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social union in the absence of publick honour and justice, for which in evil times it is a general substitute, would combine them at length in communities more or less regular; laws would be proposed by a part of each community, but enacted by the whole ; and governments would be variously arranged for the happiness or misery of the governed, according to their own virtue and wisdom, or depravity and folly; so that, in less than three thousand years, the world would exhibit the same appearances, which we may actually observe on it in the age of the great Aram bian impostor.
On that part of it, to which our united researches are generally confined, we fee five races of men peculiarly distinguished, in the time of MUHAMMED, for their multitude and extent of dominion; but we have reduced them to three, because we can discover no more, that essentially differ in language, religion, manners, and other known characteristicks : now those three races, how variously soever they may at present be dispersed and intermixed, must (if the preceding conclusions be justly drawn) have migrated originally from a central country, to find which is the problem proposed for solution. Suppose it folved; and give any arbitrary name to that centre: let it, if you please, be Iràn. The three primitive languages, therefore, must at first have been concentrated in Iràn, and there only in fact we fee traces of them in the earliest historical age; but, for the sake of greater precision, conceive the whole empire of Iran, with all its mountains and valleys, plains and rivers, to be every way infinitely diminished; the first winding courses, therefore, of all the nations proceeding from it by land, and nearly at the same time, will be little right lines, but without intersections, because those courses could not have thwarted and crossed one another: if then
you consider the seats of all the migrating nations as points in a surrounding figure, you will perceive, that the several rays, diverging from Iràn, may be drawn to them without any intersection; but this will not happen, if you assume as a centre Arabia, or Egypt; India, Tartary, or China : it follows, that Iràn, or Persia (I contend for the ineaning, not the name), was the central country, which we fought. This mode of reasoning I have adopted, not from
affectation (as you will do me the justice to believe) of a scientifick diction, but for the sake of conciseness and variety, and from a wish to avoid repetitions ; the substance of my argument having been detailed in a different form at the close of another difa course; nor does the argument any
form rife to demonstration, which the question by no means admits : it amounts, however, to such a proof,
grounded on written evidence and credible tertimony, as all mankind hold sufficient for decisions affecting property, freedom, and life.
Thus then have we proved, that the inhabitants of Asia, and consequently, as it might be proved, of the whole earth, sprang from three branches of one stem : and that those branches have shot into their present state of luxuriance in a period comparatively short, is apparent from a fact universally acknowledged, that we find no certain monument, or even probable tradition, of nations planted, empires and states raised, laws enacted, cities built, navigation improved, commerce encouraged, arts invented, or letters contrived, above 'twelve or at most fifteen or fixteen centuries before the birth of CHRIST, and from another fact, which cannot be controverted, that seven hundred or a thousand years would have been fully adequate to the supposed propagation, diffusion and establishment of the human räce.
The most ancient history of that race, and the oldest composition perhaps in the world, is a work in Hebrew, which we may suppose at first, for the sake of our argument, to have no higher authority than any other work of equal antiquity, that the researches of the curious had accidentally brought to light : it is afcribed to MUSAH; for so he writes his own name, which,
after the Greeks and Romans, we have changed into Moses ; and, though it was manifestly his object to give an historical account of a single family, he has introduced it with a short view of the primitive world, and his introduction has been divided, perhaps improperly, into eleven chapters. After describing with awful sublimity the creation of this universe, he asserts, that one pair of every animal species was called from nothing into existence; that the human pair were strong enough to be happy, but free to be miserable ; that, from delusion and temerity, they disobeyed their supreme benefactor, whose goodness could not pardon them consistently with his justice; and that they received a punishment adequate to their disobedience, but softened by a mysterious promise to be accomplished in their descendants. We cannot but believe, on the supposition just made of a history uninspired, , that these facts were delivered by tradition from the first pair, and related by Moses in a figurative style; not in that sort of allegory, which rhetoricians describe as a mere afsemblage of metaphors, but in the symbolical mode of writing adopted by eastern sages, to embellish and dignify historical truth ; and, if this were a time for such illustrations, we might produce the same account of the creation and the fall, expressed by fymbols very nearly fimilar, from the Puránas
themselves, and even from the Veda, which appears to stand next in antiquity to the five books of Moses,
The sketch of antediluvian history, in which we find many dark passages, is followed by the narrative of a deluge, which destroyed the whole race of man, except four pairs; an historical fact admitted as true by every nation, to whose literature we have access, and particularly by the ancient Hindus, who have allotted an entire Purána to the detail of that event, which they relate, as usual, in fymbols or allegories. I concur most heartily with those, who insist, that, in proportion as any fact mentioned in history seems repugnant to the course of nature, or, in one word, miraculous, the stronger evidence is required to induce a rational belief of it; but we hear without incredulity, that cities have been overwhelmed by eruptions from burning mountains, territories laid waste by hurricanes, and whole islands depopulated by earthquakes: if then we look at the firmament sprinkled with innumerable stars; if we conclude by a fair analogy, that every star is a sun, attracting, like ours, a system of inhabited planets; and if our ardent fancy, foaring hand in hand with found reason, waft us beyond the visible fphere into regions of immensity, disclosing other celestial expanses and other systems of suns and worlds on all fides