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y Syracides calleth Moses the beloved of God and men, whose remembrance is blessed. "He made him," saith the same author, “like to the glorious saints, and magnified "him by the fear of his enemies, made him glorious in the
sight of kings, shewed him his glory, caused him to hear "his voice, sanctified him with faithfulness and meekness, "and chose him out of all men."
He is remembered among profane authors, as by Clearchus the Peripatetick; by Megastenes and Numenius the Pythagorian. The long lives which the patriarchs enjoyed before the flood, remembered by Moses, Estieus, Hieronymus, Ægyptius, Hecatæus, Elanicus, Acusilaus, Ephorus, and Alexander the historian, confirm. The universal flood which God revealed unto Moses, Berosus, Nicolaus Damascenus, and others have testified. The building of the tower of Babel, and confusion of tongues, Abydenus, Estieus, and Sybilla have approved. Berosus also honoureth Abraham. Hecatæus wrote a book of him. Damascenus, before cited, speaketh of Abraham's passage from Damascus into Canaan, agreeing with the books of Moses. Eupolemon writeth the very same of Abraham which Moses did; for, beginning with the building of Babel, and the overthrow thereof by divine power, he saith that Abraham, born in the tenth generation, in the city called Camerina, or Urien, excelled all men in wisdom; and by whom the astrology of the Chaldeans was invented: Is justitia pietateque sua (saith Eusebius out of the same author) sic Deo gratus fuit, ut divino præcepto in Phænicem venerit, ibique habitaverit; "For his justice "and piety he was so pleasing unto God, as by his command❝ment he came into Phoenicia, and dwelt there." Likewise Diodorus Siculus, in his 2d book and 5th chapter, speaketh reverently of Moses. There are many other among profane authors which confirm the books of Moses, as Eusebius hath gathered in the 9th of his Preparation to the Gospel, chapter the third and fourth, to whom I refer the reader. Lastly, I cannot but for some things in it commend this notable testimony of Strabo, who writeth of Moses in these
Syrac. 45. 12. 3.
words: Moses enim affirmabat, docebatque, Ægyptios non recte sentire, qui bestiarum et pecorum imagines Deo tribuerunt: itemque Afros et Græcos, qui Diis hominum figuram affinxerunt: id vero solum esse Deum, quod nos et terram et mare continet, quod cælum et mundum, et rerum omnium naturam appellamus: cujus profecto imaginem, nemo sanæ mentis, alicujus earum rerum, quæ penes nos sunt, similem audeat effingere. Proinde (omni simulachrorum effictione repudiata) dignum ei templum ac delubrum constituendum, ac sine aliqua figura colendum; "Moses "affirmed and taught, that the Egyptians thought amiss, " which attributed unto God the images of beasts and cattle; ❝also that the Africans and Greeks greatly erred in giving "unto their gods the shape of men; whereas that only is "God indeed, which containeth both us, the earth, and sea, "which we call heaven, the world, and the nature of all things, whose image doubtless no wise man will dare to “fashion out unto the likeness of those things which are amongst us; that therefore (all devising of idols cast aside) a worthy temple and place of prayer was to be erected unto him, and he to be worshipped without any figure "at all therein.”
Now concerning the Egyptian wisdom, for which the martyr Stephen commended Moses, saying, a That Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in works and words; the same is collected (how truly I know not) by Diodorus, Diogenes Laertius, Jamblicus, Philo Judæus, and Eusebius Cæsariensis, and divided into four parts, viz. mathematical, natural, divine, and moral.
In the mathematical part, which is distinguished into geometry, astronomy, arithmetic, and music, the ancient Egyptians excelled all others. For geometry, which is by interpretation, measuring of grounds, was useful unto them; because it consisting of infallible principles, directed them certainly in bounding out their proper lands and territories, when their fields and limits, by the inundations of Nilus,
were yearly overflown and confounded, so as no man could know what in right belonged unto him.
For the second part, to wit, astronomy, the site of the country being a level and spacious plain, free and clear from clouds, yielded them delight with ease, in observing and contemplating the risings, fallings, and motions of the
Arithmetic also, which is the knowledge of numbers, they studied; because without it, in geometry and astronomy, nothing can be demonstrated or concluded. But of music they made no other account, nor desired further knowledge, than seemed to them sufficient to serve and magnify their gods, their kings, and good men.
The natural part of this wisdom, which handleth the principles, causes, elements, and operations of natural things, differs little from peripatetical philosophy, teaching that materia prima is the beginning of all things; that of it all mixed bodies and living creatures have their being; that heaven is round like a globe; that all stars have a certain fovent heat and temperate influences, whereby all things grow and are produced; that rains proceed and be from mutations in the air; that the planets have their proper souls, &c.
The divine part of this wisdom, which is called theology, teacheth and believeth that the world had a beginning, and shall perish; that men had their first original in Egypt, partly by means of the temperateness of that country, where neither winter with cold, nor summer with heat, are offensive; and partly through the fertility that Nilus giveth in those places: that the soul is immortal, and hath transmigration from body to body; that God is one, the father and prince of all gods; and that from this God other gods are, as the sun and moon, whom they worshipped by the names of Osiris and Isis, and erected to them temples, statues, and divers images, because the true similitudes of the gods is not known; that many of the gods have been in the estate of mortal men, and after death, for their virtues and benefits bestowed on mankind, have been deified. That
those beasts, whose images and forms the kings did carry in their arms when they obtained victory, were adored for gods, because under those ensigns they prevailed over their enemies. Moreover, the Egyptian divines had a peculiar kind of writing, mystical and secret, wherein the highest points of their religion and worship of God, which was to be concealed from the vulgar sort, were obscured.
b Clemens distributeth the whole sum of this latter Egyptian learning into three several sorts; viz. epistolar, which is used in writing common epistles; sacerdotal, which is peculiar to their priests; and sacred; which sacred containeth scripture of two kinds, the one proper, which is expressed by letters alphabetical in obscure and figurative words: as for example, where it is written, the ibis by the beetle participateth the beauty of the hawk, which is read thus: The moon doth by the sun borrow part of the light of God, because light is an image of divine beauty. The other symbolical, or by signatures, which is threefold; viz. imitative, tropical, and enigmatical; imitative, which designeth things by characters, like to the things signified; as by a circle the sun, and by the horns of the moon the moon itself: tropical or transferent, which applies the divers forms and figures of natural bodies or creatures, to signify the dignities, fortunes, conditions, virtues, vices, affections, and actions of their gods and of men. So with the Egyptian divines, the image of an hawk signifieth God; the figure of the beetle signifieth the sun; the picture of the bird ibis signifieth the moon; by the form of a man, prudence and skilfulness; by a lion, fortitude; by a horse, liberty; by a crocodile, impudency; by a fish, hatred is to be understood. Enigmatical is a composition or mixture of images or similitudes; in which sense, the monstrous image of a lion's body having a man's head, was graven on their temples and altars, to signify, that to men all divine things are enigmatical and obscure. So the image of the sun set on the head of a crocodile (which liveth as well in the waters
b Clem. Strom. 1. 5.
as on land) expresseth, that the sun nourisheth meteors in the air, as well from the waters as from the earth. So a sceptre, at the top whereof is made an eye and an ear, signifieth God hearing, seeing, and governing all things. The Scythians are thought to have been delighted with this kind of writing. For Pherecydes Syrius reporteth, that when Darius sending letters, threatened Idanthura, king of the Scythians, with ruin and destruction of his kingdom, unless he would acknowledge subjection, Idanthura returned to him a mouse, a frog, a bird, a dart, and a ploughshare; which Orontopagas, tribune of the soldiers, interpreted to signify, that by the mouse, their dwellings; by the frog, their waters; by the bird, their air; by the dart, their weapons; by the plough, their lands, were signified to be ready to be delivered to Darius, as their sovereign lord. But Xyphodres made another construction, viz. that the king meant, that except Darius with his men did hasten away, as a bird through the air, or creep into holes as a mouse, or run into the waters which they had passed as a frog, they should not escape his arms, but either be slain, or (being made captives) till his grounds. The same history is with little difference reported by Herodotus, 1. 4.
The fourth and last part, which is moral and politic, doth contain especially the laws, which (according to Laertius) Mercurius Trismegistus, or Ter Maximus devised; who in his books or dialogues of Pimander and Asclepius, hath written so many things of God worthy of admiration; as well (saith Sixtus Senensis) of the Trinity, and of the coming of Christ, as of the last and fearful day of judgment; that (as saith the same author, the opinion being also ancient) he is not only to be accounted a philosopher, but a prophet of things to come.
Jamblicus, in his book of mysteries of the Egyptians, taking two very ancient historians for his authors, to wit, Seleucus and Menætus, affirmeth, that this Mercury was not only the inventor of the Egyptian philosophy, but of all other learning, called the wisdom of the Egyptians, before remembered; and that he wrote of that subject 36,525