Sidor som bilder

The progress of the sciences has lately afforded these men their chief hopes, and already several high attempts have been issued from this quarter. Among these the Systeme des Animaux sans Vertebres, and the “ Hydrogeologie," from one hand, and the Expose du Systeme du Monde, from another, stands conspicuous.

Meantime, Egypt, that country of wonders and of antiquities, of which no one could tell the origin or date, has been for a long period looked upon as a most probable source, whence some strong proof against revelation would come; and from time to time it has been asserted, that monuments had been there discovered, which, could their antiquities be known, would undoubtedly, as counter truths, go far to destroy the influence of the Bible. But the language of the Egyptians being unknown, was the excuse for not proving to the world the antiquity of these monuments, and thus doing away at once, all ground of religious prejudice and superstition among men.

It was not, however, until Egypt was occupied by the army of Napoleon, that monuments which appeared to offer any great available promise for such a purpose, were discovered, and these were the famous Egyptian Zodiacs, which for a time occupied the almost entire attention of all the antiquaries, and many of the learned men of Europe.

There were two of these Zodiacs, one of which occupied the place of a ceiling in a temple at Dendera, in Upper Egypt, and the other a corresponding situation in a temple at Esne, the ancient Latopolis. At the latter place indeed there were two, in different temples, one of which, however, was of a small size, and of which it is unnecessary to take further notice.

These works were supposed by many learned men, to afford the most conclusive evidence, (on what ground will be seen directly,) that no history yet known, had recorded the true epoch of the creation of man; and not a few writers exulted in the belief, that at last, reason and science had triumphed, and that now the minds of men were no longer to be held in religious bondage.

The Egyptian Zodiacs present the same figures that are employed to represent the several constellations at the present day, but are arranged in a right manner, and are engraved in wood and painted. That of Dendera is the most perfect. This temple faces the north.

Here the sign of the Lion heads the band; he is directing his course towards the north, and has his feet towards the eastern wall. The Virgin, the Balance, the Scorpion, the Archer, and the Capricorn, follow in the same line. But it is needless to describe what cannot be understood without drawings.

The force of the argument for the antiquity of this monument, consisted in the supposition, that the peculiar distribution of these figures represented the exact state, or relative positions of the constellations, with respect to each other, at the time when it was constructed, and that by astronomical calculations made backward, from the present state of the constellations, it could be ascertained at what period they were actually in the position represented by this Zodiac, and thus the period of its construction would he known.

Figures of the Zodiacs were first published by the accomplished Denon, in his work on Egypt, and it appears that the subject excited the most intense interest among learned men of Europe, and particularly of France.

“ The Zodiacs,” says M. Greppo,* “were immediately published, and commented upon with more or less good faith and decorum. Science struck out into systems very bold; and the spirit of infidelity, seizing upon the discovery, flattered iiseii with the hope of drawing from it new support."

It was said that the Zodiacs exhibited the state of the heavens at the most remote periods, and that was possible, from present data, to show when that period was. Accordingly, calculations of great prolixity and abstruseness were instituted to prove, what before had been assumed, namely, that these monuments were constructed long before the period of Scripture chronology.

These calculations, founded on the sure basis of mathematics, were said to be conclusive beyond all controversy: But a difficulty arose, which, in the opinion of truth and sobriety, threw a doubt over all such demonstrations. This was, that the philosophers did not agree among themselves, as to the actual time when the Zodiacs were constructed, though several coincided so far as to deny in

* “Essay on the Hieroglyphic System,” by M. Greppo. Trans. lated by J. Stuart, 1830.

[ocr errors]

the most positive manner, the veracity of Moses. Thus M. Burkard demonstrated that the temple of Esne had stood 7000 years, while M. Nouet, making his calculations from other data, afforded by the same figures, proved that this temple was built 4600 years before the Christian era, that is, about 600 years before the creation, according to the Mosaic Chronology. M. Dupuis, taking a still different view of the subject, and making his demonstrations from some peculiar data which his learning and saga. city had discovered, shows, by calculations through which few could follow him, that these temples must have stood at least 15,000 years.

Although the sensation which the Zodaical system of infidelity produced, was at first chiefly confined to men devoted to study, there were many others, who when they understood its bearings, were ready to applaud its pretended triumphs, so that intelligent, as well as pious men, were grieved to find the common belief of all Christian societies, not unfrequently attacked in their very foundation."

In the midst of this apparent triumph of infidelity, a circumstance happened, which gave a new excitement to the subject of the Zodiacs. This was no less than the arrival of the planisphere of Dendera at Paris.

M. Leloraine, an enterprising young traveller, in spite of many obstacles, was the means of detaching this celebrated monument from the ceiling of the temple, and of transporting it to the sea, whence it was shipped, and fin lly reached Paris in 1821.

M. Greppo describes the intense interest it there excited. “ An object of interest,” says he, “to educated men, and of vanity to those who thought themselves such, it could not remain unnoticed by the multitude; and classes of society, who knew not even the signification of the term Zodiac, rushed in crowds to behold it. In the journals, in the saloons, the Zodiac was the only topic of discussion. Have you seen the Zodiac? What do you think of the Zodiac? were questions, to which every one was seemingly compelled to give a well informed answer, or to be degraded from a place in polished society.


The learned could now examine the original instead of its representations, and thus a new impulse was given to the discussions concerning the Zodiac, and new opinions, and new publications, arose in consequence.

These discussions fermented an unbelieving spirit, even among those classes which had never before arrayed themselves against the truths of revelation. Rash and unfounded opinions were hazarded; the infidelity of Dupuis, who had made the world 15,000 years old, was spread abroad in Paris, by means of small tracts, and thus the minds of multitudes partook of the poison.

At this moment, as though an antidote to the virus oí infidelity had descended from heaven, there arrived in Paris, that celebrated antiquary, Champollion, the young er, from a visit to Egypt. This young man had just be fore solved the great secret of the Egyptian hieroglyphics. and having examined the Zodiac before its removal from Dendera, he had there deciphered, not only the inscriptions which it contained, but also several others, inscribed on several parts of the temple itself.

Armed with this great discovery, he was enabled to reveal the truth concerning these wonderful monuments, and thus to dispel the dark cloud of skepticism, which seemed destined to spread from the French capital to all parts of the world.

The title on the Zodiac consisted of the following letters, viz. : A OTKP TP. These, with certain letters, interspersed according to the rule discovered by Champollion, form the Greek word for Emperor. Besides this, he discovered, in the temple of Dendera, the names, titles, and surnames of the Emperors, Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, and Domitian, and upon the portico of Esne, whose Zodiac had been judged many centuries older than that of Dendera, he read the names of Claudius and Antoninus Pius. *

Here, then, the entire substratum of the Zodiacal system of infidelity was crumbled into dust, and the fabric, which had been erected upon it with so much zeal and confidence, fell at once upon its builders, and covered them with shame and confusion.

And here, again, it may be remarked, (as was the case

Stuart's Greppo, p. 184.

in both cases,

with the Hindoo tables,) that the facts were not brought lo light by those whose especial duty and interest it is to defend the truths of revelation; but by one who had gone forward of his species in the science of philology; a circumstance of great interest and

consequence, since infidelity can never claim, that, in these instances, its cause has been crushed by the undue influence of "

"prejudice or superstition," upon the world.

It is only necessary to state, in concluding this subject, that the Egyptian Zodiacs have no greater antiquity than the Roman domination of Egypt, which commenced one or two centuries after the Christian era; and that these signs do not, in any respect, relate to astronomy, but are connected with the idle phantasies of judicial astrology: The figures, therefore, which were so lately and confidently expected to revolutionize the Christian world, and reduce it to heathenism, are nothing more than. what adepts in the pretended science of astronomy, call themes of nativity.

And now, what reader does not see especial marks of Divine Superintendence, in the circumstance, that the solution of the Egyptian hieroglyphics, (which had been a principal object among antiquaries and learned men for centuries,) should have been discovered, just at a moment to destroy one of the most specious systems of infidelity ever offered to the world ?


" I have,” says Dr. Ure, "met with persons of considerable pretensions to candor and sagacity, who, having devoured, with greedy eyes, the story told by Brydone, in his Sicilian Tour, about the canon Recupero, conceive that it justifies them in reviling the chronology and character of Moses."'*

This popular book has been very extensively read in this country, and it is believed, that even at this day, the beds of lava at. Etna, are often brought forward to prove that there is no truth in the Mosaic Chronology. It is for

* Geol. Int. p. 14.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »