Sidor som bilder

many alterations, by the utter destructions of nations and depopulations of countries, by which all monuments of antiquity were defaced, all arts and sciences utterly lost, all fair and stately fabrics ruined, and so mankind reduced to paucity, and the world often again returned into its infancy. This they conceived to have been done oftentimes in several ages, sometimes by a deluge of water, sometimes by a torrent of fire; and, lest any of the elements might be thought not to conspire to the destruction of mankind, the air must sweep away whole empires at once with infectious plagues, and earthquakes swallow up all ancient cities, and bury even the very ruins of them. By which answer of theirs they plainly afford two great advantages to the Christian faith. First, because they manifestly shew that they had an universal tradition of Noah's flood, and the overthrow of the old world : Secondly, because it was evident to them, that there was no way to salve the eternity or antiquity of the world, or to answer this argument drawn from history and the appearances of things themselves, but by supposing innumerable deluges and deflagrations. Which being merely feigned in themselves, not proved (and that first' by them, which say they are not subject themselves unto them, as the Egyptians did, who by the advantage of their peculiar situation feared neither perishing by fire nor water), serve only for a confirmation of

the world but few thousand years old,
as we believe, and that it should at
last be consumed, as we also are
persuaded, thinks this answer of
theirs so far from being a refu.
tation of the former, that he ad.
mits it as a confirmation of the latter
part of his opinion. De Rerum Na-
tura, l. v. 338.
Quod si forte fuisse antehac eadem omnia

Sed perüsse hominum torrenti sæcla vapore,
Aut cecidisse urbis magno vexamine mundi,
Aut ex imbribus adsiduis exisse rapaces
Per terras amnes atque oppida cooperuisse :
Tanto quique magis victus fateare necessest,
Exitium quoque terrarum cælique futurum.'

1 "Έστωσαν δε τω Κέλση του περί των εκπυρώσεων και εξυδατώσεων μύθου διδάσκαλοι οι κατ' αυτόν σοφώτατου AlyúaTiOL. Orig. cont. Celsum, l. i. $ 20. [Vol. 1. p. 338 B.]

? So that Egyptian priest in Plato's Timæus tells Solon that the fable of Phaethon did signify a real conflagration of the world: but so as all they which lived in mountains or dry parts of the earth were scorched and con. sumed, but of those which lived near the seas or rivers in the valleys, some were preserved: nuir sé, saith he, ó Νείλος είς τε τάλλα σωτήρ, και τότε εκ ταύτης της απορίας σώζει λυόμενος. . [p. 22 D.) Thus the Egyptians pretend Nilus saved them from the flames of Phaethon. Nor were they only safe from conflagrations, but from inun. dations also. For when in Greece or other parts a deluge happened, then all their cities were swept away into the sea : Κατά δε τήνδε την χώραν, says the priest, ούτε τότε, ούτε άλλοτε άνωθεν επί τας αρούρας ύδωρ επιρρεί :

Gen. ii. 1.

Noah's flood so many ages past, and the surer expectation of
St Peter's fire, we know not how soon to come.

It remaineth then that we stedfastly believe, not only 62 that the “heavens and earth, and all the host of them” were made, and so acknowledge a creation, or an actual and immediate dependence of all things on God; but also that all things were created by the hand of God, in the same manner, and at the same time, which are delivered unto us in the books of Moses by the Spirit of God, and so acknowledge a novity, or no long existence of the creature.

Neither will the novity of the world appear more plainly unto our conceptions, than if we look upon our own successions. The vulgar accounts, which exhibit about five thousand six hundred years, though sufficiently refuting an eternity, and allaying all conceits of any great antiquity, are not yet so properly and nearly operative on the thoughts of men, as a reflection upon our own generations. The first of men was but six days younger than the being, not so many than the appearance, of the earth : and if any particular person would consider how many degrees in a direct line he probably is removed from that single person Adam, who bare together the name of man and of the earth from whence he came, he could not choose but think himself so near the original fountain of mankind, as not to conceive any great antiquity of the world. For though the ancient heathens did imagine innumerable: ages and generations of men past, though

το δ' εναντίον, κάτωθεν επανιέναι πέ-
φυκεν. όθεν και δι'

αιτίας τάνθάδε
σωζόμενα λέγεται παλαιότατα. ibid.]
So Egypt receiving not their waters
from above by clouds, but from below
by springs filling the river Nile, was
out of danger in a deluge, and there-
by preserved the most ancient monu-
ments and records. But, alas, this
is a poor shift to them which believe
that in the great and universal flood,
all the fountains of the great deep
were broken up, and the windows of
heaven were opened. Gen. vii. 11.

i So Cicero indeed speaks, innumerabilia sæcula, in his book of Divi. nation [De Divinatione, Lib. ii. c. 71.

8 147]; and Socrates in Plato's Theatetus brings this argument against the pride of great and noble families, that they which mention a succession of their ancestors which have been rich and powerful, do it merely ind απαιδευσίας, ου δυναμένων εις το παων αεί βλέπειν, ουδέ λογίζεσθαι, ότι πάππων και προγόνων μυριάδες εκάστω γεγόνασιν αναρίθμητοι, εν αις πλούσιοι και πτωχοί, και βασιλείς και δούλοι, βάρβαροί τε και "Έλληνες πολλάκις μυρίoι γεγόνασιν ότφουν» [p. 175 Α.] as if every person were equally bonourable, having innumerable an. cestors, rich and poor, servants and kings, learned and barbarous.

Origen? did fondly seem to collect so much by some misinterpretations of the Scriptures; yet if we take a sober view, and make but rational collections from the chronology of the Sacred Writ, we shall find no man's pedigree very exorbitant, or in his line of generation descent of many score.

When the age of man was long, in the infancy of the world, we find ten generations extend to one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years, according to the shortest, which is thought, because the Hebrew, therefore the best account; according to the longest, which because the Septuagint's, is not to be contemned, two thousand two hundred and sixtytwo, or rather two thousand two hundred and fifty-six. From the flood brought at that time upon the earth for the sins of men which polluted it, unto the birth of Abraham, the father of the faithful, not above ten generations, if so many, took up two hundred and ninety-two years according to the least, one thousand one hundred and thirty-two according to the largest account. Since which time the ages of men have been very much alike proportionably long; and it is agreed by all that there have not passed since the birth of Abraham three thousand and seven hundred years. Now by the experience of our families, which for their honour and greatness have been preserved, by the genealogies delivered in the Sacred Scriptures, and thought necessary to be presented to us by

the blessed evangelists, by the observation and concurrent 63.judgement of former ages, three generations usually take up a

1 Origen did not only collect the eternity of the world from the coexistence of all God's attributes, as because he is παντοκράτωρ and δημιovprós, therefore he was always so, (for how could he be δημιουργός άνευ δημιουργημάτων, or παντοκράτωρ άνευ των κρατουμένων ;) but also from the ninetieth psalm, From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. For a thou. sand years in thy sight are but as yesterday; and that at the beginning of Ecclesiasticus, Who can number the sand of the sea, and the drops of the rain, and the days of eternity ? But Methodius, bishop and martyr, hath well concluded that disputation: Tau. τα φησιν ο Ωριγένης σπουδάζων, και

öpa ola malfel. [Photius, Biblioth. Cod. 235. p. 304.]

? By the Greeks called reveal, which are successions of generations from father to son: as in St Matt. i. 17. Indeed sometimes they take it for other spaces of time: as Artemidorus (Lib. ii. c. 70.] observes, for seven years. Κατ' ενίους μεν έτη ξ. όθεν και λέγουσιν οι ιατρικοί, των δύο γενεών (not προ των, as Wolfus and Portus would correct it) undéva (not μη δείν as Suidas) φλεβοτομεϊν, τον τεσσαρεσκαιδεκαετή (not τεσσαρεσκαιdékatov, as Suidas transcribing him negligently) Néyoutes. [Reiff reads Ley. latp.; his text in other respects agreeingwiththe bishop's.] Sometimes

hundred years. If then it be not yet three thousand seven hundred years since the birth of Abraham, as certainly it is not; if all men which are or have been since have descended from Noah, as undoubtedly they have; if Abraham were but the tenth from Noah, as Noah from Adam, which Moses hath assured us: then is it not probable that any person now alive is above one hundred and thirty generations removed from Adam. And indeed thus admitting but the Greek account of less than five thousand years since the flood, we may easily bring all sober or probable accounts of the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Chineses, to begin since the dispersion at Babel. Thus having expressed at last the time so far as it is necessary to be known, I shall conclude this second consideration of the nature and notion of creation.

Now being under the terms of heaven and earth, we have proved all things beside God to be contained, and that the making of all these things was a clear production of them out of nothing; the third part of the explication must of necessity follow, that he which made all things is God. This truth is so evident in itself, and so confessed by all men, that none did ever assert the world was made, but withal affirmed that it was God who made it. There remaineth therefore nothing more in this particular, than to assert God so the Creator of the world as he is described in this article.

Being then we believe in God the Father, miker of heaven and earth, and by that God we expressed already a singularity of the Deity; our first assertion which we must make good is, that the one God did create the world. Again, being whosoever is that God, cannot be excluded from this act of creation,

they interpret it twenty, twenty-five,
or thirty years, as appears by Hesy-
chius, [τήν δε γενεάν υφίστανται ετών
ol Mèo k', oi ', oi dè X.] And by
that last account they reckoned the
years of Nestor: Κατ' ενίους δε λ'.
όθεν και τον Νέστορα βούλονται εις
εννενήκοντα έτη γεγονέναι. So Artemi-
dorus and the Grammarians, Al-
though I cannot imagine that to be
the sense of Homer, ’IX. A. 250.
Τωδ' ήδη δύο μεν γενεαι μερόπων ανθρώπων
'Εφθίαθ', οί οι πρόσθεν άμα τράφεν ηδ' εγέ-

chius, [on γενεά] 'Επί διαστήματος
χρόνων των μή κατ' αυτό βεβιωκότων,
to be far more properly applicable to
that place. But, in the sense of which
we now speak, it is taken for the third
part ordinarily of a hundred years;
as Herodotus, mentioning the Egyp-
tian feigned genealogies: Kal Tou Tpin-
κόσιαι μεν ανδρών γενεαι δυνέαται μύρια

Teathree hundred generations equal.
ize ten thousand years : γενεαί γάρ
τρείς ανδρών εκατόν έτεά εστι. Εuterp.
(c. 142.] And after him Clemens Alex.
Strom. 1. i. (c. 21. p. 401.] Els tà
εκατόν έτη τρείς εγκαταλέγονται γενεαι. .'


[ocr errors]

And I conceive that gloss in Ilesy


as being an emanation of the Divinity, and we seem by these words to appropriate it to the Father, beside whom we shall hereafter shew that we believe some other persons to be the same God; it will be likewise necessary to declare the reason why the creation of the world is thus signally attributed to God the Father.

The first of these deserves no explication of itself, it is so obvious to all which have any true conception of God. But because it hath been formerly denied (as there is nothing so senseless but some kind of heretics have embraced, and may be yet taken

in times of which we have no reason to presume better than of the former), I shall briefly declare the creation of the world to have been performed by that one God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As for the first, there is no such difference between things of the world, as to infer a diversity of makers of them, nor is the least or worst of creatures in their original, any way derogatory to the Creator. God saw every thing that he had made, Gen L 31. and behold it was very good, and consequently like to come from the fountain of all goodness, and fit always to be ascribed to the same. Whatsoever is evil, is not so by the Creator's

action, but by the creature's defection. 64 In vain then did the heretics of old, to remove a seeming

inconvenience, renounce a certain truth; and whilst they feared to make their own god evil', they made him partial, or but half the Deity, and so a companion at least with an evil god. For dividing all things of this world into nature substantially evil, and substantially good, and apprehending a necessity of an origination conformable to so different a condition, they imagined one God essentially good, as the first principle of the one, another god essentially evil, as the original of the other. And this strange heresy began upon the first spreading of the Gospel; as if the greatest light could not appear without a shadow.

1.Inde Manichæus, ut Deum a conditione malorum liberet, alterum mali inducit auctorem.' S. Hier. in Nahum, c. 3. (Vol. vi. p. 582 e.)

? For we must not look upon Manes as the first author of the heresy, though they which followed him were called from him Maniehæans. Nor

must we be satisfied with the relation
of Socrates, (Hist. Eccl. i. 22.] who
allots the beginning of at here-
8y, μικρόν έμπροσθεν των Κωνσταντίνου
Xoóvwv, a little before Constantine; be-
ing Epiphanius asserts the first author
of it, στέλλεσθαι την πορείαν έπί τα
Ιεροσόλυμα περί τους χρόνους των 'Απο-

« FöregåendeFortsätt »