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the time of the written law, will help our enquiries into the state of the world during the interval which elapsed from the cessation of prophecy, to the birth of CHRIST. That the Mosaic history of the world up to the time of the written law, was traditionally preserved in all the heathen
polytheism of the ancients, for they were their first gods. After this, a notion obtaining, that good men departed, had a power with God, also to mediate and intercede for them, they defied many of those, whom they thought to be such ; and, hence the number of their gods increased in the idolatrons times of the world. This religion first began among the Chaldeans; which their knowledge in astronomy helped to lead them to. And, from this it was, that Abraham separated himself when he came out of Chaldea. From the Chaldeans, it spread itself all over the East, where the professors of it had the name of Sabians.
Directly opposite to the Sabians, were the Magians, a sect who had their original in the same eastern countries, for, they abominating all images, worshipped God only by fire. They began, first, in Persia, and there, and in India, were the only places where this sect was propagated. Their chief doctrine was, that there were two principles, one, which was the cause of all good, and the other, the cause of all evil, that is to say, God and the devil; that the former, is represented by light, and the other, by darkness, as their truest symbols; and, that of the composition of these two, all things in the world are made; the good god, they name Yazdan, and, also Ormuzd, and the evil god, Ahraman: the former, is by the Greeks called Oromases, and the latter, Arimanius. Some held, both these gods to have been from eternity; others, contended that the good god only was eternal, and that the other was created; but both agreed in this, that there will be a continual opposition between these two, till the end of the world; that then, the good god shall overcome the evil god, and that from thenceforward, each of them shall have his world to himself, that is, the good god his world, with all good men with him, and the evil god his world, with all evil men with him; that darkness is the truest symbol of the evil god, and light, the truest symbol of the good god; and, therefore, they always worshipped him before fire, as being the cause of light, and, especially before the sun, as being, in their opinion, the perfectest fire, and causing the perfectest light." See Prideaux's Con, vol. i. p. 222, 226..
nations, the fables of their mythology will abundantly prove; and it is curious to trace, through all the disguises of fiction and fable, their imitations of the Mosaic institutions, after that time. In the same century with Moses, the lawgiver of the Jews, we observe Minos the most ancient legislator, celebrated by the heathens; and it is impossible not to perceive a striking coincidence between the Levitical ordinances and the various religious mysteries, which were introduced into Greece in that, and the following century; as the Olympic games, B. C. 1453, the Eleusinian Mysteries, B. C. 1356, the Isthmian games, B. C. 1326, the Pythian games, B. C. 1263, &c. &c. Nor must we overlook the Oracles from which the Greeks derived, or pretended to derive, counsel and direction in all affairs of state. It has been remarked (p. 107, note of this work) that the Jewish tabernacle in the wilderness was the first structure erected in the world for purposes of religious worship; but soon after this time, we find temples raised to the honour of the heathen gods of the Phænicians, Philistines, and other nations bordering upon Judea, and thence spreading with their colonies into Greece, while the Eastern nations who derived their theology from the primitive, or patriarchal religion, confined it to the worship of fire represented by the sun, or upon altars in the open air. There was not a Pagan nation whose history might not be brought to evidence the authenticity of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, shadowing out the doctrines of the New. Above all, the history of time will shew us that in all ages God has revealed himself to his creatures, and, gathered to himself out of all nations, members to his church. In the first period of history, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to day, and for ever, preached by the spirit, unto those who, though once disobedient, while the ark was a preparing, yet repented to the saving of their souls, during the last seven days before the flood began, and who, though "judged according to
men in the flesh, lived according to God in the spirit."* In the second period Abraham was separated by GoD from his idolatrous ancestors. In the third, Lot was preserved in the destructian of Sodom, and the pillar of fire, which was a cloud and darkness to the host of Pharaoh, gave light to the mixed multitude that accompanied Israel out of Egypt, when also, there was "one law, (the law of salvation, by the blood of the Paschal Lamb( to the home born, and to the stranger that sojourned among them." In the fourth period, Rahab perished not in Jericho with them that believed not, see p. 112, note. In the fifth period, Ruth the Moabitess was providentially separated from her idolatrous ancestors, and ingrafted into the Israelitish church and nation. In the sixth period, the queen of Sheba came from the uttermost parts of the earth, to hear the wisdom of Solomon, (see p. 136, note.) God, who sent his prophet to the Sidonian widow, (1 Kings xvii.) also reserved to himself, in the idolatrous kingdom of Israel, 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal, (Rom. xi.) Naaman the Syrian, was cleansed both of his corporeal and spiritual
1 Pet. iii. 18-20; iv. 6. Mr. Pool in his Annotations on Gen. vii. 4., authorises this inference. "It is not unlikely that many of them who slighted the threatening when it was at 120 years distance, now hearing a second threatening, and considering the nearness of their danger, might be more affected and brought to true repentance, who though destroyed in their bodies by the flood, for their former and long impenitency, which God would not so far pardon, yet might be saved in their spirits; and as some preserved in the ark were damned, so, others drowned in the Deluge, might be eternally saved."
+ Exod. xii. 44-49.
The time of the marriage of Ruth with Boas, is not precisely known; Naomi, her mother-in-law, is supposed to have gone into Moab, during the administration of Gideon, and to have returned under that of Tolah, (see p. 117, 118) which belong, properly, to the fourth period, but Ruth, being then a young woman, might well
leprosy, (Luke iv. 27) and the Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonah. In the seventh period, Babylon, the reservoir, and mother of abominations, (Rev. xvii.) was yet made a school of religion to those who would understand the wisdom taught by Daniel, and evidenced by many miraculous manifestations of Divine power;* and, though the Scriptures do not specify instances of its efficacy at this particular period, the analogy of other times will warrant our hoping, that here also, the word of God did not return unto him empty, but was productive of the fruits of salvation to many of the subjects of the kings of Babylon.
The eighth period, will furnish a new era in heathenism, in the age of the Persian Philosopher, and pretended prophet Zoroaster. He is described by Prideaux, as flourishing during the reign of Darius Hystaspes, that is, between years 521, and 485 before CHRIST. The learned Dean supposes him to have been a Jew, brought up either by Daniel, Ezekiel, or Jeremiah, and thoroughly informed in all matters relating to the Jewish religion, that is, the Mosaical history of the creation and fall of man, the doctrine of the enmity between the serpent and the seed of the woman, and the immortality of the soul in a future state; the visible manifestation of the Divine presence by fire to Moses at the bush, and in the Shechinah: God's testifying his acceptance of sacrifices by fire from heaven, as also, his anger against sin in the same way, &c. &c. These doctrines and evidences, blended with the tenets of Magianism already described, he made the foundation of his new theology, which he pretended to be only a revival of the Abrahamic
lived on to the fifth period, but, at all events, David, who was her great great grandson, ascended the throne of Israel, in the fifth period.
* See Daniel's inspired discovery of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Dan. ii. 1-28; the preservation of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, ch. iii; and of Daniel, in the lion's den, ch. vi.
religion, and a reformation of the corrupted worship of the Babylonians; all which, he professed to undertake by command and inspiration of God, and his great learning and knowledge in every branch of natural and experimental philosophy, aided the imposture to which his ambition had given rise; for, to the unlearned, his acquirements might well seem supernatural. As the religion of Zoroaster was a fictitious representation of that taught by Daniel, so was that instituted by Pythagoras, a disguised account of the tenets of Zoroaster, whose pupil he had been; and hence, we shall trace many points of co-incidence in the religion and legislation of the Greeks, and the Mosaical laws, civil and ecclesiastical. Moses left a code of written laws; Zoroaster followed this example, which was also adopted by Solon,† and thence, copied by the Romans. An examination into the principles of the different sects of Philosophers that sprung up during the time that elapsed between the cessation of prophecy and the birth of CHRIST, will best illustrate the remark already made above, that "the world by wisdom, knew not God," and, that without His revelation, though "ever learning," the wisest were not able to come to the knowledge of the truth; it will prove that pride, vanity, self-love, and self-dependance, were the roots they cultivated, and, from which, they vainly expected to gather the fruits of morality and virtue.§
* See his history, Prideaux's Con. vol. i. b. iii.
+ It must not be understood that Solon copied from Zoroaster, for Solon died, B. C. 558, above thirty years before the time of Zoroaster; Solon, therefore, must have copied immediately from Daniel's instructions.
The laws of the Ten Tables were instituted at Rome, B. C.
"They arrogated to themselves the sole praise of their virtues and happiness. This impiety is most visible in the writings of the Stoics, the Pharisees in philosophy. They were so far from depending upon God for light and grace, in the conduct of their lives,