« PreviousContinue »
tion, judgment, the rewards and punishments
of a future life, are mentioned by the inspired ' writers, long before the introduction of the gos
pel, or Hefiod's theogony. Pythagoras taught the metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls, long before Seneca taught Nero to declaim. Even ancient errors shew how ancient was the
belief of the soul's immortality; and demon- i strate, that it is to be ranked amongst the first.
traditions of mankind. Did not almost all men sacrifice to the manes, that is, to the souls, of the dead ? From one extremity of the world to the other, people of different humours, coun? tries,*worship, interest, agree in this important article of immortality. It is no collusion : for a general association of mankind Could never be formed. Nor a prejudice of education : for manners, customs, and education, are disferent, in different nations. This notion of immortality is common to all. Remote ifles and foreign nations figured to themselves, shades and climates, through which the roving spirit was to travel, after its separation from the body.
Hence, the custom of killing wives and officers,
at the death of their kings ; lest the royal ghost should travel without attendants. This several nations practised : and the Indians, distinguished by pagan authors, amongst the first asserters of the immortality of the soul, were also the first
that introduced those horrid murders upon ' earth,
which they practise to this very day. Nature, then, taught the soul's immortality, without a monitor : or rather, the Almighty has stamped its notion on our existence : and savage people, in forgetting God, could not forget themselves.
There are still some religious, as well as philosophical paradoxes in your Writings, besides the capital errors already mentioned. l have not leisure to examine them all.
You say, that, " from the continual waste of ** mould, washed away by the rain, the animal " world will become extinct, for want of vege" table food." This, I suppose, is advanced with a design to invalidate the oracles which foretel the world's dissolution by fire. A prodigious quantity of the liquid element is wasted in watering fields, woods, &e. Doctor Halley
is of opinion, that the Mediterranean loses r
in vapour, five thousand five hundred and eighty millions of tons, in a day ; and receives but one thousand eight hundred and twentyseven, from rivers: so that it would soon be drained, unless a great quantity returned in dew and rain upon it. .
It seems, then, to me, that 'he animal world will he cxtinct, for want of drink. But a greater prophet than either of us, foretold the world's
dissolution by fervent heat. You
You argue against-the Cbimse antiquitier, from the waste of mould. By the same rule, you can argue against Moses' account of the creation. But, to argue against the antiquities of any nation, from the 'wex/le of mould, is nothing better than waste of time. The European miffionaries convinced the Chinese of their error, by reckoning the eclipses of the sun, in a conference with their learned men, when the emperor of Tartary became master of China. It was the surest method, and that by which Callisthenes baffled the pretended antiquity of the Babylonians, when Alexander took their city.
If Moses be an allegorical writer, it is hard, " from the waste of mould," to determine when the Alp emerged from the chaos.
You are of opinion, that, before the deluge, " none but giants inhabited the earth." Before the deluge, the world had its David: and GaIiahs, its Fz'onnmacools and U/biom. Moses talks of giants, as rarities: " In them days, there " were giants on the earth." A rarity is an ex
ception to the general rule, and supposes a."
more extensivc class of beings.
The longevity of the antediluvians can be ascribed to two causes : the one supernaturahq. in order to perpetuate religion, and give the aged patriarchs time to inifil it into the mind:
of of their spreading generations: the other nau tural, viz. their sobriety, the simplicity of their diet, the salubrity of the air, not corrupted 'by the noxious vapours which rose from the earth, after the flood, the fertility of the soil, &e. You know the state of the world, before the deluge, so well, that you fix " the
" age of puberty at the age of sixty-five." I
believe that procreation began, before the deluge, as early as at present. Or else, they must have been monstrous babes that were at the breast, and sed with spoon-meat, at the age of twenty. By the rules of analogy, we may judge of their nubile state, by the tall Pruffian, and low Laplander. The size is disproportionate: but the age for vmarrying is the same in both.
You deny any confusion of tongues at the dispersion: because what has been translated language, signifies lip, in Hebrew. Sometimes it does': but the addition of speech fignifies something more. " And the whole earth was " of one language, and of one speech." * And what is here translated speech, signifies wards, in the original Hebrew.
You deny that there were any propitiatory sacrzfires. There are sin-offerings, notwithstanding, mentioned in the scriptures: a For the '* bodies of those beasts, whose blood for fin is A; * Genesis, chap. ii.
a brought into the sanctuary, by the high a priest, are burnt without the camp." In proof of your opinion, you mention ii" Py" thagora's's hecatomb for being able to prove " the properties of a right-angled t'riangle ': '** Jephtah's offering up his daughter: Baal's " priests cutting themselves with knives," to propitiate their god: and, 'to crown all, you aisert, that the God of lsrael changed sides', when the king of M'oabfi fac'rificed his 'son bn the walls of his city. *
But, fir, were not sacrifices institusite'cl by the Almighty God? Why should hi's' holy rites 'and ceremonies be set on a level with hea''then profana'tions', Baal's priests, and Pythaz igoras's idols? A sacriiice'v is the obl'ation of 'a sensible thing, by a lawful minister, in honour of the Divinity, in acknowle'dgment of his supreme power over life and death. Not only human victims were interdicted by the law', but even several animals 5_ such_ _ a's asses, hares, &et Hence, Jephtah's sacrifice, if he killed his daughter, was a 'cruel inurderi he was no fit priest: his daughter was no fit victim: and God cannot be honoured by a breach of his own law; .
I ay, ii F he killed his daughter z" because; in the original Hebrew, it r*riay 'as well fig;
F 2 Kings, Chap. iii.