single prophet of Israel, as well for their manner of expressing their repentance ; not like idolaters, but true worshipperst: they had not altogether forgot the religion of their fathers. This, I say, may be a probable account of that remarkable affair; unless we choose rather, as some do u, to resolve it all into the acquaintance they before had with the nation of the Jews, and the awful sense they were under of the many wonderful works God had wrought for that people. But I proceed.
VI. There is yet another more general way by which recealed religion, in some of the principal heads or articles of it, has been diffused through the world; I mean tradition delivered down from Noah, or from the first parents of the whole race, who received it immediately from God. The doctrine of one true God supreme might probably coine this way, and be so diffused to all mankind . The like may be said of the doctrine of an overruling providence, and of the immortality of the soul, and a future state of rewards and punishments. These general principles, so universally believed and taught in all ages and countries, are much better referred to Patriarchal tradition, than to any later and narrower source y. I know not whether the same observation might not be as justly made of some other doctrines; as
t See Jonah iii. 5, 8, 9. Matt. xii. ex quo est omnis qualiscunque natura. 41.
Augustin. cont. Manich. lib. xx. cap. u Etenim cum Nineve emporium 19. p. 345. fuerit per totum orientem celeberri- y Certum est multos ritus et tradimum, et cum ipsis Judæis quoque in- tiones Ethnicorum longe antiquiores colis ejus commercia intercesserint, esse ecclesia Judaica, ideoque a Jureligionis Judaicæ profecto ignari esse dæis eos hæc non desumpsisse, sed non poterant. -Atque istud sane eo potius a communi fonte, nempe a patrimihi fit verisimilius, quod Jonæ divi- archis , quorum multi, ut Terachus nam iram annuntianti statim habu. Abrahami pater, in idololatriam deerint fidem, et ad ejus præscriptum generarunt.
Nihilominus multas remores suos composuerint. Credisne, tinuerunt traditiones laudabiles : ut si religionem Judaicam, aut pro inepta de uno Deo cæteris omnibus superiore, habuissent, aut falsa, aut nulla ejus de immortalitate animarum, et de juimbuti fuissent notitia, eos virum dicio post mortem secuturo, ac de Judæum mandata numinis ad eos virtute heroica. Has traditiones mulperferentem tam facile fuisse admis- to probabilius esse videtur eos ab suros ? Næ, qui istud asseruerit, in- antiquissimis patriarchis, Japheti, dolem hominum parum exploratam Chami, imo et Semi posteris idololahabet. Budd. Parerga. p. 426. Com- tricis accepisse, quam a Judæis. Anpare Lowth on Jon. iii. 3.
tiquissima Ægyptiorum et Romanorum x Discat ergo Faustus, vel potius templa sine imaginibus fuere : decimas illi qui ejus literis delectantur, mon- Cabiris datas fuisse constat ex Dion. archiæ opinionem non ex gentibus Halicarnassensi. Cumberland. Origin. nos habere; sed gentes non usque Antiq.p.451. Conf.Witsii Ægyptiaca, adeo ad falsos Deos esse delapsas ut lib. ii. cap. 15. opinionem amitterent unius veri Dei,
of the creation of the world 2, and corruption of human nature", and perhaps of several more of slighter consideration.
Besides doctrines, there have been common rites and customs derived very probably from the same general source,
because widely (or in a manner universally) spread among mankind ; such as the custom of sacrifices, and of some regard paid to one day in seven, and of dedicating a tenth or tithe to God.
That sacrifices were a part of the Patriarchal religion, not owing to human invention, but to Divine appointment, has been so often and so strongly argued, and the pretences to the contrary so fully and so justly exploded b, that there remains but little room for dispute upon that head.
As to the sacredness of the seventh day, there appear footsteps of it among the earliest nations; though the reason of the thing was not sufficiently understood by the Gentiles in later times. Aristobulus °, Philod, Josephuse, take notice of the universality of the notion and practice, and it is by them made use of as an argument to shew, how the Pagans had borrowed from the Hebrews. They might better have said, how both had borrowed from the same common fountain of Patriarchal tradition. And this will be the best way of compromising the dispute between such moderns as pretend that the Hebrews borrowed the custom of reckoning time by weeks from the Egyptians f, and those, on the other hand, who say, with more probability, that the Egyptians borrowed it from the Hebrews 6. The truth seems to be, that neither borrowed from each other, in this particular, but that both of them drew from the same common original, Patriarchal tradition h.
z Vid. Witsii Ægyptiaca, p. 170– 657. De Mund. Opif. p. 20, 174. Grotius de Verit. R. Ch. lib. i. e Ουδ' έστιν ου πόλις Ελλήνων ουδε
τισούν, ουδε βάρβαρος, ουδε έν έθνος, a Vid. Buddei Selecta Juris N. et ένθα μη το της εβδομάδος, ήν αργούμεν Gent. p. 242-244.
Huetii Quest. ημείς, το έθος ου διαπεφοίτηκε. Joseph. Alnet. lib. ii. cap. ix.
contr. Apion. lib. ii. cap. 39. p. 494. b Vid. Johann. Meyer. Diatribe de Conf. Theoph. Antioch. ad Autol. lib. Festis, cap. i. per tot. Sam. Basnag. ii. cap. 17. p. 134. Clem. Alex. Strom. Exercit. Historico-crit. p. 676. Bud- v. p. 713. dæi Select. Juris Nat. p. 231, &c. Marsham Can. Chron. sect. ix. Eccles. Apostol. p. 141. Carpzovii Spencer de Leg. Hebr. lib. i. cap. v. Introduct. ad Libr. Bibl. par. i. p. II, p. 73, 74. &c. Frid. Bucheri Antig. Bibl. p. 388. & Joh. Meyer de Festis, cap. v. Shuckford's Sacred and Profane Hist. p. 105. Witsii Ægyptiaca, 241, 242, vol. i. p. 79, &c.
h Re accuratius pensitata, haud c Aristobulus apud Euseb. Præp. difficulter intelligimus, non quidem Evan. lib. xiii. cap. 12. p. 667. ab Ægyptiis, ut Herodotus asserit,
d Philo de Vit. Mos. lib. i. p. 656, sed ab Ebræis illorumque majoribus,
I mentioned a third article, near akin to the other, and probably coeval with it, namely, that of paying a tithe to God. I shall account for it in the words of the learned Dean Prideaux, who had well considered it, and was very able to judge of it. He says thus :
“ A seventh part of our time having, from the beginning of “ the world, been consecrated by God himself to his public wor
ship; from that time there was a necessity of consecrating “ also a part of our substance for the support thereof).--I doubt “ not, from the beginning such a certain part was, by the first
parents of mankind, consecrated to this purposek.-And if we “ consider of how general a practice the payment of tithes an
ciently was, amongst most nations of the earth, for the support “ of the worship of those gods they adored, and the many in“ stances we have of this usage among the Syrians, Phænicians,
Arabians, Ethiopians, Greeks, Romans, and other nations ; “ there is no other rational account to be given how so many “ different people of various languages, and various customs from “ each other, and who also worshipped carious deities, should “ all come to agree so exactly in this one matter ; but that it “ had been an ancient institution, sacredly observed by the first " fathers of mankind, and after the flood transmitted by them in “ a lasting tradition to the nations descended from them!” Thus far that judicious writer, who further intimates, that the Patriarchs, probably, had a Divine direction for fixing upon that proportion of their substance, and for settling the rule.
What has been observed of the theology and rituals derived down by tradition, may in a great measure be applied to morals also: for there can be no reasonable doubt made, but that the soundest and best part of the Pagan Ethics came down to them in the same way, and so were remotely owing to Divine revelaquin primis parentibus quibus hancce cap. 15–23. Huet. Dem. Evang. legem positivam promulgaverat Deus, Prop. iv. cap. xi.
126. notitiam ejus ad omnes dimanasse i Prideaux's Original and Right of gentes. Illis enim suffragari nequeo, Tithes, p. I. qui antiquorum quæ afferri solent testimonia de septimo die post lunæ 1 Prideaux's Original and Right of ortum, aut die Apollini in fastis sacro, Tithes, p. 10. As to the universality capiunt. Budd. Select. p. 235. of the practice, see Selden of Tithes,
Such as would see more of this chap. üi. Spencer de Leg. Hebr. lib. matter, may consult Grotius de Verit. iii. cap. 10. p. 720, &c. Huet. Quæst. Rel. Chr. lib. i. cap. 16. p. 41. Alnet. lib. ii. cap. 3. p. 322, &c. Selden. de Jur. Nat. et Gent. lib. iji.
k Ibid. p. 7.
tion, as hath been sufficiently argued both by ancients , and moderns n, and I need not repeat.
The sum then of all is this; that the Gentile world, before Christ came, had, at sundry times, and in divers manners, some beams of Divine light sent them from above, to help the dimness of the light of nature. And what through Scripture, or tradition, what by direct or indirect conveyances, they were never entirely destitute of supernatural notices, never left to the mere light of nature, either for forming a knowledge of God and religion, or for directing their life and manners. It remains now only to draw a few corollaries from what has been here advanced.
I. From hence may be observed, upon how precarious a bottom the unbelievers of our times have built their notion of the sufficiency of natural light. They plead that it is sufficient, because the bulk of mankind, for many ages formerly, had nothing else : a manifest error in point of fact, and for which they have not so much as the appearance of proof.
If it be said, (though it is saying wrong,) that we ought to prove the affirmative, I have endeavoured to shew how far we can go towards it.
But the truth is, they ought to prove the negative, since they rest their cause upon it, and have little else to support it. If it appears but probable or possible that the bulk of mankind should have been instructed in such a way as I have been mentioning, that is enough for us: but they that build the sufficiency of natural light upon this supposition, that mankind from the creation, for the most part, had no other light but that, must either prove that they had not, or they do nothing. They must either make good their premises, or give up their conclusion. If they build upon a negative, they must prove the negative, or they will be found to build upon the sand.
II. It may next be observed, that the infidels of our days, in setting up natural light to rival supernatural, commit the same error as the Pagans of old did. All that they have to boast of, as demonstrable now by natural light, was, very probably, discovered first by revelation : and it is both ungrateful and unreasonable to oppose revelation with what has been borrowed from
m Clem. Alex. Eusebius.
n Jenkin's Reasonableness, vol. i. p. 376. Nicolls Confer. par. ii. p. 164. Gale's Court of the Gentiles, book i.
p. 15. book ii. p. 88, &c. Postscript to second part of Scripture Vindicated, vol. iv. p. 289.