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three Hebrews, confessors of one only God, and that under circumstances to put shame upon a popular idol in the presence of the king, and "all the rulers of the provinces," that the issue of this controversy between Jehovah and idolatry might be made known throughout that vast empire. Worship was refused to the idol by a few Hebrew captives, and the idol had no power to punish the public affront-the servants of Jehovah were cast into a furnace, and he delivered them unhurt; and a royal decree declared "that there was no god who could deliver after this sort." The proud monarch himself is smitten with a singular disease; he remains subject to it until he acknowledges the true God; and, upon his recovery, he publicly ascribes to HIM both the justice and the mercy of the punishment. This event takes place also in the accomplishment of a dream which none of the wise men of Babylon could interpret: it was interpreted by Daniel, who made the fulfilment to redound to the honour of the true God, by ascribing to him the perfection of knowing the future, which none of the false gods, appealed to by the Chaldean sages, possessed; as the inability of their servants to interpret the dream sufficiently proved. After these singular events, Cyrus takes Babylon, and he finds there the sage and the statesman, Daniel, the worshipper of the God "who creates both good and evil," "who makes the light and forms the darkness." There is moral certainty, that he and the principal Persians throughout the empire would have the prophecy of Isaiah respecting Cyrus, delivered more than a hundred years before he was born, and in which his name stood recorded, along with the predicted circumstances of the caption of Babylon, pointed out to them; as every reason, religious and political, urged the Jews to make the prediction a matter of notoriety; and from Cyrus's decree in Ezra it is certain that he was acquainted with it, because there is in the decree an obvious reference to the prophecy. This prophecy so strangely fulfilled would give mighty force to the doctrine connected with it, and which it proclaims with so much majesty.

"I am JEHOVAH, and none else,

Forming LIGHT, and creating DARKNESS,
Making PEACE, and creating EVIL,

I JEHOVAH am the author of all these things."

Lowth's Translation.

Here the great principle of corrupted Magianism was directly attacked; and in proportion as the fulfilment of the prophecy was felt to be singular and strik. ing, the doctrine blended with it would attract notice. Its force was both felt and acknowledged, as we have seen in the decree of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the temple. In that, CYRUS acknowledged the true God to be supreme, and thus renounced his former faith; and the example, the public example of a prince so beloved, and whose reign was so extended, could not fail to influence the religious opinions of his people. That the effect did not terminate in Cyrus we know; for from the book of EZRA, it appears that both DARIUS and ARTAXERXES made decrees in favour of the Jews, in which Jehovah has the emphatic appellation repeatedly given to him, "the God of heaven;" the very terms used by Cyrus himself. Nor are we to suppose the impression confined to the court; for the history of the three Hebrew youths; of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, sickness, and reformation from idolatry; of the interpretation of the handwriting on the wall by Daniel the servant of the living God; of his deliverance from the lions; and the publicity of the prophecy of Isaiah respecting Cyrus, were too recent, too public, and too striking in their nature, not to be often and largely talked of. Beside, in the prophecy respecting Cyrus, the intention of almighty God in recording

the name of that monarch in an inspired book, and showing beforehand that he had chosen him to overturn the Babylonian empire, is expressly mentioned as having respect to two great objects, First, The deliverance of Israel, and Second, The making known his supreme Divinity among the nations of the earth. I again quote Lowth's translation:

"For the sake of my servant Jacob

And of Israel my chosen,

I have even called thee by thy name,

I have surnamed thee, though thou knewest me not.

I am Jehovah, and none else,

Beside me there is no God;

I will gird thee, though thou hast not known me,

That they may know, from the rising of the sun,

And from the west, that there is NONE BESIDE ME;" &c.

It was therefore intended by this proceeding on the part of Providence, to teach not only CYRUS, but the people of his vast empire, and surrounding nations, FIRST, that He was Jehovah, the self-subsistent, the eternal God; SECOND, That he was GOD ALONE, there being no Deity beside himself; and THIRD, That good and evil, represented by light and darkness, were neither independent nor eternal subsistences; but his great instruments and under his control.

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The Persians who had so vastly extended their empire by the conquest of the countries formerly held by the monarchs of Babylon, were thus prepared for such a reformation of their religion as Zoroaster effected. The principles he advocated had been previously adopted by several of the Persian monarchs, and probably by many of the principal persons of that nation. Zoroaster himself thus became acquainted with the great truths contained in this famous prophecy, which attacked the very foundations of every idolatrous and Manichean system. From the other sacred books of the Jews, who mixed with the Persians in every part of the empire, he evidently learned more. This is sufficiently proved from the many points of similarity between his religion and Judaism, though he should not be allowed to speak so much in the style of the Holy Scriptures as some passages in the Zendavesta would indicate. He found the people however prepared of the Lord" to admit his reformations, and he carried them. I can. not but look upon this as one instance of several merciful dispensations of God to the Gentile world, through his own peculiar people the Jews, by which the idolatries of the heathen were often checked, and the light of truth rekindled among them. In this view the ancient Jews evidently considered the Jewish Church as appointed not to preserve only but to extend true religion. "God be merciful to us and bless us, that thy ways may be known upon earth, thy sav ing health unto all nations." This renders pagan nations more evidently "without excuse." That this dispensation of mercy was afterward neglected among the Persians is certain. How long the effect continued we know not, nor how widely it spread; perhaps longer and wider than may now distinctly appear. If the Magi, who came from the east to see Christ, were Persians, some true worshippers of God would appear to have remained in Persia to that day; and if, as is probable, the prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel were retained among them, they might be among those who "waited for redemption" not at Jerusalem, but in a distant part of the world. The Parsees, who were nearly extirpated by Mohammedan fanaticism, were charged by their oppressors with the idolatry of fire, and this was probably true of the multitude. Some of their writers however

warmly defended themselves against the charge. A considerable number of them remain in India to this day, and profess to have the books of Zoroaster..

This note contains a considerable digression, but its connection with the argument in the text is obvious. He who rejects the authority of the Scriptures will not be influenced by what has been said of the prophecies of Isaiah, or the events of the life of Daniel; but still it is not to be denied that while the Persian empire remained, a Persian moral philosopher who taught sublime doctrines flourished, and that his opinions had great influence. The connection of the Jews and Persians is an undeniable matter of historic fact. The tenets ascribed to Zoroaster bear the marks of Jewish origin, because they are mingled with some of the peculiar rites and circumstances of the Jewish temple. From this source the theology of the Persians received improvements in correct and influential notions of Deity especially, and was enriched with the history and doctrines of the Mosaic records. The affairs of the Greeks were so interwoven with those of the Persians, that the sages of Greece could not be ignorant of the opinions of Zertushta, known to them by the name of Zoroaster, and from this school some of their best notions were derived.

NOTE C.-Page 35.

THE greatest corruptions of religion are to be traced to superstition, and to that vain and bewildering habit of philosophizing which obtained among the ancients, Superstition was the besetting sin of the ignorant, vain speculation of the intelligent, Both sprung from the vicious state of the heart; the expres sion was different, but the effect the same. The evil probably arose in Egypt, and was largely improved upon by the philosophers of Greece and India. Systems, hypotheses, cosmogonies, &c, are all the work of philosophy; and the most subtle and bewildering errors, such as the eternity of matter, the metempsychosis, the absorption of the human soul at death, &c, have sprung from them.-Ancient wisdom, both religious and moral, was contained in great principles, expressed in maxims, without affectation of systematic relation and arrangement, and without any deep research into reasons and causes. The moment philosophy attempted this, the weakness and waywardness of the human mind began to display themselves. Theories sprung up in succession; and confusion and contradiction at length produced skepticism in all, and in many matured it into total unbelief. The speculative habit affected at once the opinions of ancient Africa and Asia; and in India, the philosophy of Egypt and Greece remains to this day, ripened into its full bearing of deleterious fruit.

The similarity of the Greek and modern Asiatic systems is indeed a very curious subject; for in the latter is exhibited at this day the philosophy of paganism, while in other places false religion is seen only or chiefly in its simple form of superstition. The coincidence of the Hindoo and Greek mythology has been traced by Sir W. Jones; and his opinions on this subject are strongly confirmed by the still more striking coincidence in the doctrines of the Hindoo and Grecian philosophical sects. "The period," says Mr. Ward, (View of the History of the Hindoos, &c,) "when the most eminent of the Hindoo philosophers flourished, is still involved in much obscurity; but the apparent agreement in many striking particulars between the Hindoo and the Greek systems of philosophy, not only suggests the idea of some union in their origin, but strongly pleads for their belonging to one age, notwithstanding the unfathomable antiquity claimed by

the Hindoos; and after the reader shall have compared the two systems, the author is persuaded he will not consider the conjecture as improbable, that Pythagoras and others did really visit India, or that Goutumu and Pythagoras were cotemporaries, or nearly so." (Vol. 4.)

Many of the subjects discussed among the Hindoos were the very subjects which excited the disputes in the Greek academies, such as the eternity of matter, the first cause; God the soul of the world; the doctrine of atoms; creation; the nature of the gods; the doctrines of fate, transmigration, successive revolutions of worlds, absorption into the Divine Being," &c. (Ibid. p. 115.)

istic.

Mr. Ward enters at large into this coincidence in his introductory remarks to his fourth volume, to which the reader is referred. It shall only be observed, that those speculations, and subtle arguments just mentioned, both in the Greek and Asiatic branches of pagan philosophy, gave birth to absolute Atheism.Several of the Greek philosophic sects, as is well known, were professedly Athe. Cudworth enumerates four forms assumed by this species of unbelief.The same principles which distinguish their sects may be traced in several of those of the Hindoos, and above all the Atheistical system of Budhoo branched off from the vain philosophy of the Brachminical schools, and has extended farther than Hindooism itself. The reason of all this is truly given by Bishop Warburton, as to the Greeks, and it is equally applicable to the Asiatic philosophy of the present day, which is so clearly one and the same, and also to many errors which have crept into the Church of Christ itself. "The philosophy of the Greeks," he observes, led to unbelief, "because it was above measure refined and speculative, and used to be determined by metaphysical rather than by moral principles, and to stick to all consequences, how absurd soever, that were seen to arise from such principles."

CHAPTER VI.

The Necessity of Revelation ;-State of Religious Knowledge among the Heathen.

SEVERAL presumptive arguments have been offered in favour of the opinion, that almighty God in his goodness has made an express revelation of his will to mankind. They have been drawn from the fact, that we are moral agents, and therefore under a law or rule of conduct —from the consideration that no law can be binding till made known, or at least rendered cognizable by those whom it is intended to governfrom the inability of the generality of men to collect any adequate information on moral and religious subjects by processes of induction-from the insufficiency of reason, even in the wisest, to make any satisfactory discovery of the first principles of religion and duty-from the want of all authority and influence in such discoveries, upon the majority of mankind, had a few minds of superior order and with more favourable opportunities been capable of making them-from the fact that no such. discovery was ever made by the wisest of the ancient sages, inasmuch as the truths they held were in existence before their day, even in the earliest periods of the patriarchal ages-and from the fact, that whatever

truths they collected from early tradition, or from the descendants of Abraham, mediately or immediately, they so corrupted under the pretence of improving them, (5) as to destroy their harmony and moral influence, thereby greatly weakening the probability that moral truth was ever an object of the steady and sincere pursuit of men. To these presumptions in favour of an express revelation, written, preserved with care, and appointed to be preached and published under the authority of its author, for the benefit of all, wise or unwise, we may add the powerful presumption which is afforded by the necessity of the case. necessity of a revelation is to be collected, not only from what has been advanced, but from the state of moral and religious knowledge and practice, in those countries where the records which profess to contain the Mosaic and the Christian revelations have been or are still unknown.

This

The necessity of immediate Divine instruction was acknowledged by many of the wisest and most inquiring of the heathen, under the conviction of the entire inability of man unassisted by God to discover truth with certainty, so greatly had the primitive traditional revelations been obscured by errors before the times of the most ancient of those sages among the heathen whose writings have in whole or in part been transmitted to us, and so little confidence had they in themselves to separate truth from error, or to say, "This is true, and that false." And as the necessity of an express and authenticated revelation was acknowledged, so it was publicly exhibited, because on the very first principles of religion and morals, there was either entire ignorance, or no settled and consonant opinions, even among the wisest of mankind themselves. (6)

(5) Plato, in his Epinominis, acknowledges that the Greeks learned many things from the barbarians, though he asserts, that they improved what they thus borrowed, and made it better, especially in what related to the worship of the gods. (Plat. Oper. p. 703. Edit. Ficin. Lugd. 1590.)

(6) Plato, beginning his discourse of the gods and the generation of the world, cautions his disciples "not to expect any thing beyond a likely conjecture concerning these things." Cicero, referring to the same subject, says, "Latent ista omnia crassis occulta et circumfusa tenebris, all these things are involved in deep obscurity."

The following passage from the same author may be recommended to the consideration of modern exalters of the power of unassisted reason. The treasures of the philosophy of past ages were poured at his feet, and he had studied every branch of human wisdom, with astonishing industry and acuteness, yet he observes, Quod si tales nos natura genuisset, ut eam ipsam intueri, et perspicere, eademque optima duce cursum vitæ conficere possemus; haud erat sane quod quisquam rationem, ac doctrinam requireret. Nunc parvulos nobis dedit igniculos, quos celeriter malis moribus, opinionibusque depravati sic restinguimus, ut nusquam naturæ lumen appareat. If we had come into the world in such circumstances, as that we could clearly and distinctly have discerned nature herself, and have been able in the course of our lives to follow her true and uncorrupted directions, this alone might have been sufficient, and there would have been little need of teaching and instruction; but now nature has given us only some

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