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that peruse so serious a mystery: there are others more generally questioned and called to the bar, yet methinks of an easy and possible truth.
It is ridiculous to put off, or down, the general flood of Noah, in that particular inundation of Deucalion : that there was a deluge once, seems not to me so great a miracle as that there is not one always. How all the kinds of creatures, not only in their own bulks, but with a competency of food and sustenance, might be preserved in one ark, and within the extent of three hundred cubits, to a reason that rightly examines it, will appear
There is another secret not contained in the Scripture, which is more hard to comprehend, and put the honest father to the refuge of a miracle: and that is, not only how the distinct pieces of the world, and divided islands should be first planted by men, but inhabited by tigers, panthers, and bears. How America abounded with beasts of prey and noxious animals, yet contained not in it that necessary creature, a horse, is
very strange. By what passage those, not only birds, but dangerous and unwelcome beasts came over : how there be creatures there, (which are not found in this triple continent,) all which must needs be strange unto us, that hold but one ark, and that the creatures began their progress from the mountains of Ararat. They who to solve this would make the deluge particular, proceed upon a principle that I can no way grant; not only upon the negative of holy Scriptures, but of my own reason,
whereby I can make it probable, that the world was as well peopled in the time of Noah as in ours; and fifteen hundred years to people the world, as full a time for them, as four thousand years since have been to us. There are other assertions and common tenets drawn from Scripture, and generally believed as Scripture, whereunto, notwithstanding, I would not betray the liberty of my rea
It is a paradox to me, that Methusalem was the longest lived of all the children of Adam, and no man will be able to prove it; when, from the process of the text, I can manifest it may be otherwise. That Judas perished by hanging himself, there is no certainty in Scripture: though in one place it seems to affirm it, and by a doubtful word hath given occasion to translate it; yet in another place, in a more punctual description, it makes it improbable, and seems to overthrow it. That our fathers, after the flood, erected the tower of Babel, to preserve themselves against a second deluge, is generally opinioned and believed, yet is there another intention of theirs expressed in Scripture. Besides, it is improbable, from the circumstance of the place, that is, a plain in the land of Shinar. These are no points of faith, and therefore
may admit a free dispute. There are yet others, and those familiarly conclude from the text, wherein (under favour) I see no consequence: the church of Rome, confidently proves the opinion of tutelary angels, from that answer when Peter knocked at the door ; “It is not he, but his angel ;” that
is, might some say, his messenger, or somebody from him; for so the original signifies; and is as likely to be the doubtful phrase's meaning() This exposition I once suggested to a young divine, that answered upon this point; to which I remember the Franciscan opponent replied no more; but that it was a new, and no authentic interpretation.
These are but the conclusions and fallible discourses of man
the word of God, such I do believe the holy Scriptures; yet were it of man, I could not choose but say, it was the singularest, and superlative piece that hath been extant since the creation : were I a pagan, I should not refrain the lecture of it; and cannot but commend the judgment of Ptolemy, that thought not his library complete without it. The Alcoran of the Turks (I speak without prejudice) is an ill composed piece, containing in it vain and ridiculous errors in philosophy, impossibilities, fictions, and vanities beyond
(61) On the guardian angels, or tutelar genii of the ancients, see Lilius Gyraldus, (Hist. Deor. Synt. XV. col. 435. ff.) “Cen. sorinus Genium Deum ait, cujus in tutela, ut quisque natus vivit; sive etiam, quod ut generemur curat, sive, quod una gignitur nobiscum; sive etiam, quòd nos genitos suscipiat ac tueatur." Conf. Natales Comes. IV. 3. 295. ff. This writer infuses more of poetical colouring into his account than Gyral. dus. In the worship of the Genii, offerings of wine were made in patere, and flowers freshly gathered were sprinkled on the greensward. (Horat. Epist. II. I, 143. f.) We are said, however, by these traditions, to have as well an evil genius as a good; and Pausanius is so obliging as to describe their form. (VII. 17. 10. f.)-Ed.
laughter, maintained by evident and open sophisms, the policy of ignorance, deposition of universities, and banishment of learning; that hath gotten foot by arms and violence: this, without a blow, hath disseminated itself through the whole earth. It is not unremarkable what Philo first observed, that the law of Moses continued two thousand years without the least alteration; whereas, we see the laws of other commonwealths do alter with occasions : and even those that pretend their original from some divinity, to have vanished without trace or memory. I believe, besides Zoroaster, there were divers that wrote before Moses, (62) who, notwithstanding, have suffered the common fate of time. Men's works have an age like themselves; and though they outlive their authors, yet have they a stint and period to their duration. This only is a work too hard for the teeth of time, and cannot perish but in the general flames, when all things shall confess their ashes.
I have heard some with deep sighs lament the lost lines of Cicero; others with as many groans deplore the combustion of the library of Alexandria. For my own part, I think there be too many in the world, and could with patience behold the urn and ashes of the Vatican, could I, with a few others, recover the perished leaves of Solomon. (6)
(62) The book of Job is by many supposed to be more ancient than the Pentateuch ; and the original Institutes of Menû were, very probably, of a still earlier date. But this is certainly not true of the existing laws of that very whimsical legislator. See my work on the Hindoos, Vol. II. ch. xv.-ED.
(63) There is no harm in extravagant nonsense of this descrip
I would not omit a copy of Enoch’s Pillars, had they many nearer authors than Josephus, or did not relish somewhat of the fable. Some men have written more than others have spoken. Pineda quotes more authors in one work, than are necessary in a whole world. (4; Of those three great inventions in Germany, there are two which are not without their incommodities, and it is disputable whether they exceed not their use and commodities. It is not a melancholy utinam of my own, but the desires of better heads, that there were a general synod; not to unite the incompatible difference of religion, but for the benefit of learning, to reduce it as it lay at first, in a few and solid authors; and to condemn to the fire those swarms and millions of rhapsodies, begotten only to distract and abuse the weaker judgments of scholars, and to maintain the trade and mystery of typographers. (6)
I cannot but wonder with what exception the Samaritans could confine their belief to the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses. I am ashamed at
tion. For my own part, I would prefer keeping what we have, to recovering what we have lost; though I make no doubt that many excellent productions have wholly perished. With respect to the writings of Solomon, since they were merely works of natural history, many, probably, would postpone them to the lost decades of Livy, and the missing books of Tacitus. -Ed.
(64) Pineda in his Monarchica Ecclesiastica quotes one thousand and forty authors.
(65) They had already, we see, begun to experience the evils of book-making, which, as Bacon observes, are only to be cured by making more books; that is, such as shall cause the bad ones to be forgotten.- ED.