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the Gods. (4) Plato is express on this subject. "After a certain flood, which but few escaped, on the increase of mankind, they had neither letters, writing, nor laws, but obeyed the manners and institutions of their fathers as laws; that when colonics separated from them, they took an elder for their leader, and in their new settlements retained the customs of their ancestors, those especially which related to their gods; and thus transmitted them to their posterity; they imprinted them on the minds of their sons; and they did the same to their children. This was the origin of right laws, and of the different forms of government.” (5)

This so exactly harmonizes with the Mosaic account, as to the flood of Noah, the origin of nations, and the Divine institution of religion and laws, that either the patriarchal traditions embodied in the writings of Moses, had gone down with great exactness to the times of Plato; or the writings of Moses were known to him; or he had gathered the substance of them, in his travels, from the Egyptian, the Chaldean, or the Magian philosophers.

Nor is this an unsupported acknowledgment. The evidence is most abundant, that the primitive Source from whence every great religious and moral truth was drawn, must be fixed in that part of the world, where Moses places the dwelling of the patriarchs of the human race, who walked with God and received the law from his mouth. (6) There, in the earliest times, civilization and polity

(4) Xen. Mem. lib. 4, cap. 4, sect. 19, 20.-To the same effect is that noble passage of Cicero cited by Lactantius out of his work De Republica.

"Est quidem vera lex, recta ratio, naturæ congruens, diffusa in omnes, constans, sempiterna, quæ vocet ad officium jubendo, vetando a fraude deterreat; quæ tamen neque probos frustra jubet, aut vetat; nec improbos jubendo aut vetando movet. Huic legi nec abrogari fas est; nec derogari ex hac aliquid licet; neque tota abrogari potest. Nec vero aut per senatum, aut per populum solvi hac lege possumus; neque est quærendus explanator, aut interpres ejus alius. Nec enim alia lex Romæ, alia Athenis, alia nunc, alia posthac; sed et emnes gentes, et omni tempore, una lex et sempiterna et immutabilis continebit; unusque erit communis quasi magister et imperator omnium Deus, ille legis hujus inventor, disceptator lator; cui qui non parebit, ipse se fugiet, ac naturam hominis aspernabitur; atque hoc ipso luet maximas pænas, etiamsi cætera supplicia, quæ putantur, effugerit:" From which it is clear that Cicero acknowledged a law antecedent to all human civil institutions, and independent of them, binding upon all, constant and perpetual, the same in all times and places, not one thing at Rome, and another at Athens; of an authority so high that no human power had the right to alter or annul it; having God for its Author, in his character of universal Master and Sovereign; taking hold of the very consciences of men, and following them with its animadversions, though they should escape the hand of man, and the penalties of human codes. (5) De Leg. 3.

(6) "The East was the source of knowledge from whence it was communicated. to the western parts of the world. There the most precious remains of ancient tradition were found. Thither the most celebrated Greek philosophers travelled in quest of science, or the knowledge of things divine and human, and thither the lawgivers had recourse in order to their being instructed in laws and civil policy."


were found, whilst the rest of the earth was covered with savage tribes,—a strong proof that Asia was the common centre from whence the rest of mankind dispersed, who, as they wandered from these primitive seats, and addicted themselves more to the chace than to agriculture, became in most instances barbarous. (7)

In the multifarious and bewildering superstitions of all nations we also discover a very remarkable substratum of common tradition and religious faith.

The practice of sacrifice, which may at once be traced into all nations, and to the remotest antiquity, affords an eminent proof of the common origin of religion; inasmuch as no reason drawn from the nature of the rite itself, or the circumstances of men, can be given for the universality of the practice: and as it is clearly a positive institute, and opposed to the interests of men, it can only be accounted for by an injunction, issued at a very early period of the world, and solemnly imposed. This injunction indeed received a force, either from its original appointment, or from subsequent circumstances, from which the human mind could never free itself. "There continued," says Dr. Shuckford, "for a long time among the nations usages which shew that there had been an ancient universal religion; several traces of which appeared in the rites and ceremonies which were observed in religious worship. Such was the custom of sacrifices expiatory and precatory, both the sacrifices of animals and the oblations of wine, oil, and the fruits and products of the earth. These and other things which were in use among the patriarchs, obtained also among the Gentiles."

The events, and some of the leading opinions of the earliest ages mentioned in Scripture, may also be traced among the most barbarous, as well as in the Oriental, the Grecian, and the Roman systems of Mythology. Such are the FORMATION OF THE WORLD; the FALL AND CORRUPTION OF MAN; the hostility of a powerful and supernatural agent of wickedness under his appropriate and scriptural emblem, the SERPENT; the DESTRUCTION OF THE WORLD BY WATER; the REPEOPLE-ING OF IT BY THE SONS OF NOAH: the EXPECTATION OF ITS FINAL DESTRUCTION BY

(7) The speculations of infidels as to the gradual progress of the original men from the savage life, and the invention of language, arts, laws, &c., have been too much countenanced by philosophers bearing the name of Christ, some of them even holding the office of teachers of his religion. The writings of Moses sufficiently shew that there never was a period in which the original tribes of men were in a savage state, and the gradual process of the developement of a higher condition is a chimera. To those who profess to believe the Scriptures, their testimony ought to be sufficient: to those who do not, they are at least as good history as any other.

FIRE; and, above all, the promise of a great and Divine DELIVERER. (8)

The only method of accounting for this, is, that the same traditions were transmitted from the progenitors of the different families of mankind after the flood; that in some places they were strengthened and the impressions deepened by successive revelations, which assumed the first traditions, as being of Divine original, for their basis, and thus renewed the knowledge which had formerly been communicated, at the very time they enlarged it : and further that from the written revelations which were afterwards made to one people, some rays of reflected light were constantly glancing upon the surrounding nations.

Nor are we at a loss to trace this communication of truth froma common source to the Gentile nations; and also to shew that they actually did receive accessions of information, both directly and indirectly, from a people who retained the primitive theological system in its greatest purity.

We shall see sufficient reasons, when we come to speak on that subject, to conclude that all mankind have descended from one common pair.

If man is now a moral agent, the first man must be allowed to have been a moral agent, and, as such, under rules of obedience; in which rules it is far more probable that he should be instructed by his Maker by means of direct communication, than that he should be left to collect the will of his Maker from observation and experience. Those who deny the scripture account of the introduction of death into the world, and think the human species were always liable to it, are bound to admit a revelation from God to the first pair as to the wholesomeness of certain fruits, and the destructive habits of certain animals, or our first progenitors would have been far more exposed to danger from deleterious fruits, &c., and in a more miserable condition through their fears, than any of their descendants, because they were without experience, and could have no information.(9) But it is far more probable, that they should have express information as to the will of God concerning their conduct; for until they had settled by a course of rational induction what was right, and what wrong, they could not, properly speaking, be moral agents; and from the difficulties of such an enquiry, especially until they had had a long experience of the steady course of nature, and

(8) See Note A at the end of this Chapter.

(9) See DELANEY'S Revelation Examined with Candour, Dissertations 1 and 2.

the effect of certain actions upon themselves and society, they might possibly arrive at very different conclusions. (1)

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But in whatever way the moral and religious knowledge of the first man was obtained, if he is allowed to have been under an efficient law he must at least have known, in order to the right regulation of himself, every truth essential to religion, and to personal, domestic, and social morals, since the truth on these subjects was as essential to him as to his descendants, and more especially because he was so soon to be the head and paternal governor, by a natural relation, of a numerous race, and to possess, by virtue of that relation, great influence over them. If we assume, therefore, that the knowledge of the first man was taught to his children, and it were the greatest absurdity to suppose the contrary, then, whether he received his information on the principal doctrines of religion, and the principal rules of morals, by express revelation from God, or by the exercise of his own natural powers, all the great principles of religion, and of personal, domestic and social morals, must have been at once communicated to his children, immediately descending from him; and we clearly enough see the reason why the earliest writers on these subjects make no pretence of being the discoverers of the leading truths of morals and religion, but speak of them as opinions familiar to men, and generally received. This primitive religious and moral system, as far as regards first principles, and all their important particular applications, was also complete, or there had been neither efficient religion nor morality in the first ages,-which is contrary to all tradition and to all history; and that this system was actually transmitted, is clear from this, that the wisdom of very early ages consisted not so much in natural and speculative science, as in moral notions, rules of conduct, and an acquaintance with the opinions of still preceding sages.

The few persons through whom this system was transmitted to Noah, for in fact Methuselah was cotemporary both with Adam and Noah, rendered any great corruption impossible; and therefore the crimes charged upon the Antediluvians are violence and other species of wickedness, rather than the corruption of truth; and Noah was "a preacher of righteousness," rather than a restorer of doctrine.

The flood (2) being so awful and marked a declaration of (1)" It is very probable," says Puffendorf, "that God taught the first men the chief heads of natural law."

(2) Whatever may be thought respecting the circumstances of the flood as mentioned by Moses, there is nothing in that event, considered as the punishment of a guilty race, and as giving an attestation of God's approbation of right principles and a right conduct, to which a consistent Theist can object. For if the will of God

God's anger against the violation of the laws of this primitive religion, would give great force and sanction to it, as a religious system, in the minds of Noah's immediate descendants. The existence of God; his providence; his favour to the good; his anger against evil-doers; the great rules of Justice and Mercy; the practice of a sacrificial worship; the observance of the Sabbath; the promise of a deliverer, and other similar tenets, were among the articles and religious rites of this primitive system: nor can any satisfactory account be given, why they were transmitted to so many people, in different parts of the world; why they have continued to glimmer, through the darkness of paganism to this day; why we find them more or less recognized in the mythology, traditions, and practices of almost all ages ancient and modern, -except that they received some original sanction of great efficacy, deeply fixing them in the hearts of the patriarchs of all the families of men. Those who deny the Revelations contained in the Scriptures, have no means of accounting for these facts, which in themselves are indisputable. They have no theory respecting them which is not too childish to deserve serious refutation, and they usually prefer to pass them over in silence. But the believer in the Scriptures can account for them, and he alone. The destruction of wicked men by the flood, put the seal of Heaven upon the religious system transmitted from Adam; and under the force of this Divine and unequivocal attestation of its truth, the sons and descendants of Noah went forth into their different settlements bearing for ages the deep impression of its sanctity and authority-an impression which at length gave way to vice, superstition, and false philosophy: but superstition perverted truth, rather than displaced it; and the doctrines, the history, and even the hopes of the first ages, were never entirely banished from even those fables which became baleful substitutes for their simplicity.

In the family of Abraham the true God was acknowledged. Melchizedeck was the Sovereign of one of the nations of Canaan and Priest of the Most High God, and his subjects must therefore have been worshippers of the true Divinity. Abimeleck the Philistine and his people, both in Abraham's days and in Isaac's, were also worshippers of Jehovah, and acknowledged the same moral principles which were held sacred in the elect

is to be collected from observing the course of nature and providence, such signa and remarkable events in his government as the deluge, whether universal or only co-extensive with the existing race of men, may be expected to occur; and especially when an almost universal punishment, as connected with an almost universal wickedness, so strikingly indicated an observant and a righteous government.

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