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of errours produced by ignorance and supported by interested fraud. Theological inquiries are no part of my present subject ; but I cannot refrain from adding, that the collection of tracts, which we call from their excellence the Scrip tures, contain, independently of a divine origin, more true sublimity, more. exquisite beauty, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains both of poetry and eloquence, than could be collected within the same compass from all other books, that were ever composed in any age or in any idiom. The two parts, of which the Scriptures consist, are connected by a chain of compositions, which bear no resemblance in form or style to any that can be produced from the stores of Grecian, Indian, Persian, or even Arabian, learning: the antiquity of those compositions no man doubts; and the unstrained application of them to events long subsequent to their publication is a solid ground of belief, that they were genuine predictions, and consequently inspired ; but, if any thing be the absolute exclusive property of each individual, it is his belief; and, I hope, I should be one of the last men living, who could harbour a thought of obtruding my own belief on the free minds of others. I mean only to assume, what, I trust, will be readily conceded, that the firit Hebrew historian must be entitled, merely as such, to an
equal degree of credit, in his account of all civil transactions, with any other historian of antiquity: how far that most ancient writer confirms the result of our inquiries into the genealogy of nations, I propose to show at our next anniversary meeting; when, after an approach to demonstration, in the strict method of the old analysis, I shall resume the whole argument concisely and synthetically; and shall then have condensed in seven discourses a mass of evidence, which, if brevity had not been my object, might have been expanded into seven large volumes with no other trouble than that of holding the pen; but (to borrow a turn of expression from one of our poets)
u for what I “ have produced, I claim only your indulgence; " it is for what I have suppressed, that I am « entitled to your thanks."
DISCOURSE THE NINTH.
THE ORIGIN AND FAMILIES OF NATIONS.
DELIVERED 23 FEBRUARY, 1792,
YOU have attended, gentlemen, with so much indulgence to my discourses on the five Asiatick nations, and on the various tribes established along their several borders or interspersed over their mountains, that I cannot but flatter myself with an assurance of being heard with equal attention, while I trace to one centre the three great families, from which those nations appear to have proceeded, and then hazard a few conjectures on the different courses, which they may be supposed to have taken toward the countries, in which we find them settled at the dawn of all genuine history. Let us begin with a short review of the
propositions, to which we have gradually been led, and separate such as are morally certain, from such as are only probable: that the first race of Persians and Indians, to whom we may add the Romans and Greeks, the Goths, and the old Egyptians or Ethiops, originally spoke the same language and professed the same popular faith, is capable, in my humble opinion, of incontestable proof; that the Jews and Arabs, the Allyrians, or second Persian race, the people who spoke Syriack, and a numerous tribe of Al/linians, used one primitive dialect wholly distinct from the idiom just mentioned, is, I believe, undisputed, and, I am sure, indisputable ; but that the settlers in China and Japan had a common origin with the Hindus, is no more than highly probable; and, that all the Tartars, as they are inaccurately called, were primarily of a third feparate branch, totally differing from the two others in language, manners, and features, may indeed be plausibly conjectured, but cannot, for the reasons alledged in a former essay, be perspicuously shown, and for the present therefore must be merely assumed. Could these facts be verified by the best attainable evidence, it would not, I presume, be doubted, that the whole earth was peopled by a variety of shoots from the Indian, Arabian, and Tartarian branches, or by such intermixtures of them, as, in a course of ages, might naturally have happened.
Now I admit without hesitation the aphorism of LINNÆUS, that“ in the beginning God “ created one pair only of every living species, “ which has a diversity of sex;" but, since that incomparable naturalist argues principally from the wonderful diffusion of vegetables, and from an hypothesis, that the water on this globe has been continually subsiding, I venture to produce a shorter and closer argument in support of his doctrine. That Nature, of which simplicity appears a distinguishing attribute, does nothing in vain, is a maxim in philosophy ; and against those, who deny maxims, we cannot dispute ; but it is vain and superfluous to do by many means what may be done by fewer, and this is another axiom received into courts of judicature from the schools of philosophers: we must not, therefore, says our great Newton, admit more causes of natural things, than those, which are true, and sufficiently account for natural phenomena ; but it is true, that one pair at least of every living species must at first have been created; and that one human pair was sufficient for the population of our globe in a period of no confiderable length (on the very moderate supposition of lawyers and political arithmeticians, that every pair of ancestors left on an average two children, and each of them two more), is evident from the rapid increase of numbers in geometrical progression, so well known to those, who have ever taken the trouble to sum a series