« AnteriorContinuar »
of the furvivors; that they would make it the subject of their converfation; that the tradition would be long continued and far extended; that places would be named; that publick proceffions, facred rites, and folemn festivals would be inftituted, having reference to the amazing catastrophe ; and that, if idolatry fucceeded, Noah and his family would be among the early objects of religious worfhip. If fuch events are numerous among ancient nations, they will be conclusive evidence of the flood; for why fhould there be inftitutions to commemorate a deluge, rather than a univerfal peftilence or conflagration? If there be not traces of fuch inftitutions, near the scene of Noah's deliverance, the luftre of the Mofaick history will be clouded. We now proceed to the examination; but the limits of the Panoplift permit only a small portion of these facts to be brought to view.
Nufa. In all these countries, not only cities and mountains rofe in honour of the righteous patriarch, but the fame traditions of the flood were extended. In all these countries, befide other circumftances: agreeing with fcripture, Noah is faid to have been preferved in an ark. Philo afferts that Deucalion and Noah were the fame. The Grecians, he fays, call the perfon Deucalion; but the Chaldeans ftile him Noe, in whose time was a great irruption of water. Jofephus fays the flood was mentioned in the writings of all, who treated of the firft ages. He mentions Berofus of Chaldea, Hieronymus of Egypt, Mnafeas, Abydenus, Melon, and Nicolaus Damafcenus.
The name of Noah was long preferved among the nations of the eaft. He was called Noas, Naus, and Nous. Suidas has preserved this tradition of him. "Nannaus," faith he, "foreseeing the deluge, collected every body together, and led them to a temple, where he offered up prayers for them with many tears." His name has often become unlike itself, being fashioned to the idiom of different nations; but the circumftances of his history remain particular and precife. By the Greeks he was called Dionufus.
Cities and mountains bore the name of Noah or Nufa in Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt Babylonia, Thrace, Theffaly, Cilicia, Libya, Lydia, Macedonia, and Naxos. Alfo on Caucafus and Pelicon, in Eubœa, and India, were places called
Proceeding eastward we find the event becomes more certain, the tradition more particular, and more minutely conformable to the account of Mofes. From the records of Babylon and Media Abydenus quoted, "that the flood began on the fifteenth of Dafius, that Seithrus fent out birds to learn whether the flood had fubfided; that they returned; that the third time their feet were ftained with mud; that he then quitted the ark." He fays, that the ark refted on a mountain of Armenia. Plutarch mentions the dove, fent forth by Noah. But the most minute Pagan account is from Lucian. He was born on the banks of the Euphrates, where the traditions and religious rites, minutely reprefented the flood. Among other things, he fays, that the antediluvians were men of violence, inhofpitable, and unmerciful, regardless of oaths and laws, for which they were deftroyed; that for this purpose there was an eruption of water from the earth, with heavy rains from heaven.
The rivers fwelled; the fea overflowed, the whole earth was covered, and, excepting Deucalion, all fleth were drowned. Animals of every fpecies followed him into the ark by pairs.
Most of these authors affert, that the remains of the ark were vifible in their time, on a mountain of Armenia. Abydenus fays, that the people used to carry pieces of the wood, as an amulet. Berofus fays, they fcraped off the afphaltus or pitch, as a charm. Some of the chriftian fathers infift, that the ark was in being in their time. Theophilus fays, its remains were visible on a mountain of Armenia. Chryfoftom speaks of the fact, as well known. "Do not," fays he, "thofe mountains of Armenia bear witnefs to the truth; thofe mountains where the ark first rested; and are not the remains preferved there to this day?" So extenfive was the gentile history of the flood, varied indeed according to the manners of different nations, yet retaining the material circumstances.
So deeply affected, fo devoutly impreffed were fucceeding generations, that, in commemoration of this terrible event, many particulars of it were incorporated with their religious folemnities. The priests of Amon, at particular feafons, carried in publick proceffion a boat, in which was an oracular fhrine, holden in great veneration. In Egypt was a fimilar cuftom. Thefe proceffions are carved in the temples of Upper Egypt. The fhip Ifis was a facred emblem among the Egyptians, in honour of which they had an annual festival; the rite was borrowed by the Romans. The name of the fhips and fhrines was Baris, a remarkable circum
ftance; this being a name of the mountain, on which the ark refted, the fame as Ararat. There is a large mountain fays Nicolaus Damascenus, in Armenia, called Baris; and there is a tradition, that in the deluge one perfon floating in an ark, arrived at the fummit of this mountain.
It is faid, Sefoftris built a fhip of cedar, 280 cubits long, the outfide covered with gold, the infide with filver; that he dedicated it to Ofiris at Thebes, an inland city of Upper Egypt. It was doubt. lefs a reprefentation of the ark. It was called Theba, as was the city. Theba was the very name of Noah's ark. He was ordered to build an ark; in Hebrew, Theba. In other countries an ark was among the mysteries of their religion, and carried about at their feftivals. At Erathra, in Ionia, the deity was reprefented upon a float, in a temple of the highest antiquity. At Athens, at Phalerus, at Olympia, a fhip was carried in proceffion with great reverence. Shrines were generally fhaped in the form of fhips; yea fhips and temples received their names from this event, being stiled Naus and Naos, and failors Nautai, in reference to the patriarch, Naos, Naus, or Noah. When referring to the deluge, the Greek writers always fpeak of an ark, and, though they often call the fame perfon by various names, they make all of them to be preferved in an ark. Thus Ofiris, Comates, Deucalion, Perfeus, and Dionufus, were all prefer ved in an ark. These are fufficient proofs, that the deluge was well known in the gentile world.
Many colonies ftiled themselves Thebeans, from Thebe, an ark. Hence many cities were called Theba, as in Egypt, Bocotia, Cili
cia, Tonia, Attica, Syria, Italy, and other countries. Kibotos is another name of the ark ufed by the writers of the new Teftament. This name the Greeks probably borrowed from the Eat. Accordingly, a haven in Egypt and a city of great antiquity in Phrygia bore this name. A coin of Philip, the elder, ftruck at this place, had on the reverse a history of the flood in miniature. A fquare veffel or ark is graven, in which are a man and woman; over the ark fits a dove; below is another on the wing, holding a fmall branch in its mouth. Before the ark a man and woman feem jult to have left it, underneath the perfon is the word Noe. The gentiles reckoned the ark, as a temple, and the refidence of the Deity; and the perfons faved were finally confidered, as deities. Hence the ancient gods of Egypt were precifely eight. Agreeably with fcripture the ancient writers always reprefent Noah, as the first after the deluge who built an altar to God, planted a vineyard, and made wine.
called the fhip of Ofiris. Plu tarch fays, the veffel in the facred fphere, which the Grecians call the Argo, reprefented the ship of Ofiris, which, from reverence, had been placed in the heavens. The precife meaning of Argus is an ark, fynonimous with Theba. When the ark of God was to be reftored to the Ifraelites, prefents of atonement were put into an argus. As colonies went abroad, called Thebeans, or Arkites, and built cities, called Theba or Ark; fo were many cities in different countries called Argos, as in Theffaly, Boeotia, Epirus and Sicily. In all which places is the tradition of Deucalion and the ark. The whole Peloponnefus was once called Argos. The ancients defcribed, the ark, as a lunette, or half moon; it was therefore called Meen, which fignifies a moon, and a crefcent became its fymbol. Of course the patriarch was called Meen, and Menes, and was worshipped in all the nations of the Eaft, as Deus Lunus, or the Lunar God. the Lunar God. This Lunar God, according to Strabo, had temples erected for his worship in Phrygia, in Pifidia, and in many other places.
In thefe facts we fee how extenfive and permanent was the remembrance of the deluge. Is it poffible for any man to read, and impartially confider these things, and reject the account of Noah's flood? Is it conceivable, that fuch uniformity of religious rites, fuch uniformity of names, of hieroglyphicks, and traditions exifts by chance? As well may a palace or city rife by chance from the fands of Africa, or the forefts of America.
[To be continued.]
In the delineation of the fphere, though altered in the hands of the Greeks, there remains evidence, that reference was had to the deluge. According to Hegefianax, Aquarias was Noah or Deucalion. Berofus relates that Noah was reprefented by a fish, and Hyginus fpeaks of the fishes on the fphere, as representations of perfons, and mentions from Eratofthenes, that the fish Notas was the father of mankind. Tradition relates, that the raven was fent on a meffage by Apollo, and never returned; this bird is placed in the fphere; and there is Argo, the facred fhip; formed by divine wifdom. This was the ark of Noah, fometimes
For the Panoplist. Letters to a brother, a young man of fashion. LETTER I.
ON THE IMMUTABILITY OF RELIGION.
It is often a subject of regret, that I can so seldom enjoy your company. But be assured, our long separations do not diminish that love, which began to glow in my breast at your birth, and constantly grew with your growth. With what sensations of mingled pleasure and gloom do I recall the years of our childhood and youth. How pleasing were the scenes, through which we passed. How many the advantages we enjoyed. Our parents, now sleeping in death, were tender, exemplary and pious. Such parents ought to be recorded among the best gifts of heaven. May we never forget their excellent instructions, their worthy characters, their anxious concern for our good.
You know not, my dear brother, with what emotions I heard you say, when I was last at your house, that the religion of the fathers of New England, though well enough adapted to their condition, is by no means suited to this enlightened, polished ege. You gave to all present a
proof of your candour, by acknowledging what, I apprehend, is capa ble of abundant confirmation, that the early religion of New England was, in substance, the same with primitive christianity. But you added, what is called orthodoxy might be very well fitted for men just delivered from the idols of paganism, for men beginning to emerge from the darkness and superstition of popery, and for men exiled from their country by the hand of persecution, and employed in establishing the rudiments of learning and piety in the American wilderness. But that religion is not necessary for men of better education and more refined morals. In short, you gave it as your opinion, that there is no need of supposing the doctrines and exercises of religion to be at all times precisely the same, but that they may undergo a change corresponding with the great changes which take place in society.
Bear with me, dear brother, while I attempt, with the freedom which warm affection inspires, to expose the fallacy and danger of such an opinion. This I do in obedience to the solemn charge, which I received from our dying father. My son, said he, with a faltering voice, that God who has been pleased to take your amiable mother to himself, now calls for me.
Through what scenes have we both passed since our father's decease. Divine Providence has favoured you with uninterrupted health and prosperity, and finally placed you in a very eligible situation. But while I rejoice in your worldly prosperity, my joy is not without abatement. It is painful to this heart of mine, which so tenderly loves you, to think of the dan-nestly recommend you to his mercy. gers attending your present flour- And I desire you to consider the ishing condition; especially as the tender age of your dear little broth circle of your particular friends is er. I know your affection for him. removed far from the examples, I charge you to take care of his soul. which we were early taught to Now as I write in the name of our honoured father, and shall defend that religion, which animated him in life, and consoled him in death; I am sure that you, to whom his memory is so dear, will peruse what I write with seriousness and candour.
The first consideration which occurs, is, the immutability of God,
gressive cultivation of reason will add any thing to revelation. Nor has he empowered us to lay aside, as obsolete, any part of revealed truth, and substitute in its place the improvements of human wisdom.
the object and the author of all true religion. Although human things are all subject to change; although your temporal affairs now so prosperous, may tomorrow be in the most calamitous state; although the revolutions of the age may demolish institutions, which have been the boast of other times; although rising improvements in the arts and sciences may obliterate every trace of former ignorance and weakness; still God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Now that religion which has the unchangeable God for its object, and essentially consists in conformity to his holy character, must be unchangeable. Since the life of our parents, since the days of our forefathers, or since the age of the apostles, has there been any change in Jehovah, which makes it proper to render him a religious service less humble, less strict, solemn, and evangelical, than that which they rendered?
The precepts or practical rules of religion are also from God, and are therefore immutable. Jesus spoke not the language of modern fashionable religion, when he said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than one jot or tittle of the law to fail." God's law, my brother, admits no alteration, and is no respector of persons. It requires the same duties of the rich and the poor, of the learned and the ignorant, of the refined and the vulgar, of the king on his throne, and the servant of meanest name. It laid equal obligations on polished Greeks and wild barbari
The immutable God is not only the object, but the author of all true religion. The doctrines or truths of religion are contained in the volume of inspiration. They were written there, my brother, by the finger of God. The tenets of heathen philosophy, passing through the hands of changeable men, who modelled them as they would, had But no fixed, invariable stamp. the doctrines of revelation, coming from an unchangeable source, are the same in all ages. God is the author of only one system of religious truth. He has not, since the apostles' day, introduced a new system, nor altered that which was given to them. That which they believed, which, you grant, differed not materially from that which our pious ancestors believed, is that which we must believe. The author of all religious truth has not taught us to expect, that the pro
The accomplished Saul, when divinely taught the unchangeable strictness and perfection of the law, found himself upon a level with the greatest criminals. The law being once published by the unchangeable Jehovah, can never be altered, except by the authority of him who made it. But has God ever authorized us to lower the precepts of the law, or the gospel, and to adapt them to the varying manners and situations of men? Are not they who possess the greatest advantages of fortune, under as high obligations to obey the commands of Christ, as they who possess the least? Consider those precepts of christianity, which require the greatest strictness of religion, the most unreserved de"Whosoever will votion to God. come after me, let him deny himself, take up the cross, and follow me. If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. If thy