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Nor, was it in the schools of heathen philosophy alone, that these errors prevailed; the doctrines of the Pharisees
and from praying to him to make them virtuous, that they opposed nothing with more pride and contempt. They thought that wisdom would lose its value and lustre, that nothing were in it worthy of admiration, if it came from above, and depended upon the grace of another. They acknowledged that the natural life, that riches, 'honours, and other inferior things, common to the worst, were the gifts of God; but, asserted that wisdom and virtue, the special perfections of the human nature, were the effects of their own industry. Impious folly! to believe that we owe the greatest benefits to ourselves, and, the lesser, only to God. Thus, they robbed him of the honour of his most precious gifts. So strongly did the poison of the old serpent, breathed forth in those words, ye shall be as God, that infected the first man, still work in his posterity. Were they angels in perfection, yet the proud reflecting on their excellencies would instantly turn them into devils. And, as they boasted of virtue, so of happiness, as entirely dependant upon themselves. They ascribe to their wise man an absolute empire over all things; they raise him above the clouds, whatever may disquiet or dis order; they exempt him from all passions, and make him ever equal to himself; that he is never surprised with accidents; that it is not in the power of pains or troubles to draw a sigh or tear from him; that he despises all the world, can give or take, and is contented with pure and naked virtue; in short, they put the crown upon his head, by attributing all to the power of his own spirit. Thus, they contradicted the rights of heaven.
"Their impiety was so bold, that they put no difference between God and their wise person, but this, that God, was an immortal wise person, and a wise man was a mortal God. Nay, that he had this advantage, to enjoy as much happiness in an age, as Jupiter in his eternity. And which is the highest excess of pride and blasphemy, they preferred the wretched and imperfect virtue and happiness of their wise man, before the infinite and unchangeable purity and felicity of God himself. For God, they said, is wise and happy, by the privilege of his nature; whereas, a philosopher is so, by the discourse of reason, and the choice of his will, notwithstanding the resistance of his passions, and the difficulties he encounters in the world. Thus, to raise themselves above the throne of God, since the rebellious angels, none have ever attempted besides the Stoics. It is no wonder, that they were the most early opposers of the
and Sadducees (see p. 66) were little less pernicious in Judea than those of the Platonists, the Stoics, the Cynics, the Epicureans, &c. &c. among the Greeks and Romans. Yet, God left not himself without faithful witnesses even in the worst and most degenerate times; the piety of the son of Sirach, is recorded in the book, which, during this period, was written by him, and, about a century afterwards, translated by his grandson into Greek, the popular language of those times; and, by the translation of the Scriptures into Greek, by order of Ptolemy Philadelphus, B. C. 277, called the Septuagint version, the sacred writings were made intelligible to the learned of all countries. Nor were there wanting proofs of the power of faith, and of the hope which maketh not ashamed; witness the courage and fortitude of the Maccabees under the Syrian persecutions. The STONE was being "cut out, without hands,” (Dan. ii. 34, 35, 45) and, even in spite of every hand that would have opposed its formation. Such was the state of the world; spiritual "darkness had covered the earth, and gross darkness the people," (Isai. lx. 2.) when the promised seed of the woman, (Gen. iii. 15.) of the blessed race of Shem, (Gen. ix. 26) of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, (Gen. xii. 2, 3; xvii. 7, 8; xxii. 18; xxvi. 3; xxviii. 14); of the tribe of Judah, from which, the sceptre had, in one sense, departed, by the nomination of Herod, the Idumean, to the throne, (Gen. xlix. 10) of the lineage of David, (2 Sam. vii. 12-16; Ps. cxxxii. 11) in the city of Bethlehem, (Micah v. 2) during a time of peace, (Isaiah ix. 5-7*) within the time specified by Daniel, (Dan. ix. 25) was born of a virgin, (Isaiah vii. 14) JESUS CHRIST, THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD.
Gospel; for, how could they acknowledge God in his state of abasement and humility, who exalted their virtuous man above him in his majesty and glory? Yet, this is the sect that was most renowned amongst the Heathens." Bates's Harmony of the Divine Attributes, ch. xvii.
* Sce Bishop Louth's Translation.
By the plan of the present work, it is proposed to consider the Postdiluvian history of the world, as divided into three great branches by the earliest settlements of the sons of Noah; 1st, Ham, in Africa, and by usurpation spreading into Asia, in the countries and nations of Arabia, Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Lybia, Philistia, Mauritania, and the Canaanite settlements, (see Table of Prophecy, C.) which, in aftertimes, were consolidated by Nebuchadnezzar into the first universal empire of Babylon. (See Table of Prophecy, R, S, 1st Division.)
2nd, Of Shem, in Asia. The history of his descendants will consist of two branches, the first, referring to the spiritual sense of Noah's prophecy, (Gen. ix. 26) will comprise the whole of Sacred History (in continuation from the Antediluvian period); the second, relating to the temporal fortunes of his posterity, will be exemplified in the history of those nations which formed the second, or Persian empire, (see Table of Prophecy, D.) by the conquests of Cyrus, and which succeeded to the Babylonian empire. (See Table of Prophecy, R, S, T, V, 2nd Div.)
3rd, The settlements of the sons, and grandsons of Japheth, in Greece, Asia Minor, and Italy, (see Table of Prophecy, E,) forming, in aftertimes, the third, or Macedonian, which succeeded to the Persian empire, by the conquests of Alexander the Great, (see Table of Prophecy, R, S, T, V, 3rd Div.) and the fourth, or Roman empire, which succeeded to the Macedonian, (see Table of Prophecy, R, S, V, 4th Div.) The fifth empire is spiritual, and its history will be comprised in that of the church of God, in all succeeding ages of the world (see Table of
Prophecy, R, S, U, V, 5th Div.) By this plan, the history of the anient world will be seen, consisting of settlements, from the time of the dispersion of mankind from Babel, till about two centuries after the first Olympiad ; from whence begins the first heathen empire, and the first authentic record we have of ancient history.
The Babylonian, or Assyrian empire, was founded by Nimrod, the youngest son of Cush, the eldest son of Ham, B. C. 2246. Its history may be divided into three periods,
1st, From the building of Babylon, by Nimrod, B. C. 2246, to the æra of Nabonassar, B. C. 747, containing 1499 years.
2nd, From the Era of Nabonassar, B. C. 747, to the destruction of Nineveh, by the joint armies of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, and Cyaxares, king of Media, B. C. 606, containing 141 years.
3rd, From the destruction of Nineveh, by Nabopolassar and Cyaxares, B. C. 606, to the overthrow of the Babylonian empire by Cyrus, king of Persia, B. C. 538, containing 68, or as it is sometimes reckoned, to the first year of Cyrus over the whole empire, seventy
The first period, beginning at the building of Babylon, by Nimrod, the year after the confusion of tongues at the building of Babel, B. C. 2246, is variously filled up by different authors with those scanty materials which alone remain of the records of the early ages. From Moses, however, we learn that it was founded by Nimrod, the first who became "a mighty one in the earth." "And the
* Dr. Hales makes Nimrod the fourth in descent from Cush, making him the son of Sheba, the son of Ramah, the son of Cush; see Anal. vol. ii. p. 49.
beginning of his kingdom, was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinaar, out of that land [he] went forth [into] Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah."* Shinaar, was a portion of the allotment of Shem, (see prophecy, p. 219) and, part of it was assigned to his son Arphaxad, but, he was dispossessed by the usurper Nimrod, who also forced Asshur, the second son of Shem, to abandon his territory of Assyria, where, it seems Nimrod built Nineveh, Rehoboth, and Calah. Thus, the whole territory of Nimrod was a usurped one. It is not easy to define the limits of this dominion; it seems to have been included (at first) between Babylon, on the river Euphrates to the south, and Nineveh, on the Tigris, to the north. It is contended by some, that Asshur built Nineveh, and the adjoining cities; but it seems improbable that his buildings should be mentioned by Moses, (Gen. x. 11,) before his descent is specified, (which it is not, till ver. 22) and the succeeding history of Babylon and Assyria, favours the notion that all these cities were built by Nimrod. He is said to have been succeeded by Belus,† the father of Ninus, the founder of Assyria. To Belus, are ascribed the first astronomical observations upon record,
* Gen. x. 10-12.
Anal, vol. i. p. 447.
Univ. Hist. vol. i. p. 281, note Q. Hales's
+ Nimrod, Belus, and Ninus, are supposed, by many, to be one and the same person. Suckford's Con. vol. i. p. 170.
"The animal constellations were probably the invention of the Chaldeans, to whom the Ancients generally attribute the invention of Astronomy. And not later, it should seem, than the time of Nimrod's death, when that" mighty hunter before the Lord,” was supposed to be translated to the constellation Orion, with his hounds, Sirius and Canicula; and the bear, his principal game among the wild beasts, into Ursa Major." It is the concurrent opinion of the most eminent Antiquaries, La Pluche, Bryant, Sir William Jones, Maurice, Faber, Kelt, Barret, &c. that the primitive sphere was framed by Noah's posterity, before the dispersion; and, that from Chaldea, it was propagated to India, Egypt, and Greece. The whole