Imatges de pÓgina
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better a Pen. There is an Excellency in every Part of our Religion separately consider'd, but the strength and vigour of each Part is in the Relation it has to the rest, and the several Parts must be taken altogether, if we would have a trụe Knowledge, and make a just Estimate of the Whole.

But that which I made my more particular Care, and which, I thought, the more requir’d my Pains, because I had not observed it to be much insisted upon by others, was to shew the Necessity of a Divine Revelation, the insufficiency of Natural Religion, and the Imperfections and Errors of Philosophy, as well as the manifest Fallhood of the Religions both of the Heathens and of the Mahometans; and moreover to prove, that besides all other Things requisite to a Divine Revelation, the Religion delivered in the Old and New Testament has received a full Promulgation in all Parts of the World, From these Foundations thus laid and secur'd we have no less than a Demonstration for the Truth of our Holy Religion.

We are often told by those that are no Friends to our Religion, that we must by all means take great Care of not being deceived through the Prejudices derived from our Education, but I believe it would be found upon Enquiry, that such Men are so far from being prejudiced in Favour of our Religion, that their Prejudices lie extremely against it, For, besides the Corruption of Humane Nature always inclining to Error and Viçe, tho

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they had the Principles of Christianity instilld into them in their tender Years, yet they could learn them then only as confess’d Truths, to be receiv'd for Articles of Faith and Rules of Life. But the first thing probably to which they have set themselves with any Application, was the reading of Heathen Authors, and when perhaps they have studied Philosophy and other Humane Learning for many Years, but never considered Divinity, as a Science, and have searched into it no farther, nor have any other Notion of it, than what they were taught in their Childhood or Youth, they look back upon their first Instructions as groundless, and fit only for Children, because they find little or nothing of them in those Authors, with whom they have been so long conversant, and whom upon many Accounts they have so just Reason to admire. This seems to be the Case of many who have read ancient Heathen Authors, without the Regard, which ought always to be had to That, which is acknowledg'd by All; who have made any due Enquiry into these Things, to be the best Learning and of greatest Antiquity; and is no where to be had but from the Scriptures. Others there are, who have often heard of the Names of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and of Tully; Seneca, and other Famous Writers; they find them frequently qaoted, and commonly with Commendation, seldom to discover any Fault in them, unless it be in their Notions of Natural Philosophy., where Religion seems to be less concerned. They ha de beard too of the

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Greek and Latin Historians, and these, for any thing that they know or consider , may be as Faitbful and as Ancient as the best.

But tho' all these Authors have indeed very many Excellencies, yet we must not so far mistake, as to think all things Excellent which they deliver. I shall therefore, besides what I have already observed, make some farther Reflections in this place, both upon the History, and upon the Philosophy of Heathen Nations, and then I hope I may be allowed to expostulate with the Adversaries of our Religion, concerning the Unreasonableness of their Proceedings, before I come to give a fhort Account of my present Undertaking.

1. Whatever knowledge almost we have now left of the Antiquities of other Heathen Nations, it comes conveyed down to us by the Greek Authors; and yet there is perhaps no Nation, which generally had a worse Reputation in matters of History, not only by common Fame and the Invectives of Satyrists, but from the Censures of the best Writers, and the Accusations which the Historians made one of another, as a Josephus shews of many whose Works are now loft.

b Thucydides himself could not escape free from Censure, who complains of the negligence and unfaithfulness of the other Greek Historians, and he is thought to point particularly at Herodotus, whom Plutarch expofed in a set Discourse: tho much indeed has

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. Vid. Joseph. contr. Apion. lib. i. * Thucyd. lib. i. c. 20, 21.

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been said in Vindication of Herodotus, by H. Stephens and Joac. Camerarius ; and the Discoveries of Modern Travellers confirm many things in this History, which were formerly thought incredible. Ć Strabo has observ'd, that the Greeks knew little of the most Famous Nations of Asia , except the Persians , and that Homer knew nothing of the Empire of the Asyrians or Medes, but that he has omitted the mention of the Magnificence of Babylon, Nineveh, and Ecbatane, tho' he took notice of the Ægyptian Thebes, and of the Wealth both of that Place and of a Phænicia. Sallust suspected that the Athenians too highly magnified their own Acti

Quintilian compares the Greek Historians to Poets, for the Liberty which they commonly took. .f Arrian, upon the different Account given by Aristobulus, and Ptolemeus Lagi, of the Death of Callisthenes, remarks, that the most credible Historians, who accompanied Alexander, disagreed in the relation of things, which were publick, and could not be unknown to them. And there is in 5 Volpiscus a severe Charge against the Historians in general, that there is none of them, who has not falGfied in some thing or other, particularly that as to Li. vy, Salluft, Tacitus and Trogus Pompeius, it might

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1. ii. c. 4.

€ Scrab. Geogr. lib. xv.

Salluft. Bell. Cacilin.
Græcis Hiftoriis plerumque Poericæ fimilis eft licentia. Quinc.

De Exped. Alex. 1.4. 8 Neminem Scriprorum, quantum ad Historiam pertinet, non ali. quid effe mentitum, Vopisc in Aureliano.

be clearly proved upon them. And h Pliny has furnished us with an instance of great Partiality ' in the Roman Histories, which conceal that Porféna in his League with the People of Rome, obliged them to make no use of Iron, but for the Tilling of the Grounds: This, Pliny confesses, was an express Article of that League : And how unlike is the Roman to the Jewish History in this very Instance? For in the Scriptures we find it twice mentioned, that the Israelites were reduced to that Condition, that they were permitted to have no Weapons of War, Judges v. 8. 1 Sam. xiii. 19. But the Ro

Historians had more regard to the Honour of the Roman Name than to Truth. And it is no Commendation of the same Historians, that they take so little notice of the Jews, and say so little to their Advantage, when they do speak of them, since Josephus has proved the Leagues between the Jews and the Romans, and the Privileges granted them by the Romans, beyond all Denial, from the Tables then extant wherein they were contained.

Dionysius Halicarnasseus differs in many things from Livy, and the other Roman Authors. And k Polybius, contrary to the known Story

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bo lo fædere, quod, expulfis Regibus, Populo Romano dedic Porfena , nominatim comprehensum invenimus, ne ferro, nifi in Agriculcurâ, uterentur. Plin. Nar. Hist. lib. xxxiv. C. 14.

i Tacent id i storici , ut pudendum Victori poftea Gentium Populi; at Plinius ingenue fatetur. Grot. ad 1 Sam. xiii. 19.

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