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Art. II.-The Character of Moses established for Veracily as an

Historian, recording Events from the Creation to the Deluge.
By the Rev. Joseph Townsend, M. A. Rector of Pewsey,

Wilts. London. Longman and Co. 1813.
On opening this volume, we might naturally exclaim, is it
necessary again to take up arms in defence of Moses? is not the
phalanx of wise and good men who have already stood forth in
his behalf sufficient to secure him from any new attack? It
is true indeed that the ægis of celestial wisdom has often darted
its benumbing rays on the impious cavillers, but they rise ever
with new courage from the ruin which had overwhelmed them,
and rush with blind rage on the bulwarks whence they have
been so often repelled. They have begun, of late, to try the ef-
fect of new methods of assault, and to exult in the advanta-
geous display of their resources. It was no small triumph over
Revelation to have proved that the earth was never created, but
was originally a splinter struck off from the sun by a heavy body
which happened to impinge upon it. But a great Epicurean
philosopher recently defunct, has proceeded much further, and
has finally developed the theory of the animal creation. It seems
that the primitive world was one vast pool, in which all creatures
sported in the shape of tadpoles, until some of them longing to
walk on dry land, legs fitted for that purpose spontaneously
sprang forth from the hinder quarters. "Some affected hoofs,
and gradually became horses, while others, of a more ambitious
character, forced their humbler brethren to carry them on
their backs. A great metaphysician, the pride of Scotland,
proved in defiance of Moses, that the primitive men wore tails,
and that it was owing to the friction of tight clothing that their
posterity have lost so ornamental an appendage. We have not
heard indeed that the Sansculotte philosophers have recovered
this badge, though they are well rid of all other symptoms of
humanity; but it is impossible to say how far their perfectibility
may reach, and to what new heights of dignity and honour they
may be destined to ascend.

It is surprising that the old-fashioned tradition has not been rooted out by so many improvements in science; but as Moses has stood his ground so long, there seems a fair chance of his holding out to the last. Still it is impossible to say what new stratagems may be played off; and as the enemy seems to be flushed with victory, we are not displeased to hail a new auxiliary. We shall therefore enter upon the Work which now lies before us, with every disposition to estimate its merits with candour and deliberation.

The design of the author is to compare the present state of our knowledge of the history of man and of the earth, with the relations contained in the early part of Genesis, and by this comparison to establish the character of the historian as a faithful recorder of events. The first part of his work contains a disquisition on the similar traditions which were handed down among many nations from the most ancient times; but the larger portion of the volume consists of a geological essay on the proofs that our globe has undergone an universal deluge. We shall examine each of these departments separately.

When Christianity began to awaken the attention of the learned among the Greeks and Romans, many of them were struck with certain analogies between the fables of the old superstition and the doctrines and historical relations contained in the Hebrew Scriptures. The fathers of the church availed themselves of these features of resemblance. They were fond of tracing in the pure and sublime tenets of the new code, the origin and germ of the most absurd legends of the pagan world. Arguments of this kind were particularly fitted to produce an effect on minds of a philosophic turn and fond of metaphysical inquiries, and they appear to have contributed somewhat to the reception of Christianity among the most intelligent part of mankind.

It was soon discovered that the coincidences between these very different systems afforded an irresistible proof of some ancient communication; and that the founders of the Pagan ritual had certainly drawn through some unknown channel from the fountains of sacred truth. Many conjectures were proposed to account for a fact so undoubted and yet so contrary to expectation. It was soon remembered that Thales and Pythagoras travelled in the East, and visited several countries in the neighbourhood of Judea; that the more ancient mystics came either from Egypt or Phænice. It seemed not very difficult to conceive, that these sages might have passed through Jerusalem, and acquired some of their fundamental tenets from the Rabbis and Doctors of the law. It was not considered how great a jealousy the Jews entertained of foreigners of every description, and how impossible all access to their sacred books must have been to strangers unacquainted with their language. The very different aspect which the plain and positive institutions of Moses and the romantic flights of Orpheus and Pythagoras present, was overlooked: though this might have sufficed to show that the analogies between the two religions must not be sought for in this quarter.

When the learned of modern Europe became acquainted with the mythology of the Asiatic nations, they proceeded on the same false principles. We can hardly imagine an hypothesis more absurd than that of imputing the origin of the Magi to Abraham, which is however said to have advocates among the Parsees; or than the wild conceit that the Hebrew patriarch was the Brahma of Hindoostan. The learned Hyde maintained that Zoroaster was a renegado Jew, a servant of the prophet Ezra : an instance of perverse ingenuity, which only yields to the speculations of Huet, of whose celebrated demonstration it was not unaptly said, that it proves nothing but the vast learning of the author.

The conceits of these great men were puerile, but they were very excusable. They attempted to account for very extraordinary facts by the most simple method that occurred to them. But modern research has gone greatly beyond them: we are now well assured that these wonderful vestiges exist not only in the mythologies of Greece and the eastern countries which border on Judæa : we discover the historical facts mentioned in our early Scriptures, and the institutions of the Patriarchs, not only in Persia and in Egypt, but among the disciples of Menu in Hindoostan, in the ancient books of the Chinese, in the traditions and picture writings of the Mexicans and Peruvians, and in the old Runic tales of the Icelanders and Scandinavians.

It is high time then to lay aside the whimsical idea that Moses was no other than the thrice great Hermes, or that he conversed with Cecrops, or that Abraham made a journey to mount Albordi and taught Magianism in the city of Balkh. We must look for some more adequate cause of so extensive a phenomenon.

The first hypothesis that offers itself to account for facts so general, we had almost said universal, is, that there are some common principles of human nature, some innate sentiments which have given rise to similar modes of thinking and acting in the separated portions of our species. Reflexion may lead the more enlightened in every country to entertain nearly the same ideas of the attributes of the Deity, to acknowledge his moral government of the world, and to perceive the relations in which men stand to Him and to each other. Hence many religious practices might take their rise, which might appear, on casual observation, to prove connexion between nations widely scattered. The sense of delinquency which guilt inspires in every human breast, and the consciousness of having offended an Almighty Being, and of appearing hateful in his sight, is probably the source of the various penances and voluntary tortures which abound in the religious rites of barbarous nations. The vast distance at which a criminal and debased wretch feels himself from the majesty of a pure and omnipotent spirit, and the impossibility of making any adequate atonement for his offences, seems to have impelled every tribe of men who have risen to any

conception of the Deity, to seek for some intermediate being through whose intercession their devotions might obtain access to the throne of the Most High. Hence the Dæmons or Genii, who among so many Pagan tribes are invested with the office of mediators, and who, in process of time, become the chief objects of worship. Hence the Ormazd of the Persians, the Brahma Vishnu and Siva of the Brahmanists, and the Buddha of the Palasscins, who were all of them in their origin mediators and subordinate divinities. Even the Chinese, whose oldest doctrines approached very near to a simple theism, consecrated three of their earliest emperors, princes of remarkable piety and virtue, and represented them in their sacred books as holding a middle place between heaven and earth, and continually supplicating the Supreme Lord for the happiness of their beloved China. And among Christians, whose religion is in conformity with all the innate sentiments of man, we find proofs of the same impulses. When the Catholics, in their zeal against the impieties of Arius, had in a great measure overlooked or forgotten the mediatorial character of the Messiah, they quickly had recourse to a crowd of inferior mediators,

We are persuaded that these reflexions might be pursued further, and that an explanation might be derived from this source of many tenets and practices which are commonly ascribed to different causes. Still, however, there remains a great number of facts which demand a different solution. Positive and arbitrary institutions which coincide, preclude the idea of casual resemblance, and necessarily lead us to infer a common origin; and when we find these coincidences scattered through the most distant regions, we are forced to go back to the first periods of human society.

We find many traces in history of an epoch when the nations of the earth, and particularly those of Asia, were much more intimately connected than they have since been. In ascending to the first ages of cach nation, we continually discover a stronger mutual resemblance. The manners appear more uniform, and converge, if not towards barbarism, towards a state of pastoral simplicity. The first government that seems to have been established after the patriarchal age, was a hierarchy, under which all the offices of religion and the highest civil powers were confided to the same individuals

. Traces may be observed on several occasions in our Scripures of this ancient priesthood. The king of Salem was a high priest, and received, in virtue of his spiritual dignity, the portion which was of old allotted to the sacred office. The priesthood in Egypt was early established in authority. We find that the great college of Heliopolis already existed in the time of Joseph, and enjoyed a dignified character. Both in Egypt and in Ethiopia the kings were chosen by and subject in all things to the controul of the priests. In Chaldea, India, and other countries, their antiquity ascends to a very remote epoch.

At first it is very probable that the priests were elected to the important trusts committed to their charge in virtue of superior wisdom and sanctity of life. However this may have been, it is certain that they soon contrived to make themselves a separate order in the State. With the aid of a military class, with whom they condescended to share their power, they succeeded in establishing the most complicated system of subordination, of which any trace occurs in history; for it is to this early age that we must refer the institution of casts, which prevailed in Egypt, India, Persia, and many other countries. The priests were probably, at first, ministers of the true religion, and held for a time the faith of the patriarchs unadulterated. It would appear, indeed, that most of the ancient mythologies contained in their first principles a genuine theism, which was set forth to the populace under symbolical representations, and hence in practice became degraded into a low polytheism, but retained even in later times an esoteric doctrine inculcating the unity of God. We learn from Eusebius and Porphyry that such was the case in regard to the Egyptians. We are assured of the same fact with respect to the Persians and Hindoos; and we know from various sources that the intention of the mysteries so much venerated among the ancient pagans, was chiefly the elucidation of this tenet, and the connexion of it with the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments.

The belief in the immortality of the soul was corrupted by the doctrine of its transmigration through the bodies of animals, and this led in many countries to a superstitious abstinence from the use of animal food. Priestcraft was continually employed in strengthening and augmenting its dominion by new resources. Magic, augury, and divination were invented. At the same time, such sciences as contributed to the desired end were not neglected. It is certain that we owe to this ancient hierarchy the knowledge of geometry, the earliest astronomical observations, and except those of our Scriptures, the oldest historical traditions, perhaps also the use of letters.

This system extended its ramifications far and wide. From Egypt and Ethiopia it spread through Africa. It was certainly established very early in Hetruria. The Druids of the Celtæ taught nearly the same doctrines, and professed the same sciences with their brethren in Asia. We are informed by Hesiod and Strabo, that some of the Thracian and Mæsian tribes had imbibed similar superstitions, and they seem to have communicated them to their kindred in Germany. From the neighbour

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