Imágenes de páginas
PDF

of nature by which the several parts of this grand system act in unison, so far as they have been discovered, and are comprehensible to us, and which are acknowledged by the world at large. They are to this effect: That the projectile force of the planets is continually diminishing; therefore, had the present system of things been eternally the same, they would long since have fallen into the sun. That the sun itself is continually losing some of it's light, however small the proportion may be; and of course must have been utterly extinguished. That as the sun and the fixed stars are supposed to attract each other, they must, ere this, have met in the centre of gravity common to the whole universe. That as many substances are constantly petrifying and ossifying, the whole earth must have undergone the same change. And that as hills are continually subsiding, the surface of the whole globe must, ages ago, have been reduced to a level: for if it be urged that the numbers of those so subsiding are counterbalanced by others which we may suppose to have been raised by earthquakes and other violent convulsions, we answer—that the numbers so raised must be small compared with those reduced: not to say, that mountains raised by earthquakes are for the most part hollow, and are therefore naturally more disposed to subside and fall in. This hypothesis supposes that all mountains with which we are now acquainted, are the effects of earthquakes, (admitting that the original ones, through the effects of time, had been levelled, which would doubtless have been the case had the world been eternal); a supposition so absurd, that we need only appeal to such mountains as the Alps, the Peak of Teneriffe, and others, to overthrow it. Many others have been proposed, but we cheerfully leave these hypothetical speculations to the learned and the curious, the philosopher and the naturalist, and pass on to other considerations which we deem more important and more satisfactory. 3. We have no credible history of transactions more remote than six thousand years from the present time. The Chinese, the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, and the Phenicians, have all laid claim to much higher antiquity; but in bringing these pretensions to the test, it is clearly manifest that they do not deserve the credit which they demand. Their chronology is so absurdly extended, as to exceed the bounds of probability, and to excite suspicion in respect of the facts themselves, which are the subjects of their calculations. It has been stated, and rendered probable by the learned writers of the Universal History, in their account of the Tartars'and the Chinese, that a great part of China was very thinly peopled so late as the year before Christ six hundred and thirty-seven, when the Scythians, under the conduct of Madyes, made an irruption into Upper Asia. We have a singular fact to state, which will prove that their boasted antiquity really falls within the limits of the Mosaic chronology. For the evidence which we are about to produce, we are indebted to the discoveries of modern astronomy. The Chinese have ever made a point of inserting in their calendars remarkable eclipses, or conjunctions of the planets, together with the name of that emperor in whose reign they were observed. To these events they have also affixed their own dates. There is a very singular conjunction of the sun, moon, and several planets, recorded in their annals as having taken place almost at the very commencement of their remote history. The far-famed Cassini, to ascertain the fact calculated back, and decisively proved that such an extraordinary conjunction actually did take place at China, on February the twenty-sixth, two thousand and twelve years before Christ. This falls four hundred years after the flood, and a little after the birth of Abraham". Here are two import

* May I be permitted to recommend a small and well-composed treatise, called “The Christian Officer's Panoply,” written by au ex

w

ant facts ascertained. The one is, that the Chinese are an ancient nation, although perhaps not at that time a very large one; and the other, that their pretensions to antiquity beyond that of Moses are unfounded: because this event, which they themselves represent as happening near the beginning of their immense calculations, falls far within the history and chronology of the scriptures. The Egyptians pretended in like manner to possess an exact narration for some myriads of years. Their inaccuracy is demonstrable from a plain matter of fact. They professed to preserve the records of other ancient nations as well as of their own; and their evident fallacy in relation to other empires, marks, the dependance which we ought to place in their history respecting themselves; and proves that we should receive their calculations with great caution, and under considerable limitations. When Alexander entered with his victorious army into Egypt, the priests professed to shew him out of their sacred annals an account of the Macedonian and Persian empires through a period of eight thousand years: while it appears from the best historical accounts, that the Persian empire was not then three hundred years old: nor had the Macedonian been founded quite five centuries. In order to establish their chronology, they make their first kings, on their own calculations, reign above twelve hundred years each; and for the same reason the Assyrians make their monarchs reign above forty thousand years. We might adduce a variety of similiar instances of unbounded licence in the pretensions of the Chaldeans, Phenicians, and some other nations. But it is unnecessary to pursue the inquiry farther. Such extravagance defeats it's own purposes; since no dependance can be placed upon calculations so chimerical". 4. We are able to ascertain the periods when the most useful arts and sciences were invented; which could not be done with certainty, had the world been eternal, because many of them would have been involved and buried in the

cellent officer in the marines now living, and personally known to me? It is published by Matthews. This singular fact is recorded in this little volume, which is the best compendium of evidences in favour of the Bible, and the most familiar I have ever seen. The style of writing adopted is at once entertaining and instructive; and I never received more of pleasure and of satisfaction, from any book which I ever perused.

* See Pearson on the Creed: page 58–60, Folie edition of 1669. Consult also Stillingfleet's Origines Sacrae.

« AnteriorContinuar »