Page images


ning, and being subject to no end. The three principles of all things are, according to his system, matter, form, and privation; the two former essential to the constitution of all things, and the latter entering accidentally,--as he termed it, - into their composition, whence they undergo a change of form.

On the other hand, it will be found upon examination, that "those philosophers who preceded Aristotle, regarded the Deity as the Supreme Being; as infinite in power, and majesty, and goodness; as ordering and directing the affairs of men; and as the author of all that has existence."2 How then, it will be asked, are we to account for these marked differences in their respective systems? This, we reply, is obvious. The former was satisfied to receive as traditionary truth, that system of philosophy which their capacities of reason, or means of knowledge, could neither refute nor improve. And, as we have demonstrated, that neither Adam nor Moses could have derived this knowledge without a direct revelation from God, all the ancient heathen nations must have received their traditions from the Hebrews. Nor will this be questioned for a moment, provided, upon a comparison of the matter of fact history of the creation as given by Moses, with the most ancient systems of heathen philosophy, there can be traced any tolerable marks of correspondence.

The Egyptians, Diodorus Siculus informs us, affirmed, that in the beginning the heavens and the

1. Ibid. p. 349, 350.

2. Ibid. p. 346.

earth were in one lump, mixed and blended together in the same mass. By the heavens, the Egyptians understood simply “the air and planetary regions belonging to our world; for the first Greeks, who received their learning from Egypt, agree very fully with Moses in this point. “In the beginning,” says Orpheus, “ the heavens were made by God, and in the heavens there was a chaos, and a terrible darkness was on all the parts of this chaos, and covered all things under the heaven;" (See Gen. i., 1, 2.) by which he meant, as Syrian observes, that “the heavens and the chaos were the principia, out of which the rest were produced.” So “Anaxagorus,” who, with the most of the ancient writers, begin their accounts of the origin of the material heavens and earth from the commencement of their organization, as Laertius informs us, begins his book, — “All things were at first in one mass, but an intelligent agent came and put it in order."1 With this agrees Aristotle, who, as we have said, when borrowing from a previous school, approaches to truth.

All things," says he, “lay in one mass for a vast space of time, but an intelligent agent came and put them in motion, and so separated them from one another." 2 So of Sanchoniathon, when divested of "the mythology and false philosophy which those who lived after him added to his writings.” He taught, “that there was a dark and confused chaos, and a blast of wind or air to put it in a ferment or agitation," by which word "wind"

1. Shuck. Con. I., p. 23.

2. Ibių.

avemos xolala Mr. Shuckford contends he meant, not the wind Colpia, but aveuos Col-pi-jah, i. e., the wind or breath of the voice of the mouth of the Lord; and,” adds he, “if this was his meaning, he very emphatically expresses God's making all things with a word, and intimates also what the Chaldee paraphrase insinuates from the words of Moses, that the chaos was put into its first agitation by a mighty and strong wind.” 1

The Greek writer Thales was of the opinion; “ that the first principle of all thing was vows, or water," which opinion is confirmed by the testimony of Tully. Thales, however, with all the ancient philosophers used the word water in the sense of “Chaos, from 78m), the Greek word which signifies diffusion; so that the word Chaos was used ambiguously, sometimes as a proper name, and sometimes for water," or, “a fluid substance." “From Plutarch's observation, Thales', vdus (water) was not pure elementary water.” “ Thus Sanchoniathon argues; from Chaos he supposes muddy matter to arise ; and thus Orpheus, out of the fluid Chaos, arose a muddy substance; and Apollonius, out of the muddy substance the earth was formed, i. e., says the scholiast, the Chaos, of which all things were made, was a fluid substance, which, by settling, became mud, and that in time dried and condensed into solid earth. It is remarkable that Moses calls the Chaos, water, in this sense; "the spirit of

1. Ibid. p. 23, 24.

God," he says, moved upon the face of the maim, waters, or fluid matter.” 1

To what conclusion, then, we ask, do these facts conduct us? The facts we mean, first, of the knowledge of the science of physiology by the ancients through the medium of tradition; and second, of the utter failure of all the philosophers of Greece, even Aristotle not excepted, to originate any new system, which, so far from proving the fallacy of the old traditionary philosophy, could not even give a reasonable account of the first principles of which it was constructed. The inevitable conclusion is, that the principles of the old traditionary philosophy lay entirely beyond the discoveries of Human Reason. On this ground, what was true of Thales, Pythagorus, and Aristotle, was true also of Moses, familiar as he doubtless was in his knowledge of the Egyptian philosophy. Nor did he in his cosmogony attempt to account for the how and the wherefore of things

that account being “a bare recital of facts.” The facts, therefore, as related by Moses, must have been imparted to him by Divine Revelation, or else he must have received them from his ancestors. And, if we adopt the latter hypothesis, and inquire, from whom did they receive their information, a few generations conduct us back to the first man Adam. But even here, we must encounter the same difficulties as at the first. For we ask, “whenee had he this knowledge ?" Could he, by his own reason, account for “the man

L Shuck. Con. I., pp. 24, 25.

ner of his own creation," with that of the primordial Chaos and the formation of the material earth and heavens, both of which existed before he had any being ?

"A due consideration of these things must lead us to believe, that God at first revealed these things unto men; that He acquainted them with what He had done in the creation of the world : and what He had thus communicated to them, they transmitted to their childrens children. Thus God, who in these last days hath spoken to us by His son, did in the beginning in some extraordinary manner speak unto our fathers ; for there was a stock of knowledge in the world, which we cannot see how the possessors

could possibly have obtained in any other way. Therefore, fact as well as history, testifies, that the notion of a Revelation is no dream; and that Moses, in representing the early ages of the world as having had converse with the Deity, does no more than what the state of their knowledge obliges us to believe." i

Thus, therefore, as we flatter ourselves, have we clearly demonstrated the superiority of the claims of Moses as an historian, to guide our subsequent investigations; and this, as predicated of the argument of greater antiquity than that of any other writer extant; proof being principally derived from the internal evidence, that their productions, so far as connected with the science of physiology, were borrowed from the sacred records of the Hebrews.

1. Shuck. Con. I., pp. 31–33.

« PreviousContinue »