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heaven; that when his nature became corrupt, the earth itself underwent a change; that sacrifice was necessary to appease the offended gods; that there was an evil spirit continually endeavouring to injure man, and thwart the designs of the good spirit, but that he should at last be finally subdued, and universal happiness restored, through the intercession of a Mediator; that the life of man, during the first ages of the world, was of great length; that there were ten generations previous to the General Deluge; that only eight persons were saved out of the flood, in an ark, by the interposition of the Deity: these, and many other similar opinions, are related to have been prevalent in the antient world by Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek, and Roman authors; and it is no small satisfaction to the friends of revealed religion, that this argument has lately received great additional strength from the discovery of an almost universal corresponding tradition, traced up among the nations, whose records have been the best preserved, to times even prior to the age of Moses. The treasures of oriental learning, which Mr. Maurice has collected with so much industry, and explained with so much judgment, in his History and Antiquities of India, supply abundance of incontrovertible evidence for the existence of opinions in the early ages of the world,


45 which perfectly agree with the leading articles of our faith, as well as with the principal events related in the Pentateuch. I must confine myself to a single extract from this interesting author. "Whether the reader will allow or not the inspiration of the sacred writer, his mind on the perusal must be struck with the force of one very remarkable fact, viz. that the names which are assigned by Moses to eastern countries and cities, derived to them immediately from the patriarchs, their original founders, are for the most part the very names by which they were antiently known over all the East; many of them were afterwards translated, with little variation, by the Greeks in their systems of geography. Moses has traced, in one short chapter (h), all the inhabitants of the earth, from the Caspian and Persian seas to the extreme Gades, to their original, and recorded at once the period and occasion of their dispersion (i).” This fact, and the conclusions from it, which are thus incontrovertibly established by the newly acquired knowledge of the Sanscreet language, were contended for and strongly enforced by Bochart and Stillingfleet, who could only refer to oriental opinions and traditions, as they came to them through

(h) Gen. ch. x.

(i) History of Hindostan, vol. 1.

through the medium of Grecian interpretation. To the late excellent and learned President of the Asiatic Society, we are chiefly indebted for the light recently thrown from the East upon this important subject. Avowing himself to be attached to no system, and as much disposed to reject the Mosaic history, if it were proved to be erroneous, as to believe it if he found it confirmed by sound reasoning and satisfactory evidence, he engaged in those researches to which his talents and situation were equally adapted; and the result of his laborious enquiries into the chronology, history, mythology, and languages of the nations, whence infidels have long derived their most formidable objections, was a full conviction that neither accident nor ingenuity could account for the very numerous instances of similar traditions, and of near coincidence in the names of persons and places, which are to be found in the Bible, and in antient monuments of eastern literature (k). Whoever, indeed, is acquainted with the writings of Mr. Bryant and Mr. Maurice, and with the Asiatic Researches published at Calcutta, cannot but have observed, that the accounts of the Creation, the Fall, the Deluge, and the Dispersion

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(*) Asiatic Researches, and Maurice's History, vol. I,

persion of Mankind, recorded by the nations. upon the vast continent of Asia, bear a strong resemblance to each other, and to the narrative in the sacred history, and evidently contain the fragments of one original truth, which was broken by the dispersion of the patriarchal families, and corrupted by length of time, allegory, and idolatry. From this universal concurrence on this head, one of these things is necessarily true; either that all these traditions must have been taken from the author of the book of Genesis, or, that the author of the book of Genesis made up his history from some or all such traditions as were already extant; or lastly, that he received his knowledge of past events by revelation. Were, then, all these traditions taken from the Mosaic history? It has been shewn by Sir William Jones and Mr. Maurice, that they were received too generally and too early to make this supposition even possible; for they existed in different parts of the world in the very age when Moses lived. Was the Mosaic history composed from the traditions then. existing? It is certain that the Chaldæans, the Persians, the most antient inhabitants of India, and the Egyptians, all possessed the same story; but they had, by the time of Moses, wrapped it up in their own mysteries, and disguised it by



their own fanciful conceits: and surely no rational mind can believe, that if Moses had been acquainted with all the mystic fables of the East, as well as of Egypt, he could out of such an endless variety of obscure allegory, by the power of human sagacity alone, have discovered their real origin; much less that from a partial knowledge of some of them, he could have been able to discover the facts which suit and

explain them all. His plain recital, however, of the Creation, the Fall, the Deluge, and the Dispersion of Mankind, does unquestionably develope that origin, and bring to light those facts; and it therefore follows, not only that the account is the true one, but, there being no human means of his acquiring the knowledge of it, that it was, as he asserts it to have been, revealed to him by God himself (1).


(1) We are to observe that the Mosaic history of the Creation, the Fall of Man, the Deluge, and the Dispersion of Mankind, not only relates these events as facts which might have been handed down by tradition, but it describes in what manner these events happened, for what purposes they were designed, and what consequences, natural and moral, they were to produce; and that these very circumstances, purposes, and consequences, simply related, materially contribute to the explanation of all those mystic fables of the East, agree with the present


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