« FöregåendeFortsätt »
very reputable occupation! The names of Mark and Luke, are not once mentioned in the Gospels: so that only for the incidental mention of them in the Acts and in one Epistle of Paul's, we would have had no sacred authority for knowing that such persons had ever existed. John is the only one of the Apostles of any note, and his name is not once mentioned in the Gospel, of which it is said he was the author. The sacred Scriptures, then, are not only destitute of every symptom of human origin; (for be it observed, the impartial relation of facts, however abominable, is quite the reverse,) but they abound with every characteristic of that which is super-humaneven of the spirit of the living God. See Abraham.
But is an anonymous book to be considered of no authority? The American Almanac, published at Boston, is anonymous: is it therefore of no authority? The Annual Register, The Reviews, &c. &c., are all anonymous: are they to be considered of no authority? On the contrary, all these books are admitted at present, and will be received in after ages, as authoritative records of the civil, military, and literary history, of America and Europe. See Genuine.
APOSTOLIC. See Fathers.
APPEARANCES, of God. See Communications.
ANTIQUITY. The pretences which the Egyptians made to antiquity, so much beyond the times recorded in the Scriptures, proceeded from their calculating by lunar years or months; or from their reckoning the dynasties of their kings in succession, which were contemporary. For Herodotus mentions twelve Egyptian kings reigning at one time. They had such different accounts, however, of chronology, that, as it is affirmed, some of them
computed about thirteen thousand years more than others, from the original of their dynasties to the time of Alexander the Great. The solar year, in 'use among the Egyptians, who were most celebrated for astronomy, was so imperfect, that they said the sun had several times changed its course since the beginning of their dynasties; imputing the defect of their own computation to the sun's variation; or else affecting to speak something wonderful and extravagant.
And Cassini has found the account of eclipses, at the beginning of Diogenes Laertius, to be false ; which is a further confutation of the fabulous pretences of the Egyptians to antiquity. The earliest astronomical observations to be met with, which were made in Egypt, are those performed by the Greeks of Alexandria, less than three hundred years before Christ, as Dr. Halley has observed; and, since the recent discoveries in the Egyptian Hieroglyphics of our great archæologist, Dr. Young, and of M. M. Letroune and Champollion in France, it has been ascertained that the celebrated Zodiacs, of Esne and Dendera, to which some modern antagonists of divine revelation had assigned an incalculable antiquity, are posterior to the time of Jesus Christ, as well as the edifices on the ceilings of which they were painted!
The pretensions of the Chaldeans to profound attainments in science, have been shown to be equally unfounded. According to Berosus, they supposed the moon to be a luminous body, whence it is evident that they could have no great skill in astronomy: besides, they wanted instruments for making exact calculations. All that remains of their boasted astronomical discoveries is only seven eclipses of the moon; and even those are but very coarsely set down, the oldest not being more than seven hundred years before Christ: whence it is evident that they had made but little progress in this science. And though Callisthenes is said, by Porphyry, to have brought observations from Babylon to Greece, upwards of nineteen hundred years older than Alexander; yet, as the proper authors of those observations neither made any mention nor use of them, this circumstance makes his report justly suspected for a fable. So little ground is there for us to depend upon the accounts of time and the vain boasts of antiquity, which these nations have made.
The Greeks had their astronomy from Babylon; and the Athenians had but three hundred and sixty days in their
year, in the time of Demetrius Phalereus; yet Dr. Halley further observes, that the Greeks were the first practical astronomers, who endeavoured in earnest to make themselves masters of the science; and that Thales was the first who could predict an eclipse in Greece, not six hundred years before Christ; and that Hipparchus made the first catalogue of the fixed stars not above one hundred and fifty years before Christ.
According to the well known observation of Varro, there was nothing that can deserve the name of history to be found among the Greeks before the Olympiads ;. which commenced only about twenty years before the building of Rome: and Plutarch informs us, how little the tables of the Olympiads are to be relied on. Whatever learning or knowledge of ancient times the Romans had, they borrowed it from the Greeks. For they were so little capable of transmitting their own affairs down to posterity, with any exactness in point of time, that for many ages they had neither dials nor hour-glasses, by which to measure their nights for common use; and for three hundred years they knew no such things as hours or the like distinctions, but computed their time only from noon to noon.
The pretensions of the Chinese to antiquity appear
equally vain, and upon the same grounds. They, too, understand little or nothing of astronomy. Indeed, they themselves confess that their antiquities are in great part fabulous, and they acknowledge that their most ancient books were in hieroglyphics; which were not expounded by any one who lived nearer than one thousand seven hundred years to the first author of them ; that the numbers in computation are sometimes mistaken, or that months are put for years. But of what antiquity or authority soever their first writers were, there is little or no credit to be given to the books now remaining, since the general destruction of all ancient books by the emperor Xi Hoam Ti. He lived only about two hundred years before Christ, and commanded, upon pain of death, all the monuments of antiquity to be destroyed, relating either to history or philosophy, especially the books of Confucius : and killed many of their learned men: so that from his time they have only some fragments of old authors left.
The Chinese are a people vain enough to say any thing that may favour their pretences to antiquity, and love to magnify themselves to the Europeans; which makes them endeavour to have it believed that their antiquities are sufficiently entire, notwithstanding this destruction of their books. But the fact is well known to be otherwise : and upon inspection, it was found that their instruments were useless; and that after all their boasted skill in astronomy, they were not able to make an exact calendar, and their tables of eclipses were so incorrect, that they could scarcely foretell about what time that of the sun should happen. In like manner, the boasted antiquity claimed for the science and records of the Hindoos over those of Moses by some modern writers, has been fully exposed since scientific Europeans
have become thoroughly acquainted with their language. The Hindoos, perhaps the most anciently civilized people on the face of the earth, and who have least deviated from their originally established forms, have unfortunately no history. Among an infinite number of books of mystical theology and abstruse metaphysics, they do not possess a single volume that is capable of affording any distinct account of their origin, or of the various events that have occurred to their communities. Their Maha Bharata, or pretended great history, is nothing more than a poem. The Pourans are mere legends; on comparing which with the Greek and Latin authors, it is excessively difficult to establish a few slight coincidences of chronology, and even that is continually broken off and interrupted, and never goes back farther than the time of Alexander. It is now clearly proved that their famous astronomical tables, from which it has been attempted to assign a prodigious antiquity to the Hindoos, have been calculated backwards, and it has been lately ascertained, that their Surya-Siddhanta, which they consider as their most ancient astronoinical treatise, and pretend to have been revealed to their nation more than two millions of years ago, must have been composed within the seven hundred and fifty years last past. Their Vedas, or sacred books, judging from the calendars which are conjoined with them, and by which they are guided in their religious observances, and estimating the colures indicated in these calendars, may perhaps go back about three thousand two hundred years, which nearly coincides with the epoch of Moses.
Yet the Hindoos are not entirely ignorant of the revolutions which have affected the globe, as their theology has in some measure consecrated certain successive de. structions which its surface has already undergone, and