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incarnations of him; that Nimrod, or Nin, (as the very appellation Nin, implies*) was likewise a personal descent of the son; and consequently, that the Divine angel was fitly characterized by an ascription to him of whatsoever had been performed by those early Patriarchs, in whom, it was contended, that he had been successively incarnate. Hence the chief God of the Gentiles, in every country, is found to be a strange compound of the promised seed with the chief ancestors of mankind; and as the worship of the heavenly bodies was soon added to this worship of hero-gods, the principal divinity of Paganism was naturally worshipped in the sun, whose orb he was thought to tenant as his special and appropriate residence.
In express reference to the system thus contrived, when mankind emigrated from Armenia into the plain of Babylonia, they forthwith proceeded to erect an enormous pyra midal tower It is not difficult to prove, that the garden of Eden, and Mount Ararat, where the ark rested after the Deluge, were nearly, if not altogether, geographically coincident. Of this circumstance, the early idolaters were not ignorant; and, as their theology respected both the consecrated garden and the holy mount of God, and as it was moreover largely imbued with the speculations of astronimical Sabianism; the pyramid which they undertook to rear, had a direct reference to all these particulars. It was a temple, no doubt, of the Sun.
But the solar divinity of Gentilism was not the mere sun, but the great hero-god of the Pagans, worshipped conjointly with the sun, and viewed as the intelligent celestial regent of his orb. Now, that supposed transmigrative hero-god, had manifested himself in Paradise, at the commencement of the old world, and on the summit of the geographically co-incident Ararat, at the commencement of the new world. On the top of this sacred hill, he had, at each epoch, offered up a sacrifice to the supreme Lord of heaven and earth. Nin, signifies a son." Hales.
Consequently, as his example was to be devoutly imitated, the most appropriate temple and altar was a natural mountain, which might aptly shadow out its prototype the Paradisiacal Mount of Ararat; or, if, as in the case of a flat country, such a fane were wanting; the deficiency was to be supplied by the devout industry of the pious, and an imitative pyramid, exhibiting the form of a mountain, was to be thrown up in the place of a real mountain. The first essay, was the artificial hill, or tower, of Babel: and from it was borrowed every edifice of a pyramidal structure, in whatever part of the world it may have been reared. Each montiform temple was a transcript of the Paradisiacal Ararat; and on its summit, which was often used as an observatory, the transmigrating hero-god of the Gentiles was worshipped in conjunction with the solar orb. With this object was built the montiform tower of Babel; which, according to the account of it handed down to us by the Greek writers, exhibited the precise figure which the Hindoos ascribe to their sacred hill Meru. It was composed of eight gradually diminishing towers, piled one upon another; so that each of its four sides, for its shape was square, or parallelogramic, and arranged with studious reference to the four cardinal points, presented the aspect of a gigantic flight of steps.
As the erection of this building was undertaken for the special purpose of consolidating the Cuthic system of idolatry, and of obstructing the Divine purpose that the children of Noah should spread themselves over the face of the whole earth; it involved, not only the sin of apostasy, but likewise the aggravated criminality of open defiance and rebellion. Hence, while the new world was yet in its infancy, such a case might well seem to require the special interposition of heaven; lest mankind should once more speedily attain to the same pitch of daring wickedness, as that which characterized the daring Antediluvians. Accordingly, Jehovah descended from his celestial abode, and (unless I
greatly mistake the purport of the sacred narrative) displayed himself under a human form to the toiling apostates. For the person, whom I suppose to have thus appeared, and who, in the Mosaical account is denominated Jehovah, was that mysterious being, who under the title of the angel of Jehovah, was wont so often to reveal himself anthropomorphically, during the period of the two first dispensations, who was constantly worshipped as no other than the Divinity himself, who was explicitly acknowledged by Jacob and Hosea, to be the God of Abraham and of Isaac, and who at length, when the third dispensation was promulged, dwelt permanently among us in his usual form of a man, full of grace and truth. and truth. A miraculous descent of this nature served the double purpose of frustrating the designs of the Cuthim, and of practically confuting, by an argumentum ad hominum, the idolatrous system which they wished to establish. For the very being whom they affected to worship as once incarnate in the persons of the greater patriarchs, and as now incarnate in the person of their leader and pontiff, Nimrod, suddenly appeared to their confusion; and, by a signal judgement, declared openly to the assembled multitude, the folly and wickedness of such audacious speculations. Their language was broken into different dialects; their sovereign, probably, by the bursting forth of fiery globes, similar to those which checked the mad enterprize of Julian, was compelled to evacuate the country, and to retreat into the region afterwards called Assyria; and they themselves were broken into various communities, and were scattered over the face of the whole earth.
An interposition thus remarkable, could not easily be forgotten; for it is but natural to expect, that the dispersed builders of the pyramid would carry with them, wherever they went, the knowledge of their miraculous discomfiture. Disguise it indeed they might, and anxious they might be to shift the guilt and the shame from their own shoulders
to those of a gigantic race, who dared to oppose heaven itself: but still, under some form or other, an account of the fact must have been long and generally preserved. Such, accordingly, we shall find to be the case." Hora Mosaicæ, vol. i. p. 146-152.
From the building of Babel, therefore, we may date the introduction of idolatry into the world; and we shall trace in the mythology of all the heathen nations, the truths of revealed religion, and the antediluvian history of the world, which must have been known to the sons and grandsons of Noah, and were by them disguised and accommodated to the local circumstances which peculiarly belonged to the countries they inhabited, and the states they respectively founded.
The trial of Job is supposed by Hales, Shuckford, Poole, and others, to have taken place during the second period of ancient history, and about the time of the patriarch Nahor, the grandfather of Abraham. The Bible chronology dates it 600 years later, making it contemporaneous with the abode of Moses in the land of Midian. The book of Job furnishes a valuable compendium of the religion and morality of the early postdiluvian patriarchs. "The grand moral of the book is to shew, 1st, that God sometimes permits the best men to be afflicted by Satan, and that most grievously, in this life, to try or prove their faith, patience, humility, and resignation, to his will: that, 2dly, this world is not a perfect state of retribution for virtue and vice: but that, 3dly, all the inequalities that are to be found here, will be completely redressed in a future state, at the general judgment, in which the good will be finally rewarded, and the wicked punished." Hales's Anal. vol. ii, p. 116.
Although the apostasy of Nimrod began not quite a century after the flood, and was adopted or imitated by the
collateral branch of Ham's family in Egypt, yet there is no reason to suppose, that idolatry had made any general progress in the world till after Abram. In his time, the principles of the patriarchal religion must have been pretty generally held. They are described by the apostle, Heb. xi. 6; and the traditional history of the world must have spread this great truth, for where the deluge was known, God's protecting love towards the good, which preserved Noah, and his abhorrence of evil, which destroyed a sinful world, could not have been unknown. The ordinance of piacular sacrifices too (universally adopted,)* must have kept up the memory of the primeval promise relative to "the seed of the woman," and the typical ceremony of ablution, which seems to have been generally adopted after the deluge, must have been a figure of the spiritual cleansing from the defilements of sin, alluded to 1 Pet, iii. 21, 22.
* « Universal as may be the consciousness of sin, and therefore the fear of punishment, I cannot conceive how all men, without any teaching from above, should unanimously have hit upon so extraordinary a notion respecting the best mode of appeasing the Deity, as that which constitutes the essence of piacular sacrifice. Is it probable, that the whole world, uninstructed and unauthorized, should have gratuitously taken up the persuasion, that, if a living victim were devoted to God after a certain ceremonial, the sins of the offerers would be imputatively transferred to the victin, and that the divine wrath would rest upon it instead of them; such an opinion is so arbitrary yet so universal, that all nations must have received it from some common source. But this brings us up to the first ages of the world, when man immediately conversed with God. Would the piety then of Adam or of Noah have ventured to propitiate the Deity by what, if it were unauthorized and unrequired, would have been a mere act of superstitious will-worship? For what superstition can be more gross, than to believe, without any authority for so believing, that God will transfer the sins of the sacrifier to his sacrifice, and that thus the sacrificer himself shall be pardoned ? The old pagans judged more rationally; for they are unanimous in ascribing the origin of sacrifice to a Divine command. Dr. Magee very sensibly exposes, and vigorously maintains, the same opinion." Faber Hora Mosaica, vol. 2. p. 239, note.